Home » World War » What are Wild Weasels?
Wild Weasel

What are Wild Weasels?

Fighter planes are achieving air superiority in the battlespace. Bombers and attack planes have control of the airspace. These fighter planes are equipped to bomb enemy objectives strategically. Over the years, the US Airforce has gone through several iconic aircrafts, but did you know that one of the fighter jets was dedicated to anti-aircraft weapon assaults?

The United States Air Force assigns aircrafts as “Wild Weasels.” These planes served as bait to attract anti-aircraft fire, allowing the squad to track down and destroy the anti-aircraft guns.

All About the Wild Weasels

The United States Armed Forces, specifically the US Air Force, have given the code name Wild Weasel to any aircraft equipped with radar-seeking missiles and charged with eliminating enemy air defense radars and SAM installations. Captains Al Lamb and Jack Donovan took out a site during a Rolling Thunder raid on the railyard at Yen Bai, some 75 miles northwest of Hanoi, shortly after the first Wild Weasel operation on December 20, 1965.

The US Air Force then developed the Wild Weasel concept after the deployment of Soviet SAM missiles and their downing of US strike aircraft over North Vietnam’s skies in 1965. General Kenneth Dempster oversaw the initiative.

Wild Weasel tactics and techniques were developed in 1965, following the start of Operation Rolling Thunder during the Vietnam War. Other countries later adapted them during subsequent conflicts. They integrated them into the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), a plan used by US air forces to establish immediate air supremacy before the full-scale conflict. When it was first authorized on August 12, 1965, it was given the operational code Iron Hand. The moniker Wild Weasel comes from Project Wild Weasel, which was a United States Air Forces development program for a dedicated SAM detection and suppression aircraft. 

It was originally named Project Ferret, after a predatory animal that goes into its prey’s den to kill it, the name was changed to distinguish it from the code-name Ferret used during World War II for radar counter-measures bombers.  The word is now widely used in the United States. The mission profile for this mission is Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses or SEAD. (Source: Flight Line Insignia)

The Motto of the Wild Weasels

The Wild Weasel crews’ unofficial motto is YGBSM, which stands for You Gotta Be Shittin’ Me. Some squadrons’ logo patches feature this prominently. According to legend, this was Jack Donovan’s response as a former B-52 EWO or Electronic Warfare Officer.

This was the natural reaction of a well-educated man, a seasoned EWO on B-52s and other aircraft, upon realizing that he would be flying second fiddle to a self-absorbed fighter pilot while functioning as flypaper for enemy SAMs.

Leave a Comment