This Air Force press release provides only bare-bones information about last week's strike that took out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, so let me fill in a few operational details.
For the record, the F-16 that took out the terrorist lead is a Block 30 jet, assigned to the Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing, normally based at the Montgomery Regional Airport. The Block 30 is one of the tried-and-true variants of the Viper, best known as the first F-16 with a General Electric engine. Block 30 jets have one of the best thrust-to-weight ratios of any of the F-16 variants, since the GE powerplant produces 5,000 pounds more thrust that comparable Pratt and Whitney models. Most of the Block 30s rolled off the General Dynamics assembly line in the late 80s, but will remain in service with the ANG for years to come.
While the jet that dropped those 500-lb bombs came from the Alabama Guard, the pilot in the cockpit on the Zarqawi mission was a member of the Wisconsin ANG's 115th Fighter Wing, located in that liberal mecca, Madison, Wisconsin. A rather delicious irony, wouldn't you say? I wonder if the Madison City Council or University of Wisconsin faculty senate will pass a resolution condemning the "use" of state ANG personnel in "George Bush's illegal war."
Personally, I'm hoping the jet's crew chief paints a little picture of Zarqawi beneath the canopy, in commeration of the F-16's "victory" over the terrorist mastermind.
Personally I'm hoping the pilot was female.
If someone could elucidate (Mr. Spook?),
how does the military drop half a ton of high explosive bombs on a house and leave at least one of the bodies intact to allow for identification?
No, I'm not going kook left wing here...I heard a report that the timing/sequence of the drops was done with the intent of leaving bodies intact or intact enough to ensure identification, which is a very important result...
500 pound bombs weigh 500 pounds, but most of that weight is the casing. It actually has slightly less than 200 pounds of explosive.
Also, looking at the cratering, it looks like a delay was set on the fuse so the bombs penetrated the floor of the house before exploding, especially for the second weapon.
Additionally, bombs/explosions are funny things; whether you survive and/or the condition of your body is dependent on a variety of factors, including proximity to the blast, your position at the time, and the location of any barriers between you and the explosion.
In Zarqawi's case, he may have been sitting down, or the person in the basement most distant from where the bomb went off. Additionally, if he was in a group, the location of other people between him and the blast could have partially shielded him. The other terrorists wind up in pieces, while Zarqawi's body remains intact, although his internal injuries killed him within minutes.
As for survival questions, it has to do with blast waves.
One of the Pentagon survivors was almost right in front of the airplane but a freak of engineering saved him. Similarly here I suspect it was where he was standing or sitting that has to do with his survival, at least till the damaged/contused/blasted lungs filled with fluid...
Also, since they were looking for information, I suspect they chose bombs that would kill by blast not by incineration. That way the hard drives and paper would stay intact.
Finally, fat is a good insulator.
I'd like to buy the pilot the adult beverage of his/her choice. Quote me.
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