Retired Viggen Pilot on acquiring missile lock on the SR71 Blackbird – ENG subs

Updated : Oct 23, 2019 in Articles

Retired Viggen Pilot on acquiring missile lock on the SR71 Blackbird – ENG subs


During the “Incident contacts” I mentioned earlier ..We did acquired a new target – The American SR71 Blackbird A special kind of reconnaissance aircraft. They started their run from England And followed the same pattern in the Baltic sea, every time they made their way there. They approached on civilian air-craft route, so we always knew when they were coming We had worked out a special kind of attack pattern, just to get this one (The SR71) Command asked me if I had enough fuel for an high altitude contact If one confirmed, one was routed to the Southern tip of Öland Climbed to 8000 meters When one turned north again, the SR-71 had gone passed Gotland more or less. Continued climb – Turned on the afterburner and went super-sonic Continued climb in at least Mach 1,2 Straight for it It (SR-71) operated on varied altitude, but at least 22 000 meters, in Mach 2,2 Sometimes faster If it was a clear day, one could see them up there, in the blue skies And we successfully acquired Air-to-Air lock on them, all the time up there. (Robot 71=British Sky-flash) Of course with fictitious missiles We never fired live ammunition One could see it very well up there – at altitudes above 16,000 meters, the sky isn’t blue, it’s purple or black One could always spot the SR71 – They left a clear visible trail From their special kinds of engines, called ram-engines. Which are just like huge after-burners It’s a must in those altitudes. Our engines demanded super-sonic speeds too, to even function in those altitudes I’ve accomplished engagements like these on many occasions They (US-airforce) always used the same pattern – Except for one time When they experienced electrical failure And they were forced to descend over Gotland They didn’t want to steer towards the Soviet Union So they turned towards Sweden They managed to get down to lower altitude and it’s the only time they ever violated Swedish air space But it was due to an emergency, so it’s quite alright.

100 Comments

  • Let's keep the salty comments to a minimum and enjoy this piece of military history in mutual respect.
    If the Viggen would have been able to get an actual kill-shot on the SR71, we will thankfully never know.

    The 4 Viggen pilots who escorted the SR71 with engine failure (With Soviet fighters scrambled and in pursuit) was awarded the "Air medal" by the U.S. Air force in November 2018.

  • The story is the equivalent of how American grandfather's tell their grandchildren of the time they almost beat Muhammed Ali in a charity boxing match.

  • The issue here isn't whether an SR71 could still out run a missile even if fired upon. The point is the American Command got lazy and predictable. Overconfident if you will. I would have relieved some officers of Command and that whole damn branch of the military would have been put on alert.

  • The U.S. Air Force also used the same patterns when bombing North Vietnam using B-52s.

    They called it "Menus"….same Menu, different day!

    That was why the Viet Minh and Viet Cong always knew when and where the bombing took place. So they went underground or hid under the thick canopy of the Ho Chi Minh trail to transport weapons and ammunition to strike back!

  • A missle lock only means your missle has enough to fire. It does not guarantee a hit when it is fired. The soviets have fired on the SR 71 before and each of those missles had a lock before they were fired. The fact is if whatever your shooting at is faster than the missle or bullets being shot then they arent going to hit no matter what. I suppose you could try and head it off but a simple turn to avoid defeats that. The SR 71 is the fastest air breathing aircraft ever made. Its faster than all air to air missiles and faster than bullets or cannon shells. The speed records it set in retirement were still not its maximum speeds and despite military denials the SR 71 overflew the Soviet Union many times. They used to fly on ovetflight flights from kadena air force base in okinawa japan regularly and this was a open secret during those times. Before those flights flocks of japanese with cameras, and prob spies for the USSR as well, would gather at the fence at the end of the SR 71s runway and take pictures of it during its brief appearances during its takeoff roll–ot had its own hanger on its own runway. Ot would land and roll right in with doors closeing right behind it. A roundabout would turn it around in its hangar and it would even start engines before doors rolled open and then immediatly begin its takeoff roll. I dont know of any other aircraft who had its own everything like that. A wonderful aircraft.
    But again missile lock means nothing.

  • Oh wow, they could lock on, so could MiG-31 and other planes, locking on the SR-71 wasnt the problem, the problem was the SR-71 would outrun anything they shot at it.

  • Interesting! My late grandfather, Vic Horton, flew the NASA YF-12 and SR-71 Blackbirds out of Edwards AFB (in fact, much of the SR-71 footage in this video is his plane). No wonder he was always impressed with the Viggen! Always spoke highly of it. That being said, even if they did get a missile lock, actually hitting it is another matter entirely. The Libyans actually tried with one of the Air Force birds in the 80s; the crew went to full afterburners and literally outran the missile!

  • You're not supposed to tell them you saw them, this MUST be fake, like those pictures of the queen, sitting on the toilet, ALSO purported 'undercover' shots

  • Well, first of all, the Blackbird wasn't trying to hide. Number 2, it could have flown at a height exceeding the Viggen's ceiling. Number 3, it would have been traveling over Mach 3, if it was on a covert mission. Number 4, assuming the Viggen could still get a missile lock, the Blackbird could have outrun them at over Mach 3. Number 5, that pilot needs to stop kidding himself he could have shot one down. Number 6, no Blackbirds were lost to enemy fire.

  • CLARIFICATIONS:

    * One needs to actually TURN ON the English subtitles. Starts at 0:05.
    * The incident with the SR71 with engine failure was a separate incident and has nothing to do with the other contacts Thorbjörn speaks of.
    * The Sky-flash missile has a top speed of mach 4. A hit was very unlikely, but plausible, in theory.

    * I uploaded this because I love aircraft of all kinds and military history. I wanted to share this story beyond Sweden (the producers of the show didn't add eng subs.)
    * My channel is not monetised.
    * Calling me a "fucking cunt asshole" in private mail for sharing this is an interesting and pretty unreasonable reaction.

  • The way I heard it from a source close to the incident was that the Swedes had figured out the timing of when the Sr71 would be coming over. They stood the Viggen on its tail and got high enough that when they turned on the Viggen's radar, there the Sr71 was. The lock lasted for about one second before the Viggen's radar screen went all snowy.

  • Aquired missle lock without bringing down the target is akin to looking through the rifle scope at the huge 20 point buck and not pulling the trigger! Makes a great story and memory but that's about all.

  • Just aquring missile lock dose not mean it can shot down plane. Pilot will definitely increase speed and attitude to out run missile with other countermeasures.

  • Hans Svenska (His Swedish) is so clear! A joy to listen. …and a typical Swede the way he portrays things! Humble and accurate.

  • I really wish you hadn't made a practice of obtaining missile lock everytime we flew over. The goddamned buzzer that alerts us cant be shut off and got really fucking annoying after awhile….

  • Many commenters are eager to point out that acquiring a missile lock on the SR-71 was a commonplace event. In fact the Viggen is the only aircraft ever to do so.

    Of course, the Viggen couldn't have reached the required height and airspeed if it had carried missiles, and they wouldn't have caught the Blackbirds if they had wanted to evade, or if the Blackbirds hadn't been following a known route (the "Baltic Express"). This was just an exercise. A demanding exercise, but without practical implications.

    BTW, USA actually decorated some Viggen pilots for assisting a Blackbird with engine trouble, possibly the same that is mentioned in the video. Since they were losing altitude and speed, Soviet interceptors were scrambled to take a closer look. Two pairs of Viggens showed up and blocked the Soviets' approach.

  • Interesting but I doubt the missile would have got to target. It's moving too damn fast. If the Russian stuff could not get it, I'm sure sky flash would have failed to as well. Only missile that could probably have made the kill would have been the aim-54 Phoenix…

  • A British Royal Airforce pilot did this twice in the English Electric Lightning. First was a planned interception and second time was just a case of sit on your tail and light up the afterburners. But cases he would have been in a good position to fire his missiles.

    Best attempted shoot down of the Blackbird was some guy blasting away with a couple of 20mm AA guns on the back of a truck. He obviously did not get the memo about the SR71 being faster then a speeding bullet.

  • Big Deal, so you locked onto a SR-71. So did many hostile nations that actually tried to shoot one down, & not one ever managed to do it.

  • I'm happy for the Viggen pilot that he had such an incredible experience sharing some airspace (relatively speaking) with a SR-71 cruising by. That's a fighter jet pilot's dream come true and makes for great pub talk with his fellow pilots. I'm a little envious.

  • Key word acquired
    This was not a viable threat to the blackbird. The pilots had almost no ecm because they didn't need it. Their ecm is the throttle. It probably landed at RAF Mildenhall before this Viggen figured out what happened, mission accomplished. Let's not forget that to this day, it's top speed is classified. SR Pilots say Mach 3.2 was just above the middle of the throttle, and that it could go "a whole lot faster" if it was necessary, but they aren't allowed to comment on its top speed or whether they had opener her up to full mil throttle. It definitely became an issue when the Russians developed Mig 25 and Mig 31. Both had top speeds of Mach 3.2+. Not one caught up with or intercepted an SR-71, and the sr-71 can outrun and evade missles from the ground and the sky. This is just a cool story, not something that would ever be considered an actual threat to sled drivers. Santa has as good a chance with his reindeer as this Viggen does of catching up to an sr-71.

  • Missile *lock*. That's not all that impressive; SAMs were locking onto it on multiple occasions.
    Now, actually hitting the aircraft? That is something different altogether.

  • lol… my old man was never shot down… neither was his friends… would you all mind if I call bullshit on this Communist propaganda on YouTube…??? Putin, are you having a hard time with what we got now…??? I'm still flying… lol

  • Before the flamewars get out of control, read what the man was saying.
    He locked on with a skyflash but imagined it with fictitious missiles.
    The skyflash at the time had seekers and range similar to an AIM7 Sparrow (indeed that's what it was based on) which means there was no way it was going to kill the SR-71 unless it did a max burn to altitude and just, lob the missile, and even that had practically no shot at success .
    The skyflash had very limited range.
    This was only possible to achieve by countries like Sweden or Norway, which knew where it was coming from and where it was going (straight from UK to USSR, skirting their countries).
    They are either ascending or descending when they pass these countries. Their flight characteristics are well known to them, as the pilot mentions at the beginning of the video.
    If the Blackbird was flying to the Soviet Union with the same performance as it did inside the Soviet Union, the Viggins would have about the same chance of shooting it down as the Mig-21 or 23 would have.

  • His is talking to his ass. Off course you can have air lock for Air to Air kill if the black bird is going at M 2 at 22,000m and you ass pilot at your max altitude at M1.2. See if you can lock on if black bird going at 85,000 ft at M3.5

  • The title is missleading, as he had only a radar lock. Getting the missile in range and having an actual firing solution and a decent kill probability is a totaly different thing, much harder to achieve. The Rb 71 is not a particularly fast or long range missile, so even if he had a temporary firing solution and had the actual missile flying, the SR-71 (or any other jet flying at M2+) would easily overrun the missile or drain its energy.

  • Needless to say, the Blackbird was idling when the saab was in the chase. If there really was a missile loc he let you get close enough. He knew you were friendly….

  • The top speed of the SR-71 is unknown to anyone except those who flew them and those who were directly involved with the aircraft. The record that it set before its retirement is not anywhere close to its capability.

  • I'm confused… why were the Swedish air force trying to shoot at the SR71? As far as I know we [the USA] were never in any conflict with the Swedes.

  • Acquiring a missile lock isn’t that hard.

    Russia did that many times.

    Did they ever shoot down a blackbird?

    Nyet, political officer

  • According to Russian Viktor Belenko in his book "MiG pilot", the Russians also acquiring missile locks on the SR71 Blackbird and fired air to air missiles at it, only to watch as the SR71 outrun their missiles.

  • What is the point of this? It would be cool if they really shot a BlackBird but it would just punch it to mach 3.3

  • This pilot tracked a plane that flew on the exact same pattern, day and time with ground control guidance while the SR 71 was only flying around MACH 2? Wow!!! The only problem is in spy mode or in hostile territory the SR71 would be flying at MACH 3.3 and at 88,000 feet or more. If a missile was fired from this guys jet or his countries missile defense system the SR 71’s evasive plan was to simply accelerate. Jealous NATO supposed allies 🤪👍

  • yeah the swedish subtitles on swedish video is really helping me out here on understanding the video

  • The more important question to be directed to those who really knew is why induring the hassle of the Blackbird had sattelites been there and doing the job?

  • Soviet Union Probably track it n this dude claim to have radar lock could been but what is acknowledged is SR71 could fly Mach 3.5 but it is common knowledge in the intelligence community it could reach Mach 5 or faster actually speed is still classified highest level so even if shot a missile the blackbird still outran it this is why it never shot down from time a pilot got lock to actually firing the SR71 Blackbird was already out of range ,,

  • I suppose its great pride for a small country to have a swipe at a legendary bird. Anything he fired at the Sr71 wouldn't have caught up..

  • During the many times the SR-71 was fired upon, the only evasive action necessary was to simply accelerate. During its years of service, none were shot down.

  • Everyone seems to miss the fact that he said they were heading straight at it when acquring the lock. You can't really outrun someting that's coming from your front, right?

  • The Swedish Air force pilots who descided to help and ecort the Americans just recieved medals of hounor from US Air force
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a25349308/swedish-pilots-medals-sr-71-blackbird/

  • Maury Rosenberg talks of how the Viggens practiced this all the time basically. He himself experienced them popping up to 60k feet then falling off.

    The Russians had computed intercepts around Vladivostok, but they were extremely difficult to pull off.

  • No pilot from the Royal Swedish Airforce tried to shoot at any US airplane. We consider the Eastern Sea, which you call the Baltic Sea, to be our own back yard and try to air police it the best we can. At the time Sweden were strictly neutral, haha, and of course it is our duty to identify and necessary take proper action against any airplane, no matter nationality. To show ourselves, our flag. This is our country.
    If we could have downed a Blackbird, well, we will never know.
    Please, focus instead on the story from this individual, one of those who trained daily to be among the first to risk his life for the rest of us.
    Including the crew of the SR71 with enginefailor that past over Gotland and were protected by 4 JA37 Viggens in the 80-s from Soviet agression.
    I aplogise for my english.

  • Fun fact: At the time the Saab Ja-37 Viggen was one of the best fighters in the world, if not the best. The West German fighters would regularly try and turn fight our J1-37s but after the first circle the Viggen was almost always on its tail. The German fighters were a lot heavier than the Viggen and thus was not as maneuverable.

  • Fighter pilots with any of the freedom loving countries within the Soviet Sphere of influence back in the 80's knew having the SR-71 blast it's way by to spy on the USSR was an absolute Godsend. Seriously, if you get to practice tracking and locking on to something as fast and elusive as the Blackbird how much easier has it become to track,lock and bring down the SECOND fastest fighter in the world. Soviet's are damn lucky they never had to engage pilots from any of those countries

  • a lot of air forces tracked and had the " bird in their sights" including our own cr-101 voodoos at the time that does not mean you could shoot it down..iam sure the blackbird crew were just fuckin with the swedes

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