The F-111 Aardvark: The Best Strike Aircraft In The United States’ Military
It is safe to say that the F-111 was a beast of a plane that carried out its duties with distinction for a number of years. Many individuals are of the opinion that this cold fighter retreated from the battleground way too soon. It has been dubbed the “greatest military strike aircraft” in the history of the United States by a number of analysts.
Supersonic, medium-range, multirole combat aircraft
Supersonic, medium-range, multirole combat aircraft General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark is now in retirement.
A multi-role aircraft that could handle all of the future tactical needs of the U.S. military services was mandated by the United States Department of Defense, and General Dynamics responded by developing the F-111 Aardvark.
The F-111 was manufactured in a variety of configurations, each of which saw use in ground attack and interdiction, strategic bombing with nuclear weapons, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare. It could kill targets deep within enemy territory while flying at low altitudes in any weather.
The U.S. Air Force’s primary strike plane during the Cold War was the F-111 Aardvark.
The F-111 Aardvark was the U.S. Air Force’s primary strike plane for the better part of the Cold War. Until the F-15E Strike Eagle came along, it was a mainstay of the military, participating in practically every battle since Vietnam. In a limited capacity, it also performed strategic bombing missions for the Strategic Air Command.
What, though, was the secret to the F-111’s success? In the end, did the United States really give up any useful capabilities by putting it out of service?
In order to satisfy the requirements of both the Air Force’s swing-wing strike bomber and the Navy’s long-range interceptor, the F-111 was one of the first aircraft to be jointly developed by the two services.
The F-111D was developed during the Vietnam War.
In order to get past opposing air defenses, the strike bomber had to keep a low and quick altitude. It had a big bomb bay, swing wings for better low-speed maneuverability, and a sophisticated terrain-following radar. Many features of later NATO strike aircraft, like the Panavia Tornado, were inspired by the F-111, including radar and swing wings.
Combat testing of the F-111 began in Vietnam in 1968, but the plane wasn’t fully deployed until Operation Linebacker due to technical difficulties. Because of its low-level penetration and extremely low loss rate of 0.015, it went on to become one of the most survivable bombers of the war.
But the Navy, still on the lookout for a long-range interceptor, would ultimately reject the F-111 in favor of a more agile design that would eventually become the F-14 Tomcat.
Between tactical strike aircraft and strategic bombers, the F-111 was an odd middle ground.
The Air Force was so satisfied with the F-111’s performance that it kept improving it. The F-111D was an early fighter jet to use a “glass cockpit,” or instrument panel in which data was shown on a screen rather than traditional dials and meters. Additionally, it was equipped with state-of-the-art avionics for its era.
Furthermore, the F-111 was outfitted with a targeting pod called the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack, which integrates a laser designator with an infrared camera. The plane can pick its own targets and launch laser-guided bombs at them. During Operation Desert Storm, laser-guided bombs dropped from the Pave Tack were utilized to efficiently kill individual tanks.
However, the F-15E Strike Eagle, which was designed to replace the F-111, was also capable of these maneuvers. It boasted a cutting-edge glass cockpit, could insert itself at low altitudes, and could deploy targeting pods. The Strike Eagle inherited the normal F-15’s potent air-to-air radar and integration with the newest air-to-air missiles, allowing it to engage enemy aircraft on its own.
However, the F-111 was better in several ways. Initial specifications for both the Navy and the Air Force called for the F-111 to have an extremely long range. Despite the Strike Eagle’s use of external fuel tanks, the F-111 has a ferry range that is nearly 60 percent greater than that of the F-15E.
With its extended range, the F-111 could be used in a variety of different roles. As part of Operation El Dorado in 1986, British-based F-111s bombed Libya. Strategic Air Command, which used the FB-111 version as a strategic bomber, also found the range to be quite desirable. To replace the F-111 in that duty, the B-1 Lancer was developed.
The F-111 was a strange middle ground between tactical strike aircraft and strategic bombers, despite the fact that shorter-range aircraft are far cheaper to maintain and operate. Due to the success it had with that medium during the Cold War, the design shouldn’t be disregarded as a strange middle ground.