Here's an AAR for steelp's "Operation 2013D Part 2" scenario, a medium sized scenario looking at the southern half of the Chinese invasion of Taiwan set in 2013. This scenario focuses on operations off the southern half of Taiwan, and is smaller than Part 1, which focuses on operations further north. Like Part 1, this scenario comes with a handy intelligence briefing pdf, showing the expected layout of the enemy forces against you.
As the war begins Chinese missile bombardments have damaged a number of Taiwan's coastal SAM sites, and our aircraft are not all at full readiness state. There are a large number of IDF gradually coming on-line, along with some F-5s and F-16s, and a few E-2s. None of our aircraft are equipped for anti-shipping strikes, and we only have a limited number of good BVR missiles: Sky Sword IIs on the IDFs, with a range of 30 miles, and a few precious AMRAAMs on the F-16s. Our pilots realise that they're badly outranged by the more capable Chinese fighters, and a lot of their work will have to be done with heatseekers if they can get close enough. American forces are heavily engaged further north, and can only provide a limited amount of AWACs cover and a single P-8 ASW plane for the southern theatre. There will be no carrier airstrikes to help us out here!
Our naval forces are mostly deployed off the SW tip of Taiwan. The main group includes a mix of Kidd destroyers and Perry frigates, with good (if aging) long range SAMs and modern long-range Hsung Fien III anti-shipping missiles, and a variety of ASW ships with less offensive power. Further to the south there are three Burkes strung out in an ASW picket line. They're good ships, but their offensive range is short, and they're vulnerable when they're strung out like this. We also have two subs - an older American LA, and a Taiwanese diesel - further out to the SW from the main surface group.
The Chinese air force includes a swarm of older J-7s (Mig 21 clones), but their main fighter power comes from their J-11s (Flanker clones, with dangerous PL-12 long range active radar homing missiles). We can expect strikes from their Flounder attack aircraft as well as the J-11s, and their Badger bombers with long range missiles could easily reach the area. Our radar operators and ELINT techs have also plotted the position of the Chinese AWACs aircraft, which are patrolling back and forth over the mainland, safely behind a wall of modern SAMs (SA-10s and SA-20s). Our pilots won't be able to get at those, and they should be able to see almost everything in the straits. Our ships will have great difficulty hiding from them.
Intel says the Chinese landing force will be a pair of LSTs screened with destroyers, heading up the Chinese coast inside SAM cover, before turning east and heading for Taiwan. These will be screened by another pair of surface groups operating further out to sea. Fortunately, their carrier group is up north, and it won't be able to interfere down here. More concerning is the presence of at least 4 Chinese submarines, operating somewhwere off the SW of Taiwan.
Orders from HQ are clear: first priority is to prevent the amphibious landing, by destroying the LSTs that are approaching southern Taiwan. Secondary missions are to destroy the enemy submarines that are operating in the area, and also to defend Taiwan against further missile bombardments, which are expected to target defence infrastructure along the coast.
The Chinese subs are a major concern - they're invisible and deadly if we stumble across them - so even though their destruction is one of our objectives, we're going to try and avoid them for now.
The admiral decides to rearrange his surface forces before pursuing offensive action.The Kidds and Perry will head back to the coast at high speed and form up as a surface action group, before heading north towards the expected landing area, where they will join up with a missile boat. Their long-range SAMs will be useful for protecting coastal installations, and their long range missiles (which are my only effective anti-shipping capability) will be essential for facing the invasion force. We must preserve these ships until the enemy approaches, or we won't have any effective way to counter them.
The rest of the surface ships will also retire to the coast at speed, before slowing down to join the Burkes and conduct ASW operations there. The two southern-most Burkes will take longer to get there, and hopefully they won't get into trouble en-route.
Our subs will patrol in the area where we expect the Chinese subs, setting a course generally NNW in case they can help against the invasion forces.
Our airforce will stay close to home - in most cases they're badly outranged by enemy missiles, so there's no sense making things worse by charging into the foe. Fighter patrols will be conducted just off the coast, and I'll let the enemy come to us.
THE AIR WAR BEGINS
The air war begins, and as expected our fighter pilots are hard pressed to find a way to come to grips with the enemy Flankers, which come hurtling in on afterburner, shoot BVR, and turn away before our planes can get within range. Most of the time our pilots end up running away from enemy missiles without launching any of their own. Fortunately, there is a Skybow ABM system in the vicinity. It's intended to guard against high speed targets like ballistic missiles, but its own missiles are damaged and out of service, so the radar crews turn their talents to spotting enemy air-to-air missile launches. Their instant warnings give our pilots the edge they need to turn tail and run in time to outrange the incoming missiles. With this crucial assistance our pilots manage to survive long enough to start making a few Flanker kills, as well as taking a heavy toll of the J-7s. This doesn't last forever, unfortunately, and a salvo of anti-radiation missiles destroys the radar after a few hours have passed, and the pilots have to tread more cautiously once again.
ANTI-SHIP OPERATIONS SW OF TAIWAN
Down south, the AWACs planes start picking up an enemy surface group, well out to sea SSW of Taiwan. There's a main body of three ships, with left, right, and front picket ships, and after a while they spot a fourth picket trailing further back on the right. None of our aircraft that can deal with them, and although the surface group could fight them, that would take them away from their main objective. Therefore a call goes out to the diesel sub, which starts moving to intercept. It's got 8 Harpoons, which it can fire in salvos of 4 at most, and the captain judges that they wouldn't be enough to get past the defences of the main body of the group. However, the isolated picket ships are much more vulnerable, and over the next hour a series of carefully timed launches (fired BOL, so the seekers only turn on when they are very close to the predicted target position) manage to destroy the three outlying pickets that are closest to Taiwan. Delighted with his hat-trick, the captain turns back N again and resumes his ASW patrol, rather than closing with the concentrated heart of the formation.
As this has been going on, however, the Chinese ships launch a helicopter with a very good surface search radar, putting our ships at great risk of detection. Up to this point our ships have been in strict EMCON, but the possibility of detection and long range missile launch changes their posture. Their radars still stay dormant, but active jammers start clicking on throughout the formations, in an attempt to limit the accuracy of any long-range radar contacts. In the meantime, two fighters are vectored into the area, and they use some of their precious BVR missiles to take down the helicopter, before being chased away by SAMs from the Chinese ships.
AWACs continues to monitor the situation closely, and when it becomes clear that the enemy's southern group has turned SE (presumably patrolling a zone?), and is not closing on Taiwan, no further action is taken against them.
In the meantime AWACs has also started spotting contacts moving north along the Chinese coast - presumably the LST group and escorts, although they can't tell which is which yet.
CRUISE MISSILE ATTACKS
Up north, the air-conflict has been proceeding reasonably well, and our pilots have managed to down some Flounder attack planes, and deal with the J-7s, when national assets suddenly announce a missile warning. Ground launched cruise missiles have been reported firing from China! Soon the missiles are showing up on our own radars, and it's clear they're heading for our coastal SAM sites. Controllers start vectoring fighters in to intercept the missiles, and that's when the fast and nimble J-7s start becoming a real problem, preventing our fighters from effectively positioning themselves to engage their targets. Even when the J-7s get drawn in over one of our SAM sites on an outlying island they still manage to dodge HAWK missiles with effortless ease! It takes longer than it should have to deal with the missiles, and one of our F-5s is shot down by a J-7 in the process.
Just as our pilots are congratulating themselves on dealing with this threat they get another missile warning, as a second wave of cruise missiles comes in, sucking up more fighters that should be dealing with enemy planes. Our pilots go in low, using heat-seekers and even guns in an effort to preserve precious BVR missiles, and despite all their precautions they manage to lose a an AMRAAM carrying F-16 (our best BVR fighter!), this time to a Flanker's long-range missiles.
As the cruise missiles are being dealt with, our forces detect the first enemy submarine as it passes through the P-8's sonobuoy field south of Taiwan. The sub is roughly 20 miles west of the southern Burke, and the P-8 and the Burke's helicopter hurry to the scene to prosecute the target. It takes a few passes, and a pair of torpedos from the helicopter, but the diesel sub has no effective way to evade, and it dies before it can pose a threat to my ships.
While this is going on our SSN reports a second sub contact. This time it's far away - a lucky sensor hit a full four convergence zones away to the northwest. The enemy sub is on the flank of the coastal group that presumably includes the LSTs. The only way our forces could reach it would be with the P-8, but that would put the P-8 very close to the coast, where the enemy fighters, naval SAMs, and the coastal SA-20 are all a threat. P-8 vs SA-20? No thanks! For the moment the SSN will track and monitor the enemy sub, and the (very relieved) P-8 crew is directed to fly back to their barrier patrol off the coast of Taiwan.
So far the sub situation looks good - one is dead, another is identified and much too far away to be a threat, and the other two are presumably out in the strait somewhere, while our ships have now retreated safely back to the coast.
Or not! Torps in the water! This time the sub is right on the tail of our ASW group, and they find themselves pinned between the incoming torps and the coast, with almost nowhere left to run. Torpedoes are fired back down the bearing of the incoming shots, while our ships turn tail and flee up and down the coast at flank speed, hoping to outrun the torpedoes, and hoping they don't blunder right into another sub. The P-8 heads in at full throttle, but it's well to the north at this point, and it will take time to get here. Our ship-launched torpedo never finds a target, and the enemy sub manages to launch a second set of torpedoes before the P-8 arrives and destroys it with a single shot. Fortunately, our ships (barely) manage to outrun the torpedoes, before reforming and heading north again at a cautious creep speed.
According to intel there's one more sub out there, and we still don't know where it is...
CHINESE AIR ATTACKS
As the air battle continues the Chinese air force starts making more determined attacks.
Flounder attack planes come in from the NW, W, and SW, Badgers are heading up the Chinese coast, and Flankers are coming in in pairs that look suspiciously like attack runs. At least the J-7 activity is dying down, and our pilots are able to engage the real threats more easily now.
Most of the Flounders get knocked down before they can launch their missiles, although one or two of their ARMs have to be intercepted in flight, but a pair of Flankers manages to launch a salvo of 8 Kryptons before our fighters can stop them. These blaze past the fighters almost unscathed, heading for our coastal SAM sites until the Patriot battery at Tainan engages them effectively, expending large numbers of SAMs in the process.
Our fighters try to close on the Badgers before they can launch, but get driven away by ships and coastal SAMs (damned SA-20) before they can reach the bombers. The Badger crews calmly go about their business, and soon supersonic sea-skimmers come racing towards my ships, and they're much too fast for my planes to catch from the sides or rear. AWACs controllers have to vector in numerous fighters for head-on low-odds shots at the missiles, and most of those fighters only have time to expend part of their AAMs before the enemy missiles hurtle past. There is no re-attack from the stern. It takes almost every airborne fighter to knock down two waves of Badger attacks this way, but none of the missiles reach our ships, and our offensive capability is preserved.
TACKLING THE INVASION FORCE
With Chinese air activity dying down, some of our IDFs are ordered to probe around the enemy invasion force, hugging the waves and sneaking through gaps between the ships, in order to try and figure out which of the radar contacts are the LSTs.
One of the fighters runs right into another flock of cruise missiles, heading for our coastal defences again, and more fighters are vectored in towards them. These subsonic cruise missiles are much easier to deal with than the Badgers' supersonic sea skimmers, and our pilots engage them with heat seekers, before settling in behind them to finish off the stragglers with gunfire.
Once that's resolved the pilots go back to looking for the LSTs, and they manage to find them sheltering in the middle and rear of the formation. They also find a watchful Type 054, and only a desperate last minute maneuver saves one of the planes from being shot down. The fighters go to afterburner and race out of danger to report their findings, which are somewhat unexpected. Based on their course and position, there's no way the LSTs are going to make it to Taiwan in the time our forces have been allocated to destroy them. This means our offensive surface group is going to have to turn west and head out from shore in order to engage the enemy forces (which includes the submarine we detected earlier), while hoping the undetected fourth sub isn't in their path. It's riskier, but it has to be done. The orders are given and our ships and the SSN change course towards the Chinese formation, while an anti-missile CAP is set up over our ships to protect them from incoming ASMs. And a good thing too, as the Type 054 sends a salvo of long range missiles at our advancing ships, but fortunately these are subsonic, so the CAP snaps them up without difficulty.
As they close on the enemy our captains confer about how to coordinate the attack. Type 054s have very capable SAMs, so there might be a very high 'price of admission' to engage it directly, or to get missiles past it and into the LSTs. Our ships only have 20 of most capable Hsung Fien IIIs (supersonic sea-skimmers), and that probably won't be enough. However, if they shoot the 2 southern frigates, then the SSN would have an open path to the southern LST. The remaining missiles could be used to overwhelm the Type 054, and shorter range weapons could then be brought to bear on the northern LST and remaining escorts.
The plan is made, and our ships open fire! Two missiles streak towards each of the southern frigates, smashing into them before they can react effectively, and sinking them immediately. Seeing how effective this was, the captains confer again, and decide that a small salvo of 6 missiles may be enough for the Type 054. It turns out to be more than enough. The first two strike deep into the enemy hull, and a magazine explosion tears the Type 054 in two, sinking it instantly. The remaining 4 missiles overfly the oil slick from the sunken ship and are redirected to the northern LST, striking and sinking the defenceless target. The delighted captains fire again at the remaining warships in the group, sinking them all, but deliberately leaving the last LST unharmed. Then the missile boat detaches from the group and surges forward at 36 kts to engage the last LST with its shorter ranged missiles, while the main group turns south to engage the remaining ships in the southern escort group with its last few long range missiles.
As the missile boat dashes forwards towards the LST the AWACs operators report the sudden appearance of inbound missile contacts, presumably launched by the LST's submarine escort (which is currently undetected between convergence zones). Once again, our escorting fighters are quite capable against these subsonic missiles, and none of them reach our missile boat, which destroys the last LST with a salvo of older Hsung Fien IIs. Mission completed, it turns and heads back to port. Further south our main group closes in on the enemy's southern group. Shots are exchanged in both directions, but ours miss, and theirs are shot down, so our main group also heads back home.
Meanwhile the P-8 has been closing in on the location where the enemy missiles appeared, and begins laying a sonobuoy pattern trying to find the suspected sub. Nothing turns up at first, but after an hour of searching the enemy sub accidentally comes too close to a passive sonobuoy, and once its location is known its fate is sealed. The P-8 quickly gets its second submarine kill of the day. (The captain of our SSN, having had all his ship targets poached by the surface navy, and all his sub targets poached by the air force, stomps away to his cabin in disgust.)
At the end of the day things have gone very well for Taiwan. All the Chinese LSTs and the entire northern invasion group have been sunk, along with three of the ships in the southern group. Three of the enemy subs have been sunk (although the fourth is still unaccounted for), and enemy air activity is greatly reduced. Two of our outermost SAM sites have suffered more damage from ARMs, but the cruise missile attacks on our coastal facilities did not cause any damage. We had a very close call when the third enemy sub nearly torpedoed our ASW group, but in the end we got lucky and escaped without any ship losses.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SCENARIO
Another interesting and enjoyable one. I am used to attacking ships with aircraft, but in this case I needed to close in and engage with my own ship-board ASMs, which was a riskier course of action that I would normally try to avoid. It's nice to be forced to be adaptable.
The only technical hiccup was that the Badgers fly on towards the enemy after they launch their missiles. In this case I zoomed in on them, switched over to China, and ordered them safely back to base once they had launched their missiles. Hopefully I won't be shot for aiding the enemy!