By: Friedrich Seiltgen

Copyright © 2022

In 1990 in the Persian Gulf, the Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) was conducting war games with U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers.  The war game scenario included B-52’s that would simulate Soviet TU-16 “Badger” & Tu-95 Tupolev “Bear” bombers to locate carriers and take photos.  The Air Force was playing the role of the Russians. The carrier fighter wing’s goal was to intercept the bombers once they were in range to escort them through the carrier air space.

TU-16 “Badger” buzzes USS Ranger during 1989 WESTPAC cruise

At one point during the exercise, one of the B-52 Pilots contacted the carrier controller and requested permission to do a fly-by.  The controller agreed and the rest is history.  When the B-52s reported they were 9 kilometers out, the carrier controller said he didn’t see them.  The B-52s told the carrier folks to look down.

B-52 Pilot: “Ranger, we’re 5 miles out.”
USS Ranger: “We do not have visual…”
B-52 Pilot: “Look down”

The paint scheme on the B-52 made it hard to see from above, but as it got closer, the sailors could make out the B-52’s, especially with the spray of the sea water the bombers were kicking up.  The approximate height from the flight deck to the water is 60 feet, so it’s rare for a USAF aircraft to do a fly-by below the flight deck of a carrier.  Due to changes in Soviet air defenses, B-52s had been practicing low level flights for years.  Their role as a high-altitude bomber had been changed to low level in order to fly in under Soviet radar.  In this case, the B-52 pilots asked the carrier controller if they would like the bombers to come around again.  Fortunately, the controller gave permission, and now a lot more sailors had their cameras out for the second pass.

That’s all for now folks!   Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas.  And as always – “Let’s Be Careful Out There.”

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department.   He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism Counter Strategies, Firearms and Active Shooter Response.  His writing has appeared in RECOIL,, Soldier of Fortune, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International.  Contact him at [email protected]