South of the Border Page 4

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LLLTV shot of the roadblock-Sacha locks on Kh29T.We are close to the roadblock. I thumb the cursor across the HUD, and watch its twin move on the Shkval display. I place it near to the HUD diamond that is the place where we set the location of the Gumista river bridges in the inertial navigation system, and ground-stabilize. The system locks, showing the legend “KC” at the top of the TV screen. Of course, these are Cyrillic letters. You would say “KS,” I think.

“Seventy seconds.” We are close. I can make out the shape of the checkpoint buildings. By my knee, the Beryoza SPO-15LM is ominously beeping, the indicator showing a short-range SAM system in search mode. The gun system, I think.

Launch Cue for Kh-29T on LLLTV.Now, the Shkval has its target! The grey square suddenly shrinks, and “KS” changes to “AS” at the top of the TV display. The system is now in Attack mode. I have the maximum-minimum range carats on the HUD now, counting down. I have selected the Kh-29T missile for this attack. It is, you would say “fire and forget,” da? When the “Pe-Er” range cue lights, squeeze the “pickle” and the Kh-29T does the rest!

In the display I can also see an ammunition bunker looming across the river. I will fire two missiles on this pass. I launch the first, then thumb the cursor, still ground-stabilized, to the ammunition bunker, and fire again, then bank steeply left, dispensing flares and chaff against any SAMs from the area. And not a moment too soon!

HUD Symbology for the Kh-29T.Vasily calls me, urgency in his voice.

“SAM launch! Two in the air!”

“I see them, Vasily.” Over my left shoulder I see the missiles rising toward me. I carefully turn the Sukhogruz toward them and cut power to my engines. “Hand-held. Possibly an American Stinger.” The missiles, confused by the jammer, lose contact.

“Two. Rifle.” Vasily is launching the laser-guided Kh-29 missiles he carries. The Kh-29 is much like your Maverick type “G,” and like the Maverick in general, has both optical and laser versions. We do not have a solely imaging IR version, however, and this is something that we lobby our arms manufacturing concerns for.

Rifle!

Sacha's first shot Inbound...At the site, a BTR-70 armored car and BMP personnel carrier guard the IRLF’s new entry point, along with the ZSU gun. We will show these dogs that this is Georgia, our brotherly republic, and not a terrorist’s fantasy nation. Three Kh-29 missiles explode in deafening cadence, the enemy vehicles burning.

While this was in progress, my lone missile aimed at the ammunition storage seems to have found a place in the sun too! As I wheel north of the site, over Gudauta airbase, I see plumes of smoke and spewing flares, ammunition secondary explosions!

“Vasily, it is an ammuntion storage!”

...and hits!“Da, and you have cleanly hit it! Have you stores left?”

“Da. I will try for the communications hard-site. Cover me.”

I roll in with rockets armed. These are not like the Hydra free-flight rockets, or our own S-8 or S-13 rockets you may be used to. The S-25L is the bigger, meaner brother of the 280mm S-25 you have seen before. It is laser guided, meaning it is a precision weapon! I have two, and their launch procedure is identical to the optically-launched missiles, with one exception: you have to lock on the Prichal laser illuminator to give the weapon something to home on.

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