Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chapter Twenty-six


Wednesday, 8:35 p.m.

General Ehud Katz, commander of all IDF forces, stood before Prime Minster Yosef Naftali. A few members of the Cabinet were there as well. “Yosef, this is the scenario that I’d warned you about. Every one of our neighbors has joined the attack.” Katz and Naftali were long time friends and political allies.
“How is the population holding up?” asked the Prime Minister.
“Reports are coming in from the length and breadth of Eretz Israel,” Katz began. “The Patriot batteries were expended in the first thirty minutes. There are simply too many missiles being launched. The IAF was having success hunting down and destroying the mobile launch platforms in Syria and Jordan, but that ended when enemy aircraft filled the sky. All our assets are now fully engaged in a battle for air superiority.”
“But what of the population?” Naftali repeated the question with a hint of irritation that it hadn’t been immediately answered.
“Impacts are being reported nationwide. Some have gone astray to strike Gaza. There is no way to know what the casualty figures are, but several Scuds and Shahabs have hit within heavily populated areas,” answered the General.
“Has there been any lessening in the rate of the launches?” asked a member of the Cabinet.
“Not since the moment the IAF went into aerial combat mode,” said Katz. “But that isn’t the only problem. Long range radar shows Royal Air Force activity taking place over Riyad, Danbu, and Rub al Khali. The Saudis are serious. The same goes for Egypt. They are sending up mostly F-16 and Mirage F-5 fighters.”
“What numbers are we looking at?” asked Naftali.
“If you are asking if we have the forces necessary to repel the current enemy numbers involved in this confrontation, the answer is yes,” Katz explained. “We have two hundred thirty-two F-16s with duty-ready status, and roughly fifty-five F-15s that can be launched. However, I suggest we task our F-15s with seek-and-destroy missions against enemy missile platforms.”
“I agree,” said Naftali. “Give the order. How long can we maintain these numbers in a sustained fight?”
“Sir, we were preparing to initiate Operation Pile Diver tonight. In other words, the entire force was placed on either alert or operational status as of sundown. We can keep up the fight for at least twenty-four hours. Beyond that, it will depend on our losses, as well as the numbers of fighters the enemy assigns to combat.”
Naftali looked up and directly into the eyes of General Katz. He wanted a truthful answer to the question he was about to ask. He knew Katz well enough to be able to see his response without the man uttering a word, but he wanted to hear it anyway. “If they throw up everything they’ve got in their arsenals, can we beat them?”
Katz returned the gaze and answered without emotion. “Yes, but that is not the problem.”
“You speak of the Russian coalition, do you not?”
“I do,” the General nodded. “We cannot fight the entire Arabian and Egyptian Air Forces and expect to hold off the Russians if they decide to overrun our country.”
Naftali rose from his chair and went to his desk. On it was a single sheet of paper that required three signatures. A protocol had been established years earlier for just such an occasion. The protocol had never been used, not since Israeli scientists had learned to split the atom.
The Prime Minister picked up a pen and bent over the paper knowing that Israel’s release of two nuclear weapons over Damascus was nothing in comparison to what he was about to unleash. Closing his eyes tightly and taking a deep breath, Yosef Naftali signed the order. His signature followed by the opposition leader in the Knesset, and then by General Katz.
Before the General left the room Naftali completed his order. “I want every brigade moving by dawn. Do you concur?”
“I do, Yosef,” Katz answered. “This is our only option if we are going to save Eretz Israel.”
And then, as he looked at his friend who appeared to have aged in a matter of minutes, the commander of the Israeli Defense Forces saluted his leader.

Over Western Saudi Arabia
Same Time

Moshe had no difficulty choosing targets for his four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. There were eight Typhoon fighters coming head-to-head with him and Rueben. Two other flights of eight had broken off to the right and to the left, evidently to engage his fellow Israelis. It was show time.
Now within the AMRAAMs thirty mile range, Moshe designated the two lead planes, waited for the steady growl in his headset, and then fired the weapons. The instant the missiles shot out from under his wings he was tugging on the stick to gain altitude while giving his jet a few seconds of afterburner. “Dagger—Fox Three—Fox Three,” he called the shot.
Rueben, less than three miles off Moshe’s wing to the south, fired two more AIM-120s then followed his leader in a maneuver that would attempt to catch whatever Typhoons came their way once they scattered. As the Saudis had not yet fired, it stood to reason that they were armed with a shorter ranged little devil called the ASRAAMxl. The missile was an infra-red, heat seeker that had a range of nearly fifteen miles and could fly at Mach 3. The Israelis had tagged the missile with the name “Slicer” for its ability to cut through jamming clutter and home-in for the kill.
“Frisbee, we get one more shot at this before they come to bear with their Slicers,” Moshe transmitted.
“I’m with you, boss.”
Moshe noticed, by scanning his HUD, that the group that had broken off south were doing what he’d suspected. The Typhoons were going low and coming around in an attempt to trap the F-16s from behind.
“Let’s go to full military power and keep those birds off our tails a bit longer,
Frisbee,” Moshe order. Two clicks sounded in his headset.
He watched his display as the forward Typhoon formation, now less than twenty-five miles distance and closing, smoothly broke and began their evasive tactics. The Slammers would not let their targets off the hook very easily, and sure enough, within less than thirty seconds, four planes were eliminated from the fight. Moshe checked his weapons inventory and saw he was down to two AMRAAMS and four Sidewinders.
Two F-2s regrouped twenty-four miles away. They were below his altitude and to his right. The planes had gone into ‘supercruise’ mode and were spreading to attack at a speed of Mach 1.1. The Typhoon had the ability to sustain that velocity for several minutes without going to afterburner, thus expending less fuel than the F-16s.
Just as Moshe was preparing to lock onto them with his Sidewinders, the Saudis took a sudden dip behind a low ridge. The enemy planes were stealthy enough to keep his radar from giving them a full electronic interrogation. At the current rate of closure he would be on top of them in no time at all.
Moshe lined the nose of his lightning with the exit point of the valley and tasked two of his Sidewinders into search mode. He then dropped his airspeed in order to give himself the ability to maneuver if necessary, yet keep the Typhoons in his windscreen.
Just then, Rueben broke the silence. “Dagger—we’ve got company at our six.”
Moshe looked at his HUD. Two more blips of the original eight disappeared from the screen telling him that Rueben’s Slammers had done their damage. The others were bugging out. However, eight bogeys were gaining on them from the south. “Frisbee—pull off and take them on. I’ll drop these last two birds and join you, but be advised I’ll be down to my last two Sidewinders.”
“Roger—Frisbee is flipping.” Rueben took his F-16 to inverted flight and whipped a hard turn to face the oncoming Typhoons.
Moshe slowed the Lightning even further as he anticipated the appearance of the Saudis at the southern end of narrow depression. He involuntarily re-gripped the flight stick as the two Typhoons shot skyward from the wadi. Gently tracing their upward movement with the nose of his plane he pushed his throttle forward and fired his Sidewinders. Just then, the threat warning began to sound. He saw the reason. Both Typhoons had released their Slicers, and the killers were turning sharply in the hunt to acquire his heat signature.

Wednesday, 8:40 p.m.

No one said a word. What happened next seemed as natural as breathing. Everyone in the circle rose and went to Tasha. The entire country was being hammered by rockets from across every border, but everyone in the room knew that Tasha’s husband would certainly be facing the greater threat. In the shelter, their lives were safe and secure. His wasn’t, even though he was one of Israel’s most experienced and victorious pilots. What moved them most was the knowledge that Moshe was now one of their own. He was a brother in Yeshua who needed their intercession. Tasha was his wife. Therefore, she became their point of concentrated faith.
Hands were placed on her shoulders as she sat in the chair. Ingrid took one of Tasha’s hands in hers, Blake took the other. All heads bowed, and lips began to silently move as the group prayed for the safety of both their friend and his fellow pilots.

Over Western Saudi Arabia
Same Time

Moshe knew the Saudis were dead. He also knew the short distance between he and the firing point of the Slicers made it probable that he would soon be dead as well. With a push of the throttle into full military power, a jerk of the stick to the left, and the application of the ailerons, Moshe rolled his fighter and made a hard turn away from the oncoming missiles. Chaff and burning flares were ejected from the tail of the aircraft. He then pulled right on the stick to minimize the heat signature of his power plant. Both Slicers homed in on the heat of the flares and exploded less than two hundred feet behind him.
With a short intake of air, Moshe continued the right hand turn toward the south and punched his afterburner. Rueben was just over five miles ahead of him in his attack on the oncoming Saudis. The smart thing to do would be to bug out for home rather than engage. He was out of missiles. But his wingman was going to need his help, at least the presence of his Lightning to give the Saudis something else to worry about. Moshe saw he would catch up quickly, but fuel would be expended to a point in which he would only have a few minutes to engage the enemy before he was forced to turn for home. Would there be enough fuel and weapons to keep from being shot from the sky? That was the question.
“Frisbee—I’m hot on your six. I’ll be coming up on your right in twenty seconds,” Moshe radioed to his wingman.
The bogeys suddenly split into four pairs, each taking different tacks outward from a presumed center point. Two pairs went high, two went low. They appeared to be attempting to come at the two F-16s in a three dimensional attack formation.
This is not going to be pretty, Moshe thought to himself, and then he whispered a prayer. “We could use some help, Lord.”
With no remaining long-range AMRAAMs, Moshe would have to work his way into their kill zone before he could fire his cannon. He quickly punched the Horizontal Situation Display, located above his left knee, into terrain mode. Through his night vision equipment, only flat desert appeared between him and the inbound enemy. They were now crossing the thirty mile barrier. What he needed was an obstacle, something to get into and fly by the seat of his pants, something he could use to break his radar signature. Suddenly, there it was. A range broken by wadis and ridges loomed a thousand feet above the desert floor. It was located along the Arabian border with Jordan and it was only seven miles to his right. The decision was easy. In fact, it was the only option he had if he wanted to make it through this fight alive.
“Frisbee—I’m going to the right and low. There’s a grouping of hills that I’ll use. I’m about to pull a fast one on these schmucks.”
“Hey, don’t leave me hanging out here,” Rueben exclaimed.
“I’m not. Go high and west. Put some distance between you and the other three pairs,” Moshe ordered. “We’ll narrow the odds, at least for a minute or two. Help will be here in five minutes.” At least he hoped the alert fighters out of Ramon had shifted into high gear.
“On my way,” Rueben answered.
Moshe cut the flow of fuel to the afterburner and dove for the set of hills fast approaching at his two o’clock position. Seven thousand feet were eaten up in an instant. With the enemy Typhoons nearing the range of their AIM-132 Slicers, it was time to break up his radar silhouette.
A narrow gorge, protected by hills opened directly in front of him. They rose eighteen hundred feet above the desert. Moshe applied his airbrakes to drop his speed to three hundred knots. He then took the opening. He estimated the cut was only about four times the width of his wingspan. The range of hills extended roughly twelve miles, meaning if he stayed hidden, he could cut the distance to the oncoming Typhoons without presenting himself as a target for their Slicer missiles. Engaging his electronic jamming system, he descended into the gorge and steadied himself for a thrill ride.
Suddenly, threat warnings began to sound. At least one missile was in the air, probably more, but none had as yet locked onto his tail.
Moshe dropped down as low as he could as the cut began to shallow in a long, twisting wadi.
“I’ve got two Slicers on my tail,” shouted Rueben.
“Stay calm Frisbee. Take a breath and evade,” Moshe spoke as calmly as possible. Looking through his infrared gear, he was able to detect the tail end of the wadi. The cold, flat desert was less than fifteen seconds ahead. He was flying fifty feet above the ground and running out of room very quickly.
An alarm broke into his concentration. “MISSILE, MISSILE, MISSILE.” With a glance at his HUD Moshe saw the culprit. A Slicer had just dropped into the same cut behind him. Time to move!
He pumped three bundles of phosphorus chaff out the back of his Lightning and jerked back on the stick. With his thumb he switched into his last remaining weapons mode; the M61 20 mm cannon. He had 550 HEI, high explosive incendiary rounds to jack into the first Typhoon that showed itself.
Pushing the throttle to the stops, Moshe shot out of the narrow valley, pitched hard to the left, then brought the aircraft quickly back to level flight. There it was, just over the entrance of the wadi and flying at three thousand feet. Again the missile threat warning sounded. No matter, Moshe lined the cannon sight in the HUD with the Typhoon and pulled the trigger.
He could feel the six Gatlin barrels begin to rotate inside the gun port of his nosecone. Then, seventy rounds plowed through the air toward the Typhoon. Moshe released the trigger and dropped his wing straight to the ground.
A bright flash appeared at the nose of the Typhoon as it shot by less than one hundred meters in front of Moshe’s canopy.
He reversed his action by returning to level flight and dropping the right wing to the ground. He pulled back hard on the stick to bring the F-16 hard about. The movement was almost instantaneous. His hope was to beat the faster, more agile Typhoon to the punch and somehow be on the guy’s tail when he came out of the turn. Everything would depend on the pilot. Was he trained properly? Did he have the taste for a good dogfight? That was the question. For Moshe there was no other option.
Moshe grunted with the turn. The only way to sustain consciousness through the powerful g’s his crushing his body was to give short bursts of air generated from his abdomen. He concentrated on his HUD and saw that his tactic had worked. The Typhoon was coming around from his right to his left in a slower turn than Moshe’s. With its right wing standing straight up into the air, the fuselage of the aircraft presented itself as a massive target.
Moshe pulled hard out of the turn and the fired. The Typhoon was right in front of him. Twenty millimeter rounds walked from the nose all the way to the tail. He barely had time to dart upward before the enemy aircraft transformed into a massive fireball.
“I can’t shake them, Dagger. Get up here!” screamed Rueben.
“Yeshua, help my friend,” Moshe whispered as he tipped the nose of the aircraft hard to the right. As he came around he saw the heat plumes of several fighters three miles ahead. In a background of bright stars, they were the only lights gyrating and corkscrewing through the sky.
There was no time to gauge his fuel, no time for indecision. Moshe punched his afterburner and let it eat the fuel for ten long seconds.

Wednesday, 8:44 p.m.

Ty felt his gut wrenching as he prayed. Only once before had he experienced the sensation and, as he recalled, it had turned out horribly. His thoughts flashed back the Wednesday that now seemed so long ago. He’d been called to the sanctuary of Faith Community Church in Plattsville, Missouri because a spontaneous prayer meeting had broken out; something totally out of the ordinary for the church. His knees had buckled the second he entered room. The power of God was present in an unimaginable way. It wasn’t until later that he realized why God had instigated the occasion. He understood when a nuclear mushroom formed above downtown Kansas City.
The same power of God is here now, he thought to himself, and it’s for Moshe. He bent forward a few inches, finding it difficult to stand upright.
Blake, sitting beside Tasha, sensed his movement. She turned, looked into his face, and was alarmed. “Ty, what is it?”
Ty would have answered, but his spirit was compelled to pray aloud. “Oh God, protect your child,” he groaned. “God, protect your child.”

Over Western Saudi Arabia
Same Time

Moshe’s threat warning sounded again. Another Typhoon had come up on his six. A missile was just leaving the wing of the enemy aircraft when Moshe glanced at his Heads-Up-Display. His heart caught into his throat. If something didn’t happen, and happen now, he would be seeing the face of his new Messiah.
Incredibly, a sense of calm filled the cockpit. Moshe lifted his eyes and glanced out his canopy. He pinpointed Rueben and his predators, rolling and dancing higher into the air. “Buddy, you’re on your own,” he whispered. He disengaged the afterburner as the onboard computer began ejecting chaff from the tail of the plane. With a twitch of his right hand he threw the aircraft into hard roll and steep dive bearing down on him. He was quickly exhausting his evasion options.
Again, a wave of peace flowed through his system. Moshe looked at his altimeter and watched his altitude plummet. The second missile could not be shaken. He knew he was going to die.

Same Time

Ty dipped to his knees, the weight of a missive hand seemed to push him downward. He gritted his teeth and prayed harder. “O God, don’t let Moshe die.” He sensed the Spirit of God was groaning through him, and then he felt as if he were in the cockpit with Moshe, spiraling toward the ground.
Blake let go of Tasha’s hand and turned to wrap her arms around her husband’s shoulders. She dropped her cheek to the top of his head and joined him in calling upon God. Every person in the room took up the same concert of prayer.

Western Saudi Arabia
Same Time

Moshe was again over the hilly range he used before, though how he had backtracked to the spot was beyond him. His altitude was being eaten at a deadly rate, but so far, he had kept his wits about him. He scanned the range until he picked out the steepest crest of the ridge line. On the other side was the wadi.
“I can do this,” he gasped.
He had only one attempt at escape. He would have to continue in the dive all the way to the ridge, and then somehow bring his plane into line with the wadi. The turned would tax the aircraft to its limit. His brain screamed it was an impossible move. His heart commanded him to do it anyway.
The ridge was right in front of his nose when Moshe cut all the power to his engine. He set the airbrakes and gave one quick jerk to the right on the flight stick. He took a breath and held it. There were less than eighteen feet between the belly of his fuselage and the ridge as he dropped into the wadi. His Lightning had nowhere to go but down.
“Yeshua!” he shouted in desperation. The aircraft shuddered under the strain. Both the proximity and stall warnings were all squawking, but miraculously the Lightning responded. The ground came up quickly, but he was able to bring his wings to level flight, add full throttle to the engine, and retract his brakes, before he hit. Suddenly, he was flying up the wadi. A few seconds passed before he realized he had evaded the Slicer.
“Dagger—this is Spear Head—pull left out of that hole. We’ll take care of this goyim scum. A flying gas tank is waiting for you over the Negev.”
Moshe let out the breath it seemed he’d been holding for an eternity. He was never so glad to hear a friendly voice.
“Get on my wingman boys.”
“We got him, Captain.”
Moshe regained altitude and headed west out of danger. It would be several minutes before his heart could catch up.
Jimmy Root Jr
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