Hidden in the black of night, the two delta-winged ground-attack jet aircraft swept towards their target at a scant fifty feet above the inky waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They were on a risky mission, but a daring one, so outlandish in its execution that it had to succeed. The enemy would not expect so direct an attack, and would pay for its complacency. Tonight, the hated nation would be brought to its knees.
Looking out the left side of his canopy, the pilot of the second MiG-21bisN could just make out the glow of his flight leader's exhaust ahead of him, the only indicator that he was not alone. They had been in the air for a little over twenty-five minutes, with all navigation lights off and under full emissions control. In another ten minutes or so they would make history. He smiled tightly, recalling his pride when he had received his orders. Although his general had made it clear that the likelihood of returning alive was slim, and so it was on an entirely voluntary basis that he accepted the mission, the pilot hadn't hesitated. It was not often one got the chance to strike at the heart of the enemy so decisively, and it was a privilege indeed to be one of those chosen to do so. He knew that in event of success, even if he died, his family would be honoured in his stead; his wife and children would be well provided for for the rest of their lives.
The pilot took a deep breath, stilling his soul as the minutes ticked down, and checked his armament board again. The weapon he carried on his centreline pylon was virtually harmless at the moment, just a smooth, aerodynamic block of densely packed metals and electronics. Once armed, however, it would unleash destruction on a scale as yet unseen in the history of warfare. He was not a bloodthirsty man, but he was fiercely patriotic, and his country had worked long and hard to produce the complex device. He couldn't think of a more fitting "field trial".
The visibility tonight was excellent, and he could see the twinkling lights of the target many miles ahead of him. He glanced at the readout on his display. It was time. The pilot unconsciously ran his tongue over his lips as he flipped the switch that began the arming sequence for the weapon slung beneath his aircraft. He knew his flight leader would be doing the same in the other MiG-21. After a couple of seconds the indicator glowed a healthy green, and he released a breath he hadn't known he was holding. Now all that he needed to do was to activate his aircraft's bombing system. The fire control computer (FCC) would fly the attack run, using altitude, heading, airspeed, groundspeed, and drift data to compute an exact point for bomb release.
This is it, he thought to himself, and toggled the switch as a flare of light erupted outside his cockpit, his flight leader's aircraft leaping forward on a plume of fire. Seconds later his own aircraft followed suit, the FCC toggling the MiG-21's Tumansky R-25-300 turbojet into afterburner. The airspeed indicator wound up rapidly as the two planes streaked for their target.
Barely thirty seconds later both MiGs pulled up in a sharp climb as the FCCs prepared to "toss" the bombs onto their objective–
– the pilot's radar warning receiver abruptly screamed, a high-pitched, shrill tone that pierced his soul. SAM! A surface-to-air missile battery had found them when they pulled up, and was moments from swatting them from the sky. His hands itched to take the flightstick and evade the missile that would surely be coming, but the fire control computer needed a few consistent, steady seconds of flight to make the bomb release. Come on, come on, we're so close!
Night briefly became day as a surface-to-air missile detonated, its blast-fragmentation warhead turning the lead MiG-21 into an incandescent fireball. The pilot of the second aircraft gulped, sudden fear that he would not succeed, after all, chilling his heart. His name would be spoken of with shame, rather than honour, his family spurned rather than celebrated. He blinked back the image, feeling his aircraft lurch as the weight of the weapon he had carried across the ocean dropped away. Yes! He grabbed the flightstick and yanked it over in a rolling dive for safety.
He did not see the missile that raced up his exhaust plume, exploding in a savage blast that engulfed the MiG-21 in white-hot flame and turned his cockpit into an instant crematorium.
- - - - - - - -
The bomb reached the top of its ballistic arc and nosed over as it lost its battle with gravity. The energy imparted by the bomb-toss, combined with the forward speed of the aircraft, had served to propel the weapon several miles from the point of release. Now it fell unerringly towards its target.
The bomb detonated with a brilliant flash a hundred times brighter than the Sun. It was followed immediately by an immense pulse of thermal radiation that set fire to any combustible material out to a distance of 10km. Accompanying the flash was an incandescent fireball that within moments grew to almost a kilometre across. An enormously powerful blast wave formed from the resulting compression of the air, racing outwards from the epicentre of the explosion at over the speed of sound and flattening everything in its path. Every residential and industrial structure within a radius of six kilometres was reduced to rubble as the wave rolled through the city, wiping away once-proud skyscrapers and capsizing every ship in port.
Before the glow of the fireball had faded just one minute later, nearly half a million people had been blotted from the face of the Earth.
A/N That's it. My dream actually stopped with the first SAM launch, but I wanted to conclude the story. My description of the detonation is deliberately detached because I wanted to preserve the horror of the bomb without being gratuitous with the detail. This is also the reason why I haven't gone into the aftermath of the initial explosion.
I have very little idea of the details of toss-bombing, and next to none on the actual use of the equipment involved. I therefore have no doubt that I have made several mistakes. For most of you, however, I trust that this will not take away from the story itself.