-Sergei "Cosm" Karkov, callsign "Buran 1"
The 11th Air Defense Army, 24th Fighter Wing, 89th Fighter Squadron, callsign "Buran", was an Interceptor squadron of the Yuketobanian VVS (Air Force). Formed in the mid 1940s during the Second World War, they were disbanded in the early 1990s after being implicated in a plot to assassinate the then-Defense Minister of the Central Commitee: Seryozha Viktorovich Nikanor, who would go on to become the Prime Minister of Yuketobania (ironically, he promoted a policy of peace after becoming the Prime Minister, the opposite of what was expected of him), not to mention for defecting to the Kalugan separatists during the rebellion of 1985. They were revived in 2005, and would go on to fly again in the Circum-Pacific War.
Part 1: The Cold WarThe "Buran" squadron was the first all-jet squadron of the Yuketobanian VVS, and started off flying the Yak-15, one of two jets that entered service on the same day (the other being the MiG-9) upon being founded in 1945. The Second World War was still going on at the time, but they remained in Yuketobania to test these new jets before they could be sent into combat; the war ended before they could fight on the front lines.
They soon converted to the MiG-15 once that aircraft became available, and would end up serving in multiple proxy wars for the glory of Yuketobania. Somewhere along the lines, they converted again to the new MiG-17 before they were transferred to the newly-formed 11th Air Defense Army to defend Yuketobania's Far Eastern airspace against Osean reconnaisance aircraft making flights from their base at Sand Island.
The squadron became involved in a controversy when a civilian aircraft penetrated Yuketobanian airspace by mistake on July 8th, 1966; believing them to be an Osean spy plane, their MiG-25s shot down the wayward plane, sparking international outrage. The squadron was grounded until the investigation committee discovered that while not an Osean spy plane, there was an Osean spy onboard the aircraft at the time, and for the Investigation Committee, this was enough to warrant allowing Buran to fly again.
Part 2: Betrayal, Disbanding and Revival
In 1985, several rebellions took place around the world as the stranglehold of the major powers started to weaken. Nations from Belka to Usea started to have to deal with uprisings, and the Union of Yuketobanian Republics was no exception. The province of Kaluga declared its independence, and siezed control of major military assets in the region, starting the First Kalugan Uprising (no relation to the one that occurred a decade or so later, which was the Second Kalugan Uprising portrayed in Air Combat). Buran squadron, being made mostly of Kalugan natives, defected as soon as the opportunity presented itself, while convincing the two newest members: Dominic Zubov and Sergei Karkov, to join them in defecting.
The squadron made quite a nuisance of themselves in the war, thwarting almost every attempt by Yuketobanian bombers to penetrate Kalugan Airspace. Only a Yuketobanian naval blockade that cut off Kaluga's shipments of food and fuel prevented them from annihilating the entire 5th Air Army's bomber force!
The squadron was again grounded when their planes were caught on the ground and destroyed by Yuketobanian fighters. They went into hiding and made a failed attempt to assassinate the Defense Minister during his tour of the front lines, and were captured subsequently. Most of the squadron was executed, but Dominic Zubov and Sergei Karkov escaped, and under false identifaction travelled to the Usean Continent, with Buran being disbanded.
Upon arriving, they sold their services as mercenaries, and were hired by the Belkan Federation, resulting in the formation of the 13th Night Fighter Air Division, 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron, callsign "Schwarze", an infamous unit that went on to serve in the Belkan War in 1995. Both Zubov and Karkov survived the war, but while Zubov went into hiding, Karkov survived and made his way back to Yuketobania, where he was found and arrested for war crimes. He was given a pardon on the grounds that mercenaries weren't subject to the treaty under which they were trying him (and by extension, he wasn't protected by those rules either), and went on to become a Cosmonaut.
In 2005, after a successful mission onboard the Arkbird, Karkov was transfered back to the VVS in command of a new Buran squadron, equipped with MiG-31s as their primary aircraft.
Part 3: Circum-Pacific War
At the start of the Circum-Pacific War, Buran was still stationed as an air defense squadron guarding the Bastok Peninsula in the event of an Osean attack, something that those stationed there considered nothing more than an excuse to transfer all of the misfits in the VVS as far away from High Command as possible. The Buran squadron was no exception, as the pilots were undisciplined and inexperienced when Karkov first showed up (one too many off-duty pranks earned them the transfer there). He quickly whipped them into shape and prepared them for the assault he knew was coming.
On October, 31st, 2010, the invasion he anticipated occured in the form of Operation Footprint, but the Buran squadron was unable to take off due to mechanical difficulties. The mechanics worked frantically to get the squadron's MiG-31s ready for takeoff, but to no avail. The fortress they used as an airfield was overrun, with Buran using ex-Belkan F-14As (captured as War Booty in 1995) to excape before the Osean marines arrived. These MiG-31s were repaired by the Oseans and (after being repainted Osean Military Gray), were handed over to the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron, "Wardog". They considered using these in their next mission, but declined, and so the aircraft were placed into storage in case they were needed.
Buran would go on to escort the escaping transport planes as they fled the Bastok Peninsula near Dresdene; they were set upon by Wardog, and were shot down. Fortunately for them, they managed to bail out and returned to their lines.
The squadron was transferred again for their failure to guard the transport planes to Glubina, this time with new MiG-31s. Again, they were shot down by Wardog.
The squadron fought against Wardog one final time over the Jilachi desert with upgraded MiG-31Ms. This time, their luck really ran out: Wardog not only shot all of them down for the third time, but that they didn't even score a hit on any enemy aircraft in the entire battle! It didn't help that by then, Buran was terrified of Wardog, or as they were being called by then: "The Demons of Razgriz". Karkov was badly wounded and was captured by Osean marines; his injuries ensured that he would never fly again.
With the squadron wiped out, a new one was formed during the defense of Cruik Fortress on December 6th, 2010, but they were forced to retreat after the Fortress fell. They took part in the defense of Cinigrad following this, and this time, they succeeded in obtaining air superiority over the battlefield, halting the advance and creating a stalemate that would persist until the end of the war.
After the war, a cut in the defense budget resulted in many squadrons disbanding, and Buran was one of them. One of their MiG-31Ms in their signature "snowstorm" paint scheme can be seen on display at the People's Air and Space Museum in Cinigrad, while the rest were repainted in their standard military schemes and handed off to other squadrons. The MiG-31s captured by Osea during Operation Footprint were paid for after the war by the Osea's National Aeronautics and Space Administration before being refitted for high-altitude meteorlogical studies, supplementing NASA's fleet of four SR-71s in that role.
- Sergei "Cosm" Karkov: Buran 8 (former), Buran 1
- Dominic "Vulture" Zubov: Buran 7 (former)
- F-14A Tomcat
- Ironically, "Buran" was the name given to Yuketobania's (cancelled) Space Shuttle Project, and the squadron leader happened to have had a brief stint as a Cosmonaut.
- Dominic Zubov and Sergei Karkov, both former Buran pilots, are the only pilots in history to have fought against and shot down aircraft of their native country while flying with two different Air Forces, first the Kalugan rebels, then the Belkan Luftwaffe as Schwarze 1 and 2 respectively.
- The paintschemes harken back to the squadron's first assignment upon being founded: Glubina (they got their name because of the constant snowstorms in the region). It's not quite that practical as camouflage, but the pilots were vain enough not to care, even after being shot down twice by Wardog Squadron.