Here’s a great AAR of a recent DCS World Multiplayer Event. The event involved over twenty players, all flying helos in a great example of community team-play and coordination. Thanks to Mudspike Contributor @Chuck_Owl for this!
Written by Charles “Chuck” Ouellet
Date of event: August 2nd, 2015
On a hot Sunday night, helicopter pilots gather for a multiplayer coop mission. The objective: secure and reclaim insurgent-held Novorossiysk, Kabardinka and Gelendzhik airfield by inserting ground troops and conducting CAS flights. Hosted on the 229th server, the operation is unofficially dubbed “Operation Triple A”, or “Airmobile Air Assault”.
“Gentlemen, start your engines please.”
My tired voice rings through the intercom as I flick my battery switch. The screech of the LOW RPM warning sound is rapidly drowned by the sound of the nearby Hueys cranking up on the helipads. As I hold the starter switch, I hear the rotor blades slowly swooshing over my head, gaining speed as the Lycoming turboshaft spools up.
“Slick 1, Gun 1.”
I glance over my co-pilot’s shoulder, startled by the cool professional voice hailing me over comms. I instantly recognize Xtra’s voice, the gunship leader with an accent awfully similar to Sean Connery’s. This grizzled helicopter pilot is part of the virtual 1st Air Cav Division, 229th Battalion, D Coy.
“Go ahead, Gun 1.”
“Gunships are cranked up and ready to go. We’ve got four Ka-50s, four Huey gunships and two Hips armed with rockets and gunpods.”
I acknowledge his transmission and inform him that the “slicks” (a nickname for transport helicopters) will be ready for departure in about five minutes since we need to pick up the grunts in the pick-up zone next to a column of blue smoke on our airfield’s parking lot. I push the microphone switch and transmit on the frequency of the slicks an order to pick-up the grunts and line up on the runway for departure.
Eight Huey and three Mi-8 helicopters hover to the pick-up zone buzzing with activity. Troops are loading up in the choppers, army trucks are bringing in supplies and crew chiefs open the side doors, performing last-minute checks on their M-60 machine-guns. We can almost smell the oil and gasoline floating through the air. Once we are lined up on the runway, loaded up with fuel, ammunition and tough grunts eager to get their boots on insurgent-held ground… I come to the sudden realization of what is about to happen. About twenty people from the four corners of the world are all waiting for me to start the show. Some come from Germany like Isegrim, others from Turkey like Devrim… Aries is from Croatia, Jacks from the United Kingdom, Zaelu from France, JimTM from Canada (eh?), Jarhead from the United States… Some of them are seasoned helicopter pilots in real life like Six, while others are from different walks of life. Most of these folks have flown their helicopter of choice in DCS for dozens, maybe even hundreds of hours. And there I am, leading them as “Slick One”. Unbelievable.
“All right, Chuck. We’re ready.” says Jim in his soft-spoken voice. Jim is mere meters from my tail rotor as my trusty Number Two in a UH-1. Good ole’ Jim was the very first person who showed me how to fly as a wingman in Cliffs of Dover and Rise of Flight. His patient, helpful and benevolent nature is part of the reason why I started flying in multiplayer in the first place and making new friends in the process. Xtra informs me that a pair of Mi-8 gunships flown by Aries and Wepar from *NOB* squadron will cover us on our first approach to Novorossiysk while the rest of the UH-1 gunships will clear a corridor to secure a beachhead for us to land. As I start pulling the collective, I hear the Klimov TV3-117VM engines roaring overhead.
“Slick 1 is a go.”
The Hueys and Mi-8s rise up in the air, battered left and right by the wind rushing against the fuselage. I counter the engine torque with my pedals and try to maintain a stable trajectory with my cyclic, which makes flying a very “manual” experience since you can’t let go of anything. As we reach the southern outskirts of Novorossiysk, I just can’t help but gaze momentarily at the clear blue sky and the palm trees littering the ground (which were made by Starway in his incredible Vietnam Terrain mod). We fly over old dusty buildings and spot the red smoke marking the city center, held by insurgent forces.
It was a beautiful day for flying. The sun shone upon the red shark teeth painted on the noses of my army green ship.
“Slick 1, Gun 1. We’re picking up tracers on the main road leading to the city center. Recommend you guys take another approach while we engage.” Sean Connery’s tone tells me that things are about to get hot.
“Gun 1, this is Slick 1. Copy that. Heading for secondary LZ on the second set of beaches. Slick 1 out.”
A minute later, I spot our LZ and begin my approach, followed by ten brave slick pilots. Suddenly, a hail of red tracers misses me by inches and the insurgents start to fiercely defend their prized possession. Jacks, one of the Peter Pilots (nickname for new pilots) of the flight, calls out an outpost defended by an infantry platoon supported by a BMP.
The tracers rushed silently up and past us like a string of red UFOs in a hurry. Quiet, relentless, pretty. The ship lurched and we banked steeply away.
As I relay the information to Xtra Connery and his gunships, we see them fighting back in the distance vigorously. We can hear the muffled sounds of the miniguns and rocket strikes rumble. It’s a chilling sight to behold.
As soon as my skids touch the ground, I hear my door gunners fire their “Pig”. The other slicks land almost simultaneously and the grunts jump out and start moving towards the city center, defended by a series of outposts. I briefly see a platoon of grunts running through a thick cloud of dust coming from the downwash of our rotor blades. As we leave the sandy beachhead, the first wave of US troops start their advance towards the inner city.
“Gun 1, Slick 1. We’re out of here. We’re RTB to pick up the second wave.”
The second I let go of the intercom switch, I immediately start feeling attached to the boys we just flew into battle. Almost a hundred of them fight the insurgents through the streets, trapped in a storm of smoking buildings. Their offensive could reach a swift and deadly end if we don’t support their advance. But so far, the insurgents seem busier dealing with the Ka-50s unleashing volleys of air-to-ground Vikhr missiles on pockets of enemy resistance. The sound of gunfire slowly dies out and in a matter of minutes we start loading up the second wave of grunts. Overall, the first mission went relatively smoothly; we haven’t lost anyone and even the “newer” pilots keep up with me just fine.
We takeoff once more and decide to assault the city from the North this time. To avoid detection, we stay low and use the buildings as cover to mask our approach. Comms are remarkably concise and meaningful. These guys act like real professionals.
We quickly get the red smoke in visual and realize that it is heavily defended.
“Slick 1, this is Gun 1.”
“Gun 1, Slick 1. Send it.”
“We have you in visual coming from the North-East, are you guys heading towards the city hall next to the red smoke?”
“Gun 1, this is Slick 1. Affirmative, the area is heavily defended… could you guys clear us a path to drop our troops?”
“Roger. Wait one.”
Our slick air convoy slows down and we watch Xtra’s Hueys blast the City Hall to pieces with their rocket pods. The Mi-8s mop up stragglers with streams of green tracers coming out of their guns. Whoever was down here was probably wondering why on earth he signed up for this. I came in low and fast and warned the rest of the slicks to watch for the angled terrain. The grunts hopped out of the choppers and we circled over them to let our watchful gunners give them fire support if need be.
Needless to say, everyone was already dead down there. The grunts did not run into any further resistance.
The gunships and infantry mopped up the last few insurgents holed up in an abandoned house and everyone RTB’d to rearm and refuel for the next phase of the Operation Triple A: Kabardinka.
Surprisingly, we didn’t lose anyone taking Novorossiysk. Some Ka-50s suffered minor damage, a Huey smashed his skids during a hard landing… but all pilots came back safe and sound. As the ground crews reloaded my door guns and refueled my ship on the helipad, I made a quick inspection to see if everything was still intact. Electrics were fine, hydraulic pressure OK, instruments seemed still responsive. We took a five-minute break to stretch our backs, grab a beer (or a turkish midnight coffee like Devrim did) and crack some jokes. Morale was still high and people among the slicks began describing close calls during the battle. For instance, one of our Mi-8 pilots narrowly avoided a rocket fired by one of our own gunships who got “distracted”.
We took off for a third time, escorted by Xtra’s gunships. Far ahead of us, the Ka-50s of Isegrim, Bobby, Beeroshima and RightStuff were already pounding enemy defenses at Kabardinka, which LZ was covered in green smoke. As we approached the city, we dropped down to the Nap-of-the-Earth (NOE: close enough to the ground to get a part-time job as a weed-eater) and followed a river leading us to the hills surrounding the eastern side of Kabardinka.
We followed power lines, which lead us straight to the city which was already being secured by Xtra and King_Hrothgar.
We flew single file into the tracers. The insurgents were firing at our noise, and they were hitting. From where I sat, it looked pretty bad. I was on the controls and veered quickly left and right as I made my approach, thinking I could actually dodge bullets. There was no sound; the burning red globes streamed past me. I banked hard to the right as soon as I saw the green smoke, and the red death left me and licked up, looking for the others.
We landed next to the green smoke and to our surprise there were still some defenders taking potshots at us.
We returned to base to pick up the fourth wave of troops. Meanwhile, the grunts quickly overran the insurgents’ positions and in a matter of minutes Kabardinka was finally ours before we returned with fresh reinforcements.
“Slick 1, Gun 1.”
“Gun 1, this is Slick 1. Send it.”
“Be advised, we just mopped up the remaining enemy forces at Sector Green and we’re RTB to rearm and refuel.”
“Copy that, Gun 1. We’ll find a safe spot and wait for your return before the offensive on Gelendzhik airfield. Slick 1 out.”
And so we did. We followed the hills to the North of Kabardinka and landed on the lone road leading to the airfield.
This is it. The last sector… where the rebels will fight the hardest. This is where they will make their last stand. We wait silently for the gunships’ return… and we can already feel a little tension in the air. We don’t know what we should be expecting at this point. What if the insurgents have tanks, this time? What if they have a SAM site ready to shoot us out of the sky? What if the enemy receives unexpected reinforcements? All these questions rush through our heads while we are idling on this long patch of dirt. It’s getting late, and we’ve been flying for more than two hours straight. My legs start aching with all the footwork required to keep the ship pointing in the right direction. My sweaty hands are clenched to the cyclic and collective, ready to liftoff at a moment’s notice. We are about to drop 80 battle-hardened men into battle, with the sole objective of securing the airstrip… so we can bring in more reinforcements and end this war once and for all.
“Slick 1, Gun 1. We’re a go, your approach is covered.” says Sean Conn– I mean Xtra.
We see a blue smoke column in the distance marking enemy AAA guns blazing away.
Gung-ho Jarhead goes in first and is welcomed with a hail of tracers that smash his rotor blades to pieces. He drops his troops in a storm of bullets but crashes in the process. His platoon is quickly mowed down on the airstrip by anti-aircraft guns.
Slicks start popping flares to signal our position to the gunships who come into the fray miniguns blazing. In a spectacular fashion, we see Gaunt (UH-1), Wepar (Mi-8) and Aries (Mi-8) unleash hell on the AAA batteries. A furious duel of tracers ensues and I start my approach with my hands shaking with excitement. It is both a terrifying and an awe-inspiring sight to see such a display of firepower.
We are so tired that caution, proficiency, and even fear leaves us as we drop into the hot LZ.
As the helicopter pilots yank their cyclic around to avoid rockets, friendly missiles and streams of cannon shells, we drop the troops in the middle of the runway and witness the violence of the assault first-hand. I land right next to (what I assume to be) Dabomb and Nage from the 229th and in a matter of seconds I see a whole platoon being wiped down by machine-gun fire. I hear the racket of small arms fire coming from the plumes of black smoke littering the airstrip. The fight is fierce and desperate, and for a minute that seemed like an eternity the Airmobile troops take a brutal beating. Bodies fall left and right, slumped on their M4 rifle forever.
The grunts aren’t even making it to the buildings. They leap out, screaming murderously, but they drop all around us, dying and dead. Jarhead’s ship still turns, but the men inside don’t answer. I see the sand spurt up in front of me as bullets tear into the ground. My stomach tightens, my gunners fire over the prone grunts at phantoms in the distance.
A voice echoes in the silence: it’s me, yelling. “Go! Go! Go!” I react without thinking, and my Huey snaps off the ground. My adrenaline seems to power the ship as I nose over hard to get moving fast… back to the safety of the helipads.
After a brief but heated assault, the Air Cav finally secured the airfield. Gelendzhik was ours once more, and the insurgency was crushed. The Airmobile’s casualties were heavy, but the Air Cav pilots triumphed in the end.
We returned back to base and shut down our engines on the helipads. The sound of silence felt odd since we had been deafened by our engines’ sound for the last two hours and half.
In conclusion, the Airmobile Air Assault event was a complete success. People enjoyed themselves, some made new friends and others were glad that (almost) everyone made it to hell and back.
Big thanks to the ATAG admins for setting up Teamspeak channels specifically for this event, and also to the 229th admins for hosting the mission on their dedicated server. And, of course… thanks to everyone who participated in the event and made it memorable.
Body Farm (UH-1)
(B/229) Nage (UH-1)
(A/229) dabomb (UH-1)
(D/229) Xtra (UH-1)
(HCC/229) SIX (UH-1)