Tonight was the first time in my F-16 career that I got to fly back-to-back night sorties. It was also the first time since about April 2002 that I got to fly night SEAD with NVGs. To say I was rusty would be putting it mildly.
Huck, Prosac, Disco and I all flew on out to the CHARLIE airspace shortly ahead of Nash and Riddler who were playing strikers. They would attack a pair of simulated SA-2 batteries with our help. Kane and Shack flew out to the northern part of the airspace to play Red Air and to try to keep us from suppressing the SA-2s and to prevent them from getting attacked. At the fight’s on, Huck took simulated shots at Kane, who acknowledged the valid shots and jumped out of the way and RTB’d. The four of us SEAD players spun around and headed south to regroup when Riddler decided to try to attack us. Disco and I spun back and took some simulated shots at Riddler, who followed in Kane’s fate. We then sprang north and fired our way through the simulated SA-2 bands, decoying the SA-2s perfectly so that Nash and Riddler got in to drop their bombs unmolested from either Red Air or Red SAMs. The only troubles I had were that I forgot how easy it can be to see other aircraft at night–I managed to get seven miles away from my wingman at one point, I had forgotten to cross-check my air-to-air TACAN after my long absence from night SEAD CAPs. At least I was still visual!
Afterward, everyone pointed back towards Misawa, landed, re-fueled, and launched for a repeat performance. Unfortunately due to some air traffic control delays, Kane and Shack finished their second sortie before we ever got airborne, so we dispensed with the air-to-air engagement and re-ran the ground attack segment, which went pretty well again. After a short twenty minutes in the area, we headed home again.
I don’t know when we’re going to fly at night again. Probably not soon enough for my proficiency’s sake.