NFO Wings

The following are AARs from Home Fries

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12 March 2009 - Operation: Port of Call

I picked up one of my Medals of Honor in a deep strike into Yemen during the Port of Call campaign.

The Medal of Honor

Don't recall the final tally, but it involved serious hate and discontent with free-lasing maverick, approx 30 birds on the ramp, a couple of SAM sites, a couple of ZSUs, and oh-by-the-way the entire Yemeni AF that came after me on egress (they must not have liked the A-50 I picked off as an afterthought)! I was the only survivor, and I had to limp home and glide the last 20 miles for a deadstick landing.
My only regret is forgetting to activate the ACMI before the flight.

08 November 2009 - Operation: Choke Point - Interdiction Strike

When I get back to Bur Sudan, I'm gonna rip that Sudanese intel officer a new one!

"This is going to be a milk run", he gushes, as he shows me the theater map.  Sure enough, no red airfield circles, no EWS circles, and the remaining SAM circles are small and away from the action.  Things looked so easy, I might have actually believed him, if it wasn't for the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

The mission was to take out a factory in the Ethiopian highlands as this campaign is starting to wind down.  We've already crippled the enemy C4I and Air Force, and the SAM threat has been heavily reduced due to aggressive SEAD made possible by the reduced air threat.  Even so, the cost wasn't cheap.  As a result, friendly air assets for my strike were limited to 2xF-22s for the Hammer, 2xF-14 for the SEAD, and 2xMiG-21 for the Escort. Even so, I loaded up with Maverick and Rockets on the hardpoints.  No use being helpless if my SEAD package isn't up to the task, and the LAU-68s should help with any other industrial targets of opportunity.

The night was moonless, I noticed as I was walking to the aircraft.  All the better for stealth, so I said a prayer of thanks to the Man Upstairs, and while I was at it I put in a good word for the engineers at Night Vision Technologies, Inc. Their product would be invaluable tonight.

Take off and transit were uneventful, and our first leg into Indian country was nothing too stressful.  I had us set to EMCON 2 the entire time.  Our ingress to the IP went like clockwork, and I called my wingman into a loose trail and went inbound to my target.  No need to change our EMCON.  We each shacked our primary targets, and hung around a bit to take out some more warehouses, containers, and another factory.  I was almost out of rockets and about to call it a night when all of a sudden I got lit up by four SA-6s and two SA-17s over the next ridge.  I know this was one of those airbases that didn't warrant a threat ring and was considered worthless.  Unfortunately, the enemy didn't agree with the worthiness of the airbase as analyzed by the allied commanders, and apparently they sent much of what was left of their air defenses to reinforce this position.

First order of business, go to EMCON 5.  Second order of business, call in the SEAD cavalry.  Third order of business, dodge three incoming missiles.

Well, I made it through the first two orders of business, and almost made it through the third.   But like the saying goes, "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug."  It was my turn to be the bug.  That third missile homed in on me with the tenacity of a Pit Bull with 'roid rage, and no amount of jamming, chaff, or jinking was going to deter it.  I took one in the left engine, and the frags quickly spread to plenty of avionics.  I don't know for sure the extent of my damage because the Systems MFD was down for the count.  However, warning bells were going off in my headset, the left annunciator panel was lighting up like Times Square, and Betty was on a tirade, so I knew that things were not going well at all.

Well, I was still luckier than my wingman, my escort, and my SEAD package.  They all fell victim to the apparently elite SAM operators of the Ethiopian army. My engines were damaged, and I couldn't get more than 75% throttle, so I knew that I couldn't outrun the SAMs. I didn't have the energy for another evasion, and another hit would mean a bad hair day for yours truly.  I couldn't let that happen, because I still heard the smarmy voice of the intel officer telling me about this milk run that just took out 5 of 6 aircraft, and I knew I had to make it back so I could give this rear-echelon puke a good old-fashioned beatdown!

So with vengeance and bloodlust, I turned toward the SAMS, got low, and pickled off all six Maverick missiles.  Windshield, meet six bugs!  Alpha MIke Foxtrot, dirtbags!


A Silver Star and a Purple Heart for my trouble

But I wasn't about to end it there.  They took 5 of our aircraft, so the least I could do was return the favor.  I figured I could make one guns pass, take out as many aircraft on the ramp as the pass would allow, then head for home plate.  I wasn't going to stick around, as I was pretty sure I had a fuel leak, and home plate was 470 miles away!  Lucky for me, I still had a few rockets left, so that control tower was history when I headed back north to Sudan.

On my egress, I got as high as I could as fast as 75% throttle would let me.  I stayed in NAV mode so I could get a read on my fuel state, since my Systems MFD was bent.  With the warning klaxon screaming into my headset, the constant compressor pops and noises of failing systems, and Betty constantly talking about "Left Engine Failure", I almost didn't recognize the sound of an enemy air spike.

Almost.  Fortunately, my Defensive MFD was still functional, and I could see a bandit EF2000 going for what must have looked like an easy kill.  Channeling my inner Ron White, I said to myself "I don't think so, Scooter!"  I turned into the bandit, unleashed all of my AMRAAMs (I couldn't sustain an engagement with the guy, and I wasn't saving them for anything else), cranked left to the northwest, and watched while this guy got the surprise of (the rest of) his life.  He was able to get off a missile at me, but I was already beaming him, and I just kept popping chaff until the RWR went silent.

I realized soon enough that the fuel leak was severe enough that making it back to Bur Sudan wouldn't be happening in my current state.  I knew that waypoint 2 was fairly close to the Sudanese/Eritrean/Ethiopian border, so i plugged WP2 into my NAV and headed in that direction.  Then I called Magic and asked for a divert airfield.  Lucky for me, there was one just 20 miles across the Sudanese border, which was about 10 miles further than I could make with my current fuel state.

Fortunately, the F-22 has pretty decent glide characteristics, and I was able to line up for a straight in approach, keep up about 160 knots airspeed, and had enough hydraulics left to drop the gear at the last moment (though no brakes to arrest my roll once I touched down).  I came to a stop, opened the canopy, and only then realized that I couldn't get up.  Apparently I didn't realize the stray frag lodged into my leg until I tried to put weight on it to get out of the plane.  Well, that'll get me a Purple Heart.  Maybe I'll use the pointy end of it to stab that intel officer when I make it back to Bur Sudan.

12 March 2010 - Operation: Avenging Scimitar

Note: This AAR is from a dynamic campaign scenario that was in early alpha phase at the time. As such, it is notable not for what was accomplished, but for what didn't happen. Namely, I was able to go in using a stealth loadout, hit my target, and get out without breaking much of a sweat. Not only that, but the campaign objectives are such that I don't need to go well "above and beyond" my target tasking to succeed in the campaign.

OAW Route

Proposed Route to Target.

OAW Loadout

The luxury of the stealth loadout.

It's Day One of Avenging Scimitar, and things are starting to shape up. Despite our first waves incurring heavy losses, we gave back more than we took. In 7 hours we managed to cripple Saudi Arabia's C4 assets, and we have achieved air superiority after 10 hours. Our priority now is to cripple enemy air bases in order to pave the way for the next phase of our campaign to liberate Saudi Arabia.

I was assigned as strike lead for a package of 4 Raptors (strike), 8 Escorts (4 Eagles, 4 Super Hornets), and one SEAD flight of 4 Mud Hens. My flight was fragged to take out a control tower and three hangars at one of three airbases near Jizan. While we had established air superiority, I was still more concerned about air threats than ground threats. This is why I had traded in a second SEAD flight to get the Superbugs now riding shotgun.

Since the goal of the first part of this campaign is the liberation, and not the subjugation, of Saudi Arabia, we were encouraged to hit only fragged targets and targets of opportunity that were a direct threat to our package. To this end, I decided to go with a stealth loadout in lieu of my standard practice of loading lots of Hate and Discontent on my external hardpoints. I loaded up with 2 heaters, 2 AMRAAM-Rs, and 2 JDAM bombs. I figured this time I would let the escorts and weasels have the fun while we sneaked in, hit our assigned targets, and got out of Dodge.

Keeping a Close formation

Vic formation for the first leg.

The flight started smoothly enough. We executed a formation takeoff from Tadjourah, Djibouti, then went feet wet as we flew near the coast of Yemen. I kept us in a Vic formation, which may not be tactically flexible, but keeps us in tight to minimize likelihood of detection.
Sunset over the Red Sea

Sunset over the Red Sea

I kept us in EMCON 1, switching only to EMCON 2 for brief instructions to the flight.

Going Feet Dry near Jizan

Going Feet Dry near Jizan

Final leg to target

Final leg to the target

Flying the last leg in the valley

Flying the final leg NOE

Once we went feet dry, I called for the fingertips left formation, which kept us close but still covered us from potential threats from Jizan.

Once we passed Jizan with no drama, I called for a close trail formation, then took us down between the ridges for the final leg to our target. At 15 miles out, I called for a loose trail, then began my climb to altitude.

Ready to pickle JDAM

Preparing to drop JDAM.

With JDAM on board, altitude is my friend since the higher I fly, the further from the target I can pickle the bomb.

JDAM Meet Tower

Weapon view of JDAM. Shack!

Once I was about 7 miles out, I received the shoot cue, then dropped my first JDAM. Since I don't normally fly with JDAM, I figured I would get closer before dropping my second one, just in case.

This proved both unnecessary and potentially hazardous, as two Tornadoes came screaming down the runway, likely ticked off that we just took out some of their buildings. I called in my escort, but these guys were close enough to immediately go to guns. They were also in a vulnerable energy state, having just taken off, so I took advantage of that and bagged one of the tornadoes. One of the escorts took out the other.


Engage Tornado 12 O'Clock!

Not to be outdone, two more tornadoes came screaming down the runway. This time, I was recovering energy spent in my first engagement, so I couldn't bounce them on takeoff. I popped a heater at one of them,
Splash one

Splash Two!

and then let one of the Superbugs in on the fun. Final score: Home Fries: 2, Escorts: 2, Saudis: 4 trashed buildings!


Time to RTB.

I figured that this was probably a pretty good time to get out of Dodge (so much for not being seen), so I put the flight into fingertips right (covering our threat axis), switched to EMCON 1, and headed south. The rest of the flight proved uneventful, as did the landing at home plate.
OAW Conclusion

Not bad for a day's work.