‘Basra Backflip’ – F-117A Coin
The coin commemorates a mission by a stealth fighter pilot of 37th Tactical Fighter Wing F-117A Nighthawk during the first Gulf War in 1991 that almost lead to disaster, not once but twice!
On the 10th of February 1991, CAPT. Rob “ROBSON” Donaldson, finished his pre-strike air refuelling over Saudi Arabia, split up from his wingman, stowed all antennas, went into the black and flew his Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk over the border of Iraq and headed to his targets near Basra which were two bridges about 7 miles apart on a main resupply route in to Kuwait
At that time during the war, Saddam Hussein had set the oil fields on fire creating about an 800ft black ceiling around the entire area. Not wanting to come that far and have to turn back, ROBSON proceeded to his first target underneath the smoke ceiling.
Being that low meant he needed to increase the throttle to sling the first weapon out at its target as speed was the vital measure for the penetration capability of the bomb. After bomb release he had to pull the throttles to idle so that the laser in the DLIR ( Downward Looking InfraRed) would not overrun the target due to his close proximity to the ground.
Now, for a 2,000lb bomb, the fragmentation pattern is 2,500ft from the surface up and out, which he was well inside of (around 700ft the weapon was dropped). The jet was then caught in the blast envelope which turned him upside down almost doing a complete 180! Remembering his training, he quickly corrected the jet and “dished it out” around 200ft from the floor and proceeded to climb back up to 700ft. The second target was now approaching rapidly, so knowing what to expect ROBSON increased the speed again and released the second weapon, put the jet to idle, and was once again flipped upside down by the blast yield. Again he righted the jet around 200ft from the desert floor and then pointed it skywards and roared out of there!
Both targets were destroyed, so he proceeded back to the tankers to get the gas for the 600 mile trip back home to King Khalid Air Base, in the deep south of Saudi Arabia. Mission success!
The 2.50″ coin comes in its own presentation box with a numbered insert card signed by CAPT. Rob “ROBSON” Donaldson.