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Night time, low visibility missions


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The recent Baltic Dragon's thread about ideas and comments, and me reading "A Nightmare's Prayer: A Marine Harrier Pilot's War in Afghanistan" by Micheal Franzak prompted me to throw together a quick night time, low visibility mission working with a JTAC, in an urban setting with troops in close contact... 

 

In the book, the author talks about similar missions over Afghanistan and they seem to have used asymmetrical loadouts and do 3+ hours missions with AAR... Since I don't have that much time and I'm not AAR (not even under VFR conditions 😢 ) qualify , I took some poetic license and put some empty fuel tanks and 85% full internal tanks. A GBU16 in one side and 2 GBU38 in the other, plus a TPOD and the gun pod completes the setup. Also, since I wanted to practice night/low vis carrier recoveries, I decide to setup the mission in the Persian Gulf, flying from and to the Tarawa.

 

3:30AM, Fog at low level with visibility of about 1300 feet and dense overcast at 4300 feet... Franzak mentions that they had to have at least 2000 feet of clear weather over the target to deliver ordnance, so, the target is at about 2300... In a valley of course... Not happy with the setup, I added some wind.

 

HOLY ^&%^&$^%& !!!!

 

I've tried it only once...  Taking off was easy, climbed about the overcast and headed towards the target (near wp3) .The asymmetric config combined with wind its a pain in the rear end over the about 120 miles inbound leg but not difficult to handle. Contacted the JTAC (everything is set to AUTO) and he decided to use an IR pointer to mark some ground troops and I decided to gift them one of my GBU38... But first, I have to find them and for that, I have to go under the soup... In a valley... At night.... Well, Franzak described that they used the moving map with pre-plotted descend tract (at least on valleys where they were FOBs). Surprisingly , our moving map works decently in night mode... So, I went under without too many issues... Remember, I only have about 2000 feet of clear weather in a narrow valley. So spotted the IR marker and the struggle begins... I had to slew my TPOD over it to identify my target (there are friendlies nearby)... Well, did I said I was in a narrow, dark valley with a low cloud celling? I just couldn't manage to fly in those conditions without hitting the deck or crashing into a mountain while at the same time trying to work the TPOD... For some reason I  could not get my NavFLIR (need to figure out what am I doing wrong!) to work so I have to turn on and off my NVGs... After a couple of (very) close calls I decided to call it quits and return to the carrier... I jettison my stores ( was kinda tired of the constant trimming :D) and headed home. The recovery was not as easy as under VFR but not as difficult as I expected it to be.

 

I'm attaching the mission here in case any of you wanna try it ... Just don't expect much 😄

AV8B PG JTAC CAS Night.miz


Edited by Draken35
typos
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Thanks! Just trying to replicate what I understand of the conditions in which VMA-513 was operating in 2002/2003 in Afghanistan: 10 pilots, 6 Harriers, a year long deployment, micromanage flights, elusive enemies, weird difficult weather, poor living conditions... They had to operate often outside of the safety limits of the aircraft. Last night, I was reading about then losing a  jet while landing in Bagram at night with crossed winds outside of the limits. The Harrier kept bearing right and when the pilot tried to steer left, the aircraft threatened to flip over, so it came off the runway into a leftover soviet minefield (is seem that the whole runway there was flanked by mines!). The pilot decided to stay with the jet instead of ejecting because he thought that his chances were better in the jet than landing in the middle of the minefield.

 

 

 

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Yes, It was se to night... I figure it out last night. It was a Stick-Seat interface issue: I don't use NAVFLIR too much so I forgot to press SS Down to send it to the HUD ... Thanks for trying to help!

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14 hours ago, Draken35 said:

.After a couple of (very) close calls I decided to call it quits and return to the carrier... I jettison my stores ( was kinda tired of the constant trimming :D) and headed home. The recovery was not as easy as under VFR but not as difficult as I expected it to be.

 

 

LOL If I could manage that much I would consider the mission a total success 🙂

 

Great report!

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I did a second attempt after I posted, replaced the GBU38 by GBU12, thinking that even if I couldn't designate the target, I could use them as dumb bombs in CCIP... I did, and I hit the target (I've practiced CCIP/unguides a lot)... BIG MISTAKE! Killed the bad guys for sure but turns out the friendlies were TOO close, so, killed some of them as well....ops....

 

I started looking for a location in the Nevada map to try to get close to the conditions at the AO of the Nightmares in Afghanistan... Found it quite challenging   ...

 

@RecluseKeep at it! I was struggling with my hover and carrier recovery for a while... The, all of the sudden, I was able to do it. Patient and very small inputs to the controls...  

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Thanks! Will keep at it.

 

Interestingly, I realize that I read that book (back in 2012 sometime) and I remember NOTHING about it. Maybe time for a re-read.  I recently read

 

AV-8B Harrier II Units of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Combat Aircraft Book 90) Kindle Edition

by Lon Nordeen (Author), Jim Laurier (Illustrator) Format: Kindle Edition

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPPTM2S/

 

which was another good read.  Mainly dumb bombs used (Mk 82, 83 and Rockeyes).

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Recluse said:

 

 

AV-8B Harrier II Units of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Combat Aircraft Book 90) Kindle Edition

by Lon Nordeen (Author), Jim Laurier (Illustrator) Format: Kindle Edition

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPPTM2S/

 

which was another good read.  Mainly dumb bombs used (Mk 82, 83 and Rockeyes).

 

 

 

Indeed, read that one recently too

 

Take a look a this thread, if you haven't:

Some good comments there about the recovery

 

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Here is the Nevada mission... A bit easier. Symmetrical loadout  (2xGBU16 , 2xGBU12, Gun pod , TPOD) and more room to maneuver ... Also, the JTAC was kind enough to lase for me...

 

Take off and recovery is at Lincoln County, a short and narrow runway ... With some crosswind 🤡

AV8B NV JTAC CAS Night.miz

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