There are no close targets in the air. There are plenty at long ranges, and different azimuths. Major Stoimenov gets up so I can sit, hands me headphones for communication with brigade command, and moves behind FCO. Rest of the men are at their places. My men. When Dani leaves in just a moment, I will sit at the place of launch handler*. By habit, Dani and I exchange information about latest events in the unit. In short I tell him what I did that afternoon, and he tells me, still napping, what he did. Radiation imitator is still not connected and ready ti work. Suddenly on the screen of observation radar, on azimuth 195 i spot a target at the range of 23km. Next sweep on the radar screen clearly shows that the plane is approaching us. I say: "Dani, this one is coming at us!" Dani opened his eyes, looked at the screen and uninterestedly followed the situation. Reflection was closing. Plane was at 14-15km, when Dani ordered: "Azimuth 210, search!" As assistant launch handler, at that moment I ordered: "Antena!" Battery commander started guiding tracking officers to the target - left, left:stop!, right, up, up:stop! - antena. He turned on radiation of the SNR. At that moment begins the game of cat and mouse. Who will be faster and more skillful. FCO, while turning three wheels at the same time, tries to acquire the target. SNR is on for more then 10s, and unsuccessfully searching the target. I order: "Stop searching - equivalent!" After several moments, Dani again orders new azimuth 230, and I moment of radiation. Adrenalin can be felt in the air. This time FCO manages to see the target on his two screens, but cant align it with horizontal and vertical markers. Wheels are clicking - he has to push them away from himself, align the target in intersection of these two markers. At the moment the target is in intersection of the markers, manual tracking operators can start tracking it in f1 and f2 planes. Then conditions for FCO to track the target in range and manual tracking operators to guide the missiles to the target in the crosshairs. Target is running and maneuvering. Again, radiation time is too long and I again order: "Stop searching - equivalent!" After a few seconds we try again, third time at azimuth 240. Very quickly, after a few seconds FCO finds the target and reports that the target is maneuvering. FCO wheels are clicking, operators are loosing it. Time of radiation is again too long and just as I was about to order: "Stop searching - equivalent!", tracking operator Dragan Matic yells: "Come on! Come on! I have him!" Frantically turning his wheel, he tried to get the reflection of the target to the middle of the screen. He made it. Tracking officers managed to align the target with the crosshairs, and met the conditions for the launch of the missiles. Second tracking officer Dejan Tiosavljevic reports that the target is of a large radar cross section. At that time I say to Dani: "Be sure that it is not a decoy." I think of war experiences in Iraq when the allied forces mounted corner reflectors on UAV-s and increased their radar cross section. Iraqis thought it is a real plane and started to radiate with their SNR. At that moment fighters in the air caught the locations of SNRs, and then from hiding on the side eliminated Rocket unit with ARMs. FCO Muminovic reports - SNR tracking the target, target approaching, range 13 kilometers. At the same time operators report - on f1 tracking target, on f2 tracking target. Dani commands: "Destroy target, method t/t, launch!" FCO Senad Muminovic presses the button to launch the rockets. Loud explosion. Booster motor of the first rocket screams. Rocket guidance station** rocks. First rocket starts, and after 5s the second one. FCO reports: "First launched, first acquired (tracking operators start guiding the missile towards the target), Second launched, second not acquired (unable to guide the second missile). Range 13 kilometers." Operators in f1 and f2 are tracking. I get up and watch the last kilometers of the rocket flight on FCO screen. At the point of collision a light flash on the screens is visible. Target destroyed. Time of destruction at 20.42. We found the plane at 6km altitude. Plane maneuver to avoid the missile and is hit at about 8-10 kilometers altitude. FCO did not readout other parameters, all happened in a few seconds. Entire process lasted about 23 seconds.
After that panic in the air - nowhere not even one target. At the command headquarters of 250. missile brigade Major Janko Aleksic, from the technical department. At his request I dictate the composition of the team that shot down the plane. Dani commanded only guidance method, and now I cover him and as per regulations I report way of the launch***, expended rockets, activation method of warhead, basic parameters of the target. "Great work, legends!" slipped from Major Aleksic.