Monday, February 28, 2011

DCS: A-10C Warthog - Death Came Through the Clouds - Debrief of a Close Air Support Mission - Part 1

I am in a holding pattern, on call for close air support to the troops below. The insurgency is well and alive, and the 4th US Marines is having a hard day of fighting. My wingman had to return to base because he was hit in the last mission. With enough loiter time for a couple of hours and a hog still loaded of weapons, I decide to stay. It is lonely and quiet up here. With no enemy radar-guided launchers in the whole theater of operations, the tactical air situation is low threat. But the insurgents are known to have IR guided SAMs, so it is advisable to keep distance, altitude or both from suspected insurgent positions.

One joint tactical air controller (JTAC) interrupts my wait. Oddly, his not calling in for support for the company he is fighting with, but to brief me about a Marines squad in need of a hand. He heard about this Marines squad on the battalion radio network and passes me a frequency. This Marines squad has no JTAC.

I tune in to find out what's going on, and the first I hear is gunfire and yelling on a hot mic. Pretty intense. I patiently wait for a break on the hot mic and it comes after a loud thump. I offer firepower from above and all I get is a "get the hell out of this network!". This is not the type of misunderstanding you want when you are under fire, Marine!

Eventually, the Marine on the other end comes to his senses and we both rejoice. There is nobody with air controller experience down there. I will have to get talked to my target.

The Marine squad was on patrol when it came under heavy fire from a village. Their AAV threw a track and its main guns jammed. The Marines can't withdraw and are pinned down by a truck-mounted ZSU-23 anti aircraft gun.

I ask the Marine where they are and he throws me a place name. I don't recognize that name and the maps I have loaded in the navigation system are not that detailed. The Marine gives me his coordinates from a hand held GPS.

Manually entering coordinates in the control display unit (CDU). These coordinates will become waypoint 6, which I manually name FOX.
This is the tactical awareness display (TAD) shown in the right multifunction display (MFD). Waypoint 6, the Marines squad position,  is now active and labelled yellow. The white "wedding cake" symbol inside the waypoint is the sensor point of interest (SPI) where I can point my targeting pod. The Marines are some 40 nm southwest of my position.

HUD view: note the waypoint information on the lower right corner ("6/Fox" for waypoint 6 or Fox).

Somewhere down, the Marines wait for help!

Stay tunned, more is coming!



kylania said...

Those through-the-clouds missions were always exciting but really difficult for me. I still have trouble gaining a quick solution with short prep time like you have in those situations.

Can't wait to see how this plays out.

Anonymous said...

More! More! More!

JC said...

Thanks for your comments. Stay tunned.


JC said...

Hi kylania,

I stand corrected. They modified the license terms? Good for us! :)


Anonymous said...

Now that marine is thinking "did that pilot ask my coordinates or target coordinates"

JC said...

Spot on with that comment, sir.

I will post about this at a later time.