7. CARRION BIRD
Major Johanson walked among the debris of his squadron, sweat dripping down the inside of his MOPP suit and respirator. His breathing was ragged and hot, he wanted nothing more to rip off the claustrophobic mask, but he knew to do so would expose him to the persistent Blood Agent those Soviet bastards had hit his unit with.
The Gunners and most of the ground crews had all moved out to FARPS and dispersal stations and the Apaches left, which had survived the bombardment by conventional munitions, and been scrubbed down were now ready to flown out between Soviet strikes. This was going to be a “Turn tail and run” Operation they had lost an awful lot of Aircraft. Once at the Dispersal area he would Arm up grab his gunner and head out to help the 11th Cav to the East of him.
He removed his mask and MOPP suit and quickly leapt into the cockpit, the ground staff leaving their gear on helped him out. 3 mins later he was good to go, a further minute elapsed as his number 2 over in the other Apache gave a thumbs up. They daren’t use the Radio’s due to the Soviet direction finding equipment getting a heads up and sending a further Salvo of missile their way, but it would also be pointless with the airwaves crammed at almost all levels of the Frequency spectrum with Jamming signals.
He could smell his own sweat and body odour, the smell of Charcoal, fullers earth and he desperately wanted to shower. He literally was sweltering in his own juices and worst of all he needed a toilet break, but that was not a priority what he really needed to do above all else was get his bird well away from this area. The Crew chief nodded, to him with a Thumbs up, raised a Green wand and nodded. The entire Ground crew in their NBC suits slowly wheeled his aircraft forward by hand, and another team open the doors by hand. Jesus Christ, he thought this is like being in World War I with everything done by hand, all this technology and it comes down to man pushing a 10 tonne vehicle by hand.
Once clear, he skipped the startup checks that he so normally and fastidiously followed, there was simply no time. He did the minimum with the Auxiliary systems, engine and hydraulic systems and avionics that he need to get away from the field with. It felt like Eon’s as he waited for the Engines and Rotor Head to build up speed, as soon as it was at speed, he immediately pulled up on the collective, diving forward and left, his number 2 was about 5 seconds behind him, also having skipped the startup checks as per their quick brief.
Major Johanson quickly got upto 100kts levelled out and kept below 30ft, scanning for power lines and obstacles which would be a bastard to spot in such Grey and snowy skies. A flash caught his attention and he watched another BM-27 Rocket Strike on the Airfield, the Hangar he had just left was okay, but 500 metres away once again the A10’s bore the brunt of the assault. At least in a Helicopter he could land and take off in a field, these A-10 Warthog’s needed Runways and that made them vulnerable. So far just over half of them survived in their hardened shelters, but the crews were being decimated partially by Soviet Conventional munitions but chiefly it was the Chemical Weapons that followed the Heavy Explosive strikes. The new holes and impact damage was exploited by the Chemical Blood and Nerve agents which seemed to hug the ground in the Freezing cold atmosphere.
As he looked up, he did a quick instrument check, altered his course by 2 degrees and settled in for the 20 minute flight to the FARP. He had eight Helicopters left of sixteen, just eight.....