AndrewJ -> RE: Command Live: Aegean in Flames (AAR) (6/14/2020 4:22:49 PM)
Here's a repost of an AAR I did for an early version of the scenario. There may have been some changes since then, so your play experience may be a bit different.
I’ve been ordered to lead Greek naval and aviation forces in an attack on Turkish oil exploration activities in the waters around Cyprus.
I’ve got large numbers of F-16s and some Mirages and F-4s on mainland Greece and Crete, but unfortunately nothing on Cyprus itself other than some attack helicopters. I’ve got a swarm of small modern diesel subs, four task groups of frigates, and a scattering of missile boats hidden around the islands. I’ve also got control of air defense units, plus some ground forces on the islands, particularly ATACMS SRBMs which may be useful for engaging enemy SAM sites, and some Exocet shore batteries.
Currently my observers know the location of the two drilling platforms east and west of Cyprus, and several groups of Turkish ships exercising east of Rhodes. We’ve also had warnings that the Turkish amphibs are loading up and getting ready near Izmir, which is definitely something to keep an eye on.
I would strongly prefer to make a coordinated strike at night, when cover of darkness can get my missiles a few miles closer to the enemy without being spotted, but high command hasn’t given us enough time! It’s already midnight, and if I want to take the time to fully re-arm and ready my planes, then it will be morning before we can strike. I can do a partial night attack, or wait for a full attack at dawn. I elect to wait…
In the meantime, most of my planes stay on the ground. Drones are ordered to begin reconnaissance flights, without getting too close to the mainland, while I redeploy some of my SAM and artillery units for better coverage. My MLRS units, in particular, are ordered to hide in any available forest terrain in the hope of increasing their survivability.
I’m nervous about the dispersed nature of my surface ships. My two southern SAGs (Hydra 1 & 2) are ordered to join into one dense supergroup, and patrol in the Crete/Rhodes area. The individual missile boats are also ordered to hurry together, so there is at least one RAM-equipped ship in each mini-group, and then to join up with larger groups where possible, or to hide near shore-based SAMs. My northern SAG (Hydra 4) is ordered to rush to Chios, to be ready for any Turkish activity near Izmir / Lesvos, and my nearby subs are sent to blockade the straits there.
My ships near Cyprus are ordered to close up into one group, but keep their distance from the drilling platforms. The local submarines, however, are ordered to close in discretely to within torpedo range.
As my recon assets spread out, I start getting better reports about the enemy disposition. There’s a big pack of landing ships readying near Izmir, which is an ominous sign for nearby Lesvos. The Turks have plenty of ships guarding each of the oil platforms east and west of Cyprus, and there’s another group south of Cyprus, presumably guarding one of the research ships. There are another two surface groups in their “exercise” area SE of Rhodes, and I’d guess the other research ship is in there with them.
The Turks have an imposing number of F-16s in the air, and many of them spend their time making close flybys of my drones, which are doing a good job finding enemy units. I can’t get too close to the mainland, but the drones do find plenty of enemy armour and artillery on Cyprus, and some dangerous-looking SRBM launchers on Imvros.
My submarines start finding they’re not alone. There’s at least one enemy sub in the strait between Rhodes and the mainland, using its active sonar no less! This seems indiscrete at first, but it also means the Okeanos has no hope of a quick undetected passage through the strait towards the enemy ships. Instead, it’s forced to hug the shore of Rhodes, creeping along the bottom to avoid detection.
Over by Cyprus, the modern SSK Papanikolis detects an enemy sub, but it soon becomes apparent that the Turks have detected us too. No matter how we twist or dodge, above the layer or below, the enemy keeps changing course to intercept. The Papanikolis turns away to retreat but the enemy sub accelerates to flank speed and starts closing rapidly, and it looks very much like we’re about to be identified and attacked!
Meanwhile, the charging enemy sub has gotten so loud that the ships in my nearby surface group can hear it, and the captain there makes a risky decision. It’s dark, they’re out of enemy radar cover, and there aren’t any enemy planes in the area, so… An ASW helicopter is launched, and dashes towards the sub, hugging the waves only a few meters up, radar and lights off. Arriving on-station it lowers its dipping sonar for a moment, listens intently, looks over each shoulder, and drops a pair of torpedoes on the sub, before sauntering away whistling innocently. The Turks never see where the torps came from, and they have no time to send a message before they are sunk. The last tense moments of peace continue for now.
More subs show up in the next few hours. There’s a second one SE of Crete, but closer to the nearby enemy ships, and one in the strait between Rhodes and Carpathos, very close to my patrolling surface group. That one also falls victim to another ASW helicopter sneak-attack, so the score is already two nothing before formal hostilities have begun.
MORNING ATTACK - AEGEAN
It’s a grey and rainy morning when the main attack begins, as swarms of Greek fighters and attack planes lift off and head for targets along the Aegean cost.
The first overt fighting happens a little prematurely, as my planes headed for the missile launchers on Imvros tangle with the enemy CAP over the sea, before striking the targets with Mavericks and cluster bombs. Simultaneously, ATACMS start launching towards enemy SAM and radar sites, but targeting difficulties mean the results aren’t as good as hoped, and many of the SAM sites suffer only minor damage. The Turks fire back with hidden missiles based on the mainland, heavily pounding my airbase at Skyros. Some soft facilities are lost, but fortunately the hardened aircraft shelters come through chipped but intact, and I don’t lose any aircraft.
Thankfully, that doesn’t interfere with the operations near Chios, where the augmented surface group Hydra 4 salvoes its anti-shipping missiles down the Izmir strait towards the gathered Turkish landing ships, in a simultaneous attack with the Exocet-carrying Mirages from Tanagra. The swarm of missiles overwhelms the local air defences, and within the space of a minute the landing ships are torn apart and sunk, along with many of their escorts. The celebrating pilots turn south and fly to Crete, where C-130s are unloading more Exocet missiles for the next strike against Turkish naval forces in the Mediterranean proper.
Intense fighting breaks out all along the Aegean coast, as Greek strikes close in on airfields at Bandirma, Balikesir, and Cigli. The Turks surge swarms of F-16s in defence, and both sides start unleashing salvos of AMRAAMs at near maximum range. (Actually, many of these planes are Turkish strike missions colliding with my strike missions, in a huge confused mess.) The Turks often fire before I can, forcing my planes to turn and run again and again, and even when I do get the enemy in range their high agility and excellent jammers make them frustratingly elusive targets. My best fighters against them turn out to be the Mirages, whose long-ranged IR missiles can ignore the jammers, and get reasonably frequent hits.
The battle surges back and forth as multiple waves of aircraft collide, fall back, and re-engage, but in the end the Greek forces are victorious, and the runways are shut, the Izmir Oil Refinery is destroyed, and more of the SAM sites are damaged or put out of commission. My SCALP-carrying Mirages avoid the initial fighting, and head in over the Sea of Marmara to release their cruise missiles, destroying the Engine Plant near Eskisehir, and part of the Roketsan plant near Ankara. (Unfortunately, my missiles overfly a hidden Rapier battery there, and most are shot down.)
Things don’t go quite as well down south, where my strike is closing in on Dalaman AFB. My pilots are confidently out of range of enemy defences, when the top of Tahtali Dagi erupts like something out of a bad Japanese movie, and ultra-modern SA-21bs start streaming in their direction. My planes go diving and fleeing as best they can, and although most get away, that is no consolation to those that don’t. Some missiles lose their initial targets, but get redirected to other victims – particularly some of my distant attack helicopters which are trying to sneak through the hills. In the end, my strike reforms at extremely low altitude, and the HARM carriers are redirected to make a concentrated salvo at the SA21, which does manage to hit both the radars, but some parts of the SAM site survive. Meanwhile, Dalaman is hit and closed, so the strike is a success, albeit more costly than hoped.
Some of the Turks do manage to launch counterstrikes, and packs of Harpies, UCAVs, attack helicopters, and occasional cruise missiles add to the confusion. Most of the slower moving targets are detected and shot down, but a few of the cruise missiles slip through. Fortunately, there aren’t enough to cause major damage.
MORNING ATTACK – CYPRUS
The Turks do somewhat better near Cyprus, where my fighters can’t reach effectively.
The initial shots came from my attack helicopters, which manage to destroy the Turkish artillery before it can do major damage, and then shoot up the armour and a surveillance radar. The appearance of Turkish AH-1s, from a base somewhere on the island, is an unwelcome development, and leads to some cannon engagements between Hinds and Cobras, before the eastern SA-17 intervenes to shoot them down.
My subs claim the first major kill, when the Poseidon comes sneaking around the SE corner of the island to sink a Meko, and then put a full salvo of torpedoes into the stationary drill-ship from long range.
My small surface group SSE of Cyprus is clearly outnumbered by local Turkish forces, so initially they were ordered to get closer to Cyprus, to hopefully take cover under my own SA-20 battery. But, the further north they go, the more I feel they’re putting their neck in the noose, positioning themselves between enemy forces and they are soon under fire by Harpoons from the nearest Perry. They shoot down the incoming missiles, but their dwindling SAM supplies are worrying, especially as there are indications of an incoming strike from the mainland.
My southern fighters from Crete, first disrupted by the SA-21, and then intercepted by the Turkish escorts, aren’t able to interfere. Fearing a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ situation, my little task group opens fire on the eastern enemy ships, combining their fire with Exocets from the nearby shore battery, and mange to sink several of them before the incoming aircraft arrive. The angry F-16s shoot up some of my air defences (destroying the SA-17), but aren’t able to survive to get hits on any of my ships, who turn and scurry away toward the Lebanese coast with most of their SAMs expended.
The other side of the island also gets a visit from angry Turks, and a combination of HARM strikes, SRBMs, and attack helicopters manages to destroy some of my air defences, and damage some airfield facilities. My SA-20 battery does claim some kills, but fewer than I had hoped, because local high ground causes radar blind spots towards the north and east.
My planes now withdraw to refuel and re-arm, while my subs and ships continue to close on the enemy.
Turkey is dotted with new immigrants now, in the form of my eager young fighter pilots, and my SAR helicopters set out to try and make rescues. Pilots which came down near active SAM sites are abandoned, unfortunately, but several successful rescues are made on land and in the oceans.
Up near Rhodes, the submarine Okeanos gives up on hunting the enemy sub which is using active sonar, and sticks up a mast to radio a target report. My nearby super-group is glad to send an ASW helicopter to sink the enemy, but it takes a four-fighter escort to drive off the Turkish F-16s which try to interfere.
The Nireus, south of Cyprus, manages to make its way into the operating area of the southern research ship. It spends most of its time trying to stay away from active sonobuoys and dipping sonars, but eventually finds and sinks its target before slipping away discretely.
The western drilling ship is still operating, and it has actually been in range of my western Exocet shore batteries all this time, but there are so many enemy ships around that I didn’t think the missiles could get through to hit it. Now that I have two submarines approaching the area, I order the missile batteries to engage the escorts in order to clear the path for the subs, and the 16-missile salvo claims three escorts sunk, one wounded, and one missile actually strikes the platform. That makes the path much clearer for the subs, and they manage to close in and torpedo the last drilling ship.
This only leaves the western research ship, which is with its escorts near the Turkish coast, while a smaller group of three Turkish ships is operating further out to sea. My super-group is in the area, and gets spotted and fired on by the smaller Turkish group, but my ships have so many modern SAMs that nothing gets through. That leaves my ships free to close on the main Turkish force, and make a combined attack with the Mirages, that are now operating out of Crete. The strike overwhelms the SAM defences and sinks them all, allowing my ships to turn about and engage and sink the last three Turks with their remaining missiles.