Brown brings back the souped-up helicopters that were the technostars of Hammerhead (1990) for a supporting role in a near- future war between Lithuania and Belarus. That's Byelorussia to those still updating their old globes. Lithuania is the much more likable victim in a war that parallels Saddam Hussein's attack on tiny Kuwait. The villains here are a General Anton Voschanka, a Byelorussian who also heads all CIS (ex-USSR) forces in the neighborhood, and Viktor Gabovich, an especially nasty ex-KGB type who controls a supersecret aeronautical research center near the Lithuanian capital. Both these creeps hate the new commonwealth, loathe the Lithuanians, and pine for the old world order. One of their chief irritants is General Dominikas Palcikas. Palcikas was a Soviet hero until he cast his lot with the renegade Baltic republic. Now he is head of the tiny Lithuanian defense forces. Tough, charismatic, and just a touch fascist (but not in the least Nazi), Palcikas has heard the sabers rattling across the border, and he's whipping his forces into shape for war. But the Byelorussians are armed with nuclear weapons and outnumber the Balts a zillion to one. America's post- Bush president wants to help when the invasion starts, but he doesn't want to get dragged into war. He is forced to reach for the mad genius of the Air Force, General Brad Elliott, who has a plan that will save Lithuania and, at the same time, rescue one of the heroes of a previous Brown novel (Flight of the Old Dog, 1986) who's been brainwashed by the KGB into believing he's a Soviet plane designer and has been chemically induced to design the first Russian Stealth bomber. Elliott and his troops make good use of those handy new helicopter-cum-fixed-wing planes that float like butterflies and sting like bees. Longer than Desert Storm--but with much more satisfactory results.