This short story was inspired by a mission in the PC simulation Comanche Gold.
The briefing lasted longer than expected, as it was the base commander's birthday and certain celebratory measures had been thrown in for afterwards. Everyone felt it was their duty to stay and share the moment, even though some did not want to be there, for various personal reasons.
An attack mission on a Russian surface-to-air missile (SAM) site had been planned for some time now. Intelligence was good and it was just a matter of waiting on getting all enemy assets in one place, so the boys could go in once, clean up and get out.
Today was payday. The latest bunch of intel had arrived first thing in the morning, and all SAMs were in place and setup ready to fire. A bonus was that there were some SCUD launchers parked up as well, due for a rest before being driven to another, supposedly 'hidden' location. Even though the hiding place was already uncovered before anyone even got there, it would be good to strike them now.
"Here she is", said a ground crewman, nodding to the fully-armed, fully-operational pride of United States Army Aviation, the RAH-66 Comanche.
"Let's do this", came an enthusiastic shout from a tall, blonde-haired guy, looking every bit the clean cut American you see in the movies. This was CW3 Steve Anderson, the co-pilot/gunner.
Another voice soon followed, this time from an older, shorter guy with darker hair, looking every bit the battle-hungry veteran who has seen several combat sorties with a few near misses. "See if we can make it back in time for cake", he replied. This was CW4 John Brustram, the pilot. Laughs were heard by all in earshot.
As the two men strapped themselves into the ****pit, no one on the ground was at all concerned that these guys wouldn't be coming back. This mission was textbook, and they were equipped with the world's most advanced stealth attack helicopter. The ground crew had looked after the chopper, now it was the chopper's turn to look after the pilot and gunner.
"You all OK back there?", enquired John, who was seated up front under the spectacularly clean and shiny glass ****pit canopy. "All systems up!", came the response from Steve, the back-seater.
"Raven 2-6 you are clear for take-off", came through the headset. As this utter marvel of technology slowly lifts off the dirt, the ground crew tilt their heads down so as not to get the harsh dust in their faces that is being kicked up by the five-bladed main rotors.
"Tell you what, I'll fly and you fight!", came half-shouted from the back. "You wish!", was the answer. Steve knew that it would be the reply, for he tried this tactic just about every time the pair went on a mission together. He knew his day would come, he just had to wait until he was the ranking officer on a mission.
Twenty minutes or so went by in what always seemed like an eternity, even though this awesome helicopter has a top speed of over 160 knots. Several kilometers had been covered when the digital map on one of the ****pit displays showed that the guys were almost at the target area. "Well, here we are", informed John.
The terrain was green and hilly, with plenty of trees, and along the way nothing had been picked up on the fire-control radar. It should have been by now. Knowing they must be close, John brought the helicopter to a halt and sank down into a nearby gully. Slowly this nearly 43 foot all-composite helicopter then started an ascent until the mast-mounted radar was peeking just above the ridge.
Now it was Steve's turn to earn his pay. Several icons appeared about 5 kilometers away from the gully. "We got some SA-2s, a radar, some tents..." Analyzing the best possible firing position, John said that he would move into what looked like a grassy crater just a couple of hundred meters to the left of their position. This would provide better all-round cover and with less trees surrounding them. Even a multi-million dollar helicopter that could think for itself wasn't immune to the humble tree.
"Alright, I think we're good", John declared. "Yankee 1-6 we are in position and ready to engage, over", Steve reported back to base without even having to consult John first. These two were good like that, they didn't need one to urge on the other. Never have done.
The people back at base didn't need for the crew to report what they had in their sights, because everything the helicopter could see - they could see. So without hesitation, the confirmation came "You are cleared to engage, over". This dramatically reduced the time an aircrew had to stay in the combat zone.
"Roger", responded Steve.
Steve's gloved hand flicked a switch, and in just a couple of seconds the under-nose 20mm three-barrelled gatling gun swung out to the forward firing position. Another switch hit and the internal weapon bay doors along the sides of the fuselage opened to expose six Hellfire anti-armor missiles.
The threat indicator, called a radio frequency interferometer, had also picked up two enemy radar emissions. They were soon identified with the help of the nose-mounted forward-looking infra-red system as two SA-9s. These wheeled, mobile SAM units can be deadly if used correctly, so it was decided without even a second-thought, these would be taken out first at maximum safe distance.
With the pressing of a button on Steve's left stick - the collective stick - the first, closest SA-9 was locked onto. "Hellfire away!", screeched Steve, as he pulled the trigger on his right stick - the cyclic stick. The second SA-9 was locked onto, "Hellfire launched!"
Just a few seconds down range and the lofting Hellfire missiles take a nose-down look then dive onto their targets. Two, almost simultaneous, explosions can be seen and the target icons on the ****pit displays change to 'X' symbols to show that these units have been fired on and for the crew to assume they are now dead. Using the electro-optical sensors on the nose, both targets are indeed confirmed as kills. "Good kills!", shouts John.
No other threats are present, as the remaining SA-2 fixed SAMs are only effectively used on mid- to high-altitude air targets such as fighters and bombers. The Comanche is now at a steady 110 feet above the ground - behind the cover of terrain - held in a perfect hover by the digital flight control computers, well out of harms way.
As the bay doors close, John dashes in and re-positions just 1.2 kilometers from the target area, behind a tree line, so that the targets are now in gun range. Still no other threats in sight, Steve sets about locking onto the remaining targets and opens up with the devastating gatling gun. "Brr-rr-rr-rr", Steve splutters, in a playful yet sinister, calculated tone as the 750 rounds-per-minute gun tears holes into the SA-2s, one-by-one. As each target is confirmed as dead by both crewmen, all that is left is the Flat Face Radar that directs the SA-2s, the two SCUD launchers, and a few tents.
Well by this time, the enemy base is well and truly alert and the bad guys are desperately seeking to find their attacker. They haven't got a clue where to look, and are just kneeling and lying down shooting in all directions, like pitiful blips in the distance.
Steve decides to save the ever-moaning American taxpayer some money, and leave the remaining Hellfires alone. He figures it will be more economical - but more importantly effective and fun - to continue using the 20mm. Another burst from the gun and the Flat Face is down, another and another and the SCUDs are left just bent and twisted burning wrecks.
"Light that guy up, center, kneeling!" barks John, as he sees a drainpipe-type piece of equipment being put onto the shoulder of one of the helpless men via his ****pit display screen. It was never easy to shoot tens of rounds of big high-explosive ammunition at men, but both John and Steve knew that they had to in order to stay alive.
The unfortunate soldier over a kilometer away didn't know what hit him, as his body was thrown up and seemed to come apart mid-air, before dropping back down amongst a cloud of smoke and dust. "Target down", said Steve in what seemed like a mumble compared to John's outburst upon first grabbing sight of the enemy soldier possibly armed with a shoulder-mounted SAM launcher.
Once the other soldiers are deemed no threat to the helicopter, all targets are verified destroyed and the two men turn to face the first waypoint of their exfil route, a different way to where they had come in. It wasn't the Comanche's job to act as an anti-personnel platform, it was to take out high-value targets in high-risk situations. The friendly soldiers on the ground could go in and deal with the rest of the enemy infantry later on.
As the unscathed Comanche and her two crewmen return home, with a glorious sunset in front of them, Steve asks "You think they saved us some cake?", John responds laughing "No, and I bet the bastards left us the washing up!".
By Gary 'Flyboy' Wright.
Note that a version of this story appears on my Comanche website.
Cool story! The action was the strongest part, helps me better understand how the Comanche and its crew would funcion in a real assault.
Dear Princess Celestia,
Today I learned that nopony kicks ass without tanker gas. Nopony!
Your faithful student,Fluttercopter
Thanks for reading, fluttercopter. I would like to do many more short stories about the Comanche, but even this introductory one took a lot of time to write, edit and get how I wanted it. I didn't go too deep with this one, and someone else (not on this forum) kind of criticized by saying that the enemy should at least have helicopters of their own (to make the action more intense). But although this may end up being the only story I write, I didn't want to blow my load all at once, so to speak. I had planned to build more intense missions in later writing, and go deeper in complexity as to the Comanche's capabilities and functions. After all, I want to write about realistic mission scenarios, and helicopters are simply not employed to fight other helicopters (at least in U.S. Army doctrine). Even though the Comanche was also a dedicated air-to-air helicopter, the likeliness of actually encountering an enemy helo was - and still is - very slim.
This was fun.
Yeah, I kinda wanted some air-to-air going on myself, as I am a huge sucker for that kind of helicopter action. But I understand, best save the really juicy stuff for later installments. Keep up the good work!
Really good! I liked it! ;)
I really like this. Please update when you can.
Yippie Kai Yay, Mr. Falcon.