The first missile to land struck the primary radar array, on the southwest of the island. The cruise missile scored a direct hit on the array itself, a dull flash and a bang heralding the fall of the dish. The structure below vanished in a cloud of smoke and dust, and a few seconds after, the radar dish fell to earth with the sound of tearing metal before landing with a sound almost as loud as the explosion. The next two missiles that arrived a few seconds later were redundant except to destroy the last few buildings of the array complex.
The next explosions on the island came in the city of Orgavner. The first bomber dropped half of its cargo of bombs, over thirty thousand pounds of ordinance. The bombs devastated almost ninety thousand square metres of buildings and streets in their path for the two miles they were dropped over, including much of the abandoned city, a secondary radar installation, and the power plant. Though most military installations had secondary generators, the power plant was being used to supply power to those former civilian structures the military had occupied.
Each bomber also carried eight air-to-ground cruise missiles, and those had all been launched at sites that were already targeted by other cruise missiles, but the allies wished to make sure.
In the airbase command centre, the operators reported the damage inflicted by the enemy assault to the chief radar operator.
'Main radar array has been destroyed, tracking missiles heading for secondary arrays. Orgavner array is offline.'
'Refinery is under bombardment. Naval base reporting explosions within the perimeter of the base.'
But as the bombs fell across the island, the chief radar operator grew more and more puzzled about the strange blips on the radar screen that only ever seemed to flash onto the screen for a second, when the radar array on the mainland...
'Stealth aircraft,' he mumbled. The technician overheard him.
'What was that?'
'Captain! Get on the line to the radar array at Métruveion,' the radar operator shouted, ignoring the question. The captain glanced up from his office.
'Why should I do that, Lieutenant? '
'Because we need them to focus the array at full power towards eight o clock. I think we might have something out there.'
This discovery proved fatal for the three interceptors in the air over the island. Whilst the rest of the air force here was scrambling to lift off, the radar operators had failed to notice the small signatures fired from three of the fighter-bombers. The DI-1 interceptor had been envisioned as the first line of defence against enemy aircraft by the designers in Dollet, and in order to have maximum speed and missile capacity, it had been built to rely on ground-based radar guiding them. They were completely unaware that the two aircraft about to attack the air field had fired two missiles, and one fighter-bomber escorting a bomber had done the same. The only pilot to take evasive action did so when he saw his fellow pilots aircraft torn from the sky in orange fireballs. It was not enough as the third missile struck the nose of his plane.
The air base was arrayed with four sets of three runways facing directly north, south, east and west. When it had been fully operational, the base could house seventy-two aircraft, and launch them all within a minute of being ready. To keep things simpler, each set of runways had its own control tower.
'Yuri, how do you want to do this?' one of the pilots asked the other.
'We've got three fighters taxiing up the runways towards us. We both take them then the control towers. I'll start on the runways, you start on the hangars.'
'Roger that. And then the bombers come in and level the rest.'
'Sounds good to me, Ivan.'
The two bombers dived down lower, heading straight for the runways facing them as if coming in to land. The night vision equipment in the jets allowed them to see the Dollet-built fighters preparing to shoot up the runway.
'Two away,' Ivan announced.
'Then I guess I only need one,' Yuri replied, firing a single missile. The short range weapons streaked off just as the three fighters started moving along the runway.
The first to hit slammed into the front of the plane, causing it to cartwheel before crashing into the runway and detonating. The fully-fuelled aircraft spat orange flames into the sky and showered the runway in burning wreckage. The second aircraft simply disintegrated in a ball of flames with similar effects. The third was lucky in the sense that the missile slammed into the runway behind it, just missing the plane.
'Lucky little shit,' Yuri complained.
'Don't waste another missile. Finish him off with the cannons.'
Yuri took the advice and fired off a burst of thirty millimetre rounds. Bullets the size of drinks cans tore apart the runway, aeroplane, and the pilot. The natural result was the same fate the other two had suffered.
Each plane then fired two air-to-ground missiles at the four control towers. They were all hit, and collapsed a few seconds later as the jets neared.
'SAM just lit me up. Taking it out,' Ivan announced, firing his machine gun. The SAM system exploded as an anti-aircraft gun began firing. A missile was launched at it and destroyed it.
'Let's get to work on the hangars and runways,' Yuri said, using his own machine gun to destroy an interceptor trying to leave its hangar. A few seconds later, the Estharian bombers began circling the air field, firing at hangars, runways, and any other anti-aircraft weapons that revealed themselves, before pulling out. They left the entire air force of the island in flames behind them.
On the bridge of Garden, as in the bunker below the air base, the attacking forces had also observed their handiwork in action. Dozens of icons across the screens had blinked off over the last fifteen minutes of the attack.
'How are we doing so far?' Matrix asked.
'All missiles have hit targets, air base is gone, all radar is eliminated on island. The mainland targets are also gone, but their primary radar array seemed to be increasing power shortly before it was destroyed and scanning just towards... Well, Tansin,' a SeeD replied
'Tansin? But they've kept their planes on the ground.'
'Seems they're chasing ghosts, sir.'
'Well, what makes you think these screenshots indicate a Galbadian air wing?' the captain asked.
'It all fits sir. I read reports by North Timberian radar operators. They're the only ones who ever tracked the Galbadian stealth planes, and Esthar...'
'Yes, Lieutenant. They did. Trouble is, they tracked them when it was too late. And then they started tracking fighters as bombers and lost dozens of aircraft chasing after them because it was a GAF-18.'
'But those were Estharian made radars, they're not as powerful as ours.'
'Theirs are more modern. Why would we be able to track them?'
'It's all that fits, sir.'
'Well, I'm not signing off on this. I'm definitely not having the mainland waste any of the fighters they're sending to help us on it.'
In fact, the first of eighteen DF-2 fighters were nearing the island. Larger than the DI-1 interceptor and developed alongside it. They were unfortunately a thirty-five year old design, and Amanver was unwilling to purchase the DF-3 fighters that Dollet had begun to use. Why purchase two million Gil aircraft when the same amount would buy you a squadron of surplus DF-2s? Amanver had expanded its air force as Dollet modernised, and bought virtually every plane Dollet had abandoned. This unfortunately left a quarter of their interceptor forces reliant upon ground based radar or other fighters relaying their own radar as opposed to the multi-role modern DF-3.
They were currently tracking the bombers, as they turned towards the air base. The fighter-bombers had completed their tasks, and seven of them had moved towards the incoming fighters. Naturally, the long-range missiles were lofted off. However, these fighters were not blind without ground radar, and of the seven targeted, three evaded. Another was missed, and the resulting three planes shot down was not the payoff the allied pilots had hoped for.
'They'll be in range in fifteen seconds. We can hit them with the short range missiles,' Ivan announced.
'What's their range again?'
'Ten miles and two minutes away from ours at the speed they're travelling.'
'Nice. Free volleys for the first two minutes.'
The Estharian plan was simple. Fire off as many air-to-air missiles as they had, then turn back and follow the bombers. The other allied planes moving from the carriers would intercept them and be firing at the outnumbered Amanverians, assuming of course the fifteen left survived.
'Okay, let's let them loose.'
The seven fighters fired off their entire remaining supply of short-ranged, fire-and-forget missiles, banking quickly to rejoin the other allied aircraft heading for the airbase. The Amanverian fighters, in the face of the hail of missiles, began swerving and jinking to dodge the attack, but a further six of their number were lost. The remaining aircraft kept up their pursuit. The trouble was, the bombers flew slower than the fighters, meaning that the fighters had to stay between the enemy and the bombers to put themselves in harms way instead of the larger aircraft.
'Sons of bitches don't give up,' Yuri commented. The nine Amanverian fighters were accelerating at top speed.
At sea, the loss of Dupérré was confirmed just as the frigate Seafire and her corvette escorts Téméraire and Vigilant readied the first shots of the surface war. The frigate opened fire with its main gun at the Balamb Naval Ship Junison, a Type-91 Destroyer.
'Seafire has fired their main gun at us, captain,' the radar officer reported.
'Are they nuts? Those hulks don't have fire control that can guarantee the shell hits the same sea. Get me Eden,' he ordered.
A few seconds later, the control tower on the light aircraft carrier had ordered three of its VTOL's to attack the Amanverian squadron. The three dived down as the Destroyer reminded the smaller vessels why it had such a name. As klaxons wailed in the three ships to alert them to the torpedoes dropped by the VTOL's, the destroyer fired two surface-to-surface missiles. All the Balambian weapons struck home roughly at the same time. Téméraire was struck by two torpedoes as the Vigilant was struck by the third and the missiles. Both ships suffered heavy damage, and both were rendered combat inoperable, the corvette beginning to take on water.
A shell then slammed off the armoured hull of the destroyer.
'Seaknife,' the captain concluded. 'Let's give it to the Estharians.'
'Affirmative to that, Captain. We'll wipe them out,' he said, hanging up the phone, and then shouting orders to his crew.
A few moments later, dozens of rockets and small missiles were fired from the Estharian missile cruiser Krasgorvia. They hurled through the pre-dawn sky, and struck home in a cataclysmic bombardment. The two damaged ships were damaged to such an extent they began taking on water uncontrollably. As the surviving, albeit heavily damaged and burning corvette limped away, the frigate's hull broke apart. Within a minute, all that remained of a warship that had carried a crew of eighty was floating debris, a blazing oil slick, and the few survivors who had made it to the lifeboats. The other damaged vessel was finished by its own magazine, the shells and powder charges in the main gun housing detonating and blasting most of the prow wide open.
As Amanver's navy in the area was being brutally dismantled, their air force was ready to gain revenge for the loss of comrades a few minutes ago. Unfortunately for them, the VTOL-1 jets on their radar had moved to engage them and rescue the Estharian planes.
'Echo Bravo Three, Echo Bravo Three, this is Sierra Victor One. Approaching your position with some backup. Looks like you guys need the help.'
'Roger that. The faster you get here the better,' the bomber pilot agreed.
Three SeeD VTOLs raced to intercept the nine aircraft. Carrying weapons on seven hard points on the wings and body plus twin thirty millimetre cannons in the nose. These particular VTOL's carried two air-to-ground missiles, and four air-to-air. The seventh hard point was occupied by an air-deployed anti-ship missile, a standard loadout for the planes that served as SeeD's naval power projection.
'Blaze, Smoker, disperse and gain altitude. Weapons free,' the lead VTOL ordered his wingmen.
'Roger that, Swordfighter.'
The Amanverian fighters split in half, three of them climbing up to meet the VTOL's.
'Sierra Victor One, this is Echo Foxtrot Five. Me and my wingman are wondering if we can give you a little help, comrades,' Yuri enquired.
'Roger that, Echo Foxtrot Five, if you can keep them occupied that'd be just dandy.'
The two Estharian fighter-bombers broke off from their escort of the bombers, and dived back towards the Amanverians. Predictably, the locals opened fire, launching air-to-air missiles. The two Estharians dodged as the VTOL's engaged their welcoming committee.
'Blaze, Phoenix One!' he screamed into the comms, indicating a fire-and-forget heat seeker.
'Smoker, Phoenix one.'
'Enemy has radar lock on me,' Swordfighter reported. 'Phoenix One away'
The Amanverians performed evasive manoeuvres to dodge the incoming missiles, but only two of them succeeded. The unfortunate pilot who lost his plane only did so because he had managed to evade the missile fired at him. Unfortunately, one fired at one of his comrades tracked him, and detonated as it reached the end of its fuel supply. It wasn't enough to utterly destroy his plane, but it shredded the engines and set the rear of the plane ablaze. The pilot bailed out. Meanwhile, Swordfighter jinked left just in time to allow the weapon fired at him shoot off harmlessly for a further kilometre before exploding.
'Got a 'chute. Looks like a heat seeker lost its target then picked out a different one. Whose kill was that?' Blaze asked.
'Wasn't mine,' Swordfighter chimed in. 'The next one is. Phoenix one!'
A heat seeker streaked away from the SeeD plane, chasing after one of the Amanverians still recovering from his evasive action. The missile took him by surprise, and tore his right wing off when it detonated. He too bailed out safely.
'Another 'chute. Good kill, Captain.'
'Clean enough. Take the last one down, he's out of my LOS.'
Blaze and Smoker swooped in opposite directions, sandwiching the surviving plane between two missiles. The pilot had the sense to eject his doomed plane, the weapons chasing it down to earth as it fell.
Down below at six thousand feet, the Estharian fighters tied up the Amanverians in a game of cat and mouse. But these mice still had claws.
'Shit! Yuri, was I hit by that one there?'
'No, comrade, it looks like your chaff got it. Was about a ballhair away.'
A missile fell down from above, slamming into the centre of an Amanverian jet and making it vanish in a fireball as the SeeD VTOL's attacked from the heavens. The last two, now knowing there was no hope of victory, turned and fled. The allies did not chase them.
The last bombs were dropped on the airbase, shredding the surviving structures in showers of steel and flame. In amongst the bombs dropped, were a few special weapons designed to cause problems for anything underground.
'We should evacuate,' the technician nervously said. The chief radar operator laughed.
'My friend, let me tell you something. I was in a bunker only six meters below ground when the Tansin air force dropped two thousand pounds of explosives dead onto the place, and all we felt was the rumble. We're safe,' he said.
They were famous last words as the bunker buster tore in to the depth it had been set to by the bombardier. Intelligence had indicated the control centre was roughly in the middle of the base and was roughly sixteen meters below ground. No one inside survived.
After an hour of air and sea combat, Amanver's defences had been hit hard. Of their naval forces, both destroyers had been damaged, and one was floating powerless in the water just north of the ghost town of Orgavner. A frigate had been lost; another had much of its superstructure in ruins. Both submarines had been hunted down and sank without even getting near the enemy fleet, and only one corvette had escaped damage. Of the three damaged ships, one was likely to join her sister ships on the seabed within the hour barring a miracle.
However, the air and sea bombardment had left the Amanverian ground forces relatively unscathed. Though hundreds had been killed or wounded, most of their forces had dispersed to shelters and amongst portions of the urban areas where they could easily hide. Though anti-air defences were virtually wiped out and the shore defences had suffered heavy damage, they still had the manpower to repel a landing, or at the very least, defeat the attackers.
The Balamb Marines neared the coast in their landing craft, attacking the heavily damaged refinery. SeeD troops moved on Izrani, as Paratroopers and Helicopters swooped in on the other edges of the island.