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Serb discusses 1999 downing of stealth

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KC-10 Driver

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2002
No new information in this article, but interesting to hear what this fellow has to say.


Posted on Wed, Oct. 26, 2005
Serb discusses 1999 downing of stealth

[SIZE=-1]Associated Press[/SIZE]

SKORENOVAC, Serbia-Montenegro - Col. Zoltan Dani was behind one of the most spectacular losses ever suffered by the U.S. Air Force: the 1999 shooting down of an F-117A stealth fighter.

Now, for the first time since that night six years ago, the former Serbian commander of an anti-aircraft missile battery has consented to speak publicly to Western media about the circumstances surrounding the unprecedented downing of a U.S. stealth plane.

The hit on the radar-evading plane on March 27, 1999, during the 78-day NATO campaign over Serbia, triggered doubts not only about the F-117s, but also about the entire concept of stealth technology on which the U.S. Air Force has based its newest generation of warplanes.

Military analysts debated how the planes would fare in a war against a militarily sophisticated opponent if an obsolescent air defense such as Serbia's could manage to track and destroy them.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Dani said the F-117 was detected and shot down during a moonless night - just three days into the war - by a Soviet-made SA-3 Goa surface-to-air missile.

"We used a little innovation to update our 1960s-vintage SAMs to detect the Nighthawk," Dani said. He declined to discuss specifics, saying the exact nature of the modification to the warhead's guidance system remains a military secret.

It involved "electromagnetic waves," was all that Dani - who now owns a small bakery in this sleepy village just north of Belgrade - would divulge.

The F-117 was developed in great secrecy in the 1970s. It entered service in 1983 but was not revealed officially until 1988. It saw its first combat in the 1989 invasion of Panama and was a star of the 1991 Gulf War.

"Long before the 1999 war, I took keen interest in the stealth fighter and on how it could be detected," said Dani, who has been hailed in Serbia as a war hero. "And I concluded that there are no invisible aircraft, but only less visible."

The F-117 was one of only two allied aircraft shot down in the war. The other was an F-16 fighter, which the U.S. Air Force said was also hit by an SA-3. Both pilots bailed out and were rescued by NATO helicopters.

Dani said his anti-aircraft missile regiment, tasked with the anti-aircraft defense of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, downed the F-16.

Several other NATO warplanes were damaged by missile hits but managed to struggle back to bases in neighboring Bosnia, Macedonia or Croatia. At least one is said to have ditched into the Adriatic Sea as it attempted to regain its base in Italy.

Despite NATO's near-total air supremacy, the alliance never succeeded in knocking out Dani's batteries.

The Serb SAMs remained a potent threat throughout the conflict, forcing attacking warplanes to altitudes above 15,000 feet, where they were safe from surface-to-air missiles but far less effective in a ground attack role.

NATO won the war in June 1999, after President Slobodan Milosevic decided to withdraw his largely intact army from Kosovo, following the destruction of numerous government buildings, bridges and other infrastructure targets throughout Serbia.

"The Americans entered the war a bit overconfident," Dani said. "They thought they could crush us without real resistance."

"At times, they acted like amateurs," Dani said, listing some ways the Serbs managed to breach NATO communications security, including eavesdropping on pilots' conversations with AWACS surveillance planes.

"I personally listened to their pilots' conversations, learning about their routes and bombing plans," Dani said.

Dani said that his unit has had annual reunions on every March 27 since 1999 when a cake in the shape of the F-117 is served.
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The F-117, if not properly prepared for flight, will have a trackable radar signiature. For example, if the seam in an access door is not puttied correctly with some cosmic ant-radar goo, the seam will reflect. It's entirely likely that there was a mistake by the USAF that allowed this to happen.

Or it could have been a "golden BB", just plain bad luck.
The stealth aircraft isn't entirely stealthy, even when they are trying. And that SAM operator knew what he was doing...
The USAF disbanded its electronic warfare squadrons and staffs in the mid 1990s.

The F-117 was shot down because of the near total ignorance of electronic warfare at the senior levels of the Air Force at that time.
Or, alternately it was shot down because the ATO was being leaked to the Serbs, and they knew when and were the aircraft would be...
Mud Eagle said:
Or, alternately it was shot down because the ATO was being leaked to the Serbs, and they knew when and were the aircraft would be...

Ths USAF has a long tradition of leaking the ATO, but if you had an invisible airplane would it matter?
This is typical of the thought pattern that unless something is 100% effective, that it's worthless. There is no war without casulaties. Enemies and the news media will exploit the stupidity and inpatience of the American public by fostering such dribble.
Draginass said:
This is typical of the thought pattern that unless something is 100% effective, that it's worthless. ...

Not exactly. After Desert Storm USAF PR flacks were telling the world that stealth was 100% effective, and that it did away with the threat of radar detection once and for all. Stealth airplanes were said to not require any support of any kind. That was nonsense of course, but maybe it would help our side if someone belived it. As long as "someone" wasn't our own leadership.

It's fine to puff up your capablities in public, but its deadly when the generals in charge start to believe their own propaganda.

Low observable techniques are are very powerful and effective, but they are not the panacea that the Air Force leadership of the 1990s believed them to be.

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