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EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 2:21:36 AM   
DWReese

 

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I'm working on a scenario and I was wondering if someone "in the know" could tell me about how Jamming aircraft (such as the EA-6) operate.

1. Do they usually operate in pairs, or are they operate as a single aircraft?

2. If they do (can) operate in pairs, is there any actual benefit to having double the amount of jammers than the carried by a single aircraft, or is it just a waste of assets?

3. Are they usually escorted by fighters (in game terms, are fighters usually assigned as escorts to them)?

4. Are the jamming aircraft that also carry munitions like HARMs looking to fire those missiles as a primary mission, or are they there just in case a target of opportunity becomes available? I've noticed that if I assign them to attack with the HARMs, then they want to go home instead of continuing to supply jamming support. It's like having two different missions, so I'd like to hear from others as to how they use them.

Thanks in advance.

Doug
Post #: 1
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 3:24:00 AM   
SeaQueen


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As always, it depends.

I'm not sure about whether they typically operate in pairs or not, but there's lots of reasons one might choose to. Tactical aircraft operating in pairs means:

1) Redundancy. If something breaks or gets shot down, there's another aircraft already there to keep doing the job.
2) Eyes. If the aircraft crashes or is shot down, someone else is there to see it. Most pilots who are shot down never know it. It helps a lot to have someone else out there looking for you.
3) Power. Two aircraft can dump more jamming energy into the air. I suspect they can also do all sorts of interesting interference effects and side lobe jamming as well, based on how they're spaced and what not. Electronic warfare can be terribly technical and so these kinds of things might matter a lot, depending on what they're doing. EW pods have beam patterns, just like all antennas, and so more aircraft can direct more beams at more targets to jam.

Escorts. It depends on how you're using the aircraft and what the threat is. Ideally, I don't use any aircraft as escorts. They're all bombers. You only fight airplanes in the sky because you've got a bunch of bomb trucks rolling in behind you, or I'm trying to defend against someone else's bomb trucks coming my way. If I had chosen to lead a strike with my jammer aircraft in a SEAD role I'd probably have fighters roll in close right behind them, unless there weren't many enemy fighters to worry about. If I was using them in a standoff jamming role then maybe I wouldn't do that because I'd put the standoff jamming orbit back behind a wall of defensive fighters that the enemy would have to fight through in order to get to my jamming aircraft. Try both tactics. Different tactics might work better in different situations. That's what Command is great at!

ARMS: I'm not sure "primary mission v. secondary mission" is really the way to think about stuff. The aircraft has the capability to shoot HARMs. If I need a HARM shooter then I might use them to shoot HARMs. I might also use an F/A-18 or an A-6 or some other airplane. It depends on the target set and the threat. Usually there's lots of different ways to approach the problem, with tradeoffs. If I can put enough bombs on target and still have strike aircraft left over to use in a SEAD role, then maybe I'll have the EA-6s sit way back and do standoff jamming with no HARMs. If I can't, then maybe I'll use the EA-6/HARM combination to do a SEAD sweep in front of my package. It's really about how many airplanes you have, and what you need to get the job done. Maybe I could use the EA-6/HARM combination in front of the package and have a few other SEAD aircraft roll in with him too. You could also use the EA-6/HARM combination by setting up an orbit to stand off jam and then if a pop up SAM emerges you can ingress and attack them with your HARMs.

Tactics, ultimately, are about creative problem solving. One shouldn't be wedded to a single solution.

quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese

I'm working on a scenario and I was wondering if someone "in the know" could tell me about how Jamming aircraft (such as the EA-6) operate.

1. Do they usually operate in pairs, or are they operate as a single aircraft?

2. If they do (can) operate in pairs, is there any actual benefit to having double the amount of jammers than the carried by a single aircraft, or is it just a waste of assets?

3. Are they usually escorted by fighters (in game terms, are fighters usually assigned as escorts to them)?

4. Are the jamming aircraft that also carry munitions like HARMs looking to fire those missiles as a primary mission, or are they there just in case a target of opportunity becomes available? I've noticed that if I assign them to attack with the HARMs, then they want to go home instead of continuing to supply jamming support. It's like having two different missions, so I'd like to hear from others as to how they use them.



< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/12/2019 3:26:07 AM >

(in reply to DWReese)
Post #: 2
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 4:44:36 AM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks, SeaQueen, for the very detailed response. I understand everything that you said.

Regarding the two-plane combos versus two single planes, I'm inclined to believe that splitting them up (coming to the same target area from a different axis) may be the best, at least in game terms.

Regarding the OECM/HARM combo, my situation is I NEED the OECM a/c regardless, and they happen to have a HARM option that combines the two. My thoughts were, since they are going in that direction anyway, why not add the HARMs to the a/c? It seems logical. But, when trying to set up a mission rather than micromanaging it. The combo version will fire off its HARMs and head for home, no longer concerning itself with the needed jamming. By not attaching the HARMs, the a/c stay focused on their OECM mission. So, unless I want to micromanage, or unless there is another way (WRA..?) to tell the a/c not to go home, then I would prefer to have the OECM aspect of the HARMs.

Thanks again.

Doug


(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 3
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 10:10:00 AM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

The combo version will fire off its HARMs and head for home, no longer concerning itself with the needed jamming. By not attaching the HARMs, the a/c stay focused on their OECM mission. So, unless I want to micromanage, or unless there is another way (WRA..?) to tell the a/c not to go home, then I would prefer to have the OECM aspect of the HARMs.



You could put the HARM armed EA-6s in a mission with Weapons HOLD, you would then need to micromanage if you wanted them to use their HARMs, but I prefer that method over realizing they are heading home and the rest of your mission is left without jamming.

From a game perspective, I just don't understand jamming enough to say positively one way or another, but they only carry one HARM at best, so you will need other HARM shooters in the mission unless you're confident that the defences are suppressed. So this is what I tend to do:

- On first strike I send them in without HARMs, they carry 5 Jamming pods. I don't know if 5 is better than 3 but it seems right.

- On secondary strikes when I'm dedicating more bombers to strike vs SEAD, I'll load the Prowlers with their one HARM in a 'just in case' mode.

- I use the Squadron size as an indicator for the number of Prowlers I use. At max you will have 5, probably 4, with 1-2 on maintenance leaving you 3-4. If you have a detachment of ES-3A on board you are golden but if you don't I like to put a pair assigned to an ELINT patrol off to the flank of the carrier to complement the E-2's. That leaves you about 2 to play with. If there is only going to be one or two major ALPHA strikes send both, but if it will be a continuous train of bombers on mini strikes than space them out.

- A great combo is 1x EA-6 coupled with a pair of F-18s loaded with HARM/CBU combos, later Hornets can also buckle on a FLIR pod. The Hornets are your escort but also provide the HARM punch and follow up with a nice bucket of Cluster bomb attention to silence any SAM site.


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(in reply to DWReese)
Post #: 4
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 10:47:05 AM   
Ancalagon451

 

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quote:

You could put the HARM armed EA-6s in a mission with Weapons HOLD, you would then need to micromanage if you wanted them to use their HARMs, but I prefer that method over realizing they are heading home and the rest of your mission is left without jamming.


You can also make them ignore the Winchester state in the doctrine option. That way they will stick with the strike package even after having fired HARMs.

Ancalagon

(in reply to Gunner98)
Post #: 5
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 10:53:30 AM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

ignore the Winchester state


Nice option, thanks.

_____________________________

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http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/index.php

And our blog:

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/blog

(in reply to Ancalagon451)
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RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 12:11:11 PM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.

Ancalagon, I've tried the Ignore Winchester state before, but had limited success. I have not tried it here, but I will. Thanks for the reminding me.

Bart, it's hard to say whether five jammers is exponentially better than three. As you implied, you can't easily look under the hood of the OECM stuff. On my scenario, my resources are limited, but I do have the element of surprise in the sense that hostilities don't generally begin until I initiate them. I could really use the extra HARMs, but if five jammer pods are that much better than three, or if three are that much better than two, then I will have to play around with it some more. It's difficult when all you see is JAM whether it's five, three, or one.

Thanks again. It's back to the testing lab.

Bart, my nightstand is clear. Where is that book of yours? <lol>

Doug

(in reply to Gunner98)
Post #: 7
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 12:31:01 PM   
Gunner98

 

Posts: 3696
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From: The Great White North!
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quote:

Where is that book of yours?


To be announced very soon :-)

_____________________________

Check out our upcoming novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/index.php

And our blog:

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/blog

(in reply to DWReese)
Post #: 8
RE: EA-6 Jammers - 1/12/2019 3:37:26 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
Regarding the two-plane combos versus two single planes, I'm inclined to believe that splitting them up (coming to the same target area from a different axis) may be the best, at least in game terms.


Go for it! The whole multi-axis versus single-axis debate to me comes down to mass versus fog of war. Depending on the situation mass wins sometimes, fog of war wins other times. It can also depend on how the enemy reacts. If they devote their resources to repelling one attack and not the other, then you win. If they think they have enough to do just as well by dividing their force equally then you might not win. It depends a lot on how well resourced your opponent is. If they have a lot, then multi-axis might not help you. If they have a little, then the one axis of attack draws stuff away, making the other one more likely to succeed. It's the difference between how you fight a 100' dragon versus a 500' dragon.

quote:


Regarding the OECM/HARM combo, my situation is I NEED the OECM a/c regardless, and they happen to have a HARM option that combines the two. My thoughts were, since they are going in that direction anyway, why not add the HARMs to the a/c? It seems logical. But, when trying to set up a mission rather than micromanaging it. The combo version will fire off its HARMs and head for home, no longer concerning itself with the needed jamming. By not attaching the HARMs, the a/c stay focused on their OECM mission. So, unless I want to micromanage, or unless there is another way (WRA..?) to tell the a/c not to go home, then I would prefer to have the OECM aspect of the HARMs.


Weapons hold, ignore Winchester... People already got to that part. The other technique you could do is set up a strike mission for just the targets you want to hit, and keep the EA-6 on weapons hold. Then, when you want them to attack that target, swap them to the strike mission (Right-click -> Assign to Mission is the fast way to do it) and take them off weapon's hold. That might have the Winchester problem, though, I think. Experiment.

Micromanaging isn't necessarily a bad thing. I use missions in combination with direct intervention. That way, for some things I'll let the AI handle it, and then for certain critical tasks using high value units (A group of EA-6s would be a great example) I might jump in and direct things (e.g. attack this target, no kidding, right now).

quote:

but if five jammer pods are that much better than three, or if three are that much better than two, then I will have to play around with it some more. It's difficult when all you see is JAM whether it's five, three, or one.


The hard part of jamming is that it's hard to tell how well you're doing until they actually shoot at you. :-)

I'm of the opinion that more jamming is better. That's why I love MALD-Js. I'll shoot off B-52s full of them minutes before my SEAD aircraft roll in, because they're expendable, so if they get shot down I don't care. I tend to be more cautious of EA-6s just because I don't typically have lots of them. My own predisposition in that case is to use them in more of a standoff role than an attack role. If I ingress them with a bunch of strike aircraft carrying HARM and air to air missiles, though (e.g. A-7s, F/A-18s, F-4s) then maybe I'll feel a little less conservative. One of the advantages of the EF-18G is that it is pretty good in an air-to-air fight so it is a little less vulnerable in that kind of role versus the EA-6.

I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer. You might find templates somewhere. For example, there's a book out there called Clashes, which does a great job of describing a typical Vietnam-era strike package, and how it evolved over time. It's really interesting how the number of support aircraft blew up with the introduction of precision guided weapons, compared to Rolling Thunder era strikes which were all dumb bombs. You might find more recent information describing El Dorado Canyon or Allied Force. I wouldn't look at that as a statement of "this is exactly what must be done every single time." It's more of a point of departure to start your thinking about how to approach the particular problem with the aircraft you have in your scenario. You might end up deciding that you do better by modifying the template.

So... like... suppose we use Clashes as an example of how it's done. You might use the EA-6 in the same way they used EB-66s, as a standoff jammer in a fixed orbit near your target. You might find that works. Then you see the HARM capability and decide that if you add them into your SEAD package, then you free up a few more strike aircraft to carry some BLU-109s and do more damage to that deeply buried chemical weapons storage facility you're trying to hit and your jamming is more effective because the can get closer to the antennas. On the other hand you might find you lose them a lot and the increased effectiveness isn't worth the risk of getting them shot down.

That's the kind of trade offs that Command is really good for exploring. It's tactics at its purest.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/13/2019 7:12:13 PM >

(in reply to DWReese)
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