6Break Right!Give Mission-Critical Feedback When the Missiles Are Launched

IT’S 12:30 A.M., and the moonless night sky appears peaceful and serene. The only sound I hear is the steady hum of the F-16’s jet engine. I’m flying 350 knots at twenty-two thousand feet, on a combat mission in Serbia during Operation Allied Force. My wingmen are five miles off my nose and five miles in trail. We are all scanning our radar for enemy aircraft, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and radar activity. Over half our time is spent looking for unseen threats and “checking six”—covering our wingmen’s blind spots.

Suddenly, my wingman’s voice blares over the radio, “Break right, break right! Missile launch your five o’clock!” My heartbeat ramps up, and I feel a surge ...

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