A LOMAC Mission Report:
Quit Toying With Him, Sacha!
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conditions will not improve, Sacha.
The meteo officer pours tall glasses
of tea as is his custom, and I munch once more on slices of
cucumber as I listen and reflect-our ways are so different
from the Americans I flew with so recently. Our 586th is very
informal about many things. Yet we are as efficient as any
The Turk chooses well.
Vasily lights a cigarette, crushing
the match under his heel. He sucks in a mouthful of acrid
He thinks to hide his IRLF
dogs in a blanket of wet cotton.
Yes. But you should find
clear air over 4000 meters. You must watch for turbulence
in the clouds, and at the cloud base. And the base will be
socked in with ILS conditions.
And we have the N-019 radar
for our eyes! We do not need the American E-3 this day, Vasily.
We know where the Turk will be. Let the Turk think we are
sleeping. He will not underestimate us so quickly in future.
I am confident. We are ready for our
GAZ jeep hoots outside for us and I shrug into my wet oilcloth,
and rush for the inadequate shelter of the tarpaulin roof.
The Armourer is with the enlisted driver, and we discuss the
choice of weapons. Given the conditions, I want radar missiles.
The MiG-29A is capable of carrying only the smaller members
of the R-27 family at present. For each of us, I choose R-27R,
two, and four R-73 for close-in combat. Arc lights flood the
open aircraft shelters with actinic blue, and the MiGs stand
out in weird relief inside as the ground crews prepare them.
Vasily and I embrace, wish each other luck this day, and separate
for our walk-arounds. Sgt. Kulikov is back from the Americans
too, and is once more my crew-chief. I know that my Yellow
52 is safe in his most capable hands.
The R-27R and R-73 missiles are white,
pointed, deadly, snug in their underwing mounts. The R-73,
known as AA-11 Archer to the West, is the best short-range
missile. Its range is nearly the equal of the American radar
AMRAAM! And combined with the helmet sight, I can fire it
at sixty degrees deflection from the nose. Only the British
ASRAAM, the American Sidewinder-X, and the Israeli Python-4
are so versatile!
I lightly sprint up the ladder, securely
placing my canvas flight-bag in its niche next to the ejection-seat,
and settling in as Kulikov and his soldiers tighten my harness
and ensure all is ready. The MiG-29s olive-painted cockpit
is much friendlier than the Su-27s, with its large gauges
and minimal switches. We have no ability to carry the Sorbtsiya
system that is for the Crane. And SPS-141 pods like
the Su-25 carries, or the Fantasm, are hopelessly bulky. Were
this a longer flight, we would carry a 1500 liter fuel tank
on the center station, but this will be a short hop. This
is good, for the MiGs sole deficiency is its terribly
short range. After the much more advanced American A-10,
it is like coming home, no?
On auxiliary power now, I am given
the signal to engage the starters, and my Klimov RD-33 turbofans
roar to life. As Kulikovs people disconnect me from
ground power, I hear Vasily on the radio report ready, and
I contact the tower, gaining permission to taxi into the pouring
rain, to Runway 01 for takeoff.
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