F/A-18C Road Reconnaissance Mission
This is a post mission report for a Road Reconnaissance mission designed by @near_blind and briefed by @AeroMechanical for our “Wednesday Night Fibre” group. As usual (should be usual, but I forgot with the last debrief), I want to recognize both @near_blind and @AeroMechanical for putting the mission together and providing both the reading material, discussion and briefing for the mission.
We have been using our Wednesday group evening sessions as an opportunity to try to push beyond the usual multiplayer free-for-all we tend to experience online and do some group training in a more co-operative multiplayer game-play scenario. @near_blind, @AeroMechanical and @klarsnow have been patient in explaining and coordinating this effort, teaching us all how to try to cooperate in both Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground flight regimes but I secretly believe that all of this cat herding is intended to get us all on the Blue Flag server where we could be operate as a team.
Also, this will be a bit of a long AAR. I will be covering each attack individually and, in the debrief section, trying to show from an external perspective what happened, not only to you the avid reader but to the members of the flight. I will try to keep it brief and I may edit some awesome screenshots out to achieve that goal but I also may leave a bunch in because, gosh darn it, DCS is something special.
|@near_blind||12||Mongoose Flight Lead|
|@AeroMechanical||10||Rattlesnake Flight Lead|
I want to take a moment to thank everyone on the Wednesday Night Fibre group for participating when you can and contributing to a great learning aptmosphere.
Special notice goes to:
- @fearlessfrog for getting tired of the regular multiplayer sandbox mayhem and suggesting that we add a little fibre to our diets;
- @near_blind for his passion for everything about military aviation, sifting through all of that and coming up with ideas on how to train these concepts to a casual group;
- @AeroMechanical for taking time from his busy social life to work with @near_blind on those missions and briefings;
- @klarsnow for patiently explaining how things work in military circles;
- @Andrew116, @Bogusheadbox, @chipwich, @DeadMeat, @Gunnyhighway, @Tankerwade and the other filty casuals that show up when they can, patiently wait through the briefing and then ask for it all to be gone over again because someone was late, details where missed or need it explained to them in simple pictures (I’m one of them!) not to forget everyone dealing with the time zone issues and giving up your spare time for the group;
We are all gonna crash into each other. That’s my prediction, not because I am pessimistic about our flying capabilities but because this seems a like a very chaotic method to engage something that you are gonna run into unexpectedly. And then, well, that’s the way it is designed; it’s going to be chaotic and that’s really the point of the mission.
Technically, the primary point of the mission is to search (execute a reconnaissance (recce from here on out) mission along) a known roadway for targets of opportunity. That is easy enough to say and easy enough to picture but it seems like it is going to be hard to execute.
As before, our mission is relatively simple. We are going to take off from Kobuleti, travel up the coast to north-western Abkhazia and execute an armed recce mission, south-east along the Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze Highway (E60) between Gudauta and the Enguri River. Weather is clear. For weapons we will be loading 2.75’ rockets with Mk151 HE warheads.
The salient points are these:
- Ingress from the sea to shore to IP which will be one end of our patrol area along a road;
- Descend to roughly 500 to 1000 feet, slow down to roughly 350 knots and assume a Combat Spread formation (wingman roughly 4000 feet abeam, stacked 1000 feet higher than the lead);
- Travel down the road and search for targets of opportunity (substations, logistic depots or convoys);
- Perform the attack pattern noted on page 45 of the Operational Navigation T-45 MPTS and IUT document (708. Road Recce Attack Procedures);
- Regain formation on the egress heading and return to the mission.
The complicated part of this is the intra/inter flight communication: the ‘talk on’ of a wingman’s eyes to the target we intend to recce the heck out of, the regroup communication and de-confliction communication between each other and between flights. The rest is going to be easy
Some terms that I had to familiarize myself with:
- Check Turn: a heading change of less that 30 degrees where both members turn immediately to the called heading and the wingman does what they have to to maintain the correct spread position;
- TAC Turn: a heading change of between 60 and 120 degrees which is a crossing turn where positions change (if lead turns into you, you slide outside the turn, if lead turns away from you, you slide outside the turn) and the wingman does what they have to to maintain the correct spread position;
- Shackle: “The lead initiates the maneuver by calling, ‘[Lead’s call sign], shackle.’ The acute aircraft, whether lead or wingman, executes a turn greater than 45 degrees across the section. The sucked aircraft maneuvers as in the weave.” This translates into the ‘jet that’s too far ahead’ making a level turn 45 degrees off of the formation heading for a few seconds and then turning 45 degrees back into the formation, which lets the lagging jet ‘catch up’ in the formation without anyone having to burn excess fuel or go into burner. It is a judgement call on when the turn back into the formation should occur or the ‘jet that’s too far ahead’ becomes the ‘jet that too far behind’ and we shackle again;
Road Recce Attack Procedures
The intention is to bracket the target from two different directions while allowing space to de-conflict. Each person in the element will pull off to their side of the target, putting it 45 degrees off of the nose and pull up into a climb. At the pull down altitude, roll the lift vector over onto the target and pull into a dive (15-20 degrees for the lead, 20-25 degrees for the wingman). Wings level, unleash heck, or rockets, whichever you have on-board and roll out onto the egress heading to regroup and either re-attack the target or return to the mission.
This is covered on page 46 of the above mentioned Operational Navigation T-45 MPTS and IUT document (708. Road Recce Attack Procedures). As I understand it, the points represent this:
- Separate left and right according to your side of the formation as it bears down on the enemy;
- Pull up into a climb, keeping the enemy position 30-45 degrees off of the nose;
- Roll your lift line onto the target and pull into a 30 degree dive (roll in is times by you to achieve your desired dive angle);
- Due to the angles separation angles (don’t both do 30-45 but have one do 35is and one 45ish) the math will work out that you will cross over the target at different times (math based de-conflict). Attack with your weapons keeping in mind the bast radius of the other pilot in your team;
- Roll out on the desired egress heading and keep an eye out for retaliation from the target;
Step time to the jets was just after 09:00 local time at Kobuleti. We spent an additional 20 minutes or so going over the briefing and selecting our weapons loads: some of us opted for a single pod of 19 2.75’ rockets with Mk151 HE warheads per station (for 76 rockets total) while others went with 2 pods per station (for a total of 152 rockets). This was likely the reason for some varied loiter times over the target area as the pods were ‘draggier’ that we expected.
Take-off was at roughly 09:20 and was relatively uneventful - I swear that I didn’t see anything in the track that could not be explained by a faulty replay, @fearlessfrog. Everything looked like it was straight down the runway heading.
We formed up without incident, though I did lose Rattlesnake Lead (Snake from here on out) shortly after take-off; I had to go head down to set up my ‘counter-measures program’ (I had an itch and when looked back to where Aero previously was, well only jack poop did I find). We all headed for waypoint #1.
Enroute we did what we could to prepare and stay in formation. For a nice stretch of time Snake flight had a good echelon left formation going.
While Mongoose (Goose from here on out) flight had a good close formation.
Attack #1 went to Goose flight, who were the first to catch sight of a convoy working its way long the coastal highway on their ingress to the IP. Goose would press and set up their their attack…
…while Snake flight started to get their spacing with a TAC turn to the left.
Snake flight was looking on in the distance.
At that point Goose flight regrouped south-east of their first target and pressed on along the road while Snake flight maneuvered to clean up the first target after a 180 degree TAC turn back down the coast, to attack form the same direction as Goose.
Followed up by @AeroMechanical and I in a pop up from the left.
From here, Goose had discovered a second convoy entering the south-eastern built up area of Sukhumi. They had overflown the convoy but doubled back to press their attack…
…while Snake flight reformed and moved south along the coast to support.
This attack was executed by Snake flight on the same convoys in south-eastern Sukhumi that Goose flight was messing with. It was a bit of an adhoc attack, given that Snake flight arrived over, and acquired the target without much time to prepare, as Goose flight was egressing.
I found myself on top of the target and had to do a short 270 degree climbing wheel to the right to line up for my attack while @AeroMechanical (with @chipwich in trail) executed their attack from the left. We each made the one pass and proceeded to reform the flight south-east of the Sukhumi as we continued on mission.
In our tick-tock fashion, Goose flight finds a convoy passing through the picturesque town of Tsagera. We were told explicitly by high command not to leave anything nice.
This was another adhoc attack, with @near_blind in first executing a beautiful rocket salvo along the road.
Snake flight had some issues with the talk-on to the previous target Goose had hit …
Unfortunately for me, I pull in on the convoy as they were about to enter a forest that the road cut through and rushed my attack … badly, resulting in no weapons launched on target. @AeroMechanical did not disappoint, hitting them just as they entered the ‘protection’ of the forest.
@chipwich elected to on top of this group and continue to harass them until fuel became a concern, forcing an RTB.
Things were rushed after that with Goose flight pushing immediately on to…
… on the southoutskirts of Ochamchira.
On the follow up guns run, @near_blind received some aggressive fire from the lead BRDM-2 that resulted inhim hitting the silk a few minutes later.
The last of the evening. Whew. Yeah, the narrator is getting tired
Snake flight would again follow up Goose and provide some cleanup of the remaining units on the south outskirts of Ochamchira. @AeroMechanical and I did the left/right bracket attack but it turned into more of an adhoc attack along the road.
RTB - Winchester and Bingo
After that action it was time to RTB. @near_blind was going to have to walk but the rest could RTB. @fearlessfrog and @chipwich were at Bingo state while @AeroMechanical and I could take our time returning to the barn.
It was, in my opinion, a chaotic and complex mission but in a good way: it offered a ton of moments to learn what was done right and what was done … sub-optimally
(Above: Nose #13, @fearlessfrog on final)
(Above: Nose #11, @chipwich, on final - there was a nice, exciting crosswind for landing)
(Above: Nose #10, @AeroMechanical, on final)
Attack #1 - Goose Flight - Targets at Novyy Afon
Goose flight had a great initial run on that first convoy! Tacview has the destruction of 2x Ural-375, 1x BTR-80 attributed to Goose Lead and 1x ZU-23-2, 1x GAZ-66 to Goose Duckling.
Attack #2 - Snake Flight - Follow up Attack on Targets at Novyy Afon
Snake had a good follow up attack but there was a lack of target density with the convoy. After the TAC turn back from the north-west, Snake somewhat followed the profile that Goose had executed. @chipwich went for a straight in attack on the right while @AeroMechanical and @Fridge staggered their attack from the left. Snake scratched some paint and destroyed some infrastructure (road cratering) but that was about it.
Attack #3 - Goose Flight - Targets SE outskirts of Sukhumi
Goose flight had a great attack on, well, two convoys. @near_blind’s run in decimated the convoy that he had been attacking, getting credit for 3x Ural-375, 2x KAMAZ Truck and 1x ZU-23-2, a further 6 units (2x GAZ-66, 2x Ural-375, 1x BRDM-2 and 1x BTR-80) were destroyed in the ensuing conflagration that engulfed the street. @fearlessfrog’s run in on what turned out to be a second convoy was well done and resulted in a 1x GAZ-66 kill.
Attack #4 - Snake Flight - Follow up Attack on Targets at Sukhumi
Snake flight had a good snap-shot attack on the convoys in south-east Sukhumi. KIlls credited for this run are: @AeroMechanical (2x GAZ-66,1x ZU-23-2), @Fridge (2x Ural-375, 1x KAMAZ) and @chipwich (1x Ural-375, 1x KAMAZ)
Attack #5 - Goose Flight - Targets at Tsagera
This attack saw some excellent rocket work along the axis of the convoy … but I am not sure that’s what the exercise was looking for. Goose flight made good work of the quick time on target, however, with @near_blind getting credit for (1x ZU-23-2 and 1x GAZ-66) and @fearlessfrog netting (1x GAZ-66, 1x Ural-375 and 1x KAMAZ) through 2 other kills occured as a result of the secondary fire and explosions along the road (2x Ural-375). @fearlessfrog did take some hits from the convoy lead BRDM-2.
@fearlessfrog made a second attack on the remnants of the convoy that proceeded along the road with a few hits but no kill credits. @near_blind dropped a pair of CBU-99’s on the site of the first attack on the Tsagera convoy but there were no ‘live’ targets at that site.
Attack #6 - Snake Flight - Follow up Attack on Targets at Tsagera
This was a pretty good attack but the timing was off me as my pass was rushed and yet @AeroMechanical made it look easy. Neither of us would score kills on our run though @chipwich would abort his initial run in following @AeroMechanical and elect to stay with this group to hit them along the road in the forest. @chipwich would get credit for 1x Ural-375 and 1x Kamaz before fuel became a concern.
Detailed Attack #6 Shots - click to expand
(Above: @chipwich in the background continuing the work over the convoy at Tsagera)
Attack #7 - Goose Flight - South Outskirts of Ochamchira
Down to CBU-99s, @near_blind made an initial run on the convoy, resulting in the KO of a GAZ-66 and followed that up with a mighty guns run that accounted for an additional (3x Ural-375, 1x ZU-23-2 and 1x KAMAZ. @fearlessfrog’s rocket attack from the south resulted in only a 1x KAMAZ hit through the trees but it was spectacular!
Attack #8 - Snake Flight - Follow up Attack on Targets at South Outskirts of Ochamchira
I don’t have any good shots of the action at South Ochmachira for the majority of Snake Flight - I was too busy trying to make sure I had shots of @near_blind’s eject and getting shots of @chipwich continuing his relentless attack on the convoy at Tsagera. Also I was 3+ hours into the replay and getting tired of looking at my monitor
Looking the the Tacview replay I manage to get a Ural-375 before going Winchester and @AeroMechanical managed a GAZ-66 and BTR-80 before also going Winchester.
A great mission and brief by @near_blind and @AeroMechanical and great patience by everyone involved for sticking with it and staying on mission! I hope that eveyone had fun and that this AAR is somewhat useful to everyone both in the mission and outside looking in.