Bombers from B-70 to Stealth
F-111A, F-111D, F-111F, F-111H
The F-111 becomes more deadly, 1969 to 1986
The USAF ordered F-111Ds on May 10, 1967, with an improved Mark II avionics system and engines, but delayed development led to an interim F-111E model, using the
F-111Aís engine and radar, but with new air inlets to improve engine operations at high altitudes.
The first of 94 F-111E models replaced the F-111A on the delivery line in August 1969, entering operations with the 27th TFW on September 30. After the grounding and rework period until July 1970, the Fort Worth factory delivered the remaining F-111Es to the 20th TFW in England, which received the first of 79 in September 1970. By May 28, 1971, the last F-111E was accepted.
The first F-111D was flown May 15, 1970 with a 12,840-pound thrust TF30-P-9, but the remaining 95 had to wait for their advanced APQ-128 terrain-following radar and APQ-30 attack radar. Deliveries delayed to July 1971 were not completed until February 28, 1973. They served the 27th TFW at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, until 1992.
The last new production model, the F-111F, was ordered July 1, 1970, but the new P-100 engines were delayed so that the first 49 entered service with the 347th TFW in September 1971 with TF30-P-9 engines and APQ-144 radar. The 25,100-pound thrust P-100 engines became available in 1972 and 106 F-111Fs were completed by November 1976 at a 10.3 million dollar unit price. Including SACís FB-111As, 563 F-111 series aircraft were built.
The proposed FB-111H was a bomber design offered in 1977 as a substitute for the high-cost B-1A program. Using the same General Electric F101 engines and radar systems, it was claimed to provide most of the same capabilities as the B-1A, when using air refueling, at less than half the cost. However, the Defense Department was committed to the cruise missile concept for future strategic deterrence.
Two F-111As were converted to EF-111A ECM aircraft by a January 30, 1975, contract with Grumman, who used its EA-6B experience to fit complete tactical radar jamming ALQ-99E gear in a canoe-shaped belly radome and a large fin tip pod for the ECM receivers. After tests of a fully modified prototype began May 17, 1977, the Air Force ordered 40 F-111A aircraft converted to the EF-111A configuration with APQ-160 attack radar.
Delivered from November 1981 to December 1985 and named the Raven, the EF-111A reached operational capability with the 390th Electronic Squadron, 366th TFW, in December 1983. Improved TF-30-P-9 engines and electronics were installed in EF-111As by 1989.
After the F-111F was transferred to the 48th TFW in England in March 1977, the M61A gun was replaced in 1980 by an Pave Tack AVQ-26 pod so that infrared and laser designators could guide weapons like the 2,000-pound GBU-10 or 500-pound GBU-12 bombs. An ALQ-131 ECM pod was also added for protection.
Operation El Dorado Canyon was a reprisal for terrorist attacks that launched 24 F-111F and five EF-111As from England against targets in Libya on April 14, 1986. Inflight refueling allowed 96 Mk 82 and 64 GBU-10 bombs to be carried to Tripoliís airfield, a barracks compound and a terrorist training camp, often aimed by the new Pave Tack pods.
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