Chapter 11 - War Warning
During Tom’s shift on the radio that night, he decided to browse the internet. He hit ABCNews and CNN and found that the special that had run earlier was available for viewing online. He tried to connect to it at both sites, and it timed out.
He looked on You-tube and was astonished to find a video of his presentation on the AQM and the CNN/ABC special in its entirety. He pulled up his presentation and it began to run. He looked down the page and was astonished to see over 5,000 comments.
He ran down the page skimming the comments and saw, “We love you Tom”, “Thank you Tom” and, “the Ross family are the kind of people that make me feel good about being an American”.
He changed to the Three Generations of Heroes video and found over twenty thousand comments and it was flagged as the most popular video on the site. Again he skimmed the comments and they were all very complimentary. All five of the boys seemed to now have fans. There were notes from girls (and guys) suggesting that they get together after the war for fun and frolic. Some of them were very hot.
He grinned at how deeply the twins would blush after reading some of the proposals.
Tom pulled up Digg.com and saw that the highest ranked story with 4,000 “diggs” was, “Hero Teens Save the West Coast”. He rolled his eyes at the exaggeration and read some of the comments: “America FTW!” had 700 diggs. “Our geeks rule!” had 1200 diggs. “OMG the Farmer twins are so cute its ridiculous!” had 550. It made Tom smile and made some of his doubts and fears subside.
Tom sighed. It was just his luck. He was a rock star in a bio-war and didn’t dare make out with any of the groupies.
USS Seadragon, 21˚ 28’ N 123˚ 44’, the Formosa Abyss
Seadragon was a creature of the deep and now she was in her element. Having left the muddy shallows of the South China Sea far behind, in the deep open ocean of the Pacific she could stretch her legs and be the predator that she was designed to be.
Captain Summers had closed to 5000 meters behind his targets using a sprint and drift technique: sprinting ahead at flank speed and then slowing to listen carefully to the sonar track of his quarry.
The Chinese boomers were at a distinct disadvantage. Their sonar would have a difficult time hearing or tracking the stealthy Seawolf class submarine under ideal conditions. Having the Seadragon directly behind them at high speeds, it was impossible.
The silence of the routine was suddenly broken, “Con, this is the Radio Room, we are receiving two properly formatted Emergency Action Messages on the VLF receiver.”
The XO walked to the Radio Room and took the printed messages. On the way back to the bridge, he looked at them carefully, read its contents and said, “I concur. We have two properly formatted EAMs Captain.”
Summers took the two slips of paper, read the message and whistled.
TO: All Pacific Commands
RE: War Warning
Expect hostilities to break out with the Peoples Republic of China and North Korea at 0000 hours 1 May.
Primary mission will be a Fleet Opposed Invasion of the Republic of China. Secondary mission will be to support the ROK and units ashore South Korea.
Conduct yourself accordingly.
You are to prosecute and destroy targets at 0000 hours May 1 or sooner if they assume a launch posture.
Presidential authority applies.
Summers exchanged an astonished look with his XO. He read the two messages again and said, “Do you remember how Russian boomers used to operate?”
Commander Dawson said, “That’s a little before my time.”
Summers said, “I was a junior officer on the USS Boston in the late eighties. What the Russians did was send a couple of attack boats a day or two ahead of their boomers. They would arrive and scout out a safe zone for their boomers to operate in.”
Dawson asked, “So you think that the Chinese boomers are heading for a ’safe zone’ that has been secured by attack boats?”
Summers said, “It fits the pattern. They’re running fast like they don’t care if anyone hears them. I would be willing to bet that there is at least a pair of attack boats sitting in wait further along their course. The boomers charge in and the attack boats can ambush anybody chasing them.”
The XO said, “It does sounds like a trap. They know that we like to “bird-dog” their boomers and they use Russian naval consultants. It does fit. Now what do we do about it?”
Summers said, “We’re going to have to be very careful how we play this. We’ve got to cut speed, go silent and still be close enough to kill those boomers.”
Dawson said, “Let’s slow down and go silent about six hours from our deadline and extend the towed array. If there are any other subs in the area, we’ll have a chance of getting the drop on them.”
Summers said, “I hate to lose ground on those boomers but it beats running into an ambush. Sounds like a good plan. We’ll go quiet at 18:00 or sooner if the boomers slow down.”
Kunsan Air Force Base C-130, South Korea
The flight plan was published: 1 USAF C-130 from Kunsan to Kadena AFB on Okinawa. Shortly before 0300 local time the big jet took off, flew back out off the West coast of South Korea gaining altitude up to 50 thousand feet. It then came around and flew a parallel course 20 miles south of the DMZ.
Remy Boudreaux, just what are you doing?
He had nothing to identify him as an American. His Ranger unit was prohibited from even having tattoos. He was clad completely in flat black. Most of his gear was ceramic and his weapons were all available on the international open market. He was carrying night vision goggles, a silenced MP5, a 9mm Beretta and a time bomb.
The mission was simple: get in, jump a train, place the bomb, jump into a river and swim out to sea where he would be picked up by a friendly submarine. Missions rarely go according to plan; even the simple ones. North Korea was one of the most complicated places on earth.
He made final adjustments on the “Bat-suit”: the super-halo jump suit that would, at least in theory, keep him alive and on target. He looked at the jump computer on his wrist. It would guide him down to the insertion point where he would start his mission.
The back of the C-130 was depressurized for the drop and Boudreaux was alone with his anxieties as the door lowered to jump position. The jump indicator turned green. He walked to the edge and jumped into the blackness of the night.
Guam, Andersen Air Force Base
On his way to his duty station Lt. Morrow was astonished to see no aircraft. After all the noise that he had heard the night before he expected to see half of the Air Force lined up wing-tip to wing-tip on the tarmac but nothing indicated that anything was going on other than business as usual.
When he arrived at his duty station at Hanger 31-b, the illusion was completely dispelled. Once he was inside the hanger there was row after row of the sleek B-1b bombers with palettes of ordinance neatly stacked beside each one.
He stopped by the hanger shop to see what was going on and ran into one of the members of his crew. Morrow asked, “How many B1-Bs are in here?”
The overwhelmed avionics technician said, “Uhh… all of them I think, Sir.”
The plan was set but Tom realized that now they had to refine it. Tom created a script for the encounter with the raiders and made sure that everyone knew their role and they rehearsed it over and over until everyone had their part down.
Brian would man the radio room and security system. He studied the operations of the radio and the security system in detail. If the raiders arrived, his first job was to radio Sierra Hotel for help. Then he would open the gate remotely and let them in. The raiders would probably think that the gate was automated and opened whenever anyone arrived.
Once the raiders came around the access road and were stopped by the rock slide, he would turn on the flood lights and issue a challenge over the loudspeaker. He would order them to drop their weapons and surrender immediately and inform them that they were standing in a minefield. If that didn’t do the trick Tom, manning the ignition control box in the barn would blow mine #8, the last one in line from the roadblock, to show the raiders the severity of their situation. In addition to serving notice that the raiders were in serious trouble, it would cut off their path of retreat. If all else failed and the raiders were stupid and suicidal, Tom would simply blow them all off the mountain.
Jimmy’s role was to watch Tom’s back while he was in the barn controlling the explosives. He chose one of the Bushmaster rifles and thoroughly familiarized himself with it. It was a semi-automatic rifle but it was identical to the ubiquitous M-16 and Jimmy was counting on its intimidation value.
The twins role would be to climb onto the 2nd level roof, take cover there and provide fire support. Anyone coming around the mountain would find themselves face to face with four rifles firing from elevated position under heavy cover.
They went over the script over and over again to make sure that they all had it down so that if they were rudely awakened in the middle of the night, they would know exactly what to do. They also considered contingencies and studied the tactical problem very carefully. It all depended on limiting the enemies’ choices. Their preparations and the terrain involved would give the raiders no choices at all.
Guam, Andersen Air Force Base
Major Brian Lee of the Air Force’s Systems Command stood in front of the assembled technical staff in hanger 31-b. He was one of the most respected systems engineers in the Air Force. Many of the assembled officers had taken his Advanced Digital Systems class at the Air Force Academy.
“Gentlemen, we’ve got a job
to do and it’s a bitch. What we have is the AGM-158 JASSM- an
excellent missile for taking out bunkers and hitting fixed targets at long
range. It uses GPS guidance and hits a target on a dime. Our problem is that our
targets are ships and they won’t be sitting still for us. What we really need is
the AGM-137 TSSAM which was canceled and its technology was used in the JASSM.
All the basics are there. We just have to alter the programming and replace the
guidance package with the image recognition sensor and we’ve got the missile
that the mission needs.”
“We are not alone in this: we have experts from Raytheon both here and standing by via satellite. In fact I did a lot of the work on my laptop on the flight in from Colorado Springs.”
One of the Air Force technicians raised his hand, “Isn’t this a job for the Tomahawk-ASM (anti-ship missile)?”
Lee said, “Yes it is. Unfortunately, because in the last few wars we’ve fought, we have had to kill fixed land targets and killing ships wasn’t a priority. There just aren’t enough of the air-launched anti-ship version of the Tomahawk anywhere in the world to do the job and the navy hasn’t ordered any since the eighties. The Navy has their Harpoon anti-ship missile but their planes don’t have the legs nor does the Harpoon have the range for the job that is required.”
“What we have to do is to re-design, test and modify all the AGM-158’s to kill ships and do it in less than 24 hours. Ordinarily this task would take years to do but most of the work was done on another weapons project. All we have to do is patch the pieces together and make it work. Simple right?”
“When we are done the ADM-158 is going to have dual mode guidance. It will fly to a GPS point and then start looking for a target. The computer inside will have images of the ships we expect to see. The missile will them target the center mass of the ship and kill it.”
Lt. Morrow felt like he was going to faint as a pair of airmen began to distribute a CD-ROM.
Lee said, “The instructions for the upgrade are on the CD-ROM we’re distributing. I’m going to do one with the supervisors. We’re going to load one up for a test shot. Then I want teams of four to get to work on the upgrades. Let’s get to work people!”
Major Lee led the group to the hanger. He took a screwdriver out and popped open the maintenance panel of one of the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles. He placed a laptop on top of the missile and started the PowerPoint presentation that outlined the upgrade and he narrated the entire operation.
“JASSM is a sweet missile to work on. Its modular design makes it easy to modify. First we remove the batteries from the main system board and then we pull the main wiring bus. We remove the nose cap and replace it with the new optical tracking module. Make sure you got room to run the wiring to the main board. We replace these ROM chips on the main board.”
Morrow and his crews watched in fascination. They rarely got a chance to do anything nearly this cool and they welcomed the chance.
“OK. Plug the optical guidance cable bus into the main board on the connector beside the GPS guidance bus and we’re almost there. Replace the main board batteries, plug your laptop into the diagnostics port and turn on the main board in diagnostics mode.”
Major Lee’s first attempt to boot the missile’s reconfigured brain failed. He reseated the ROM with the control program and the missiles brain came up and passed diagnostics.
He said, “That’s it folks. Load this one on Captain Red Park’s bird and get to work on the rest. We’re going to take this one out for a test shot.”
Boudreaux expertly maneuvered the super-HALO “bat-suit” by watching the jump computer. As he sailed toward a GPS location, the computer told him to adjust left and right and even slow his descent and sail by extending the “bat-suits” wings.
He was targeting a snow pack on a North Korean mountain close to a rail tunnel and the computer was the only way that he could navigate in the pitch black darkness of the North Korean night. As he approached his target and the time was right, the parachute automatically deployed. He manually guided it down for the last 200 meters and landed with a thump in the snow.
Boudreaux gathered his chute and looked around in all directions to see if his landing zone was clear. When he was satisfied that it was, he took off his chute and the “bat-suit” and carefully hid them in the rocks. He carefully made his way across the ice and rocks and took up a position directly above the rail tracks and began to wait for a munitions train to come by.
Guam, Andersen Air Force Base
Captain Red Parks taxied the sleek B-1b to one of the runways and went through his preflight checklist with his co-pilot as he waited for clearance from the tower. He had his usual flight crew plus Major Brian Lee sitting in as weapons officer.
Parks got the OK from the Tower and pushed the throttles forward. The big powerful jet quickly began to accelerate down the runway and leapt into the starry Pacific night. He climbed to an altitude of ten thousand feet and took a heading of 220 degrees. A pair of F-15 Eagle chase planes took up formation around the bomber at a respectful distance.
Parks keyed his intercom mike and said, “Major Lee, they told me we had a target but they didn’t say what it is.”
Major Lee replied, “The Navy has provided an old Knox class frigate. It is now sitting in deep water waiting for the test. The way the missile works, we’ll get to a point 150 miles from the target and then release it. It will make its way to a GPS coordinate and then start looking for its target.”
They flew on for another twenty minutes and Parks turned north. He keyed the intercom and said, “We’re approaching the launch point Major.”
Lee turned the master arm switch on the weapons control panel. He keys his mike and said, “The missile is armed and ready Red. You have the ball.”
Captain Parks turned on his radio and broadcast, “This is Fury 11 to Eagle-Eye. We are ready to proceed with weapons systems test Juliette-1. Permission to proceed.”
“Fury 11 the range is safe. You are clear to release.”
Parks opened the bomb bay door and the missile was lowered to its release point. He announced, “It’s away.”
The 14 foot, one ton missile dropped away and the bomber gained altitude after release. A few seconds later the missiles Teledyne turbojet engines kicked in and set it on a steady north-westerly course.
Parks said, “We had a good release. It’s on its way. We’re on a parallel course.”
Major Lee watched his board as the telemetry from the missile came back. It took on a cruising speed of almost 700 miles per hour and an altitude of 5000 feet. The true test would be when the missile changed modes from GPS to image recognition guidance. He looked at his watch and said, “Five minutes until guidance changes modes.”
The missile covered the distance and changed modes as expected.
Major Lee said, “Missile is tracking using low-light.”
He watched his instruments as the missile waggled looking left and right as it searched for its target. A few seconds later it saw the target, recognized it and locked on.
Lee said, “Target identified and locked. Missile is in terminal guidance mode now.”
The missile cruised in close to the little ship and then took a nose dive into the center of its mass just behind the smoke stack. Its momentum drove the warhead deep inside the ship and exploded blowing the little ship in half.
Lee said, “Oh, that looked like it hurt. High order detonation, target destroyed. Test successful. We can return to base.”
The ships stern went down almost immediately. The bow bobbed up and down for a few seconds before it slipped into the deep.
Tom couldn’t sleep so when Jimmy relieved him, he got some cokes from the kitchen and hung around to keep him company.
The brothers browsed the Internet and saw that their fame was spreading. There was even a site that said, “Tom for President” with his picture taken from a still of his presentation to the Guard. More than two hundred senators and representatives had made statements supporting Hollister and Sanchez’s pledge to put partisanship aside and roll up their sleeves to put the country back together.
As they were laughing at the foolishness of it all Jimmy said, “Tom look!”
The camera at the front gate showed a motley collection of scary looking bikers armed to the teeth on a collection of dirt bikes and 4X4s approaching the front gate.
Tom picked up the radio mike and said, “Sierra Hotel, Sierra Hotel! This is Eagle Rock. We are about to engage the raiders. Send help ASAP!”
“Jimmy, get Brian up here! I’m headed to the barn.”
Tom ran through his room and grabbed his grandfather’s FN-FAL, slammed in a clip and ran down the stairs.