Chronicles of a Counterterrorist (air component)
Ijeoma Ogbulie Eugene
I look at my wristwatch; 3.14 pm. I was lying on my camp bed trying to catch some sleep, the darn flies wouldn’t let me. Then all hell breaks loose!!! “Scramble scramble. ACKNOWLEDGE!!”
Since leaving the 303 flying training school and return from the fighter pilot training institute in the US, I had never adorned my jumpsuit and helmet in such record time.
Seconds later I am sitting in the cockpit of an F7-Ni turning on switches and taxiing on the runway of the expansive airstrip of NAF 105 composite group maiduguri, HQ of the air component of operation lafiya dole. I am cleared for takeoff, few seconds later I am airborne.
I had no idea what we were scrambled for; one Alpha Jet had taken off seconds after I did. I could hear him breathing through his mouthpiece on my helmets earpiece. Then he spoke to me;
Alpha pilot: “Sir you get idea wetin the mission be?”
Me: “noo…you see say no time for briefing…i dey suspect say ground troops don jam ambush or maybe wan advance and those animals they fire them well. Any how we go soon…”
A voice from command center interrupts our conversation: “ground troops radioed in for air support. They are taking fire from multiple machine guns and RPGS. They currently have their backs against some mountains and have no where to retreat to. Go in there, roast those animals and create a path for the men to pull out. Coordinates are being posted to your screen as we speak. You are to engage once you get there. Safe flight”
This is my first time on a combat mission. Fear creeps in then adrenaline starts pumping. Eventually training kicks in. I do a check on my weapons…I am armed and ready with 4 short and medium range missiles and my machine guns had over 500 rounds. I call on my colleague flying few meters away from me to know what he is packing.
Me: Boy how many you carry?
Alpha pilot: Sir, I carry 6 and my MGs dey fully loaded.
Me: Thank God. Na me go drop height first…I go drop first payload then I ascend. You come from back drop…we go do am two times each and now spray them ‘groundnut’ small.
Alpha Pilot: Yes sir, Ok sir.
Five minutes later we were directly above the scene of the battle. O boy! Our men were pinned down at their location, it was only a matter of time before they run out of ammo and its game-over.
I can hear ground troops on our secure radio calling for blocking units close by to come as backup. I patch into the call, giving them my call sign and then requesting they give me exact coordinates of the enemy since I wouldn’t want to be dropping any ordinance on our men. Immediately coordinates appear on my screen. I descend, take aim and fire. I go higher so my partner could drop hes. I look out of the window from my cockpit and I could see the animals running in different directions. Then I notice a vehicle moving. It wasn’t a friendly…then I notice a second one…I call out to my partner; “two boogies escaping, one on my right and the other heading north. I dash you the one heading north”…seconds later all that was left of the vehicles were their mangled parts.
WOW! Nothing in flying training school ever got me prepared for the feeling! I was fighting for my country! I was taking out the bad guys who had sworn to make life hell for my people.
My earpiece comes on…the soldier with the radio on the ground is calling, they were taking fire possibly from some snipers meters away from where they were, we were needed to level the general area the shots were coming from. I tell my partner to hang on let me descend and do the job….a few bursts from the machine guns on the right and left of my jet leaves the whole place in smoke.
Then it happened!
I saw the dot coming close to the big circle on my screen; it was the MAW (missile approach warning system) of my jet alerting to a missile that had been fired from ground at me! What maneuvering technique would I use to evade…then I saw another and another…three missiles approaching.. . RPGS? AAAs (anti aircraft artillery)? All these thoughts were flashing through my mind in less than a second . The best way to defeat these missiles was kinematically, a method that includes flying as far away from the missile as possible so they bleed off energy. But they were three! Now! I took the first sharp 45° turn with my eyes on my screen…one dot had disappeared…csecond turn… I could hear my engines screaming at the second sharp turn and then BOOM!!
I opened my eyes…where was I?…A voice spoke “e don wake”. Where am I, I asked? The same voice spoke; “we see your plane as e dey fall until e crash. Oga say make we run go where you crash see whether you dey alive before boko people reach you first.” Then it came back to me; I wasn’t fast enough to loose the last missile.” Then I asked the voice; what of the second plane? He answers, “that one don go. Thank God say una come, this people don nearly finish us. Oga no worry, your wound no plenty. Na only leg you break.”
The men had successfully cleared the area without having to retreat. It was a success but…
My first combat mission. My first crash. At least I came out of this fight alive. I look at my wristwatch: 5.23pm.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Illustrations 2017 CyberAgbero(™)