Stepping back a little, here's how the rest of it went.
After the air to air engagements mentioned earlier I got a little lax, while waiting for my planes to re-arm, but finally decided I should send another heavy counter-air sweep of F-14s towards the Bab al Mandeb. This would have been great if I'd done it sooner, but as it was they were only ~ 1/2 way there (the 400 kt cruise of those older F-14s is really painful) when the Pact decided to teach the French a lesson in Djibouti. Strikes arrived from both sides, and I really started to regret going on the offensive with half my Mirages, because the four planes which were available weren't able to stem the tide, and it took almost all my AAMs, many shots from my I-HAWKs, and micro-managed cannon fire to keep them out of my airbase. Even my little frigate took a few shots with its deck gun as the attackers came rushing in - and that was a problem, because the attackers radioed back the position of the little frigate to the anti-carrier strike units!
These started to show up on radar just as I was congratulating myself on my hair-thin victory, and it was clear I wouldn't be able to stop them all before they hit their target (which at this point I assumed was the base). My forlorn little frigate shot as best it could, but it's death was assured. (This is where reality splits, as discussed in the earlier posts. The AI ran the rest of the anti-ship attackers through my SAM barrage and then turned the survivors for home. I re-ran it under human control, destroying the HAWKs, some of the Crotales, and wrecking the docks and sinking all of the minesweepers there, before getting away without casualties. I decided to keep playing from that outcome.)
My F-14s arrived too late to interfere, and only a few of them were able to catch up with the tail of the raid returning to Sana'a and shoot down a few Su-24s. However, they did have tanker support, so they stayed around to engage and destroy fighters coming up to challenge them on intercept missions, using their range advantage as much as possible, and being particularly careful to keep Mig-29s out of Archer range.
The fighting in Djibouti had made it clear that the advance planes in Sana'a were a real problem, so the next main strike was directed there. Three pair of F-14s lead the F-16s with HARMs, while F-18s with SLAMs delivered powerful warheads on the SAM sites, and F-15Es came in with LGBs to shut the runways once the defences were down (all under the watchful eye of EA-6 and EC-130 crews). The attack was a success, although I proved that I still haven't learned that high value fighters probably shouldn't go down to strafe - in this case because the pair of Mig-23s that popped up were able to put a pair of Aphids into a reckless F-14 the moment their wheels left the ground.
This was followed by a dusk strike from the Jaguars, which all concentrated on bombing the runway and facilities at Ataq. One thousand pound bombs aren't ideal anti-runway tools, but when you have twenty attackers inbound you can get the job done. So as darkness fell I knew the main Russian base at Socotra was a wreck, Sana'a was down, and Ataq was shut. This meant most of the more advanced enemy aircraft on my side of the AOO were out of operation, and relieved a considerable amount of pressure on me. The most advanced fighters remaining were probably the Mig-23s on the far side of the Red Sea, plus whatever might be hiding out at Khartoum.
That's why the pair of B-1s settled down to nap-of-the-earth altitude as they crossed the Red Sea in the deepening darkness and entered enemy territory near the border of Eritrea and Sudan. Radar cover was thinnest there, and my hope was that they could remain undetected as they swung to the SW and entered Sudan. As they advanced ESM picked up emissions of a Side Net radar to the north of their flight path, and then a pair old model fighter radars. Had they been detected? The bombers turned further south and accelerated to military power, and the emissions faded behind them. Then it was time to turn north again and make the low level run across the large Khartoum airport. The bombers flashed across the airport, glimpsing dozens of small airframes as they dumped 48 one ton bombs on the runway and facilities. They didn't wait to look around, but as they turned and headed back east they could see the glow of fierce fires lighting the skies over Khartoum. (Satellite intel would later reveal 38 wrecked fighter airframes and a demolished runway. Not the Badgers I'd been fearing, but well worth it nonetheless.) The route out was adjusted further south, to stay away from the radar, and the B-1s returned safely home in time to prep for their trip to America.
Other night-time activity was somewhat less spectacular, but still very useful. A large part of my remaining TLAMs were used to strike known SAM positions around airfields in Yemen and Ethiopia, paving the way for my F-15Es to use their LGBs (with the very useful BLU-109 warhead) to shut the airfields at Aden and Al Anad, and to start working on Hodeida. The last of the TLAMs shut the runways and taxiways of the Ethiopian airfields of Aksum and Mekele. The Cairo-based 366th arrived to do the same thing to Port Sudan, and they had enough LGBs to shut Asmara in Eritrea, and then cross the Red Sea to finish off Hodeida. By dawn all enemy airfields were shut, with the exception of Dire Dawa, and since strike aircraft losses during their Djibouti raid had been 100% I did not expect any trouble from that direction.
SAM opposition had been very weak during the night, presumably because once the search radars were down they had no way to track my aircraft, so many of the HARM shooters went back with their missiles, and re-armed with other ordnance. A large amount of effort was devoted to the Bab al Mandeb, where F-15Es flew along the coast using their FLIR pods to identify a large number of small-boat docks, SSM sites, large caliber AAA, and artillery emplacements. These could be safely engaged with LGBs and Mavericks from beyond AAA range (and less safely with CBUs, trying to stay out of the AAA zones). One surprise was the identification of an SSK by FLIR, with a pilot reporting a moving hot-spot with a wake when the sub was in very shallow waters just south of the Bab. Surrounding AAA pieces had to be bombed before an Atlantique could safely get in to sink it.
Once the coast was clean in the straits my surviving mineclearing helicopters started working on a passage near the Djibouti shore, finding and sweeping numerous mines before dawn, and continuing into the day. By mid-day all known enemy units in the area had been destroyed (including those on the islands in the Red Sea), and there had been no further enemy air activity. Some aircraft (the Jaguars in particular) worked on destroying aircraft which were trapped at wrecked enemy airbases. As dusk fell a second time my southern naval units were well into the Gulf of Aden, and the HMS Lancaster which was making good progress southwards along the E shore of the Red Sea to meet them. There are 26 hours left to go, and the Nimitz has a clear path to get to the objective in 22 hours at 20 knots (to escort the slow moving oiler). If she wants to leave the oiler with an escort she can speed up to 25 knots and get there in 17.
So with 1 day 2 hours to go, and no effective opposition left, I think it's fair to call it over.
The 'B1s 1 hr warning for departure' event plays the 4 hour message.
The 'Port Sudan Ferry' mission to take the planes from Khartoum to Port Sudan is inactive, and there doesn't seem to be any event to activate it. I'm not sure when the planes were supposed to leave, but if it was before the evening of the first day then my B-1 strike would not have caught them there. I guess they will also need a change mission event to put them on a strike mission once they get to their destination.
The 'Sudan Mar Strike' mission is set for a 100 nm range, but there is very little within that range. The closest part of the Nimitz's objective zone is 175 nm away, and the Nimitz probably won't even get that far. Even the Red Sea is 140 nm wide at Port Sudan, so it can't get to units on the far side.
Similarly, the 'Eritrea Mar Strike' also has a 100 nm range, so it can only get at targets along the nearby shore, and cannot reach into the Nimitz's objective zone.
I sent the Lancaster sneaking down the east side of the Red Sea, to try and stay away from the fishing boats and thus avoid getting ratted out and swarmed before joining the Nimitz. This seemed to work, but the 'Msg - Red Sea Clear' says I was supposed to be clearing the Red Sea, which I didn't really do, and I had no idea I was supposed to pass through the Nimitz objective zone, or remain in the Dahlak-Bab area. Maybe a note to the player in the side briefing would be useful to clarify the ship's mission in this respect?
The enemy SAMs had a poor showing, and often weren't able to engage my aircraft (quite possibly because they didn't know they were there, especially at night and when I'd knocked the surveillance radars down). Actually, this may be quite realistic for portraying poorly trained and integrated air defences. It certainly made them difficult to engage with HARMs. If you want them a bit more active, perhaps a few second-line search radars or one or two of the SAMs could turn on in surveillance mode later throughout the game?
The SSMs and artillery will not engage known hostile ships in their area. However, if you change their doctrine to Engage Opportunities = Yes then they will engage. (I wonder if the same would help the SAMs?)
I found the SSK on the south side of the Bab, instead of in its patrol area to the North. It turns out that it was investigating a contact over 500 miles away out to the NE of Socotra(!), and had set a course there cutting through the port zone. This took it into very shallow water where it had to surface, and was therefore detected and sunk. The 'Kilo Ptl' mission is set to allow the sub to investigate outside the patrol zone, and has no prosecution zone, which allows this behaviour. If you want to keep it in the deeper water N of the Bab then this would probably need to be disabled.
I had no idea the Victor was out there until the scenario was over. My initial plan was to have everybody rendezvous right in his patrol zone, but after looking at the transit times it became apparent I needed to go on the other side of Socotra, so that worked out in my favour. The Victor did see me, however, getting a CZ hit on the passing San Jaun, and he started moving to investigate. I motored past cluelessly, and he lost me when I left the CZ, so I got away with it. A slightly different course could have been very embarrassing! This is the contact which pulled the SSK out of position. It also had the effect of making all the fishing boats start to slowly converge on that position. I actually spotted this behaviour, but couldn't figure out what the heck they were doing, since they were pointed at the obsolete CZ strobe, not the current position of my units. Interesting and puzzling at the same time.
The Cimarron oiler is an interesting problem. It can only make 20 knots, and I had thought I should be able to catch up with it with the CV and then replenish and still make it to the objective in time at that speed. I started replenishing passing between Socotra and the mainland, but then discovered that you can only make 11 knots while replenishing, and it takes a long time to replenish the bigger items. So not enough time after all. The tactical situation had improved, so I gave up the re-arming and pressed on at 20 knots for the time being. Hopefully there will be some time to slow down later. (I wonder if you can unrep in the Suez canal?)
< Message edited by AndrewJ -- 7/17/2017 1:06:34 AM >