Part the third. I know the mention of hardware in this very brief installment will appeal to some and bore others. In this type of story it is a necessary evil to offset the science-fiction-y aspects and ground them in the real world. Links provided to parts 1 & 2 fore and aft.
Hornet – Part 3
by Desmond Manny
Sara mentally issued the command to open the throttle on Unit 03. Lowering altitude, sensors confirmed that she had Unit 03 just grazing the tops of the trees of the broad forest to further confuse her radar profile. Passing out of the Safe Zone she entered the Engagement Zone. The entire area was a testing ground. There were mock targets comprised of buildings and vehicles, automated ground defenses, and less advanced drones operated by traditional remote technology. All the attention to detail, down to using live ammunition, was in aid of providing as close to real world conditions as possible without risking personnel, other than possibly herself.
Now that she had been given time to acclimate to the new unit and it’s interface, the odd sense of being “twinned” was still present but lessened, Sara turned her focus toward the mission parameters she had received in briefing. Her target was a concrete structure designated as an enemy combatant headquarters. Her mission was to render any support facilities inoperable, disable defenses, and “paint” the structure with a laser beacon for destruction by incoming bomber. Idly Sara considered Unit 03’s complement of offensive weaponry; a variant of the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and next-gen anti-personnel ordnance. Along with the addition of the Unit’s sensory array, including a synthetic aperture radar system, it was a massive payload that precluded any type of “bunker buster”.
The radar and other sensory systems painted a picture of the forest and target area for Sara that was not affected by day or night, rain or shine. She was receiving the data in real-time and saw the targets picked out by Unit 03’s command processor, her co-pilot of sorts. She knew that the unit was moving at nearly 270mph but she was having no difficulty keeping up with the data input and the necessity to pilot. She noted the three BUK anti-aircraft vehicles that were defending the target. They were older BUK M1’s which made tactics obvious. Sara sent the command to release a sheaf of 8-inch decoy platelets that expanded in the air. Each platelet was encoded with a small radio transmitter that gave it an expanded profile to radar detection systems. To the BUK systems it would appear as though a fleet of small drones had entered their airspace and would be targeted immediately.
Sara slowed and altered her approach vector confident that even if the M1’s detected her they would be unable to re-target after targeting the platelets. As expected the first two M1’s fired on their targets and Sara took the window of opportunity to launch missiles at each before turning her attention to the last M1. It hadn’t fired and didn’t seem to detect her as she vectored in, likely because of it’s position further from the other M1’s.
Almost too late Sara realized it was a decoy as two drones came into Unit 03’s sensor range moving at top speed.