Sunday, December 23, 2012

Insurgency in the North Caucasian Federal District - War Stories From the Front Lines: #7 Use of Cluster Munitions at an Insurgent-Held Pigging Facility

Captain Vasily Kashlev, 118th Independent Helicopter Squadron (Russian Air Force) flew this mission a few days after evading capture near Piatygorsk. This mission was worryingly near the Mineralnye Vody base of operations. In a stormy morning, some 20 Km north of the airbase, a pipeline inspection gauge launch/recovery (pigging) facility was seized by a team of insurgents.

This was played as a custom-made single player mission in Black Shark 2 (DCS World).

The news caught me in the hangar. The insurgents struck again, this time so close from us and so afar from their usual turf. An Army colonel briefed us on the situation: an insurgent team has seized a pigging facility located "somewhere north of Mineralnye Vody".

The whole thing was not as much surprising as it was embarrassing. First, the news about the insurgents running amok in this place came from the oil company who was contracted for the maintenance of the now in disuse Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline. Second, our maps showed no such facility. We had some idea from the locals that the pigging station was a few hundred yards east of route P262, near a popular youth hangout, but that was it. Third, with the arrival of the Su-25s to the airbase, my two Ka-50s have been stripped of missiles and rocket launchers. While we waited for our ammunition to arrive, all we had was those hideous and unreliable KMGU cluster munition dispensers.

When it rains, it pours.

Literally. Since the past evening the weather was atrocious. Low hanging clouds, continuous rain and winds of up to 50 km/h.

Under our new tactical guidelines, we were to counter any insurgent operation at once, with the maximum force available. The Air Force was on point for this as the quickest reaction force. The low cloud ceiling left any fast mover or fixed wing CAS aircraft out of the equation.

My wingman (no weapons but his cannon) and me (cannon and two KMGU dispensers) taking off from Mineralnye Vody Airbase.
The winds were gusting pretty bad and we had to skip the short hover we conduct to check if the engines are up to the task ahead.

In poor weather, the control tower requires that any flight should resume its own navigation only after crossing that creek below.
We steadily climbed to +700 m to fly above the weather. 
The low hanging clouds over the entire valley offered a rare spectacle. Only the summit of the tallest peaks and mountains ripped apart the monotony of an immense blanket of clouds.
En route. This is the ABRIS moving map showing waypoints and geographical references. Our plan was to start a hover at steerpoint #5 and search the target from there. Although we didn't know the exact location of our target, we knew that it was on the east side of route P262 (brown line).

Nose up, slowing down near waypoint #5.

Check and double check the targeting control system (lower left panel).

At waypoint #5, after a weapons and targeting system check, we start a vertical descent through the clouds.
I stopped my descent at an altitude of around 90 m and start searching for the target with the SHKVAL (left monitor). It was quite disorienting, but finally I located the facility. It was a few hundred meters east of route P262 (brown line in the ABRIS moving map, right panel). I was surprised to find out that, despite the weather, the SHKVAL targeting system could make out the dismounted insurgents from a considerable distance (4 km)
I marked the target and fed it into the navigation system as navigation target #1.

In the left panel, the zoomed in view of the SHKVAL targeting system. Note the dismounts and some sort of vehicle, likely a car. In the right panel, the ABRIS moving map shows the line of sight of the targeting system (yellow line) and the navigation target #1 (blue box).
I used the "en route" mode to navigate precisely to the target. In order to avoid possible IR-guided missiles, I climbed to  well above the clouds (~1,000 m).
After slowing down right on top of the target, I released the first round of anti-personnel bomblets.

Another view of the first weapons release. Note how I was flying above the clouds, at around 1,000 m above ground level.
The first round of anti-personnel munitions fell exactly on the treeline where I observed the dismounts back from steerpoint #5.

The second round extended the destruction to the entire tree line.

We left the target area without conducting any type of battle damage assessment. Our flight was officially out of ammunition and Russian troops were on their way.

Landing at the airbase was complicated because the weather conditions continued to deteriorate.

Taxiing back into the hangar.

  • This was the first insurgent operation against infrastructure. It is noteworthy that the location of the insurgent strike was so far from the previous locations and that the facility was known to be in disuse for years
  • The helicopter attack killed 6 insurgents, two of them were carrying IR-guided missiles
  • The clouds likely masked the targeting system of the IR-guided missiles and allowed the Ka-50 helicopter to overfly the target at a very low speed
  •  The pilot had to rely on a weapons release at an extremely low speed because the Ka-50 lacks a targeting system for free-falling ordnance (CCRP). The high resolution of the ABRIS moving map (down to 3 meters per pixel) and the precision of the targeting and navigation system allowed the pilot to know precisely when his aircraft was on top of a target obscured by the clouds


RangerX3X said...

I really like how you use several different games to progress your Insurgency War Story. Happy New Year JC.

Jayson Ng said...

Geneva Convention

"Persons taking no active part in the hostilities ... shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." Those are the opening words of the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949.
Although cluster bombs are not explicitly forbidden by the Geneva Law, the rules of war
prohibit the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons or weapons that are incapable of
being used in a manner that complies with the obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Those who use them in civilian areas therefore open themselves to charges of war crimes.

quoted from this website:

Anonymous said...

Jayson, it is great that you've taken the time to copy and paste part of Geneva convention to a blog that is about video games. How about next time you feel the urge to be a better human being than the rest of us you pay attention to some real world issues or just try to slide your head an inch deeper into your bum that is clearly very very sore.

JC said...

Happy New Year RangerX3X, hope this year is better than last for everybody!

Jayson: I don't understand what's the intent of your post.

Fabrizio123 said...

I just found your site and I must say I'm enjoying it a lot.

JC said...

Hi Fabrizio and thanks for reading!

Matthew S said...

Enjoy reading your stuff JC. Though I'm often gone, I always come back! :)
I wonder if that Jason guy practices Geneva convention ROE when he plays his war games? wow. Trolling at its finest!

JC said...

Thanks, Matthew. Good to see you around.

I think Jayson is trying to ask the question if an area weapon could be used in a case like this.

I argue that yes, but I don't want to digress.