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Old Viper Tester

F-4E 73-1175 422FWS

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F-4E 73-1175, 422nd Fighter Weapons Squadron, 57FWW, Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, Nellis AFB, 1980-81. My test jet for the First Article Acceptance Test of the Aerial Gunnery Target System, a version of the SECAPEM target.

73-1175 422fws WA KLSV 19810100 25cr

 

Despite the checkout shown below, and my request to do a ground release test ("We don't do that in operational testing."), our first deployment of the target was an ignominious event with both the target and the tow pod dropping from the aircraft and impacting on Dog Bone Dry Lake on the Nellis Ranges! :doh:

73-1175 422fws WA KLSV 19801200 14cr

 

73-1175 422fws WA KLSV 19801200 14cr1 w callouts

 

The A/A37U-33 AGTS consisted of two separate pods. One pod contained the nylon towline and served as the towline connection to the aircraft. The smaller target pod contained a fabric mesh "tetraplane" for visual augmentation, which would deploy when the towline was fully extended, and a microphone on the nose for scoring miss distance as the shockwaves of the bullets passed the target. A control panel for the target replaced the ECM pod control panel in the cockpit. The tetraplane had a radar reflector to aid tracking by the shooter.

The image below is a screen shot from a SECAPEM marketing video for the TAXAN system, a current version of the AGTS, showing the tetraplane target (very similar to the 1980 target).

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 6.03.26 PM

 

Thanks for looking,

Sven

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Oo, Oo, Oo!......the 'how longs a piece of string' question....:whistle:

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4 hours ago, whiskey said:

How long was the nylon cord used to tow the target?

My recollection is that it was 1,000 feet when packed. It stretched quite a bit when deployed. For reference, the cable for the TDU-10 dart was (is?) 1,200 to 1,500 feet. We tested the AGTS using Combat Dart and Butterfly Dart patterns, which result in relatively high-angle engagements; the tow aircraft establishing a turn and the shooter shooting from inside the tow aircraft arc. Poor form if you shoot from outside the arc and hit the tow aircraft!

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Haha I was gonna say , one would have to be a pretty big schmuck if you hit the tow bird! I'd feel ever worse for the pilot of the tow aircraft than anyone else!

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good info there Sven. Is this the only aerial target system that utilises two pylons? I've never heard of that before

 

Andy

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Sven,

 

First off, thank you as always for posting these great photos! 73-1175 was one clean Phantom! BTW, I noticed the different color on the forward part of the radome- was that a different color or type of paint? Maybe a rubberized anti-erosion coating? Just curious, but I never really noticed this before- now I'm going to have to go back and look at ALL of my F-4 reference photos!

Mike

 

Like Roseanne Roseanna Danna used to say on Saturday Night Live, "It's always sumthin!"

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4 hours ago, Red Dot said:

Is this the only aerial target system that utilises two pylons?

As far as I know, it was the only one that used two pylons. The newer Secapem TANAX version holds the target pod and the towline inside a larger pod - target deployment looks a little like the parent pod is giving birth.

 

1 hour ago, 72modeler said:

Maybe a rubberized anti-erosion coating?

Yes, it started to show up on newer replacement radomes in the mid-70s. A variation is used on F-15 radomes, maybe that's where the idea came from. When the radome is first fitted the difference in color/texture is hardly noticeable. Weathering makes them more noticeable on both the F-4s and F-15s - some but not all, so maybe it depends on the prevalent weather conditions? On some of my photos I can see a demarcation line, but the color variation is slight or non-existent. On F-15s we sometimes referred to it as an erosion boot.

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