The mission for today was for me to be the ACM bandit for Kane and Drago. They asked me to pretend to be a Su-27 ‘Flanker,’ which would be relatively easy given our two-tank configurations which would limit our maneuverability somewhat. They wanted three intercepts to engagements and three defensive perch setups. No problem! We all briefed, stepped, and flew out to the training area, where we FENCED-in and I cleared off to my side of the area and prepared to die like a man for the next forty minutes.
After the first ‘Fight’s on’ I elected to lock Kane way out at range as soon as we turned into each other. When Kane realized I was about to shoot him with simulated radar missiles, he turned around, doing his best to keep my attention while he cleared Drago to attack me. Drago did a great job of flying high through the sun to keep me from seeing him until he arrived at about two miles at my four o’clock. I tried to do a defensive break turn and put out flares to try to keep him from shooting me with an AIM-9M, but he had enough range back to shoot me with an AIM-120, and unfortunately since there’s no real defense against that, he got a valid ‘kill,’ so we terminated the fight and Drago flew back to rejoin Scooter, then all of us reset for the next fight.
After the second ‘Fight’s on,’ I felt like trying to avenge my previous self, so I locked up Drago with my radar this time. I climbed up on the other side of a cloud layer and flew about 5,000′ above it towards them. We’d see if Kane would realize it early enough to climb up over them (which would make him really easy to see, not to repeat last time when Drago got to use the sun against me)! I don’t think he realized what I’d done in time and ended up on the low side of the cloud layer. In any case, Drago had done the same thing this time that Kane did last time. I had no shot at the retreating Drago; I couldn’t see Kane below the cloud, and although I knew in a general sense where he was, and according to our training rules it wouldn’t have been legal to dive through the clouds to find and attack. So we kept in our blocks, terminated that fight, and flowed back to our corners to begin round three.
This set, I decided to try to hide in the open as equidistantly from the cloud deck and ceiling at about 16,000′ and delayed using my radar, hoping to sneak up on them visually. They found me on their radars instantly, so I threw my radar back at them in retaliation. I locked up Kane, but Drago was close enough to him that my radar beam hit his aircraft, too. Both of them thought they were ‘Spiked,’ and Drago started his turn away before Kane did, so Kane continued towards me, attempting to pounce. Within seconds they realized their error. Kane took an offsetting heading (while partly unbeknownst to him, I fired a pair of simulated radar missiles at him) while Drago turned back towards me to help his wingman. Kane kicked off some chaff, which made my training simulation missiles unreliable, so I didn’t call a kill and continued to merge with him, which is a lot more fun than killing people BVR anyway. Kane didn’t see me until I was already at about his nine-o’clock, so he started a relatively defensive break turn. Lucky for him my AIM-9M wasn’t working properly, so I had to try to close in for a guns kill. Within 180o of turn, Drago found me and shot me with another AIM-120, well before I could close the distance for a gun attack. Drat! I kept at Kane’s six-o’clock and followed them so we could begin their defensive perch sets.
For the first perch, I saddled up behind Kane. After their defensive break turn, I stuck at Kane’s six o’clock and elected to get him first, simulating a bandit who did not see Drago (’cause no pilot in their right mind would ignore an F-16. No dice, Drago was on his game. I had essentially gone belly-up to Drago, and he shot a simulated heat-seeker straight at the hot part of my engine. That ended that fight! We reordered ourselves and prepared for the second perch setup.
This time I flew behind Drago, who was on the right, got them to break left, and switched immediately to start a high-aspect fight with Kane. Unfortunately, that’s all the specifics I remember. One of them (I think it was Drago) did eventually shoot me, and I didn’t shoot either of them. The third perch set worked a little better for me. I stuck behind Kane through most of their defensive maneuver, then switched late to fight Drago. I managed to start a 2-circle fight with him, which was just what I would have wanted. I was at a much better energy state than both of them, and I could win a 2-circle fight over time 1v1. The problem was Kane was still out there, so after beating Drago down completely on energy, I switched to Kane one more time and took him single circle. Since Kane was also low on energy, I simply went high after I crossed his tail and pulled all the Gs I could to get into a gun WEZ. I was about to shoot him when Kane had to terminate for airspeed (we were under a 200 KIAS minimum airspeed restriction at the time). Drat! Saved by the bell, as it were.
That was all we had time for, so we "safed" it all up, pointed our noses at steerpoint 20, selected TACAN channel 101X, and followed the green blips in our navigation system as six or so GPS satellites pointed out the way home.