The war has been going on for a couple of hours by now. We've flown numerous missions against North Korean radar and SAM sites and it's starting to show: along the DMZ/FLOT enemy radar/SAM cover has been significantly reduced. We will continue to hammer their air defence capability but with North Korean tanks rolling South I guess it's time to lend the guys on the ground a hand.
My mission is to attack a DPRK tank battalion heading South through the DMZ. There are no friendly ground units in contact yet so target identification should be easy enough.
I modify the flightplan a bit so that I will search for ground targets between steerpoints 4 and 5.
Distance to target from Kunsan AFB is close enough so I don't need drop tanks. Which means I can pack more weapons. I decide for a loadout of 2x AMRAAMs, 2x Sidewinders and 8x CBU-97 SFW. 8 CBUs will make the Viper handle like a truck but since the targets are just across the border and no significant SAM threat is anywhere nearby I think it should work.
As usual I note down the most important stuff: my flight's callsign (Weasel 4-1 and 4-2), take off time, attack steerpoints etc. Since we won't fly as part of a strike package time on target isn't very important on this mission.
Mission starts 20 minutes before scheduled take-off time and I'm sitting in a F-16 Block 40 at Kunsan AFB, systems cold. I quickly start up the Viper and have everything up and running in no time. I like to prepare my weapons while I still have lots of time so I always set stuff like CBU settings while still on the ground. Here I've just changed the burst altitude from 500 to 1500 ft. This should get me a wider impact pattern and since I plan to drop the CBUs in pairs still give me a high hit probability.
After loading my mission data cartridge and my INS system having completed its alignment I switch the INS to NORM operating mode and am rewarded by seeing my flightplan on the HSD. Besides the flightplan I have previously added a couple of threat circles and the FLOT (dashed line) while in the mission planning screen. The threat circles don't concern me on this mission (I needed them for the last mission) but the FLOT line is a good reminder where to expect enemy and friendly ground forces.
Since I've set Kunsan's tower frequency to a preset channel in my data cartridge I can quickly switch my UHF radio to the tower frequency by punching channel 15 via the up front control panel. VHF radio is set to channel 1 (flight).
I watch the clock, re-check all systems, and a couple of minutes before my scheduled take-off time I radio the tower for clearance to taxi to runway."Weasel 4-1, you are cleared to taxi to runway 27"
Moments later Weasel 4-2 follows.
I hold short of runway 27 with another flight of F-16s behind us. 2 minutes to scheduled take-off time. I arm the ejection seat and switch my position lights to steady. "Weasel 4-1, you are cleared for take-off from runway 27"
I taxi onto the runway and make a final systems check, everything looks OK. With Weasel 4-2 in position I push the throttle forward, release the brakes and start accelerating down the runway. At 60 kts I switch off the NWS system, at 170 kts I start rotating.
With 8x CBUs the Viper climbs like a pig but I don't want to use afterburner to conserve fuel. I slowly accelerate to about 375 kts and start a shallow climb to 20,000 ft.
Once clear of the airport I switch UHF frequency to the AWACS channel and radio them for a situation overview. So far everything's clear, no enemy flights inbound.
As I make my way North I start scanning the skies with my AA radar. There are a couple of contacts further North but they're all friendly aircraft. As we pass Seoul I radio my wingman to fence in. Lights off, weapons armed, ECM on.
Suddenly I get an AWACS call, enemy aircraft inbound, 30 miles at my 2 o'clock! I change course and quickly pick up a couple of new contacts! Using the EXP view I zoom in on the radar cursor and identify 4 contacts with high closure rate! A call to AWACS tells me I'm looking at a strike package of 2x Su-25s escorted by 2x Mig-23.
Since the Migs are closer to us I order my wingman to engage them while I will tackle the Su-25s. I get a good lock on one of them and launch an AMRAAM. The Su begins maneuvering, trying to escape back north but it can't outrun an AIM-120. Flares won't help either. Good kill!
My wingman meanwhile got one of the Migs and is engaging the second. The second Sukhoi flashes past me and I start turning, cursing the CBUs below my wings. With the Su-25 in close range I hit the dogfight override switch and uncage my Sidewinder. Moments later I have the Su in my sight and get a good tone, FOX 2!
At the same time Weasel 4-2 dispatches the second Mig. Phew! Time to take a deep breath... I reorient myself since as usual my situational awareness went down the drain the moment AA combat started. AWACS radios all clear so we can now concentrate on our mission, hitting that DPRK tank battalion.
I switch to A/G mode and change the radar to display moving targets. Doesn't take long to find something:
I check with AWACS and target bearing and distance matches my radar contacts. I check the HSD and the contacts are where my targets are supposed to be. Looks like I found my tank battalion.
I lock up a target and, after spotting the CCRP target box, switch to (visual) CCIP bombing mode and start my attack.
I get a couple of secondary explosions and Weasel 4-2 seems to have hit something, too. With all CBUs dropped and my wingman calling bingo fuel it's finally time to head home. Oh, and there are a couple of Migs incoming, too.
The Migs can't catch us though and soon we're back in friendly airspace. Weapons off, lights on, time for the pulse to slow down again. My fuel level is OK but apparently Weasel 4-2 has been using his afterburner a bit too much since he's constantly complaining about "running on fumes
". Ok, I get it. Next time we'll use drop tanks like everybody else...
As we near Kunsan AFB I switch UHF over to channel 15 and ask for landing. Surprisingly we get into the pattern without having to wait for other flights. About 35 minutes after take-off we're safely back home.
We got 2x Su-25 kills, 1x Mig-23 kill, 1x Mig 23 damaged. And 12 ground targets destroyed with another 10 damaged.
Mission is considered a success, the intended target has been heavily hit.
And just as I was back in the planning room I saw a flight of 2 A-10s closing in on that tank battalion. Guess they'd rather have stayed in bed this day.