Our mission was to strike an insurgent roadblock over the Kura River, west of Novopavlovsk. We were explicitly instructed to avoid collateral damage on the civilian population and infrastructure, in particular the bridge over the Kura River. That day, a morning attack mission performed by attack helicopters didn't go so well and resulted in one attack helicopter crash landing after sustaining damage by portable, IR-guided Stinger missiles.
I was in command of a flight of two SU-25Ts, my wingman being one leytenánt that recently transferred to our unit and was relatively new to the airframe. Given the low risk of the mission, I hoped to perform some on-the-job training with the junior officer. Unfortunately his navigation system was not properly calibrated (we found out that early during the mission, his first steering points were off by no less than 3 kilometers). Although our SOPs rely heavily in visual identification/cues for targets and awareness of flight lead position and intentions, I didn't want to risk having my wingman flying over a hot area with non-properly aligned steerpoints. I ordered him to RTB before fencing into the objective area.
At this early stage of the operation, our airbase was still procuring ordnance, so we had to settle for free fall bombs of the FAB-100 type, which produce very little damage but would suffice for destroying soft targets around the objective area. Our targeting system was the Shkval, a TV electro optical system that can use a laser for computing distance to targets and data for the automatic release of free-fall ordnance.
|To release the FAB-100s from this altitude, I had to overfly the target. A generous amount of flares, just in case, to cope with the enemy's portable Stingers.|
|The dispersal of the ordnance was enough to save the insurgent truck. No damage on the town or the bridge was visible.|
|After the first pass, some disorientation kicks in while gaining distance from the target. The towns of this flat area of operations look all the same from this altitude.|
During the second pass my intention was to neutralize infantry, which according to our briefing was on the other (west) side of the bridge. However, I couldn't acquire any infantry targets with the Shkval. This is probably due to my high altitude.
|Cockpit view, two seconds before weapons release. In this third pass over the target area, I targeted a BRDM (see Shkval). Note also my high altitude (near 5.0 km) to avoid the enemy IR-guided missiles.|
|Seconds before weapons release during the third pass over the target area. Note the town of Novopavlovsk in the background. The bridge target area is also visible across the river below.|
|Bombs exploding during my third pass. For free-falling bombs, the dispersal was not that bad ... The targeted BRDM (behind the smoke on the left) was spared. The truck received numerous shrapnel impacts and caught fire a few seconds later.|
Mission flown with DCS World, Su-25T (Eagle Dynamics)