Red Eagles: America's Secret MiGs

Overview

When two Navy F-14 Tomcats engaged and shot down two Sukhoi Su-22 jet fighters in 1981, they drew on experience and tactics that they had learned from a previous encounter with MiG jet fighters. The difference between the two encounters was that in the first, the enemy fighters were flown by American pilots assigned to a top secret squadron hidden at a remote airfield in the ultra-secret Tonopah Nuclear Test range, Nevada. In the second, the Sukhoi fighters were flown by Libyan pilots attempting to enforce ...

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Red Eagles: Americas Secret MiGs

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Overview

When two Navy F-14 Tomcats engaged and shot down two Sukhoi Su-22 jet fighters in 1981, they drew on experience and tactics that they had learned from a previous encounter with MiG jet fighters. The difference between the two encounters was that in the first, the enemy fighters were flown by American pilots assigned to a top secret squadron hidden at a remote airfield in the ultra-secret Tonopah Nuclear Test range, Nevada. In the second, the Sukhoi fighters were flown by Libyan pilots attempting to enforce Colonel Qadaffi's 'Line of Death' over the Gulf of Sidra.

From the mid-1960s until the end of the Cold War, the United States Air Force acquired and flew Russian-made MiG jets, eventually creating a secret squadron dedicated to exposing American fighter pilots to enemy MiGs. Following underperformance in the Vietnam War, the USAF began to study MiGs in order to improve fighter pilot training. This then developed into the "black" Constant Peg program. In this program, MiGs were secretly acquired, and made airworthy, a difficult task without manuals or parts. A secret base was found to operate the planes from; and then ace pilots were found and trained to not only fly the assets, but fly them as they were flown by America's enemies. Finally, a program of exposing American fighter pilots to the MiGs was developed. In all, more than 1,600 American fighter pilots would train against America's secret MiGs between 1974 and 1989.

Uncovering the story of the secret MiGs in America during the Cold War, and specifically Constant Peg and the 4477th Test & Evaluation Squadron, is a challenge because much of the information has been destroyed, or remains classified. To piece together the story of this group of men who provided America's fighter pilots with a level of training that was the stuff of dreams, author Steve Davies has interviewed over thirty of the Red Eagle pilots, along with other members of the squadron. This paperback edition includes new material on HAVE IDEA and other HAVE programs; making the MiGs airworthy in 1977 from the maintainers' perspective; and the intelligence activities of MiG expert at the Foreign Technology Division Mike Coyle. The result is a fascinating glimpse into a "black" program that enabled American fighter pilots to go into combat having already met and defeated their first MiG.

Hardcover edition ISBN: 9781846033780

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Davies' Red Eagles is a fitting tribute to [the pilots who died flying the Mi-Gs], and to all those who flew and supported the MiG training effort. His is a wonderful tale, superbly told, unveiling one of the last great unknown cold war stories." -Richard P Hallion, Air & Space (March 2009)

"...a notable achievement ... a powerful survey." -California Bookwatch, November 2008

"...the book benefits from recently declassified information. ...[The stories of] over 30 pilots and crewmen that participated in the unit ... makes [for] an interesting read." - Air Classics

"Every once in a while, one runs across a book that simply sucks one into the story from page one until the end of the book. This is one of those ... So good is this book that if you buy only two or three aviation books a year, this one needs to be one of those." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (October 2008)

"This is an engaging combination of an adventure story and a case study in military reform...Davies' major achievement is his demonstration of the Red Eagles' role in facilitating the USAF's development into a potent instrument of air supremacy that remains important even in the current era of antiterrorism."- Publishers Weekly (July 2008)

Publishers Weekly

This is an engaging combination of an adventure story and a case study in military reform. The Vietnam War showed the U.S. Air Force's neglect of air-to-air combat training in the belief that it was outmoded by nuclear war. Repairing that damage required a training system using Soviet bloc planes as well as air-combat tactics. Davies, a freelance expert on military aviation, explores fresh sources to begin telling how the U.S. acquired the aircraft, put them into flying condition and established a top-secret program that gave generations of young pilots something approaching experience in the realities of dogfighting. Davies eloquently describes the forceful, colorful personalities at the sharp end of this high-risk maverick operation. The book provides a perceptive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of mid-generation Soviet MiGs that significantly expands understanding of the Arab-Israeli and Indo-Pakistan encounters involving those aircraft. Davies's major achievement is his demonstration of the Red Eagles' role in facilitating the USAF's development into a potent instrument of air supremacy that remains important even in the current era of antiterrorism. (Sept. 23)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846039706
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Series: General Aviation Series
  • Edition description: New
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 355,872
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.74 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Davies is a freelance military and commercial aviation photojournalist based in Cambridge, England. He began writing in 2001, and has since authored six critically acclaimed books and co-authored three more. His freelance writing includes a plethora of articles penned for the world's leading monthly and quarterly aviation publications, and he has also worked on a range of aviation 'partwork' magazines that have sold millions of copies globally. He has also worked as a subject matter expert for a range of military aviation documentaries commissioned by terrestrial television channels in the UK and North America, and by the History Channel. His photography has been used not only by the aviation press, but also by leading defense contractors and aviation corporations. The author lives in Bristol, England.

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Table of Contents


Dedication 6 Acknowledgments 7 Foreword 10 Introduction 12 Part 1 Acquiring "The Assets" 15 Chapter 1 HAVE MiGs, 1968-69 16 Chapter 2 A Genesis for the Red Eagles, 1972-77 21 Part 2 Laying the Ground Work 49 Chapter 3 Constant Peg and Tonopah, 1977-79 50 Chapter 4 The Red Eagles' First Days and the Early MiGs 78 Chapter 5 The "Flogger" Arrives, 1980 126 Chapter 6 Gold Wings, 1981 138 Part 3 Expanded Exposures and Red Flag, 1982-85 155 Chapter 7 The Fatalists, 1982 156 Chapter 8 Postai's Crash 176 Chapter 9 Exposing the TAF, 1983 193 Chapter 10 "The Air Force is Coming," 1984 221 Chapter 11 From Black to Gray, 1985 256 Part 4 The Final Years, 1986-88 275 Chapter 12 Increasing Blue Air Exposures, 1986 276 Chapter 13 "Red Country," 1987 293 Chapter 14 Arrival Shows, 1988 318 Postscript 327 Endnotes 330 Appendices 334 Glossary 342 Index 346
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