The sun rises over Nevada. A rumble rolls across the desert, but it’s not the sound of a rare rainstorm. It’s two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets engaged in a close-range combat training exercise. One is the haze-grey color of fleet squadrons. The other sports desert camo with a red star on its tail, one of the paint schemes used by the Navy Reserve’s adversary aircraft squadrons to mimic those used by America’s adversaries.
From a long way off, the jets seem serene, like birds of prey gliding the updrafts. But up close, it’s a hell storm. The jets pump out swirling vortices of scorched gases. The sound can literally be felt, and the acrid smell of jet fuel permeates the air. The two aircraft maneuver furiously, both attempting to establish positional advantage against the other. Finally, one gets the upper hand. “Copy Kill”—a successful engagement.
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