The North Atlantic D+22 (31 July 1987) Part II (Alpha)

0201– The first Tu-16 Badger started rolling down Severomorsk-3’s 2500-meter runway. The twenty-seven bombers and three ECM-equipped Badgers of the regiment were airborne and heading towards a pre-designated rendezvous point over the Barents Sea, 321 kilometers from the northern coast of the Kola Peninsula.

0220– As the Badgers flew north, operations for the morning’s offensive missions continued Strike Fleet Atlantic’s carriers. The strikes themselves would be conducted by aircraft from the three carrier air wings. Intruders and Prowlers from Forrestal, Corsairs and Tomcats from Kitty Hawk, with additional fighters and support aircraft from Eisenhower. Ike’s air wing would handle air cover for the formations of Strike Fleet Atlantic during the strikes, along with a limited number of F-14s from Forrestal. Right now, twelve Tomcats were airborne and loitering at their CAP stations. Eight from Eisenhower and four from Forrestal.

0235– The Badgers begin to arrive at the rendezvous point. The formation takes shape as the bombers take up positions. Each flight is made up of three Badgers, separated by twice the amount of airspace that pre-war tactics called for. The reason for this was to prevent the American F-14 interceptors from being able to engage more than one flight of Badgers simultaneously. The capabilities of the vaunted F-14 had been seen up close and in action enough times. The Badger’s revised tactics, along with a handful of new schemes, were the result of experiences gained since the first day of the war. As the Badgers and their handful of jammers take their positions, the formation swings west and increases speed.

0244– The northern-most E-2C Hawkeye picks up the Badgers first. Two minutes later, its sister aircraft to the south detects the Soviet bombers as the jammers go active. The senior controller on the north Hawkeye began vectoring in the CAP Tomcats and a call for more fighters from the carriers went out.

0300– The air battle blossomed as additional F-14s were being launched from Eisenhower and Forrestal. The CAP fighters boomed towards the Soviet formation of bombers as the two EA-6B Prowlers that were airborne added their ECM equipment to the defenses. The eight CAP fighters from Eisenhower were armed with Phoenix missiles and the four from Forrestal were configured for MiGCAP, meaning they carried Sparrows and Sidewinders. The northern Tomcats got in missile range first and started launching their AIM-54s as the southern flight increased speed even higher and bore in on the Badgers.

0305- While the first Phoenix missiles reached their targeted prey, the Soviet raid commander ordered his formation to disperse. White and orange fireballs in the distance marked the death of some of his bombers. The Badgers were still sixty miles east of their launch point and every mile increased the danger facing them.

Author’s Note: I have to cut this entry short and I apologize. My mom is in the hospital and I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time getting her sorted out. So I’ll post the conclusion of this post (Part II Bravo) either tomorrow night or Monday morning. Hopefully from there, things will be back on track.

15 Replies to “The North Atlantic D+22 (31 July 1987) Part II (Alpha)”

      1. No hurries, no worries. I know whatever you respond with will be well considered and worth reading in its entirety.

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        1. Here too. Apparently the world premier will be this evening on the USS Midway in San Diego. I have mixed feelings about the movie though.

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  1. 1. Great to see the F-14s carrying out their original mission: defending the CVBG from missile-carrying bombers.
    2. Salute to a good son taking care of his Mom at the hospital. At my Mom’s age, this is now a semi-annual routine. Gotta do it, but it’s draining and all-encompassing, especially when medication gets them disoriented: “Mom, you’re fine! Stop trying to pull out your God*$%$*m IV for the 10th time this hour…”
    3. “Rollin’ down the runway at Severomorsk-3 could” have been a great Johnny Cash song in an alternate reality where Cash is born in Irkutsk and not Arkansas.

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    1. 1. I simply love writing about these encounters because its what the Tomcat was all about….but never had a chance to defend the fleet in real life…thankfully.

      2. Thank you so much. As I just said, its not easy but we all have to do it. And oh, your mom tries to remove her IV too? Glad I’m not alone 🙂
      3. LOL That would be a great Johnny Cash song in another reality.

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    1. Thanks, buddy. She’s doing much better. Now its just a matter of getting her settled. All children go through this at some point. Some of us more than once. But it builds character 🙂

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