Наверное найдется специалист,способный перевести и прочесть...
It Doesn't Take A Genius...
An airfield in one of the USSR's Central Asian republics, call sign "Omar". Subtropics...
Lieutenant Colonel K, Operations Duty Officer, SHC CP (Separate Helicopter Regiment Command Post).
Your humble servant Senior Lieutenant M, Duty Officer, Separate Helicopter Regiment.
Captain B, SHR CP Officer.
Duty Officer, Air Force CP (out there in the Capital).
A Strizh interceptor pair: 0-1 (lead), 0-2 (wingman).
A Senior Lieutenant, Duty Officer, AD CP (Air Defense Command Post).
Other people, all witnesses of events described hereafter: Duty Meteorologist, Communications Duty Officer, Landing Officer, Air Controllers, numerous technical personnel.
...ber 198... Or 136..., by the Muslim calendar.
A loud knock on the plastic partition separating the SHC and AD CPs breaks the monotony of a routine shift. What a shame!
Nothing promised either a "war" situation nor any surprises from the brass or the "neighbors". There were only a pair of "bees" escorting a convoy plus a pair of air recon "bumble-bees" in the air.
The frantically gesticulating Senior Lieutenant, AD CP duty officer, draws our attention to the PPI (Plan-Position Indicator) display glowing in the dark. There, approaching the border between the two unequal parts of the locator panel, a fat dot is moving towards the Durand line. In three or four minutes the dot is going to cross the conditional line and move on, about 30 kilometers to the north of our place.
It's heading right for the capital.
The Senior Lieutenant raises his palms, showing us seven fingers, then eight. That's the maximum amount of information he can provide. The potential intruder is flying at 7000 meters and 800 km/h.
Using a secure communications net, we immediately inform the capital of the incident.
The Air Force CP duty officer reacts by the book. Just as the intruder crosses the Durand line, a blurred spot appears in the center of the IPP display- it's an interceptor pair, our standby air section. 0-1, the lead, and 0-2, the wingman.
Well, the situation is getting clearer. We have a real target and two real interceptors in the air now. However, I'm getting nervous, because Lieutenant Colonel K, Operations Duty Officer, SHC CP, keeps silent and Captain B, the CP SHR Officer, is being too fussy...
Senior Lieutenant M, Duty Officer, Separate Helicopter Regiment, shall follow orders of the Operations Duty Officer, SHC CP, or his regiment CO only. The latter is unavailable now, and the former is silent as the grave. I know what to do, but I'm not allowed to, and they are the other way around or the devil knows what.
The Strizhs report "On station". I assume command. Hell, that's all I need now. I mean, my responsibility is in my right hand and on my index finger. Meanwhile, the Operations Duty Officer, SHC CP, keeps silent smoking my cigarettes. Chain-smoking my cigarettes. For some reason, this maddens me more than anything else (he earns three times as much as I do!).
Finally, a report comes from the interceptors: "Omar, I'm 0-1, On target."
This means that a steady bright dot, the intruder, is in the interceptor's radar sight.
A decision shall be made. But what exactly shall I decide?
I feel somebody tugging at my sleeve. It's the SHR CP Officer, he's decided to take the initiative leaving it to me to pay for the consequences. "Give him the order! The intruder is heading for the capital, see? They have reported On target, it's time to down the plane. Give him the order, what are you waiting for? The target is a real one."
I wheel around and, in utter amazement, look B right in the eye. What I see there is an ocean of stupidity, impudence, incompetence...
"Shoot it down! What are you waiting for?" - it's B again...
0-1 reports: "Omar, firing range, decision-making..."
This report implies a question as to what he should do next. It's a time trouble situation, we are talking seconds now!
The moment of truth has come.
If I give the order... I dread to think what happens next.
If I don't give the order-the Strizhs will close in on the target, visually identify it, inform us, and will either escort it or follow an order that won't be mine.
There are only seconds of travel left between the interceptors and the target dots. Another tug at my sleeve, more fussing behind my back: "Come on, come on now, what are you waiting for?" I don't turn around, I know that I'm not going to shoot the target down, and I extend my hand with the microphone to him: "Here, shoot, you wise guy."
The dots on the panel have merged into a big fat blot. A sweep of the radar, another... I hear a deep breath of terror behind, whereas I exhale with joyful relief. The blot is still there, and this means that there has been no explosion, it's just that the three dots have merged-the two interceptors and the target. There still are some dozens of meters between the planes!
It's... it's 0-1, he's identified the aircraft. I hear a huge rebuke in this single word, as if he's just said that we shouldn't have frayed combat pilots' nerves, shouldn't have put them into a forward attacking position; he also says that we don't play war games here, we fight for real.
Turning around, I see Lieutenant Colonel K's ashen face, he's chewing on the filter of yet another cigarette from my pack. Poor bastard, it seems he's understood something. It was very nice of him to have kept silent and not have meddled.
As for Captain B, the CP Officer, that day I never saw him again. He just disappeared!
The ringing of the secure phone brought me back to earth. I picked up the receiver and heard the gurgling voice of the Air Force CP Duty Officer.
"Get the interceptor pair home. All clear."
"Colonel... 0-1 has reported it's a civilian. I'm getting 0-1's pair home. What kind of civilian is that one?"
"It's just that our goof-offs failed to enter the request into the log when effecting relief. They simply forgot about it. The plane's a Boeing, it's bringing a UN team to us."
...! Just a minute ago that Boeing could have disintegrated as spectacularly as that South Korean one.
Oh my head! Oh my little index finger! All right... One can say now that luckily they were mine. But what if they had been Captain B's, my boss's?
It wasn't the Politbureau, nor was it the General Secretary of the Communist Party, not even the Minister of Defense who were holding the fates of dozens of people in their hands-it was a Captain and a Senior Lieutenant who were. And it wasn't just the fate of that group of people that was at stake!
Many years later I started pondering over the question: "What was the 0-1 thinking when he reported: "Firing range. Decision-making"?
And some more questions: what if the plane hadn't been a Boeing? What if there had been a UNICEF team onboard, not the UN's? What if that plane had been just a regular passenger flight? But the plane was there! Why then nobody cares to know?