A Lock On: Modern Air Combat Mission Report
Many things have changed since last we spoke, my friends. For one, I am at last back in my Commander’s good graces… at least for the most part. Our war against the IRLF continues, however, the Turk is no longer so prominent in it. As I told you before, their mullahs have fallen on hard times, not the least of which was their disaster at the Samelalio nuclear facility. The Turkish public has no stomach for this war, and has prevailed upon their government to get out of it before their relations with America and Europe are irreparably damaged. So the only Turkish troops in evidence now are their advisors, who are here in secret. Iran is taking over their war for them, for the Iranians care nothing for world opinion and they are covetous toward this part of Georgia.
Suhumi base is still in ruins and the reconstruction proceeds slowly. This has not given us a respite, however, for their mujahideen have chosen this time to begin infiltrating in other parts of the fertile coastal plain. Of particular concern to our government, and to the Americans our allies is the oil facilities along the coast. Further still, this is the regional breadbasket. Many things are grown here, far from the eyes in Tbilisi. And now Gudauta city has found itself on the front lines of the war. The Canadians and Georgian attack squadron there are being harassed daily with IRLF mortars and snipers. For the past week, the base has been shut down, and we can only use it as a divert airfield. This is an intolerable setback. Something must be done, unfortunately, the IRLF is like smoke. It fades away as you swipe at it. You cannot fight smoke. We must look to their supplies, and this next mission found us doing just that. But it did not begin so.
When Vasily came to collect me in the GAZ jeep, I was watching the aircraft come and go. It was a warm summer morning, the sun not too hot yet, and the ramp was bustling. Sochi-Adler airbase is a busy place now, with the Regiment here, our sister regiment, the 503d, and of course the Americans, the British Tornadoes, and the greatest surprise yet: a squadron of German F-4 Phantoms! We are becoming quite the international melting-pot here at Sochi.
I wished to see Alexei Karmarov off on another of his secret missions. These are really secret to no one, because one cannot hide an Su-33. And two of them on Sochi’s main runway are harder still to hide, not to mention an entire Regiment of them parked ominously on the ramp near our own brightly colored MiGs in their disruptive camouflage. Theirs are amazing, though, for their odd grayscale coloring and the presence of Western weapons! But we do not know why he comes and goes, or who he strikes. On at least one occasion, Vasily and the Commander were recently tasked with a fighter-air sweep that I am sure was intended to cover Alexei and his comrades — Vasily was for some reason most vexed about it — but when one is the permanent duty officer she does not know all the facts.
I watched the two gray Sukhois taxi to the end of Runway 22, ready to fly, and waved to Alexei as he firewalled the throttles and spun the AL-31 engines to their maximum thrust. I miss flying! Only yesterday did the Doctor finally clear me for combat missions again and I hope our Commander will relent and let me fly! As Alexei thundered down the tarmac, executing a showy, afterburner takeoff for me to see, the GAZ jeep pulled up, its horn beeping. Vasily called to me from the driver’s seat.
“Sacha, your peacock can spread his tail feathers for you some other time! We are wanted in the Operations Room! Come quickly!”