The use of large military gliders in counter terrorism
424 pages in paperback
Code Name Angelique looks at military gliders. When the subject was first broached, I thought this was an insane idea.
Gliders were last used in 1965 when the Soviet Union got rid of theirs. But who among military history lovers do not recall the 1944 D-Day Allied glider landings? Or Germany’s attack on Crete the year before in 1943?
As I examined the concept, I quickly realised that gliders can either be conventional or unconventional in use, i.e. the 1940 attack on the Belgian fort Eben Emael which opened the way for the German infantry, was done by assault pioneers who were delivered by gliders. Or the rescue of Benito Mussolini, gliders, Special Operations. The March 1944 attack on Marshal Tito’s headquarters, gliders, Special Operations. In the Great Game, the November 1942 attacks on the Norwegian Vemork Norsk Hydro chemical plant in the Telemark “heavy water” plant, gliders were also implemented.
Examples of gliders being used in war are numerous and yet today if you state that military gliders have a role to play in Special Operations, most would smirk and talk about air assault, helicopters, fast roping, abseiling and so forth.
There are problems with conventional air assault in counter-terrorism operations where the helicopters fly in, drop the men, and fetch them later (note, not conventional war, another subject, Special Operations). Namely, helicopters are noisy. So much so that modern infiltration techniques have had to change. It is not the Black Hawk Down scenario necessarily anymore, in many operations the Special Forces Detachment walk in, rather than fly in, in order to be able to be a surprise.
The second problem is radar. Trust me, there is no such thing as a stealth helicopter. When the terrorist hears the helicopters he will either kill the hostages or sound the alarm and set up an ambush.
Air assault used to work and can work again. Gliders will never replace helicopters, however, air assault fails more often than not.
In contrast, a large composite glider filled with 35 operators is able to land silently on top of the compound. (That is Boeing Chinook and the Russian Mil Mi-26 territory, the comparisons in the book, astonished me.) The surprise factor, the lack of a radar signature, and the “Schwerpunkt Principle” is deadly against any unsuspecting terrorist. The return of the military glider is revolutionary, thought out by Angelique Dawson and thoroughly tested in 2010 as is described in this book.
Spymaster extraordinaire, Angelique Dawson and her team are at the Ukuthula Ranch runway in Northern Mozambique. She has a 51-year-old Soviet Era Yak-14 military glider combined with a tug, an even older Lisunov Li-2 (the license-built Soviet DC-3 / C-47) to test an exciting new application to use military gliders in modern Special Operations.
There are many positives to the concept, the Yak-14 is silent on approach, not visible on radar and delivers 35 men with pinpoint accuracy. She is not explaining much to her future husband and former Police Special Forces Company Commander, Geoffrey Foxtrot, the narrator who is trying to keep her safe and wondering what else she is up to.
The flights are dangerous, the concept has not been proven, and she insists to push the old glider to its limits in height, speed, and distance. The presence of three female Mossad Agents is also worrisome, wherever they are, and Angelique is, trouble awaits someone or something.
And then there is the presence of Foxtrot himself, widely acknowledged as “Jonah Foxtrot, the angel of death” to any airframe, yet Angelique insists that he flies with her.
If you wish to read about Covert and Special Forces Operations in sub-Saharan Africa, the GMJ Books are the place to start. You will learn about covert operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few. Code Name Angelique is the 39th book of the popular GMJ Series.