Last mission ended in disaster. Something terrible went wrong on short approach and my plane burst into flames shortly after I hit the deck. Speculation is that I had a minor fuel leak that had collected in the wheel wells and along the fairings of the tail-hook. Then the sparks when the hook hit the deck ignited the mixture. The official report is still pending though, while the investigation is ongoing.
Somehow, I survived. Moments after the fireball, the fire crew broke open the canopy and pulled me out. A few scratches, but overall I came out alright.
Nevertheless, the flight surgeon decided to downgrade me from flight status for a few days. Now Iíve been released for active duty once again. The CAG scheduled me for a few traps this afternoon just to get reacquainted with the Rhino.
Itís an overcast, grey, drizzly day as I sit on the cat waiting to launch.
Skimming the clouds.
Flaps, full. Gear, down and locked. Hook, extended.
On speed, on centerline, on glideslope.
And a successful trap. Seems I havenít lost my touch.
While I was out boring holes in the sky, the CAG and crew were busy putting a mission together. Upon landing I found that I was scheduled in the reserve bird. However, I managed to finagle my way back into an active spot. After a brief rest, it was back to the ready room.
Apparently there are some trucks moving suspected chemical agents from a factory in Nasiriya. Our mission is to take out the trucks, then destroy the factory.
A shot of the factory reveals the two main buildings and the storage tanks scattered around the grounds. The road passing North-South, should be the road the trucks will be taking.
Mavericks for my section, LGBís for the Division.
Pre-checks completed, Iím once again seated in my office awaiting launch.
This time though I climb through the overcast ceilings, and into the clear weather above.
The ride to the target area is quite uneventful. A few times AWACS aka Shovelhead called out bandits, but they were always a long way away, not a threat to our mission.
I did spot a Viking tooling around; Iím not sure exactly what he was doing this close to the hostile area though. Perhaps an emergency
After fencing in we drop below the overcast, in order to give our sensors a better view. Using FLIR through the clouds is an exercise in futility.
I find the factory on ground radar,
So I switch to GMT and begin searching for our primary targets, the trucks. There should be several of them, five I remember after consulting my notes.
I check in with JSTAR and he tells me there are several movers northwest of bullseye, 72 miles. Iím really not too familiar with the bullseye terminology, or implementation in this sim, so that information fails to help me at all.
I just canít seem to find them, and before I know it Iíve blazed right past the factory, and most of the target area.
I exit the area to regain my situational awareness. I tell my flight to orbit and I begin a search pattern, trying to find those trucks via electronic or visual means.
Still no joy. However, I do find several air defenses scattered amongst the factory buildings, but for some reason I cannot get any of my Mavericks to track. I must have something wrong because every single one I launched failed to guide even though I had a valid target, well within maximum range.
Finally in frustration I ordered #2 to attack air defenses, and he made quick work of the ZSU 23ís he found.
I attempted several times to get the division to attack the chemical factory, but for some reason they would not leave their orbit, even after I ordered them to return to formation. In my frustration and haste, I forgot entirely to take any screenshots of my attempted attack runs.
They finally left the orbit when I told them to RTB. What a waste of fuel, I donít think a single one of them expended any ordnance.
Finally in desperation I fly to just under the overcast and begin scanning the ground visually. I spot what looks like a grouping of trucks. My wingman is out of mavericks, and I cannot get anyone else to attack targets, so I switch to guns, the only weapon I have left and set up for a strafing run.
Success, I hit something at least. As I passed over, I counted three tanker-trucks remaining. I know that I got at least one. I try for another pass but cannot acquire the other trucks through the smoke and fire. I decide that Itís time to go home before I do
something really stupid.
Iím forced to tank up at angels 15, right in the thick of the overcast. I could just make out the tanker's outline at under a mile. It was an interesting re-fueling, and I was concentrating so hard that, for the second time, I forgot to take any screenshots.
Finally, about to land, under a steely grey sky.
And a successful trap.
This turned out to be an extremely frustrating mission. It pointed out my many flaws as a sim pilot. First, I have no idea how to use the bullseye system in JF18. While I familiar with the concepts, and frankly am quite able to use F4 AFís bullseye calls quite effectively, I was completely lost with this sim. Any tutorials out there? Perhaps a few hints from the veterans? I also cannot figure out why my Mav shots went wrong. I guess Iíll have to revisit guided weapon deployment. Finally, communication with my flight was abysmal. I could not get them to do anything I wanted, well, besides for the first orbit command. Iím not really sure what I was doing wrong there, if anything. Has anyone else encountered this problem? Perhaps for the sake of the story Iíll assume that my wingmen were just stubborn today, maybe they were forced to deal with weapon and system malfunctions, or more realistically degraded systems due to the weatherÖ
To pour salt in my wounds, there was ďno debrief text availableĒ upon mission end. So I still donít even know if that tanker I destroyed in my fit of frustration was even the right one!
Still having fun though, and looking to exact some revenge on the next mission...