40 Miles north of Cape Town, South Africa, and Closing
September 18th, 2019
Hugging the rolling, scrub-covered hills, dotted with buildings and winding roads, Joe softly nudged his A-10 into gentle descents and climbs under his AI, Diana's patient and calmly-voice instructions and commands. The night-shrouded world of South Africa outside the jet's canopy was tinged in starlight-scope multiple shades of green, dotted with the false-palette of white and black. If he glanced side-to-side he could make out the shapes of his squadron, and the vague shadows of the rest of the armada that had taken to the air to begin the offensive to liberate Cape Town from the clutches of the invaders - as, according to intelligence briefs at the opening of the mission, the city was home to a scientist and his colleagues who had uncovered critical information about their enemy.
While the rest of the UN Multinational Forces assault would be focused on the Invaders forces around the city, Spearhead would be targeting their specific assault against the compound in the south-west quarter of the city, where the group were held. They would be providing air cover for the assault on the compound, and escorting the transports recovering the VIPs out of the area, as well as striking the located HQ-node of the Invaders, co-located in the same place.
Getting a time-index heads up from Diana, he thumbed the mike switch on his throttle and spoke clearly into the microphone inside his oxygen mask.
"Spearhead, check in. This is Axe, we're five minutes out. Arm weapons, and spread out to attack posture, take up course for our run in. Remember, keep the birds covered, and then hit the enemy on the ground and in the air. Their gunships will be overhead as soon as the shooting starts, and their fighters will be on patrol. This'll be our first live mission together - let's put all we've learned into action, over".
He clicked off, and as he listened to their replies, he ran his eyes over the A-10's instrument panel, confirming that everything was set and ready. All weapons were armed; Rockets, Mavericks, bombs and sidewinders, and of course, the A-10's phenomenal 30mm Gatling cannon.
A digital counter clicked over on the flight plan, and the empty drop-tank under the fuselage jettisoned with a slight rumble through the frame of the aircraft, the formation climbing to higher altitude to begin the attack.
The timer ran lower, the minutes crawling by inexorably, and his gloved hands tightened on the controls, anxious to get the mission underway, and then over with just as quickly. The next few minutes would show the true quality of their training, and of the men and women on his wings. How many would come back? Hopefully all of them... but with the battles so far, it would be truly a defining fight if at least half of them returned in one piece.