Author Preface: CIA Director Bellisario was indeed named in honor of the creator of Airwolf, Donald Bellisario. He also happens to be the creator of several other notable TV series such as Magnum P.I., Quantum Leap, JAG, and NCIS to name a few.
I also don't happen to be familiar with the CIA, the US Military, or fighter jets so please excuse any errors or mistakes that I have made and just consider it artistic license.
The Lost Wolf
White House War Room
Marella Duvall kept to the back of the room, silently watching. It was that bad habit; the tendency to lurk in the background that her mother had constantly tried to break out of her of as a child.
She hadn't succeeded and instead Marella found as an adult that her habit was keenly in demand in the Central Intelligence Agency. Her habit was honed and trained so that she was a skilled observer, able to evaluate and assess people and their personalities and psychologies. Her abilities led to her posting as an executive assistant to the CIA Director Bellisario who found her skills and insight invaluable. She felt a surge of grief and loss welling up and ruthlessly stamped it down. She could not mourn him, not yet. Not until they found the traitorous bastard and killed him.
More and more people were filing in, mostly men in uniform. While it was true that the Armed Forces would now accept women; albeit reluctantly, few managed to rise to such lofty heights. And even fewer of her dusky coloration either.
Some things had not changed too much.
Although, some things definitely had, she thought to herself as the 44th President of the United States, Barrack Obama strode into the White House Situation Room. A little over fifty years ago, the only way a black man would have been allowed into the White House's War Room was if he was a member of the cleaning staff.
He gave a nod as everyone stood to attention and sat down at the head of the table and gazed at them attentively.
"Mister President," Deputy Director Roger Cabot got to his feet. Marella shifted her attention to Cabot, her current boss. Cabot had been the Deputy Director of Intelligence and thus had been saddled with assuming the thankless job of Acting Director of the CIA with the death of Director Bellisario.
The only reason why it had gone to him was because the Senate had set up the chain of command was that way. Given the choice between the Deputy Directors; the Director of Intelligence (DI) was only slightly more palatable than the Director of Operations (DO), who was—gasp!—actually in charge of covert agents and spies and thus, was naturally a sinister and evil character as befit his position. It was stupid and based on politics, but that was that.
Cabot's days as the temporary Director were numbered as the President, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Senate would eventually get around to nominating and approving a replacement. Marella was pretty sure that Cabot would not get the nomination and he knew it too.
Cabot was an academic who had never actually served in a military capacity. The last uniform he had worn had been as a Cub Scout. Thus, he had no friends or allies within the professional intelligence community which viewed him as a dilettante at best and tolerated him at worst.
But his greatest failing was that he had no political connections and he had pretty much had risen to his present post simply because he had been smart, honest, and Bellisario had liked him. Cabot had also gained the enmity of the Director of National Intelligence by being a bit too outspoken about the man's competence and intelligence … or lack thereof.
And since the Director of National Intelligence was friends with one of the most senior U.S. Senators who also happened to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence … Cabot would have a better chance selling thermal underwear in Hell than winning any support for a nomination to DCIA.
Cabot himself was wishing he had never accepted the Deputy Directorship of Intelligence. It would have made his life a lot less stressful. Particularly since his doctor visit from last month when he had been warned that he was on the verge of a full blown ulcer and things like this weren't helping.
"Director Cabot," the President intoned, raising an eyebrow. "I would like to know why you unilaterally issued orders that all military bases be placed on high alert and had them deploy armed fighters in and around our borders with orders to shoot down any unauthorized aircrafts, particularly helicopters."
Although the words were measured and calm, Marella could hear the underlying steel beneath them and that Cabot had better have a damn good reason.
"Yes Mister President. I do."
President Obama steepled his fingers and grimaced. "What is it? Do you have intelligence that indicates that we have a terrorist threat of some kind?"
With those words, he glanced at the Director of Homeland Security who noticed the President's scrutiny and immediately spoke up hastily to wash his hands of this entire affair. "DHS has no such intelligence indicating that at this time Mister President."
"This threat is not from an external source Mister President, but rather an internal one," Cabot glanced at Marella and gave a sharp nod at her. "I would like my aide to brief you on the situation."
"Mister President, Mister Secretary," the attractive African-American gave each of them a respectful nod each. "My name is Marella Duvall. I am attached to the Central Intelligence Agency and I will be briefing you on the situation.
"Earlier today, at approximately 0900 hours, Dr. Charles Henry Moffett," and a black-and-white photo of an older gentleman flashed onto the blank wall behind her, "hijacked a top secret aircraft that has been under development by the CIA. This aircraft is codenamed Airwolf."
Moffett's photo was replaced with a wireframe schematic that rotated slowly in three-dimensions.
"I've gotten dozens of Generals demanding to know why they're on high alert, NORAD on DEF CON 2, and every single federal agency on Severe Terror Alert because somebody stole a damn helicopter?" the Secretary of Defense snarled.
"Mister Secretary, Airwolf is not just another helicopter," Marella said sharply, "It is one of a kind. Completely unique. A prototype in every sense of the word. It is the most technologically advanced and heavily armed aircraft in the world."
Not to mention the most expensive, Cabot thought to himself. After his sudden elevation, he had been forced to delve into the White Files, the most classified and secret documents in the CIA database just to find any sort of reference to Project Airwolf. While he was busy familiarizing himself with the project, he had at first assumed that a series of numbers on one page had been a serial number, not the actual budget of building the thing.
Fortunately the CIA had inventive accountants to hide these numbers. Fortunately for them too, because he had the feeling that the IRS would not look too kindly for their creative accounting practices. Not to mention that Congress would have a fit.
"With all due respect," one General sneered, belying his 'with all due respect' spiel, "it's just one helicopter. One jet fighter can blow it out of the sky."
Inwardly Marella wondered why the 'with all due respect' statements always sounded more like 'kiss my ass' and shook her head. "Not this helicopter General. Airwolf is far more lethal and capable than anything you're used to. It's a quantum leap forward in both technology and weaponry."
President Obama cleared his throat, "Excuse me for interrupting Ms. Duvall," he said politely. "But just why is the CIA doing research and development into fixed-rotor aircraft?"
Marella focused her attention on him. "Project Airwolf was originally commissioned by order of President John F. Kennedy to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1961. President Kennedy felt that the immense casualties suffered by ground infantry in Vietnam could be alleviated with superior intelligence. We needed to find the Viet Cong in the field, detect troop movements, ammunition depots, command bunkers, even P.O.W. Camps. So he tasked the CIA to develop the tools needed and the CIA in conjunction with the U.S. Army began Project Airwolf to develop advanced aircrafts with superior intelligence gathering capabilities.
"It provided significant technological advancements in fixed-rotor aircrafts as well as such night vision, infrared targeting, and parabolic microphones.
"However the Vietnamese consistently demonstrated an ability to be extremely mobile. Simply locating these objectives wasn't enough. They would and could move their bases rapidly if they even thought they had been detected by our recon flights. So it was decided that instead of radioing in airstrikes or raids, Project Airwolf would have to be capable of initiating complete air superiority and eliminating reinforced enemy outposts, bases, or other strategic targets. So it's basic mission was modified to include improved tactical weapons systems.
"After the Fall of Saigon, Project Airwolf was shut down. However in the 1980s, we began seeing a rise in urban scale warfare and incidents that required improved real-time intelligence capabilities. Project Airwolf was secretly reactivated by the CIA to develop a stealth aircraft capable of inserting itself into neutral or even hostile territories and gather such intelligence and if necessary, destroy military targets utterly.
"However the technological challenges forced us to seek out Dr. Moffett for his assistance in developing and refining those same technologies.
"Airwolf can see through walls and determine how many people are inside a building. It can hear a whisper over two blocks away or isolate one voice pattern out of a crowd of a hundred. Atmospheric analyzers can extract the distinctive odors of gunpowder, C-4, or even specific chemical agents. It can scan and copy the contents of the hard drive of a computer while it's turned on from a hundred feet away or eavesdrop on cell phone communiqués within a 200 mile radius."
The Secretary of Defense jumped into the conversation. "Fine, fine, you built a marvelous reconnaissance helicopter but how is that—"
Cabot cleared his throat. "It's not Airwolf's intelligence gathering capabilities that worry us, Mister Secretary," he said, remembering his horrified reaction after viewing the tapes in the White Files.
Marella rejoined the conversation, "Airwolf was designed for the ability to insert itself into hostile environments. Because of that, it is almost impossible to detect. Not only is it invisible to radar and infrared, Airwolf can engage a 'Whisper Mode' that reduces the noise of its rotors making it practically silent and finally," Marella pressed the remote and the screen shifted to a test video of Airwolf's disappearing trick, "Airwolf's optical camouflage capability enable it to become undetectable to the human eye."
The various military personnel began muttering to themselves.
President Obama pursed his lips thoughtfully as he began to appreciate the threat. "So first we have to find her before we can shoot her down and that will be considerably challenging to say the least."
"Merely one of the problems we'll be facing," Marella added.
The Secretary of Defense sarcastically remarked, "There's more?"
Cabot spoke up now. "Airwolf's primary mission was to enter enemy countries completely unsupported, if necessary Mister Secretary. Although intelligence gathering was its primary function; it's secondary mission might include finding a target, destroying it, and then escaping. Think about it."
There was a moment of silence as the entire room absorbed that before Cabot continued, "In the course of such a search and destroy mission, Airwolf would undoubtedly encounter hardened or reinforced military bases or targets like an underground cavern system. Not to mention numerous enemy aircrafts. In order to overcome that, Airwolf carries an extremely heavy load of weaponry, more than any normal helicopter or jet for that matter. It was created to surpass any aircraft and maintain total air superiority by effectively annihilating them; even against our latest fifth-generation jet fighters."
The 'With All Due Respect' General began, "I'll admit that your little helicopter might be very hard to find, but still, there is no way that it can match a jet—"
In a bland voice Marella remarked, "Airwolf incorporates turbojet engines that enable it attain an estimated top airspeed of Mach 3.5."
It took every ounce of her impressive self-control not to sneer at the hyperventilating assembly. "That's right gentlemen. Mach. Three. Plus. Airwolf is supersonic capable."
Airborne Early Warning and Control E-3 Sentry
Captain Langford sipped some coffee as he stared at the radar screen. A whole lot of nothing, he determined as he spared a moment to rub his tired eyes. He looked around the compartment and saw slouched spines and bored expressions on the faces of his tracking personnel. Not that he blamed them but he needed them alert and paying attention. "Anybody getting anything on their screens?" he demanded.
He got a whole chorus of negatives. He sighed and consulted his watch. A little less than hour in their shift and their replacement Sentry arrived from the USS Vinson and he could get back and get some rack time.
Less than a 100 feet away, in a stealthed aircraft that no one could see or detect, Charles Moffett smiled and said into his intercom. "Execute."
His EWO grinned and tapped a key.
Langford jerked in shock as every single radar screen and electronic monitor blew out, sparking. "What the—!" he yelled.
A bright red targeting optical HUD slid over the holographic image of the Sentry. And locked on, changing to a brilliant green accompanied by a shrill beeping. Moffett waited a beat and then toggled the rocker switch.
The blind Sentry never saw the racing missile that struck it amidships and disemboweled the entire aircraft seconds before it exploded into a shower of burning fragments.
White House War Room
"For God's sake, that's faster than the F-22!"
"Difficult yes, extremely challenging to engineer, indubitably. But not impossible," Marella commented dryly. "That is perhaps one of Airwolf's only weaknesses. It becomes possible to track her by infrared scans only when she is moving at supersonic speeds."
She turned her attention back the projection screen and clicked the remote, shifting images to a close-up of armor plating. "The entire exterior of Airwolf is composed of an energy-reactive armor sheathing of beta carbon nitride nanotubes. It radically dissipates kinetic impacts from bullets and other projectiles as well as intense heat from explosions. Airwolf can withstand armor piercing shells designed to penetrate tank armor and even it's rotors can withstand a direct hit from a man portable LAW without sustaining damage. Even a nuclear-tipped missile might not be capable of breeching it's armor."
This time, the silence was deafening.
"The only way to break through the armor is to overwhelm it with sufficient explosive power and kinetic force. Our best estimates is that it would take a direct hit by a massive ordnance penetrator like a GBU-28 or GBU-57."
She did not mention that those MOPs were designed to hit a stationary target—not one that could move at supersonic speeds.
The screen shifted. Focusing on Airwolf's weapons systems, showing an enlarged image of the rakish guns and missile pod.
"In addition, Airwolf has a plethora of weapon options to choose from. The Wing-Mounted Gun Pods have 4 fire-linked .30 caliber machine guns that can fire any NATO bullets types including armor piercing and incendiary types. And," she broke off as the image changed again of a test video, "each Gun Pod carries a Heavy Plasma Laser Cannon. Code named 'The Sunburst'."
The Generals all recoiled as the cannon discharged against a test tank. The target wasn't destroyed. It was obliterated.
"The Sunburst is capable of burning through any and all known types of armor plating and up to ten meters of reinforced concrete and steel with a single shot."
The screen shifted again and a box-like shape popped out of the belly of the helicopter and rotated, showing the huge gaping barrels of the missile launchers.
"It's internal missile bays can carries up to 14 missiles ranging from AMRAMs, HARMs, and Hellfires. It can even utilize the special enhanced nuclear versions of these types. The Missile Pod can fire them singly or two or even three at the same time. It's external hardpoints are fully compatible with the JDAM, the GBU-39s, and the JASSM submunitions. Fortunately, Airwolf was not armed with those when Moffett absconded with her."
There was dead silence in the room.
One of the Generals, apparently one of the smarter ones spoke quietly. "Alright, Ms. Duvall. I understand. Airwolf is one mean mother of an aircraft. You Spooks have spent nearly thirty years and probably a good portion of your budget building her. What we need to know is," he began ticking points off with his fingers, "what are its technological limitations, what are its weaknesses, and what are Moffett's objectives?"
Cabot spoke up. "As Marella stated, Airwolf generates a traceable infrared signature at supersonic. The Sunburst has a low firing rate and needs to recharge between firing. As for her other weaknesses … we just don't know."
"You built the damn thing! You should know!" one of the Generals blurted out.
"Surely it has a limited range! I mean it does have to refuel right?" another Generals asked.
Marella shook her head, "Airwolf was designed for extended reconnaissance missions in areas where the crew could expect to find little to no ground support. For that reason Airwolf is entirely 100% self-sufficient in terms of fuel. It's onboard fusion reactor provides enough energy for the aircraft for 6 years before requiring replacement. Perhaps 4 under heavy usage and without regular maintenance."
Cabot continued, "Airwolf was on its maiden test flight. To determine its full capabilities and limitations. What we've told is what we've been able to reconstruct from the files and testimony. Airwolf was classified to the highest levels and heavily compartmentalized, even most of the engineers who built her weren't fully apprised of her total capabilities. Only Director Bellisario, Deputy Director Briggs, and Dr. Moffett were the ones with full access. For all we know, Airwolf may have other weapons and capabilities that were classified."
Duvall added, "As near as we can determine, the core engineering teams that helped build Airwolf were all killed. Moffett also inserted some sort of virus into our computers. It wiped out almost all of our data and files on Airwolf's specifications and design blueprints."
Cabot cursed mentally at the compartmentalization meant that even the White Files had not included a full technical blueprint of Airwolf's design as he added, "All of Airwolf's secrets are locked in Moffett's brain. He did after all, design just about every single system; the Turbojets, the Fusion Reactor, the Sunburst, the Optical Camouflague, the Reactive Armor? He was the primary architect behind all of them. As for his objectives?" he stopped and nodded at Marella who hit the remote.
The screen blanked and a image formed of a grey-haired man's face. He began to speak. "I am Doctor Charles Henry Moffett. And I designed and built Airwolf," he said and gave them all a smug smirk. Marella suddenly remembered Gabrielle and Briggs and her throat clenched.
"I am sure that the cretins at the CIA will no doubt show this message to their superiors. They have no doubt told you about their futile efforts to dredge their mainframes about all of the information about my creation. And have no doubt discovered that I have anticipated them and have erased her secrets. Secrets that are mine and mine alone now.
"She was created to be the ultimate weapon of war. My masterpiece. Did you really think I would allow a group of shortsighted fools like you have her?" he demanded mockingly.
Then he leaned back and a ghoulish smile danced on his face as his eyes gleamed. "Designed to be impossible to detect. To slip past any defensive line and surgically destroy any target, decapitating the enemy's command structure in a single strike if necessary. To engage supersonic aircraft with the speed of a jet fighter and the superior agility of a helicopter to swat them out of the sky. She is Silent. Undetectable. Invincible. Airwolf."
There was absolute silence in the Situation Room. Marella could hear the air conditioning.
"And she belongs to me.
"The Wolf has come out of its Den. It is hungry … and your fat, sleepy, little town is safe … no more."
Someone muttered, "Oh shit. He's fucking nuts," before he abruptly realized that he was speaking aloud and everybody could hear him and hastily shut up. But nobody called him on it because they were all thinking the same thing.
President Obama spoke first. "Director Cabot?"
"Whatever you need. Whatever it takes. You find Airwolf. You find her and Moffett. And you destroy them. Both of them! Before he does something with that monster!"
USS Carl Vinson
United States Nimitz-Class SuperCarrier CVN-70
Captain Patrick Van Lowell scowled. "What do you mean you 'lost' them Lieutenant?" he demanded sarcastically. "That's not exactly something you can stick in your damn pocket!" he barked. "A Boeing E-3 is over 150 feet long with a wingspan of 145 feet dammit!"
His Radar Officer was sweating bullets. "Sir! One second the Sentry was on my scope and then some sort of interference hit and it vanished!"
Van Lowell gave him a beady eye look. "Then might I suggest Lieutenant, that you look again. It doesn't look too good when we lose a 344,000 pound aircraft into thin air! It gives the Admiralty ideas about your general competence!"
Van Lowell ranted, "Aircrafts do not just disappear into thin air!"
A black shape appeared, light rippling around as it appeared hovering level with the command tower of the USS Vinson. Moffett smirked, having quietly eavesdropped on the entire conversation. Timing, he thought to himself, was everything.
He flipped a pair of switches on his console. "Activate Wolf's Howl."
Instantly, the chattering sound of the helicopter blades returned and then some as Airwolf dropped out of Whisper Mode. The blades began rotating at a different speed; a harder, sharper speed even as the strange whispery growl turned into a discordant shriek.
Van Lowell clapped his hands over his ears and screamed in agony along with everyone else on the Command Bridge. He fell to his knees even as he saw the glass windows vibrating madly and crack and then he mercifully lost consciousness.
The sleek matte-black helicopter began to lower itself to the deck, hovering about a foot even as it continued it's strange screaming. After a moment, one of the hatch doors popped open with a pressurized hiss and a jumpsuited clad figure with a large helmet jumped out. A second man followed.
The sole remaining man in Airwolf raised his visor, revealing a pair of dreamy and more than a little mad eyes and activated the built-in radio in the helmets. "Quickly, gentlemen. Time is money after all. Fifteen minutes and counting."
The pair nodded and they ran towards the deck hatch. They slid down several rail ladders, checking a hand drawn map and the stenciled coordinates painted on the walls every so often and making gestures. Finally they stopped at an armored hatch door painted with the legend: ARMORY.
Moffett had his eyes closed as his head swayed in time to the cacophonous screams of the helicopter blades whirling madly in a specific sequence above him like it was the finest musical concerto ever performed. In truth, to him, it was.
He didn't even notice his men returning, pushing a large cart with several stacked missiles, each one emblazoned with a bright yellow circle divided equidistantly with a trio of black triangular shapes. Anyone familiar with the symbol would immediately recognize it as the symbol for nuclear materials.
Through it all, Moffett continued to sway in time as the music peaked and his hand lifted up as though he was the conductor to an unseen orchestra and began to rise and dip.
It would be ... magnificent, he told himself. Absolutely magnificent.
TO BE CONTINUED...