How An F-16 (Might Have) Avenged The Taliban’s Helicopter Killing

How An F-16 (Might Have) Avenged The Taliban’s Helicopter Killing

The Pentagon’s got some nice heads to stick on the proverbial pike: CENTOM’s General John Allen claims an F-16 airstrike killed the Taliban RPG gunners who blew up a SEAL-filled helicopter last week. How? The old-fashioned way: huge explosion.

Although you’ll have to take the Pentagon at its word (!) that it was able to track and kill the exact same fighters who downed the Chinook, Allen says 10 Taliban were nailed in a “kinetic strike”. So what’s a kinetic strike mean? Nothing! It’s a military euphemism for blowing shit up. The F-16 bombed them. Plain and simple.

But with what? The NYT reports that Americans “located and followed the insurgents to a wooded area in Chak district. After ensuring no civilians were in the area, the force called for the airstrike.” This might indicate something important: it was likely a big bomb. If you track people down to a “wooded area” and are still worried about killing civilians, you’re likely working with some serious heat.

An F-16’s capable of a panoply of airstrike options:

Precision Weapons (AGM-65 Maverick, Paveway Laser-Guided Bombs, GBU-15)

Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser Weapons (CBU-103, -104, -105)

All-Weather Standoff Weapons

(GBU-31/32 JDAM, AGM-154 JSOW, AGM-158 JASSM, AGM-142 Popeye II)

In a wooded area, presumably with low visibility, would a cluster bomb like the CBU-103 have been the weapon of choice?

Military expert David Cenciotti speculates it was probably a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) — an unguided “dumb bomb” like the 907kg GBU-31 seen here, or its lighter brother, the GBU-38.

But plenty of other payloads, both laser-guided and TV-maneuvered, could have done the trick. Either way, the Pentagon has a (symbolic) high five to extend itself.