The NATO F-8 Crusaders have proven to be no match for Soviet MiG-23 Floggers with their radar guided missiles, and so the air battle has been difficult. The current strike against Keflavik was launched without air cover as none of the fighters are available to escort it, but it could not be helped. The airfield simply has to be taken out of action immediately.
October 15, 1975, 101308Z
|The NATO strikes are inbound for Keflavik|
102100Z In a rare bit of good news, a Sea Sprite from USS Spruance sinks a Foxtrot submarine that has been threatening my surface groups. Earlier a Sea King from Oriskany damaged it, and finally the Sea Sprite finishes it off.
102310Z Closer to Keflavik, the Soviet CAP has become aware of the presence of my strike, and move to intercept.
|The Soviet CAP responds|
The first four missiles miss. My first strikers are seven miles out flying 550kts at 200ft. They are armed with cluster bombs, and their target is aircraft on the ground.
|The first A-7s go feet dry.|
|That's a hit!|
|And more hits. Beautiful.|
My next A-7s begin firing Shrikes at SAMs in the area.
As my other strikers move in, more MiG-23s from the CAP respond, launching missiles. One of the A-7s is shot down. An SA-6 battery turns on its radar, and shoots down one of my Shrike-armed A-7s, but not before the A-7 gets off a pair of Shrikes in return. One malfunctions (of course), but the other hits a Straight Flush and destroys it.
The MiGs launch missile after missile against the A-7s. Two more A-7s are shot down. Soon after, the MiGs stop firing missiles, which makes me think that they might all be Winchester...they certainly fire enough missiles...
103056Z An A-7 drops his load of 18 Mk82 500lb Snakeeyes. Several of them hit the intended Runway Access point, and do heavy damage to it. An SA-7 and an SA-9 chase after him as he egresses, but he successfully dodges them.
Another pair of A-7s is next, each carrying 6 Mk83 1000lb bombs. Just as they get into position to attack, a MiG fires a pair of missiles at them, and they are forced to turn away. They dodge those two missiles, but again, SAMs begin launching all over the place. The A-7s successfully dodge them, and drop their bombs.
My Shrike armed A-7 manages to take out two Floggers as they are turning on their final approach to the runway at Keflavik.
Now that my A-7s are out of bombs, I direct those that have Sidewinders to cover the Etendards as they make their attack runs. There are a pair of MiGs that have just launched from Keflavik, and I send my A-7s in pursuit. They manage to shoot down two more MiGs.
The next pair drop their bombs on a runway access point, followed by another pair who do the same thing, also managing to catch a hapless MiG-23 on the access point at the time.
|More targets hit.|
|Rockets impact the grounded Soviet aircraft|
That leaves just Runway Access Point 4, at which I direct my last two Etendards. They are armed with 400kg bombs, which I hope are enough to put it out of action.
The first Etendard gets his bombs off, which come close but miss the target, and then it is promptly shot down by an SA-9b Gaskin. The second Etendard gets his bombs off.
|More near misses|
The strikes are over. All surviving aircraft return to their carriers. In the strike I lost 7 A-7Bs and 4 Etendard IVMs, which is more than I wanted to lose. However, I destroyed 6 Su-24 Fencer Bs on the ground, 3 additional MiG-27 Flogger Ds on the ground, and a dozen or so MiG-23s. This is all good news, but the real question is did I put the airfield out of commission? From the latest BDA I have, here's the damage:
Runway Access Point 1: Heavy Damage and Major Fire (and a destroyed MiG-23 blocking it)
Runway Access Point 2: Light Damage
Runway Access Point 3: Heavy Damage and a Minor Fire
Runway Access Point 4: Light Damage
Runway Access Point 5: Heavy Damage and a Major Fire
Runway Access Point 6: Heavy Damage and a Severe Fire
Whether or not that's sufficient to put Keflavik out of action remains to be seen. If it's not and the Soviets manage to launch another strike against the Oriskany or Iowa groups, I'm in trouble.
Continued in Part Four.