The North Atlantic D+13 (22 July, 1987) Part VI

The Soviet raid commander grew more unsettled with each passing second. He expected to have received the positions of the enemy carriers by now, but no word had arrived from the Tu-95s. This part of the plan was beginning to go off the rails. Not much, but enough to worry him. The Badgers were approaching their split position, 420 kilometers from the estimated location of the enemy force. By the time the bombers reached the split, the enemy’s location was supposed to be confirmed, and the targeting data fed into the Kingfish missiles they were carrying. The Badger regiments would then separate into three smaller groups and approach the American formation.

At least that was the plan. The raid commander knew the Badger crews could still press forward regardless of the delay, but he would be relieved immeasurably if one of the Bears transmitted a report before then. The Backfires too were approaching their own split without sufficient data, but this wasn’t nearly as consequential to the overall battleplan.

With the speed and precision of an assembly line Tomcats were being catapulted off Ike, Forrestal, and Kitty Hawk. Once each fighter squadron was airborne its aircraft formed up and headed northeast. After the Tomcats, went the KA-6 tankers, additional E-2C Hawkeyes, and A-7 Corsairs carrying buddy stores. Last were the Intruders, Vikings, and other leftover aircraft that would be nothing more than a liability if left onboard. The fighters were off the decks in just over ten minutes. The rest of the gaggle took another fifteen. When the last aircraft was launched the two formations swung northeast into the face of the anticipated threat axis.

80 miles from their split position, a squadron of Backfires and two Tu-16R reconnaissance Badgers detached from the main formation and immediately began descending. This was the reece-attack group, saddled with the mission of finding the exact position of the enemy aircraft carriers. The reconnaissance Badgers would fly ahead of the Backfires at incredibly low altitudes and penetrate the radar screen of the carrier task force. At that point the bombers, flying farther behind and at safer altitudes would launch their AS-4 Kitchens without proper targeting data. The intent was to catch the attention of the Hawkeyes and Tomcats, thus taking the heat off the Badgers and allowing them to dash into the center of the carrier task force undetected. The precise location of the carriers would be found visually and radioed back to the main formation.

The BARCAP Tomcats claimed two more Bears before being directed back to their stations. To their west and southwest the roving CAP fighters killed three of the lumbering Soviet aircraft. By that time, the first wave of reinforcing fighters, and additional Hawkeyes were in the area. E-2 controllers directed the newly arrived CAP F-14s to join in the hunt while the flight of four which was tagged for BARCAP continued northeast to their stations.

Back on Blue Ridge, the Force Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator decided now was the time to start looking hard for the Soviet bombers bearing down on the strike fleet. He ordered two of the E-2s   to push their patrol sectors east by fifty miles. Next he ordered the BARCAP to also extend eastward by fifty miles.

The commander of the Bear regiment was flying on the lead Tu-95. He realized he was living on borrowed time. At least six of his twelve aircraft were gone, and it would only be a matter of time until he would join them. At the present pace it seemed that he and his crews were fated to die in vain. They were failing in their mission. None of his aircraft had yet to transmit a position report on the enemy carrier force, and there was no guarantee they would. According to the navigation map the American carriers were likely off to the southwest.

He keyed his mike. “Pilot, come to new heading one-nine-zero and get ready to climb.” The Bear’s present altitude was a shade under 18,000 feet. “Prepare to activate the radar,” he then ordered the aircraft’s lead technician.

Authors Note: North Atlantic D+13 will be wrapped up Sunday night. Right now it appears as if it will probably be an extra long entry but I don’t want to drag it out for too much longer. 😊

8 Replies to “The North Atlantic D+13 (22 July, 1987) Part VI”

  1. So to the tertiary aircraft: KA6’s and S3’s have roles as tankers, and obviously the Angel aircraft do, too. Any A4 squadrons at work with Marines can do short-range A2A with Sidewinders and Cannon, and by this point should be equipped with APG-66 sets – they can at least be a second set of eyes. What would the A6’s be doing, if anything? Buddy stores for more refuel capability? Or just going west of the carrier force to try and keep out of the way?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back then the KA-6s were the main tankers. A-7s for buddy stores. The A-6s and everything else will just fly south, loiter and see if they have any carriers to return to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. you sir…. are killing me with dragging this out.

    RL shit comes first, I know. But I’m dyyyyyyyyyyyyyying over here. 🙂

    As an aside…. the change to the AAA sitrep for the Kitty group is really going to help her and the Foch.

    Looking forward to the long entry on Sunday, brother. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s see what the possible ASM count will be (if all the Badgers and Backfires reach launch point):

      If you figure 170 raid aircraft, half Badgers, half Backfires and Badgers with 2 missiles and Backfires with one each, you get 85 Badgers (170 missiles) plus 85 Backfires (85 missiles) comes out to 255 big damn ship killing missiles, each one which could kill any ship smaller than a carrier. Let’s figure that the Tomcats and their Phoenix kill half the archers…that still leaves 127 vampires inbound.

      IIRC, NATO SAMs had a rough efficiency rate of 1/3 PK, meaning each vampire needed three missiles. I know that the firing order for one vampire is shoot, shoot, look, shoot, shoot, look. Hope the NATO CVBG has a lot of SAMs…going to be very interesting over the battle group in about an hour, game-time

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badgers are carrying two Kingfish each. Backfires have 1 AS-4 each. Still a lot of missiles. One squadron of Tomcats committed to BARCAP and all, that leaves five to be used against the incoming raid(s). Add in a couple of wildcards and its going to get very interesting soon.


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