We tend not to get any good follow-up coverage beyond the headlines of "US fighter going down over Libya" and the bigger, shock-horror headlines of some unfortunate Libyan, pro-West civvies copping some cautionary fire as they rather rashly rushed towards the crash site and the justifiably nervy pilot and his weapons oppo. The below cut and paste is courtesy of "Neptunus Lex" (see my Blogroll column on the right).
Shortly after midnight, a pair of AV-8B Harrier jump-jets launched from the USS Kearsarge and rendezvoused over the crash site with a circling fighter jet, who by then had made contact with one of the F-15 crew members—the pilot—on the ground.
In parallel, two MV-22 Ospreys—specialized aircraft that can take off and land vertically like a helicopter but can fly as fast as a fixed-wing aircraft—prepared to launch from the Kearsarge.
And a force of more than three dozen Marines boarded two CH-53E helicopters to provide security for the rescue mission, known in military parlance as a “tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel.”
With the Ospreys and helicopters en route, the Harriers dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs near the crash site in what a senior Marine officer described as a “precautionary” measure to warn off people who might have been approaching the aviator on the ground.
“My understanding is [the pilot] asked for ordnance to be delivered in between where he was located and where he saw people coming toward him,” said a senior Marine officer, citing preliminary reports.
The Ospreys reached the pilot’s location by 2:19 a.m. local time. While the helicopters hovered overhead, one of the Ospreys landed to recover the him. The Ospreys returned to the Kearsarge with the F-15 pilot aboard by 3 a.m. local time.
I have to say that 2 x 500lb laser guided bombs is one hell of a `warning shot`, but with arguably the best JTac calling the co-ordinates (the downed pilot) that and the rescue Op was a top piece of work. I'm sure they would have done exactly the same for a downed British crew, because I'm not sure we had the same level of resources immediately available. So a big salute from me to the United States Marine Corps, their awesome kit and those jolly nifty Harriers they use (I wonder if we should have some of those?).