Last night I joined @Bogusheadbox on the 1.5.8 Blueflag server for some fighter action. I’d post screenshots if I had them, but it wasn’t that sort of hop.
We decided to do a fighter sweep due to indications of enemy fighters in the area. I chose the F-15C because I like having enough missiles to actually influence a fight. Bogus chose the Mirage 2000 because . I take the standard Cold War 4x4 loadout of equal Sparrows and Sidewinders, while Bogus opts for a pair each of Matra Super and Magic missiles. Our take off point is Guadata, and we fall into a lazy radar trail as we head north to sweep over a pair of enemy FARPs. Within ten minutes of take off there are no fighters in sight, but I do get a radar contact relatively low in the mountains, and very slow. I suspect it’s a helicopter moving supplies about, but I take us north east to investigate. A short amount of searching later and I pick him up as he ascends a ridge line. I use the brief moment of visibility to find him visually before he dives back into a valley.
Bogus and I roll in after him, and I’m annoyed to find he’s not where I expected him to be. I snake down the valley searching visually and doing lazy snaking turns hoping my radar’s vertical search mode will save me. About the time I’m wondering if we chose the wrong valley, I see a dot rapidly pass me along my right side. In one of those wonderful moment’s of compression I see a pilot in his glass greenhouse looking back at me.
I immediately tell Bogus, who’s still in trail, to shoot the guy. Bogus replies he’s already passed him as well. Trying my darndest to form a mental picture of everyone’s position and vector, I select afterburner and wrench the aircraft into climbing right turn. As I come over the top I tighten down, intentionally bleeding airspeed. I’ll be boned if there are any MANPADs around, but my plan here is to get slow to give me a bit more time to spot the helicopter visually and shoot. I point my lift vector at where I think the Hip should be, and am rewarded by a solid lock.
The Hip has continued plodding in a straight line. I would have thought being buzzed at half a mile by two fighters would impress the need for evasion, but perhaps the pilot never saw us? Either way his time for action is rapidly passing. I cue my AIM-9s, call a Fox 2, and watch as it tracks directly into the Hip’s rotor hub. The helicopter simply disintegrates and its wreckage tumbles to the valley floor below.
I make a left turn to head west, and begin climbing to get to a more fighter-ly altitude. A little talk on and Bogus and I are back in a lazy radar trail. Our second customer of the day makes its presence known. The reliable APG-63 spots a contact thirty miles ahead, a little to the right of our track. Some switch fu and the better part of the minute later and I’ve got its altitude and heading. It’s nose hot, tracking down the valleys in between Sochi and Guadata. Bogus and I close for the kill.
As we approach the bandit, it remains silent on the RWR, and a oily black trail of smoke reveals itself behind it. At first I think it’s a Viggen or a Harrier, but further investigation seems to indicate it’s on fire. I’m wondering what this is and how it got here, but that’s a question for guys who don’t keep track of their kills. I send a Sparrow its way at 10 NM. No sooner than I shoot I kick myself because I notice a small outcrop in between me and the bandit. I thought I had the angles for the missile to clear it, but sure enough the great white hope smacks directly into it. No matter. I began my maneuvering to convert on this guy’s stern and give him the good news. I get halfway around the circle before the bandit smacks himself into the side of the valley. No credit for me, but one less.
I arrest my turn, call for turn to the south and away from the enemy, and focus on regaining our speed and altitude. Ten or so minutes and fifteen thousand feet later, we’re orbiting at altitude when we get an Intel update that some nastiness might be occurring near Sochi, to our north west. We travel in that direction, and after a short while I resolve a contact on my radar. It’s a single ship, very low, near Maykop.
My initial impression is that the bandit is trying to play way too coy for his own good: he’s weaving in and out of the notch and playing on the deck at a range far in excess of where I can hurt him. I call some course changes to try and give us a clear exit route once the fight kicks off. A minute later a second contact appears close to the first and I realize it’s a two ship taking off and rejoining. I continue to play coy myself for a little bit, keeping them at the edge of my radar’s gimbal and observing.
Once it becomes clear the enemies know Bogus and I are about and have committed, we make a right turn to engage. Best guess is our targets are two Su-27s, both low in Line Abreast with a mile or two separation. I sort the right guy to Bogus, and take the left guy for myself before accelerating into a shallow dive. Thinking he who forces the defensive first, wins, I shoot first at twenty miles. My plan is to force my target onto his back foot so I can close and kill before moving to aid Bogus. I’m fired on at the same time, so I crank, putting the target on the left gimbal of my radar.
My target turns cold and it becomes clear my missile is never going to reach him. More interesting, though it takes me a few seconds to comprehend, is the fact I’m still being guided upon. I turn cold, and the situation is thus: My bandit is running north to avoid my missile. Bogus’ bandit has fired on me, focusing his attention in my direction as I run south to ditch his missile. Bogus is currently fangs out and naked, meaning the enemy isn’t paying attention to him.
Bogus seizes the opportunity and fires on his target. Two missiles result in a kill, freeing me of my pursuer. I immediately crank the jet around in a max performance turn, preconfiguring the radar into a narrower scan where I anticipate my target being. As advertised my target is where I expect, however he’s found Bogus and has begun doing his best J.J. Romulan impression. Complicating matters is the fact we’ve wandered deep into the WEZ of a SA-11 site, and it has also joined the fray, rippling missiles off at Bogus. I fire off my third Sparrow, and then my fourth as I close to within ten miles of the Flanker. I’m rewarded with the sight of one of them catching the Russian fighter in a left hand turn and reducing him to a streamer of fire and smoke. Reminded that I exist, one the he SA-11 TELARS swivels and sends some kontsentrat kommunizma my way as well. Wanting precisely none of that, I put the angry 11 indication on my six, select max AB as I dive for the deck and begin a series of undulating 6G turns punctuated by chaff to confuse and bleed the missiles of any energy.
I manage to dodge my pursuers, Bogus is less lucky. Having expended his CM and smash avoiding the wrath of the Flanker, he’s at the wrong spot at the wrong time, and his Mirage eats a Buk. Luckily the Mirage survives, and he’s able to limp to the south. Replete with energy and a few miles ahead of him, I whip my nose back north, checking to see if there’s any more activity out of Maykop. Seeing my scope empty, and passing Bogus on my right, I convert onto his stern, and do a quick battle damage check.
About the gist of it.
Bogus resolves to nurse the pot marked and burning jet back to base, and I form up on his right, vigorously scanning to our rear for any EMCON threats that might be approaching. We make it over the mountains and back to Sochi, the nearest friendly base. Bogus managed to fulfill the technical definition of bringing the jet back: the french delta makes it back to final approach before the hydraulics give out and it noses into the grass next to an aircraft shelter. I do an expedited overhead with a quick turn onto final, easing the Eagle onto the concrete and aerobraking to a stop.