My biggest concern is that I'll somehow screw up the refueling, as that isn't my strongest part of Command, so I'm sure that this will be a learning experience. (Note: In my planning I assumed that refueling takes about thirty minutes, when in reality it takes closer to five)
Undoubtedly, I made some mistakes in my calculations, but we'll see just how badly the plan falls apart because of it. On top of that, no plan survives contact with the enemy, so we'll see how well my strikes actually play out.
The sudden appearance of Soviet submarines or surface units could throw a wrench into my plans as well, so I'll have to be on the alert for them too.
All the planning is completed, so now begins the mission.
September 12, 1975, 0200Z
SONDRESTROM AIR BASE
|Sondrestrom Air Base|
|The Oriskany Task Unit is just off the Iceland coast|
|F-4C Phantom II from the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron|
In back seat of the lead F-4, Colonel George "Hickory" Jackson was eager to get airborne, and watched the seconds tick down until mission start. As squadron commander, for this mission he served as both Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) and Mission Commander.
"Ready, Buck?" he asked his pilot.
"Affirm." replied Major Mike "Buck" Rogers.
Jackson thumbed his mike switch. "Knight 12, Knight 11, say status."
Knight 12, his wingman, wasjustt off his right wing. In the darkness he could barely see into the F-4C's cockpit, its crew dimly illuminated by the instrument panels.
"Two, ready for departure."
"Sondrestrom Tower, Knight 1, Flight of two, ready for takeoff, runway 28."
"Knight 1, Sondrestrom Tower, position and hold."
"Position and hold, Knight 1."
Major Rogers nudged the throttle quadrant forward, and he and his wingman maneuvered their aircraft into position on the runway. Right as the clock hit 0202 Zulu time, the tower came back on, "Knight 1, cleared for takeoff, proceed without delay. Good hunting."
As one, Knight 11 and 12 advanced their throttles to full military power and the two F-4Cs rolled down the runway. Rogers eased back on the stick and they were airborne. He let the aircraft increase speed to three hundred knots and then eased it into a right turn, bringing it back to a course of 089.
The mission had begun.
0205Z 230 miles from Keflavik, an EC-121 H Warning Star Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft flew a racetrack pattern, watching for activity over Iceland. It had picked up emissions from multiple SA-6 Gainful SAM batteries around Keflavik and Reykjavik, marking their locations for transmission to the SEAD aircraft that would be raiding in a few hours. It also picked up several aircraft over Keflavik, and soon classified them as MiG-23M Flogger Bs.
|The US AEW aircraft detects hostile aircraft over Iceland|
|Raid One closes in on the Oriskany Task Unit|
On the USS Dale, the aft Mk10 Twin Rail missile launcher unleashed a pair of RIM-67A SM-1ER guided missiles, which locked onto to northern pair of MiGs. Immediately the rails reset and the mount swiveled back to the magazine to reload. Seconds later the forward launcher sent off its pair of missiles.
|The MiG-23M Flogger Bs attempt to dodge the SAMs|
|The CAP moves in to finish off the last MiG.|
022130Z "Contacts, MiG-23M Flogger Bravos, four-ship, designate Raid Two. 060 for 100 miles, 920kts closure."
Captain Jones scratched his chin. What were they doing, sending only four MiGs at a time? One group of four Floggers patrolled back and forth in front of Keflavik, while the new group closed in on the Oriskany group at high speed. The Dale's launchers would again be busy.
022550Z "Birds away!" Dale's launchers went active again, launching at the inbound Floggers.
|USS Dale launches s SAM at the second inbound raid.|
USS Dale went three for four on the first salvo, and then killed the last MiG with a followup SAM. The Leahy-class cruiser was performing well, shooting down eight Floggers for the cost of thirteen SAMs.
023043Z "Vampire! Vampire!" called the Radar/Intercept Controller aboard the E-1B Tracer above the Oriskany group, "Bearing 062, estimated 162 miles."
|Vampires detected over Keflavik|
"Vampires are climbing through angels 15, 675kts. Vampires are inbound, bearing 062 for 158 miles."
"Vampires are leveling off at angels 20."
Captain Jones nodded, watching the plot. "Classify them."
A moment later, a tech called out, "Possible classification on Vampires, SS-N-3 Shaddock or SSC-1 Sepal."
They were land-based, Jones thought, so that made them Sepals. He tightened his lips. They could be standard anti-ship missiles, or they could contain 350kT nuclear warheads. Considering how free the Soviets had been with their nukes so far in this war, there was a very real possible that these were nukes as well.
|Dale launches a pair of SAMs at each inbound missile.|
024105Z "Vampire! Vampire! Bearing 054, estimated 155 miles. Looks like another pair of cruise missiles."
"They'll be launching these all day."
"Let's hope they run out of them before we run out of SAMs."
OVER THE DENMARK STRAIT
024807Z "Contact, multiple bogeys detected over Keflavik, classified as Su-24 Fencer Bs, count five."
The CIC talker relayed the report from the Warning Star over the Denmark Strait, but Captain Jones had other things to worry about, as Dale had just launched SAMs at the incoming cruise missiles. One by one the SAMs rose up and took out the two missiles.
"Vampire, Vampire, " Another salvo of cruise missiles was inbound.
"Fencer Bravo raid count is five, inbound at 567kts, 060 for 105 miles,"
"Send the CAP to intercept."
"The CAP is just beginning refueling operations, sir."
"Launch the alert fighters, then."
Two minutes later, Lightning 204 and 205, a pair of F-8J Crusaders from VF-194, the Red Lightnings, launched from Oriskany's catapults and headed northeast on afterburner.
"Vampire! Vampire! The Fencers have launched missiles! Count six, bearing 061 for 86 miles. Altitude three-zero feet, speed 1150 kts."
|Just as the Oriskany launches interceptors, the inbound Fencers launch missiles.|
|Lightning 205 closes in on the Su-24 Fencers|
|Lighting 205 detects an incoming missile|
Lightning 204 closed in on afterburner from the northwest, descending rapidly. 30 miles to the southwest, USS Dale began firing SAMs.
"Fox Two!" Lightning 204 called out, as it achieved missile firing position behind the rear Fencer. An AIM-9G Sidewinder shot off the rail, tracking the Fencer.
Dale's SAMs took out the last Fencer and the two inbound cruise missiles. Soon after, a further two cruise missiles are detected launching from Keflavik. This salvo would take more SAMs, but again, USS Dale would take them out. And again, another salvo was launched.
OVER THE DENMARK STRAIT
0305Z The F-4Cs of the 57th FIS began to arrive at the tankers, and began topping off their fuel tanks. Once refueling operations were complete, they would take the fight to the enemy, and destroy every Soviet aircraft they could find.
|The 57th FIS begins refueling operations|
Continued in Part Three.