The mission briefing/description is straight to the point: “Special intelligence has indicated that up to three supply convoys may be heading west to Kobuleti from Tskavroka, Alambari, and Zeda-Sameba. Search out and destroy these convoys before they can reach Kobuleti.” The mission goal is “Destroy at least one of the convoys before it can reach Kobuleti.”
That is a critical distinction to be had in this scenario, as loitering in the area of operations too long can get you shot down or killed, as there are too many AA platforms available to the enemy for two attack helicopters to successfully prosecute before any of the convoys reach their destination at Kobuleti. I am sure it probably can be done, but I was not fortunate enough in this sortie to attain that level of success.
The primary threats facing the Russians are:
The primary threats facing the Russians are:
As far as I can tell the ZU-23 was the only contribution from Georgian military forces in the mission.
The flight plan loaded into ABRIS is essentially a box, with waypoint three as the attack point. This is an area located between Skura and Kakuti, and many of the static AA platforms provided by Georgia are actually visually blocked by terrain and structural interference to line-of-sight which requires deviation from the set course, or somewhat aggressive action to attain LOS.
The default load out for the flight is 12 X 9A4172 and 40 X S-8KOM. My aircraft is # 21 with a call sign of 501, along with the airframe mounted 2A42 30mm auto-cannon.
This is my flight on the airstrip preparing for a rolling take-off. I would be the subordinate to the flight commander to my right.
After take-off and achieving a desired altitude, my wingman pulls alongside as we move to the first waypoint.
This is the approach to the turn towards the next navigation point as shown on the ABRIS and PVI-800 navigation systems.
This is the approach towards the attack navigation point and where things begin to get somewhat dicey with the LOS obstructions mentioned earlier in this post.
As I am posting these screen shots I am noticing that the upload to PICASA for the cockpit viewpoints seem quite washed out. They do not look like that on my computer, so I am not sure what is going on with that.
The convoy and array of AA platforms indicated by the red icons is actually the southern most of the three heading towards Kobuleti and will be the first to arrive if it is not eliminated first (or another single convoy is destroyed completely which is the primary mission goal of at least one convoy eliminated).
The head of the closest convoy is an M-1097 Avenger and I target that first.
The Vikhr missile fired at the target and its tell-tale rotation is unmistakable.
With one Avenger threat down, I move forward to engage a Vulcan in the same convoy with the 20mm auto-cannon and HE ammunition.
After that kill I bank hard to the port while releasing several flares.
With a temporary break in the main AA threats, my flight decimates the convoy in short order.
The carnage is shown on the IT-23VM TV monitor of the Shkval Targeting System in all of its glorious black and whiteness.
After cleaning up a few remaining stragglers from this convoy, we receive the mission message that the center convoy has been destroyed. Eliminating one convoy was the primary mission goal so I should have stopped here, but it was a target rich environment out there and that greed did me in eventually.
Another Vikhr missile on its way towards an Avenger it would destroy.
I started working my way up the convoy line and took out this Vulcan with AP rounds after a Vikhr missile missed.
The Shkval shows the impact of the missile on the ground behind and to the left of the Vulcan. I must have destabilized the airframe somehow when lining up the shot. The switch to cannons was a mistake as the time it took distracted me from another Vulcan further up in the line.
The TV monitor goes out and I begin falling from the sky towards a hostile environment below.
Most systems have already failed as I prepare to eject from this good day gone terribly bad as 500 million рубль (rubles) go down the drain.
The damage is quite evident with a fire in the engine and several missing panels.
One too many Vodka before the sortie would be a problem for the investigation commission.
Our flight however managed to take out eight air defense and seven other vehicles but could not stop the other convoys from reaching Kobuleti.
No medals today for Lab Rat, but at least his ejections equal more than his deaths. With 108 air-to-ground victories I should have more medals than that or at least some Vodka.