The Hunter Killers: The Extraordinary Story of the First Wild Weasels, the Band of Maverick Aviators Who Flew the Most Dangerous Missions of the Vietnam War

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At the height of the Cold War, America's most elite aviators bravely volunteered for a covert program aimed at eliminating an impossible new threat. Half never returned. All became legends. From New York Times bestselling author Dan Hampton comes one of the most extraordinary untold stories of aviation history.

Vietnam, 1965: On July 24 a USAF F-4 Phantom jet was suddenly blown from the sky by a mysterious and lethal weapon—a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM), launched by Russian "advisors" to North Vietnam. Three days later, six F-105 Thunderchiefs were brought down trying to avenge the Phantom. More tragic losses followed, establishing the enemy's SAMs as the deadliest anti-aircraft threat in history and dramatically turning the tables of Cold War air superiority in favor of Soviet technology.

Stunned and desperately searching for answers, the Pentagon ordered a top secret program called Wild Weasel I to counter the SAM problem—fast. So it came to be that a small group of maverick fighter pilots and Electronic Warfare Officers volunteered to fly behind enemy lines and into the teeth of the threat. To most it seemed a suicide mission—but they beat the door down to join. Those who survived the 50 percent casualty rate would revolutionize warfare forever.

"You gotta be sh*#@ing me!" This immortal phrase was uttered by Captain Jack Donovan when the Wild Weasel concept was first explained to him. "You want me to fly in the back of a little tiny fighter aircraft with a crazy fighter pilot who thinks he's invincible, home in on a SAM site in North Vietnam, and shoot it before it shoots me?"

Based on unprecedented firsthand interviews with Wild Weasel veterans and previously unseen personal papers and declassified documents from both sides of the conflict, as well as Dan Hampton's own experience as a highly decorated F-16 Wild Weasel pilot, The Hunter Killers is a gripping, cockpit-level chronicle of the first-generation Weasels, the remarkable band of aviators who faced head-on the advanced Soviet missile technology that was decimating fellow American pilots over the skies of Vietnam.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
Jun 2, 2015
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9780062375148
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Vietnam War
History / Modern / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Dan Hampton
Get inside the cockpit with Dan Hampton, the military’s most decorated F-16 pilot, in this enhanced e-book edition of Viper Pilot. Exclusive to this edition are 11 video interviews, where Hampton talks candidly about his time as a Wild Weasel and about the fighter jet that kept him alive through so many dangerous skirmishes. In addition, an interactive “first-person” cockpit diagram lets you get deeper into the action, providing a visual companion to the book that leaves you feeling like you’re sitting in the iconic F-16 itself.

151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites
4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
1 Purple Heart

Sure to rank as one of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare.

From 1986 to 2006, Lt. Col. Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, the elite Air Force fighter squadrons whose mission is recognized as the most dangerous job in modern air combat. Weasels are the first planes sent into a war zone, flying deep behind enemy lines purposely seeking to draw fire from surface-to-air missiles and artillery. They must skillfully evade being shot down—and then return to destroy the threats, thereby making the skies safe for everyone else to follow. Today these vital missions are more hazardous than direct air-to-air engagement with enemy aircraft. Hampton's record number of strikes on high-value targets make him the most lethal F-16 Wild Weasel pilot in American history. This is his remarkable story.

Taught to fly at an early age by his father, Hampton logged twenty years and 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," or "Viper" as its pilots call it. Hampton spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. In the war that followed, he engaged in a series of brilliantly executed missions that earned him three Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor; he notably saved a U.S. Marine unit from certain death by taking out the surrounding enemy forces near Nasiriyah. Two years earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Hampton also flew critical missions in the first Gulf War, served on the Air Combat Command staff during the Kosovo War, and was injured in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack.

With manned missions rapidly giving way to remote-controlled UAV drones, Viper Pilot may be the last memoir by a true hero of the skies. Gripping and irreverently humorous, it is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.

Please note that due to the large file size of these special features this enhanced e-book may take longer to download then a standard e-book.

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