D+18 1831-2359 Zulu 27 July, 1987

At 1900 Zulu, President Ronald Reagan addressed a nation on the verge of complete panic, its citizens in urgent need of information. His speech was made over the radio since the E-4B did not carry the equipment necessary for him to make a television broadcast. Nonetheless, his words were carried by the major networks and practically every cable channel. Western Europe was also tuned in, or more accurately, as much of it as was possible. Civilian communications were still disorganized on the other side of the Atlantic in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid attack.

Reagan confirmed the Soviet attacks and informed the world of the US response. He emphasized that there had been no further exchanges, although he could not guarantee what the coming hours and days might bring. Madrid had suffered catastrophic damage and Alert was likely destroyed completely. He urged Americans not to overreact or evacuate the urban areas in a disorganized, stampede-like manner. He stressed that there was no need to leave the cities and cause major traffic jams now. However, the chief executive also recognized that a fraction of Americans would pay him no mind and leave the cities within minutes of him signing off. With those citizens in mind, Reagan told Americans who felt the need to evacuate to do so in an orderly fashion.

The Politburo learned of Gorky’s destruction when it reconvened. The news of Novaya Zemlya barely registered with the collection of men. General Secretary Romanov’s mood remained optimistic. He continued on with the belief that the Soviet warning to NATO would be heeded. In his view, a ceasefire was imminent, followed by negotiations. Many of the Politburo members were nowhere near as positive. Their moods varied from barely suppressed panic to depression and Romanov suspected the body had reached the end of its usefulness for the moment. He announced the immediate dispersal of senior government officials from Moscow. The Politburo would leave the capital city at once, with the exception of the Defense Council members. When the danger passed, the men would return to Moscow. Romanov concluded the meeting by telling his comrades of his intent to remain in the Kremlin at least until after his next talk with Reagan, tentatively set for 0010 Zulu.

US strategic forces were holding in their present posture. The ambivalence taking root in the wake of the limited nuclear exchange left no margin for error. CINC-SAC opted to order the alert B-52s, B-1s and tankers to orbit and hold at their positive control points. The spots these aircraft had recently vacated on the alert ramps at their home fields were already filled with replacement planes. If the situation failed to show signs of improvement by midnight Omaha time, General Chain was prepared to begin dispersing his bomber force and remaining tankers to auxiliary fields to increase its survivability in the face of future exchanges.  Two Looking Glass aircraft were also airborne at present, each one carrying a battle staff and general officer.

The US Navy was responding swiftly as well. In Bangor, Washington, the ballistic missile submarines based there received orders to sortie. The boats were ready to get underway immediately, all that was needed were crews. USS Henry M Jackson was the first to sortie, manned by her Gold crew. The Ohio-class Trident missile submarine slipped her berth and began proceeding up the Hood Canal sixty-five minutes after the orders had been given.

Spanish fire, rescue and emergency services units were converging on Madrid in a rather haphazard manner. The loss of Spain’s capital meant that a considerable number of senior government officials were among the casualties. Coordination of fire and rescue efforts suffered significantly in those critical first hours. The war had an adverse effect on fire and rescue services too, limiting the amount of assistance other areas in Spain and neighboring countries could provide. A large number of firemen, police officers and emergency workers were military reservists and had been called up in early July. Their ranks were thin and the need for all available men and apparatus in Madrid would thin them even more. At a point in time when other Spanish cities were starting to empty out, a scene being mimicked across Western Europe as Zulu Time marched towards 23:59:59 on D+18.


8 Replies to “D+18 1831-2359 Zulu 27 July, 1987”

  1. It’ll be interesting to see if the E-3s, Rivet Joints, and their associated HAVCAPs get pushed in closer. I’d imagine SAC and NORAD will want to start updating their picture of Soviet air and air defense activity for their separate purposes. I’m sure fixed PVO and Long Range Aviation facilities- especially the Arctic staging bases- already have several delivery systems tasked against them. Getting an updated picture will help refine the SEAD (DEAD) efforts ahead of the penetrators and give a picture of what airbreathers may be coming over the pole for ADTAC and the CAF. Real-time intel will also help confirm Soviet intent, and there should be SR-71s and U-2s flushed out of Beale and other SAC dets to help augment the Rivet Joint collection.

    No doubt such an effort would likely get a Soviet reaction, but the flight patterns should be different enough from penetrating bombers to help prevent further escalation. It might get interesting if they lofted a nuclear armed SA-5 at one of the recon aircraft.

    In addition to the bombers at positive control points you’d have E-3, tankers, and fighters orbiting under NORAD control. The F-106 was still in ANG service, and there was a regular squadron at Griffiss. I think Genie was gone by then so no crowd-pleasers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, the Genie was long gone by then. Gosh, I miss the -106. Fell in love with it as a kid when I saw it at air shows. Didn’t realize then it was on its way out.

      Crowded skies up there to say the least. NORAD, SAC, and a dozen other commands and government agencies will have aircraft up for a long time. But I think the reece flights won’t enter Russian airspace until things really calm down.


  2. Never saw an F-106 in flight, but plenty of mirages, a Vulcan, and a Concorde or two. Delta’s just plain look cool.

    Hopefully the victor alert birds stayed in their shelters. I’d imagine there’s some very interested (and well camouflaged) eyes on them and Fairford right about now. Seeing them launch would be a definite escalatory signal, as would seeing a “special” convoy roll into Fairford. Definitely worth burning an SR team or covered officer for.

    FWiW there’s a you tube video out there showing the upper heyford ammo shop in 2011. It looks like somebody forgot to take the ordnance board when they left…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The -106 is a gorgeous aircraft. Flies well too, or so I hear.

      I’m going to touch a bit on some of these places and preparations in the next post. Reality cut me a bit short today.

      I just found that video. Going to check it out


  3. Work took me around the federal arc today. I got to thinking about the proximity of 8k ft+ runways to known cog facilities. Then about how the runways were generally located close to the arterial routes leaving the NCR.

    With an ongoing relocation likely putting some of these airfields into use as ground transfer points, I wonder about the security situation. I’d imagine the airfields themselves and expanded security perimeters around cog sites are being secured. Are they relying on everyone coming out of the NCR to want to keep on moving to get as far away as possible, or would there be issues when people see an aircraft as a possible means of escape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Figure as far as commercial birds go, FAA would order a ground stop and divert whatever’s in the air away from the arc.

      Yeah, figure everyone leaves the arc to command centers and bunkers outside the area, and potential blast zone. Some go north, some go west, others go airborne. Its like an orchestrated ballet. Prelude to Doomsday.


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