Synopses & Reviews
When two Navy F-14 Tomcats engaged and shot down two Sukhoi Su-22 jet fighters in 1981, they drew on experience and tactics that they had learned from a previous encounter with Russian-made MiG jet fighters. The difference between the two encounters was that in the first, the enemy fighters were flown by American pilots assigned to a top secret squadron hidden at a remote airfield in the ultra-secret Tonopah Nuclear Test range, Nevada. In the second, the Sukhoi fighters were flown by Libyan pilots attempting to enforce Colonel Qadaffi's 'Line of Death' over the Gulf of Sidra. In all, more than 1,600 American fighter pilots would train against America's secret MiGs between 1974 and 1989.
The squadron of MiGs - the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron - was perhaps the single most important US Air Force unit in the Cold War; not just because it operated clandestinely acquired MiGs, but because it took the concept of an Aggressor training force to the ultimate in fidelity. It allowed American pilots to validate their tactics and techniques, and many of these men went on to apply them to great advantage in real combat situations. Declassified in winter 2006, some 17 years after the unit flew its last sortie, there is much more to the 'Red Eagles' than meets the eye. This is their story.
Foreword by Col. John Manclark, USAF Ret. 4477th TES commander 1985-1987
- Chapter 1 - Have MiGs, 1968-1969
- Chapter 2 - The Aggressors, 1972-1977
- Chapter 3 - Laying the Ground Work - Tonopah and Constant Peg, 1977-1979
- Chapter 4 - The Red Eagles' First Days and The Early MiGs, 1979-1981
- Chapter 5 - Expanded Exposures and Red Flag, 1982-1985
-Chapter 6 - Losses: Mark Toast Postai, and Melvyn Hugh Brown
- Chapter 7 - The Final Years, 1986-1989
- Chapter 8 - Killing MiGs - Peg Proves its Worth
- Chapter 9 - Still Black
- Apendix A - Where Are They Now?
- Appendix B - Early Attempts To Get A MiG, 1953-1968
"This is an engaging combination of an adventure story and a case study in military reform. The Vietnam War showed the U.S. Air Force's neglect of air-to-air combat training in the belief that it was outmoded by nuclear war. Repairing that damage required a training system using Soviet bloc planes as well as air-combat tactics. Davies, a freelance expert on military aviation, explores fresh sources to begin telling how the U.S. acquired the aircraft, put them into flying condition and established a top-secret program that gave generations of young pilots something approaching experience in the realities of dogfighting. Davies eloquently describes the forceful, colorful personalities at the sharp end of this high-risk maverick operation. The book provides a perceptive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of mid-generation Soviet MiGs that significantly expands understanding of the Arab-Israeli and Indo-Pakistan encounters involving those aircraft. Davies's major achievement is his demonstration of the Red Eagles' role in facilitating the USAF's development into a potent instrument of air supremacy that remains important even in the current era of antiterrorism. (Sept. 23)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the late 1960s until the end of the Cold War, the United States Air Force acquired and flew Russian-made MiG jets, culminating in a secret squadron dedicated to exposing American fighter pilots to enemy technology and tactics.
Red Eagles tells the story of this squadron from the first tests of MiGs following the Vietnam War when the USAF had been woefully under-prepared in aerial combat. These initial flights would develop into the "black" or classified program known internally as Constant Peg.
At a secret air base in Nevada, ace American fighter pilots were presented with a range of differnet MiG jets with a simple remit: to expose "the threat" to as many of their brethern as possible. Maintaining and flying these "assets" without without spare parts or manuals was an almost impossible task, putting those flying the MiGs in mortal danger on every flight.
Despite these challenges, in all more than 5,900 American aircrews would train against America's secret MiGs, giving them the eskills they needed to face the enemy in real combat situations.
For the first time, this book tells the story of Constant Peg and the 4477th Red Eagles Squadron in the words of the men who made it possible.
About the Author
Steve Davies is a freelance military and commercial aviation photojournalist based in Cambridge, England. He began writing in 2001, and has since authored six critically acclaimed books and co-authored three more. His freelance writing includes a plethora of articles penned for the world's leading monthly and quarterly aviation publications, and he has also worked on a range of aviation 'partwork' magazines that have sold millions of copies globally. He has also worked as a subject matter expert for a range of military aviation documentaries commissioned by terrestrial television channels in the UK and North America, and by the History Channel. His photography has been used not only by the aviation press, but also by leading defense contractors and aviation corporations. The author lives in Bristol, England.