ENN Issue 9a
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ENN Issue 9a
U.K. Daily Scoops Carrier Sinking Story

January 2, 2010

Daily Mirror

Stornoway, Scotland (ENN) - A British newspaper scooped other media outlets when it first reported the USS Truman, an American aircraft carrier, had been sunk by hostile forces in the Atlantic. 

The incident was exposed when a Daily Mirror reporter decided to pursue a new and unexpected story while at the airforce base at Stornoway.  His original purpose was to interview the airbase commander, and was in the midst of a guided tour through the base's air traffic control center when he observed a sudden increase in activity and tension.

His curiosity was additionally piqued when he noted an obviously damaged American F14 Navy fighter land at the base, and found his military guide evasive and terse when questioned about its presence.  Not long afterwards, while touring the base pilots' quarters, he feigned illness and then abandoned his escort when the officer left to seek medical attention.

It was at the point that the journalist took measures even the Daily Mirror's editor, Peter Arnet, has called "extreme".  Entering one of the unlocked quarters, he found and donned a pilot's uniform, and then had the good fortune to stumble upon the American F14 pilot just as he finished showering in a nearby common area.

As a well informed military correspondent for the Mirror, and for CNN a decade ago, the reporter was well versed in military jargon and managed to successfully pass himself off as a British pilot. He engaged the American in a conversation about the events leading to his arrival at the British base and was provided with a riveting account of a Russian attack in the North Atlantic.

Although the Mirror's reporter has since become incommunicado - likely dodging military and civilian authorities seeking to file charges - the subsequent story he filed was printed in a special edition of this morning's newspaper. The events as described by the American pilot would represent a serious blow to NATO operations in the Atlantic and likely result in a large number of U.S. casualties.

Attack in the Atlantic

According to the F14 pilot, the early hours of January 2nd started routinely enough; marred only by the presence of an extreme storm centered directly over the carrier task force, preventing normal routine air patrols. But at around 1:00 am, he and other pilots were scrambled in spite of the storm when aerial jamming was detected coming from the north, northwest and northeast of the fleet.

F14The F14s that managed to take off were directed towards the jamming source, likely in hopes that the fighters' radars could "burn" through the interference and locate enemy aircraft.

Unfortunately only a few fighters were able to launch in the storm, leaving  this pilot and a limited number of others to face the inbound attackers.  According to the report, it was around 1:30 am when U.S. fighters managed to climb above the storm and spread out in an attempt to locate the jamming aircraft - initially identified as bombers nicknamed "Bears" by NATO.

Almost immediately he and the others were pounced upon by enemy fighter jets. U.S. F14s are generally believed to have longer ranged air-to-air missiles - called "Phoenix" - than their Russian counterparts, but the powerful jamming apparently allowed the enemy to close to where their own missiles could be launched.  

A detailed account of the resulting dogfight was impossible to recount, as the pilot was dodging incoming missiles even as he launched his own, but it apparently wasn't long before his F14 was riddled with shrapnel from a nearby miss.  There was no way to tell what type of missile caused the damage, or even whether it was radar or IR guided, but he seemed confident that the Russian fighters they faced were SU-35s.  It's unknown how many enemy jets may have survived that particular engagement, but he confirmed at least two F14s were destroyed. 

The American pilot soon realized he was out of the fight.  His only remaining missiles were short-range sidewinders and although the damage he'd sustained was not sufficient to force him to ditch the plane, it did prevent him from entering a close range fight with any hope of survival.

Just as he brought the jet around to make his way back to the carrier, the controller onboard reported an emergency message was being sent out from the fleet. The message stated the Truman Group was under attack from five northern directions, with enemy forces including a suspected 25+ "Backfire" bombers plus escort fighters, an accompanying missile strike inbound, and a possible submarine contact along that same axis.

The F14 pilot reported seeing missile trails glowing in the night sky, flashing both away from the fleet and - in the distance - towards it.  Craning his neck around, both he and his weapons officer could see large flashes where NATO missiles intercepted the inbound Russian ones, with each successive flash getting closer and closer to the fleet.

Soon the flashes passed by the F14 as it continued flying towards the Truman, and it wasn't long before they saw one and then two ships, likely Destroyers, appear to take hits. 

Just as they were lining up to approach the carrier deck, they saw the ship take at least a half dozen missile hits. The pilot claimed he could actually see the carrier's close-support phalanx guns fire and take out the lead missile before the others struck. That first explosion bathed the carrier's deck with white light, allowing a clear view of it and two nearby ships as they rocked with successive impacting missiles.

Neither the pilot nor his weapons officer bothered trying to get new orders from the Truman's air controllers; they had both observed that entire section of the ship vaporized by missile warhead and fuel explosions.  Since no other platform existed within the fleet, and with less than half a tank of fuel in their crippled jet, the pilot turned towards the only "carrier" within flying distance - Scotland.

NATO Responds

U.S. officials would neither confirm nor deny facts presented in the article, citing military secrecy and consideration for the families of sailors serving on the USS Truman, however most details in the Daily Mirror's report have been substantiated by more than one NATO source.

Casualties suffered in the engagement are unknown, but sources stressed that all possible measures would be taken to provide for the rescue and medical treatment of servicemen stranded or injured in the attack.

The fate of the F14 pilot who was unwittingly interviewed by the Mirror's reporter is unknown. The newspaper's owner and its editor are standing by their reporter's actions, and it is suspected they may be aiding him in his attempts to allude British military officials.

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