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F-102 "Delta Dagger"

The F-102As were first deployed overseas in June 1958, when ADC's 327th FIS the Air Force's first F-102A unit moved to Thule, Greenland. The F-102As reached Europe and Alaska early in 1960, after some of the aircraft (due for deployment to oversea bases which only had tactical air navigation ground stations) were engineered to provide for the installation of AN/ARN 21 airborne TACAN equipment. The F-102As also joined the Pacific Air Forces early in 1960. They were to remain in both the European and Pacific theaters for nearly 10 years.

Four F-102s were sent from Clark AB, P. I., to South Vietnam in March 1962, after radars had detected low flying, unidentified aircraft along the Cambodian border. This started a series of rotations every 6 weeks by Navy EA-1F all weather fighters and USAF F-102s to Tan Son Nhut. The rotation ended in May 1963 due to base overcrowding. Nonetheless, from the summer of 1963 to mid 1964, Thirteenth Air Force conducted no-notice deployments of F-102s to South Vietnam and brief training flights to Tan Son Nhut and Da Nang. The small number of aircraft committed to SEA air defense before 1965 tripled by the end of 1966. At that time 12 F-102s stood alert in South Vietnam (6 at Bien Hoa and 6 at Da Nang) and another 10 in Thailand (6 at Udorn and 4 at Don Muang). Little change occurred in 1967 and 1968, the Air Force keeping a minimum of 14 F-102s on 5 minute alert with the remainder of the force on 1 hour call. F-102 operations in SEA ended in December 1969 (The last F-102 squadron at Clark was inactivated. However, a few F-102s remained at the Royal Thai Air Base of Don Muang until the summer of 1970.) with a remarkable safety record. In almost 10 years of flying air defense and a few combat air patrols for SAC B-52s, just 15 F-102s were lost.

The F-102A's overall safety record (including all SEA losses) was also impressive. In more than 14 years of operation, only 16 percent of the F-102A total force, or less than 140 aircraft were lost in flying accidents. A minimal number of ground accidents occurred, bringing total F-102A operational losses to 141 as of 30 June 1971.

There were no subsequent model series. The TF-102 (trainer variant of the F-102A) entered production almost concurrently with the Hot Rod, light weight, F-102A.

There were no other configurations besides the TF-102A. The F-102C, an F-102A that would use an advanced engine (the J-57-P-47 with titanium compressor), never came into being. The Convair F-102C proposal of 1956, then referred to as the F-102X, also included a tail cone extension of 7 inches and an armament load of one MB-1 Genie rocket and four Falcon missiles. The contractor expected that these changes (estimated to result in a speed increase to Mach 1.33 and a 3,000 ft altitude gain over existing F-102As) would qualify the new model to fill a possible gap between the end of the service life of the F-102A and the introduction of the F-106. The Air Force in April 1957 decided to refuse the Convair proposal and to rely rather on the F-106 being ready for tactical inventory starting in mid 1958. Throughout the years the Air Force used a number of F-102As for special tests. As required by the testing programs in which they were used, these aircraft were sometimes stripped of their original components or fitted with additional equipment. They appeared on Air Force rolls on and off as JF-102As, but this was only a temporary designation. The Air Force used the J prefix to identify every tactical aircraft diverted to special test programs and later returned to their original or standard operational configuration.

Production ended in September 1958 with delivery of the last five aircraft. Of 889 F-102As accepted, 875 were assigned to the operational inventory and 14 were set aside for the testing program (2 YF-102As, 8 other early straight fuselage aircraft, and 4 F-102As, built to the first major redesign configuration without intention of modification to a tactical configuration).

One F-102A was accepted for the operational forces in FY 55, 45 in FY 56, 372 in FY 57, 427 in FY 58, and 30 in the first 3 months of FY 59. The highest production delivery was made in June 1956, when the Air Force accepted 51 aircraft. The Air Force accepted five straight fuselage F-102As (including two prototypes) in FY 54 and five more in FY 55. The four redesigned, nontactical F-102As were accepted in FY 55.

RDT&E costs totalled $101.92 million--prorated, it came to $101,921 and was included in every F-102's unit cost.

The Flyaway Cost Per Production Aircraft was $1.2 million airframe, $744,258; engine (installed), $210,308; electronics, $9,208; armament, $219,876; ordnance, $525. This excluded $137,947 in prorated Class V modification coats and $11,612 spent on each F-102A for specific modifications.

The Average Cost Per Flying Hour was $611.00

Phaseout occured from 1961-1973. The F-102A replaced the F-46D as the most numerous interceptor and by the end of 1958 they numbered 627, or about half the total number of interceptors controlled by ADC. The F-102A began to leave the air defense system with the receipt of the F-101B and F-106A, but in mid 1961 there were still 221 of these aircraft available within ADC. Toward the end of 1969, when except for one squadron maintained in Iceland, all F-102s of the Air Defense Command had been transferred to the Air National Guard, the Air Force still retained a few oversea F-102 squadrons. Two were in the Pacific theater, three in Germany and one in the Netherlands. However, the F-102 squadrons stationed in Europe were being reequipped with newer, more versatile F-4s and the F-102A's Pacific commitments were coming to an end. In mid 1972, only 17 F-102s (15 F-102As and 2 TF-102As) remained in the operational inventory of the Air Force and 69 F-102s were surplus. By 30 June 1973 the number of active USAF F-102s had been reduced to 10. Meanwhile, the F-102A had become an important asset of the Air National Guard. After receiving in 1960 an initial contingent of seven F-102As, the ANG's operational inventory of F-102As grew quickly. It jumped to 130 F-102s in 1961 and in mid 1966 reached 339 (311 F-102As and 28 TF-102As), a total that remained fairly constant in the ensuing years. In mid 1972, the ANG operational inventory of F-102s was down to 206 (181 F-102As and 25 TF-102As), but a USAF allocation of surplus F-102s had boosted this total to 224 by 30 June 1973.

The Air Force decided to convert aging F-102s into target drones. They would be used in Pave Deuce, an Eglin AFB program calling for low cost, full size, supersonic targets, representative of enemy aircraft (MIG-21s) in aerial combat. The Sperry Rand Corporation was selected for the conversion over Lear Siegler, Northrop, Celesco Industries, Lockheed Aircraft and Hughes Aircraft teamed with Honeywell. The $5.5 million Air Force contract awarded in April 1973 called for the modification of six F-102s into two different drone configurations. Two aircraft would be converted into QF-102A versions, retaining pilot controls for use in contractor operated flights. The remaining four would be turned into "deman-rated" afterburning targets, designated PQM-102As. The Pave Deuce PQM-102As would only be flown as drones, using less costly "de-man-rated" parts and checkout procedures. Sperry Flight Systems Divisions, Phoenix, Ariz., would handle the conversion, to be completed within 16 months. Ultimately, as many as 200 surplus F-102s might be modified.

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