The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Chapter 10 Continued: Havoc AA FanFic

Chapter 10 Continued:

President Kipper thought about what Colonel Kinnimore and General Murphy had just finished briefing him on, he was also pondering the coming telephone calls he was going to need to make.

Standing up straight, the President spoke, “Colonel Kinnimore, General Murphy., all this makes perfect sense…..if you can really call it that, but this …. this operation ‘Pacific Reforger’, is it really going to work, I mean, can we actually do it and I’m not even counting on the fact that the Australians may well tell us to take a long walk of a short plank”.

 

The President was really starting to perspire, all the information and the confines of the battle lab had caused him to already ditch his tie, now he was loosening the button at the top of his business shirt, ‘times ticking’ thought Kipper.

“Okay gentlemen, we need to draw this briefing to a close, I still have to  speak with Admiral Ritchie and that’s a conversation I will need a stiff drink after”, President kipper paused momentarily,” Colonel Murphy, please establish contact with our Australian allies, and give them a heads up at the operational level..all low key please Steven, I’ll make the call to the Australian PM in about 30 minutes, ‘this outta be good’ thought kipper, ‘Oh, Mr. Prime Minister, how are you, i wonder, might we borrow a couple of brigades and maybe an armoured regiment or two, if you would be so kind’, ‘yeah right Kipper thought, that will fly like a lead balloon, not to mention, the care taker US units which were still on Australian soil, ‘ hadn’t that been an interesting set on negotiations after the wave, all those men, the military equipment and simply no place to store it, but Jesus hadn’t the Aussies been more than accommodating, well, for a small price i guess’.

Kipper continued on, “gentlemen, I want you both on flights here ASAP, whilst you are enroute, please conduct some preliminary planning, I want a briefing here in 12 hours, that will be all gentlemen, thank you”.

The president drew his hand across his throat, looking in the direction of Colonel Rall’s, indicating to terminate the conference call.

Settling back into his chair the President waited for Colonel Rall’s to finish cancelling their call and sit back in his chair, president Kipper was just about to speak with the colonel and his chief of staff when the speaker phone buzzed to life, already sitting forward, colonel Rall’s toggled the answer switch, “ Colonel Rall’s here, what is it?”. The light flashing on the speaker phone handset had already alerted the Colonel that it was from the senior technician on the floor in the situation room.

The technician spoke, Colonel Kinnimore, Sir, we have a situation developing off the east coast, you are required down stairs Sir”, with that the line went dead.

 

 

Chapter 11.

Hawk flight off the East coast of the Continental United States

Major Mick Hawke’s and his flight of five F16CG’s were now orbiting at 10,000 feet 150 miles from the invasion fleet, still steaming for the east coast. Mick had his flight cutting slow lazy circles around the AWAC’s, which was orbiting above them another 10,000 feet. Mick figured from this position the could ascend rapidly enough to deal with any hostile aircraft that might still want to come out and play, or if they got the go ahead descend to the deck for a high speed low level run at the invasion fleet. Mick hoped it would be the latter.

The rest of his flight were all like Major Hawks, getting rapidly bored with circles, it stood to reason that the first pilot to come up on the radio pissing and moaning was Trish Mayhem, ‘Great , just what i fucking need’ thought Mick.

Mick toggled the voice activated mike system and spoke. “Chick 3 this is lead, let’s not do this now shall we, maintain radio silence”. Mick thought he had been infinitely reasonable, they were all tired and getting rather bored, ‘but that’s the job’, was what they frequently said.

Major Hawke’s himself, was not typically known for his infinite amount of patience..today was no different.

” Eight ball, this is Hawke 1, any trade or com’s from higher”.

‘There, let’s see what that cracks loose, at least Trish will be happy that something’s happening’ thought Mick.

“Hawk 1”, the AWAC’s controller came back up straight way, that surprised Mick, he fully expected them to take their time, “ be advised, we may have some trade for you, we have unknown bogies lifting of from the coast, currently at 400 miles Hawk 1, angels 9 and climbing fast, profile suggests military, certainly jets, current count is 9 bogies, negative IFF at this time, wait out!”.

The controllers call had Mick fully alive in his cockpit, Mick scanned his instruments, ‘Fuel, check, in the green, tanks at 95%, all systems …look nominal’, Micks eyes glanced across to the LCD display showing the status of all the weapons on board his F16CG wild weasel, instantly Micks stomach contracted into a tight ball, “Fuck!”.

Had anybody been able to have all the cockpits of the flight of 5 aircraft in Micks wing displayed on the one screen they would have noticed, that almost simultaneously the 5 pilot’s uttered profanities of some sort.

“Eight ball, this is hawk 1, we may have an issue here, we only have 2 Nine Lima’s per bird, how copy”. “fuck”, Mick swore for the third time that morning, right after he had deactivated his Vox system for the mike, then looking across at his wingman, Mick watched Patricia do the 2 hands palm up and shrug the shoulders gesture.

‘Brilliant!…this might get real hairy’, Mick thought, Sidewinders only, that meant his flight would need to close to within what pilots called knife fighting range with the bogies, the bandits they had splashed earlier were almost without doubt Mig 29 fulcrums with radar guided Missiles, if the new batch came south after the AWAC’s they’d have no choice but to try and stop the bogies with what they had.

 

‘Okay ‘, thought Mick, this is why you are paid the big bucks me boy, options lad…what are the options’. Mick’s brain started cycling through all his various options for the coming engagement, they could drop to the deck and try to stay in the surface clutter, but the later models of the Mig 29 had full look down shoot down capability, assuming the worst, this placed Mick’s wing at a disadvantage, having no altitude for manoeuvring or to regain energy they might bleed of from evasive manoeuvres. They did however have the AWAC’s to vector them in without their radars on,

“Eight Ball, this is Hawk 1, do we have any ground based radars from the coast or transmissions in that area?”.

Mick could not see what was taking place onboard the AWAC’s, nor the conversation that had taken place between the principle Air intercept Technician and the Master controller, given the liveliness of the exchange it was the best outcome.

 

‘Hawk 1, this is Eight Ball, be advised we are scanning the area, no transmissions detected at this point”, the controller said, in a flat even tone.

‘Great’ Mick thought, more nothing, ‘ This intercept officer must be a rookie’,  “Eight Ball, this is Hawk 1, be advised we are climbing to angels 30, recommend we engage the bogies by your vector, we only have 2 IR shots per bird left, how copy?”.

Inside the AWAC’s, Eight Ball, the Air Intercept Officer looked up from his terminal at the master controller, receiving a curt nod, the young man had learnt a severe lesson, with no bloodshed involved,

“ Copy that hawk 1, confirm, Eight Ball will conduct the intercept, Angels 30, come left to new course, three three zero, bogies now at 310 miles, speed 450, angels 15, they have their radars up  now Hawk 1”.

With the controller’s last call, Mick pulled back on the side mounted joy stick of his Viper and pushed the throttles forward until she leapt into after burner, taking a quick left and right glance; Mick noted his flight following him up. ‘go baby…go’, Mick thought to himself as the F16CG, affectionately called Viper by its pilots, leapt into the heavens, its afterburners glowing brilliantly.

 

Chapter 12:  OVAL OFFICE Seattle.

 

There was a small knock at the door and the Presidents secretary, Janet Leech, opened the door, her striking long blonde locks tied back in a pony tail, matching neatly with the tailored skirt and blouse the president thought. “Yes Janet”, Kipper enquired, whilst still scanning over the document in his hand, there was no arrogance intended and his secretary was all too well aware of just what the Presidents work load was, and none was taken.

“Mr President, the Chinese Ambassador has arrived Sir, he will be here momentarily”.

 

Kipper placed the document gently down on the desk, pushing has padded and somewhat armoured chair back slightly away from the desk, he looked up at Janet, ” excellent Janet, could you let Jed know also please, I want him in here for this meeting as well if you would”.

Before Janet could reply, Kipper had picked back up the sheaf of papers on the desk and started placing them into the TOP SECRET folder on the desk, “certainly Mr President”. Janet backed away slowly, gently closing the door to the President’s office as she did so.

 

Kippers mind wandered back to the developing situation on the east coast, it troubled him that his troops were now in harm’s way once again, the pilots and he had to be back here to meet with the PRC’s Ambassador to the United States, as distasteful as it was, kipper knew full well that the front as he called it, must be maintained and god knows Jed had almost tried to beat that one into his skull in their many private sessions.

 

Outside in the hall way, his secretary Janet was striding very purposefully towards the office of Jed Culver, stopping at the chief of staff’s door, Janet knocked lightly once again, waiting until she heard the muffled ‘enter’, opening the door Janet stopped in, Jed was sitting on the sofa opposite his desk, like the President was, he was reading through a rather large report, stamped in bold with TOP SECRET on the cover page.

Jed slowly placed the folder on the sofa beside him, “Yes Janet, I take it our appointment has arrived?”.

Janet simply nodded back at the chief of staff, the screwed up expression on her face clearly letting the Presidents chief of Staff know, just what she thought of the PRC’s Ambassador to the US.

 

“ Good, I’ll just grab my notepad, right behind you”.

 

With that, Janet turned and departed out of Jed’s culvers office, turning right once outside the door she made a beeline for the reception area where she would collect the waiting Ambassador and escort him through to the President’s office.

 

It didn’t take long, no sooner had Jed culver sat down in the chair opposite President kipper, that a soft knock echoed through the door to the Presidential office, exactly 2 seconds after the announcing knock, Janet leech appeared through the opening door, “Mr. President, I have the Peoples republic of China’s Ambassador, Mr Fang Chu Wan”. Janet walked all the way in with the Ambassador right behind her, stopping at the President’s desk as he rose from his seat, the ambassador shook the Presidents had, “ Mr President, thank you for the audience at such short notice” the ambassador said, then turning and shaking hand with the Chief of Staff, Mr Culver, a pleasure to see you again as well”.

 

President kipper motioned for all to be seated satisfied that all were comfortable and hearing the door close behind his secretary as she departed, the game faces appeared on the players. ‘right, lest see what you are after my friend’, thought Kipper.

The gamesman ship was impressive, the Ambassador did not flitch or move the slightest for almost 5 seconds, the silence deafening in the temporary oval office of the President. As per the previous discussion, both the President and his Chief of staff had discussed this possibility, so Jed opened up first.

“Mr Ambassador, I take it you have asked for this meeting as the matter is exceedingly important, might we enquire as to what the issue may be”. Jed’s words had been very carefully framed, mentioning only an issue, not issues and god knows the US had plenty of them at the moment thought Jed.

 

Ambassador Wan, motionless as a rock, turned slightly towards the Chief of staff, “Yes Mr Culver, it is a matter of great importance to the Peoples Republic of China”, his words almost scoldingly like in their tone, Wan now faced back to President Kipper.

“Mr President, my country as you well know, seeks to have fair trade with the United States, yet, you place exceedingly high and in our view, unfair tariffs on our goods which we seek to sell in your markets, my government would like to know when these tariffs will be removed”.

President Kipper was no poker player…merely as he constantly referred to himself..an engineer, but  very good engineer, he thought he could see where this was going, unfortunately for the Chinese Ambassador, the President was in no mood for the fancy frilly games of state.

 

“ Mr Ambassador, as you are well aware, the United States Senate and house of Representatives all voted unanimously to place those tariffs on the Peoples Republic of China after your country invaded Taiwan, killing I might add over 2 million people in the process. That Mr Ambassador was an exceedingly unfriendly act, committed at a time when the United States was in the least position to lend assistance to the Taiwanese government, a government that is freely elected. As you are aware I am elected by the people, their representatives here are elected by the people and as such the have the free right to put forward any bill they so wish and voted upon it”. Jed sat back, very happy with the delivery, the question on both his and his chief of Staff’s mind now, ‘would the Ambassador go for the bait?’

Ambassador Wans initial reaction to Kippers response was as if he had been slapped across the face with a wet fish, this was not playing out as they had expected, but they did have a position for just such a response from the US.

Bowing his head ever so slight the ambassador continued on, Mr President, Taiwan has and always will be part of the People’s Republic of China, as such, the issue has no relevance to discussions here, it is an internal matter, we merely seek to clarify when the tariffs shall be removed, it would i imagine be in the interests of the united States to have the matter closed, I would postulate that you have more pressing matters which require your attention, as opposed to some minor trade barrier issues Sir, you could after all have vetoed the bill before it was enacted as law Mr. president, my country seeks to know why and when this will be revoked”.

ZING!,

President kipper nearly leapt out of his chair, his displeasure only mildly masked, Jed feared he might well have to restrain the President as Kipper coloured up, his cheeks flushing pink as the temper simmering away underneath rocketed to boiling point.

“ Mr Ambassador”, Kipper was fully leaning forward now, arms on the desk and his hands clamped tightly together so as to not wave them around, “ No!, I will not lift the tariff and yes, I did not veto the bill before it became Law, it was fair, what your county did Mr Ambassador was illegal, unsociable and nothing short of rouge state bullying with that invasion, you see Mr. Ambassador, even if I did remove the tariffs and in doing so, the American people might well lynch me, but let’s for a minute assume i was so inclined, it would still not assist you, they”, the President arm shot out towards the hills behind his window, “ they the American people will not buy goods from countries who commit such barbaric acts, I will not buy goods from such a country, we, like the rest of the worked are happy to purchase our goods from other markets”.

Kipper was getting rather wound up.. Noticing that his hands we starting to hurt from the tension, he relaxed and sat further back in his chair.

“Now its my turn Mr. Ambassador, why did you dispatch an invasion fleet south towards the Malacca strait, or was it sailing for Borneo and Brunei, why Mr Ambassador, are there several Chinese Naval vessels within the invasion fleet, currently steaming towards our east coast, which by the way, will not make it ashore, it grieves me greatly Mr ambassador, that young men will die…for what is no real cause, can you please explain these to me Mr Ambassador”.

 

Kipper felt good, in fact, it was the best he had felt in a long time, possibly since the whole sordid, screwed up never-ending mess from the wave, unfolded, ‘ Right, let’s see what he has to say about that’.

 

Jed Culver however, has very quietly had a series of internal fits, whilst Kipper had not specifically given away any of their secrets and the Chinese would have known full well the fleet would be detected, his delivery and content was far more aggressive than how these matter were typically delivered.

 

Jed could see that the Chinese ambassador was uncomfortable… somewhat, but the reaction they were looking for was not there, not like it should have been and that!…had Jed worried. The

 

 

 

Chapter 13

Northern Command Australia

 

The buildings looked brand new, to the naked eye, certainly a non military person, simply large concrete slabs painted in the typically Australian camouflage, pattern with their sides hacked off creating a slope, ‘more like somebody had decided to burry a hexagon concrete block’ thought General Franks.

Standing under the small amount of shade offered by the boab tree, General Franks surveyed the scene now laid out before him, immediately beside him were several Australian officers and US Marines, some, rather heavily armed.

One of the Australian officers, a Captain, stepped closer to General Franks, ‘ Excuse me Sir’, said the captain. Franks turned ever so slightly, still keeping his gaze out towards the military complex sprawling across the shimmering horizon in the midday heat, “yes what is it” he said almost out of the corner of his mouth.

 

The Captain, pulled out a military version of the palm Pilot, so often frowned upon by many, “ Sir, I have an update from NORCOM Darwin Sir, your presence is requested back at the Battle HQ as soon as possible General”.

The captain lowered his extended arm down, opening the left pocket of his Auscam pants, before placing the organiser inside and buttoning them back up, General franks merely continued to stare off across the horizon. ‘ beautiful’ thought Franks, ‘way too nice a place to park a military airbase and small naval facility, even if the locals do call it the arse end of the earth’ he mused to himself.

 

No sooner had the captain finished putting away the organiser and stepping back into the collective gathering, then as one the group turned, left towards the bay, their eyes straining as a couple looked at their watches, as if waiting to see something materialise from nowhere.

 

“There”, General Frank’s left arm shot out level with the ground, pointing at the horizon, the US marine officer to his left hoisted a pair of binoculars up to his face. “ that’s them Sir, right on the money” Said the Marine.

“Right, hearing protection time I guess gentlemen” said franks, as the group collectively started pushing day glow orange disposable hearing plugs into their ears. No sooner had the officers started inserting their hearing protection, than the bases air raid siren screamed to life and as if by magic people started to appear from nowhere, running around buildings or to previously unseen camouflaged positions on the other side of the airstrip.

Franks and the attending group were now completely motionless, transfixed almost as they watched the specs low on the horizon, far out across the water start to grow, visible with them, dark black plumes from their jet engines as they commenced their attack run on the base.

General Franks dropped his binoculars down slightly, quickly glancing around the base, now in full motion before him, and then putting the binoculars back up to the aircraft looming large across the ocean.

“Let’s hope all this fuel and maintenance equipment is not being fucking wasted”, Franks said to nobody in particular.

Franks couldn’t help but think about the last 3 months, the build up and the training, convincing both the President and the Australian PM, let alone the initial events post the wave receding had been pure hell. This new base, by far the largest in the whole of the pacific and Indian Ocean theatres, bar Pearl was the corner stone of regions defences, now and for the future as far as Franks could see.

General Murphy had been on board the minute franks had first suggested the idea. That night, both Murph and Franks, along with Colonel Kinnimore had laid down their take on the Pacific and Indian Oceans and just how, they might defend themselves and their allies against possible threats. The discussions had at times been animated, but the one thing they all agreed on, was that China would be a big threat, followed in close order by India and Russia, General Murphy had been particularly worried about China and its ever expanding relationship with Burma, ‘It gives them access to the fucking Indian ocean and its astride the Malacca straits’, General Murphy had exclaimed on more than one occasion.

Franks thoughts about the lead up to today exercise were assaulted, it was the only way to describe the overhead flashing of four fully loaded for air to air combat F15E’s  as they screamed out towards the oncoming enemy, in this case they ‘enemy’ would probably be either F18’s or F111’s from the RAAF, simulating a long range strike on the newest base in the southern pacific.

As General Franks had explained to both the President and the PM, ‘the only targets that will be hit, if at all will be Diego, Christmas island….. And this joint, and I’d do this base first, second and third and again on Sunday’, he had exclaimed to his pair of bosses.

 

Some 800 meters away Major Peter Fitzsimons, from the RAAF air defence regiment was barking orders in his bunker, operators were glued to radar screens, which were in turn, in some cases linked to the orbiting E3 Sentry, now some 300 miles south west of their position, a pair of deadly F3 RAF Tornadoes cutting circles around them, waiting for the merest sniff of danger towards the E3, upon which, like large birds of prey, they would fold their wings in, arching over into a dive as they would streak towards the enemy. Today however, they had no trade, the pilots arses, merely getting numb after hours on station.

 

Today however the likelihood was small, the operation that General Franks and his staff had come up with  was the first real serious training they had been allowed to conduct, resources and parts were simply too scarce to facilitate these sorts of operations post the wave and giving the ‘RED’ team a three day window in which to attack had pushed the friendship even further, although franks and his assembled staff knew what was coming..sort of.

 

By pre wave standards, this exercise was small, smaller than the Australians even conducted as annual exercises, Franks could remember the kangaroo or K89 type exercises, MAU’s, RAAF, Singapore and even SAC assets participating,’ today’s was nothing like those’, he thought.

‘Oh shit’, the call from one of the staffers behind Franks made him shift his gaze back out over the water from the personnel scurrying about the bunkers, just in time to see the approaching jets attacking the base, split and pitch up. Although General franks was no aircraft recognition expert at this distance he could tell the two jets had suddenly became four, worse yet, they were RAAF Hornets, not as everybody had suspected F111’s on their base bomb run.

 

The splitting of the approaching aircraft took the whole assembled group of officers by surprise, the fact they were Hornets only served to further increase the tension in the assembled group. It was no surprise that the first person to assess the developing situation was General Franks.

“Shit!”, Franks said, “ That group”, his hand pointing at the horizon to the four RAAF Hornets which were now rapidly banking, condensed air easily visible on the f18’s leading wing edges as they pulled massive g forces.  “ Is just a fucking decoy”, franks turned to his chief of staff, “ Get combat control on the horn now!, there’s gotta be a second strike package inbound”. It wasn’t the Generals job to run this exercise, he simply knew way to much about what would and would not happen, but at this point he couldn’t help himself.

 

General franks tone was clearly pissed at the developing situation, came through loud and clear, not just to his chief of staff, but the remaining ensemble of officers as three others  immediately grabbed portable radios and started barking orders out, trying to remedy a rapidly deteriorating situation.

General Franks call on the second strike coming in, was both too late and correct for no sooner had he finished uttering the words, than the assembled officers worlds were brutally assaulted.

The first F111 flashed over at not more than 100 feet, crossing the bases main runway at a 45 degree angle, the shock wave and following roar of the Fighter bombers engines almost knocking General Franks and his staff from their feet before they collectively on instinct hit the dirt, eyes bulging whilst they scanned the sky for the remaining aircraft, which they all knew were coming.

The remaining 7, F111’s Kris crossed the base at 5-10 second intervals, now free of the fighter threat, that the Hornets had drawn off and then stayed to engage, the big twin engine ‘PIGS’ as they were affectionately referred to within the defence community each conducted a second simulated strike on the base, all at 100 feet above the rough Western Australian terrain at 650 knots.

 

By the time the simulated airstrike finished on the base a mere 3 minutes had elapsed, for General Franks and his staff, it had seemed like an eternity as blast wave after blast wave of pressure and sound had pummelled all their senses, had all staff not been wearing hearing protection across the base, the mobile hospital situated 3 kilometres away would have been deluged with a significant number of casualties likely with permanent hearing loss.

General Franks was indistinguishable from his staff in his sprawled out state on the ground beside the bases main runway, covered in a fine red dust which not only stuck to anything, but really adhered to all the spots that had perspiration on them and the general, like his staff was ‘sweating like a stuck pig’ as he had heard the Aussies say many a time.

General Franks stood up and extended his arms out, as he glanced over his now filthy combat fatigues in shear disbelief,

“ Well fuck me”, he said as he started slapping his hands over the dustiest parts of his uniform, clouds of the red matter puffing up like fine bathroom talcum powder, his staff, some still on the ground, others, now standing were almost mimicking the generals movements, certainly his expletives as they discovered clipboards with paperwork were now infested with the red dirt, pockets, radios and as one officer exclaimed, ’it’s fucking everywhere’, much to the collective amusement of the group especially the aussies, already very well aware just how annoying the red dust could be.

 

Finished having dusting himself off as best he was able, General Franks turned to his collective assembly of reddish coloured officers,

“Gentlemen, I suggest you go and get cleaned up, we have a O group meeting in thirty minutes, let’s see just how badly we have been mauled by these skips and just what the fuck we plan to do to make sure some other bastard does not repeat this with live ordinance, so get cracking gentlemen”.

 

Franks faced his liaison officer as the remaining officers departed for their humvee’s and land rover 110’s which were scattered about under cammo netting. “Bret”, said franks, “Is the publication piece on this establishment ready and vetted by Canberra yet”. I was a simple question from the General in a very even tone; the issues behind it were as his liaison officer Captain Bret Gruar of the 1st Armoured regiment, nothing like it.

“ Sir, it is, I received back the authorised copy before we set off for here Sir, some small changes were made by Canberra, but nothing substantial”, the captain opened up his large right pants leg pocket, extraction a manila envelope which was inside a clear plastic bag. ‘ here it is Sir”, the Captains arm extending out with the envelope to General Franks.

 

General Franks took the plastic bag and envelope from Captain Gruar, ”thanks Bret, lets head on over to the hummer, and have a look over this shall we”, Franks said as he waved the envelope in his clenched fist like a baton. “It will take at least 20 minutes for those guys”, the generals arm extended over to the departing military vehicles, to change and prep for the O group”.

 

General franks strode towards the humvee, Captain Gruar in step beside whilst Franks started tearing at the plastic covering to access the documents inside. Having reached his personal Humvee, Franks opened up the passenger door, grabbing the roof line, he boosted himself up into the cab and swung his legs out over the edge of the door opening, “OK, so what we got here” he said, as he unfolded the sheaf’s of white paper documents, stamped Confidential.

Eyes Only: General Tommy Franks

Commander NORCOM

Authorised Press release:

 

Subject: King Sound Airbase Western Australia.

 

The newly constructed joint Air facility on the Southern peninsula inside king Sound on the remote Western Australia Coast, 40 kilometres north of Derby is now fully operational. Combined units of the embedded US marines and United States Air force, will operate with elements from Norforce, the RAAF and RAN units from this facility.

The base comprises of three runways and extensive support facilities, allowing for deployment of additional units to the Airbase as required. The facility will be staffed by a minimal crew for the foreseeable future, with only skeleton elements of RAAF and US marine units securing the facility.

 

The Minister for  defence, along with the US secretary of defence are expected to officially open this new state of the art Base within the next three week, notification to the public and media will follow.

 

General franks folded up the communicate neatly in two and placed it on the dashboard of the Humvee, then placing his hands on his legs, he looked at Captain Gruar who was standing motionless at the end of the passenger door.

 

“well Bret, at least those muppets in Canberra didn’t tell the whole world just what we actually have here!, skeleton staffing my arse” said Franks, a clear grin spreading across his tanned face. “More like a fully war capable airbase, RAF F3 Tornados, RAAF P3’s, F15’s, F18’s, AWAC’s, Air defence units, …sheeee…it” exclaimed Franks, “we even have fucking Cavalry units and a troop of fucking Marine tanks as well, good luck to any dumb SOB who thinks they can have a crack at us” Franks stopped talking long enough to gaze back down the end of the runway, out towards  Sunday Island at the Sounds mouth where the final dredge works were taking place, then turning back towards Bret, “I just hope we finish that bloody dredging soon, I want that DDG in the harbour asap until we finish the sam placements around here.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14.  Temporary white house

 

The Chinese ambassador had already left the office, escorted by the secret service, Kipper sat motionless at his desk deep in thought, Jed Culver his chief of staff, sitting on the sofa in front of the president’s desk was still furiously scribbling notes when the President spoke.

“Jed, is it just me, or did that exchange go as badly I as think it did’, Kip placed both hands palm down on the desk, arms fully extended, still his mind was furiously working over the meeting.

 

Jed Culver had been merely keeping himself busy, in the knowledge that the question was surely to come from his boss once he had mulled over the meeting.

“Kip, it pains me to say so….but yes!, pear shaped, ooops or dare I say it, foot in mouth, we might really have told him too much, and you have to admit, you really did belt him rather severely”.

Kipper held his hands up, “ Okay okay, I get your point Jed, but ….jesus, just who the fuck do they think they are”, Kippers temper bubbling to the surface once more, “I mean, ….yeah sure, we might not be the biggest kid on the block anymore, yes..we do owe them a fucking truckload of cash, but the game they are playing…it’s going to end badly I fear”.

Jed Culver merely nodded at his boss, knowing more was yet to come.

“Jed, the Australians, that’s our next call, we really do need to get those units stationed there back as soon as possible, how do you think the aussies will react to our other request?”.

The chief of staff, to the 44th President of the United states, leaned back, sinking deep into the sofa before answering the President.

“ Well Sir, it’s going to give their PM a belly ache, I mean their Parliament will eat him alive, but you know Kip, he will honour your request if he can, the question is, just what they can send, the timing is going to be the hard part, that’s General Murphy’s job and Franks to Sir. Nearest i can figure we might have a window of maybe two months in which to conduct the operation, If the Australians start to see signs of their northern neighbours getting frisky, then all bets are off, they will want them troops home in a heartbeat”.

Jed could see that Kip had relaxed somewhat, now sitting back in his chair analysing the discussion, he pushed on.

“Your plan for re-colonisation up the east coast has merits; it’s just that our combat power is nowhere near what it was”,

Kip could see that his chief of staff was really uncomfortable and heading out on a limb.

“Keep going Jed, I need your opinion on this, it’s important…please”, said the president.

Well, we know, Blackstone’s got fingers in some of this and the fact remains he has a significant amount of combat power down there, the snakes head has to come off, but maintaining the pressure on the east coast, those strategic sites you designated, colonisation duties and just normally security has stretched us to breaking point”.

 

Now we have the better part of a combined brigade in Australia, granted, its a mixture of Marines, Army and what not, but it’s still a heavy brigade attached to the Australians….and they knew we would want them back at some stage”.

 

Kipper nodded, “ keep going, how goods the Brigade Jed”.

‘well, its a Brigade in strength only as far as I know, its heavy in…..”, Jed flicked over some pages in his note book.

“ ahh yes, heavy in mechanised infantry, we have plenty of tanks, just not crews for them and there the Australians have been helping us with training, but its got its own artillery and support elements as well. The infantry side of the equation is mainly US Army, some Rangers as well, plus fixed wing elements, mainly Apaches and the likes, so far its split up fairly well, scattered across bases on the top end of Australia and we also have a marine battalion based in Singapore as well”.

Jed looked straight at the President, “ and you know we cannot recall that unit Sir”.

Kipper nodded, even as his face furrowed some, “ yes, that’s not negotiable that one, So what do we have on the Australians.

Jed flipped another page,

“ The Australians now have 5 full combat Brigades Sir, this info is current from General Franks too, I might add, they have enough equipment over there from us and the Brits, to easily equip another two full Brigades, heavy armour brigades, it’s what we stock piled after the withdrawal from the Mid East and as part of the Vancouver agreement. Jed was starting to get animated, clearly into the briefing though Kipper.

Jed continued,  “most of its undercover in storage, the aircraft are all being maintained as well, and that’s not counting  either, the Navy assets we have traded them or aircraft as well, plus those in storage too, it’s certainly jump started their military acquisition program for a fraction of the cost they had planned”.

‘As you will probably know, their mechanised infantry were mainly truck mobile units post the wave Sir, and due to our negotiations they are almost all fully mechanised in the armour sense, so if we can borrow one or two even of their Brigades, it will make the operation that much easier, but how much do you want to pay, it’s not like we will get them for free now is it Sir”.

 

President Kipper didn’t look all that worried Jed thought, “What are you not telling me Mr President”, said Jed, using Kip’s full title to get his attention.

Animated now, Kipper leaned back in the chair. “ Jed, I may be new to this gig, I might be prone to losing my fucking temper on occasion, but I think I have a good handle on our Aussie friends, their PM, hell, that whole country has a sense of honour, just take a look at what they did post the wave”.

Jed culver raised both hands in mock surrender, he knew just as well as the President what the Australians had done, more in fact than most any other country, ‘but not without it’s costs’ thought Jed.

The President spoke up again, “ Jed, we might have traded them some assets, but at the end of the day, we could not sustain that equipment, the storage, accepting all those units initially from the gulf”, the President raised his hand, “hell, the loans and support from them, it’s not like  they have the biggest economy, certainly not when the shit storm descended upon us, and the Brits know they have a bloody debt with their”, Kipper stopped, his mind searching for a word he had heard used numerous times, “ as yes, convict brethren”, that elicited a laugh from Jed, the tension evaporating instantly from the room.

 

“ and now, more so than ever Jed, we will need their help, Australia’s a stable operating base, they have resources and the ramping up of their agri sector has saved our arses, theirs too I might add, but fuck me, Howard showed balls, not liked by all and the first PM in Australia to have a serious fucking attempt on his life, the man might not get it right all the time, but by god….he will make a fucking decision and stick too it, ya gotta admire that!”.

Both Jed and kipper sat motionless in the room for almost a full 60 seconds, both deep in thought, clearly the two were reflecting on the previous years, post the wave receding, loves ones lost and the trials that had followed, it was President Kipper who spoke first.

“I guess we cannot leave the Brits out either, they are a party to this whole shindig”, kipper using one of the sayings picked up from his numerous discussions with the Australian prime Minister.

“we owe them almost as much monetarily as the Aussies, I must speak with Tommy, we need to know just what the Brits can contribute.. assuming he has not already done so”. Then as an afterthought, “ And what they think’s fucking going on in wider world as well, I’ll be fucked if we shall be screwed over by these Faydeen fucking muppets and whoever else is supporting them”.

 

Jed simply sat motionless opposite kip, their informal discussions quite often ran this course, more often than not, yielding some small nugget between the pair of them.

It was Jed Culver who broke their collective Silence, Standing upright from the sofa, he stretched not unlike a cat as he worked the various muscle groups, the difference being his series of groans as each muscle group stretched, “Jesus, old fucking age, its catching up fast” he said as he looked over at kipper.

Kip was smiling at his friends obvious discomfort, “ good thing I need you here and not clearing bloody rubble and broken down cars, I guess, how do you think our young lass is feeling at the moment, she got out of New York by the skin of her teeth by all accounts, those 52’s levelled the joint”.

Jed culver sat back down into the sofa with a very distinctive plop, “ well, she is certainly a very different piece of work, you looked at your schedule for tomorrow yet”, asked Jed smoothly changing gears, but already knowing the answer.

The President shook his head emphatically, “Nup, and sure as hell Janet will kick my arse in the morning, I haven’t even read the briefing notes yet for the meetings”, said the  president finishing off by rolling his eyes.

“Better that she kicks your arse Sir”, Jed’s finger was pointed straight at his boss, “than mine” he said with a small chuckle.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15: AWACS Call sign Eight ball, over the East coast.

The flight of F16CG’s were now passing through Mach 1 in full after burner climbing almost ballistically towards 50,000 feet as the flight Leader Hawk 1 sought to gain the altitude advantage on the closing group of M29’s, when Major Mick hawks head set came to life again, “ Hawk one this is eight Ball”, called the air intercept officer on board the AWAC’s.

Mick thought the controller sounded a little excited, ‘must be the intercept’ thought Mick’, as the controller came back up on the net, “ Hawk 1 be advised, Bandits have broken through Mach 2 and climbing, bearing is direct for Eight ball, be advised we are now shifting orbit south”.

 

‘Shit’ Mick thought, ‘there’re after the AWAC’s”, Mick already knew just how precious the E3 sentry AWAC’s were, currently the USAF had only 6 in service across the whole of the United States, with a few more elsewhere across the planet, operationally, the loss of even one would be significant.

“Copy that eight ball, Give me a direct intercept Vector”, Mick called.

“affirmative hawk one, Bandits now at Angels 30, Mach 2.1, slide right to heading 340 you are weapons free, repeat weapons free Hawk one, Spalsh’em”.

“Jesus, he’s getting a might wound up”, Mick said to nobody in particular before switching  his Mick to VOX, “Hawk 1 to Chicks, still outside weapons range, lets light’em up and see what happens”.

 

Mick was counting on the approaching Mig 29’s not knowing they were out of AMRAAM’s, hoping they might break off the engagement  or at least stopping to engage his flight, in which case regardless of the outcome the AWAC’s would be safe.

Hawk 1 flipped his radar to active, now with his flight at 50,000 feet, he pulled the throttles back out of burner and pushed the nose over, hawk 1 to chicks, weapons free, follow me down, we’ll blow thru on the first pass and then re engage, Chicks 3 and 4, take heading 385 and descent level, Mayhem, I want you pair interposed with the AWAC’s and the Mig’s in case they blow through us”.

Chick 3, Trish, call sign ‘Mayhem’ simply clicked her mike, along with her wingman, Hawk 1 watched as they both popped their airbrakes and snap rolled their birds hard right across the top his now depleted flight, which were  descending supersonically towards the attacking aircraft.

 

Hawk 1 did another cockpit check scanning quickly all his instruments, Mick had just finished his check when his threat warning receiver came to life, “ Shit!, Hawk 1 to chicks, be advised we have SAM radar at our 4 o’clock, puters designated it as Patriot Bock 3, its on the centre ship, were outside it effective range still”.

‘Oh this just gets better and fucking better’ though Mick, “ Eight ball this is Hawk 1, how copy SAM radar in the surface fleet over”

Hawk 1, this is Eight ball, we have you SAM unit, be advised Bandits are now at 150 miles from Eight Ball, if the break 100 we’re shutting down Hawk 1, how copy?”.

 

Mick had known from past operations and a brief training stint on board an E3 in Japan that once Bandits broke the 100 mile designated buffer zone for any AWAC’s aircraft their procedures required them to cease all transmission and head for the deck, directly away from the incoming threat, problem was, E3’s or the slower E2 Hawkeyes operating of the carriers were slow. Any bandit inside 100 miles had a better than even money chance of splashing the AWAC’s unless it had close attending Escort birds.. Which this one didn’t.

 

“ Copy you Last Eight ball, we’ll get’em for ya”

The radar on Hawk 1’s F16CG already had the Bandits, clear blips on his LCD screen in the cockpit, now at 100 miles range as they slipped through some wispy clouds on their attack descent. Mick quickly looked at his airspeed, Mach 1.7, as the blasted towards the ocean, none of hawk flight could yet make out the bandits, at 100 miles range they were simply too far away, “Hawk 1 to Chicks, lets lock’em up, they don’t know we’re out of slammers yet”, leaning forward slightly Mick shifted his rump in his seat, then toggled his radar from scan to attack on this joystick. ‘ Lets see how ya feel about being fucking locked up’, Mick thought activating his attack radar as he did so.

The results were almost instant Mick could see on the radar” hawk 1 to Chicks, getting some jamming and junking by the looks of it, once you have lock let’em have it, then break right I want to stay in front of the bandits and close on any leakers from their flanks for guns”.

 

Another series of clicks acknowledging his orders came back over Micks head set.

“hawk 1, this is eight Ball, be advised, Hawk 3 element has turned, they’re now between us and the bandits, going dark now, bandits are at 110 miles, good hunting Hawk flight”, with that, Micks threat warning receiver noted that the AWAC’s had ceased transmission, no doubt heading for the deck of the Atlantic ocean as fast as the E3’s big engines would carry it.

 

The radar was still holding lock, the jammers that the Mig 29’s or whatever they were, were using were frequency agile, jumping to a new frequency each time the radars from Hawk flight hoped to their own new one and locked them up. ‘good’ Mick though, ‘at leats they are not current generation jammers’, that would have meant his radar would have to burn through the jamming, something only possible as they got closer and the radar signals strength was sufficient to crash through the jamming and get a good return.

 

Mick checked his radar, noting the ranges, the Mig’s were now into 70 miles and rapidly closing, the distance to the AWAC’s had to be under 80 Miles now and they sure as hell would be getting nervous thought Mick. Hawk 1’s decision to close on the slight angle would prove to be advantageous, assuming they reached the Migs before any missiles were shot at the AWAC’s, 70 Miles was the magical point for the bandits if they were carrying SARH missiles, semi active Radar homing birds would most likely be the  what they had, later version had a range of 130 kilometres.

‘Gotta be AA-10 ALAMO units, early jobs,…range…yeah, range 70 kilometres under optimal conditions’ Mick noted. The dragging of the data from the depths of his brain had taken some effort, in doing so he failed to notice the two new blips which had appeared on his screen closer to the bandits, it was only the threat warning receiver coming to life that snapped Mick back to the immediate presence.

“Missile Missile Missile”, The computerised launch detection system has received notification of a missile launch, Mick toggled the acknowledgement key and the screaming in his ear ceased then looked down at the radar screen, his stomach turned turning to a ball of ice.

“Hawk 3 fox 2, fox 2”, mayhem called as her and her wingman both released  2 sidewinders at the approaching Mig’s head on.

Inside the cockpit of Hawk 1 the atmosphere was electric and loud, Mick was chastising himself with a string of expletives for having lost control of the tactical situation, “ fuck, Hawk 1 to chicks, got to burner..NOW!”, Mick shoved the throttles of his viper to the stops, the F16 leaping forward like a spurred horse as raw fuel was dumped into the system, quickly now the airspeed indicator whirred, accelerating passed Mach 1, then 1.5 before Mick settle his bird and the balance of Hawk 1 flight at mach 1.7.

 

The distance from Hawk 1 to the Mig 29’s had now dropped to 30 miles, still well outside the max 12 mile range of the sidewinders, Mick had initially hoped the locking up of the bandits with their attack radars would break up the formation, but they were hell bent on nailing the AWAC’s.

 

Now, playing out before him in front of his eyes, his second in command and her wingman had closed to knife fighting range of the bandits and loosened off their own side winders at the attacking formation of Mig 29’s.

 

Mick altered the scan range of his APG 68 radar, their models having the block 9 version with greater scan range which Mick was happy for, the upgrade only having been completed two weeks ago by some Westinghouse tech who had managed not to get zapped by the wave, “…Ahh, bingo”, Mick noted that the AWAC’s was now at 1000ft and just on 65 miles from the Mig’s, Flight 2 of HAWK flight was now in a fur ball with the Mig’s, but two elements had blown through and started to accelerate again for the AWAC’s, mayhems attack having only downed two of the 9 bandits, three were still in the fur ball with Mayhem and her wingman, the remaining two boring in on the AWAC, ‘this is not good’ thought Mick.

 

“Chicks 2 and 5, this is 1, turn to intercept the two leakers, go!”, Mick watched as both his remaining birds of Hawk 1 peeled off to his right, after burners snapping on again as the vipers lanced  out towards their prey, now homing in on the defenceless Eight Ball, still lumbering away from the chaotic scene as fast as the converted airliners turbo fans would carry it.

 

“ Eight Ball this is Hawk 1, be advised we have two leakers closing on you range 60 miles, recommend ECM, two chicks in pursuit of bandits…hang tuff Eight Ball”, Mick added as an afterthought.

The voice was calm, Mick felt sure he would have been hysterical himself, blundering along in what was really a big arse passenger plane with a rotating dome on top, two high performance fighters with blood in the eyes of the pilots out for your arse’.

“Eight Ball copies hawk 1, Gett’em for us Sir” the controller said, Mick thought he could hear a faint resignation tone on the intercept controller’s voice.

Neither Hawk 2 or hawk 5 having departed from Micks wing were yet in range of the two Mig 29’s in pursuit of the AWAC’s, the distance was now down to 20 miles as both the vipers were at Mach 2.

‘hmm’ thought Mick, ‘they must be pretty heavy with ordinance, both the Mig’s were at mach 1.2 and that bird was certainly capable of Mach 2 plus, but in a really clean configuration’.

 

Mick brought his focus back to the presence, looming large he could see the twisting and turning dog fight in front of him and the various calls as mayhem and her wingman twisted and turned, high G’s and velocity laden rolls taking place whilst doing battle with the three Mig’s, it was a matter of time Mick thought, before their extra number paid off, then his head set started growling,  Mick checked his IFF “ hawk 1 to chicks, check IFF”, Mick called, worried about sending a winder into the side of one of his wingman.

 

Mick pulled the throttles back and popped his air brakes, feeling the bird instantly loose speed, retracting the airbrake on the dorsal spin he rolled inverted, yanking back onto the stick he dropped into the maelstrom of jets twisting and turning, punctuated by cannon fire at random intervals as each side tried to line up its adversary for the killing shot.

 

Mayhem was in the fight of her life, the three Mig’s that had stayed and mixed it up with her and her wingman had split, one taking on chick 2, the other two engaging her, she was purely defensive at the moment and not liking it at all. “Fuck this for a bowl of gold fish, Hawk 1, you in?”, she called, knowing that at any point Mick would be in the fight and most likely to lend her assistance with two Mig’s on her arse.

 

“Negative”, called hawk 1, engaging a bandit on chick 2, hang in their Mayhem”, Mick said amongst the grunting of g forces as he followed the mig through a barrel roll, then pushing over as the Mig headed for the Deck, trying to build up speed.

Mayhem spat the dummy inside chick 3, “ Fuck Fuck Fuck!”, she quickly stole a glance at the two Mig’s now filling her rear view mirror at the front of her plexiglass canopy, the lead mig opened up again, tracers whizzing passed her left wingtip as she popped her central airbrake whilst at the same time chopping her throttle .

Both the Mig’s behind her were slow to see the central Air brake snap up on mayhems F16 as she was in the throes of doing a left roll, the sudden loss of speed caught both Migs by surprise, the lead one snapping off a quick 50 rounds burst as they both broke left and right before the crashed unceremoniously into the rear of the Falcon, their faces white with horror at cheating death once again.

Mayhems manoeuvre had been desperate, but the lead Mig’s snap shot had been close enough, a brilliant line of red tracer flicked passed the canopy of chick 3 initially, but as her roll carried her left, she flew through the stream of 20mm high explosive cannon shell, the line walking along the leading edge of the wing root, up into the fuselage behind the main canopy and out the right hand side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16. Debriefing Room,  King Sound airbase, Western Australia.

The room was deathly quiet, only the light hum of the air-conditioning units could be heard, the air temp was at a very comfortable 23 degrees with just the light tang of stale perspiration in the air that the filters were unable to extract, which starkly contrasted the stifling conditions outdoors of the peak Australian summer, already hovering at 42 degrees Celsius.

There were no less than 23 officers assembled in the new briefing, debriefing room, behind the lectern at the front stood a state of the art LCD screen some 6 feet wide and at least 5 feet high, the walls cladded in a non descript grey synthetic carpet all the way up, until they reached the  white suspended tile ceiling, from which the cool air dispensed that all the assembled officer were grateful.

Several chairs were arrayed across the front of the room facing the gathered officers, now finally starting to become animated as they had all been seated for about 10 minutes, boredom taking over from ceremony, included amongst which in the front seated group was Major Peter Fitzsimons the bases Air defence commander whom some hours earlier had been served his head on a plate by the gentleman seated immediately next to him, Lt Colonel Robert ‘ Guru’  Heather, a mountain of a man, principle Offer for 21 Squadron RAAF F111’s now stationed at this new facility, OPFOR Commander for this exercise.

Seated next to both these gentlemen, a veteran of the gulf war withdrawal was the newly promoted Lt Colonel Christian Lohberger, the new commander of the only heavy US combat unit stationed outside the Continental United States at the moment, the newly formed 5th Brigade Combat Team, Heavy.

Everybody in the room turned as one as they heard the door open, in strolled a British Regimental Sergeant Major, festooned in his distinctive British disruptive pattern dark toned combat fatigues, his presence almost proceeding him. “TENHUT!”, boomed across the room from the RSM, as continued in, turning right at the base of the aisle and then halting at the lectern.

No sooner had the RSM stopped at the lectern than a succession of officers entered the briefing room, leading was the ranking military officer on base at the time General Tommy Franks, 2 Marine Corps officers, their hair cuts making them instantly recognisable even if their uniforms had not, a Ranger Colonel, two ADF Armoured Regiment officers both Majors and lastly General Franks Military liaison officer.

“ At ease gentlemen”, called Franks in his easy going manner, “ Good job today….all round, just remember, there are always those that win and always those that lose, that’s the very nature of what we do, we play the games, as the media would have us call them to make sure, it’s we!”, franks emphasised the point, “ that win and not the other side, so whilst its fine to take the piss out of the losers as our Aussie counterparts will call it, just remember, same team, same goal at the end of the day”.

Franks paused and surveyed the collection of Officers in front of him, a mish mash of various countries and even more corps, he was sure a sign of things yet to come.

“ The planet as you are all aware has changed, the political landscape will never be the same, alliances that were, are no longer, the wolves…well they’ve grown bolder only this time they are really using proxies to do their dirty work”.

Franks was starting to colour up, his blood pressure quite obviously starting to rise along with his passion.

“This patch of dirt you now stand on, apart from your home countries, is quite possibly the most important piece of real estate in the southern hemisphere, I’m not going to get into a geopolitical diatribe here gents, but this place”, franks pointed to the floor beneath his feet,” This place, will help us keep those wolves in check, it’s our biggest resupply, come carrier, come troop ship that’s ever been put on the planet”.

“In case you still have not grasped what I am talking about, to our west lies the Indian ocean, North, the Malacca straits and Asia, access to the yellow sea and Japan, east, the pacific, Pearl and the US, take this joint away or isolate it and the European to US link and the Middle east is Fucked, especially the middle east, although it’s still glowing I suspect”.

“you’ve all done a fine job and by all reports conducted yourselves in a manner befitting the US military and for that..you have your commander in Chiefs thanks….and mine, Australia’s our stable base gentlemen, it’s been providing materials and resources, training grounds and manufacturing facilities, that simply were not available elsewhere, I know its not been easy, but trust me, had we not had their generous help…we’d all be fucked quite possibly, so remember it!”

Franks hand swatted at a fly annoying him, “ I’m not going to miss these fuckers at all” he said in an exasperated tone, the officers in front chuckling at his theatrics, all too well aware just how much of a fucking nuisance the Australian flies could be.

 

“It’s time I wound this up, but let me say one last thing before we get into this session in depth, as you are all aware, we still have significant units here in OZ, today it was officially announced elements will now be rolled into the newly formed 5th Brigade Combat Team…Heavy”, Franks said.

Instantly low voices could be heard around the room at the announcement, although Franks knew the rumour mill would already have leaked out a majority of the details. The RSM stepped forward out of the shadows under one of the down lights still on, his sudden appearance clearly in the light ceasing the chatter, then after shooting a quick glance across to General franks, he faded back into the shadows at the front of the room, ‘ Mission accomplished’ Thought Franks.

Franks looked over to the RSM and nodded his head, with a small movement of his hand at the lectern the RSM Dimmed down the lights in room and the large big arse screen behind him came to life displaying a god’s eye view of the base, King Sound and the various radar tracks from the beginning of the exercise.

 

“ The new heavy Brigade is composite” said Franks as his eyes scanned the assembled faces for reactions before he continued, “in that current units whose parent unit is either no longer or is engaged elsewhere will now be absorbed into the 5th BCT”. Franks stopped..and stared out across the assembled faces,

“ I know all of you value your unit history, but as I have already said, it’s a new world, so orders have been cut Gentlemen, the 5th will in short order begin preparation for redeployment back to the US, other units will remain here as selected”.

 

“ Lieutenant Colonel Lohberger will command the 5th brigade Combat Team, Brigade structure is based on that of our heavy armour units, however the Cav squadrons will swap out their M1’s for brads or Lav’s and we have attached two additional Mech infantry companies to the Brigade. Its red leg heavy gentlemen as well, two additional troops of Paladin’s  , so that’s the frilly bits out of the way”.

Franks paused and flipped a page on his note pad, he already had his briefing fully committed to memory, but he had developed a habit of pausing in meetings and the pad was purely for effect, looking back up at the attentive audience he spoke again, this time, with a little more fire in the voice, hoping his audience would notice his tone change..his command intent they called it.

“ Gentlemen, as you will have noticed no doubt, I have two of our esteemed Marine brethren with me here tonight”, Franks arm extended out to the two marines on his right hand side, like all marines, it looked as if their entire life was spend pumping weights.

The two Mech companies attached to the 5th are marine units gentlemen, whilst all of you want to stay together, it’s simply not possible I am afraid so any girls amongst you will just have to suck it up, but!”, Franks exclaimed, letting them know more was yet to come, “ They bring with them three Air scout troops, cobras and to answer the other question which I am sure is cruising through your heads, they are equipped with LAV’s gents, no amtracks in these here parts I can assure you”.

Franks looked over at his liaison officer and nodded, the screen behind him changed to a low altitude high res photo, “here on the screen you will notice RORO ships and the harbour they are currently in is just down the road, all the units tagged for the 5th Brigade will start assembling here as of 0700 hours tomorrow when the warning orders go out for embarkation.”

 

General Franks closed up, his note book and took a step towards the assembled officers, inhaling deeply before speaking, “ I’ll not waste more time, Lt colonel Lohberger will now fill you all in on the finer points, but I will say this, we are going home gentlemen, its time! And we will retake what is ours and fucking stomp all over every ill willed,  inbred, rag headed, exploding vest sons of a bitches who get in our way, cap’em all!, ….and good luck gentlemen”.

Franks speech on reaching its crescendo was meet by a series of hooah’s and one gunna get some from the assembled officers, looking around the room Tommy was glad to see their faces brighten, the prospect of going home appealed to him as well, although, it would still be some time yet….’good luck lads’, he thought to himself as he stepped back from the single light now operating in front of the briefing rooms large screen. ‘ ya gunna need it’, he thought.

 

No sooner had General Franks stopped his speech and retreated to the darkened recess of the briefing room than Lt Colonel Lohberger stood up from his front seat , giving his uniform a quick pat down to straighten it out before walking up to the lectern.

Lt Colonel Lohberger stood behind the timber lectern surveying the assembled officers before him, Christian could feel his heart thumping away inside his chest, he felt sure all the assembled veterans could hear it.

Unusually Lohberger was tall for a Cav Officer standing just over 6 foot tall, but built more like some of the attending marine officers, thick from the waist up culminating in almost rugby player like neck thickness, in the US he could easily have been mistaken for an iron pumping marine.

Lt colonel Lohberger held up a sheaf of papers “Gentlemen” he said as he loosely shook them in his extended arm, “ I have here the warning orders which will be transmitted after we finish up this briefing, as you all know, your units and attachments are currently scattered across the top end of Australia”, As the Colonel said this the image on the screen behind him changed to an overhead of Australia and a series or blue dots appeared  on it.

“You will note behind me, the locations and unity designations which you are aware of”. “I know that garrison duties have been somewhat tedious”, said Lohberger, noting a couple of snickers within the assembled group as he said so,

“But it’s been a necessary evil gentlemen, all of you have been rested and refitted, replacements for men and equipment, training has been conducted and to be frank we’ve had it a lot fucking easier here than the folks at home, so I will NOT!, I’ll say that again for all of you and make sure your troops are aware of it, I will not listen or put up with any bitching and fucking moaning from this point on”.

 

Lohberger’s hand slammed down on the lectern to emphasise his point.  “ I cannot tell you the exact nature of the operation, but I will tell you this, the days of sun, swatting flies and having snakes, scorpions, sand flies, crocodiles, cassowaries and god knows what else chasing you or trying to kill you are over, we’re heading home…..and it’s to fight!” ,said the Colonel.

“Then again, it might well be safer in the US now I think of it”, he said, much to the muted chuckles amongst the officers, lightening back up the briefing.

Scanning the faces, Christian could see they were all glued to him, listening intently as he had hoped they would, more so given he was the new commander and his tone, bearing and intent would be filtered down throughout the ranks, Christian knew he could ill afford to have any troopers who doubted his intent or resolve, the coming battle would be bloody he thought.

“Okay gents”  he said, to calm down several small animated discussions which were taking place amongst the officers, “ I’m sure like me, we all have plenty of tales to tell about close calls with the Australian wild life trying to do us harm, 2 legged variety as well, but before we depart I want you all to make sure that the communities within which you have lived and trained are fully squared away, not an outstanding action item or bill is to be left,  our S3 Lt Colonel Phelan will be making sure that all is squared away, each unit will be relieved by either Australian Regulars or their ready reserve units, there’s also going to be a spattering of New Zealand and British units as well, you will receive those details in you orders”, Lohberger’s hand with the sheaf of papers shook once again.

“We have three weeks in which to entrain onto rail transport, air or road, that’s in here as well” as he flicked his fist full of documents.

The screen flicked to a new photographic image behind Colonel Lohberger again, this time displaying the RORO ships, “ Those ships which you see behind me are our transport, the operation is Pacific Reforger 2, it’s a reverse operation, because you will all know we never envisaged having to land troops onto US soil from another staging base outside the continental US, our escorts for the transit will be Australian, new Zealand and Royal Navy, plus two South African escorts as well”, said Lohberger.

 

His last mention of South African units stopped all minor chatter in the room cold, “yes gentlemen, South African, they are now part of the alliance and for reasons of security for other reasons I simply cannot divulge and am not fully aware of myself”, Lohberger shifted his stance slightly, working his feet around in his combat boots to stop the onset of the pins and needles which he could feel starting in his feet from the tension.

“ we will have air cover gentlemen and the Australian navy will also be supplying fixed wing ASW units for the transit, the air cover will be from the carrier  we sold them”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 17. AWAC’s  East coast Continued

 

Hawk 1 watched in horror as he dropped in behind the  Mig 29 on Chick 4’s tail, twisting left looking out through his canopy Mick watched  Mayhems Viper roll left into the stream of 30mm tracer rounds from the lead Mig pursuing her, bright sparkles walking up the edge of the fuselage, exploding on impact as the big semi armour piecing and high explosive rounds seemed to tear great chunks of fuselage off with each successive angry reddish blossom of light, as they continued their brief trail of destruction, up to the F16’s wing , cleaving it open like a can opener might a tin of fruit, severing the wing almost clean off, Micks stomach contracted into an icy ball.

 

Major Hawks would not remember his screams to Mayhem over the radio, shouting at her to break back to the right until much later when his gun camera footage of him downing the Mig in pursuit of chick 4 was replayed.

Time seemed to stand still for the leader of Hawk flight, inside the cockpit of Chick 3, Mayhems Viper, her world was falling apart as her senses and body were brutally assaulted with high velocity objects.

“Aw Fuck” Screamed Mayhem, as the cannon rounds impacted her aircraft, in the blink of an eye, Mayhem tried to roll right, but the Vipers controls were not responding, their tenuous links already severed, buzzers and warning lights screamed at her in the cockpit as the aircraft shuddered from the successive impacts, all rolling itself into one brief  second, a time condensed maelstrom of torn metal, plexiglass and cockpit instruments whizzing about her in the cramped confines of the cockpit, lancing open anything they came in contact with, flesh and structure alike.

Major Hawks heard Mayhems screams, the 30 mm cannon shells finished their assault with the last rounds smashing into the rear of her cock pit, Mick felt sure he had seen red flash up onto the side of the cockpit, the second last round having entered through a torn hole already created by its predecessor slammed into the F16’s oxygen tank located at the rear of Mayhems ejection seat, instantly detonating the bottle and filling the cockpit with volatile oxygen vapour…then detonating.

Mayhem continued to scream all through the lead and explosives assaulting both her and the aircraft, her cries drowned out only by the final explosion of her oxygen bottle its violent detonation behind her  ejection seat. The final explosion within the cockpit of chick 3’s Viper was activated by the last 30mm cannon shell impacting on the  Martin Baker ejector seats detonator squibs.

Mayhems world went black, her body shutting down from the pain laden assault as white hot shards of steel tore through the armoured back of her ejection seat, milliseconds before the seat crashed upwards through the canopy at over 12 g’s , the rocket motor blasting her clear of her rapidly dying Viper as she hung lifelessly inside her seat  straps.

 

Mick, still in behind the 1st Mig 29 chasing Chick 4  had his finger briefly mashed on the Vipers trigger sending a stream of cannon shells slamming into the grey blue camouflaged 29, instantly igniting the fuel within the Mig’s tanks and creating a huge fire ball , snapping the Viper hard left as he dove under the resulting fire ball.

“ Chick 4, Snake, Mig’s down ya clear, re engage Mig’s one and two” called  Mick, instantly Mick heard a double click over the radio in acknowledgement as he watched chick 4’s pilot, Major Tomlinson, call sign snake, scissor his Viper hard left , before pointing the nose back towards the ocean to re engage the remaining two Mig 29’s.

 

Hawk 1 craned his neck around in the cockpit searching for Mayhems aircraft having briefly lost it whilst killing the Mig.

“Thank Fuck, ….Hawk 1 to eight ball, I have a chute from chick one, at my current position, good chute good chute….but no movement”, Mick exclaimed twice over the radio, before pulling his mind back to the task at hand.

Hawk 1, pulled back on the side mounted joystick for his viper and punched in its after burners, rocketing vertical into the clouds before popping out into bright blue sky at 10,000 feet.  Hawk 1 grunted as his body and pressure suit tightened to help pump blood back towards his brain from his pull up manoeuvre, Now Major Hawks chopped power and yanked back on the stick, popping all his spoilers and central airbrake at the same time, and on the off chance he had a pursuer he was not aware of, popping a stream of bright magnesium burning IR decoy flares.

 

The Viper responded, instantly dropping airspeed to almost a stall before Hawk 1 had complete his aerial U turn, grunting at the G forces assaulting his body, Mick now shoved the throttles forwards to the stops and Hawk 1 exploded back to life like an electrified stallion, following chick 4 who was now a speck off in the distance as he  sought to re engage the two, now fleeing Mig 29’s.

 

Mick new the tactical situation had gone to shit, the loss of Mayhem hurt the flight leader badly, but he stuffed those emotions away, he’d deal with those later after the landed,

“Eight Ball this is Hawk 1, how copy over”, Mick called over the radio, the AWAC’s and the perusing Mig’s must have nearly been on top of one another and he’d not yet heard any fox 2 calls from his pursuing vipers.

Before any calls came back from the AWAC’s Micks Radar threat warning receiver came to life again with another new air search radar coming up, followed almost immediately by the warning buzzer announcing that a target acquisition or Missile targeting radar had also  decided to join the party, Mick didn’t know it, but the days revelations were not over yet as his ECM sensor pod notified him, that the AWAC’s, Eight Ball, had switched back on its air search radar, just to add to the growing mix of frustration fermenting in Hawk 1’s head.

 

“Jesus, this is turning to shit”, Mick popped chaff and then set the dispenser to automatic, he’d no sooner done this than the on board system announced the new radars designation, ‘ What the fuck”, thought Mick to Himself.

 

Hawk Flight was scattered to hell on gone Mick thought, Chick 3 mayhem was down, chick 4 was in pursuit of the Mig 29’s now trying to bug out back north and Chicks 2 and 5 were at Mach 2, closing the distance rapidly with the two Mig’s after Eight Ball. It had taken Mick no more than 4 or 5 seconds to realise this, although for him it seemed like an eternity, the trick now Mick thought, was to get back control of the situation, the new radars popping up had forestalled that.

 

Inside the cockpits of chicks 2 and 5, now a mere 14 miles behind the two Mig’s closing fast on eight Ball, the heralding of surface air search radar and then the missile radar had two immediate effects. Both pilots instantly snapped vertical, popping bundles of chaff as they did so, it only took milliseconds’ however for their on board threat detection software to classify the radar to their immediate front, Mick hawks, in chick 1, now closing on his new wingman in pursuit of the fleeing Mig’s to the north clearly heard the “Fuck’s” from his chicks….it followed with his own as his own threat detection system classified the radar emissions as well.

Major Hawks pulled his throttles out of after burner and levelled out his flight profile before calling to his flight, “ Chick 1 to all chicks, break contact, repeat , Break contact and form up on me now” said Mick in an exasperated tone. ‘You’re on your own eight ball’, Mick thought to himself, but if he was right, calling off the pursuit was not going to matter.

 

 

Atlantic Ocean 43 Nautical miles off New York Harbour

 

The ship had been laying of the coast of New York Harbour for some time now, occasionally switching on its air search radar or surface search unit when required, the majority of the work was performed by its 2 helicopters, today however, the choppers would not be required, although one was now running flat out across the Atlantic ocean to the last know position of the downed F16.

 

“Alright weps,  lets light’em up”, said Captain  Bob (Nowhere) Roberts, Commander of the USS Hopper DDG 71, as he placed a hand on the shoulder of his seated air warfare controller.

Affirmative Sir, said the air warfare technician and in the flick of a switch, the USS Hopper went from a quiet motionless grey lump on the Ocean, to Air defence warship and the now much reduced, once vaunted united States Navy, “ Bet those Mig Pilots are shitting themselves now”, Captain Roberts said to nobody in particular.

Captain Roberts leaned forward, “ Fully autonomous please weps, unmask the for’ard battery, Fire when you have a solution weps”.

 

Claxons sounded all over the Hopper as final doors and hatches were slammed shut in preparation for opening salvos she was about to unleash. The big SPY1 radar located inside the large flat panels on the superstructure of the Hopper hummed to life as they blasted out their Radar beams in search of targets. The Hopper like most modern DDG’s had been watching the air battle via its data link to the AWAC’s plane , Eight Ball.

Even after Eight Ball had ceased her air search radars operation, the air space telemetry she was receiving from the F16 and passively from the  attack radars of the Mig’s was constantly being down loaded by the Hopper, allowing her to lie low on the fringe of the battle…….and wait.

Captain Roberts never believed in fair play when it came to pirate scum or those that chose to break the rules of the sea or for that matter his country, at 46 years of age, he was a veteran of the ocean and having consulted with his Executive officer, they had decided to remain under EMCON, or emissions control, blacked out was the layman’s term, on the off chance that one of the attacking Mig’s wandered into her missile envelope.

“well it beats the snot out of dealing with bloody pirates I guess, how’s our firing solutions looking there son”, as his hand gently squeezed his young air warfare officers shoulder.

The air warfare officer didn’t flinch, “ good Sir, “ said the young petty officer just as they both felt the Hopper shudder as the first of the two, twin missile salvos, blasted out of her vertical launch cells located forward of the super structure. ‘ birds Away”, called the technician as another series of shudders shook the Hopper.

“5 inch is now in range Sir”, called the petty officer.  Outside the ship on the bow, more claxons sounded as the Mk 45, 5inch gun mount jumped to life, snapping right to 30 degrees of their current heading, the barrel of the 5inch or 127mm Mk 45  twitched and jumped  as micro adjustments were made by the Fire control radar.

“Well let’s not keep the arseholes waiting, engage with the forward mount, rapid fire” Called Bob,

“Helm, let come around some, bring us to a new heading of 113, make revolutions for 35 knots, ye scurvy dogs”,  Bob launching into his penchant for pirate speak, much to the amusement of the assembled officers and technicians down in CiC.

“range?”, Bob called out down in the CiC, “ 20 kilometres sir”, was the answer that came from the Air Warfare Controller.

Bob couldn’t help but wonder if they had not let the Mig’s get to close to the AWAC’s, his problem was that they only had 12 SM2 medium range missiles in the locker and given the closeness of the invasion fleet further up the coast they had been notified of, he wanted as many birds as possible on board in case they were on the receiving end of a surface to surface Missile attack.

Although the Hopper still had the 5 inch mount and her close in weapons system, nothing stopped incoming ship killers like a standard missile at 70’skilometres or better.

Releasing his grip on the young petty Officers’ shoulder, The Captain strode down  towards the radar console operator, in reality, the technician was looking at a LCD screen, a duplicate image of which was currently being displayed on the main screen in CIC beside a smaller scale view of the attack radars 4 SAM’s, as they lanced outwards the  on rushing Migs.

In the background, all the operators and his executive officer could feel the big thumps as the For’ard gun mount continued to spit out its proximity fused rounds at 20 shells per minute rapid fire.

XXXXXX

The sudden popping up of a hostile air search radar flashed loud in the cockpits of both the Mig’s, being followed almost instantly by missile guidance radar made both pilots rethink their plans…and gun kill on the AWAC;s was simply not possible, their greed for a gun kill and not doing as they had been instructed before departing on the mission and killing the AWAC’s with their NATO code named AA-10 Alamo radar guided missiles, might have been a bad call.

 

Both Mig’s loosened off their  2 AA-10 radar guided missiles. In actual truth, they were semi active radar guided missiles, SARH,  only requiring steering to within the units own radar range of the target, in this case 15 kilometres and the Big lumbering AWAC’s E3 Sentry as Nato called it, was a mere 10 kilometres away, problem was for both pilots, the Naval vessel which had suddenly materialised was under 20 kilometres and had them locked up, their missile threat detectors now screaming that they had inbound surface to air missiles tracking them.

 

Anybody who had been watching would have seen both big pull 8 or 9 G’s as they banked hard, jumping into after burner and descending down to wave top height, 50 feet above the small Atlantic swell, away from the surface threat as fast as the Mig’s could possibly go, angry white darts in pursuit.

 

 

Inside the CIC of the Hopper, the radar intercept technicians noted the aspect change on the two attacking Mig’s, “ Sir, aspect change on the inbounds Sir, they’re now heading out, speed increasing Sir, estimate 10 seconds to intercept, range now 18 kilometres Sir”, Called the tech.

Captain Roberts looked displeased, the unlit cigar he was chomping was being worked around in his mouth more like a lolly pop that a fine Cuban it was, Navy rules preventing him from lighting up indoors on his ship, “God dam it”, he yelled, and extracted the cigar from his mouth, holding the unlit stoogie between his fore fingers as if it really was alight.

 

The captain stopped at the Air Intercept tech again, slapping him with both hands on the shoulders and giving him a slight shake in process, “ Well son, reckon you can hit any of the Missiles the bastards shot at the AWAC’s without hitting the AWAC’s, Robert asked in a questioning tone.

The Tech didn’t move, not even flinch, “ you betchya Sir” said the tech.

Giving him another small shake before lifting both hands off the young man, Nowhere shoved the stoogie back into the corner of his mouth,” well, light’em up weps”, then Captain Roberts paused, “fire as ya guns bare!, lest see if we can’t save ourselves a plane weps”

 

The captain couldn’t see it, but the Air warfare officer controlling the for’ard 5 inch mount broke out into a grin, a closer inspection might have noticed a head shake from the young man, the Captain however, was too, into the engagement to notice such minor things and they were all well aware just how piratie the captain could get at times. It was when he lost his pirateness…that the crew knew you had to be careful, ‘co’s the old man’s on the warpath’, they would say.

 

AWAC’s Call Sign : EIGHT BALL.

 

Both the Pilot and co pilot  of Eight Ball’s hands were firmly on the controls, anybody looking who was game enough, not be strapped tight into their designated seats would have noticed that their hands where white at the knuckles, both were perspiring despite the coolness of the cabin ,due to a mixture of stress and exertion, and to make matters simply worse, the buzzers in the cockpit screaming were a mixture of the altimeter warning and the fact they had no less that 4 radar guided missiles currently wanting to blot them from the sky.

Looming large now on the not too distant horizon was the guided Missile destroyer USS Hopper, before they had made the emergency descent to 100 feet above the ocean as the Mig’s had closed in with blood in their eyes, the Pilot of Eight Ball, had had a brief conference with the principle Air warfare technician on board. They discussed there best courses of action should the Mig’s get past the Vipers and it had been the young technicians idea, beat feet for the protection of the DDG laying off the coast as he stabbed the DDG icon on his radar screen. The commander of the mission had been impressed, assuming they all lived he had made a note to have the young fella, Lieutenant Tony Nooman put forward for medal for thinking. “Fucking mega idea’ had been Dave’s exclamation when the young officer had come up with it.

Sitting in the secondary seat next to the Air Intercept Technician Lt Tony Nooman, was the Mission Commander, Dave Sagg, who had just had a brain flash, leaning over as best he could whilst restrained by the straps, he punched the young chubby lieutenant in the arm,

“ hey, Lieutenant, lets power back up the radar and check where those fighters are shall we”,

The young Lieutenant looked back at Dave with that ‘ are you fucking kidding look’,

Commander Sagg, simply smiled back,  “well, it’s not going to hurt to know just how far away death is…is it?” he said with a Machiavellian grin

The Lieutenant looked like he was about to give birth to a cow Dave thought, either that or the turbulence they were experiencing at such low altitude, 100 feet above the ocean, mixed with the screaming of the four big rolls Royce turbo fans at maximum power was having an effect. Commander Sagg decided it was probably the approaching grim reaper, clad in a pair of Mig 29’s.

Dave was still not sure that both the Pilots of eight Ball where doing as they had hastily planned out, unsnapping his flight harness, he stood up, instantly regretting his decision as the plane dropped about 50 feet, he arm shooting out to grab the overhead hand rail before he crashed rather unceremoniously into the operator.

“ Fucking hell”, exclaimed Dave, “I’m going forward for a second, get the bloody radar up Lieutenant and let’s find out exactly where those fuckers are…NOW!”, he said as he wobbled his way towards the cockpit in the low level turbulence.

 

xxxxxxxxxxx

 

E3 sentry call sign Eight Ball:  continued

Commander Sagg, continued his way forward to the cockpit, Eight Ball , like all other late model passenger aircraft had a door to the pilots cabin, although this one was never locked.

The Commander stopped at the door, quickly rapping his knuckles on it  between buffets from the plane, not waiting for a reply Dave opened the door,

“Gentlemen, how’s it going?” he asked rather nonchalantly, to the surprise of the cockpit crew.

Then Dave looked out through the cockpit windows, there , looming large were two white streaks, Dave ducked instinctively as two of the destroyers SM2 missiles streaked over head of the E3,

“Fuck me!” he exclaimed, earning a gallows laugh from the tow pilots, and the engineering officer, who had been tracking the inbound missiles from launch.

“You reckon that’s fucking bad”, said the Pilot,

“We just watched a series of 5 inch shells scream past just before you entered, I’ll wager those fucking Mig’s are a lot closer than we thought”  said the co-pilot, as both he and the chief Pilot, a major by his rank Dave noted, fought with the buffeting controls.

The chief Pilot piped up….’Dave searched his memory for his name….’Ah yes, ‘ Major  Kullin ( Beeso ) Narey’ Dave remembered as he continued to watch another series of 5 inch shells from the destroyers Mk 45 gun charge past, the hairs standing up on the back of his neck.

 

“You sure this is such a hot idea Major”, asked Dave, sounding a little wound up..like he actually was,

“ I mean, this is like flying into a shot gun, only fucking bigger” he exclaimed.

Dave watched as both the pilots once again fought the aircraft through another patch of low level turbulence, as he looked between them, Dave noticed that the throttles were all the way forward.

“we got enough fuel for a flat out run home Major” said Dave.

Dave thought the question was rather relevant given how much fuel the aircraft would be burning running flat stick on the deck like they were.

The chief pilot quickly turned to Dave, taking his eyes of the ocean only 100 feet below them, before answering.

“ya fucking think Mr Saaaggg!”, the pilot said, full of sarcasm , drawing his name out,

” It’s the only thing we have plenty of, I hope our luck lasts a bit longer and those navy pukes know how to fucking well shoot  or fuels gunna be your last fucking problem, Major”, Beeso said, as he turned his attention back to flying the E3, clearly annoyed at the stupidity of the Commanders question.

 

Dave had a firm grip with both hands on the door frame, wedged in with white knuckles would have better described his stance. He could now clearly see the destroyer, no more than 6 or so kilometres in front as they continued their hell bent charge for it.

Dave didn’t really think it could get much worse, but suddenly bright sparkles started emanating from the centre of the destroyer and at two or three other locations on the ship, lazily heading towards them.

“Oh fuck”, said Dave, loud enough that both pilots stole a momentary glance before fixing themselves to look back where the plane was going.

Commander Sagg stepped though the door completely and rather hurriedly flopped into the jump seat behind the co-pilot, strapping himself back in fast as he could manage.

“Jesus fucking Christ”, the pilot yelled, before side slipping the big Boeing E3, just as a stream of 20 millimetre tracer rounds from the destroyers Phalanx Close in weapons system zapped passed them. The big dots suddenly buzzing over the planes starboard side, in an almost complete line of tracers.

“They can’t shoot any fucking closer than that”, the pilot shouted amongst the din of the engines, and incessant thumping of  127mm shell bursts behind Eight Ball.

Now seated, Commander Sagg turned and faced aft down the length of the cockpit back towards the air warfare officer, Lt Nooman.

“ Tony, get that fucking destroyer on the horn, any closer and they won’t have to worry about the Mig’s or the fucking missiles…and fast”, Dave shouted.

He was rewarded with a ‘Rodger that Sir’ and watched as the young Lieutenants head bobbed down and his hands simultaneously went to his head set.

Dave looked back out the cockpit, satisfied that the young Lieutenant was attempting to stave off the destroyer obliterating them all; The interplane communications system came to life in his head set.

‘Bandits, range 12 kilometres heading away, we still have two missiles inbound, 3500 meters and closing commander”, said the air warfare technician.

Dave adjusted his head set mike and toggled the VOX switch, “ Keep chasing that destroyer son,”

Dave then called to the pilot, using his nick name, “ Beeso, We got any countermeasures on board?”, he asked.

 

Dave thought he already knew the answer and the Pilot confirmed it, “negative commander, they are in rather short supply, we only carry IR flares anyways and against radar homers, they’re fucking useless”, the Pilot said.

 

Inside the combat information centre of the USS Hopper things were getting almost as tense, their first two war shots had intercepted the inbound Air to air missiles from the lead Mig 29’s, their second salvo was yet to intercept the last pair. And it was starting to look like an even money race. The AA-10 Alamo missiles the Captain thought had to have reached their top speed,

“radar”, shouted Captain Roberts,

“speed of the inbound missiles?”, he queried whilst looking around the CIC.

All seemed to business like. His crew at combat stations, the CIWS, Close In weapons System buzzing out bursts , whilst the final two war shots they had fired were still only halfway to the inbound warheads.

 

“Sir” Called the radar tech, Missiles inbound at mach 2.5 Sir, low altitude air’s keeping them below their max, that’s 4.5 , Our birds have hit  mach 3.5 Sir starting to get some clutter, the E3’s directly between our radar and the missiles Sir, we might get a miss or two.

 

Captain Roberts walked back over to CIC command chair, gave it a slight turn before stepping and sitting down in the plush leather wrap around seat,

“comm.’s” he said,

“get the E3 on the line, let’em know to expect a hit”.

Captain Roberts did the calculations in his head, 5 to 6 seconds was about all that Eight Ball had left before both the Missiles were going to slam into the lumbering 707, with luck they might only loose an engine or part of a wing, but a 707 at 100 feet, travelling at close to  650 kilometres per hour…..’nope, not gunna be any survivors’, thought the Captain.

“ Ex”, called Commander Roberts.

“ better get the Air scout spooled up, have the second bird ready for rescue ops on the E3, I don’t like our chances”, Said Bob, scepticism clearly showing on his wether beaten features.

 

Over the roar of the engines at maximum power Commander Sagg sat bolt upright in his seat behind the pilot and co pilot. Dave, like all commanders or members of senior rank seriously hated not being in control, this was magnified, when the threat was to your life.

Finally it got the better of him, leaning forward as much as the seat belt now firmly across his waist would allow, Dave shouted at the pilots.

“Captain, what happens if we get hit…on say the wing or the engines, will we need altitude?”, Dave queried.

Dave could see that both the pilots were almost about to slap him for such a stupid question, then it snapped, like a light going off in their heads almost at the same time.

“ Fuck”, the Pilot said,

Dave continued watching, he was almost going to ask for a response, but the pilots actioned staved that off.

 

“ Hopper, this is Eight Ball, climbing now!”, Major Beeso said, as both Pilot and Co-pilot pulled back on their yokes, the big bird started to respond as Dave noticed that the horizon shifted and he could not only no longer see the water, but neither did the destroyer that seemed to be sending the total arsenal of the ship in their direction.

 

“Come on Baby, climb, climb you bastard”, the Pilot said to nobody in particular.

 

Dave figured he knew what was going on, “Altitude if we take a hit Captain?”, Dave asked.

 

The Pilot and Co pilot of Eight Ball were pulling back on the controls for all they were worth, Commander Sagg simply sat still in his seat behind them both, whilst over on his right he could see the engineer closely monitoring all the various gauges for the E3’s systems, Dave was picturing in his mind the impending impact when the pilot spoke again.

“Throttle to 50%….NOW!, flaps, brakes fully extended” he called and both the Pilots and Co-pilots hands jumped to the central throttle bank, pulling them back to 50%,

“Flaps Extended, brakes out” Called the co pilot as his hands danced around the console control shifting levers and switches in a blur of movement.

 

Dave felt the 707 rapidly decelerate and then the horizon dipped again as they both pushed forward on the controls,

“Rudder right”, called the pilot, Dave watched the horizon now go from right to left outside as the 707 side slipped radically.

Dave thought he knew what the pilots where doing, but slowing down was not what was part of the plan, giving the incoming missiles a bigger slower target.

The 707 had gained almost 3500 feet in the initial pull up and now they were sinking back down at an alarming rate Dave thought, the on setting panic got the better of him.

“What the fuck are you doing”, Commander Sagg Shouted at the two pilots.

“Shut the fuck up, and hang on” The pilot shouted back. Dave watched as the pilots hand shot across and toggled a switch on the main instrument console.

“Pilot to crew,  brace for impact”. Said the Pilot as his reached back out, flipping the cabin communications switch off again.

Dave could now see the ocean looming large through the wind shield as they continued their descent, noticing also, the look that the co –pilot shot across at the planes Captain, Dave recognised it straight away, it was the ‘I hope ya know what your fucking doing look’,…….. so did Dave.

 

Things inside the cockpit where starting to happen fast…too fast Dave thought, no sooner had they pitched up..clawing for altitude, then it seemed the pilot decided to head for the deck once again. Now Dave waited, slightly flushed after the pilot had told him to ‘shut the fuck up’ and then inwardly chastising himself for losing control.

The pilot reached over and gave a digital read out gauge on the dash a flick, “Dump fuel now, everything we can from the left wing” he shouted.

“Affirmative” called the co pilot, reaching up to the overhead console and flicking two switches, “emergency dump underway”.

 

Dave nearly had a fit, dumping fuel now with the missiles inbound was suicide, all it gave them was a readymade fuel source with which the missile could ignite and then…goodnight to all!” he thought.

 

The E3 was now hard ruddered over, almost like a car drifts, the nose pointing left and the rear of the plane kicked out to the right as it travelled straight ahead.  Ahead was the destroyer, Hopper, the E3 was now 5 kilometres from it and directly behind the E3, the final two AA-10 Alamos Radar seeker air to air missiles were on their final run to the target.

The E3, now only 1500 hundred meters away, the range, decreasing rapidly as the mach 2.5 missiles streaked in for the kill.

 

 

The CIC  or Combat Information centre on board the USS Hopper had grown deathly quiet, there had been a few ‘whoooops’ and ‘yeah baby’ calls as the first salvo of SM2 missiles had intercepted the air to air missiles closing in on the E3. But the room was now deathly silent, both the Close in weapons systems and the  for‘ard Mk 45 gun mount had now ceased firing at the Air warfare officers direction, for fear of hitting Eight Ball.

Their last round of shells having missed the inbound missiles, the air warfare Officer called the Captain.

 

“ Sir the last shells missed, I thought we might have gotten lucky with the E3’s pitch up manoeuvre Sir, but No, the inbounds are in direct line between us and the  E3, we can’t get a solid target lock captain”, said the officer looking somewhat dejected, knowing that the E3 was now doomed.

 

Captain Roberts was out of his seat in a flash, dashing past his XO who had just come into the CIC from the Bridge, Captain Roberts stopped just as he got passed him,

“Ex, bring the ship hard around another 30 degree’s, emergency boost propulsion and keep the fucking CIWS and 5 inch up..we might get a snap shot yet!”, he said , before turning and dashing out through the CIC hatch on his was up to the bridge.

 

It took no more than 6 seconds for Captain Bob (Nowhere) Roberts to reach the bridge, bounding up the last rungs of the ladder 2 at a time, before exiting into the bridge of the USS Hopper.

 

“Captain on the Bridge”, shouted the officer of the watch.

“As you where”, called Bob.

Bob turned hard right, passed the small helm console and the Navigators chairs then exited out onto the wing bridge. Immediately Bob felt the breeze, courtesy of them now doing 38 knots or better perhaps if the emergency propulsion pods had been deployed.

Captain Roberts looked out east of their heading, out across the calm grey waters of the Atlantic ocean, ‘sea state1’ thought bob, beautiful day for a cruise under normal circumstances, maybe even some fishing he thought as he gazed about.

It didn’t take the Commander of the USS Hopper long to locate the E3, ‘there on the horizon’, black puffs of smoke lingering behind the big 707 jumbo jet where his 5 inch shells had impacted behind the AWAC’s.

 

Bob felt the ship heal over slightly as the continued their course alteration, she’d settled some at the stern as the big gas turbines cranked out their combined 200,000 shaft horse power, props, bitting hard into the cold flat Atlantic Ocean.

The commander braced himself against the rail, ‘only a small swell’ came to mind, ‘ well not really a swell at all’, but bob felt the ship plunge a little at the bow as she knifed through the water.

Turning back towards the bridge bob called out, “Range to E3”, he shouted.

With the bridge door open and secured in its position the bridge crew heard him easily, the XO was now on the bridge as well having come up from the CIC, like the ships commander.

Bob was still looking into the Bridge when the flash happened, its reflection on the bridge glass easily seen, causing him to spin around towards the E3, the flash was enormous and still going, signs of the E3 Sentry, its crew of 18………gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAWK Flight: Atlantic Ocean

Hawk 1, now had chicks 2 and  4  formed up orbiting his current position at 10,000 feet , radars sweeping the skies for any intruders. Chick 5 was on Mick’s wing as they cut a tight circle, watching Mayhems chute as she drifted lifelessly towards the Atlantic, her limp body clearly seen by both pilots.

 

“ chick 2, 4 maintain cap, 5 stay here at 3,000, I’ll follow Mayhem down, see if you can raise that Destroyer on Guard” Mick said, then chopping the throttles a little more and continuing with his spiralling decent to the ocean’s surface. All the while watching <Mayhem, wishing for her to move, just some small sign of life.

Mick checked his six and scanned the sky around him, the last radar intercept they had, all the remaining Mig’s were beating feet back north, Mick had made a mental note to follow up what airfields where available when he got back on the ground. Mean time, he checked his fuel state, ‘Tanks at 50%’ he noted, plenty of fuel and there was still a tanker orbiting south east of New York which they would easily make.

Mayhem, was almost at the water now, Micks Falcon had all his brakes, spoilers and flaps fully out or extended in an effort to maintain contact with Mayhem as much as possible, the Viper really didn’t like going this slow, the nose was at 20 degrees of attack……’any slower and I’ll stall’ thought Mick.

Micks head set flared to life, “Chick 1, this is 3, Raised the Hopper on guard, Helo inbound, eta 15 minutes, they have us on radar, doing a steer for the the chopper”.

‘Great’ Mick thought, hopefully Mayhem would come too when she hit the water, her vest would self inflate, but there was still the possibility Mick thought, that her chute might drag her head under if she was unconscious.

 

‘There”, Mick noted the chute collapse as Mayhem hit the cool waters of the Atlantic. Mick wasn’t particularly worried about the water temperature, at this time of year, Midsummer; Mayhem was in no danger of hypothermia, not with a chopper 15 minutes out from the navy.

Mick was slowly orbiting Mayhem now at 200 feet, it looked, as far as he could tell, like her vest had deployed correctly and her head was staying above the water, with no waves or swell in the ocean to speak of, she looked like she might be okay, assuming she was still alive. Mick’s stomach was a fucking mess, only his training and the requirement to keep his own bird airborne kept him focused.

“Oh Shit”, Mick exclaimed,

“  3, get onto Hopper and tell the helo to get cracking, I’ve got what looks like sharks below Mayhems position, marker and repellent has deployed, but 300 yards out we have what looks like 3m jobs starting to circle”.

Mick tipped a wing over to get lower and throttled up some, zooming away from Mayhems position ,before banking hard back in again, chick 3 acknowledged his call,

“ 10 minutes Hawk on the chopper” called Chick 3.

 

‘not gunna be fast enough’ Mick thought, “Mayhem will be losing blood into the ocean and that’s bound to start a frenzy” he said to himself.

Mick pushed the nose over heading for the deck, as he did so, he selected guns and ground attack mode on his Vipers radar.

Mick watched as the piper lined up on the ocean about 200 yards out from Mayhems position, clearly marked by the day glow green marker dye and shark repellent, which in the current was thinning fast.

‘Patience’, he said to himself, Mick waited, his airspeed built up in the shallow dive towards the surface, he could see the dark shapes, some near, some far as he closed in.

‘take ya time,….take ya time’, Mick kept repeating to himself, the big 20mm cannon shells from his Vipers  M61 Vulcan, 6 barrel gun where known to send the odd round astray, especially at longer distances.

‘Last thing I need is stray fucking rounds’, the range read out dropped…Mick waited, patiently until it read 1500 meters and depressed the trigger on the stick for a 3 second burst.

The aircraft shuddered as the buzz saw sound ripped just outside his canopy. Mick watched the rounds all the way in as  his aircraft followed them down, the rounds tearing up the water around the dark menacing shapes lurking just below the surface…before pulling the nose back up a scant 50 feet above the surface.

 

Mick shoved the throttles into burner, once more his Viper leaping away from the surface as he built airspeed back up, before chopping power then reefing the Viper into a hard turn. Lining up for another gun pass on the dark menacing shapes beneath the surface.

 

Hawk one’s viper lanced back down towards the ocean, much like a bird of prey protecting its chicks from predators, and so, Hawk 1’s viper let rip another 3 second burst of hell towards the ocean’s surface. Great geysers of water erupting a scant 100 yards from Mayhems floating body as her flight leader sought to stave off her attackers until help arrived.

“Fuck, I can’t shoot any closer than that”, Mick said to himself, hitting his burners again to repeat the process, as he looked back towards Mayhem, he noticed another Viper arcing in towards Mayhem, its nose sparkling in the afternoon sunlight …then the waters around Mayhem, laden now with dark shadowy objects turned to froth again.

Chick 5 pulled up no more than 50 feet above the surface, having repeated Micks attempts at staving off the sharks.

Mick continued his 6 g turn back, pulling the nose around for another pass. As with his first pass, Mick caressed the throttles forward as the nose came down. He could see as he closed in the Sharks had gotten much closer to Mayhem, just as he was about to depress the trigger Hawk 1, pulled up,

“Break off, break off”, he called over the radio, reefing the Viper hard right and pulling the nose up.

Mick Shoved the throttle to the stops,

“ fuck fuck fuck”, he yelled in the cock pit.

 

Frustrated that he’d had to break off the gun run, it was simply too close,. “all vipers, maintain current orbits, chick 5, keep circling, no gun runs, we’re gunna hit mayhem at this fucking rate”, Mick said over the radio, clearly pissed at having to break off.

 

Now at 5000 feet hawk 1 set up an orbit,

“ ah fuck this is shit”, he said to no one but himself, rolling inverted, hawk 1 pulled the nose down, descending back to the ocean.

“Hawk 1 to 5, I’ll set up orbit at 200 feet, maintain spacing and keep your eyes peeled”, he called. Chick 5 came back with two clicks on the radio, acknowledging Hawk 1’s command.

 

Chapter : 18  OCEAN SURFACE

Mayhem could feel something gently caressing her hair, wet almost like she was……….’Oh yes’, at the hair dressers remembered.

“Awwwww fuck me!”, she yelled, the pain, knifing through here side suddenly awoke her fully, as she immediately flapped about her unfamiliar surroundings, her arms legs and whole body felt like it was on fire, something sticky was over her eye blocking her vision.

 

Mayhems hand came up, ‘What the fuck’, she thought as her hand pulled away a blob of red sticky..’Ohhh my GOD!”, its blood.

 

Mayhem suddenly realised fully where she was, the dog fight, the tearing sounds of metal and the burning pain, just before she…….’blacked out?’, she thought.

Splashing upright, mayhem checked her surrounds, she could hear jets, looking up as best she could through the pain that seemed to engulf her entire body, squinting, she could make out a ……’Viper’.

“Oh my god” she cried, she felt something strange tug at her and looked down, suddenly realising her chute was still attached, she struggled, finally unsnapping the parachute and the annoying tugging sensation stopped.

Slowly Mayhem starting to work her muscle groups to determine what was broken or bent, trying to reach for the cord which tethered her to the inflated life raft drifting 10 yards away, she was rewarded with a searing pain.

 

It seemed like her whole right side had been banged up.  Mayhem twisted to her right, gasping as she noticed the red in the water,  “ oh shit, Jesus fucking Christ”, she said, frantically trying to feel down her right side with her left arm.

 

‘gotta stop the blood loss”, she said to herself as she struggled in the rapidly reddening water, not yet aware of the other menaces, lurking nearby.

 

The bump came out of the blue, “what the fuck”, she shouted, noting the thrash in the water beside her. Mayhem didn’t at first realise what the bump was, then,

“oh no!…not like this, pleeeease”.

 

Mayhem thrashed about now, she could see the raft and frantically started to reach for the cord with her good arm,…when she seen the fin break the surface, 15 feet away. Mayhem twisted as much as she could around her noting another two fins, menacingly cutting through the surface.

 

Tears started to well up in her eyes as Mayhem, Patricia realised she was not going to make the raft.

“this is not how it’s meant to fucking happen!” she yelled to the sky. Tears now streaming down her face as her body started to convulse with sobs.

Mayhem slapped the water, “ come on you fuckers” she shouted, her fear now overcome with anger at the indignity of going out like this.

xxxxxxx

Mayhem could see that the sharks were circling fast; she counted seven dorsal fins circling her, laying off, waiting for the right moment to strike. She couldn’t help but think, it reminded her of the early cowboy movies, the Indians circling the settlers and their wagons……..waiting for the right moment to attack.

It surprised her, the panic, that she had felt before had gone now, knowing what was coming she’d steeled herself to fight, ‘ chopper can’t be far away ‘, she hoped.

Out front of her now, she noticed one of the larger grey fins, bout 20 yards away boring in, it had some white on it, “ Come on you son of a bitch, I’m fucking here!, come get some you fucker!” she screamed at the top of her voice, as the big white pointer made its attack run at her.

Mayhem thrashed, slapping the water with her clenched fist, her survival knife now in her good left arm, the right one, hanging almost lifeless beside her. Spittle flying from her mouth, as her short wet hair flicked about in her raging frenzy.

 

The adrenalin was now coursing through her, ‘amped’ she would say to others when this happened and ‘anything’s fucking possible’.

“Well you cunts, come on!”, she screamed again as the fin slipped quietly beneath the surface.

Mayhem tensed herself for what was to come, she couldn’t make out any shadows beneath the surface, but noticed another two fins now arching in towards her. Slapping the water again, she thrashed the knife about in front of her, hoping against all odds, to swipe the fucker before it torn into her. A small miracle, perhaps ….but not likely.

She felt the bump on her right side, more like a massive push amongst the pain throbbing down her body, then…..the water boiled, thrashing and fins as she felt another one clip her left leg…at speed!.

“What the fuck” Mayhem shouted, the water in front of her was being criss crossed with sharks, fins and god knows what at incredible speeds. There, another menacing grey object shot passed her, then the water frothed and splashed, arching up was a big grey shark of some sort, rammed into the side of it…….. was a dolphin.

It took a few seconds for what was taking place beneath the surface to register with mayhem, then;

“ Oh sweet fucking Jesus, get’em!, get’em guys!” Mayhem screamed in jubilation as she continued slapping the water with her new found strength.

 

“Oh shit, the knife, the knife”, she said repeatedly, suddenly realising there were dolphins in the water. Mayhem retracted the knife and stopped slashing around. “Its fucking dolphins, I’ll never eat fish again” she said to the heavens as she watched.

 

‘There!, another fin dropped beneath the surface heading inwards, Mayhem looked around, now she could distinguish the fins, light grey was the dolphins, as another one slipped beneath the waves behind her, closing rapidly already on her position.

Mayhem looked out front, now motionless, at where she figured they would hit each other, suddenly 2 meters in front of her, the shark broke the surface. The dolphin had slammed into the sharks side, the impact was enormous, enough to make the 3 meter monster break the surface, ‘unbelievable she thought’.

‘Enough of this shit’ Mayhem though, kicking out with her legs as best she could, she tried to side stroke towards the still tethered raft, drifting on the surface. Things were getting kinda greyer she noticed, suddenly realising she was getting weak from blood loss and shock was setting in.

‘gotta get in the raft’, she kept repeating to herself.

 

It was no use, the current was just strong enough to keep it out of her reach, “Shit”, she exclaimed, startled again as another one of her new found friends fended off another strike by the sharks.

“Matter of time Trish”…she thought, before one of her protectors missed a strike and it would be all over.

Then, it happened, he surfaced, right in front of her, a dolphin, flicking its beak and chattering. Mayhem ran her hand down over its head, feeling weaker by the minute, “thank you”, she softly said to the shark, leaning over and gently kissing him on the forehead, as she stroked along its back.

‘You tried my friends, you tried!”, she said with her weakening voice.

For some reason the dolphin kept nudging closer, almost pulling forward and then stopping, instinctively for some reason, Mayhem grabbed the sleep creature’s dorsal fin.

 

The dolphin seemed to know that Mayhem was weak from her injuries; ever so gently the big grey graceful mammal thrust its powerful tail, whilst Mayhem hung on as best she could with her good arm. Behind her, she could still hear the odd thrash, as this dolphins pod members continued to fend off the frenzied attacks of the sharks.

Mayhem, somewhere deep down in her subconscious understood what the Dolphin was trying to do, things were starting to blur out and then return. Weekly looking up, Mayhem noticed that the inflated raft, kinda flipped up, then for some reason started moving towards her and her new companion.

Two..or perhaps three of this pod of dolphins were pushing the life raft up to her, now just meters away, Mayhem found a final sense of urgency as the raft came with her grasp.

 

“ Please Please Please” she cried over and over, as she struggled to get herself up, into the raft with her one good hand. Half in, half out of the small inflatable, Mayhems legs received a powerful flick from one of the Dolphins, giving her just enough momentum to pull her lower half in the raft.

 

Exhausted, Mayhem somehow found the strength to roll over and activate her EPIRB emergency beacon radio, peering over the side of her raft now, Patricia was amazed to see in front of her, bobbing up and down in the wave the face of the dolphin. Its eyes staring right into her soul, as if he seemed to know she was a good person and would now, be okay. With a quick chatter and powerful flick of his tail, her saviour pitched up out of the water and splashed back down, disappearing beneath the surface……forever.

 

Fading out now, Mayhem felt her body get cold, so cold she thought as things turned grey, she thought she could hear the beats of a helicopter,…maybe, before everything turned dark.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

USS HOPPER, Rescue Helo 1 Call Sign : Rimfire

 

Both the pilot and Co-pilot were intensely scanning the sky, as Helo One, call sign ‘Rimfire’, streaked across the Atlantic Ocean  a scant 300 feet above its cool, flat surface. Helo one’s Pilot, Captain Bill (Greybeard) Thompson gently flexed his hands at the controls, as he started to reduce power, descending down slowly to the surface.

Captain Thompson twisted around slightly in his pilot’s seat, stealing a quick glance at his crew chief, seated in the back of the Seahawk H60 at the (ASuW)  Anti Surface warfare console. His crew chief noticed Greybeards movements and looked across back at the Captain.

“what’s up skipper”, the chief said.

“ Chief, let’s get ‘Rifle’ on the horn and see  how our steer is going for the intercept chief”, Captain Thompson said, all business like, no manner of urgency or stress in his voice, just the slight crackle of static from the choppers engines.

 

The Captain’s brief, before their Helo had lifted off from the deck of the USS Hopper, call sign ‘Rifle’, was standard fare for Greybeard,

‘Were gunna do this by the numbers, extract the downed pilot and return safely, no buts…clear’, he had said to the crew. After which they had all climbed aboard, including a swimmer to effect the rescue.

 

Normally, the H60 operated with a 5 man crew, but for rescue missions, they embarked a swimmer, instead of the additional door gunner. Typically these were specially trained troops, skilled in the art of extracting down persons in all sorts of conditions, but they didn’t have one today. Today, their swimmer was US navy SEAL team member, a group of which was currently embarked on the USS Hopper. The SEAL team and their powerful RHIB’s, Rigid hulled inflatable boats, has been assisting the Hopper with intercepts, plus conducting the odd snatch mission when the opportunity had presented itself.

 

The Crew of the Helo was prepping themselves for the rescue, the Chief, checking over the winch and controls, whilst their seal team swimmer had started donning his rescue gear. The noise was clearly heard over the wine and roar of the engines of the 60 as it made its way out to the rescue co ordinates. The chief had still kept the door open, the weather was rather agreeable and at low altitude, not cold at all, but the rumble that filtered through, made everybody look.

 

There, right on the edge of the horizon was a massive thunder ball of receding flame and black smoke.

“Fuck me”, exclaimed the Chief,

“Some poor fucker just had a bad day, better them than us is all I’ll say”.

The crew of the chopper, were unaware of the E3 , their knowledge had merely been what the Hopper had notified them of about the ensuing air fight.

That, air action was imminent and their ship had declared a no fly zone , then promptly  given them a radar steer out of the engagement zone, ‘Bandits inbound’ and ‘Vampires’ had been the call,  the chief remembered, had come as a rude shock.

Greybeard jumped on the radio, “Rifle this is Rimfire how copy?”, he asked over the radio, then called out to  the Chief.

“Chief, let’s get the mini spun up as well shall we…just in case we have any issues”, he said. The Chief nodded his acknowledgement and set about prepping the 7.62mm mini gun beside his door. Finally, the Chief pushed the selection lever to its 2000 rounds per minute setting, and then deftly flicking the power switch, the mini gun whirred to life.

The Chief opened his stance up some, you could see he was working the mini gun around in a circle, “guns hot skipper, permission to test”, the chief yelled over the intercom.

Captain Thompson, shot a quick look over at his Co Pilot, who simply nodded, Greybeard looked back over his shoulder at the chief, giving him a quick eye over,

“clear to test chief”, he said, resuming flying the chopper.

Even with the big twin General Electric T700 turbo shaft motors roaring at maximum revs, the chief opening up with his 5 second burst on the mini was heard throughout the aircraft. The 3 foot long muzzle blast, buzz saw like sound and sheer vibration running through the airframe was noticed by the whole crew.

Ceasing fire the chief called out “ guns working skipper, moving to test number two”, as he then he unsnapped his harness and walked across to the  other door gun.

Sitting on the troop seat readying himself, but  watching the crew chief go about testing the defensive guns on the chopper, was their allocated swimmer, current Navy Seal Team member Master Chief  Rawlins.

 

On board the USS Hopper things were staring to get slightly complicated for her skipper, he’d just watched the fire ball on the horizon which had to be the E3 blown to hell and fucking gone and now his air warfare intercept officer in CIC was blabbering as well.

Adjusting his head set some, the Captain spoke, “radar, what ya got son”, he said very calmly.

The radar officer came back up on the ships communications system, this time, rather less excitedly.

“ Sir, I’m getting some intermittent surface contacts, bearing zero three zero, range 25 miles, I don’t think they are spurious signals captain, ….ahh, just got another paint Sir, 5 contacts, estimated speed……….Shit!..80 knots, I mean,……. sorry captain, 80 Knots, closing on ‘Rifles’ position Sir!”, the young officer stuttered, remembering he was speaking with the Captain and apologising.

 

The Captain, now leaning up against the wheel console on the bridge, gently swaying as the Hopper pushed through the almost un-noticeable swell, he continued to look out to the horizon.

Captain Roberts had trained many years for just these types of situations, the process that commanders where put through within the United States Navy before receiving their first command, was extensive and Darwinian at best.

‘That’s why you get the big bucks Bob’, he thought to himself, whilst still chewing over the tactical situation. To his north, not more than 15 miles off shore, he had a pilot down; with rescue helo inbound on her position. Now, it seems, they had 5 new surface contacts, doing 80 knots, ‘fucking pirates or drug runners no doubt’ he thought.

‘Looking to snatch the pilot’, which Bob knew, would either make a tidy ransom, or great publicity as the video tapes, perhaps her throat being cut, or some other Neanderthal like measure would inspire more fucking nut jobs.

200 Miles further north bob thought, he had the invasion fleet. At least that’s what he was referring to it as, possibly lurking within it, Naval vessels with a surface warfare capability, ‘but they aren’t ya fucking problem at the mo Bob me boy’, he quietly mused.

 

Then the AWAC’s, now by all accounts a rather small piece of metal, well, several thousand pieces of metal he corrected had been vaporised. The ensuing blast was immense, the pressure wave gently buffeting the ship, even at their current distance, his radar team was still trying to get a track, but as, yet they had not come back him.

 

Commander Roberts straightened up some, gently stretching out his back muscles and working out some knots, before stepping over to his Executive Offer. Bob was just about to speak with the XO, when his radar officer down in the CiC came up on the com’s system,

“Captain, I have Radar contact, bearing one one three Sir, altitude 800 meters, speed 400 knots Sir, the E3’s still Airborne” the young operated noted.

 

Throughout the Bridge officers grabbed for binoculars and trained them all out towards the bearing the operator had called, Commander Roberts, strode out onto the wing of the Hoppers bridge, rather slowly one might have thought under the circumstances, however, Bob new that as the commander you must be cool at all times. ‘Running about the ship like a headless chook did nobody any good’, he was known to say

 

Popping the weather caps off his own binoculars, and raising them up, Bob focused in on the Radar operators bearing  …’Where are you baby’ he thought….

“ Bingo, got her, Jesus fucking hell, ….. Helm!, come about, make for the E3, let’s get the RHIB’s launched as soon as we straighten up XO, she isn’t gunna get far”, Bob said as he continued to watch parts and debris fall from the stricken aircraft.

 

The captain adjusted his boom mike while still watching intently, the E3, trying to stay aloft, “Com’s, raise ‘Rimfire, make sure they know they have hostiles inbound, they are weapons free and lets pull  Primer back as well, 2000 meters from us”.

 

Bob ran the list through his head one last time, trying to think of what he had missed, he had Rimfire heading for the downed viper pilot, plus Primer holding for the E3, which would be ditching any minute he thought.

“OH SHIT!”, he said, stopping all movement on the bridge in the process, “Com’s, get Hawk flight on line, let’em know hostiles inbound on the downed pilots position, helo, call sign ‘Rimfire’ en route, they are clear to engage the vessels whilst Rimfire effects the extraction”, he shouted over the blaring claxons.

 

It would have been funny in a training exercise, but not here where lives were at risk, the downed pilot had up until 30 seconds ago, been a rescue, now, it had shifted to an extraction under fire in all probability. The H60, with a SEAL TEAM swimmer on board had more than enough internal fire power to deal with one or even two armed fast attack craft. Five boats however, altered the equation rather dramatically.

 

Commander Roberts had a hold of the wing’s hand rail and was still watching intently the E3, as she gradually lost altitude, struggling to stay aloft with all manner of damage the Commander suspected. Bob stole a quick glance around the Bridge of the Hopper, he could see the tense look on the faces of his young crew. But to his trained eye, all seemed to be squared away.

“Heading for CiC, XO, you have the Con”, bob announced as he turned and headed for the ladder back down into the bowels of this ship.

“Aye Sir” called the executive officer, “XO has the Con”.

Bob quickly scaled down the ladder from the USS Hoppers Bridge, entering the short corridor leading to the ships CiC, as he turned away from the ladder he noticed one of the ships Ensigns from the galley approaching and couldn’t help but notice with a weathered eye, just how well the young female fitted out her uniform.

Bob was still temporarily lost in his wayward thought when the Ensign spoke , “ Sir, coffee”, she enquired.

Bob checked himself, almost feeing a slight blush coming on , instantly reprimanding himself for being distracted, he’d gone to great lengths to ensure that his crew and he had made the migration to having females on board.

‘Dam, focus you old idiot’, he said to himself.

“ Errr, Yes ensign, please, I’ll be in CiC”, Bob said, as the Ensign showed no signs at having noticed his temporary loss of focus. She pressed back against the wall as the commander passed her , slightly sideways, opening the dark black curtain into the CiC.

 

 

 

 

Back out over the Atlantic Ocean, Inside the Cockpit of hawk one, Major Hawke’s received the Call from the Air warfare controller on board the Hopper,

“ Copy  Rifle, 5 bandits inbound, we are weapons free!, clear to engage, Hawk one out” said Mick.

Mick cinched in his straps a little further, toggling his radar to ground attack mode, before calling his remaining Flight.

“Hawk one to chicks, Bandits inbound on the surface on Mayhems position, rescue helo, call sign Rimfire in the vicinity for extraction, we are clear to engage the gunboats people, let’s get some!”, Mick said,

“all chicks descend to engage”

Major Hawks push the stick forward and the nose of Viper, Hawk one dipped down towards the Atlantic Ocean, it only took seconds for his multimode attack radar to break out the five inbound surface vessels from the surface clutter. The weather conditions being so mild, that what might have been a visual intercept in rough conditions, with the vessels getting lost in clutter was not an issue.

“ confirmation, 5 bandits, range 10 miles, speed 80 knots, bearing two two zero, direct intercept for mayhems location, light’em up people”, called Major Hawks, as he shoved the throttles forward.

 

Behind Hawk one, the rest of his flight all pitched over, in unison, but at their varying heights.  Each aircraft, angling down like large arrows for the surface, as they all jumped into after burner, seeking to close the gap to the oncoming enemy vessels.

Hawk one had descended to 100 feet above the ocean, his attack radar easily breaking out the 5 high speed boats, which were approaching Mayhems position, fast!. Micks Radar information was also instantly linked back to the Hopper, giving them a clear radar picture of what was going on, whilst also, instantly flashing up on the screen of  Rimfire, as the Chopper zoomed towards Mayhem.

Micks HUD now had all the targets designated, the nearest being just on 2 miles as he closed it at 600 knots, a trail of vapour coming off the ocean’s surface behind him at such a low altitude.

Mick activated his radar jammer and quickly checked his ECM read out, there was no radar emissions coming from the surface vessels to his front ,’ Good’ Mick thought, “fucker don’t have any radar” he said to nobody in particular, as he ruddered the Viper to line up the HUD piper on the first target. The range to target was winding down fast, Mick was closing in now at maximum speed for ground attack, waiting for the system to to notify him to ‘shoot’.

In such clear weather, Mick easily eye balled the bandits on the ocean surface by their dark shapes and the mountains of foamed up ocean spray. The scarab boats, which were what Mick thought they were, were throwing massive arcs of water out from the v hulls as they sped towards mayhem position.

It took a brief second for Mick to realise what they were,

“ AA at my position!”, Mick called as tracer rounds started lancing out from the surface vessels now that they had detected him.

 

Mick snap rolled right briefly and quickly levelled up viper one centring the HUD piper back on the lead boat. The 5 vessels were in a loose arrow head formation he noted, making a multiple hit on the boats from a single pass impossible. Micks head set crackled with the ‘shoot’ command from the attack computer, automatically Mick mashed the trigger on the joy stick and was rewarded with the roar of his cannon opening up.

 

Hawk one shuddered, as his 30mm rotary cannon spat out it’s 300 rounds per minute, holding the trigger down for an initial two second burst, Mick watched the tracer rounds scream out towards the first boat.

The grey green ocean around the first boat turned to leaping gouts of white foam as the high explosive and armour piecing mix of cannon shells, peppered the water around the lead vessel.

The cannon shells were designed with much more robust targets in mind, than mere fibreglass hulled vessels. That didn’t make engaging surface targets travelling at 80 knots any easier, but it still meant that a mere single round would almost be sufficient to destroy the water craft.

The helmsman of the lead vessel had been aware of the attacking aircraft, and as much as they could , given the speed with which they were travelling at, the driver yanked the big scarab into a turn hoping to dodge the cannon shells fired at them……he was too slow.

 

The attack computer inside of HAWK one had computed the speed of the target. Hawk one’s own speed, altitude and wind variations were calculated, even taking into account the barometric pressure outside the aircraft before the computer displayed the simple box on Micks HUD display and turned it red.

 

Mick first few rounds landed 80 yards short of the lead scarab, but their combined closure rate of 680 knots quickly ensured the short falling was minimal. The boat commanders’ radical last minute turn did little to prolong the inevitable.

The big 30mm projectiles started slamming into the hull of the scarab 3 meters down the bow, thanks to its turn but each round still, penetrated through the boats sleek painted white surface into its interior. In the case of the high explosive rounds, they then detonated just after piercing the outer hull, fragments, slicing through the reinforced fibreglass and Kevlar hull at over 3000 feet per second. The semi armour piecing rounds which were mixed with the HE, merely keep on speeding through the hull, with no appreciable material on board through front half of the boat to stop them. The transition of the rounds down the length of the boat, through the helm area and the crew and up over the banks of 150HP motors took under a second.

In slow motion, anybody would have been horrified at the destruction, the hull, what didn’t splinter, totally disintegrated, but as the rounds impacted the 4 crew on board, three of which were brandishing guns, the destruction was horrific.

 

The helmsman of the boat, a tall Sudanese man of about 40, was struck first, the semi armour piercing shell, deviated little as it entered his body at the centre of his chest.  His breast bone cartilage offered little resistance, tearing through this, then his stomach, before smashing in half his spinal column. The round, having wreaked its trail of destruction on his body, continued on another 6 feet, before slamming into the top cylinder casing of the big 150 horse power Mercury outboard, instantly shattering the cylinder head and piston. Killing the outboard motor instantly.

The helmsman’s pain was excruciating, but mercifully short lived, as a split second after the first big 30mm projectile had just exited his torso, then the following High Explosive round from Micks Viper arrived.

Smashing into to Pirates chest, just off centre of his body, the big 30 millimetre High explosive shell penetrated his skin, before striking his collar bone, instantly shattering it. Buy now, the combined assault of the two rounds had momentarily thrown the pirates body into screaming waves of pain, in micro seconds; his nervous system had registered the assault.

The second round, having hit bone, fused, still  pushing forward slightly with its momentum, but not yet having reached his shoulder blade, the highly explosive, nitro cellulose based explosive compound detonated.

The results on the boats Helmsman were both instant and horrific had anybody been able to see them. The explosion and its proceeding pressure wave developing inside his shoulder, turned everything it touched to pulpy jelly, the human body being predominantly made up of water. His top torso exploded, bone, muscle and organs, shredded into a million gory sticky pieces, shot out all over the boat. His severed, half smashed head and instantly traumatised brain, some exposed, as the side of his skull crashed inwards was turned to gory mush, extinguishing his life in the blink of an eye.

The scene was repeated across the boat for the 3 other crew members, brandishing AK 47 assault Rifles and a stinger missile each, two firing up at the Viper , as they two, were turned into sticky reddish mash by the cannon shells.

Anybody who had perhaps managed to survive the initial assault of hot lead and explosives on the lead scarab was only briefly lucky, for those rounds that didn’t hit the crewman and explode, found the fuel stored in the vessel. The resulting fire ball of the boat fuel, merely added to the carnage already taking place on the lead scarab, totally disintegrating the vessel into millions of tiny pieces.

“WHOOOAH!”, Mick yelled as he pulled the Viper up to steer clear of the rapidly rising mushroom cloud and flying debris, before rolling the Viper back around for another pass.

 

 

E3 Eight ball.

 

Both the AA-10 radar missiles seekers had locked onto the return from the AWAC’s aircraft, inexorably, they closed the gap. As both missiles, not some 10 meters apart from each other and staggered, the lead missile about 20 meters in front of the trailing unit closed in on the lumbering jet, some unusual events took place.

Missile one, in front, flew into the stream of dumped jet fuel from Eight Ball, and whilst its design manufacturers had anticipated that the missile might well fly through clouds resulting in it being covered in water vapour, fuel vapour was never part of the equation. JP-8 aviation fuel unlike normal fuels is mixed with very specific blends of other additives.

Anti- freeze is commonly added to cater for the extreme low temperatures of high altitude flight, along with anti static agents for when its transferred to the aircraft or within the Bulk fuel storage facilities, typically located at major air bases, and that was just to name ..some of the ingredients in the blend.

All these however, started to coat the surface of the missiles, most notably the radar seeker head, causing a distortion in what the radar return was receiving, whilst not being sufficient enough to trigger the missiles warhead detonation. The Alamo’s onboard pre programming, stepped up one level towards detonation, all this, in a fraction of a second as the missile entered the vapour stream.

 

What was more significant, was that both the missiles rocket motors where still burning, it was the naked brilliantly burning exhaust gases that started the ball rolling, instantly flashing of the suspended jet fuel cloud.

 

At first, this was occurring behind the lead missile, and at the rockets speed that it was travelling, it was never going to be fast enough to catch the missile, but it caused untold problems for the trailing rocket. The first detonation or flash of the fuel, blocked the seekers heads view with the first fire ball and as it was travelling in the same direction, continued to do so, although, only for about 2 seconds.  This blast, like all blasts, created pressure waves, which instantly slammed into the second missile, tilting it off its intended axis of travel…this, the designers had planned for, as a aircraft rapidly changing direction would behave in the same manner.

 

The on board chip and its programming, being totally oblivious to the real cause, detected the aspect change and shot commands out to its control surfaces, trying to correct the sudden slewing. When Missile two’s inertial guidance realised that it was still not correcting enough, and the target was beginning to slip from its pre set parameters……it triggered its warhead.

The blast, as per the missiles design was forward, forward for the explosion, forward for the fragments and forward because of the missiles own forward momentum as well. The fragmentation effects, tiny slivers of wasp like shards streaked forward, along with the pressure wave, impacting on the side of the lead missile, instantly, its own on board microchip detected the changes and reached the same conclusion its flight partner had and detonated.

The two explosions too place less than 50 meters behind Eight Ball and set off the final trail of aviation fuel, which the Pilots had only shut of two second beforehand.

 

The fire ball was gigantic, the slight disbursement of the JP * fuel into the oxygen rich atmosphere, had a similar effect to a fuel air explosive, the flames leap forward, briefly licking over the tail of the E3, along with the blast effects.

 

Rudders were slammed all the way across and flaps torn from the left side of the big AWAC’s aircraft, inside, the internal cabin crew noticed several small seam cracks immediately appear along with the rolling thunder of the explosion, rattling the aircraft. Prompting several screams and cries from the personnel.

 

Up front, both pilots fought for their lives and those of their crew, as the blast wave had sucked all air pressure away from the left wing, reducing the lift it had generated and cause it to dip, perilously close towards the ocean’s surface. Metal sheeting, white metal sheeting on the wings was torn loose and one of the left wings two engines completely stalled as blast fragments shredded its internal compressor blades.

The cabin crew, like the pilots heard the entire cockpit warning buzzers blaring, altitude, fire, hydraulic pressure loss and numerous others, all heralded the approaching death of the E3.

 

Down in the CiC of the USS Hopper, Commander Roberts got the call from the XO,

“on my way” Bob almost shouted.

The Captain of the USS Hopper almost leapt of his command chair in the CiC as he briskly made his way out through the back security curtains into the hall way, leading up to the ladder for the bridge. It didn’t take much more than 10 seconds for the captain to materialise on the Bridge, Given the XO a quick wave to dispense with announcing him.

 

“Thanks Ex” Bob said as he took the pair of binoculars from the XO before leaning up against the side rail outside the Bridge. Commander Roberts didn’t bother putting the bino’s up to his face, it was plain to see from where he was that the E3 was in serious trouble.

The executive Officer sidled up next to him, looking intently at the E3 as well,

“This might end badly Sir”, the XO said flatly.

The Captain looked back down the ship towards the fantail,

“Yes, it might, boat crews ready?”.

The XO looked down the side of the ship like the Captain,

“ Yes Sir they are, ships all closed up as well, CiC reports one  gun boat, actually a scarab sunk and the Vipers are still engaging the rest, It might get a bit hairy, but we should get the pilot okay”.

Bob rubbed his chin some, feeling the roughness of stubble starting to form again,

“Helm”, he called, “lets slow to 10 knots, XO….launch the RHIBS”, then as an afterthought, “both please Ex” Bob said.

“Aye Sir”, said the XO, walking back into the Bridge,

“Now here this, now here this, Ship to away stations, launch the RHIB’s”, with that a series of klaxons erupted across the ship as sailors sped to their new stations.

 

The Executive Officer, now happy that all was in hand, walked over to the Bridge Radar plot,

“what’s the status of the Vipers and helo Nav”, he enquired.

The young blond haired navigation Officer looked up from his plot,

“Sir, two surface contacts are gone, the remaining three are now 4 miles from the downed Pilot. Helo one, Call sign Rimfire is 3 minutes out from pick up Sir”, the young Nav said.

The XO nodded at the young man, putting his binoculars up once more the EX panned around the ship slowly, checking for any other contact, really a force of habit, ‘But ya never know’ he thought.

“helm” the XO announced, “ lets slow to 5 knots till the RHIB’s are away, then bring her back to 15 knots, maintain current heading”.

The XO took another quick look about, and then walked back over, out onto the side wing bridge where Commander Roberts was watching the E3 get closer to the ocean’s surface.

The executive officer had no sooner stopped beside the Captain, when the E3 hit the smooth surface of the Atlantic ocean.

“ Come on baby!” shouted the Captain, “ Hang together you bitch, stay…..stay, come on!”, Captain Roberts was yelling.

All eyes were glued to the big E3 AWAC’s, as its pilots now attempted to land it on the Ocean’s surface, the initial splash from touchdown shot fountains of water skyward. The big Boeing, bouncing on first touch, then on the second impact, the engines bit into the mild waters of the Atlantic, ripping the three remaining engine units clean off the wing. Showers of flame and sparks clearly evident, with the small rolling boom, coming across the ocean to the Hopper

At just on  1 mile from the Hopper, all persons out on deck clearly heard the first and then second impact, anybody watching their faces would have noticed the hope present, each one, wincing with the successive impacts of the 150,000 kilogram plane on the ocean’s surface

 

The pilots had done a good job, venting all the fuel from the left wing tank, but the right wing and central belly tanks were still full of the highly volatile aviation gas. The first real drama occurred when the central fuselage of the E3 cracked under the enormous forces at play. This instantly let huge volumes of sea water into the cargo area on onto numerous electrical circuits and ruptured the belly tanks. Quickly fuel spread throughout the cargo hold area, whilst simultaneously, the left wing tore completely off. This by itself was no real concern, but the remaining fuel vapours detonated, turning the wing into metal confetti with the resultant explosion, clearly visible from the Hoppers Bridge.

 

Eight Ball, now with significantly more drag on its right side than the left , now the wing had departed from the main body, slewed right. This merely put additional strain on the already struggling main body, cracking open further the tears, much like splitting a banana, but for those crew alive inside, sending enormous groans and shrieks of tearing metals throughout the aircraft to assault their ears.

 

The aircraft rapidly slowed now, the crew inside, having been mostly killed as their seats tore loose from their mounting and main equipment consoles slammed together with immense forces. Death was almost instantaneous for the main cabin crew, those that did not succumb to the massive blunt force traumas, were mercifully knocked unconscious.

The pilots, Major Kulin, his co pilot and Commander Sagg, along with their flight engineer, had a slightly longer ride, trying maintain the nose up, so as to not cartwheel into the ocean, both pilots only ensured that they prolonged their makers meeting. Mere seconds longer, as sparks ignited the fuel now spreading throughout the cargo area.

 

10 January, 2011 - Posted by | Without Warning

2 Comments »

  1. OF COURSE I DO..I WROTE IT!..DAM!, I didnt think you would get it all up SAVO..good job

    Comment by havock21 | 11 January, 2011 | Reply

    • Yup, I was able to get it up … Christmas, my birthday and ANZAC Day.

      Comment by miniburger | 15 January, 2011 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: