A Soviet fighter pilot talks about the American use of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in Vietnam

A Soviet fighter pilot talks about the American use of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in Vietnam

Intelligence drones have become an integral part of modern conflicts. However, UAVs did not appear at the military’s disposal today or even yesterday.

Soviet fighter pilot Pyotr Ivanovich Isaev spoke about the use of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft by the US Armed Forces during the Vietnam War in his memoirs. He was sent to Vietnam from the 53rd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, armed with MiG-21 fighters and based in Siauliai, Lithuanian SSR. The ace's tasks included training and instructing Vietnamese pilots in the use of the MiG-21.

Isaev “met” with the American unmanned reconnaissance aircraft on the second day after arriving in Hanoi. As the Soviet ace writes, the device flew at an altitude of about 200 meters. At the same time, he was accompanied along the entire route by fire from Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners, but it was not possible to shoot down the “uninvited guest.”

Later, behind the radar screen, Isaev saw the US Air Force’s tactics of launching those same unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. In his memoirs, the Soviet pilot describes it as follows.

First, the carrier of the Si-130 UAV appeared on the screens, which entered the launch zone and began to walk in a circle. As the Vietnamese military explained, it can maneuver in this way from several minutes to two hours.

Then two EB-66 jammer aircraft entered the aforementioned loitering zone, positioned on the flanks of the carrier.

Start drone was done within 30 minutes. However, due to interference, the device was only detected at a distance of 3-5 km from the carrier.

Immediately after this, Vietnamese Air Force fighters were alerted. The planes entered the area of ​​the intended flight route of the target, but were unable to observe it, since when the reconnaissance aircraft approached the coastline, the EB-66 was again interfered with.

All that remained for the Vietnamese fighters was to wait until the drone left the jamming zone, falling into their duty zone. However, the device changed direction and appeared in a completely different place, where it was no longer possible to intercept and destroy it.

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  1. +1
    8 December 2023 11: 20
    The Americans had a “fire bee” back then. There was a photo taken with the equipment of this UAV, on it was the tail of a Vietnamese MiG.
    1. 0
      8 December 2023 11: 30
      looks like a “stuffing”, we didn’t have it, they had it. but our “li-si-tsins” “made” them.
      1. +2
        8 December 2023 11: 36
        Fire bees in the Vietnam War BQM-34 "Firebee"
        January 9 2022
        429 read
        Originally designated the Q-2, this drone began service as a high-speed unmanned target. It was primarily used to test newly developed surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles and to train interceptor pilots. It was produced by Teledyne Ryan Aeronautics and, most interestingly, is still in service with the US Air Force.

        BQM-34 "Firebee" accompanied by a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II interceptor
        "Firebee" - fire bee
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        Over many years of modernization, 34 variants of the reconnaissance UAV were developed based on the BQM-28 "Firebee". The device was equipped with equipment for photo and electronic reconnaissance and even equipment for electronic warfare. But some fire bees were equipped with a camera to transmit real-time images, they were called AQM-34L and were launched only from an airplane.

        Fire bees were also launched from the ground. The control operator was either on the ground or on board the aircraft. If the craft remains undamaged after completing the mission, it is lowered safely to the ground using a parachute.

        Launching a BQM-34 "Firebee" from the ground.
        Application of Fire Bee in Vietnam
        BQM-34 "Firebee" UAVs were used for reconnaissance missions, both over Vietnam and Laos, and over China. All the most interesting stories with bees were associated with errors in their programming. The most common mistake is an incorrectly set flight altitude, for example, they set 60 meters instead of 600.

        For some unknown reason, this happened especially often during reconnaissance flights over a North Vietnamese air force base near the border with Laos. In one such case, a BQM-34L programmed to return returned shrouded in branches, leaves and telephone wires. In another mission, the Fire Bee actually collided with a MiG-17 fighter that was landing.


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        Photo recording of the screen of the BQM-34 "Firebee" UAV
        This photo, taken by the drone's automatic cockpit camera system, shows the tail of a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter. The planes took off to intercept the target and some of them passed very close.

        The AQM-34Q model was equipped with electronic warfare equipment and was unsuccessfully fired upon by North Vietnamese air defense missiles on February 13, 1966. Then the on-board equipment was able to record information about the operation of guidance systems, remote detonation and the characteristics of the warhead of the missile fired at it.

        Two AQM-34Qs under the wing of a Lockheed P-2 Neptune reconnaissance aircraft | BuNo.128347
        According to the American press, the data collected on the latest Soviet air defense systems, in its value, paid for the entire unmanned reconnaissance program in the Vietnam War. More than 1000 BQM-34s flew 3435 combat missions during the Vietnam War. The Soviet S-75 air defense missile system alone shot down 130 and at least 33 more by fighters; in total, 578 fire bees were lost during the war.

        Something like this.
        1. +1
          8 December 2023 17: 20
          Quote from: dmi.pris1
          Something like this.

          I must say that you handle the material extremely carelessly. They didn’t even bother to clear their posts of “advertising” and other fluff! You don’t respect yourself, of course...But according to the rules of good manners, it is customary to respect your interlocutors!!!
          NOT ICE! negative
  2. +4
    8 December 2023 11: 22
    And the USSR had its own UAVs for various purposes - TU-121, TU-141 "Strizh", TU-143 "Flight", TU-243, LA-17R.
  3. -2
    8 December 2023 11: 43
    Let's overtake and overtake America, a good slogan from the times of the USSR. And while using the UAV, we succeeded in doing this in a short time. In Berlin and Paris they are dreaming for the Lancets...
    1. 0
      8 December 2023 11: 46
      It looks like they are dreaming, but they are afraid. Well, or they are jealous
    2. 0
      8 December 2023 17: 26
      Quote: Vicente
      We managed to do this while using the UAV,

      This is only true for the “tactical” battlefield UAV segment. And then there are strategic intelligence officers like the Global Hawk... and other “joys and nasty things” (sea - NEWT, for example). Therefore, as the wise said: there is no limit to improvement! That's what I wish for us. Yes
  4. +1
    8 December 2023 11: 55
    What did it look like, what were its characteristics, 5 years have passed, are the current UFOs recorded around the planet modern reconnaissance UAVs?