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Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > Gulf of Sidra Incident

The Second Gulf of Sidra Incident

YouTube Channel: Allec Joshua Ibay posted Mar 31, 2019

In 1981 two Grumman F-14 Tomcats engaged in a dogfight with two Libyan Russian made SU-22 fighters, north of Libya, destroying them both. Aware of this history, on the morning of January 14, 1989, the USS John F. Kennedy was sailing toward the eastern Mediterranean Sea for a scheduled visit to Haifa, Israel.

Whenever near hostile countries, American aircraft carriers routinely conduct combat air patrols in order to protect the fleet. In this case, they were 120 miles north of Libya. On this day two Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighters from Squadron VF-32 were patrolling with a Grumman E-2C Hawkeye providing airborne early warning and control. At 11:55 two Libyan Mig 23 fighters were detected taking off from Libya and heading directly toward the fleet. Unlike earlier incidents wherein Libyan fighters turned back after detecting American radar signals sweep their aircraft, here, they continued to close in on the carrier and were believed to be hostile.

What follows is an accurate re-creation of that incident with the actual radio communications from what happened on that fateful day. In the video ‘Angels’ refers to altitude and ‘Tone’ which is an audio signal that an F-14 crewman hears indicating that their missile is locked on to a target before they launch it. No American Grumman F-14 Tomcat was ever shot down in air-to-air combat.

Examples of both an F-14 and Sparrow missiles may be seen in the Museums Hanger 2 Jet Gallery.

So have a listen to the sounds of modern air combat as nervous F-14 crews feel they are about to be attacked…