Tarnished Gold – Mission 02 – Night Owl

In our last mission, we determined that ChDKZ forces were likely being supplied with fresh equipment from Russian interests (black tape over the patches gives plausible deniability!). In order to gather more evidence, our task for tonight is to do a recon in the central area of our AO. Permission has been granted to lightly probe the Russian no-fly zone.

It is a dark night with high cirrus overhead. Perfect conditions for the Apache…

Arma is a map lover’s paradise. Contour maps and strategic use of terrain are what make Arma missions so much fun. I initially plan my route to approach the recon area near Aitor, which will give me a vantage point with cover to look across toward the no-fly zone…

The two hills ahead represent my high ground and the area I’ll start my recon from…

Looking northwest into the no-fly zone I can see the airfield that looks to be inactive…

Next we’ll fly north up toward our recon area near Pobeda Dam. Looking at the topo map I choose an area of high ground to the southeast that will give me a good look down toward the terrain around the dam…

The view from the CP/G position is dark, but you can still make out treelines and structures if you give it a few seconds for the optics to adjust to the light conditions. An initial look down the valley toward the dam shows no movement and no obvious signs of trouble…

I use the CP/G commands to order the pilot to bound forward from cover to cover to allow me closer inspection while trying to remain hidden as much as possible. It is a fun game of cat and mouse (mice?)…

I’m finally able to get a look at the dam itself. I manually lase the dam to get a distance of about 1900 meters. A slow scan all around with the optics reveals nothing threatening…

Sometimes you just have to recon by making yourself vulnerable so I unmask and head down the valley toward the dam, ready to instantly give an order to retreat or break off…

We clear the east side of the dam area and I start an arc around the damn to the north and west intending to widen out my search. With the pre-mission briefing indicating that penetration of the no-fly zone might be warranted, it is a good assumption that the enemy will be west of the dam…

I try to keep to the valleys during transit and hit the peaks for recon opportunities…

As we head north of the dam, a radio message from base redirects us toward grid 0108 with specific instructions to hold weapons tight and we move toward that area…

I take up position to the east of high terrain and climb it just enough to allow a peek over the top toward the no-fly zone. The pilot radios enemy position sightings and I simultaneously spot movement in my TADS optics…

About 2500 meters to the west a small contingent of units occupies the ridgeline. I spot trucks, troops, and tents. Though the optics are very dark, I see a swirling motion that I can’t quite identify until I designate it – 2S6M Tunguska! My trigger finger is ready to send a Hellfire downrange, but the mission orders are not to engage…

I scan the area and build a picture of the compound. After a few minutes I sweep around to the south, keeping high terrain between me and the enemy encampment to get a view from the south. More units come into view and the map gets updated…

As I round a hill my pilot flares a bit too aggressively (a serious problem with AI pilots) and we briefly unmask. A laser like stream of tracers comes flying out of the darkness to our right and bowling ball size rounds zip over the canopy! I quickly order a position change and cringe as more AA fire grazes the canopy. Good to know base confirms my report..I might be able to bring them back evidence embedded in my airframe!

As we bail out to the southeast, HQ aborts our mission and orders us to fly to Krasnostav (which is not our home base)…

Analysis of the mission is obvious, but touches on the complexity of the situation (and very much mirrors delicate situations in Ukraine)..

This mission was a nice mix of night flying, searching, and trying to stay alive under strict rules of engagement. I’m starting to get sucked in and am anxious to fly the next mission already. Nice job to the campaign builders!

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