OK, I think I finally did a decent run through on #6. The airfield is definitely closed. Punchline: yes, this one might be set up a tad too difficult. To explain and review...
First couple of times I paid a lot of attention to the parts of the mission brief where it talks about topology. Lots of trying to fly the ARM shooters and glide bomb shooters into the lee of the ridges to the south of the base and keep them out of site unless setting up an attack run.
Eventually, given the time it took to knock out the SA-10 some of those flights were low on fuel before going winchester. Not ideal. At this point I really gave up worrying about the terrain and went back into the mode of treating this as a blue water, no air-to-air threat scenario, I.O.W., using higher altitudes and ignoring LOS concealment concerns. [I suspect that if there were units placed to guard low level attack on that "road" up the left flank, my eventual approach rendered them a non-factor in the game...I never did detect anything placed in that area...more about detection to follow. I'm not sure if making the assumption of -- temporary -- air superiority is a "cheat" on my part...I wasn't flagrantly trying to ignore all the setup and reference points and briefing materials talking about the topology and so forth; it just seemed in the end like that was more of a distraction, that I didn't need to pay heed to it in order to prosecute the scenario]
For subsequent runs I changed the basic support flight strategy and put the AWACS and the ELINT birds to the flanks and then had the OECM jet fly a racetrack astride the up-the-gut route. It doesn't talk about this in the briefing but I ended up digging in the DB to find the S-300 to determine effective range and made sure that the OECM especially was set up running just south of the reach of that SA-10 -- to do this I set up the race track ref points well south and walked them up Northwards a bit once I'd lobbed a couple of glide bombs at the base to draw out the SA-10 and triangulate that better. I bought in the ARM shooters and glide bomb shooters up the middle and then spread them wider once north of the OECM track, making sure the latter was doing the JAM thing.
For the SA-10 I ended up using a volley of cruise missiles aimed at it and followed those with most of my ARMs close at the heels of the cruise missiles. After several run throughs I decided that firing the ARMs in particular from directions more than 60 degrees apart seemed to work better. [I've read that SA-10s have more trouble with multi-axis attacks and perhaps that's modeled here it might of course be placebo and I just got luckier with the dice with later iterations]. At any rate, in the last run-through I clobbered the SA-10 to the point it stopped firing seemingly because it fixated on the cruise missiles and left a fair number of the ARMs unscathed...I see both radar vehicles and 3 TEL's lost in the scoring log so I judge that group suppressed. I tagged both search radars with surplus ARMs (it took three to get both systems) after this -- there seemed to be no particular penalty for not going after those first (and in previous tries, attempting to go after the search radars just seemed to make the SA-10 guys mad and more effective :( ).
While all this was going on, I learned from previous attempts that time being of the essence on laundry day that I needed to get the follow on strikes in the air and moving north. Between launching the support flights and the SA-10 hunters though I sortied a recon jet. After seeing the heroics of the tomcats from the earlier tutorial I had an expectation that this would give me intelligence on what if anything might be lurking around the fixed elements on the airbase. I flew this over the airbase, directly overhead and over the SA-10 and radar sites...twice! The default mission profile for this is hi-hi-hi and I left that alone, assuming that it was set appropriately to be effective. I found NOTHING with the recon mission. OK, great, bring in the three strike flights of Fantans and let them rain their toys on the base.
Ahead of the Fantans, and being mindful of the time and the EF2000 threat I used their remaining glide bombs to make a start on the 4 runway access points. Moderate effect. Next in were the LGB shooters, one weapon on the runway access points and the other aimed at buildings and other hard(er) targets. These were nice and effective, moderate or heavy damage to all runway access points with 3 of 4 on fire...drive your EF2000 through that! ;)
It was all going so well... until the second wave of Fantans comes in to hit the two runways, one flight of 4 to hit each runway. These guys attack profile takes them down very low to deliver the Durandal equivalents. I'm not worried though because the recon flight saw nothing and the LGB flight added only that it noted EF2000's parked on several of the pads.
The Fantans sweep in low...and get murdered. Up pop several AAA units (although none fired), and a Rapier and one other unidentified SAM and, count 'em 24 Igla MANPAD rounds fired. Only one Fantan got as far as weapons release. It's nearest miss distance was over 400 feet and it collected an SA-18 up the tail pipe for its trouble.
Round about this time the remainder of my cruise missiles arrived to come down on the various parking areas...not as effective as I'd hoped but then I guess if they'd have had area denial payloads instead of unitary warheads it might have been better for this purpose. Credited with only 3 EF2000 kills on the ground; still that's $300M assuming average pricing so not too bad.
So where does that leave me?? Well I left the scenario running well past the end of laundry hour and no Typhoons sortied (and they sure as heck did when I had less good success in earlier attempts! ;)). I think that means that the airbase is effectively closed. Mission accomplished?? Probably. There's no score to indicate that so it's possible I didn't trip the right event somehow(?).
I think on balance there are two main themes that I'd say could maybe use some extra help for this scenario. One is instruction oriented and one is scenario config.
Firstly: If you get fixated with the SA-10 hunt as I did initially, there is a very good chance that the Typhoons will lift off and wreck your entire day. I think in the blurb something else is needed to emphasize timing and coordinate of the waves of attacks needed to peel back defenses and then confine the air-to-air threat. One hour's grace period is clearly enough since I managed it in the end but the timing is pretty tight. Now the scenario taught me that quite effectively at the cost of a couple of run-through attempts that didn't go well. Perhaps that is in fact a good way to teach the lesson...I don't especially feel upset to come by the understanding this way. However, for time efficiency's sake it might be better to give a slightly stronger hint that having waves of attack with different purposes launched from your base such that take off times and transit times don't stretch into the time window after the Typhoon crews have hung their shirts out to dry might be in order.
Secondly, and perhaps of more significance, the business of recon and the implications thereof. The brief talks about defense in layers and more or less tells you that there are SHORAD units somewhere to find. As mentioned above, I flew the recon bird over the base twice and found nothing. The glide bomb shooters (up high) and LGB shooters (releases at medium altitude) didn't spot anything either. Leaving the Fantans to get pasted. If there's a more effective way to use recon so that you get a hint of the SHORAD units and can follow that "plink with glide bombs or cruise missiles" advice, I think that needs to be spelled out. Using the recon asset following it's default mission profile was a total non-event.
[at the time I was playing the scenario I did check the sensor descriptions for the recon jets and noted the 5nm range...that more or less why I flew them direct overhead the base... What I'm wondering now is whether that range is in fact slant range...in which case overflight at moderately high altitude might make stuff at the surface largely out of reach?? Dunno...just a thought.
And if that's right then perhaps flying them over at 20k feet (or less) might have yielded better results?? As you can tell, their complete ineffectiveness is still puzzling me so obviously I at least need more hints in the instructions to get value out of these assets.]
Overall, I liked it as a scenario. Knowing what I know now, I think using slightly less weapons on the SA-10 (in the end I had half a dozen or so missiles hit that group) and preserving some stand-off non-ARM weapons for the SHORAD units I'm pretty sure that I could get the runway denial sorties in and out without too much pain...except for the MANPADs. I'm not clear at all how you'd deal with that threat. Net effect the combination of those MANPADs and the ineffective recon efforts make this scenario just a little too hard as-is. I'm guessing I can be shoved in the right direction with the recon with a little more directive content in the brief. I still don't know what to do about those MANPADs though if the 200' AGL delivery height must hold for the runway denial munitions.
Again, I hope you can tell from the above that I took away more useful lessons from the scenario already as it stands right now. And had a lot of fun doing it!