FRED SWAN (USAF)

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Rapid City's Fred Swan (LtCol USAF ret) talked to us about his experience as a bombardier in the Iraq War at our December 12, 2009, meeting.    In 2003, Swan was the weapons systems officer aboard a B-1B Lancer bomber from Ellsworth’s 405th Air Expeditionary Wing.  He and  three other crewmembers were refueling high over western Iraq when orders came to drop four precision-guided bombs, including two "bunker busters," on a high priority target in Baghdad.
    Swan said it took only 12 minutes from receiving the orders to drop the bombs on a target in the residential Mansour district where Saddam Hussein and his sons may have been meeting, though the human targets were not identified at the time.
    They launched four 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs, two of a type that penetrates into buried structures before detonating, and two nonpenetrating types.
    As the weapons officer, he had to input the coordinates and delineate the weapons to  be used. He checked the coordinates three times, Swan said. "For me, what I was thinking was 'Well, this could be the big one, let's make sure we get it right.’"
    In addition to the AWACS support, the B-1B had to have air-to-air refuelers. "We can't make anything happen unless we have tankers up there to give us the gas," Swan said.  In addition,  F-16CJs were there to suppress enemy air defense, and an EA-6 Prowler accompanied the Lancer to jam surface-to-air radar.


Photo is from Air Force Magazine