hermanhum -> RE: Harpoon3 After-Action Reports (5/29/2006 8:00:50 PM)
Here's an epic AAR by Dave Steinmeyer. It is re-printed here with permission from the author.
AAR: Malakka [Spoiler Alert] - Thailand
By Freek Schepers
The NATO-Russian war is 4 weeks old. Russia's naval aviation forces and US Carriers have fought several bloody battles around Japan. Japan has defended its islands well, but is now very vulnerable to the closure of its SLOC's. The Chinese navy has left port but has stayed out of the battle. The US losses in the Pacific and Atlantic theatres have forced it to withdraw the Seventh Fleet from the IO. Only Diego Garcia remains as a stronghold there. The task of providing security for the Malakka Strait has been handed over to India, Thailand, and Singapore. India and Thailand will use their baby-carriers to escort tankers through the IO. The War in the Pacific has interrupted oil shipments to Japan and China for several weeks now and resumption of the oil trade has now become a strategic imperative.
Ok, as I take my initial inventory of what I have available, I'm none too happy. The ONLY air assets ready to fly are a pair Sea Kings out of Port Blair. No options but to launch one. Other than that, I've got 6 Falcons and 4 Tigers on Ready5 out of Korat and Surat Thani respectively, 6 more Falcons Ready30 at Takhli, and one Orion Ready30 at U Tapao. It's gonna be pretty damn hard to get a clear picture of what's going on initially. Now for orders... I send the Indian carrier TF south along the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, then SE towards the straits. Thai TF Andaman get orders to head SE to the Straits at full. Thai TF 1 is ordered due west towards the South China Sea, and TF Gulf of Thailand heads SE around the Exclusion Zone and then S to the 10 degree channel.
As per standard operating procedures, all radars in the TFs are passive and all are running with ECMs active to deny the enemy, whoever that may be, as much info as possible. All SAM sites are ordered to go passive, the only radars I allow to radiate are the YLC-2 Early Warning radars and the weather radar on Car Nicobar.
Once things get started, I am greeted by what can only be described as a nightmare and a blessing all in one. There are SO many merchants in the area, spread out over such a huge swath of ocean, I know right away I can't protect all of them. But, on the up side, the vast majority of them are Blue. Hopefully, that means I've got dozens of additional eyes out there looking for the bad guys! I also make a more frightening observation, I'm hemmed in by Red bases all around me. Some are entirely too lose for comfort.
About a minute and a half later I get my first contact. It's the ESM track of a Nav radar NW of TF 1. It sure would be nice to have some helos ready for scouting! But, since it's just nav radar, I'll keep an eye on him, but not worry too much. My Sea King launches from Port Blair and immediately picks up another skunk running commercial nav radar. No biggie. I then get three simultaneous reports of bogies. They appear to be flying one each out of Butterworth, Kuantan, and Tengah. Their radar profiles indicate they're probably an F-18, a Fulcrum, and Falcon. Their bases are listed as neutrals, and that's good enough for me. I have a feeling I'll have my hands full soon enough. My next contact is a bogie running an ORB 32 radar some where near Singapore. Looks like somebody else is trying to get a picture of what's going on. Then a second one pops up, and I get confirmation from one of the merchants that what I thought was a Falcon, indeed is, and more importantly he's neutral.
At the five minute mark, I have a Harrier and a Sea King ready aboard the Viraat, and four Tigers and six Falcons ready. I keep one each Falcon and Tiger on the ground and launch everything else. I send the Harrier N towards Great Cocos Island and Haingui to watch the back door and the Sea King S along the Nicobars. The Tigers leave from Surat Thani and race N the place themselves between their base and Mergui. The Falcons out of Korat are tasked with looking out to the NE. By now, another merchant informs me that the birds flying the ORB 32 surface search radars are Super Pumas out of Singapore. Interestingly enough, I even pick up the emissions from an AN/APS-145. Must be one of Singapore's E-2s. I'm starting to get a case of radar envy!
On the approach to Grand Cocos, my Harrier detects a Gun Dish radar going hot, and decides to give it a wide berth. One of the Falcons picks up emissions from a pair of N001VE Zhuk radars about 175nm E of Korat, this is a rather unhappy development. But there are five Falcons and only two of them, right? By now it's 1230Z and I have several more aircraft ready. I no sooner get four Falcons off the ground from Takhli, when my EW radars pick up a pair of bogies 86nm NW of U Tapao heading for my radar at 540kts. So I dispatched a pair of Falcons to investigate. On closing to visual, they ID the bogies as Airguards and HOSTILE! The lead pilot moves in and let's loose one Sidewinder and begins to maneuver. As he gains the advantage on the second Airguard, he fires again. His first missile strikes its prey at the wing root on the port side. The pilot never saw it coming. The second Airguard pilot takes a snap shot at the guy who just killed his wingman. Right after his missile clears the rail, another Sidewinder hits home. His missile never locks on to his killer and goes wild. Two shots, two kills.
And now for the bad news. As the first engagement played out between the Falcon and the Airguards, Falcons to the NE confirmed their fears. Not only is there one pair of hostile Flankers heading W, but now a second pair lit up their radars N of the first pair. The number of enemy doubled, my problems quadrupled! A lone Falcon dropped the southern pair of Flankers like a couple of bad habits. Unfortunately, he was knocked from the sky while doing so. In the north, one Falcon was lost before I could even pinpoint the Flankers. I vectored in four more and ordered the launch of my one remaining Falcon at Korat. One Falcon and one Flanker were lost in a mutual kill. Another Falcon managed to get a shot at the sole remaining Flanker before the F-16's wreckage was decorating the hills below. The Flanker nimbly dodged the shot. DAMN, I hate Flankers! While my two remaining Falcons pursue the Flanker to the N, my F-16 to the S picks up a pair of Badgers following in the path of the Flankers. He launches a pair of Sidewinders and the Badgers go down faster than a couple of cheap hookers! Back in the north, the last Flanker is eliminated in a mutual kill with another Falcon. 4 Flankers for 4 Falcons, NOT an exchange ratio I want to continue!
Out over the Andaman Sea, a merchant reports sighting a Maritime Enforcer. My airborne Harrier is up near Haingui, so I order one of my Tigers watching Mergui W to deal with it. Now I notice something else, my radars are being jammed. No fair! That's my trick! A quick look around reveals what must be and EW bird somewhere over the South China Sea. Nothing a pair of Matadors off the Thai carrier can't handle. Another pair of Badgers shows up N of the first pair and is just as easily dispatched. Before their wreckage even hits the earth, a third pair appears slightly further N. Another Falcon, two more missiles, two less Badgers. A few minutes later, two more pairs pop up right in front of the Falcons. As I give the orders to intercept, a third pair arrives slightly further N. Shortly all 6 Badgers disappear in balls of flame.
Now I get a report that reminds me I have made a serious error of omission. The supertanker Breuklen, within the Malakka Straits, report a visible goblin 3nm dead ahead. In my concern over the Flankers and Badgers trying to infiltrate to the N, I forgot to launch my one available Orion! I only hope it's not too late to rectify the situation as I belatedly order it airborne. My concerns are quickly proven true, as first one, then a another torpedo slam into the supertanker, breaking her keel and quickly sending her to the bottom. The environmental disaster is the least of my worries right now. After a brief game of hide and seek over the Andaman, my Tiger tracks down the Maritime Intruder and the plane and crew now sleep with the fishes. On the other side of my AO, the Matador's hunt for the EW plane pays off nicely as the southern of the two visually IDs a Chinese EW Badger. Bye-bye Badger!
Time to worry again, I pick up two more Flanker radars to the NE. Both over southern Laos. Here we go again! Have I mentioned that I HATE Flankers?! After a few minutes of angst, the ESM tracks don't appear to be getting any closer. I only like to pick fights I can win, and this ain't one of 'em! After my Tiger offed the Maritime Intruder and was heading back to base, he picked up some odd radar signals right off the coast of Phuket. So I sent him to check it out. It's ID'd as a 412 class PGM and a second is picked up further S. A pair of Harpoons fired from the FFL Sukhotai in TF Andaman make short work of the gun boat. As my Tiger set off S to pin point the other gun boat, the Sea King out of Port Blair almost runs right into another of the same class nearly dead center in the Andaman Sea. He's only 15nm from the Sea King when he's noticed. Unfortunately, he's out of range of both the Thai TF and the Indian TF. And I have no ready air assets (AGAIN!) to hit him with. Bad luck again. My Tiger hits Bingo fuel before he can localize the other gun boat. I don't usually gamble, I prefer an unfair fight and a guaranteed win, but do throw the dice in this situation and send one of my two remaining Harpoons from TF Andaman towards the area of the second gun boat. At the same time, I launch another Tiger from Surat Thani to pick up where the Tiger returning to base left off. He quickly finds the second gun boat, alive and well. Apparently the BOL Harpoon missed! He increases to full throttle, dives to 600m above the deck and lets loose with three bursts of 20mm cannon fire. All three rake the little craft. The pilot is gratified to see a pair of secondary explosions as turns NW and heads to his patrol station over the Andaman.
Just when I thought I was starting to get a handle on things, the Sea King I had acting as my eyes over the Andaman Sea visually picks up two bogies closing fast from the E. Less than a minute later the Sea King is a stain on the ocean's surface. I guess a pair of fighters slipped out of Mergui I send three Tigers N looking for paybacks. I quickly lost contact with the two bogies who took out the Sea King, so I order a Falcon from Takhli to head SW and join in the hunt. As one of my Tigers is racing NW, he stumbles across a Houxin class PTG 45nm SW of Mergui. While it's much larger than the little PGMs I've dealt with so far, it looks pretty under armed in the AA area. Just as the Tiger starts his attack run on the Houxin, another Tiger in the hunting party picks up a bogey heading in the direction of Mergui. Where there's one, there's probably two. He streaks off to intercept. In no time he picks up the second bogey and ID's them as Airguards. TALLY HO!! The Houxin proves to be a nice big target, but also capable of taking some punishment. It takes 11 bursts of cannon fire and two strafing runs to leave the ship dead in the water, burning and listing to starboard. Before heading N, the pilot reports seeing the crew abandoning the sinking ship. One more for the Good Guys! The lead tiger closes in on the two Airguards, firing one Sidewinder at each. The first one flies right by both planes. The second, however, flies true and scores a kill. The remaining Airguard pilot sprints for the safety of his base. But, he runs right into the loving arms of the other Tiger pilot who just sent many of his countrymen to their watery graves. And while his aircraft is now short on 20mm ammo to kiss with, he certainly doesn't hesitate to slip the Airguard some tongue in the form of a single Python 3. It proves to be the kiss of death.
Let's revisit the situation NE of Korat. One of the ESM tracks has moved close enough to the Falcons I have on CAP that I cannot ignore it anymore. I vector in three F-16s and start looking for the bane of my existence, ANOTHER f#*%ing Flanker!! As soon as my closest Falcon makes a visual ID, he explodes in a ball of flame. Poor bastard never knew what hit him! I launch my one remaining Falcon from Korat, as the Flanker makes an aggressive turn right for another of my CAP fighters. As if he were psychic, the Flanker pilot heads for the Falcon with only one AIM-9M left hanging from the rails. But if he was one to run from a fight, the Falcon driver wouldn't be a fighter pilot, now would he?! He does what he's been trained to do, he closes with the enemy, strives for a superior position and fires. He banks so hard to port after taking the shot that he nearly blacks out. He is brought back to reality by the voices of his wing mates cheering and telling him he got the Flanker! He never saw the vampire from the Flanker that went wide and well below his Falcon. He turned W and headed for home.
The last time we danced with Flankers up there, they were followed by a fair sized Badger raid. Let's see if past performance holds true. As proof of past predicting future, two Badgers soon pop up over a low ridge and right into the sights of a waiting Falcon. The Falcon doesn't even need to turn its radar on. Out over the South China Sea, one of the Thai Matadors I have scouting ahead of the carrier TF sniffs the emissions from a Chinese destroyer. I send him to get a closer look. I also launch a Seahawk off the carrier since it has a better radar than the Matadors. Just after lifting off from the Chakri Nareubet, the Seahawk gets the scent of a second Chinese DDG. Same area as the first. Back over the Andaman, one Tiger begins an attack run on the 412 class PGM out in the center of the Sea. A second Tiger hits bingo and turns for Surat Thani. Another is launched to replace him. And the Tiger who already sank one Houxin, finds a second while prowling the coast NNW of Mergui. This time the little 412 class PGM sees the Tiger roll in on the attack and opens up with one of its 40mm cannons. The gun crew proves its bravery by firing on the Tiger even as the first of three 20mm bursts pierce the aft hull and kill the engine. The second burst shatters the bridge, and the third rips a gash in the port side that starts the boat rolling over. The Tiger who is after his second Houxin of the day, is not as successful as in his first fight. He makes repeated passes on the PTG and expends all remaining 20mm ammo, but is only able to damage the ship. He is forced to call for help from another Tiger. As he is returning to base, cursing himself and thinking of how he could have executed the attack on the second Houxin more effectively, his radar picks up a pair of bogeys rising up from Mergui to meet him. Here's an opportunity to make up for his poor performance against the second missile boat. They are ID'd as a pair of Airguards. And just as efficiently they are dispatched with one Sidewinder each. No muss, no fuss. He is much happier now, as he returns to base.
Despite his success, he is only human and you can only roll the dice so many times. The Tiger pilot is RTB for bingo fuel and down to his last missile, when a second pair of bogies take off from Mergui. This time, he's only 10nm from the enemy base. A Falcon is 26nm N and sent in to try to relieve the Tiger, but the bogies are the hunters now. He fires his last missile and dives for the deck. As if in slow motion, he watches a glowing white dot appear at his 11 o'clock high and guide itself into a steep dive that he knows will eventually intersect with his. At the moment he is able to pick out the details of the enemy missile, he smiles to himself and knows, at least for him, it's been a good war.
The Falcon from Takhli fared only slightly better. He managed to take out one of the Airguards that fell the Tiger, but became so focused on doing so, that he did not pay attention to the AAA and fell victim to it. Although, the pilot was able to eject and survive in a Myanmar POW camp.
It's now 1500Z game time, 3 hours since the start of the scenario. How about a little half-time report?! The ViConds at the start said no more than 8 tankers damaged, sink 4 subs, and sink 10 warships. Here's the score so far. I've lost one tanker to a sub in the straits, I've only just got a return from a sub running on the surface right before half-time. My Orion is 24nm away and closing fast. I sank one Houxin and damaged another. A Tiger is en route to finish it off. And while the little 412 class gunboats don't constitute much of a threat, they do technically count as warships and I've downed three of them. Back to the game!
My strike and ASW capabilities just got a shot in the arm in the form of 2 Trackers and 4 Corsair IIs ready at Surat Thani. I also decide to do something about the annoying Zhuk ESM track that has been hovering over the northern Gulf of Thailand for a while. I sent three Tigers from U Tapao to deal with it. I hope the numbers will make up for the qualitative difference. I also send one of the Trackers out into the shipping lanes just E of the Nicobar Islands. The Orion closes on its prey in the Straits and finds an Indonesian/Malaysian Wasp already working the contact. Since this is very close to the area where the tanker Breukelen was lost, the Orion does not wait for positive ID. The first MK46 narrowly misses the sub, but the second nearly splits it in two. The Orion then heads for a patrol area further to the NW, near the tip of Sumatra. Back up north, another Zhuk radar is detected to the NE. I'm running out of Falcons to trade! Along the coast of Myanmar, one of my Tigers is approaching the wounded Houxin and detects a second contact further N, hugging the coast, trying to hide. We'll check him out later. The Tiger makes one pass and scores two more hits, damaging the PTG even more. One more hit should be the final nail in her coffin. But as the Tiger turns around for another pass, the belly of the plane is riddled with 14.5mm machine gun fire!! The pilot is forced to break off the attack and eject before the Tiger slams into the sea. The animal is wounded, but can still bite!
I think I'll try to work smarter, not harder now. Since I have several Jaguars ready at Port Blair, I'll send a pair each against the wounded Houxin and the unknown skunk further north. Now I pick up a pair of Slot Back radars out of Haingui, probably Fulcrums. I'll keep an eye on them for now. The three Tigers I sent to deal with the Flanker over the Thai Gulf have flushed out their quarry. The flight leader engages the Chinese Flanker, fires a Sidewinder and is no longer the flight leader. In fact, he's no longer much of anything! But his wingmen close and find a chink in the Flanker's armor into which they fire a pair of Python 3's. It only takes one. The Fulcrums out of Haingui have either gone silent for now, or gone back to base. Either way, I've lost track of 'em.
Now things go from not so bad to pretty bad, real quick. I get a mayday from the merchant tanker, Lady Sterling, about 175nm N of Banda Aceh. They have a visual of a C-801 ASM breaking the surface less than a mile from them. And it's heading their way. I vector in my airborne Tracker, my Orion, and launch a Sea King from Car Nicobar. It will probably be another case of too little, too late, but at least I now know where to hunt! The Lady Sterling is hit, slows to 2kts, but continues on course. She'd 23% damaged, but luckily no fires were started. The Seahawk scouting for the Thai carrier TF has reached its patrol area and is rewarded with two new contacts when its radar goes active. Both are in close formation with what I think are a pair of Chinese destroyers. By now, the two pair of Jaguars have crossed the Andaman to the coast of Myanmar. The northern pair immediately the previously unknown contact as a third Houxin PTG, null number 473. They are ordered to intercept. The Houxin opens fire with its 37mm cannon. Both Jaguars drop a pair of Mk13 1000lb bombs. Houxin 473 is struck by two. What's left of her quickly slips beneath the waves with all hands. The southern pair of Jaguars repeat the tactic. They split up and go in low and fast. The first Jaguar releases both bombs and turns for home. Before the second Jaguar can release its bombs, one of the first two smashes into the starboard superstructure of the Houxin, leveling the deck. All four Jaguars are RTB to Port Blair.
One of the Matadors ahead of the Thai carrier TF closes in and gets an ID on one of the ships in formation. It's the Siping, a Chinese Jianghu IV class FFG. And she's hostile. I order the Matador to back off a bit, I've got the info I need. If one out of four in the formation is hostile, the other three ain't there to sing kumbaiya and hold hands! As the formation slowly gets closer to the Seahawk on patrol, I pick up some small airborne contacts flying around the formation, probably helos. And I'm surprised to find a 5th contact in the formation. The Thai carrier TF just has to lay low until the Harpoon armed Matadors are ready to strike!
Unfortunately, I am forced to recall both of the Matadors and the Seahawk because I know have a pair of Flankers prowling the area between the Thai carrier and the Chinese surface group. Let's just hope the jamming is enough to not give the Flankers a good look at what I've got! I also notice an EW aircraft over the northern Andaman, as well as another Maritime Intruder, both probably out of Haingui. Time to rip their eyes out! I send the lone Harrier from the Viraat and an F-16 from Takhli to take them out. Now, I am also forced to greet a very unwelcome visitor. An Airguard is visually ID only 10nm NE of the Viraat TF and closing. The jig is up! Might as well light up all the radars 'cause I'm sure the party's gonna start soon! If he keeps coming, the SAM gunners will at least get some practice. It looks like the Airguard is making a low level run at the INS Brahmaputra. Two rounds from the 76mm OTO Compact and two bursts from the AK-630 CIWS and the Airguard is no more. But I'm sure he got a good look and a radio call before he died. To make matters worse, I pick up another bogey 77nm SE (!) of the Viraat TF closing on a Sea King from the carrier as it is RTB. The bogey turns out to be another Airguard who must have slipped past. He made a few cannon passes at the Sea King as he dove for the deck, but the attack was unsuccessful. I lost contact with the Airguard shortly after that.
Things are going to hell in a hand basket now! Either the same Airguard I lost before or another one now shows up to attack a second Sea King I have out scouting. To add insult to injury, another C-801 ASM pops up RIGHT UNDER the Sea King that survived the attack earlier!! It seems the missile is headed for the same tanker that was hit earlier, the Lady Sterling. The second Sea King to be attacked is as lucky as the first, it avoids a burst of cannon fire by hitting the deck and heading NE. The tanker is hit again, thankfully no fires. She's 45% damaged when a third C-801 breaks the surface. WHY the F can't I find the sub launching the missiles!!!??? A bit further N, at least there's some good news. A Falcon has found the EW bird I noticed earlier, it's an EW Badger and it's not long for this world. That's the first bit of good news. The second is that the third C-801 missed the Lady Sterling. And the third bit of good news is that my Sea King has found the sub! It's not ID's yet, but it's definitely hostile. But the bastard fires another C-801 before the Sea King can close. The fourth ASM finds it's mark, setting the tanker ablaze. She's now 89% damaged. I vector in a Tracker to help with the hunt. The pair localize the sub, and three of the Sea King's four Mk11 depth charges later, there's no more contact. But, that's the last bit of good news. It seems there are at least two Airguards roving over the Andaman, and they have BOTH found my Orion. The Orion goes down in a spectacular trail of smoke and flame after being raked with cannon fire. The two Airguards then turn their attention to what must have been their real mission all along, one starts an attack run on the tanker Port Vendres, the other on the tanker Ilim. Both are hit by bombs and 34% damaged before the Airguards turn N and head home. But they are running straight for one very pissed off Harrier pilot. He had a third Airguard out run him earlier and is spoiling for a fight. Further N, the Falcon who downed the EW Badger earlier now runs across the Maritime Intruder. One Sidewinder and the Intruder is gone. The Harrier spots one of the Airguards, but is too damn slow to intercept. The he ID's the second. Now, he's finally in a good position. He closes and launches one, then two R.500 Magics. BOTH MISS!! He's too slow to chase the Airguard and engage with guns, so he makes for the Viraat.
It's 1800Z and it's my turn to get dealt a good hand. My staff notifies me that several additional aircraft are ready. These include: 3 Sea Kings on the Viraat, 4 Sea Eagle armed Sea Harriers also on the Viraat, a pair of Lynxes in Thai TF1, 2 Rockeye armed Tigers and another Orion at U Tapao, and the 4 Harpoon armed Matadors I've been waiting for on the Thai carrier. It's time to PLAY!! I launch two Sea Harriers from the Viraat to intercept the escaping Airguards (it's personal now!). Even though they're armed with Sea Eagles, they still carry a pair of R.55o Magics each. I also launch all four Matadors from the Thai carrier. The ESM tracks from the Flankers have moved far enough away that if the Matadors stay low, I think they can get a good punch in on the Chinese surface group. The Harriers managed to intercept the fleeing Airguards, each Harrier fires it's two Magics at the Airguard... ALL FOUR MISS!!! These DAMN Indian Harriers SUCK!!! What's the point of even having aircraft on a carrier if they are so F*&%#ing USELESS!!!??? They're slow, have carry little ordnance, have limited sensors. God, what I wouldn't give for some REAL fighters and some force multipliers!! AAARRRGGHHHHH!!!! OK, I'm done venting now.
I have managed to get a Falcon in position S of the Great Cocos Island to lay in wait for the returning Airguards. He doesn't have to wait long. He picks up one, then the second. Closes, fires, kills. Splash two. I told you it was personal. Out in the South China Sea, my Matadors have closed with and ID'd two more ships in the formation. The Siping was seen earlier, now we have IDs on the Huaibei, a Jiangwei FFG and the Kaifeng, a Luda IV DD. I don't want to push my luck, so I'll allocate four Harpoons each to the Huaibei and the Kaifeng. All eight missiles jump from their launch rails without problem. After launch the Qingdao, a Luhu class DDG is spotted. Just before the Matadors turn for home, they pinpoint the Siping and ID the Hangzhou. I now know which ship will be on the receiving end of the next round of eight Harpoons! Two of the four Harpoons targeting the Huaibei are shot down by the Qingdao, by the other two hit their mark. They leave the Huaibei a sinking, burning hulk. The point defenses on the Kaifeng manage to shoot down one Harpoon, but the other three fly true. All three strike her on the starboard side and leave her dead in the water. My Matadors have gotten too far away to give me any useful damage assessment, but I'd put money on the fact that the Kaifeng is on her way to the bottom of the South China Sea.
It's 2045Z and things have significantly slowed down now. I've lost contact with the Chinese surface group in the South China Sea. I have not been challenged by anything in the air for nearly an hour now. I sent one of my Falcons scouting around Great Cocos Island and found a Hainan class patrol boat docked there. I think this is a job for the Corsairs! And while there in the area, maybe they can soften up the facilities on the island. As the Falcon completes his recon of the island, I pick up a Slot Back radar approaching from Haingui. The recon Falcon is bingo fuel, but I have another in the area to fend off the slot Back. The corsairs lift off from Surat Thani and head NW.
After an uneventful flight across the sea, the Corsairs split up and make their runs on Great Cocos Island. They all dive to 600m and push their throttles to full power. The flight leader goes straight in from the SE. Other than the road base and the patrol boat in the harbor, the only other unit known to be there is a Shilka battery. He drops a stick of 12 Mk82 500lb iron bombs on the AAA battery, as well as pepper the area with some 20mm fire. The Shilka battery is no more. As he turns his attention to the airstrip, he is greeted by the muzzle flashes of a 57mm AAA site. He returns cannon fire and drops his remaining Mk82s. The AAA site is reduced to a greasy stain on the island. The second Corsair hits the airfield from the E. He drops his entire load on the road base, but is unable to get any solid BDA. Corsair number three heads in from the N and expends a dozen 500 pounders on the Hainan patrol boat. It sinks at it's moorings. The fighter's second dozen bombs are spent on the airfield. This time we have several confirmed hits. The last Corsair goes in from the S and targets the airfield. Again there are several hits. The pilot also sees a second ZSU-57-2 site N of the road base. He fires a few bursts of cannon fire at the site and is rewarded with at least one hit. The site is damaged, but still operational. Rather than tempt fate, he joins his wing mates and goes home.
In the South China Sea, I seem to have developed a problem. I've got an ESM track of a Zhuk radar that suddenly went hot about 20-25nm N of the Thai carrier TF and it's heading S. I order two Matadors airborne, but doubt they'll make it up in time. Let's hope our SAM gunners are good! At about 14nm, it's positively ID'd as a Chinese Flanker. Let me tell you one more time how I HATE Flankers!! The Flanker is brought down without incident about two miles off the Kraburi's bow. A single Sea Sparrow off the Naresuan was all it took. Unfortunately, the TF was forced to light up their radars and I'm quite certain the Flanker pilot got a radio call out before he went for a swim. Now I need to keep alert for any aircraft flying in from the N, as well as any missiles that might be launched by the DDG group that I lost to the S somewhere!
It's now 2250Z and my Jaguars are ready at Port Blair. A few minutes later, I pick up another bogey approaching my Thai carrier TF. This time I get him about 65nm out. His radar profile matches the last one... another FLANKER!!! DAMN. My Matadors are already further S and NW, with all the jamming I doubt he can pick them up. Looks like another live fire exercise for the SAM crews! Before this situation can develop, the Falcon I have on station between Great Cocos and Haingui gets a return on something low and slow, a helo maybe. It's about 35nm N. He steers N to investigate. At about 8nm the bogey is ID'd as a Z-9A Dauphin Haitun. This is NOT his lucky day! One Sidewinder M, and the fat lady is singing! Back in the South China Sea, the southern Matador picks up the scent of the DDG group I hit earlier, as well as a bogey running an ORB32 radar, heading N, looking for the Thai carrier. The bogey seems to be well away from the destroyers, so the Matador moves in like a preacher pushing redemption. What I thought was one bogey turns out to be two, and they're a pair of Z-9As. The bogey that was to the N is indeed a Flanker, but now he does the unexpected. He dives to low altitude and turns W, staying out of my SAM envelope. The Matador to the S takes one helo with guns and the other with a missile shot. To the N, The Flanker must have been able to burn through the jamming, because he climbs and starts hunting the other Matador. The two are closing at over 1000kts. The Flanker gets the first shot, a PL-10 that missed. The Matador closes and fires a Sidewinder. A second missile jumps from the rail of the Flanker, but the Sidewinder gets there first ending the Flanker's hunt.
I launch a Seahawk to track the destroyers I have re-acquired to the S. Despite my success in the South China Sea, I a given some very bad news from the northern entrance to the Malakka Straits. The tanker Chattahoochee is struck by a torpedo and is sinking. CRAP! This is the second tanker sunk, with one more crippled. A Tiger also makes short work of an Airguard approaching the shipping lanes from the E. I send a Sea King and my last Orion to search for the sub. There are four other tankers following DIRECTLY behind the sinking Chattahoochee! I am happy to see an almost immediate report of a goblin, but it's not the one I was looking for. This report comes in from a Sea King on patrol for the Viraat TF. The contact is only 19nm in front of the TF! And 13nm from the nearest ship, the Brahmaputra. I dispatch the two helos I had on patrol and launch another two for good measure. I also vector in one of my Trackers. The first Sea King is on top of the contact in a matter of minutes. He releases asingle A-244 torp, but there's no confirmed hit. He continues the search. Further SE, where the Chattahoochee was sunk, I get three contacts from one of the sonobouys dropped by the Orion. One is a goblin, the other two are torps in the water! Less than 4nm N are the supertanker Nichio Maru and the LNG tanker Vlaardingin! As the helo and Orion work the contact, the torps quickly close the gap with the tankers. The contact is eventually ID'd as a Romeo class and somewhat localized, although no accurate track is established. Of the two fish running, one misses the LNG tanker, the other hits the Nichio Maru, causing serious flooding. She's damaged at 62%. The Sea King attacks with DCs with no apparent effect, as two more torps are heard. The Orion drops a Mk46 Mod2 and begins to circle. The Sea King is out of ammo and heads for Car Nicobar. The Orion's first shot is a no go. A second longer range shot is attempted, but it will take about three minutes to get there. A third enemy torp is now heard in the water! I order the Orion closer and drop another Mk46. After less than a minute of run time, this one misses too! The Mk46 dropped earlier is now less than 30 seconds from the sub. Unfortunately, a second torp strikes the Nichio Maru, setting her ablaze and sinking her. In a Pyrrhic victory, the Mk46 does hit and kill the Romeo. The one torp still running for the LNG tanker, misses by a wide margin. The hunt for the sub in front of the Indian carrier TF heats up as it is joined by a Tracker and several other helos. However, after nearly an hour, no further contact is established and it is lost.
SITREP: DTG is now 040030JAN04. ViConds say sink 10 warships, I've got 9 so far. They also dictate sink 4 subs, I can only confirm 2. With the lack of good sonars, I'm finding this one tough! And I'm required to allow no more than 8 tankers to be damaged. It doesn't specify more than that, so I assume the worst and figure 1% damage is too much. So far, I've lost three and had one crippled at 89% damage and two more damaged at 34% each. I need to find some more subs QUICK!!
OK, good news. At 0040 on 4 JAN, my Matadors are once again ready for action. I order them airborne with instructions to attack the Chinese DDG group again. I've got a Seahawk on station about 35nm E of the DDG group, when he picks up the ESM track of another Chinese destroyer further SW. The signature of this one looks like a Luda. How did I miss this one??? My Gulf of Thailand TF had just recently transited the area and is now near the eastern-most point of the Singapore Exclusion Zone with the new contact about 110nm N of their present position. They never got a hint of another destroyer in the area! Maybe they were lucky they didn't!! It also seems that the Myanmar air force still has some fight in it. I pick up a pair of Sapfir 29 radars out of Haingui moving to challenge the two Falcons I have on patrol near there. Seems to be time for some SMACKDOWN!! I bait the two bogies with the nearest Falcon and run interception with the other as lead. What I hoped would be one sided turned out to be just another trade. Two Falcons for two Fulcrums! DAMN! I now have to give orders to re-fit two F-16a at Takhli with air-to-air rather than the 2000lb bombs they were armed with. I have one other Falcon at Takhli that will be ready in 15 minutes. At 20nm from the Chinese DDG group, the Matadors unleash their Harpoons. Six are targeted on what I believe to be the Hangzhou, and two more on what I think is a frigate with no radars active. I'll leave the Qingdao be for now. Of the eight Harpoons fired, one hits the Hangzhou, three hit the other ship I'd targeted and four were shot down. The only damage assessment I get is that the ship I thought to be the Siping is sinking. If my count is right, that should be the tenth enemy warship to be destroyed.
The Tracker that was acting as cover for the Viraat TF has hit bingo and must RTB. One of my few remaining Falcons arrives on station S of Haingui and picks up three skunks that weren't there before. They're all small contacts, stopped in the water and have no radar emissions. He heads in to check it out.
I now need to take a time out to change my drawers, because a pair of torpedoes just ran right past the Thai ship, Makut Rajakumarn of TF Andaman and scared the crap out of me! They were spotted visually seconds before they missed their target. Discovering there's a sub in the area by having it send some torps your way is a helluva way to conduct ASW operations!! Fortunately, I have my Orion slightly to the N, and my other Tracker W of their location. I give orders for the TF to go active with what sonars they have and send in the two ASW planes. I just hope I don't run out of sonobouys before I get a contact. It takes some time for the planes to close the gap, but they eventually do so. They each lay a line of six sonobouys S of the TF as it rushes N. As they both begin to line up to lay another spread, I get a contact. It's between the two eastern buoys that the Orion laid. The Tracker is the first to the contact, he drops an active buoy and ID's the sub as a PRC Romeo. As he continues to strive for a track, the Orion takes a shot. The Mk46 makes its run with no results. A second is dropped N of the target. While the fish is still in the water, an accurate track is established. The torp closes with its prey and buries itself in the subs hull just fore of the conning tower before detonating. That's three!
Back up N, near Hainan, a Falcon has ID'd the three ships that are just sitting there. It's the Dalian, a Luda III class DD, the Jinan, a Luda II DD, and hull number 620, a Shengli fleet oiler. This should be nothing more than a live fire exercise. I order four Sea Eagle armed Harriers from the Viraat to head N to deal with the DDs. Once they are N of Port Blair, I order the four jaguars from there to airborne to deal with the tanker.
Now I notice something very odd... There are five tankers in a row entering the narrows of the Malacca Straits, about 150nm SSE of Butterworth in Malaysia. They are all passing very close to the coast. First in line is the Mobile Condor, followed by the Ridgewood, the Inebolu, the Norbay, and the Santa Ana. I suddenly get a report of the Ridgewood being on fire. No report of a weapons hit, no enemy sighted, nothing! The Ridgewood is 5% damaged and on fire. Upon further investigation, I see the Mobile Condor isalso 1% damaged. Suddenly, the fire on the Ridgewood spreads and she's 15% damaged! Nothing I can do except hope for the best. I launch a Seahawk from Surat Thani to take a look around down there, but like most things in this scenario, it will probably be another case of too little, too late. The fire on the Ridgewood spreads and grows. Engineering is now damaged and the control systems are on fire. The damage level has reached 47%. To add insult to injury, the next ship in line, the Inebolu is on fire and damaged has already reached 39%! Whatever it is that I cannot see or detect is sinking tankers better than the combined navies and air forces of China and Myanmar!! As I struggle to find a solution, I realize that the Seahawk I launched earlier is far too slow. I now launch a pair of Tigers from Surat Thani to go S and have a look around. It's a long shot, but I gotta try something. The Ridgewood is 59% damaged and the Inebolu is now 42% damaged. Both are still burning.
The Harriers from the Viraat are 30nm from the Dalian and Jinan when they fire. Neither ship has any radar active. The Harriers are rewarded with six Harpoons hitting the Jinan, sinking her, and one Harpoon hit on the Dalian. A short time later, the Jaguars arrive on the scene. Rather than one lightly armed tanker to deal with, they have a wounded DD also. I send three to intercept the DD and one to dispatch the tanker. Two jaguars are destroyed by gunfire before they can mount their attack. One drops it's bombs, without a hit, and is shot down as it turns for home. The Jaguar sent to hit the tanker fares no better and is shot down on his approach. The loss of four Jaguars for NO GAIN!!! I HATE when that happens!
It's now 0425 on 4JAN04 and I've solved a mystery. One of my Tigers prowling the coast of Malaysia spotted a terrorist platoon right where my ships were getting damaged! The ships have long since moved out of the area, but the Inebolu is 49% damaged and the Ridgewood is 76% damaged. Both Tigers move in to attack and wind up expending all of their ammo on the platoon, 16 Rockeye CBs and 54 bursts of 20mm cannon fire! After scoring over a dozen hits, the platoon is still there!! I checked the DB and found the reason... 5000 DPs!These are some SUPER BAD ASS TERRORISTS!!! I'm glad the Taliban didn't have big red S's on their chests like these guys do, or I might not be sitting here today!!
At shortly after five in the morning, another of the Sea Kings I have on dipping sonar patrol ahead of the Viraat TF makes a find. While dipping with active sonar, he gets a contact about 10nm E, and slightly N of the TF. Not quite on, but close to the PIM. I slow the TF to creep and launch two more Sea Kings. I detach the two that were on dipping patrol and vector in two more Sea Kings from Car Nicobar that are about 10 to 15nm away scouting in front of some merchants. Within five minutes, three helos are on top of the unknown goblin and establish a solid track. Suddenly the contact goes from the amber of unknown to the scarlet of hostile with the release of a single torpedo. No ,more time to play. I first send in one of the Sea Kings who is getting a little light on fuel to make the first attack. He is armed with depth charges, so I don't expect too much. I am pleasantly surprised to see two confirmed hits and the contact disappear!
Just before 0600 hours, I am awarded victory as the fleets of Myanmar and the PRC turn tail and head for their respective ports!
Freek, GREAT SCENARIO!!! Sorry for the length of this AAR, but I always find a running commentary to be very useful.
On the plus side, the tide of battle certainly flowed back and forth. Just when something would go my way, something in another area of the game set me back! But I never had the frustrating feeling of having NOTHING go my way.
The air battles were very well matched and evenly balanced. I'm sure I didn't see everything the Reds had, I haven't opened it up in the SE yet. When I do, I'll send additional comments.
The trick with the terrorist platoon was impressive!
Your use of EW was well done. It added to the fog of war.
Speaking of which, getting a real handle on the intel situation at any one time was quite a challenge. Mainly because of a lack of assets on the Thai/Indian side. At any one moment, I felt like I had only about a 50% idea of what was going on around me.
Even though the Chinese did not use front line subs, that I saw, the scenario showed how deadly even old boats can be if the opposing navies are without good quality sonars!
One suggestion, in your posted ViConds, you say "No more than 8 tankers damaged." At the end I found out I had to keep them from getting 50% damage. It would be nice3 to know I had that latitude.
Other than that, thanks for a GREAT scenario! Now that I've played the 7th and 8th in the series, I'm gonna have to find time to play the rest!
[image]http://img275.echo.cx/img275/3526/szologo47ty.gif[/image]SZO file archives - Home of the Harpoon3 PlayersDB
[image]http://img108.exs.cx/img108/5898/hgbanner33xr.jpg[/image]HarpGamer.com - Home of the HCDB.