South of the Border Page 5

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Sacha takes aim at the IRLF command bunker.I center the communications bunker in the Shkval screen and ground-stabilize. Activating the laser, I see in the HUD the sigil “El-Pe,” on the left next to the range indicator. I now have max-min range cues, and the authorized-launch “Pe-Er” symbol follows on the HUD and TV screen both.

As I steady for the launch, again the SAM operators on the ground launch missiles. Coming from the front, these IR missiles have very little signature, and cannot home on the aircraft. The Sukhogruz’s emissions are directed aft like a jet exhaust, and confuse their logic.

There is a great difference in employing missiles like the Kh-29 and rockets like the S-25L. The Kh-29 is transported on the AKU-58 launch rail. It kicks the missile off with two large feet, and the missile drops free before the turbojet ignites for a brief flight.

The S-25Ls launch.Rockets are not so subtle. The S-25L blasts free of its tube with a great fire and dramatic roar! I launch both, and unlike with the optical missile I cannot turn too far away lest I lose laser lock! I see impact, and I decide to add insult to injury by loosing the two FAB-100 bombs I carry as I pass.

“No effect! Sacha, the rockets did very little damage! And you’re pitching the bombs long, do not go into Aero mode so low to the ground!”

“Roger.” How did Vasily know I had selected Aeronautical mode on the run-in? I did not have a good CCIP cursor when the bombs came up ready and had to act fast. And the bombs pitched long, impacting just short of the second ammo bunker. Wasted!

Secondary explosions from the first bunker.

Well, I have two KMGU canisters, and I will try them! Though the PTAB munitions will be also wasted against the bunker. Perhaps, though, the napalm-like flames will smoke out the mujahids, like the rats that they so resemble!

More SAMs!I line up for the KMGU drop, coming from the sea. In my HUD, I see flashes from the area of the burned out checkpoint, and between two Mi-8 helicopters on the ammo dump that have miraculously survived this far. More enemy SAMs.

“How many do those cursed thugs have?!”

“You are being impetuous again, Sacha, we are overstaying our welcome here!”

“Yes, yes, my sweet. But first, I must leave the Sheikh a pretty present of PTAB bomblets. Look here, my friends, I have something nice for you….”

When I press the pickle, doors in the KMGU pod slide open, exposing our portable bomb-bay for what it is. Many small bomblets now fall free!

Bomblets

These PTAB bomblets, and the AO-2.5 bombs we also use, date directly from the Great Patriotic War. They were used to line the wings of Ilyushin-2 Sturmovik aircraft, and fell like rain upon the Germans. Now, they fall like rain on the IRLF, and help the mujahids find paradise a little sooner than they had planned. These stitch a nice, neat line from the surviving ammo bunker over the command tower and oops…over the railway bridge to the north too, which now sprouts a merry flame. I hope there are no trains coming.

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