How do you say it? There is no rest for the weary?
It seems as if I was only just allowed by our flight surgeon to fly once again. After my misadventure at Suhumi, and my narrow escape, I was relegated to a desk for some weeks. My left arm, fractured. Not badly. I could still fly, but with a cast. But the surgeon, he would not allow this.
We have made some changes since you and I last spoke.
Our MiG aircraft have been upgraded to the 9-13 standard — all of them! This will make us more effective still. And, many more upgrades have been done. Our MiGs now have the ability, as the 9-15 MiG, to designate for certain types of active-laser missiles, Kh-23L, -25ML, and 29L. This gives us an ability for stand-off engagement, though one must use binoculars to locate the target and lock the reticle on manually. We have not the upgrades to allow in-cockpit use of the mutifunction display, like the Americans have with the marvelous A-10. Still, it increases the MiG’s usefulness. And, with its active jammer, our leaders have chosen to fit the MiGs with ability to employ an antiradar missile, the Kh-25MP. We call it the “Arrow.” This function uses our SPO-15 radar warning device, but sadly, it is not reliable as of yet. This would cause frustration on my first mission in the new MiG.
We have new camouflage throughout the Regiment. All the MiGs now sport the Ukranian-style splinter camouflage. It is most distinctive. This allows our Georgian and Ukranian allies to instantly know we are friendly, and will make us harder to track from enemy aircraft. Vasily, as usual, has painted a large shark mouth on his 12 Red. I choose not to decorate my 11 Red. It is fine as is.
More of our comrades have come to Sochi base now. With the American A-10 squadron and the F-15 flights that now protect Sochi, a new unit has made its appearance. This is some sort of special warfare squadron. They fly what looks for all the world like an Su-33, but it is most strange. They are painted in gray, with subdued national insignia, much like the Americans use. And their canopies are tinted gold, like the American F-16. I have seen American air-to-air missiles on these aircraft, and that is stranger still. The pilots of this unit are most self-assured. The night I was shot down, one of them argued with Vasily in the dining hall! I do not know why. Surely, their presence will ensure more victories for the Rodina over the IRLF.
Today, I finally was freed from my desk and ushered into the conference room where a mission planning was underway. It is most serious. Our Commander, and men from Moscow, in suits, were there, and others I did not recognize. Vasily came to take me in, looking bewildered, reading from our orders. All would become clear most quickly.
I gingerly set my arm on the table and unsuccessfully hid a wince as I did so. The Commander did not miss this. He fixed his stern, icy blue eyes upon me.
“Alexandra Dmitrievna, are you quite sure that the surgeon has cleared you for flight?”
I would not miss this for the world! I swallowed quickly.
“Da, sir! Yesterday. It is nothing. I am ready!”
Vasily rolled his eyes, stage-whispering, “You are impetuous still, Sacha! Have you learned nothing from your stay with the Sheikh?”
“You are eager, my young falcons. Hungry for action. It is good. Today, you must be quick.”