North Atlantic: Death Of The Backfires D+24 (2 August, 1987) Part V

The Backfire groups acknowledged the raid commander’s orders, coming around fully to the west and starting descents to the predetermined altitudes. One group would level off at fifteen thousand feet, another at six thousand and the third a scant five hundred feet above the sea surface. The plan was little revised from the earlier attacks, …

North Atlantic: Death Of The Backfires D+24 (2 August, 1987) Part IV

The Bears were now the prey and the aircrews were fully aware of it. There were armed predators out there beyond the horizon actively searching. The hunt was on and the crews of the Tu-95s were well aware their life expectancy was now being measured in minutes. The raid commander knew this too and he …

North Atlantic: Death Of The Backfires D+24 (2 August, 1987) Part III

Takeoff of the Badger and Backfire regiments commenced at 1140 Zulu on D+24. The process ate up forty minutes. As the bombers cruised north towards their formation rally points over the Barents Sea, the Bears were going to work attempting to find the exact locations of the American carrier formations and relay accurate targeting data …

North Atlantic: Death Of The Backfires D+24 (2 August, 1987) Part II

Although the general location of Strike Fleet Atlantic was known with near certainty, the Backfires and Badgers still required relatively current information on the enemy formations. Obtaining this valuable data was not a simple task. By this point of the war satellite coverage, reconnaissance flights and other means of detection were severely degraded on the …

North Atlantic: Death Of The Backfires D+24 (2 August, 1987) Part I

In late July and early August of 1987, naval threat facing the Soviet Red Banner Northern Fleet and the Kola Peninsula had broadened to involve a potential amphibious assault on Soviet territory. The Northern Fleet no longer had the capability to challenge Strike Fleet Atlantic symmetrically. Most of the fleet’s major warships were, by this …

The North Atlantic D+22 (31 July 1987) Part III (Charlie)

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) was escorted into the Situation Room on the basement level of the White House at 0930 EDT. Upon entering the wood-paneled conference room, Admiral Lee Baggett, US Navy noted more officials, civilian and military, than normal. One of the men seated against the wall in a chair was John …

The North Atlantic D+22 (31 July 1987) Part III (Bravo)

Planning and preparation took center stage in Severomorsk and at airbases and other military installations located from the Kola Peninsula to Arkhangelsk. Long Range Aviation and Naval Aviation bombers, submarines, surface ships and almost every piece of military equipment remaining in the region, and their crews were preparing a maximum defensive effort. Their target was …

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

0405- News of the failed Badger attack on Strike Fleet Atlantic reaches Norfolk. SACLANT agrees with strike fleet commander’s assessment of the situation, which was helpfully included with the initial report. After reading over the telex, SACLANT ordered his staff to  be recalled immediately (it was 2105 hours, the previous evening in Virginia). Then he …

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

Radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles joined the fray next as the four Forrestal Tomcats engaged. With each second that passed, the air battle became even more chaotic. The Soviet raid commander was now fully cognizant his aircraft—and crews—were suffering heavy losses. Once the US Navy fighters moved in to make use of their Sidewinders. In the …

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 …