"Spirt Fox" was the nickname my grandfather was given during the Second World war in the 40s. He flew a P-38L lightning when he was my age. As a kid i used to play with toy airplanes and imagined myself fighting in that war, I still have those toys but now they line a shelf with my anime collectables and model planes. Hard to believe after this I'd earn that nickname once more.
The day of the mission I took off in my F-16C Block 52 with my wingmen who were also flying F-16s and F-2As. Our mission was simple: penetrate into enemy airspace and patrol the zone and if push came to shove shoot down any bandits who got in our way. Many joked that we were being sent to be a distratction for the ground forces who were prepping to retake a Yuktobanian border town from the Nationalists. As we raised our planes to 12,000 ft we scanned the skies around us, it was very clear that day; you could see for miles on end. My mind began to drift off a little as we flew to the combat zone my daydreaming was cut short by our AWACS callsign "Guardian".
AWACS Guardian: This is Guardian, Kitsune your objective is to penetrate Kalugan airspace and conduct a combat air patrol, contiune Vector 180 south. That is all. Be on your guard Kitsune team.
Kitsune 1 (me): Thats an affirmative Guardian.
Kitsune 2: Kitsune 2, got some hits on our radar sir. Bandits moving 135.
AWACS: Heavy group, coming in hot. Bandits are moving 135 at Mach 2.
Kitsune 3: Numbers?
AWACS: Six hits on our radar. Looks like they are loaded to bear. Heads up.
As he said that the lead two hits on our radar fired their payloads. Long range fire and forget missiles. the missile dots on my scope moved rapidly. We broke hard and evaded several seconds later the XLAAs blazed past us. Their contrails choking the sky. We dispersed and I ordered weapons free. The contacts came within visual range, They were Su-35s. the six bandits broke formation to engage, I turned hard into a bandit. He turned in the oppisite direction, and I followed. As I moved within range to get a firing soloution he rolled and pulled a split S to get away. The others moved to engage as they did I turned left and looked for my target, he was below me. At about 7,000ft. his plane turned right and he climbed to meet me. As I continued to turn left I realized that we would merge at close range. He continued on his heading and I merged with him, his plane right in front of me. I straightened out in time and got lock on tone, I fired my Sidewinder and i watched as the missile streaked toward him. He tried to turn hard right, but he turned right into my missile. its expanding rod warhead detonating and destroying the plane.
Kitsune 1: One down, engaging others.
Enemy Sq: Four is down.
Enemy Sq: No matter, we still have the advantage continue to engage the bandits.
As I turned back I spotted my next victim, another lone Su-35, or so i thought. As I closed the distance I got within range with my AAMRAAM and readied myself to fire, suddenly 30mm cannon shells appeared off my port side. Another Su-35 dove down at me cannon blazing, I rolled right and avoided his fire. I turned and dove with him. As i did another explosion appeared a good distance from me. Kitsune 2 had bagged a bandit. The radio chatter became frantic
Kitsune 2: Hell yeah! another SOB down!
Enemy Sq: Three is down!
Enemy Sq: Shit who are these guys!?
AWACS detected another group moving at high speed to our location, this time they were being chased by something or someone else. I fired my AIM-120 and broke off, I knew there was a slim chance i'd bag him, but oddly enough I did. the Su-35 rolled and trailed fire as it fell. There were only four left, one got on my six and I couldnt shake him. He moved in to fire his cannon, I turned right and began to drag him back to my ally Kitsune 4 who had just got done bagging another 35. He came headlong at us, I broke and he fired his 20mm, shredding the Su-35 in half. Another 35 appeared to challenge me. This time it was the leader. His plane had distinct red markings on the tail and he flew like a professional, he pulled me along into the vertical his twin engine fighter easily outdoing my F-16 as he climbed and dove back down. He locked on to me and fired, I broke hard and dove with him. Now we were side by side. I looked over to my enemy and saw his plane, I even saw him in the cockpit. As he pulled up and leveled out, I leveled out and turned into him.
He once more evaded me like i wasn't anything, this guy had skill and he was going to put me to the test. I turned to follow and he pulled another split S. I followed his lead and pulled one myself. Now I was on his six he turned hard left I followed as hard as I could, his plane drawing sharp contrails. We turned right and I got a lock on. I fired my missile and it streaked toward the enemy plane. The missile hit dead on, the plane heaved forward on fire and started to fall backwards. The pilot ejected as I blazed past. I swore as I looked back he saluted me.
AWACS: Enemy sqaudron is eliminated, continue to engage Kitsune. More bandits Kitsune, move to enegage!
Kitsune 1: Copy that AWACS
AWACS (Kaede): This is Kaede on board Guardian looks like you could use some help, engaging ESM.
With that our weapons systems and radar would have a boost for a little while we'd better wrap this up. The Seven Typhoons moved to engage us, two broke off to engage their unkown pursuers. The Typhoons belonged to Aquarius squadron. Aces and War Crimminals from intelligence said, Kitsune 4 turned into the trail position Typhoon and I engaged the lead. 2 and 3 followed me. It became a spiraling dogfight as we turned and dove all firing at each other, the leader dodged most of my cannon fire and now he took the fight into the vertical, I locked on and fired, my sidewinder easily deflected. He rolled back and dove down, I dived and I broke off to engage his number two. I fired and managed to land a fatal hit. His plane exploded, sending metal and flaming slag everywhere.
I turned left and redirected myself to the number 1, his plane swiftly evaded any attempt at attack I made. My frustration reached a climax and I focused my fire on his port wing, I fired my cannon and hit, his plane shuddered and rolled out of control. "Yes!" his plane fell to Earth as i turned to engage the remaining enemy. But I realized that instead of seven there were only three bandits left. My wingmen called over the radio.
Kitsune 2: Sir! The Unknowns fired at long range! They downed four of them!
Kitsune 3: I cant believe it! Even with them manuvering like that!?
AWACS: Calm down. Unknown Aircraft identify yourselves.
Unknown 1: Lets just say we're admirers.
Kitsune 1: What do you mean!?
AWACS: They closed off their channels they're headed your way! Heads up!
We stayed alert as I moved to engage the remaining bandits, the rest nothing more than nuggets. One aircraft in particular had turned into my missile and collided with his wingman who passed by him. The violent fireball fell together. We turned to meet the unknowns, they flew over us. Their F-15Cs tipped their wings in salute and turned. I caught a glimpse of the plane, It was in an urban camouflage. And emblazoned on the tail was a large Phoenix emblem. The remaining Typhoon bugged out and we headed back to base. As we landed command congrgualated us on mission well done, and it did turn out that we were a distraction for the allied ground forces and as a result we had saved many peoples lives that day. I just couldn't help but wonder. Who were those guys in the F-15s? and what was that Phoenix Emblem? After the mission I was given the nickname Spirit Fox, a title that my Grandfather carried all those years ago.