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[Missions markings on the 8th FS high flyer #803 post Allied Force.  Note the yellow silohette in memory of lost F-117A #806.(Anonymous)]

Allied Force Missions

[F-117A pilot before the first mission of Allied Force. (Anonymous from 1st night video)] On March 24 NATO began OPERATION ALLIED FORCE as an effort to compel President Slobodan Milosevic to make peace in Kosovo. The first strikes occurred after 1 p.m. EST March 24, heralded by explosions reported near Belgrade. An Italian spotter reported: "The F-117As flew only in night-time and often all twelve were launched. (One ship or two ship launches) The call sign used was "Nighthawk" for the first missions of familiarization. After that various callsigns were used in rotation with other units both at Aviano and other bases in Italy. Used often were "Vega" and "Merk". In late April, new callsigns were heard: "Flash" and "Hand".

[Workers attempting to remove carbon fibers from power poles.()] [Carbon fiber strands wrapped around a utility pole.()]
[balls of carbon fiber strands.()] [Unknown component with carbon fiber strands.()]

On May 2, 1999 F-117As used a previously undisclosed weapon to attack the national power grid of Serbia. The BLU-114/B is a special-purpose munition for attacking electrical power infrastructure (a highly classified weapon) functions by dispensing a number of submunitions which in turn disperse large numbers of chemically treated carbon graphite filaments which short-circuit electrical power distribution equipment such as transformers and switching stations. The weapon is sometimes referred to as a "soft bomb" since its effects are largely confined to the targeted electrical power facility, with minimal risk of collateral damage.

Following the May 2 attack, lights went out over 70 per cent of the country. Early reports stated that the Serbians restored some power as soon as seven hours after the attack. However, on May 5, the Serbians announced that their power grid had largely collapsed- only limited parts of Serbia and Belgrade had power 3 days after the F-117 attack. The early reports that the attack was just an annoyance were wrong.

On May 7, 1999 a second round of attacks took place on the Serbian power grid.

[F-117A preparing for another mission in late March at Aviano AB, Italy.(Anonymous)]

On June 4, 1999 it was reported by an Italian spotter that the Aviano based F-117As (8th EFS) had departed for Germany earlier in the week using the callsign "Shabah". From that point, on all F-117A operations were flown from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Many cargo aircraft were seen also this week at Aviano-assumed to be used to re-deploy the Aviano based F-117A personal to Spangdahlem. After the F-117As left Aviano, their HAS (Hardened Air Shelters) became occupied by Shaw AFB F-16s. This move reunited the 8th EFS with the 9th EFS, both under the 49th EOG-the same organization that exists at Holloman AFB.

On June 10, 1999 NATO suspended air attacks against Yugoslavia after 78 days of bombing. Between the 8th and the 9th, the F-117As flew more than 850 sorties without one combat fatality. As a whole, NATO aircraft flew more than 34,000 sorties in the 11 week operation.


Although it's low observable characteristics makes the F-117A less vunerable to enemy fire, it is not invisible nor invincable. Therefore, whenever possible, the F-117A is supported by other aircraft during high risk missions.

The following was published in the Feb 18, 2000 Nellis AFB "Bullseye" Base Paper (edited):

By Staff Sgt. Ed Scott
AWFC Public Affairs
[(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Bryan.)] "" A USAF Weapons School captain recently recieved the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts in Operation Allied Force over the former Republic of Yugoslavia March 24 during the first offensive action in NATO's history.
Capt. Mike Shower was escorting the first of two strike packages -- one package flew into Southern Serbia which was actually Kosovo while Shower's package went north over Belgrade. The strike packages were made up of 10 F-117s and two B-2 bombers with escort coming from F-15Cs and F-16CJs.
Approximately four minutes into the push, Capt. Shower said they hear a "Splash one Mig-29" call from AWACS from the South strike package. Six minutes into the mission, the captain's radar picture was complicated by an unidentified aircraft taking off from Batajiinica Airfield, a Mig-29 base in northern Belgrade.
"From that point I went from being afraid and looking outside the airplane for surface-to-air missiles launching to being physically afraid, something like paralysis," he said. "I went from this is real combat and I could die to hey they're going to fly their airplanes.
"In a nanosecond my whole mentality switched from this is war and I could die tonight to there's airplanes flying and I better do my job. I went from being afraid to watching the radar and into more of an adrenaline mode and I have to protect the package."
Capt. Shower said once the aircraft call had been made, training took over and the fear went away in a few seconds. At that moment, the strike package faced another challenge -- protecting aircraft the escorts could not see nor had any idea as to their location. The F-117s work independently and have their own flying lines and timing.
"It's not like a typical package that ia all together and you can be a shepard," he said. "You can't see them on radar. It's dark so you can't see them visibly. You really don't know where they're at, so altitude really becomes important."
Capt. Shower relayed the information stating the Mig-29 posed a serious threat. One minute later, after ensuring a clear field of fire and a positive identification, he launched two AIM 120C Advanced Medium Air-to-Air Missiles. Not observing a fireball, he pressed the attack well within the range of the Mig-29's own missile line of fire.
"Under normal circumstances I could have fired my missiles, turned, and ran away," he said. "You don't know where they are (F-117s) so I didn't think I had a choice of turning and running away. You've got a Mig-29 running around in the area and there is a chance he could get lucky and find a stealth."
The chance that Mig-29 could have found a friendly made the situation risk factor high so Capt. Shower said "we had to get in there and get this guy."
While shooting the Mig-29, there happened to be a F-117 between Capt. Shower's F-15C and the Mig-29. The next night, the F-117 pilot told Capt. Shower the first time he knew he was in an engagement with the Mig-29 was when he saw the first two missiles come across the top of his aircraft. Going into a defensive posture, the Mig-29 gave the impression of defending itself.
"The F-117 was in the middle of the engagement," said CApt. Shower. "We had to be willing to push inside and kill'em."
[(Photo by Senior Airman Gary Guese.)] "He (the Mig-29) was about six miles away and I'm up pretty high pointing at him when I took my last shot," Capt. Shower said.
CApt Shower said the final shot illuminated his (Shower's F-15C) aircraft from the rocket plume so the F-117 pilot could tell the two aircraft were approximately 2,000 feet from each other. The missile went right across the front of his aircraft down to the Mig-29 which blows up about 7,000 feet underneath the F-117. The Mig-29 crashed within 25 mautical miles of Batajiinica Airfield.
"If it had been daytime, there might have been a whole different ending to the story," CApt. Shower said.
Four minutes after this engagement another Mig-29 took off from the airfield once and again Capt. Shower committed his flight to the engagement.
"You're thinking you might get one of these (Mig-29) in a night and here we are getting another one 11 minutes into the mission," he said. The mission called for them to have an hour in country."

[Senior Airman Chris Boswell holds the Reaper Ball. (USAF News photo by Tech. Sgt. Greg Suhay.)] Capt. Shower was assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron Grim Reepers during Allied Force based at Cervia AIr Base, Italy. Capt. Shower had on board that night "The Reaper Ball" of the 493rd Fighter Squadron. The moral booster was designed and drawn by Senior Airman Steve Bright. Capt. Shower said "The Reaper Ball brings luck. I'm living proof of that." When Senior Airman Chris Boswell was recovering the F-15C back at Cervia after the MiG kill, Capt. Shower pulled into the spot holding up the Reaper Ball and two fingers. "Everyone around us was excited," said the crew chief.

The following account from a F-16 pilot was published in the October 1999 issue of Lockheed Martin's Code One Magazine:

""I will remember another mission the rest of my life. I call it the Easter SAM dance. We were in the Belgrade area that night protecting F-117s. We turn cold in the CAP and turn in hot again. I see a signal I had seen in the same exact place during the last circuit. I look again and see nothing there. The signal looks like a tanker on my sensors. But it can't be a tanker, so I don't say anything. The third time I turn the corner and come around and the same thing happens again. I roll inverted and take another look. That's when I see a salvo of three SA-3s taking a belly shot on me. The middle SAM looks like a flashlight with a black center. Like a doughnut of fire. I say to myself, "This is it. My number is up." I figure from my last encounter with SAMs that I have about seven seconds to live. I start a defensive maneuver. I put the SAMs off my right wing, light the afterburner, and start to dive at the ground.
I am not even thinking about the ground at this point. I am watching the missiles. I don't punch off my tanks because I just simply forget. It's hard to find the jettison button at night under such circumstances. As I am going down, I realize the missiles are arcing over. As they hit the horizon, I pull back on the stick and put the missiles at the top of my canopy and pull at them. I've rolled and I'm starting to do an orthogonal roll, what we call a last-ditch maneuver. At this point, the first missile swings by. Then the second one goes by and I lose track of the third one. All I see is a huge light out of the back of the canopy. I realize I am upside down at this point and I see nothing but AAA below me. I roll out the aircraft and realize that my burner has been lit the whole time. The AAA gunners are shooting at my afterburner, which lights me up against the night sky. Gunners from the east and west are all shooting at my afterburner. I'm at 18,000 feet and the AAA is getting closer and closer to me. So I keep the burner lit and just climb. The engagement is over."

Aborted Missions

During the first week of the bombing of Yugoslavia, two F117As headed for Belgrade to take out Serb TV headquarters, where Western journalists filed daily. The mission was aborted only minutes before the planes would have reached their target.

The following was published in the October 1999 American Journalism Review:

By Patrick J. Sloyan

""During the first week of Operation Allied Force, two F117 Nighthawks took off from Aviano, Italy, headed for a new priority target of modern warfare. No, not enemy headquarters, or the secret laboratory of James Bond epics. These odd-looking stealth bombers carried four tons of explosives for a laser-guided attack on the Serb Radio and Television headquarters in downtown Belgrade.
President Clinton and most other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had sanctioned the destruction of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's propaganda outlet--hanging their hat on Article 52 of the Geneva Convention, which makes national broadcast stations legitimate military targets. Ostensibly, stopping the spin and outright lies from the Serb president's anchor henchmen had moved the broadcast headquarters to the top of the target list. It also raised the very real possibility that the Western world's eyes would have been blinded to events in Yugoslavia as the country came under NATO bombardment.
[CNN's Brent Sadler reports in April in front of the demolished Serb Radio and Television headquarters, one month after the first attack was aborted.] CNN's Brent Sadler and his staff had an office in the Serb broadcast headquarters; NBC, Britain's BBC and other Westerners were daily visitors. The Serb government required journalists to use facilities in the building when relaying their broadcasts back home via satellite. As the bombers roared out of Aviano in late March, these journalists had no inkling of the Nighthawks' target.
According to White House and Pentagon officials, the possibility that network correspondents from NATO countries could be blasted at the broadcast headquarters was understood by Clinton; Defense Secretary William Cohen; Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the American commander of NATO, Army Gen. Wesley Clark.
"The president was briefed" about the headquarters, says a National Security Council staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He knew the Western reporters were there."
Kenneth H. Bacon, the Pentagon's assistant secretary for public affairs, says NATO wasn't "hot to attack Western media." The issue, he says, "was shutting down a propaganda vehicle," which Milosevic hoped to use to fracture NATO unity and chip away at popular support for the bombing campaign--his only chance of hanging on to Kosovo in the face of the world's mightiest military alliance.
"We are not against the free press," Bacon says.
Fortunately, when the Nighthawks were only minutes from the Serb broadcast headquarters, Clark aborted the mission. That was no simple task. During the three-hour flight, the F117 had withdrawn its communications antennae to enhance its radar-evading profile. "It's kind of like communicating with a submerged submarine," Bacon says. "It's difficult to contact them."
In the aftermath of that aborted bombing plan, Bacon would launch an extensive campaign to warn the Western press away from the radio and television headquarters and Belgrade itself. A month later, on April 22, when NATO did strike and destroy the headquarters, no Western journalists were killed. The Serbs weren't so fortunate; 10 technicians and engineers died in the blast. Reporters at the scene say they saw a decapitated body. Another man had his legs amputated to free him from the rubble. "For the first time in world history, the media war is fought with bombs," said Belgrade Mayor Vojislav Mihajlovic, deploring the attack.
But despite repeated attacks on transmitters throughout the country, Serb radio and television remained on the air throughout the 79-day conflict. "It was fuzzy but still broadcasting on the last day," says Steven Erlanger, the New York Times reporter in Belgrade.
There are conflicting accounts about why NATO commander Clark halted the planned strike in March. The general blamed unidentified "lawyers" when he complained bitterly about interference at a Pentagon news conference. He did not respond to repeated calls by this reporter.
An explanation from Air Force officials is that CNN President Tom Johnson learned of the plan and vigorously confronted Cohen and Shelton--while the planes were in flight.
Another view--from Shelton's staff--was that French President Jacques Chirac vetoed the strike.
But the White House explanation, offered by a National Security Council official, was that the mission to destroy the broadcast headquarters was aborted because of a breach of security--a leak to CNN's Johnson. It was presumed Johnson alerted his staff in Belgrade that an attack was imminent.
Sorting out the facts is difficult. Most of the players are reluctant to talk about secrets of diplomacy, warfare and journalism. Even Johnson begged off. "Everything was off the record, as far as I am concerned," the CNN chief said recently.
What is certain is that the Western journalists' presence in Yugoslavia was a risky proposition: Many senior U.S. military commanders viewed those working in Belgrade as Milosevic's handmaidens. "When you tell us you are willing to take the risk of going into areas we are bombing, we are willing to take you at your word," says a senior aide to Shelton, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.
Tom Johnson can charm, wheedle and whine if necessary to bend Washington to CNN's viewpoint. But, by all accounts, Johnson became a lion when the Nighthawks took off for the Serb broadcast headquarters and the offices of CNN correspondent Sadler and his staff
"Tom Johnson called and raised hell after the bombers were launched," says a senior Air Force officer who viewed the looming broadcast headquarters attack as a disaster. "It would have made the Chinese Embassy bombing look like a positive development. They would have killed TV reporters from every NATO country."
As it turned out, someone, either in Washington or at NATO headquarters in Brussels, tipped Johnson that the strike was under way, according to Air Force sources. While the Nighthawks followed their three-hour course to Belgrade, key participants screamed at each other over the phone lines. "There was a 'suggestion' [by Johnson's tipster] that the CNN crew leave the building and head for their hotel in Belgrade," says one participant involved in the controversy that night. The suggestion was meant as intimidation. The tip-off to Johnson included some heavy-handed warnings that CNN staffers clear out of the headquarters and take other Western journalists with them--perhaps by throwing a party at a Hyatt hotel in Belgrade where they were staying. "You better have that goddamn party right now!" was the edict to Johnson overheard by a Pentagon staffer.
During the exchanges while the planes were in flight, Johnson warned Bacon and Shelton that the imminent attack would be killing men and women who were household faces in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, as well as the United States, one military officer says. Johnson, the officer adds, "was really hot."
But Shelton's aides say it wasn't Johnson but the president of France who halted the Nighthawks. Chirac told the French media in June that "not a single...[airstrike] was carried out without France's agreement." Leaders of the other NATO countries could have exercised the same control, but "for their own reasons, they waived their powers," Chirac said.
Chirac's role was endorsed by Clinton. According to Clinton aides, the president embraced Chirac's advice to temper the pace and scope of the air war. "They were on the same wavelength," a Clinton official says.
According to Shelton's aides, Clark had launched the bombers with the thought that his action would trigger formal approval from Chirac. But when Clark called Shelton to inquire about the French president's endorsement, Shelton calmly told the NATO commander that there had been no approval. "Then [Shelton] put down the phone before Clark let out a shriek," says the military officer.
What effect did the Western media reports have on the war? Some say their reports of continued Serb atrocities in Kosovo served to bolster support in the United States and other countries for NATO airstrikes.
But in the ensuing weeks, Western journalists also would relay the mistakes and mishaps of aerial NATO attacks where civilians were incinerated. Wayward "precision" munitions struck a passenger train, apartment buildings, a hospital, a tractor convoy and, most famously, the Chinese Embassy. NATO estimated 200 civilians were killed during the conflict, but some Western journalists put the death toll at 1,000.
Public opinion surveys showed, however, that popular support of the alliance remained high in the United States and Western Europe throughout the conflict. Accounts of Milosevic's continued genocide in Kosovo seemed to outweigh reports of NATO mistakes.
As the memory of Operation Allied Force fades, it is important to focus on official American planning for the next foreign conflict.
While many journalists had expressed strong frustrations over the limitations of coverage imposed during the Persian Gulf War, newspaper editors, network news chiefs and wire service executives made little effort to bring about revised ground rules for the military and media before the conflict in Yugoslavia started. And although Clinton officials and NATO trampled previous agreements with the media at the outset of the campaign in Yugoslavia, the press establishment didn't get to the Pentagon to protest until April 29--a month after the airstrikes began. Their complaints were brushed off by Bacon.
Now is the time for the media establishment to bypass the Pentagon and go directly to the commander in chief for ground rules on future Kosovos, to prevent American military planners from painting bull's-eyes on Western network cameras in potential hot spots.
And if they do, one thing media leaders should consider is making Johnson their point man.
Bush administration officials are still complaining about Johnson's "interference" with war planning during Operation Desert Storm, when his efforts halted attacks on a media center used by CNN in Baghdad. And while he won't go into specifics about the aborted bombing of the Serb Radio and Television headquarters, Johnson is clearly dismayed by the current climate at the Pentagon.
Johnson first waded into the fray over war coverage as a young deputy press secretary for President Johnson as he was being besieged by nightly news reports from Vietnam. The media-military relationship "has changed a lot," he says.
"In those days, we used to provide [military] helicopters to get reporters to the war," Johnson says. "

F-117A IRAD Videos

Throughout the war combat footage was released by various government and NATO agencies. The Federation of American Scientists has compiled over 100 released combat videos on their website. The Author identified the F-117A strike footage and presents them below.

Unidentified Target
27 March 1999 (4469Kb .MPEG)
Batajnica Hangar
26 March 1999 (2782K .MPEG)
Novi Sad Gas Tank
25 April 1999 (3.060Kb .MPEG)
Novi Sad
25 April 1999 (2.591Kb .MPEG)
Baric Explosives Plant,
25 April 1999 (2.510Kb .MPEG)
Sombor Petroleum Production Center Bunker
24 April 1999 (2.840Kb .MPEG)
Sombor Petroleum Production Center Storage Tank
24 April 1999 (2.440Kb .MPEG)
Sombor Petroleum Production POL Store Tank
24 April 1999 (2.750Kb .MPEG)
Underground Oil Storage Facility in the Vicinity of Novi Sad
21 April 1999 (2.228Kb .MPEG)
Sabac Radio Relay
24 May 1999 (2.773Kb .MPEG)
Belgrade Army Facility Avala Mountain
11 May 1999 (2.574Kb .MPEG)
Sombor Petroleum Production & Storage
11 May 1999 (2.595Kb .MPEG)
Loznica Radio Relay Station
2 May 1999 (3.090Kb)
Sremcica Radio Communications
2 May 1999 (2.588Kb .MPEG)
Subotica Radio Relay TV-FM Transmitter
2 May 1999 (2.574Kb .MPEG)
Belgrade - Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs
1 May 1999 (2.729Kb .MPEG)
Belgrade - Radio Relay Tower
1 May 1999 (2.740Kb .MPEG)

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