were mad at us for some reason, they might be after our UNREP.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Garner said.
“I know. What the hell are they after down there, anyway?”
0252 hours (Zulu +3)
Air Ops, U.S.S. Thomas Jefferson “What the hell are they after down
there, anyway?” Lieutenant Brian Crosby asked aloud, and Coyote was
forced to agree. As nearly as they could tell through all of the snow
and clutter, a number–possibly a large number–of unknown aircraft were
bearing down on the entrance to the Bosporus Strait. The CBG was already
beginning to pick up the frantic and uncoded radio cries of Turkish air
control officers and pilots, who believed themselves to be under attack.
No one had yet ventured a guess, however, as to what actually might be
Coyote watched the confused tangle of blips on the main display in Ops
and swore softly. What, he wondered, would Tombstone have done in this
But Tombstone was ashore, with the transfer ceremony well under way, and
Coyote as Deputy CAG bore the responsibility for deploying Jefferson’s
Lieutenant Brian Crosby was the Ops duty officer at the moment, and he
was watching Coyote now, obviously more than happy to allow the acting
CAG to make the tough calls.
“Okay,” he told Crosby. “Who’s in place who could go take a look?”
“Well, we’ve got BARCAP One here,” Crosby said, indicating an oval
“racetrack” path marked on the screen south of Yalta. “That’s Two-oh-one
and Two-oh-five, Batman and Libbie.”
“But they’re covering the ceremony and are in place to escort the helo
“Yes, sir. Then there’s BARCAP Three, over here to the east. They’re out
of the running. It’d take half an hour for them to get down to where the
action is. BARCAP Two is up here, to the west. They’re in a pretty
decent position for an intercept, actually. Ten, maybe twelve minutes.”
“Who is it?”
He checked the duty board. Two-one-eight and Two-one-oh. Dixie and
Dixie! Shit. Tombstone had recommended that Dixie be kept clear of
anything but strictly routine patrolling for a few days, at least until
he’d had time to settle down after the helicopter shoot-down incident.
But sending him to get a positive ID. ..
On the other hand, it would take Batman longer to reach the bogeys and
there was still the need to cover that helo flight.
No. It would have to be Dixie.
And maybe, just for a backup, he could redeploy Batman and Libbie to
cover Dixie and Badger. BARCAP Three could be routed north to take
BARCAP Two’s place off Yalta. He glanced at the Air Ops clock on the
bulkhead. Yeah, that would work. The ceremony wasn’t due to end for
another half hour or so. The Yalta party could stand to be uncovered for
a few minutes, anyway, especially since all of the activity seemed to be
way the hell and gone off to the southwest, near the mouth of the
Of course, the jamming and unknowns down there could be some sort of
diversion, designed to get him to leave the Yalta ceremony unguarded,
but he didn’t think that was the case. It didn’t feel like a
diversion–a judgment based on a number of years of combat
experience–and, even if he was wrong, even if Yalta was the real
target, BARCAP Three would be close enough to station to employ their
AIM54S in. .. what? Make it ten minutes.
“Okay,” Coyote said, deciding. “Here’s what we do. Tell BARCAP Two to
hot tail it down there and give us a fly-by ID, pronto. Nothing fancy,
just a probe, shake ’em and see what rattles. If he can get close enough
to eyeball ’em, we’ll have some answers.”
“We’ll have some answers if they take a shot at him, too.”
“There is that. Tell Batman and Libbie to leave station and fly
overmatch for Two. And have Three leave station and take over for One.
“Got it, sir.” He shook his head. “Damn, it’s getting busy this
Coyote snorted. “What I’m worried about is how much busier it’s going to
get. I want to know what those-“