Saturday, March 5, 2011

DCS: A-10C Warthog - Death Came Through the Clouds - Debrief of a Close Air Support Mission - Part 3

I've just spotted the Marines in the ground and I am getting ready to be talked on my target. The air support operations center (ASOC) is monitoring my radio exchange closely and that is good because they will have to clear me hot when I find the target (Note: ASOC is mentioned here just for fun and are not featured in the sim). There is no official joint tactical air controller in the ground ... yet somebody has to clear my shots. War has its bureaucracy too.

The Marine describes the village as a built up area, sized 2 x 1 km, with the squad located in its eastern extreme. The insurgents have a truck-mounted AAA gun south of their position and would be visible when approached from the east.

As I approach the town from the northeast, I start turning southeast, keeping the village on my right and avoiding getting to close to it. A moderate left bank is great for keeping the targeting pod on my right wing clear of visual obstructions (airframe, wingtips, the fins of the Sidewinder missiles).

Below the cloud deck. The village I am observing with the targeting pod is NOT the one seen near the water bodies in the background but one located a bit farther.
The tactical awareness display (TAD) is a great asset to keep your head in the battle. The position of the US Marines squad is the yellow "6" mark (actually a waypoint I manually entered when they gave me their coordinates). The rings are 20 miles each.
Finding targets with the pod is not easy when the enemy is located within the clutter of built up areas. The FLIR imaging helps but let's not forget that I am observing from 8 miles away. I play around with the gain of the imaging system and it improves the picture. I find the target some 2 minutes later ... it is my lucky day.

Target acquired. I mark it with the laser so it becomes a mark point in the navigation system and its position can be stored and used by the inertially-guided JDAMs.
The ASOC wants out of the radio conversation (I am sure they are busy routing flights to other fights) and clears me hot..

I put the target on my rearand I fly away from it in a shallow climb. After gaining altitude I am going to turn into the target and drop the JDAM through the clouds.

A close up of the tactical awareness display as I fly away from it. "A" is the mark of the target. The wedding cake symbol indicates that markpoint A is now the "sensor point of interest" SPI. The diamond is the position where the targeting pod is looking at. The ring is 10 miles.
I have done my area ingress checklist some minutes before, but it I like to double check my weapons selection. The stores management system shows I have selected the GBU-31 on station 5.
Altitude comes at a high price for a bomb-loaded A-10 and he pays in time and airspeed. I am now above the clouds, at 6,000 feet and 248 KIAS. I can't imagine doing this in a conventional battle zone infested with radar guided missiles.
I now turn into the target. The pod has gone blind, but it is still pointing to the target. 15 nm to go!

The HUD is in the continuously computed release point (CCRP) mode. The triangles inside the ring are the minimum and maximum release distance cues. The vertical line is a guide to fly the bird within an acceptable bombs release flight path. The diamond/square/tadpole combo graphic is the position of the target.
I check and re-check that I have selected mark "A" and not any other navigation point. A distracted pilot can forget about this and have the pod aimed at and the bombs delivered to a navigation point. Believe me, when waypoints/marks/steerpoints start to get close to each other and you are dodging AAA fire, you will never notice the difference. Needless to say that in this case we can't even see who is who below.

My waypoint 6 is the US Marines' position. Have to make sure that waypoint 6 is not selected.

With no JTAC to clear me hot I rely on the authorization given by the ASOC a few minutes earlier. I contact the Marines to report the impending strike.

I pickle and wait for the computer to do its thing. Release!

It feels surreal ... The bomb drops towards the clouds deck in search for its target. I can't avoid to marvel at the technology behind all this.

Bomb away.
My altitude at the point of release is 8,000 ft.
The JDAM gliding towards its target.

Final seconds before utter destruction.
The JDAM falls a few meters off the insurgent truck ...
But the destruction radius of the bomb makes it up for the lack of accuracy.
The Marines can now disengage and move out to a safe place.

I will be posting some notes about this scenario.



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That was cool. This happens every day in afghanistan. Well done.

JC said...

Thanks for reading, folks!


Michael said...

Thanks for the article. Just dld mine from direct2drive. Looks very detailed.

JC said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your comment. Let us know how it goes.


kylania said...

Way cool report, I really enjoy when a mission goes well like this!

Jayson said...

I gave up on the A-10 in LOMAC since I can't seem to lock on to anything with the targeting pod. But I still play the A-10 in Strike Fighters 2 once in a while because it has the magic "E" key.

JC said...

Thanks gents for your comments.

@Jayson: I love that sim too! The other day I was thinking of buying the Wings over Israel one. Do you own it? How is it?


Anonymous said...

Again JC, fantastic writing. Great stuff. Posted it up on the ED forums.


PhoenixBvo said...

Yeah, great read. I'd be interested in the mission scenario file (.miz). Where can I find it? Does it have the radio chatter built in?

JC said...

Thanks for your comments.

@Gillers, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the link/referral.

@ PhoenixBvo: this scenario is just a a skeleton with no objective/victory conditions, no briefing and no radio chatter. The only thing in there are the Marines, the insurgents (who will fire damn hard if you close to the town) and the clouds between them and my weapons. I had to punch the coordinates, which I took from the scenario editor. I didn't cheat or made it easy by adding a waypoint above the Marines or the insurgents. Really had to search for the Marines and the bad guys from the coordinates I punched in as the sole terrain reference. Good fun.

Radio chatter is made up, but follows real TTPs.

Sorry, man I gave up on scenario distribution due to time constraints.