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

Author’s Note: Alright, I admit trying to finish up North Atlantic D+13 by this evening was a bridge too far. Next time I’ll conveniently remember not to insert foot in mouth and make an inadvisable claim. Sorry. 😊 As a result, the North Atlantic will wrap up Tuesday evening come hell or high water. –Mike

“Radar contacts! Multiple radar contacts bearing zero-three-seven. Six-four contacts, course two-seven-three.  Range three-one-zero miles. Designate Raid 1.”

The Hawkeye approaching the BARCAP line detected the Badgers as they reached their split point. The bomber formation separated into two groups, each consisting of thirty aircraft. The lead group tilted slightly northwest and remained at 31,000 feet. The second group continued on the original western track as its Badgers began descending to 26k feet, their approach altitude. An incomplete contact report and targeting data had been received from one of the Bears. The transmission ended before the report concluded and nothing followed. The raid commander knew this was all the information he would receive. The Tu-95 that sent the report was either dead or being chased by American fighters, and most likely missiles. The distance to the enemy force’s estimated position was calculated, plotted, and transmitted to the bombers.  

Trailing at seventy miles behind the two bomber groups were six Badger J stand-off jammers. Their equipment was off and would remain so for twenty more miles. To the southeast, the Backfires were now heading due west and slowing down to increase the distance between the main formation and the reece-attack group speeding out in front of it.

 The warning went out and radar operators on board the E-2 tracked the bombers on their screens. A second Hawkeye now had the raid on radar and was feeding the data back to Blue Ridge, and the two Aegis cruisers. The Badgers were plotted and the Force AAWC (Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator) directed two of the airborne Tomcat squadrons northeast to intercept the bombers before they were in range to launch their anti-ship missiles at the two carrier formations. As the other Tomcat squadrons flew northeast, the AAWC decided to hold them back until the Backfires were found. The Badgers weren’t coming down on their own. He knew there were other bombers out there. As the orders went out to the Hawkeyes, and then Tomcats, jamming from the Badger J’s commenced.

The main Backfire formation was now approaching its split point. The raid commander ordered it to continue on intact until the reece-attack group found their targets. Eighty miles behind the Backfires, their own compliment of Badger Js activated their jamming equipment.

The last fighters from Strike Fleet Atlantic took to the sky. These were Foch’s eight F-8E Crusaders. Despite their age the Crusaders were still quite capable. The French fighters separated into elements, flying east and northeast to establish close-in CAP stations.

“Estimate seven minutes to burn-through,” the Force AAWC reported. Two sets of jammers were now detected and plotted. The Badgers were out in front of the northern jammers, which likely meant there were Backfires out ahead of the jammers emitting in the south. He looked away from the radar plot and found the fleet commander. “Admiral, with your permission I want to pass along weapons release to the Hawkeyes and allow them to start vectoring intercepts.”

Strike Fleet Atlantic’s commander nodded somberly, his eyes and attention remaining fixed on the radar plot.

While the Hawkeyes, aided by the three airborne Prowlers worked to burn through the jamming the first squadron of F-14s was coming into range of the Badgers. The first volley of AIM-54Cs was launched at one hundred twenty-five miles, killing twenty Soviet bombers. Even before the first missile had reached its target, another volley was launched and the second Tomcat squadron joined the action. More Badgers died, as the raid count dropped to twenty-four. But they were not dying fast enough. The surviving Badgers approached their firing positions as the Tomcats charged in, and a third squadron of American fighters thundered northeast.

The E-2s and Prowlers working to the south were now having greater success degrading the jamming from the four Badger Js aimed in their direction. The tracks of thirty plus air contacts were beginning to come in clearly on the Hawkeye’s radar screens. These would be the Backfires. No time was wasted. The Hawkeye controllers immediately started issuing vectors to the remaining pair of yet-to-be-committed Tomcat squadrons as the Backfires increased speed.

The race was on to see which side’s aircraft reached their firing points first.

The Badgers had been culled, having sustained heavy losses. But not every one of them was intercepted and destroyed by the Tomcats. Twenty survived the multiple waves of Phoenix, Sparrow and Sidewinder missile fire, and launched their AS-6 Kingfish missiles before turning east with six F-14s in pursuit.

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

  1. My gosh this is gripping, Mike. AAAAGH I can’t wait until Tuesday! It looks like the Tomcats and other interceptors did pretty damn good all things considered though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They did a good job against the Badgers, but now they have to deal with the Backfires. And the air picture is so confused and chaotic now anything can happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s 40 vampires heading towards the formation, not bad but more than enough to make life interesting for the carriers. Very interesting stuff, Mike, thanks for the hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok…

    Badgers get off 40 at the carriers. Backfires are probably going to get as many or somewhat more.

    The question is… which CV group? If its the Kitty/Foch combo, its going to be a bad day though survivable…. and what I mentioned before is likely to occur.

    If its one of the other groups, then that may be the CV loss. May be…. but it seems they found the French American group.

    10 Air Defense ships versus about 100 vampires (estimate). Doable…. very doable….. but it will leave a Big Mess.

    Considering that this raid is going to get hammered coming in…. and bounced when it tries to get home.

    Raid losses will not be justified by the damage dealt

    I’m sticking with my assessment from a few entries ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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