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.He stood with a pool cue in his hand.From the way he wobbled slightly, Zachary had clearly already had a few beers, like most of the others.“Everyone,” bellowed Zachary, waving the cue through the air.“Let’s give a big one for Dewey! A fucking hero! Good job, old man!”The gathered ranch workers all cheered and clapped.Talbot stood up and handed him a beer.Dewey smiled.“Thanks, guys.I couldn’t have done it without you.”As the thirty-odd ranch hands gathered around him, Dewey retold the story of saving Nicola Chasvur.“Where’d you learn to climb rock like that?” one the men asked when he’d finished the story.“Nighttime? In the rain?”“You would’ve done the same thing,” said Dewey.“Every one of you.You’d be surprised what you’re capable of when your back’s against the wall.A lot of it was just plain old luck.”“Luck, my ass,” said Zachary.For the next hour, they cranked the music, played pool, and relaxed.At some point, Dewey felt a pat on his back and turned to see Talbot.“You up for a night on the town?” he asked.“Sure,” said Dewey.“Let me grab a shower.”17CHAKLALA AIR FORCE BASERAWALPINDI, PAKISTANAt 2:46 P.M., a Chinese-made F-7 fighter jet, painted in the light green colors of the Pakistani Air Force, barreled down the 8,900-foot runway at Chaklala Air Base in Rawalpindi.This PAF jet was one of a series of fighter jets taking off at steady intervals from Chaklala, now the main staging area for the air war.All of them, a smorgasbord of F-7s, Mirage 3 and 5s, A-5s, F-16s, and JF-17s, were weighted down with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.Their primary mission was dumping missiles on the Indian Army supply lines in the Kargil area.An increasing number of jets were being sent directly east, toward Srinagar, Kashmir’s largest city; PAF was attempting to divert Indian resources so that the Kargil area could be fortified by Pakistan and used as the staging ground into Srinagar.But the going was tough for the PAF pilots.Already, seventeen Pakistani jets had been shot down.But on this day, at this hour, one particular F-7 fighter jet was different from the others.It looked the same, same light green paint job, same gold star on the rear wing, and beneath the left wing of the jet, the normal payload was strapped; three surface-to-ground missiles.But beneath the right side of the jet, something different had been attached: A single, roundish, polished steel bomb.It looked like a slightly elongated, very large football.On its nose, an unusual appurtenance; a black cube the size of a shoe box that extended out in front of the bomb.This piece of hardware was a thirty-four-kiloton nuclear bomb.Inside, the bomb held weaponized plutonium, trapped in an ion-free, airtight alloy capsule spiked through with a sophisticated, altitude-sensitive trigger mechanism.The bomb and its trigger mechanism had been designed by Osama Khan and his team of nuclear engineers.It was neither the largest nor the smallest of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.It was not the newest technology, nor the oldest.Of the one hundred and sixty-one in the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, this particular bomb was average.But, it was reliable.The trigger mechanism had been thoroughly tested, the fissile material ratio was known and dependable.The Chengdu F-7 climbed quickly to 12,000 feet, aiming northeast toward the LOC above Kargil.At Drass, however, when the jet should have veered slightly south, toward Kargil, Captain Ranala, the pilot, kept the flight path northeast.After several minutes, he pulled the throttle back, moving the F-7 to more than nine hundred miles per hour, climbed to 21,000 feet and arced north.* * *At the Indian Army’s Northern Command headquarters, Lieutenant Ashwan Miri, an intelligence officer in the battle operations group, stared at his radar screen.Miri tracked Pakistani jet movements into the war theater, and, based upon the trajectory of those inbound fighters, dispatched the routes to the appropriate missile battery for targeting.The job was largely an automated one, thanks to the sophisticated SIGINT system designed by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.Miri’s job was to move his cursor to the flight line, then simply click the mouse three times, at which point the computer would pick up the trajectory and push the assignment for the incoming jet to a missile battery, based on proximity to the predicted target of the fighter and supply of weapons at the batteries, as well as the altitude and speed of the inbound jet.Miri picked-up the Pakistani F-7 as it crossed the LOC [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]