“Wolf 21 has a contact on the nose for 20, low, 180 out.” At the same time, Red Crown calls out, “Wolf, two Blue bandits at your 12, 20 nauticals.” Wolf leader gets a quick call out, “Wolf 20, contact, Judy; Wolf kick it out. Green ‘em up.” Lead has acknowledged the bandits, reported a radar contact at that location, and taken responsibility for the intercept (Judy). He tells his formation to loosen up (kick it out) and reminds everyone to arm up their weapons (‘Green ‘em up’ means turning on the arming switch. This will turn on the green lights on the missile selection panel) #3 reports a contact also while #4, with his radar T/U, hangs on for dear life.
It’s a typical cloudy day as the two opposing flights hurtle towards each other. While the clouds don’t affect the radar, it certainly cuts down on visual detection. Today’s ROE ( Rules Of Engagement) require a visual ID of the target, so a face shot is out of the question. Lead has to get his act squared away, and he needs to do it fast. (face shot – a BVR (beyond visual range) missile attack).
“Three, hold high and clear our 12. Two, eyeball / shooter, #1 shooter; call your lock.” Lead wants the second element to continue to sweep for more bandits…he does not want them engaging the two known bandits…instead they should continue to monitor Red Crown for additional threats. Lead tells #2 to fly the eyeball/shooter formation in the eyeball position, and he wants #2 to report a radar lock on.
Wolf 21’s front seater has his heart in his throat and can’t even get a squeak out. Not to worry. His GIB has seen all of this before. He makes the call, “Two’s locked, visual, no tally.” The lead now knows that #2 has a good lock and sees him, but not the bandit. The lead has known #2’s GIB for years and trusts him to run a perfect intercept…his own GIB is also a new guy and is a bit behind events as they rapidly unfold.
“Two, take the lead on the left, push it up.” Lead is now directing #2 to assume the eyeball role. Lead rolls off to fall into the shooter position and directs #2 to go into burner. At the same time, Lead tries to calm down his own backseater, who is losing his radar lock as Lead maneuvers.
In the #2 airplane, the old man in the back has similar problems. He talks to the newbie in front in a smooth and measured voice, tells him what’s going down, and assures him that they as a team can handle it. He tells the pilot to check his front scope…”See the dot? Fly the dot into the center.” The GIB is instructing the pilot to aim his a/c right at the locked on bandit. “That’s it…nice and smooth…plenty of time…bandit’s 8 miles on the nose…stay with the dot.”
Meanwhile, Lead moves out on about a 45 degree angle and maneuvers to put the sun behind himself as much as possible. If the bandit is going to see him, they are going to have to look into the sun to do it. As Lead settles into position, his GIB continues to fumble with the radar…as the two opposing flights near each other, the GIB overcontrols his radar controls and can’t get a lock. Lead isheads out and doesn’t have the time to give him any radar lessons (Heads out – Lead is searching visually and putting all of his attention to where he expects the bandits to be. He does not look inside to check the radar scope).
“Two tally uh…uh…..”…the pilot in #2 struggles to say something meaningful. His GIB sees the two MiGs at the same time and overrides him with “Two has two 21s, left, 11 o’clock, low, 5 miles, right to left.” That talks Lead’s eyes onto the bandits, and he responds, “One tally, visual, come off right, one’s engaged.” In this attack, Lead is the designated shooter. He is directing his wingman to pull up and away from the two bandits. Lead has declared himself ‘engaged’, thus setting the initial conditions of the pre-briefed EF / SF contract. Lead now padlocks on the two 21s as #2 climbs above the fight. The next step in this exchange of roles is for #2 to meet his dual responsibilities of keeping both the bandits and lead in sight.
The GIB in #2 tells his pilot to come off high right…”you watch the 21s, I’ll look for Lead.” The GIB looks hard to his low and left and sees Lead. He radios, “Two’s tally, visual, free.” He has told the lead that he sees both the bandits and the lead and is assuming the supporting role. At this time the Engaged Fighter / Supporting Contract is complete…one fighter has announced it, and the other has agreed to comply. Until this is done, the role of attacker and wingman is not perfectly clear.
Lead tells his GIB, “give me boresight, dammit.” He wants the radar put into a mode where he as the pilot can command a lock on. He pulls the bandits into the HUD and checks the scope for proper boresight indications. He’s got them!! He presses the Auto-Acquisition button! “Come on…come on…come on.” There, a good lock! He counts to himself, “one potato, two potato, three potato, four potato…” With a mash that nearly pushes the fire button out the back of the stick, Lead hoses off an AIM-7, and then another. “Fox One!!”