The Pilot who Scored First U.S. F-16 kill by shooting down Mig-25 with AIM-120 AMRAAM

On Dec. 27, 1992, an Iraqi MiG-25 “Foxbat” fighter violated the no-fly zone and entered airspace south of the 33rd parallel Violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 (UNSCR 688) of Apr. 5, 1991, which barred fixed and rotary wing aircraft from airspace south of the 33rd parallel.

As told by Craig Brown in his book Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. aerial engagements from 1981 to the present.On that day at approximately 10:42 a.m. local time, the then Capt. Gary “Nordo” North (who was flying the F-16D No. 90-0778, callsign Benji 41) led a flight of four F-16s on a routine OSW mission.

As the Viper drivers were refuelling from a KC-135 they heard urgent transmissions between a formation of four F-15s in the no-fly zone and AWACS controllers.

An Iraqi fighter (that one F-15, having been close enough to gain visual acquisition, confirmed it as a “Foxbat”) had crossed the border into the no-fly zone and now was speeding north to safety with the F-15s in hot pursuit. The Foxbat quickly reached north of the thirty-second parallel, and the F-15s, now low on gas, left the area.

Capt. Gary “Nordo” North and his wingman refuelled with only enough gas to allow them to cover their assigned on-station time in the no-fly zone and crossed the border into southern Iraq while the third and fourth aircraft in their group continued to refuel.

The Pilot who Scored First U.S. F-16 kill by shooting down Mig-25 with AIM-120 AMRAAM
Capt. Gary “Nordo” North

Within minutes AWACS controllers ordered the two F-16s toward an Iraqi aircraft that was heading south toward the thirty-two parallel to ensure the Bogey did not cross into the no-fly zone.

Few minutes later AWACS controllers directed the Vipers to intercept another high-speed contact which originated in the north and crossed into the no-fly zone approximately thirty miles west of the F-16 formation.

The Iraqi fighter was forced to turn north to safety before the F-16s, armed with two AIM-120A Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, could engage it.

AWACS radar monitored another aircraft, northeast of the F-16s, flying south toward the no-fly zone, but this time as the F-16s flew to intercept the fighter an Iraqi SAM radar site began tracking the Vipers. At this point North ordered the third and fourth aircraft in his group, now with a full load of gas, to fly north at their best speed. Again AWACS radar reported a radar contact entering the no-fly zone to the west of North’s formation at high speed at 30,000 feet.

The Bogey was flying directly towards them on an easterly heading.

Nordo called for a tactical offset to the north to “bracket” the F-16s between the MiG and the thirty-second parallel, creating a blocking maneuver and trapping the Iraqi fighter in forbidden airspace. The MiG could not escape back into Iraqi territory without a fight.

“Someone was going to die within the next two minutes, and it wasn’t going to be me or my wingman,” North said.

North requested clearance to fire as he visually identified the aircraft-a MiG-25 Foxbat armed with AA-6 “Acrid” radar guided missiles.

He directed his wingman to employ his electronic jamming pod and again he requested clearance to fire.

He finally heard “BANDIT-BANDIT-BANDIT, CLEARED TO KILL” over his headset.

At approximately three nautical miles, at fifteen degrees nose high and fifteen degrees right bank North locked up the MiG-25 and fired an AMRAAM, which guided to impact and totally destroyed the Russian built Foxbat.

On Oct. 28, 1998, Col. Paul “PK” White interviewed North for an article he authored, “Nordos’ MiG Kill,” where North described the moment of missile impact: “I saw three separate detonations, the nose and left wing broke instantly, and the tail section continued into the main body of the jet, and finally one huge fireball.”

Noteworthy this engagement not only marked the first aerial victory scored by an American F-16, but also the first kill for the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

The following video is the original footage of the engagement


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  1. He was LTC North at the time, 33 FS commander. He was eventually a 4 star general. We arrived in the AOR 18 Dec 1992 and came back 18 Mar 1993. LTC North had only taken command of the 33 FS a few days before we deployed. I was the number 3 in his flight when we deployed and did not really know him. On the 8 hour leg to Germany, other flights were having fun playing tunes or battleship on VHF (interflight frequency), our flight had about one extraneous sentence spoken the whole way. The reason he was in a D model was because that aircraft was having trouble with the cockpit lighting and this was a daytime only sortie best I remember, plus we were putting so many hours on the aircraft each day, the phase inspections ran 24/7 trying to keep up. He wingman was Steve “Kid”Duffy (he looked like a teenager) and his number three was Dave Cotten “Picker”, I don’t remember who number 4 was. We had only started training with the AIM 120 a month or two prior to deploying. F 15s were scared to get in front of us in case we hosed off one by mistake. I believe Paul Krause came up with my ironic callsign, Big City, because of my (not) cosmopolitan accent.

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