JED - March 2018 - 40

The Journal of Electronic Defense | March 2018

40

tablish a track on it and lead it in its
movement. Moreover, I could see that
it led a convoy of about a half dozen
other vehicles, to include a very interesting one.
We orbited over the jeep and opened
up with our 40-mm Bofors cannons for
about 5 seconds. These are the kind of
"boom-boom-boom" guns you see in naval movies shooting upward at attacking aircraft. We had at that time two
Bofors and a single 20mm Gatling gun
on our AC-130E.
Our fire control system had earlier
that night been "tweaked" (the fire control errors had been computer-learned
and minimized). Our guns and aiming
system were now accurate and lethal.
The main tracking variable resided in
how well and smoothly I could aim my
TV's reticle.
I had tracked well. It took about six
seconds from the time we shot the 40s
for the rounds to reach the target. The
lead vehicle (the "jeep") received direct
hits and began burning. Subsequently,
I moved my TV aimpoint to the last
vehicle in the convoy and hit and destroyed it. The convoy was now jammed
between the damaged vehicles (this was
our standard procedure for attacking a
convoy), and the immobile vehicles in
between were all ours for the taking.
I began moving my TV aimpoint to
work over the remaining vehicles when I
noticed one was very strange. Specifically, it looked like a long-bed, semi-trailer
truck transporting a long, light-colored,
missile-like object. "Hmmm," I thought,
"that looks like a SAM."
So, I moved my aimpoint to the front
of the object and shot the tractor vehicle, and started it flaming - it wasn't
going anywhere. Next, I moved to the
long body of the missile-like object and
scored several hits on it - all to little or
no avail for we saw no flame nor smoke.
Now, suspecting it was an unrefueled
SAM, I moved to the front, pointy end,
of the long object and continued to fire
the 40s. We scored several near-misses
on the front portion when "kaboom" -
we hit it and got a massive secondary
explosion, which proved to be the SAM's
solid-explosive warhead. The surrounding terrain and vegetation were bathed
in light.

As it turned out, and in the dead of
the night, the North Vietnamese were
trying to surreptitiously transport a
SAM into Laos. (We quickly surmised
that it wasn't destined to be used as
a static-display at a local Laotian airshow.) That SAM, when refueled, would
be used to shoot at friendly aircraft over
Laos. In fact, its replacement shot at us
a few weeks later and almost got us. Two
nights after that, it killed an AC-130 and
its entire crew of 14 in about a minute.
Fortunately, we video-recorded the
entire engagement and also measured
the slant range to it via our laser rangefinder. Upon returning to Ubon, our intelligence section took this information
along with the TV's display of the milliradians subtended between the front
and rear ends of the vehicle.
I'll always remember the tech sergeant turning to me and saying "Sir,
that's the exact dimensions of an SA-2
Guideline missile - you just killed a
SAM.
Yup, a Wild Weasel EWO killed a SAM
- and from an AC-130E gunship. To the
best of my knowledge, I'm the first and
only Weasel to have done so. And that's
my story of how I killed a SAM from a
gunship. Once a Wild Weasel, always a
Wild Weasel!

AND NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY
The video, the angles subtended,
and the slant-range measured by our
lasers were all passed upwards through
the chain of command. Each and every
echelon confirmed that we had indeed
killed a SAM on its transporter. Confirmed, that is, until it reached the four-

Our now-upsidedown copilot looked
upward through his
right window and saw
the SAM fly by. It had
missed us ... IT MISSED
US! We were going to
live to fight on
another night.

star who commanded the war; he denied
it was a SAM. The story we were told is
that, had he confirmed we were operating in or near a SAM zone, that the
SAC B-52 bombers bombing the Laotian
trails would be withheld because of the
danger imposed on them.
But, we gunshippers, flying directly
in the face of this lethal threat, and
down in the mud 6-7 miles below the
bombers, continued to slug through
central Laos terrifying night after terrifying night, anticipating a SAM engagement at any second. Our apprehension
was compounded by the knowledge that
the SAM's 200-pound warhead could
readily tear us apart. The term "gutwrenching" doesn't suffice.
On and on we went, mission after
mission, week after week. Until, that
is, that lethal night that a recently imported SAM fired at and lethally struck
and killed the 14 guys aboard a gunship. Yes, an SA-2 surface-to-air missile system had been transported deep
within Laos and shot down a gunship.
The four-star finally designated the
central Laotian area as a SAM-zone and,
sure enough, the bombers stopped coming. But we didn't.
Fortunately, a massive fighter sweep
- ending with inconclusive results -
continued for a month or so. It was all
directed at finding and killing the SAM.
This massive effort served to suppress
the SAM; it didn't engage again. But, the
results were, and remain, inconclusive.
Perhaps it's still there!
And, that's my story - with but one
exception.
Two nights prior to my buddies getting killed, we were in our gunship
searching for targets near the central
Laotian town of Tchepone. We weren't
alone. We had F-4 fighters flying overhead to help suppress the flak guns
shooting at us. They often bailed us out
of some hellacious gunfire.
The night had been fairly quiet
when, suddenly, the backseater of an
overhead F-4 keyed his radio and shakingly shouted out, "SAM, SAM, I've got a
SAM" on his radar warning receiver.
We heard his transmission from our
gunship below him, and we also heard
the tell-tale "rattlesnake rattle" (characteristic of a SAM) leaking into his



JED - March 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - March 2018

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor - DOD Rolls Out $686 Billion FY2019 Budget
World Report - Russia Developing More Sophisticated Approach to EW
The Domain of the Tube – Millimeter Wave and Beyond
A Wild Weasel EWO Kills a SAM – from an AC-130E Gunship
Resilient and Ready: NATO JEWCS in Transition
EW 101
2018 AOC Industry & Institute/ University Member Guide
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - March 2018 - intro
JED - March 2018 - cover1
JED - March 2018 - cover2
JED - March 2018 - 3
JED - March 2018 - 4
JED - March 2018 - 5
JED - March 2018 - The View From Here
JED - March 2018 - 7
JED - March 2018 - Conferences Calendar
JED - March 2018 - 9
JED - March 2018 - Courses Calendar
JED - March 2018 - 11
JED - March 2018 - From the President
JED - March 2018 - 13
JED - March 2018 - 14
JED - March 2018 - The Monitor - DOD Rolls Out $686 Billion FY2019 Budget
JED - March 2018 - 16
JED - March 2018 - 17
JED - March 2018 - 18
JED - March 2018 - 19
JED - March 2018 - 20
JED - March 2018 - 21
JED - March 2018 - World Report - Russia Developing More Sophisticated Approach to EW
JED - March 2018 - insert1
JED - March 2018 - insert2
JED - March 2018 - 23
JED - March 2018 - The Domain of the Tube – Millimeter Wave and Beyond
JED - March 2018 - 25
JED - March 2018 - 26
JED - March 2018 - A Wild Weasel EWO Kills a SAM – from an AC-130E Gunship
JED - March 2018 - 28
JED - March 2018 - 29
JED - March 2018 - 30
JED - March 2018 - 31
JED - March 2018 - Resilient and Ready: NATO JEWCS in Transition
JED - March 2018 - 33
JED - March 2018 - 34
JED - March 2018 - 35
JED - March 2018 - 36
JED - March 2018 - 37
JED - March 2018 - 38
JED - March 2018 - 39
JED - March 2018 - 40
JED - March 2018 - 41
JED - March 2018 - EW 101
JED - March 2018 - 43
JED - March 2018 - 44
JED - March 2018 - 45
JED - March 2018 - 2018 AOC Industry & Institute/ University Member Guide
JED - March 2018 - 47
JED - March 2018 - 48
JED - March 2018 - 49
JED - March 2018 - 50
JED - March 2018 - 51
JED - March 2018 - 52
JED - March 2018 - 53
JED - March 2018 - 54
JED - March 2018 - 55
JED - March 2018 - 56
JED - March 2018 - 57
JED - March 2018 - 58
JED - March 2018 - 59
JED - March 2018 - 60
JED - March 2018 - 61
JED - March 2018 - 62
JED - March 2018 - 63
JED - March 2018 - 64
JED - March 2018 - 65
JED - March 2018 - 66
JED - March 2018 - 67
JED - March 2018 - 68
JED - March 2018 - 69
JED - March 2018 - 70
JED - March 2018 - AOC News
JED - March 2018 - 72
JED - March 2018 - Index of Advertisers
JED - March 2018 - JED Quick Look
JED - March 2018 - cover3
JED - March 2018 - cover4
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