Saturday, August 17, 2013

Calm Before the Storm at Zugdidi - DCS UH-1H Huey

After the Abkhazians' incursion at the Inguri dam, the Georgian president promised to "flood the Inguri valley with Georgian forces". So far, the region has seen an anemic increase in Georgian units. Near the key crossing over the Inguri river at Zugdidi, the ramp up of Georgian military presence is in progress. A tactical command post for a combined arms battalion has just been built some 15 miles from Zugdidi, and equipment and personnel are slowly pouring in.

I am a pilot of a utility helicopter and I have been originally assigned to haul materiel into the battalion's command post. Just a day into the job I find myself with the almost certain prospect of flying combat support missions.

The Abkhazians have been observed flying attack helicopters near the border and our S2 officers are having a hayday going through cell phone calls and radio traffic. A raid or a forward detachment offensive action appears to be imminent.

Our preparations for any type of enemy offensive action are insufficient. Today, under the advise of the US Marine Corps, we started an exercise to time our response time.

This is a control post at the Inguri river, which separates us from Abkhazia (far background)

Within Zugdidi proper, the ubiquitous ZU-23s provide some anti-aircraft capability

The "Zeus" is also present in the country-side. Here near a bridge between Zugdidi and the tactical command post.
The command post has a FARP that can be used by attack helicopters, eventually. Right now is only used by utility helicopters.

The exercise starts at 0720, with an armored column departing from the tactical command post towards the suburbs of Zugdidi. In this picture, the two scout vehicles (BTR-80s) march at top speed.
A depleted company of T-72Bs follows.
I take off at 0725 from the tactical command post, with a squad of Georgian infantry. The objective for us is to test our ability to airlift troops within Zugdidi.
Our USMC advisers have warned my co-pilot and me about the extreme vulnerability of our unarmored helicopter. They urged us to plan our ingress route within the umbrella of our AAA cover. In this picture, we overfly a AAA position.

Useful navigation landmarks start to appear soon. This one (the intersection of two roads) is particularly important as it is located close to the city of Zugdidi. 
Flying at low altitude in urban areas can get tricky. The multiple tall buildings not only offer plenty of opportunity for collision but also for sudden changes in lift due to ground effect against the roofs. We tend to minimize our flying time over these places and we choose the shortest path from the open towards the inner city. A small warehouse (yellow arrow) offers a great landmark to signal a sharp turn into Zugdidi.

We have been asked to familiarize ourselves with the urban landscape of Zugdidi, but the terrain below is too complex to find anything of use.
Our pre-planned landing position is a big open field in the middle of Zugdidi, near a  ZU-23 emplacement (yellow arrow)

The infantry squad disembarks right after our landing.

And we quickly take off towards the tactical command post.
Keeping an eye on the compass (yellow arrow) at all times means that your familiarization with the area of operations is not enough.

On our way back, we see the tank column slowly crouching ahead. They have barely made 5 kilometers from the tactical command post. That's worrying.

We land at the tactical command post at 0752, ready to transport more troops if necessary.
Compounded with the total lack of resources, there is the slow reaction time demonstrated in this exercise. We would have to repeat this exercise a couple of times to find more vulnerabilities and then come up with a plan. Unfortunately, we may not have that luxury.



Anonymous said...

Very, very cool. A mission of your own making? I like the story and the fact that the Huey has been given to Georgia. Could actually be a true aid package, very believable. I'm actually working on some missions of my own based on the Huey's being give to Georgia from the U.S. Well done, hope to see more from this mission.

JC said...

Thanks for reading, man. Let us know about your scenarios.

What really thrills me about this mission is that thanks to a fellow in the official forums, I could download a script to disembark troops anywhere in the map. This means that I can shape the quick response at my will. Sorta giving me some chance to go tactical if you will.

I will post a link to this template mission in the next installment.


Anonymous said...

I will share when finished. First mission shouldn't be too long, just tightening up some stuff. With respect to the download you mention; I'm guessing it is a "lua script" you downloaded? I think I know the thread referring to it in the main forums. Is it hard to implement in your mission? I do not have much experience with lua scripting and would possibly like to use this thing you mention in my mission.