F-14 Hop: Strike Nuclear Facility 021822

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F-14 Hop: Strike Nuclear Facility 021822

Post by Bones »

Just did a hop that was quite tense. Mission was to destroy a nuclear plant with a Bombcat. You have to sneak in low or you will get attacjed by fighters and air defenses, so it's NOE all the way. On the way there I realized that the ground crew loaded me up with GBUs, but no LANTIRN. Great. Well, I made do and went for a CCIP drop.

I got to the target area and performed a pop up since I was coming in low on CCIP. I took some AAA just as I pickled, but the bombs hit and shack, mission complete. But on the way out my right engine was hit, and hydraulics were going. I hightailed it out in the same WP sequence as coming in, staying low but fuel was also low. I noticed along the lines that I was also lost my wingsweep and when I saw MiG-23s chasing me down, well, the AAA knocked off my missiles too. I only had guns. So I had to run all the way out low NOE. I wasn't sure if the INS was damaged because although I was following the WP, I wasn't seeing ocean. So I tried TACAN to the boat which gave me a signal but then I think the mountains were blocking it and so I spent alot of dangerous time tracking inland instead of out looking for a bad INS homebase WP. When TACAN finally picked up a signal and I realized I was going the wrong way, I made note of the correct bearing in case the TACAN goes out again, and flew that way. The whole time MiG-23s were shadowing us, and there were times I had to climb to find the TACAN which put me in the soup in IMC conditions which made it more harrowing. I had shut down the damaged right engine, and pulled the right throttle back to off (IRL, I even split the throttles and pulled the right one back and flew with the left). I was still on fire and running low on gas. My wingman ran out of gas and punched out. Finally, I saw the coastline, and a limped back through the soup toward it. this freaked out Jester and he punched out. So long, Jester, hope you enjoy being a POW.

I continued on without a canopy and got prepared for a CASE III landing. Case III? Screw that, this is an emergency, the visibility improved, and I can see the boat fine. I had fuel of about 1.7.

I realized I was coming in too high as I struggled to maintain control of the plane as I turned into the groove. Then I realized that I had no tailhook. I used the emergency blow down and got it to come down--then I realized that I had no gear down either. I used the emergency blowdown for that too and they came down, but with the added drag, asymmetric thrust, and wing damage, it threw the plane into a hard right roll. She departed and so did I.

I had a good ejection and landed portside of the carrier about 1 mile away. This is close enough to getting rescued by the SAR helo so that's fine.

I tried very hard to get the plane back to the boat to no avail, but consdering how close I got, it was a moral victory. I hit the power plant so that part was a success. I lost an aircraft (and a RIO but his choice bluh) but lived and got picked up (I assume). So overall, it was a mission success but not without loss.

Lessons learned:

1. Recall how to transfer fuel from one tank to another, if possible. For a while as I watched my left wing tank empty, I though I'd be out of gas. Luckily the feed was such that I was still drawing fuel from the right, but if not I would have needed to know how to switch the fuel flow.

2. Review my pop up tactics. I think I popped too early, exposing myself to AAA to soon. Everything else was sound though--except getting hit.

3. Review computer target (CCRP) bombing mechanics. I knew how to change the designation position but forgot how to do actually designate. I probably could have did a CCRP run and been above AAA range.

4. Check ordnance before leaving. When I get back to the boat yell at the chief for not loading LANTIRN.

5. Check for good gear and hook earlier.

6. Know how to use the fire extinguisher for the engine. I was able to shut the fuel flow off to it and shut it down but it was still on fire, which is dangerous.

7. Pray for Jester

"Also, I would prefer a back seater over the extra gas any day. I would have 80 pounds of flesh to eat and a pair of glasses to start a fire." --F/A-18 Hornet pilot
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