Taking a break for a couple days. Have guests staying over. But, I have about 3 hours to play with before they arrive so…
Somewhere on my task list is: make a YT video showing a typical mission while you are DEPLOYED. But I need a script. Thus here we are…
[And I did not record this mission as my play PC has nothing on it but DCS]
Fade the lights…
Campaign was on day 1-ish (or was it 2?). Was fragged for a “Firebase Patrol”. These can happen anytime (with the Syria campaign) but are more likely before things go ‘hot’ (whenever that is).
You see, the grunts get lonely out there in the middle of nowhere; it’s nice to show them they are not forgotten. And nothing says “we care” like a low, high-speed pass (with aileron roll), in full-burner, over their heads. Hoo Rah!. So me an “Bot” set out to it.
Chose the Hornet off the Roosevelt. Morning launch, wx is about 9,000 BKN, tops estimated at FL210 (need to work a PIREP into the code ) wind calm.
Loadout: TGP + a couple of those little robot, laser bomb things.
Briefed a standard VFR departure: running join up (I keep my IAS below 300Kts so ‘Bot’ can join up quicker) AOB 500’ AGL until 7 DME, then build up some speed and expedite to the cleared altitude (FL250).
Cat shot went as expected. ‘Bot’ joined up smartly to my left. Checked in with Approach: “climb and maintain FL 250”. Up we go (at 7 DME). On the way I kept it as smooth as I could, with slight adjustments to avoid the white puffy things (no need to make -2 go ‘blind’ if we don’t need to).
Flight plan was pretty long so I planned on FL290 enroute, then briefed the game plan:
About 30 DME from each fire base go “off frequency” with K-MART and say hello to the guys on the ground (the frequencys are all on the kneeboard and usually programmed in - platform dependent).
Switch back to KMART and cruise to the next one. The fire bases visited are, in this order:
The leg between WarPig and Fearless takes us near near the FLOT (or the intel folks best guess - this is a COIN-like campaign). We do NOT want to be low near Raqqa!
Fuel plan: if needed run down to Anchor Track Bravo after Fearless. Else press to Anchor Charlie to top off the tanks.
Go visit the Alpha Bombing range to rid ourselves of the bombs.
RTB to a Case 1
On the way to our first waypoint SKATE ( @SkateZilla ) I asked for higher from the Center, “approved as requested”. Nice chap.
Once leveled off I thought a status check would be in order:
Me: “Fuel State Check”,
Bot": “two, 12.1”.
It really helps to keep him in mind concerning fuel usage. I had about the same, maybe even a 100 pounds less.
Crossing the ‘fence’ Center switched us to KMART. Warpig was only a few minutes away and when the gizmo rolled over to 30 DME I asked for and got clearance to go off freq to call WarPig. Seems they had everything under control, replying with a curt, “Nothing for you”. This would repeat for all subsequent visits - nobody wanted an air show, at least at this time. Boo. (this is situationally dependent BTW)
Used the time between Warpig and Clutch to eat my ham sandwich - @wagmatt would approve I wanted be alert during that Clutch → Fearless leg, just in case.
Since each turn was more than 90-degrees I made sure to tell George early enough (fly-by, not fly-over). As we approached Raqqa a brace of Vipers went underneath us - there was a fair amount of traffic moving about along the edges of the AOR today (the traffic call code is mostly done, just not tested yet).
Had this been a night mission (I had volunteered to be on the “Night Shift”) a small fireworks show would have been seen below us over Raqqa - unguided (unless I was dumb enough to drop down low that is!) barrage fire.
I know they were firing cus I cheated here: had the code running in debug mode that tells me these things).
Night missions, especially in VR, are a hoot, more so now that I have the Full World Population (FWP) thingy working - you could be fired upon anywhere in Bad Guy country by people with guns, not just near the target. There could be hundreds of them (this is adjustable to taste) but I ‘feed’ them in only when necessary. But I digress…
So off we went, to Fearless. Sadly, they had no ‘trade’ for us either. Here’s where I made a little navigation error: There is no “Magic Map” in DEPLOYED - you have what the jet gives you. AND I had to admit I didn’t really spend enough time looking at the route.
You see, the leg after Fearless took us, not to the Charlie Anchor Track but direct to the RTB (‘Home’) point - Mother. And THAT went right through the No Fly zone!
I had a [virtual] conversation with 'Bot", "hmmm, we’re on course but the RHAW gear is showing hits on two PAC flights on our nose (PAC is the belligerent third party in this fracas and you CANT GO THERE, into their airspace). Either they have strayed or I’m messed up. hint: it was me.
Blind luck would prevail here - my plan to visit the Alpha Bombing range came back to me about this time; it required looking at the map! Duh. This clued me in to what was really going on (a line drawn from the Bravo Anchor → Home goes right through the No Fly zone!). So, off to the tanker we go.
It wasn’t a ‘by the book’ rejoin as I have a technique that greatly expedites the process for ‘Bot’ to get gas (fly him up to about 1/2 mile astern, echelon left, then “goto tanker” takes a lot less time).
I’ve gotten really rusty since most of my flying for the last 2 years (while writing all this code) is in 1-5 minutes bursts doing nothing more than testing code paths. This is my excuse for missing the basket on the first stab. It got worse later. Bot actually topped off about 30 seconds before me. Time to rid ourselves of some weight. Back to the map.
Since the visit to the Alpha Bombing range wasn’t scheduled there was no steerpoint in the flight plan (an no navaid there either). Silly me - just dawned on me that I have actually put the geo coordinates for each bombing range into the (programatically generated) knee board. But I forgot abou this (was a new addition). What to do. Back to the map.
Ok, “…there’s a SW-NE running valley that goes by Alpha…I could find that pretty easily with my eyeballs (once I got under the bottom cloud layer)…oh, there’s a large-ish lake about 20 NM SW of the shallow canyon that points to the range…ok, lets do this”. Drawing a line on the map (range/bearing) I decided a 310-degree heading would have us intersecting that valley a bit SW of the the lake. Time to get lower…
Me, back on KMART’s frequency: “Request lower”.
KMART: “Approved as requested”. Guy’s a real pro.
Made sure again not to put Bot into the clouds on the way down and soon enough there it was. A gentle turn to follow the eastern edge of the valley…
- Call up A2G mode
- Warm up the FLIR
- Get the HMD into that mode-that-lets-you-look-at-something-to-designate it. Yeah, too much coding, not enough practice time.
- Call Center (we were back in their space), ME: “Request off freq”…
- Call Range Alpha, Me: “With your”. + “Request Tasking”
Range Controller: “airspace is yours, maintain VFR…yadda, yadda, yadda”.
We are now free to rein havoc upon beat up, broken down tanks and such. Tally Ho! There it is; designate; push some buttons; enter some settings (laser code, etc). Move out to about a 8NM IP and run in. Shack!
This is when it would be nice to be able to look at a spot on the ground and have Bot attack it (I promised not to go there again…but witness that the math is the same as what I just did with the HMD!); all my breath was wasted with several “Attack My Target” calls. Bot just shrugged. (I’ve written code that works except for arbitrary scenarios like this).
That was easy. Time to RTB. My observations as to the lack of proficiency are about to be proven…
So, we climb up/out over the Med’, enjoying the scenery: I have shipping traffic moving about too (same FWP mentioned above) - off to my right there’s a BIG tanker ship moving out of the port SE of Incirlick. Can just make it out through the haze.
Something is off with me or the TACAN here. It worked as advertised on the way out but on the way back it was showing 200+ NM to the task force - but those big blobs on my SEA search RADAR didn’t jive with that. So, after getting switched to Approach (CV) I jumped over to to Marshal as I saw the CV going by off to my left - but the TACAN still said 200+ NM!?
I’m not going to talk about the trap (attempts) Took 4 tries…but the last one was pretty good, right Jello? He wasn’t happy with me. Note the “Kiss Off” command worked here (it hasn’t before but I was probably doing it wrong).
So, even though the above was not a hair-on-fire, repetitive take off, dogfight, die, lather rinse repeat, action-packed, instant-action scenario ya know what? I felt like I accomplished something - and learned a few lessons (got just a little bit better at doing Pilot Sheet).
And I only had to make about 5 mouse clicks (reading the briefing and studying the map better would have scored me more points too, I guess).
PS: The link to the lastest D/L is still up on the first post if anyone wants to give it a go.
PSS: Or it WAS.
Here it is again (it wont let me edit that post?)