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Syria's Desert Storm Pt.1: F-104S ROSE III Starfighter

Started by comrade harps, August 23, 2022, 05:32:28 PM

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comrade harps

Singapore Aviation Industries F-104S ROSE III
a/c 789, 8th Fighter Squadron, Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF)
Deir Zzor, Syria, January 1991

Syria has never been a UN member. Fiercely Pan-Arab, Syria was part of the coalition that liberated Palestine as the British withdrew in 1948. During the 1950s and '60s, it was involved in several Pan-Arab multinational organisations that sought to unite Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. The last of these fell apart in 1973 as Syria and Palestine supported different sides in the Lebanese Civil War. In the meantime, the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) had to tread a fine line between reliance on its Egyptian ally and maintaining a degree of independence by acquiring aircraft from UN members. This ambivalence was demonstrated during the 1965 West Bank War, the SyAAF flying few offensive sorties against Jordan and the UN, in turn, mounting few bombing missions on targets inside Syria. For the UN, this had the desired effect of rousing Egyptian and Palestinian suspicions about Syria's commitment to the Pan-Arab cause. With the UN placing an arms embargo on Syria and its Arab allies now unwilling to provide arms and military spares at mates rates, the SyAAF soon faced a maintenance crisis. When it finally became truly neutral in 1973, the SyAF's mix of F-104H Starfighters and Egyptian Helwan-built Fitters, Fishbeds and Frescos were mostly grounded

As SyAAF activity wound down, the UN and other regional neutral countries became concerned about the permissive nature of Syrian airspace. Uncontested overflights by Red Foxbat reconnaissance aircraft were becoming a serious issue. Yet, despite Syrian overtures to neutrals and UN members for the acquisition of modern combat jets, each effort was rebuffed. Poor, politically isolated and unstable, Syria was in effect subject to an arms embargo by all sides. Only as Syrian activity in Lebanon became aligned with UN interests, was there movement on the issue of arms sales. In a move coordinated by the US, in 1977 Iran offered to refurbish 15 of Syria's F-104Hs and supply another 40 surplus F-104Gs. This agreement saw 7 F-104Gs and 5 refurbished F-104Hs delivered by the time of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, an event that saw the program terminated.

Needing an alternative, the SyAAF accepted a proposal from Singapore Aviation Industries (SAI). This came to be labelled Project ROSE (Retrofit of Strike Element). At the centre of this program was the supply of refurbished and upgraded F-104S Starfighters made surplus by Saudi Arabia and Singapore. All built by SAI (part owned by Lockheed), the Project ROSE Starfighter airframes were returned to the factory, zero-houred and upgraded between 1981 and 1990. 33 former Singaporean F-104S Starfighters were upgraded to ROSE I standard, emerging with avionics including the ST Industries (STI) pulse-Doppler R21G/M1 radar matched to the Phillips Canada Blue Way Skyflash BVR missile. Whereas ROSE I produced fighters with an austere attack capability, the ROSE II and II programs resulted in dedicated attack platforms. The 44 ROSE II Starfighters were ex-Saudi jets, updated with the Orenda Strawberry Lane Antilope 5 radar (an export version of the Strawberry Field radar used on Canada's own two-seat Buccaneer GR.4 and Mirage 2000D), STI-made wide-angle HUD, multifunction displays and LRMTS, plus Orenda Honey Pie Atlis II laser targeting pods for use with Paveway IIs. ROSE III was optimised for night and all-weather attack and applied to 25 ex-Singaporean airframes. This version was similar to the ROSE II, but with NVG compatible lighting and its nav/attack avionics integrated with the AN/AAR-45 LANA (Low Altitude Night Attack) FLIR pod. A mudguard was installed on the front wheel assembly to protect the LANA pod from grime and foreign object damage. All ROSE series Starfighters featured a retractable air refuelling probe (as was standard on the F-104S), an STI-manufactured RHAWS and paired fuselage pylons capable of carrying 1,000 lb bombs. They were powered by the 18,750 lb thrust "smokeless" J79-GE-J1E turbojet. The ROSE series Starfighters wore a camouflage of neutral grey and dark gull grey.

The ROSE I to III projects were beneficiaries of SAI's Starfighter NG technology demonstrator, which first flew in 1979. This aircraft featured FBW and a new cranked arrow wing with significant LERX. These options were too expensive for Syria, but many of the NG's avionics (such as the R21G/M1 radar, RHAWS, LRMTS, HUD and multifunction displays) were adopted for the SyAAF jets.

There was also a ROSE IV program. These were not Starfighters, but SAI-modified ex-RAAF GAF Canberra B.20s. The 8 ROSE IVs were air refuelling tankers, equipped with hose-drogue units. All 8 were available for use in Desert Storm. SyAAF pilots from the ROSE II and III squadrons and F-20-equipped 14 and 15 Squadrons had been qualified to receive fuel from KC-135s during Desert Shield. This enabled Stratotankers from various UN air forces to fly in Syrian airspace, providing nourishment to UN and Syrian jets alike.

The SyAAF was in a state of major modernisation when, in August 1990, Iraq was defeated by Iran, Iran occupied Iraq and most of what remained of the Iraqi military invaded Kuwait. While all the ROSE series aircraft ordered were in service, only 57 from an order for 72 Northrop F-20A/B Tigersharks had arrived in Syria. 48 Dassault Canada Alpha Jet E armed trainers, delivered from 1982 to '86, were also in service and available for combat duties. What had facilitated these acquisitions was that Syria had sided with Iraq following its 1980 invasion of Iran and supported UN-friendly players against Reds and Iranian-backed Shia militias in the Lebanese Civil War. Syria and the UN had also cooperated during the '80s against Iranian-backed Kurdish fighters attempting to establish a Kurdish nation across the borders of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. With Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the heavily armed Kurdish National Army now on its long, porous eastern border, Syria joined the UN campaign to liberate Iraq.

This aircraft is modelled as photographed before a night bombing mission against Iranian-occupied Iraq in late January 1991. It is armed with an internal 20mm Vulcan cannon, 2 Rockeye IIs and a pair of AIM-9N Sidewinders. With 25 ROSE III in service but only 11 pilots qualified to fly them, the 8th FS had not achieved IOC status when Operation Desert Storm was launched. Keeping its logistics simple, all ROSE IIIs were configured with the same basic loadout for every mission: AIM-9N Sidewinders on the wingtips, drop tanks on the inner underwing pylons, LANA on the centreline, a Philips Canada Sable Latch chaff/flare pod on the left outer underwing pylon and an STI SPJ-IV ECM pod opposite. Offensive ordnance was a pair of Mk.82 bombs or Rockeye II CBUs.

Deployed to Deir Zzor in eastern Syria, the ROSE III jets made nightly strikes against UN-assigned targets in north and western Iraq until the Iranian withdrawal. The ROSE II aircraft made daylight raids with Mk.82s, Rockeye IIs or GBU-12s. The ROSE I fighters maintained an air defence posture within Syrian airspace. The Tigersharks flew air defence, attack (with GBU.12s, Mk.82s, Mk.84s, Rockeye IIs and AGM-65Bs) and photo reconnaissance missions (with the Eastman Kodak Canada Blue Way Orpheus pod). Alpha Jets conducted missions against border targets with Mk.82s. All SyAAF Desert Storm missions over Iraq were part of the UN's daily frag orders. They were controlled by UN AWACS, were protected by UN fighters and SEAD assets and missions were conducted in accordance with UN rules of engagement. The details of Syrian activity over Iraq in 1991 are still classified, but a published post-war UN assessment noted that the "ROSE III Starfighters flew from 4 to 7 combat sorties a night...[and that] the kinetic effects of the SyAAF Starfighters on enemy operations were greater than expected." UN sources have stated that all offensive Syrian Starfighter missions were against pre-planned targets and that no Starfighters were lost during the campaign.

The Iranian defeat in Iraq would have long-term ramifications for Syria. Able to win the war, the UN and the new Iraqi government were unable to win the peace. Insurgencies proliferated and Syria became active in supporting several guerrilla groups in Iraq, bringing it into conflict with the UN. Eventually, this destabilisation crossed back into Syria, resulting in the outbreak of civil war in 2011. In response, the UN established a No Fly Zone over the nation on the pretext of protecting civilians from the Syrian government. Many SyAAF Starfighters were destroyed on the ground in the process.

Old Wombat

Nice job, comrade! :thumbsup:

However, I'm not sure I could see the Syrians ever playing nicely with the West in the post-colonial era.
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


Almost deserves a Whiffie in the 'Most complex Backstory' class.  ;D

A cracking model nonetheless.  :thumbsup:
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)


comrade harps

Quote from: Old Wombat on August 23, 2022, 09:25:03 PMNice job, comrade! :thumbsup:

However, I'm not sure I could see the Syrians ever playing nicely with the West in the post-colonial era.

Hence the "most complex backstory" to manoeuvre Syria into a temporary alignment with the UN.


Very nice and the back story took a long and winding road to get where you wanted it to go.

EDIT: If you had the serial number of the aircraft as 910 that would have made it One After 909  :rolleyes: 

I take it that I am correct in the fact that you have put Beatles song titles throughout the back story?

My Ability to Imagine is only exceeded by my Imagined Abilities

Gondor's Modelling Rule Number Three: Everything will fit perfectly untill you apply glue...

I know it's in a book I have around here somewhere....


Quote from: PR19_Kit on August 23, 2022, 11:32:50 PMAlmost deserves a Whiffie in the 'Most complex Backstory' class.  ;D

A cracking model nonetheless.  :thumbsup:

I second this. Very well written (and built).
I would also like to point out that the different logics motivating the different warring factions in the middle east during the 60s, 70s and 80s also in reality have been quite confusing for a westerner to get a grip on, so why not this?
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!



- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

comrade harps

Quote from: Gondor on August 24, 2022, 12:29:58 AMVery nice and the back story took a long and winding road to get where you wanted it to go.

EDIT: If you had the serial number of the aircraft as 910 that would have made it One After 909  :rolleyes: 

I take it that I am correct in the fact that you have put Beatles song titles throughout the back story?

Thank you for appreciating the "long and winding road"!

Go to the
CAE White Album to see lots of Beatles references.

I think it took me longer to write the backstory than build the model. It went through several drafts, with lots of edits and rewrites.



Decals my @r$e!

comrade harps

Quote from: NARSES2 on August 24, 2022, 06:25:27 AMI particularly like the paint job  :thumbsup:

Here's the plan with this one: a convoluted story, a sleek airframe bristling with ordnance but the offensive weapon loadout looks like an afterthought and a simple paint job to bring it all together.


" Somewhere, between half true, and completely crazy, is a rainbow of nice colours "
Tophe the Wise


So, there's gonna be a Desert Storm "trilogy"? This is gonna be interessing
My deviantart page:

PS: Not my art, not very good at drawning :P

Captain Canada

Very nice. Colour and markings look great on her !
CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?