My aircraft in the air was such that I had to serve in different aviation units and fly different types of airplanes and helicopters — front bomber aviation, strategic aviation, and to participate in hostilities in Afghanistan. Professional, everyday and general social moments are always closely intertwined in life, therefore, it is impossible to give readers, radio amateurs and radio specialists, technically correct, but fragments that are cut off from life are impossible, and its chronological description is unlikely to be interesting. In this regard, I cite here significant (in my opinion) life events and observations, based on a fairly general basis.
Start the service. Frontal aviation.
Service as an air gunner-radio operator began in 1973, in Kyrgyzstan, at the airfield near the small town of Tokmak. The headquarters of the unit was located in Frunze (now the capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek). Our unit was engaged in the training of aviation personnel, including aircraft radio operators, for developing countries in Asia and Africa - such was their official political assessment at that time. The trained contingent was extremely diverse, or, as we call it, heterogeneous. During 3's, all of them had to receive full flight training from virtually nothing, and without knowing the language! It should be noted that literally within three to five months they mastered the Russian language and could speak and explain quite fluently, unlike us who taught a foreign language from school, at the institute, etc. and not being able to explain anything intelligibly, even on the simplest everyday topics. By the way, later, when I fought in Afghanistan, all of us could also communicate tolerably well with the Afghan soldiers and the local population during the 3 months, and without any teachers. It's all about the situation and desire.
My first plane was Il-28, a front-line bomber. It was launched in the series at the end of 40's, the first jet after the propeller. The aircraft was designed and made exceptionally soundly. His fighting qualities were impeccable, both in the skies of Korea and China, and in Vietnam. For all the time of its operation in our regiment on 1979 year inclusive, there was only one flight accident. During the training flight with a pilot-cadet from Afghanistan, the commander of the aircraft, pilot-instructor Captain U. checked the actions of the cadet with an imitation of a sudden failure in flight of one aircraft engine. The cadet knew from the training task that one of the engines would be removed during the flight, but he was not psychologically ready. As a result of hasty and erroneous actions, time was lost and control over the position of the aircraft in the air was lost, the instructor entrusted the cadet with piloting the aircraft. The result - the entire crew was killed.
The aircraft’s radio equipment and the organization of air radio communications were as follows.
The command radio station was the maple VHF radio station P-800. Previously, it was designated as RSIU-3 (ultra-short-range fighter aircraft radio station, the third option) and was an adapted copy of the American command VHF radio station developed as part of radio equipment for the long-range bomber TU-4 (copies of the American flying super-strength B-29). This radio station has become universal for all fighter and front-line bomber aircraft. The frequency range 100-150 MHz, with a choice of four fixed frequencies in increments of 83,3 kHz, power 6 watts. Output lamp GU-32, with amplitude modulation (AM). It was completed with quartz, radio amateurs, they are well known under the indices A and B, for the transmitter and receiver, with the number of a fixed wave. For example, A-57, etc., up to the 601 number. All these markings and complications in the notation were used allegedly to preserve secrecy, so I had to use a special table to convert the number to a fixed frequency, which was extremely inconvenient and in my memory was a tragic incident with the strategic missile carrier TU-95, which I I will mention below. The radio operator’s household included a connected HF aviation radio station (radio transmitter) P-805 "Oka" with two blocks and an operating frequency from 2,15 to 12 MHz, with a power of 30-90 W and its modification P-806 "Kama" with three blocks and a working frequency from 2,15 to 20 MHz, with power 30-120 watts. These radio stations were installed on IL-14, IL-28, and AN-12 transport planes. Later, in Afghanistan, at Kabul airport, I climbed abandoned Soviet and foreign airplanes and helicopters and found in the IL-14 three units from the P-806, which I dismantled and took home. One of the units (power) was sealed from the factory with a special plug and in Afghanistan, apparently, the air radio operator was not used. Later, together with the American aviation radio station, which I have not yet identified, they formed the basis of my personal radio collection (now more than 100 copies) and made me an incurable collection disease for the rest of my life.
The receiver on the IL-28 was the US-P (aka PR-4) sample from the end of the 30-s. It must be said that the transmitter units were located in the lower part of the cockpit of the radio operator and it was necessary to tune them before boarding the aircraft, which made it impossible to re-adjust the operating frequency during the flight. But radio operators managed, if it was necessary, to rebuild the transmitter, removing the seat and sitting down on the entrance hatch with a parachute. Fortunately, this had to be done infrequently, more often when traveling to a repair base and to specialized repair plants in Omsk and Chelyabinsk, when the set of two operating frequencies was insufficient. The transmitter with the GK-71 lamp at the output was sufficiently reliable, had a built-in calibrator, allowed tuning precisely, was easy to operate. The reception was more complicated. The placement of the receiver in the cockpit was extremely unfortunate. I am sure that the development of the workplace was clearly not carried out by a radio amateur, not to mention the opinion of an air radio professional. The use of the radio was difficult, especially since its radio parameters of the 30-s were completely unsatisfactory for the modern aircraft of the 70-s. For some reason, our engineers could not offer the best or did not want to. With the receiver, where the breakdown between the nearest 125 kHz frequencies, it was very difficult to maintain radio communication when flying at night.
The radio link on the IL-28 was only on the radio network of the regiment, route flights to the bombing ground took on average 1 hour 30 minutes, and if there were problems with communication, redirection of the flight task, or other failures, the navigator did not have time to perform aiming and was forced perform a re-entry, which reduced the overall assessment. It is unlikely that in real combat conditions the enemy imperialist would have given such an opportunity, and the navigator of the crew would not have the unpleasant opportunity to be present at the flight director's analysis.
In radio communications, we used the usual aviation "U" code, that is, there was no covert control. Encoding was primitive, for example, the departure aerodrome was coded with 151 number, and 152 polygon; The reset or not reset of the bombs was denoted by the number 121 and 215. Radio operators in the aviation regiments were not engaged in special retraining, although the squadron by staff was a flying communications commander, and not a flying communications commander of the aviation regiment. We had our own radio class equipped with PURK-24, a simulator with radio-telegraph keys, as well as a special class in air training, since we were also air gunners. In our jurisdiction on the plane was aft gun mount IL-K-6 23mm caliber. But there was no serious practical training, let alone theoretical. Due to inappropriate engineering equipment of the landfill, we didn’t do practical shooting. Political activities were much more important and their omission was regarded as a state of emergency, with all the unpleasant consequences that would follow. Recalling that time, I am convinced with regret that “if tomorrow is a war,” then everything would be like in June 1941. The tempo of the radio programs was small and was mainly determined by the capabilities of the ground radio operator operator of the P-118 radio station of some ordinary Khadzhimuratov, who could not say anything coherently in Russian. But this is not his fault, and certainly not our Russian philistine national disregard, but an absolutely insufficient level of army training both in pre-conscription and in the initial military service time. Although the communist system was DOSAAF, which did a lot of useful things for the Army. Interestingly, how do the current, similarly large-bellied and balding Russian generals want to get specialist soldiers for a professional army? Where and from what?
A radio session for these reasons could take on 10 and 15 minutes of continuous radio communication and even without a desire it could be super-light controlled, especially with us, in the border theater. Moreover, there were no restrictions on radio communications in flight, it was possible, at least all the time from take-off to landing, to give the familiar “F” to everyone.
It should be noted that we flew then quite intensively, 4 once a week and with cadets, mainly due to weather conditions in the spring and summer, when visibility in aviation jargon is "million per million." They flew mostly during the day, as flights with cadets were training. In the usual Soviet flight school, in the case of not assimilating the piloting technique by a cadet, the question of his expulsion was always raised as unpromising, or it was transferred to a simpler aircraft technician in transport aviation, or to a ground position. We fiddled with foreign cadets to the bitter end, their total flight was no less than 200-250 flights. There were almost no deductions for academic failure. I later met many of our Afghan graduates at the Shindand airfield in 1979, upon arrival to assist the Afghan people — that was the name for the Soviet military operations in Afghanistan at that time.
The money content in the Soviet Army in relation to aircraft radio operators was, in my opinion, quite satisfactory. With the average salary of an engineer in 150-200 rubles, the radio operator had maintenance in 200-220 rubles with all the extra payments, while he received full meals in the flight canteen at the rate of 76 rubles per month. In addition, he was entitled to a full complement of combined arms and uniforms with a special flight. The communist regime wore and wore the flight crew very well, and a special pride was the flight leather (commonly called "shevretovaya") brown jacket, very comfortable and rare, because then there was no Turkish and Chinese consumer goods. It (as well as other items of clothing) had to be handed over with a certain periodicity for replacement with a new one in LTO (flight technical outfit), and for everyone it was a headache how to manage not to give up the old one in exchange for a new one. When fired or resigned from a flight position, the jacket was not taken away, but sold taking into account wear. They wriggled out in everyone, and in Afghanistan both the jacket and the completely new uniforms were blamed on the burned-down helicopter - one might have thought that they were flying on missions not with bombs and rockets, but with a pile of army clothes and shoes. But it all went very well. As always, and before - the war will write off everything! Of course, those who by rank and position were higher, and not such tricks were done, but already with expensive equipment and equipment. weapons. I still do not understand why it was necessary to replace worn junk with a new one. But Lenin talked about socialism - it is accounting and accounting. This did not help concrete socialism!
We flew intensively in the autumn-winter time to maintain our flying skills in adverse weather conditions, at night, etc. in accordance with the instructions of the military regulations. The total flight time was at least 200-250 hours per year, although the minimum flight time on the IL-28 was 50 hours, in order to get service in two years. Having flown 12 for years, the radio operator could retire regardless of age, and this was a huge advantage over civilian engineers and technicians, and in front-line Afghanistan it went a year in three. At the age of 35 years, having a preferential length of service in 26 years, I retired than, on arrival for a permanent residence in Russia from Kyrgyzstan, caused the regional military commissar to be very disheartened. It is characteristic that during my service there was never a transfer of flights due to the lack of fuel (kerosene) and, reading about the raid of military pilots in Russia on 20-25 hours per year, somehow the advantages of the new, capitalist system in the head do not fit RF. I must say that we all periodically confirmed our class qualifications. For the first class they paid 10 rubles, but for those times they were also money. The holidays relied on 45 days, not counting the free road on themselves and two family members (for non-flying technical staff, it was 30 days), and the road was taken into account in the general term. There were certain advantages in obtaining housing, arranging children, etc.
A very unpleasant procedure was the annual medical-flight commission (WLC). All carefully concealed their illness, just to stay on the flight work, with any medical violation followed the transfer to a ground position, and in the worst case, transfer to the reserve, to obtain a certificate of unsuitability for flight work anywhere. In this case, you became absolutely unnecessary to anyone, and further employment depended on your own quickness. I will give an example. The plane TU-95K during refueling in flight from the aircraft tanker broke off the supply hose - a huge rubber metallized pipe and started hitting the fuselage, breaking the blister (transparent cockpit cover) of the second radio operator with eye damage. The plane was planted with great difficulty, but the radio operator who had become one-eyed was no longer needed, the pension was not enough, arrange yourself later.
In transport aviation. Helicopter regiment.
In 1979, as a result of the expulsion of the IL-28 from service, which was replaced by MIG-17 in the training process, two crew members became redundant, this is the navigator and radio operator. Yes, and the pilots to change from a subsonic bomber to a supersonic fighter was not very comfortable. Who had the opportunity, they retired, others to ground positions related to teaching. I was lucky, I received an offer to go to transport aviation for a plane to Almaty, or to a transport helicopter MI-6 to Dzhambul. I chose a helicopter with a group of comrades. Acquaintance with the radio equipment of the helicopter was fast, especially at our airfield in Tokmak, they rarely landed, and I had a general idea of this type of aircraft.
I must say that in the previous service and later I received very great benefit from my studies in amateur radio from my school years. Mastering a new radio for me was always easy. The trouble was that when I was a radio operator, I could not have my own amateur radio call sign, and this distrust of me, who defended the state in military service, even seemed offensive, but I had to put up with it. In my opinion, any amateur radio operator of the second and even third categories with knowledge of the telegraph and work experience on the 3-5 air years may well almost immediately take the place of the aviation radio operator, subject to adequate health and, of course, desire. These people today are in military communications highly preferred.
The helicopter MI-6 in modern times, not to mention the end of 70-s, is a giant with a maximum take-off weight of 42 tons. Load capacity 12 tons. For comparison, the IL-28 front-line bomber had a take-off weight of 23 tons, and the payload of the entire 3 was tons of aerial bombs. The crew of MI-6 six people. The radio operator is one. He and the shooter, since the helicopter is armed with one large-caliber machine gun A-12,7. Although the staffing machine gun serves navigator. Radio equipment of the helicopter: radio station Р-832 with meter and decimeter bands, there were more ancient types Р-801 "Oak", but five-channel and without quartz. HF radio communication equipment consisted only of the P-807 “Danube” transmitter - a late modification of the 1-RSB-70, the latter being a copy of the American command aviation radio station AN / ART-13 with the flying super-strength B-29. It had 18 preset channels, output lamp GK-71, 1,5-18 MHz band. The power in the antenna 10-90 watts. In radio amateurs, this transmitter almost does not occur, due to the fact that it was tuned according to special tabular data, without being able to directly tune to it in frequency with the receiver US-9. The workplace of the radio operator at MI-6 is excellent, one can feel the attention to this layout aspect in the Mil Design Bureau. The only drawback is the small (20х30cm) window for external viewing, and the only escape hatch for two with flight engineer to leave the helicopter, which in my life, fortunately, was not necessary. However, I doubt if this could have been done with the span of the 35 rotor propeller, and in my service I don’t remember a single case that leaving the helicopter in such a way was successful.
For the provision of radio communications in the VTA (Military Transport Aviation) is also responsible air radio operator - the squadron of communications. The commander of the regiment's communications is also flying. We flew mainly on the air routes of local airlines of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Flights rarely took place at altitudes of more than 1 000 meters and had to keep in touch with the civil aviation control services, providing flights both on our own and on our sides. And since women operators more often worked in these positions, it was a pleasure to work with them. Worked in the telephone AM mode. Radio communication was no different from civilian aircraft, and only for dispatchers it was indicated that the application should be a military aircraft. The work of the telegraph was completely absent, and it greatly discouraged us. Here we were fully airborne civilian radio operators, only in uniform and with a difference in pay. Civilian air operators had significantly higher wages.
Sometimes we were attracted to the search and rescue of astronauts in the event of their abnormal landing, as well as to other search work related to the implementation of space programs. We flew in advance in Karaganda, a specialized search squadron was based there, and we were given to strengthen it. These flights were very interesting, we witnessed certain moments of space stories. After setting the search tasks, we flew across the immense Kazakhstani steppe from Karaganda to Dzhezkazgan in search of a descent vehicle.
In the late autumn of 1979, the commander of our regiment, Lieutenant Colonel R., was summoned to the army headquarters in Almaty. On his return arrival, the regimental personnel were tasked with being ready for redeployment. All was given one week. They collected everything that could have been collected for such a period, including the regimental banner and waitresses with a canteen, a predatory flock took off and flew over to the Chirchik airfield, near Tashkent. We spent the night on the basis of the Tashkent Tank School and in the morning, having taken on board an airborne brigade, we flew to Termez, on the border with Afghanistan.
In numerous films, television programs, studies of historians, the beginning of the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan is interpreted as a sudden, momentary decision made in private conversation by members of the Politburo. I do not think that was the case. We flew not at the end of December 1979, but much earlier. In less than six months, the task of consistently preparing for the introduction of troops into Afghanistan has already been assigned. Of course, we knew nothing about it. At that time, there was a tense situation in Iran, newspapers were filled with reports of bad relations with Shah Reza-Pahlavi and, according to our assumptions, thought it was a sinful thing that our road was there. Subsequent events showed that we were wrong.
Since the Termez airfield was small and the reception of our helicopters more than 40 probably paralyzed it, we were transferred to the Kokayda airfield, also located near Termez. It was based air defense aircraft with MiG-21. Almost at the same time with us began to concentrate other transport aircraft, arrived huge "Antei" -AN-22, IL-76, AN-12. It became clear to us that something serious was being started. Being a radio operator, I had the opportunity to constantly listen to the radio Liberty, BBC, Voice of America. I must say that this accumulation of aircraft on the border went unnoticed, which means that enemy intelligence was not always on the alert. It was reported about everything, but that a huge amount of aircraft was redeployed to the southern borders of the USSR, nothing was said. Subsequently, in Afghanistan, I always tracked the information that the BBC and other enemy voices gave on the assessment of reality, and I must say that very often it did not correspond to actual Afghan events, and sometimes distorted them greatly. Not always the informational possibilities of the capitalists were such as they constantly frightened us inside the Union!
We started flying over the Afghan border area much earlier than the introduction of troops, but with mandatory landing only on our territory. To ensure communication, one helicopter always rose to a height of 3-4 thousands of meters, acting as a repeater with reconnaissance helicopters. Radio messages were broadcast to the flight director and then to Moscow, as in the anecdote "godfather is healthy, bought a boar." We were amazed, as we were directly led by well-known high-ranking generals, many times during World War II! It got to the point of absurdity.
Memorable first combat episode. A pair of our MI-8 carried out a reconnaissance flight over Afghanistan and found a group of armed cavalry. Respectively reported to the repeater helicopter, and from there the message reached the very top. I note that it was forbidden for us to open fire. Top instructed to quantify the group, then - than armed, etc. Meanwhile, the Basmachi comrades, seeing that the iron birds were not shooting, after some pause opened fire in order to reveal the strength of our helicopters, and struck a fuel tank on one of them, and therefore the crew was forced to make an emergency landing. The second helicopter landed nearby and took the injured helicopter crew aboard. Having risen, the second helicopter reported on the repeater about the incident, and since it was in the evening, he returned, and according to their stories the full picture of the incident was restored. The worst thing was that all the aircraft had secret radio units of the "friend or foe" identification system, which are equipped with an automatic detonation device during overload in the event of a fall to the ground. The crew was obliged to press the liquidation button, undermining these blocks, since there was no overload, at which these blocks were automatically destroyed. But in that panic situation, the blast buttons were forgotten, the injured crew ran to the second helicopter, as a team in the Olympic race. The big bosses stomped their boots, but it was impossible to fly back immediately to correct the fatal mistake - night fell. We waited for the morning, raised two MI-8 helicopters. Upon arrival at the scene, it was revealed that the unknown basmachi horsemen were operating in all, taking everything “with meat” away from the helicopter, which could be useful in natural economy. Seeing the helicopters, they fled again. Having landed one helicopter, the crew on their own tried to undermine the secret blocks, but failed to do so. A command arrived from above - to set fire to the entire helicopter, without specifying how to do it. They spent all the ammunition, but the car did not want to burn. Then they poured the remnants of kerosene and somehow kindled the iron bird, and then quickly flew back. For this flight, the crew was presented with government awards. So the war began ahead of schedule.
December 27 1979 of the year, we have already entered into Afghanistan by a political decision. I remember well my first flight as part of one MI-6 and escort group with MI-8 and landing at the Kabul airfield. Arrived in the afternoon. The flight was difficult but safe; The geographical height of the airfield is more than 2 000 meters, that year there was a cold winter, a lot of snow fell. During the flight and later, there was no interaction with the HF range. As if they did not exist. I still do not understand this. In Afghanistan, there was the famous 40 Army, a lot of aviation, we were based throughout Afghanistan and throughout 2's with the 1979-81 the year I was there, the air radio operators were not in demand, and we flew in general, with ballast. I think that the high commanders from the General Staff in Moscow did not know that there were radio operators on the helicopters, which could be widely used both for collecting information and for interacting with other branches of the military. It is clear why: there were no helicopters in World War II!
I will give an example. They gave a command to fly a group of helicopters to the town of Gardez, and with whom to interact, at what frequencies, at what time, etc. it's unclear - fly, and that's it. We fly up. At the airfield silence. Go down. Neither the Soviet nor the Islamic flag is not, whose power is not clear. We decided to sit in one side, the rest stand in a circle, and if something goes wrong, cover it up with fire. Sat down. Finally, our adviser appeared alone. It seems there are no basmachs, and he is glad to death that now he is not alone. With the interaction in the ground forces there were very big, and purely technical problems. How to identify your own and others? After all, radio networks are absolutely incompatible. The paratroopers accompanying us had a radio station Р-129, lamp, HF 1,5 - 11,0 MHz, with a discrete frequency grid through 10 kHz, power 3 W, weight 20 kg, AM, OM, TLG modes. The tankers P-123, VHF, 20-52 MHz, World Cup, 20 watts. The scouts R-107, VHF, 20-52 MHz, World Cup, TLG. We have VHF 100-150 MHz, AM, HF 1,5-18,0 MHz, AM, TLG. The only radio medium of interaction with us was the radio station P-832 on the KSHM (armored command and control vehicle), but there were literally just a few of them. It got to the point that to identify their fighters spread soldiers' blankets on the snow! As before 1941, before the war. Only in 1981, the Eucalyptus radio station with an aviation range appeared. This is how comrades generals and marshals gathered for war and began to fight. It seems all combat, and elementary military literacy was not.
Our target designators were equipped with a P-809 radio station, 100-150 MHz band. But the power was negligible, only 1 watts, while there was no ZAS system (classified automatic communication). That is, anyone could collect all the information on VHF without problems. As the enemy did, with much more advanced Japanese and American radio equipment. All this was completely repeated later in Chechnya.
Now about logistical support. We arrive at a new airfield, there are plates, there are no spoons and forks. The second day passes. Began to make homemade, wooden. And what about those who have spoons and forks in bulk, but there are no plates? The most difficult question was with the dead. After all, gathered to fight, then the loss is inevitable. The bodies were laid in zinc coffins, the famous 200 cargo, then sheathed in boards and stacked. Probably, someone in Moscow defended his doctoral dissertation on this topic. The coffins must be soldered, but there is no soldering acid. Soldering does not hold, there is no tightness. Seen soldering, and okay! We shoved the poor defender of the Afghan alien homeland, pounded and forward, we carried by air to Kokaydy across the border, with each accompanying. Arrived. And the heat of 40 degrees, everything is depressurized, the slurry flows out of the coffins, the spirit is hellish, and the nearest plane is in 3-5 days. What will the poor attendant bring? We ourselves took our losses to the place, it was easier. Then they organized a special aviation corpse, AN-12, known in the army as the "black tulip". So proceeded our weekdays.