This new piece was made in close collaboration with David "Hey Joe" Parsons, and depics a mission flown on Feb. 12th, 1991 over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. This print was made as a part of a 12 art piece series. Each month of 2021 will feature a new Tomcat print, each of them depicting a new aspect of the Tomcats rich history. The series goes by the name: "Half Century, Baby!" with this piece being the first of the 12.
"Going to Big Al" depeicts a flight of two TARPS equipped F-14A Tomcat were set to fly over a factory complex in the northen Iraq. The here described in Hey Joes own words:
"One of the top targets during Desert Storm was the Al Qa’im Super Phosphate Plant near the Syrian border. Al Qa’im had a role in refining Yellowcake Uranium for use in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and harboring SCUD missile launchers making it a top priority target. Its importance to Iraq was evidenced by the six SAM batteries arrayed around the facility creating a super Missile Engagement Zone (MEZ) unrivaled except for Baghdad itself. Four SA-3 Goa and 2 SA-2 Guideline Surface to Missile (SAM) sites were positioned in mutually supporting locations thereby creating a crossfire against any approaching aircraft.
Big Al was proving to be a tough target when the Navy was chosen to launch a brand new AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) from a VA-75 Sunday Puncher A-6E Intruder flying off USS John F Kennedy. SLAM had never been used in Combat and had only recently arrived onboard ship. Fighter Squadron 32 drew the mission and tapped the most experienced TARPS aircrews to plan and execute the mission which would necessitate flying directly over Al Qa’im to get the required images. An EA-6B Prowler would provide jamming protection and an A-7E Corsair II equipped with 4 HARM missiles would conduct Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD).
LCDR Dave “Hey Joe” Parsons served as overall Strike Lead and Mission Commander of the 2 Tomcats with LT Jim “Dog” Kuhn as his pilot. The wingman was LCDR Jerry “Truck” Trudell with CDR Tom “Chain” Zelibor as the RIO. Both Tomcats had a TARPS pod with an ALQ-167 ECM pod and an expanded chaff adapter (ECA) in addition to 2 Sparrow and 2 Sidewinder missiles. They planned to conduct a single high speed pass through the MEZ. The weather was clear and visibility unlimited. Great for spotting SAMs and for the Iraqi Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) to spot the approaching Tomcats.
Unloading the aircraft from 30K to 20K in a “Toboggan” maneuver, both Tomcats accelerated through Mach 1 to their maximum speed obtainable of M1.2 as they approached the MEZ. The Corsair SEAD launched all 4 HARMs as planned. Time seemed compressed as the Tomcats penetrated the outer MEZ ring with all eyes scanning the ground looking for the telltale SAM launch. Suddenly, Kuhn shouted “SAM” over the radio as a dirty cloud blossomed just north of the complex. Parsons spotted it as well, but quickly announced “It’s a HARM!” Up to then, the Prowler ECMOs were concentrating on countering the various SAM batteries which were all menacing the approaching Tomcats. They had fired their HARM and unleashed their powerful jamming. However, when Parsons called “It’s a HARM!”, the Iraqi IADS immediately shut down thereby allowing the Tomcats to complete their photo run unmolested."