Friday, March 1, 2013

Insurgency in the North Caucasian Federal District - War Stories From the Front Lines: # 10 To Catch a Predator (Part One)

This entry is the second of two debriefs from two Russian officers involved in the same action at the Kodori Gorge, Abkhazia. [ Part 1 only today, folks. I'm dead tired! :) ]

Story based in single-player gameplay from a custom-made mission edited in DCS World, Flaming Cliffs 3. 

Mayór Mikhail Osipov, 6972nd Aviation Base (temporarily operating from Mineralnye Vody,  4th Air and Air Defence Forces Command).

Our orders to scramble came exactly at 0533, sending both my wingman and me down the corridors of a hangar fully packed with replacement parts and repair equipment. The morning shift of techs and mechanics was in full swing already, tending to an increasing population of aircraft arriving to the Mineralnye Vody base.

My flight of two MIG-29Ss was actually scheduled for a familiarization flight along the Russian-Georgian border. The take off for this flight was about one hour ahead and we had our heads already in the fighters, fully briefed. The adrenaline rush of getting airborne sooner than anticipated could not come at a better time, but to be sincere we would have preferred to be ready in our battle stations.

Our rushed arrival to the jets was received by the spectacle of the airmen crews working on the last touches and checkups as two tractors pulled the jets out of the hangar. That was definitively not in the regulations. I was handed a paper containing coordinates and cleared to climb into the cockpit. My wingman, not so lucky. There was a crewman with half his body into the second Mig's cockpit, bringing yet one more power or data line into it. It turns out that the second Mig's TACAN system was not working properly. The inertial navigation system of the MIG-29 is so unreliable that it was now standard procedure to declare the aircraft not mission ready if there is the most minimal TACAN system failure. Given the proper approvals, rules have been bent in the past but under no circumstances I was going to let my young wingman to go fly around the Caucasus mountains with such a handicap. He was not happy.

During the engine startup, I got briefed by radio of my mission: to intercept and shoot down an UAV (likely a US Predator drone) in the area of the "three corners" (borders between Abkhazia, Georgia and Russia). I was to make contact with an Beriev A-50 (AWACS) for vectors, with full clearance to engage after de-conflicting with a flight of two SU-25s operating in the area, with a time on station left of less than 10 minutes.

Take off time from Mineralnye Vody: 0540. Armed with radar-guided missiles, the engines of my aircraft roared one more time.
What a fine morning to fly! Mineralnye Vody is in the background, just below the sun.

En route towards the intercept. That trail is our AWACS changing stations.
The flat terrain of the North Caucasian District quickly gave way to the Caucasus mountains as I flew south. Given the relatively short distances involved in this mission, I could afford a liberal use of fuel. My radar was good enough to acquire the two Su-25s flying among those massive peaks and valleys. The radar returns are those dotted bars almost in the center of the HUD. The box  nearby is the radar cursor. 
The radar/navigation display, showing the engagement area (waypoint 2) and steerpoint 3. Steerpoint 3 marks the border between Abkhazia and Georgia and I was ordered not to cross into the latter. Here I am avoiding to fly directly into the engagement area (waypoint 2) in order to let the Su-25s clear for their return to base.

No comments: