Friday, March 4, 2011

DCS: A-10C Warthog - Death Came Through the Clouds - Debrief of a Close Air Support Mission - Part 2

I am about to support a US Marines squad down below the cloud deck, which is at an uncomfortable 3500 feet above ground.

There is no JTAC available and the Marine on the radio has given me his coordinates and elevation. I punched in a waypoint ("Fox", the position of the Marines) into the control display unit (CDU) and I am flying towards it.

To engage the target, first I will have to acquire it. I will do that with the AN/AAQ-28 Litening AT Targeting Pod. This technological marvel is equipped with a CCD and a forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera and is invaluable to acquire and mark targets.

The targeting pod is the third gadget from the left.
The targeting pod cameras can't see through the clouds, though, and I will have to go below 3,500 feet to acquire the target. Unfortunately, below 3.500 feet I will become a target for both the ZSU-23 anti aircraft gun and the IR-guided missiles the insurgents may have. What I will do is to acquire the target while flying  below the cloud deck and keeping a distance of no less than 5 miles from the target, mark the target location with the targeting pod and then climb for a through-the-clouds bomb drop. The weapon of choice is a GBU-31 JDAM, a so-called smart bomb that has GPS/inertial guiding that can glide directly into the position marked with the targeting pod. 

The targeting pod is active in the right multi-function display (MFD). The targeting pod is pointing towards the position of the Marines, but the cloud cover masks any type of image.
Now that I am coming down from the clouds, the targeting pod is showing terrain. Still 33.4 miles to go towards the Marines.

Acquiring distant targets with the targeting pod from a low altitude frequently produces some disorienting, low-angles lines of sight. Please see below.

I am still 31.5 miles from the Marines squad. At this distance, off course I can't see them with the targeting pod.
The Marine told me his squad was located in the edge of a village, but all I can see when I point the targeting pod at their position is an open field. The targeting pod is now using the FLIR camera.
What actually happens is that the targeting pod crosshairs are pointing towards the coordinates of the Marines and the village, but the line of sight collides with a rolling hill in front of them. Note the trees emerging from behind the hill.  
The targeting pod camera is in FLIR mode (hot objects in black). I finally spot the Marines in the village (one Marine can be seen between the crosshairs and the left edge of the multi-function display), from 12.7 miles away!
It has been 8 minutes since I checked in with the US Marines squad. I get ready to be talked into my target.

To be continued ...



Anonymous said...

This is horrible. Its like having to wait a week for your favorite show.

Anonymous said...

I agree

JC said...

Meh! :)

Sorry, guys. Had a busy week at work ...

Thanks for reading!