"All I ever wanted to do was fly fighters"
The Vietnam War proved to be micro-managed in Washington to an unprecedented extent. Pentagon and Whitehouse "experts" let Russians build anti-aircraft Surface to Air Missile (SAM) sites all over North Vietnam convinced the North Vietnamese and Russians wouldn't use them as that would invite devastating United States retaliation. "News like a class (of fighter pilots) losing all its airplanes within weeks of arrival and another was 100% shot down were downers" (Ed White, p54, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO VIETNAM,2012). Something had to be done.
The Top Secret Wild Weasel program was conceived. The operation was going to be named "Mongoose" but that name was in use so "Wild Weasel" was the given code name. The goal was to
- Modify a small number of fighters to include a pilot and an Electronics Warfare Officer with electronic equipment to enabling them to find active SAM sites and mark them for destruction by accompanying aircraft.
- Develop a missile that could be fired from a fighter and home in on a radar emitter.
- Develop jamming equipment for carriage on fighter aircraft to counter the SAM radars.
- Create a radar homing and warning capability that would provide warning to aircrews that a SAM radar was looking at them and provide clues as to its location.
Captain Ed White, was one of the first eight Wild Weasel pilots. Over decades he would fly F100F, F105/G and F-4G Weasels to include two tours over North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Ed flew lots of fighters including single-seater F16s with "Weasel" electronics unimaginable in F100 days.