Thursday, August 25, 2011

Falcon 4 Allied Force - Sortie # 1024 - Debrief

Serbia continues to provoke the Albanians with violent across-the-border raids. The entire population of the Albanian town of Babine fled just in time for the arrival of a battalion-sized raid party of Serbs. The Serbs overstayed their visit this time. They spent the night in Babine and don't look like too enthused to either move forward or withdraw back to Serbia ...

Lt. JC ... Cowboy 11 ... Mission number 1024 alpha ... Two MK84s ... Two AIM-9s ... Two AIM-120s ... Take off time is 0910 ... Date is 12Jul10 ... Tail number is 582.
The environment is low threat for the mighty Vipers, yet the lack of a supporting SEAD package is worrisome. Latest intelligence indicates that a full fledged SA-6 battery has arrived to the border between Serbia and Albania. We can only hope we make it to the target before the Serbs assemble their air defenses.

As for the sortie I am to lead, all we have is some coordinates provided by the Albanian military intelligence. Our mission is to "scare by fire" the Serbs stationed near Babine.

Flight plan. Primary area for interdiction is near waypoint 3.
Take off from Brindisi airport.
Holding pattern, waiting for the rest of the flight to join. The city in the background is Brindisi.

Climbing to 30,000 feet, in route to waypoint 2.
Trying to get into formation over the Adriatic proved to be a bit problematic. That's my wingman trying to get into his station. The coast of  Albania is already visible in the far background.

We are entering Albanian airspace, time for a fence check.
Working on the air to ground radar (lower left corner). Waypoint 3 is the smaller red box at the farther edge of the valley (light green area). A search on waypoint 3 itself produced no radar returns. Here I am moving my rather cursors through the valley, searching for enemy vehicles.
The ground moving target radar mode produced no returns near steerpoint 3 but some returns on the valley in the far background (beyond the steerpoint 3 marker, well within Serbia). These returns could be from the SA-6 battery still moving into position. I switch back into the ground mode radar and continue to work on a clear picture of the valley where the Serbs are supposed to be. Only after switching to the expanded mode DBS2 and working the radar's gain I can make out the buildings (big dots in the lower left corner screen) from what appear to be vehicles (small dots). I lock into a radar return that appears to be a vehicle near a bridge.
A view to a kill. The valley where I have my radar lock and the other valley where I detected ground vehicles moving. My RWR is silent, but it may all be a ruse.
A miss read of the slant range to the target resulted in a very shallow angle bombing run. I started the countermeasures program a few seconds ago and it is going bananas (see the RWR on the top left corner, it's showing enemy aerial defenses painting me).  Fortunately, I released the bombs at 8,000 feet with plenty of room to perform an egress out of reach of the Serbian battalion's organic aerial defenses. 
A bit of battle damage assessment, all I can see is smoke. I clear all the flight for their bombing runs. Weapons free!
A tool that is very useful for situations like this (the waypoint doesn't match the actual target you want to hit) is the mark button. After locking into a ground target, I pressed the "mark" and "enter" buttons in the IFC. Voila! You get a mark that for all purposes is a waypoint. You can point radar and other targeting assets to that mark with ease. Note the mark in the right MFD, it's the blue X at the 2 o'clock of the aircraft icon.
The entire flight has dropped weapons and we are now leaving the target area.
Landing at Brindisi airport was tricky as hell due to foggy conditions. Thank goodness for the ILS.
Taxiing towards the military section of the airport.

Great, enjoyable mission. Mission was a partial success: I destroyed a BTR and damaged another. The other members of the flight were less lucky (3 damaged BTRs in total).


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