1:72 Sukhoi Su-22M3K Fitter-J No. 1022 Sqdn, Libyan Arab Republic Air Force (LARAF), Gulf of Sidra Incident, 1981
The Su-22(NATO reporting name : Fitter) was the export designation for the Soviet Su-17 swing wing fighter bomber. Like all Soviet export models, they were slightly downgraded in terms of avionics and other systems compared to the Su-17s in service with Soviet Air Force.
The Su-17/20/22 was developed in response to a Soviet requirement of a ground attack aircraft with short-field capability( ability to operate from unprepared/rough air fields). The Su-7 was totally unsuited to short-field operation, and fixes such as RATO gear and dual brake parachutes didn't do much to improve shortcomings in the Su-7. The high landing speed of the Su-7 also was a clear liability, being the feature most disliked by its pilots.
The Su-17 demonstrator(initially called Su-7IG/S-22I) performed its initial flight on 2 August 1966, with well-known test pilot Vladimir S. Ilyushin at the controls. It was the very first flight of a Soviet Variable Geometry wings jet. It was basically a Su-7BM with fixed inner portions of the wing and with movable outer segments which could be swept back and forth for different flight regimes.
Trials of the S-22I were complete by the end of 1967. Take-off and landing handling was judged much superior to the Su-7, cutting the required take-off/landing length in half. There was only a marginal improvement in range, and then only when the wings were left extended during main flight cruise. However, given that internal fuel tankage had been cut and empty weight increased -- mostly due to the heavy VG wing mechanism -- even staying in the same place as far as range went was a positive sign.
In November 1967, the type was approved for production as the "Su-17"
The Su-17's wing sweep was manually controlled, initially with a two-setting switch: 30 degrees for take-off, landing, and loitering, and 63 degrees for high-speed flight. Later, a 45 degree setting was added for fast cruise. It took 19 seconds to fully extend the wings, 16 seconds to fully retract them.
The VG wing panels featured a leading-edge slat, while each fixed wing panel featured a single wing fence next to the VG wing panel; a second wing fence was added in the middle of the fixed wing panel in late production. Each VG wing section had ailerons and a slotted flap, with each fixed wing section featuring a two-section flap. There were two stores pylons under each wing -- a "wet" pylon directly under the wing fence, the other close to the fuselage. Along with the "traditional" belly pylons, that gave six stores pylons. The auxiliary wing pitot tube was relocated to the right side of the nose.
Avionics were generally updated, with a new radio, a new navigation system, SPO-3 Sirena-10 RWR, a RV-5 radar altimeter, and SAU-22 flight control system (FCS), which provided considerable automation of take-off, landing, and normal flight; it also worked in conjunction with a toss-bombing sight. An optical sighting system was used for level and dive bombing. Later production featured the improved SAU-22-1 FCS, which linked to the RV-5 radar altimeter to provide terrain following to altitude of 200 meters (650 feet) or more.
Internal fuel capacity was 3,400 liters (897 US gallons). A new 820-liter (216 US gallon) external tank was introduced, replacing the old 620-liter tank. The old 1,150-liter external tank could still be carried, one on each outer wing pylon. The number of maintenance access doors and panels was doubled to ease servicing.
Initial variants of the Su-17 were powered by the Lyulka AL-21 engine. Later from Su-17M variant onwards, it was powered by the more powerlful Tumansky R-29 engine.
The Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 variants were formerly operated by the Air FOrces of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, East Germany, Egypt, HUngary, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Peru, Slovakia,Turkmenistan, Ukraine , Uzbekistan and the Soviet Union/Russia.
Current operators include the Air Forces of Angola, Iran(former Iraqi aircraft operated by IRGC-AF), Libya, Poland, Syria and Vietnam. Libyan Su-22s
According to Western Sources, the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force(LARAF or al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Libiya
took delivery of more than 100 Su-20s, Su-22M3s and Su-22UM3s( the exact variant wise proportion is unknown) in the 1970s and 80 were still on the inventory in 2004. The Su-20/22s were based at Okba ben Nafi, Ghurdabiya-Sirte and Ghadames.
Libyan Su-22s quickly became involved in confrontations with the US Navy in the Mediterranean. In 1973, the Libyan dictator, Colonel Gaddafi, declared the entire Gulf of Sidra to be Libyan territorial waters, and US President Ronald Reagan ordered the Navy to perform exercises there to assert the freedom of the seas.
The standoff was tense, and clashes were likely to happen; on 19 August 1981, two Libyan Su-22M3s were shot down over the gulf of Sirte by US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcats.
Libyan Su-22s saw action in Chad during the 1980s. By 1998 most were unserviceable because spares supplies were cut off in 1992 due to UN sanctions. These were imposed when Libyan terrorists blew up Pan Am Boeing 747 Clipper Maid of the Seas over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. The sanctions were lifted in 2000 but they hardly made an difference to get most of the Fitters airworthy again.
AS a result most Fitters were withdrawn from service in the mid-1990s, with some refurbished a decade later and put back into service. Quite a few were destroyed by NATO airstrikes during the Libyan revolution in 2011.While some continue to fly for the LNA-AF post Libyan Revolution. General characteristics
Length: 19.02 m (62 ft 5 in)
Wingspan: 13.68 m (44 ft 11 in) wings spread
10.02 m (33 ft) wings swept
Height: 5.12 m (16 ft 10 in)
Wing area: 38.5 m2 (414 sq ft) wings spread
34.5 m2 (371 sq ft) wings swept
Airfoil: root: TsAGI SR-3S (5.9%); tip: TsAGI SR-3S (4.7%)
Empty weight: 12,160 kg (26,808 lb)
Gross weight: 16,400 kg (36,156 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 19,430 kg (42,836 lb)
Fuel capacity: 3,770 kg (8,311 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Tumansky R-29B-300 afterburning turbojet engine, 78.5 kN (17,640 lbf) thrust dry, 112.8 kN (25,360 lbf) with afterburner
Maximum speed: 1,400 km/h (870 mph, 760 kn) / M1.13 at sea level
1,860 km/h (1,160 mph; 1,000 kn) at altitude
Combat range: 1,150 km (710 mi, 620 nmi) hi-lo-hi attack with 2,000 kg (4,409 lb) warload
Ferry range: 2,300 km (1,400 mi, 1,200 nmi)
Service ceiling: 14,200 m (46,600 ft)
g limits: +7
Rate of climb: 230 m/s (45,000 ft/min)
Wing loading: 443 kg/m2 (91 lb/sq ft)
Thrust/weight Ratio: 0.68
Guns: 2 × 30 mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-30 autocannons (80 rounds per gun, 160 rounds total), UPK-23 or SPPU-22 gun pods for 2 × Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L autocannons
Hardpoints: 12 hardpoints with a capacity of up to 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) of stores, with provisions to carry combinations of:
IR Air-to-air missiles:R-13,R-60
Air-to-surface missiles:Kh-23 Grom, Kh-25ML, Kh-29L/T/D
Anti-radiation missiles:Kh-58, Kh-27PS, Kh-28
Bombs: drop bombs, laser-guided bombs, electro-optical bombs, napalm bombs, drag chute bombs and cluster bombs
Rockets: S-5, S-8 & S-13 The First Gulf of Sidra Incident - August 19, 1981
In 1973, Libya claimed the Gulf of Sidra as a closed bay and part of its territorial waters. Gadaffi did so by drawing a straight line on the map at 32 degrees, 30 minutes north between a point near Benghazi and the western headland of the gulf at Misrata with an exclusive 62 nautical miles (115 km) fishing zone. Gaddafi declared it "The Line of Death", the crossing of which would invite a military response. This prompted the United States to conduct Freedom of Navigation (FON) operations in the area since the claim did not meet the criteria established by international law. The LARAF often confronted U.S. forces in and near the gulf, and on two occasions its fighter jets opened fire on U.S. reconnaissance flights off the Libyan coast; once in early 1973 and again in late 1980. FON operations intensified when Ronald Reagan became president.
In August 1981, Reagan authorized a large naval task force led by a pair of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, USS Forrestal and USS Nimitz, to deploy to the disputed area fro "exercises". The two carriers had embarked a total of four interceptor squadrons: VF-74 "Be-Devilers" and VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles", flying F-4J Phantoms from USS Forrestal, and VF-41 "Black Aces" and VF-84 "Jolly Rogers", flying F-14A Tomcats from USS Nimitz. The Libyan Air Force responded by deploying a high number of interceptors and fighter-bombers.
Early in the morning of 18 August,1981, when the U.S. carrier group exercise began, at least three Libyan MiG-25 Foxbats approached the U.S. carrier groups, and were escorted away by American interceptors. The Libyans tried to establish the exact location of the U.S. naval force. Thirty-five pairs of MiG-23s , MiG-25s, Sukhoi Su-20 'Fitter-Cs', Su-22M 'Fitter-Js' and Mirage F1s flew into the area, and were soon intercepted by seven pairs of F-14s and F-4s. U.S. Naval Intelligence later assessed that a Libyan MiG-25 may have fired a missile from 18 miles (29 km) away at U.S. fighter aircraft that day.
On the morning of 19 August, after having diverted a number of Libyan "mock" attacks on the battle group the previous day, two F-14s from VF-41- Call signs Fast Eagle 102 (CDR Henry 'Hank' Kleemann -Squadron CO & his RIO - Lt. David 'DJ' Venlet) (flying BuNo 160403) and Fast Eagle 107 (Lt Lawrence 'Music' Muczynski & his RIO Lt.JG James 'Amos' Anderson) (in BuNo 160390), were flying combat air patrol (CAP) to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise. An E-2C Hawkeye from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124 based on the Nimitz provided long-range surveillance and fighter control for the battle force.
An S-3 Viking, piloted by Cdr Thompson Sanders was on a reconaissance mission and his flight in the area was the real precursor to this incident. Sanders was ordered to fly his Viking in a "racetrack" orbit (oval pattern) inside Gaddafi's claimed zone but outside the internationally recognized 12-mile (19 km) territorial water limit to try to provoke the Libyans to react. An E-2C Hawkeye alerted Sanders that two Sukhoi Su-22 fighters had taken off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte on a possible intercept course. Cdr Thompson's S-3 dove to the deck and turned back to the carrier.
While in their CAP pattern, the F-14s were advised about detection of two Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters-J taking off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte flying on an intercept course to the S-3.
The two Su-22s were from No. 1022 Squadron, LARAF and were flown by two relatively young pilots — Capt. Belkacem Emsik Az Zintani and 1st Lt. Mokhtar El Arabi Al Jafari.
The two F-14s set up for an intercept as the contacts headed north towards them. Only a few seconds before the crossing, at an estimated distance of 300 m, one of the Libyan Su-22s(Leader - Zintani) fired an AA-2 "Atoll" at one of the F-14s, which missed. The AA-2s were rear aspect missiles, which required the shooter to be directly behind the intended victim and obtain a solid lock tone before firing. Fired head on, it was pretty much useless.
The two Su-22s split as they flew past the F-14s; the leader(Zintani) turning to the northwest and the wingman(Al Jafari) turning southeast in the direction of the Libyan coast. Having evaded the missile, the Tomcats were cleared to return fire by their rules of engagement, which mandated self defense on the initiation of hostile action. The Tomcats turned hard port and came behind the Libyan jets. The Americans fired AIM-9L Sidewinders; the first kill is credited to Fast Eagle 102( Su-22 Wingman - Al Jafari), the second to Fast Eagle 107(Su-22 Leader - Zintani). Both Libyan pilots ejected.
Prior to the ejections, a US electronic surveillance plane monitoring the event recorded the lead Libyan pilot(Zintani) report to his ground controller that he had fired a missile at one of the US fighters and gave no indication that the missile shot was unintended.Less than an hour later, while the Libyans were conducting a search and rescue operation of their downed pilots, two fully armed MiG-25s entered the airspace over the Gulf and headed towards the US carriers at Mach 1.5 and conducted a mock attack in the direction of USS Nimitz. Two VF-41 Tomcats headed towards the Libyans, which then turned around. The Tomcats turned home, but had to turn around again when the Libyans headed towards the US carriers once more. After being tracked by the F-14s radars, the MiG-25s finally headed home.
Transcript of the Incident:
102 : Lead F-14A - Fast Eagle 102(Kleeman/Venlet)
107 : Wingman F-14A- Fast Eagle 107 (Muczynski/Anderson)
Bare Ace: E-2C Hawkeye Air Intercept COntroller
00:03 102 - Going to [garbled] right now, I'll stay in[garbled]scan.
00:07 Bare Ace And 102 - [garbled] 226 36
00:15 102 - Twenty miles for 102. Twenty thousand feet.
00:19 Bare Ace - 225 at 33 102.
00:24 Bare Ace - And what's your [garbled something about the contact]?
00:27 102 - 102's got one 214 16 miles out, that's all I've got.
00:31 102 - He appears to be turning a little bit left giving us a left aspect. I'm in single target track.
00:38 102 - 14 miles 21,000.
00:44 Bare Ace - 113 say your heading.
00:48 113 - 113s heading 070
00:54 102 - 10 miles
00:54 102 - 102. The bogeys got us on his nose now 8 miles.
01:03 102 - We're at altitude, twenty thousand feet 6 miles.
01:06 Bare Ace - 103, 113 your vector 100.
01:25 Bare Ace - 103 state.
01:31 107 - Two fitters has shot at my leader.
01:35 102 - [garbled]... this is 102, we've been fired on.
01:46 Bare Ace - And 102.
01:50 Bare Ace - OK copy.
01:51 unknown - Did you copy that Bare Ace?
01:52 Bare Ace - Negative, what did one of them say?
01:54 102 - 107
02:03 unknown - Bare Ace, did you just copy 103?
02:05 Bare Ace - That's negative.
02:05 unknown - Because they said they've just been fired upon, that's what they transmitted.
02:15 Bare Ace - 102 confirm you've been shot at, over.
02:18 unknown relay - [garbled]confirm you've been shot at.
02:21 102 amongst interferance - Affimative.[garbled] shot one of them down.
02:26 unknown relay - Did you shoot one of them down?
02:29 102 - It was a clean target.
02:34 107 - [garbled]Want me shoot my guy down?
02:35 102 - That's affirm, shoot him... shoot him down.
02:45 Bare Ace - 205, 223 vector inbound at this time.
02:49 223 223 inbound
02:53 107 - Fox 2 kill from music. Fox 2 kill.
02:56 102 - [name] did you get him?
02:58 107 - Yes sir, I did kill him.[garbled several seconds]
03:05 107 - Fox 2 kill. His chute is not deploying. He is falling free.
03:08 102 - OK, roger that.
03:11 Bare Ace - 106 Reset CAP 5. 106, 110 reset cap 5.
03:14 107 - [garbled]123 DME on the 180. And my state ten two, ten two.
03:27 102 - OK I'm nine five.
03:29 Nimitz - 102 107, you are clear to defend yourself.
03:31 Bare Ace - 102 107, you are clear to defend yourself. Pass from the ship.
03:35 102 - And this is 102 107, ah two enemy kills.
03:40 Bare Ace - Say again.
03:41 102 - Two enemy kills. Two MIG-23s killed.
03:45 unknown relay - Two MIG-23s. You copy Bare Ace?
03:48 Bare Ace - Roger.[garbled]
03:52 107 - Mine was a Fitter, a Fitter.
03:59 Bare Ace - 102 107 You copy? That's vector north.
04:41 Bare Ace - 107, Bare Ace.
04:44 102 - This is 102 go ahead.
04:47 Bare Ace - Were one or two hit?
04:55 102 - 102 and 107 are fine. We're both headed north. And there are two...
04:58 Bare Ace - Roger that. And confirm you've got two MIG-23 kills.
05:03 102 - OK one was a Fitter and they're probably both Fitters. And there are two kills.
05:07 unknown relay - Bare Ace you copy? There are two kills. Either Fitters or Floggers.
Actual Comms audio from the Incident -
The Libyans managed to recover both downed Su-22 pilots from the sea. The Su-22 formation leader- Capt Zintani claimed in pubic that he managed to shoot down the lead F-14( Capt. Kleeman's Fast Eagle 102) with his R-13 missile and that they were later swarmed by six F-14s, which led to his & his wingman's shoot down.
Cdr Kleeman's Su-22 kill was the US Navy F-14's first ever kill, soon followed by Lt. Muczynski's kill. THe last US Navy air to air kill was a Su-22 too when an F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-87 "Golden Warriors" downed a Syrian Su-22M4 Fitter near Raqqa, Syria in 2017.
Cdr. Kleeman(then a Captain) was killed in a F/A-18A crash in 1986 while he was posted the Navy's VX-4 Test & Evaluation squadron.Lt. David "DJ" Venlet rose to the rank to Vice Admiral and was appointed director of the Joint Strike Fighter program in the late 2000s.
Eight years later, in a similar fashion, two US Navy VF-32 F-14s clashed with two Libyan MiG-23s, shooting both of them down, which was referred to as the Second Gulf of Sidra Incident.
The six men who clashed over the Gulf of Sirte on August 19. 1981:
F-14 crews(L to R) : Lt. David 'DJ' Venlet(RIO, Fast Eagle 102), Cdr. Henry 'Hank' Kleemann(Pilot, Fast Eagle 102), Lt. Lawrence 'Music' Muczynski(Pilot, Fast Eagle 107), Lt.JG James 'Amos' Anderson ( RIO, Fast Eagle 107)
Su-22 pilots Capt. Belkacem Emsik Az Zintani (circled on the left - Su-22 lead) and 1st Lt. Mokhtar El Arabi Al Jafari (circled on the right - Su-22 Wingman) The Model
A model that is a generation ahead of other JC Wings model in terms of fit & finish. The landing gears are magnetic and eventhough the weapons/drop tank attachments are not magnetic, they fir surprisingly well and without much effort.
Weapons options include 2 X R-60 IRMS, 2 X B-8 rocket pods, 4 X Du-17 drop tanks.
An absolute stunner from JC Wings, I expect this model will receive a lot of love from collectors worldwide and will get a lot of liveries in the future.
The shock cone which housed a window for the Klyon-PS laser rangefinder:
The model comes with overs for the nose cone & engine exhaust