Saturday 24 July 2010

F-111: fighter or bomber?

I ask this question because the SMH ran a story today titled:

After 2000 hours flying the air force's controversial F-111 jet fighters, Micka Gray is sad to see them reach the end of their 37 years of service as the stalwart of Australia's air combat fleet.
Since most models of the F-111 weren't fitted with a cannon, or carried AAMs, I always thought of it as a bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. Wikipedia describes it thusly:

The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" is a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also fills the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions
Hmmm, don't see the word "fighter" mentioned anywhere. Sure, it can be traced back to a fighter bomber program in the late 1950s, but I don't think anyone has thought of throwing it around the skies in aerial combat as a fighter since before I was born.

It wouldn't surprise me if I discovered that most SMH writers though the B-52 was a fighter as well.


bruce said...

This is my recollection as a growing kid at the time:
- From the late 50's till after it was finished the press harped constantly about how expensive the 'white elephant' Sydney opera House was. The steam ran out on that campaign and immediately along came the F 111 purchase 'debate', a godsend for the press wowsers, including pop pacificism, anti-Americanism - the whole caboodle (the French Mirage was an alternative, I seem to recall, correct me).

I took the recent article to be them saying 'We told you so!'.

1735099 said...

Simple stuff - they couldn't get beyond F for fighter.
That's probably why they don't get confused about the B52 - B for bomber.

Richard_H said...

Carlo Kopp, an aviation writer I read a lot of mused about fitting them with better radars so they could carry AMRAAM's and so self escort when going down range. This would have then turned them into "fighters". Perhaps unsurprisingly nothing came of this.I'm pretty sure both the C models and G models both carried AIM-9's for self defence.

Carlo really does have a hard-on for the Pigs and frequently mourns their passing in Aus Aviation and another mag I can't name at present (impending dementia and all).