Vasily taxies into place behind me on the runway and we report to the tower, ready to roll! At the signal, I open the throttle to military power. No showy afterburner takeoff here, the runway is long enough to accommodate your B-52 bomber. We cannot afford the fuel waste. I easily rotate my craft off the runway and leisurely bank into a left turn over Adler, Sochi’s twin city, where the base lies. The mountains fill my windscreen, and we ease down to 100 meters for the roller-coaster ride, what you call the “nap-of-earth” regime.
We hear the Americans call out the presence of bandits hot as we near Gudauta. The Canadians are scrambling. Two F-16s near them, and the Hornets go to meet them, to turn them around. The Canadians do not wish to kill putative NATO allies. Their humanity will win them a swim this day, for the Turk is not so circumspect. To him, this is war, and he is under no illusion as to who is his enemy in the theater. The Hornets are protecting us, and they must be disposed of so he may finish us off as well. And his F-16s are capable of this. I have flown the F-16 and it is marvelous in combat. I respect it.
433 Squadron draws first blood on our behalf when the F-16s lock the Canadians up for AMRAAM firing. The Canadian wisely does not wait and fires a Sparrow, trying to force the F-16s defensive. But the Turk has nerves of steel and fires an AMRAAM before evading. The Canadian likewise has courage, for he is intent on the kill and his Sparrow strikes first. He tries to evade the AMRAAM turned loose on him, and fails.