Bomber Command - V - Yemen

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by chippymick, Jun 17, 2011.

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  1. I’m quite interested in the recent acknowledgement that RAF pilots seconded to the Omani Air Force in the seventies took the war to the Yemeni’s in a ‘Rolling Thunder’ style manner.

    The thing that struck me, in recent reportage was the claim that “The RAF expended more air delivered ordnance in the Yemen ‘secret war’ than was dropped in the Falklands conflict.”

    RAF pilots carried out secret raids in Yemen - Telegraph

    I thought that the sum total of air support in the Falklands, including the ‘Black Buck’ strategic missions, did not really amount to much.

    I was also under the impression that the, ostensibly multi mission, Harriers were primarily focussed on the fleet air defence task and did not contribute at all to CAS.

    Has anyone any idea of the actual tonnage dropped by either side in the Falklands?

    I’d like to see an actual quantification of the tonnage dropped on Yemen in the 1970’s compared with that dropped on the Falklands.

    Exactly how many iron bombs, rockets were dropped on Yemen, by the RAF in the seventies? Would a fairer comparison perhaps be the UK air force and Navy effort in Bosnia in the nineties? Has anyone got those numbers?

    More to the point did the Omani’s apply more stick to the Yemeni’s than the Rhodesian’s did to the Zambian’s? And if they did why is it not on youtube?

    YouTube - ‪'Green Leader' Raid on Rebel Camps in Zambia‬‏

    When it comes to ‘secret stuff’ first there was an admission of:

    ‘Them’ and Claret

    Operation Claret - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Then came the funny business at Akrotiri.

    Akrotiri U2 accident on 7 December 1977 [Archive] - Key Publishing Ltd Aviation Forums

    Now it seems that ‘Bomber Command -V -Yemen’ is the latest cat out of the bag.

    What next?
  2. When the current Sultan of Oman came in to the job he did it with a bit of help.

    The story, as I have it, was that the coup was inevitable. The old bloke was yesterday’s man and not up to the task.

    When the coup took place two unexpected developments occurred. Firstly, the bribes paid to the palace guard returned very poor dividends. Secondly, the old bloke personally put up a singlehanded fight that inflicted ALL the casualties sustained by the forces of the ‘new broom’.

    The RAF was called upon to drop tear gas on the palace to subdue the old fellow.

    It was only after the old bloke had been well and truly lachrymated by the RAF, that he was able to be dragged, still kicking and screaming, into exile.

    In many ways it was the perfect execution of ‘regime change’. Ultimately, everyone in what was then Muscat and Oman benefited. It was a perfect example of the greatest good achieved for the greatest number.

    In other respects it was a very typical British affair. Even as the sun set on the Empire, there was still as much genuine concern for the greater good of the Omani people as there was for the advancement of UK business interests. That same sense of benevolent self interest had recently been applied to the situation in Malaya and with the benefit of hindsight, that has turned up trumps as well. Oman and Malaya are probably the two best cases of where British Commercial interests and the welfare of the people have thrived in equal measure.

    Typically British too, is the capacity to keep secrets. The UK has successfully engaged in regime change in the Middle East within living memory and it still doesn’t make the papers today! Even when an alleged ‘Arab spring’ is in full bloom, I think that is an utterly remarkable thing. The ineffective RAF strikes on Yemen are now known. The RAF’s complicity in the 1970 coup still remains unremarked.

    Typically British too, was the method in which the old fellow was eventually dispatched. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to substitute high explosive for the non lethal payload of tear gas apparently dropped by a Percival of some description.

    Many of the western backed coups, of that decade, resulted in very shabby deaths. Extraordinarily shabby deaths that gained no credit for anyone. There is much to be learned from the Oman coup of 1970 that is lost to history because of the UK obsession for secrecy!

    Perhaps if Robert Mugabe could be persuaded to take a few pot shots at his opposition, prior to becoming overcome by RAF dropped tear gas and then promptly whisked off to spend the rest of his days ensconced in a luxury London Hotel, both Bob and the Zimbabwe people would be better off? Honour satisfied all round?

    What worked in Oman might be a solution in Zimbabwe, only if the lessons of (recent) history are known and applied. History is useful that way.

    The most effective strategic strike the RAF ever made in the Middle East was the tear gas attack on the Omani Presidential Palace in 1970. That no one knows of it only serves to limit the options that current political leaders think that may be open to them.

  3. No the RN Sea Harriers flew quite a few strike missions, both prior to and after the landings, and once the RAF's Harrier GR3s arrived they flew many CAS and other sorties:

    RAF - 1 Squadron

    Aircraft flew for 9 hours, direct to Ascension Island which set a new distance/duration record for the Harrier. Some aircraft then flew direct to the South Atlantic, where they operated from HMS HERMES. During this conflict, over 130 sorties were flown against heavily defended targets on the Islands; 3 aircraft were shot down by enemy fire. All 3 pilots ejected successfully, although one, who sustained shoulder injuries, was captured and became the only prisoner of war; he was later repatriated to the UK. The Squadron moved to RAF Stanley in the Falkland Islands at the end of hostilities and took on air defence duties until the latter part of the year when it returned to Wittering.

    Seems unlikely since the Rhodesians had Canberras and Hunters which could lift quite a bit more ordnance than the RAF-crewed SOAF Strikemasters. Of course it also depends on how many sorties were flown and what the targets were and we don't seem to have that exact information readily available.
  4. Bomber Command
    Hardly Mick.
    Hawker Hunters and maybe the odd Jet Provost (Strikemasters), I do say Maybe, but Hunters for sure.

  5. The SOAF received Strikemasters from 1968 which were replaced/augmented by Hunters from 1974.


    According to the link both were involved in the cross-border raids:

    By the mid-1970s, SOAF pilots were facing an enemy equipped with some highly effective anti-aircraft weaponry, including ZSU 23/4 23-mm AAA and SA-7 shoulder-launched SAMs. In view of the growing number of incursions into Omani territory from across the South Yemen border it was decided to attack guerrilla bases there with all available SOAF strike aircraft. The raids, which began on 17 October 1975 and lasted into December, were mounted in conjunction with bombardments by warships of the Imperial Iranian Navy, the Shah of Iran having already lent considerable military support to the Sultan of Oman. No RAF pilots took part in the operation, which was carried out by mercenary pilots.[This seems in doubt now] The tactics adopted by the Hunter pilots involved flying to the target area at 15,000 feet, then diving on the objective at a sixty- degree angle, releasing their bombs at 2,500 feet and pulling up to 10,000 feet in a 7G spiral after weapons delivery. Rockets were fired at a slant range of 4,000 feet, and below 10,000 feet pilots maintained a speed of not less than 480 knots. Avoidance tactics on sight of a missile launch involved breaking towards the threat and throttling back to reduce the Hunter’s infra-red signature. Some twenty-three SA-7 launches were seen during the campaign, but only three hit their targets; one Strikemaster was shot down, and another Strikemaster and a Hunter were damaged. Other losses (none involving Hunters) were attributed to AAA and intense small-arms fire. Targets attacked included vehicle depots, supply dumps and, occasionally, an airfield.

  6. Thanks BB6I knew that harriers did perform CAS in the Falklands and we now know that the RAF performed interdiction missions in Yemen. The thrust of my enquiry is how did the scale of these things compare to contemperaneous operations?Were the Falkland airstrikes of a similar intensity to those used at say Grenada? How do you compare the Rhodesian strikes on Zambia with the RAF strikes on Yemen. How do you quantify and compare these things?I was always dissatisfied with the throwaway line that 'More tonnage was dropped on SEAsia than was dropped on Europe in WW2'. To me this is meaningless. In Europe there was a higher density of 'things that mattered'.It raises a lot of other questions too. Exactly how did the RAF air deliver tear gas in the 1970's? There was a great hoo ha over the US use of tear gas during Operation Tailwind Operation Tailwind - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that occurred around the same time.Is Tear gas as a non lethal response still valid today? Why is it not used in the way that it once was?It is also represents a fantastically gratuitous opportunity to re-post the 'Green Leader' strike YouTube - ‪'Green Leader' Raid on Rebel Camps in Zambia‬‏RegardsMick
  7. Sort of on topic - I am reading "the War That Never Was" by Duff Hart-Davis - basically the story of the gentlemen mercenaries, orchestrated predominantly by serving and retired SAS types, who conducted a war on behalf of the Yemeni royalty against the Egyptians and Republicans in the mid to late 60s. They had no official sanction by HMG and hence no air support from same. Israelis pitched in with supply drops and some from the French. Obviously the period you're talking about is after this, but goes to show things had changed slightly, if perhaps not drastically, with any air support from RAF being termed as "loan pilots" or "advisory roles".

    Recently of course, we seem more able to jump into suspect causes to back the underdog, but then we have back up from big brother, which was lacking back then (US backed Nasser).