OK on to part two.
OK remember that moving everything North idea? I had eight F-35's in the air and on the move, fully armed with plenty of fuel and thought I'd take a peek at the area I'd begun to call "The Notch". Because of the no navigation zone over Finland and Sweden, Russian aircraft are forced to fly North from their bases, aroun the northernmost tip of Finland and into The Notch before heading back South where all the targets are. This creates a kill zone where NATO and Russian fighters clash.
I had actually sent one flight of two F-35s north ahead of time to reinforce the area, the others were following. I was still in EMCON everywhere, relying on the F-35s for intel, thus the original flight. I needed their sensors up there after the first group expended their missiles and returned to base. That first flight was a bit more west, out near the coast when the following group picked up a flight of Mig-31s. One of the reasons I decided to go all-in up north was I didn't want those Migs facing F-16s alone, and now was my chance. The larger group of F-35s came up from the southwest, the group of two from actually a bit Northwest (they were investigating a IL-38 contact up there, but a flight of Falcons was dispatched when it was clear he was alone). I reset EMCON on all these birds to reduce AMRAAM launch even futher, 25 miles now. It was a bit antsy and took a look and was surprised the target list included 6 Mig 31s and 4 Mig 27s as well. So not 6 but 10. I regained my resolve, vectored in the F-16 Cap and got a little closer. Finally when the first missile went out I quickly manually fired literally every missile the large group of F-35s had. When they were nearly to the target I went active on the other group of two F-35s, hoping to get in-flight corrections for the missiles and, oh hell, there's 6 Fencers in there too! Not 6 Mig-31, not 10 with the Flankers, but 16 aircraft in all. I launched a flight of 4 F-16s from Antoya, and a massive furball really started. Probably half of the fighters refuse to go down with a single hit, factor in the non-hits as well and you need a lot of missiles. It was completely one-sided, a Russian missile was fired when the radar lit up, but it was token resistance as just after that the swarm of missiles from the first group arrived. A few escaped but at least a dozen did not.
And thus began the next few hours. After that it was Backfires, then Blackjacks, then Backfires and Blackjacks. It was a constant struggle to find enough aircraft to send into The Notch to stop it all. Some bombers take 5 hits before finally going down. I had loaded, or were loading, almost two full squadrons of F-16s with Penguins so they were no use. F-35Bs started a steady stream to and from the QE (I had, fortunately, rearmed all of them for air-to-air, using missiles, not Paveways!) Finally the AWACS and tankers arrived and were moved even farther north, then the AWACS moved North and East again until it's radar could completely cover The Notch.
All the while I had been trying to reposition the Anzio SAG and the QE. I really wanted the QE a bit South and West of that big Tico and under it's SAM umbrella but it wasn't working. I freely admit I had read another AAR, and followed it's advice. I detached the Artic support ship and sent it to Iceland and poured on the speed in the SAG. Just now the surface fleets are shaping up as I want them. The Anzio SAG a bit North and East of the QE CVBG. If anything does get through The Notch it's going to have to go through a LOT to get that carrier.
And that leads us to collaborator-fish. Never heard of those? Highly trained by secret underwater Spetznaz scientests these fish are not fighting flounders, no sir. They are devious dolphins and secret sharks. Remember the Arctic? Please do, they were brave men. We'll have a moment of silence now..... She was sent to Reykjavic to await the end of hostilites. A simple course around the east side of the island to safety. Not 30 minutes after departing the SAG the trap was sprung! A goblin contact appeared dead on-course 50 miles from the Arctic. It couldn't have missed it. Being practical and not at all suicidal I simply re-routed the Arctic around the West side of Iceland. Problem solved. No, the goblin turned out to be Ivan's collaborating carp, and the Arctic ran right into a Russian Sierra lurking on it's new course. The only casualties thus far are caused by crack Russian marine-bioligists! Asymetrical warfare indeed.
As things stand now (as of this writing it was actually only 3 or so hours into the scenario) only 42 Russian aircraft have been downed and over 150 air-to-air missiles of all type have been expended. This is due to a couple of factors. Mainly the "realistic" aircraft damage model is a bit wonky. As I've said as many as five hits have been seen on a single aircraft before it is lost. The other is the terrain around the notch itself. It seems to allow the defensive aircraft a lot of cover to get into once the missiles start flying and they evade. I do think the game gives Blackjacks and Backfires quite a bit more credit for maneuverability than they deserve. The tactics have firmed up since that first big fight. The stealth fighters go in first, breaking up the formations and causing general mayhem and the Falcons follow, acting essentially as bomb trucks for the more lightly loaded Lightnings and hauling out the garbage. As a general rule everything it passive until the Falcons come in. No fighters have been lost.
The fallout from the Arctic treachery continued. I sent two additional aircraft from nearby patrols to hunt down the sub. It wasn't found immediately, but eventually it was located and sunk. The problem is the two aircraft I sent, (two others left their patrols under computer guidance), both ran out of fuel and crashed. This is quite strange. The only thing I can think of is that they did fuel calculations to the target and decided it was OK. When it took a bit to find the sub the fuel calculations went off? I saw this again an hour or so later when I sent a couple of Tornados after a surface contact. It was a good target when they took off, but they just couldn't locate it. They were only saved from fuel starvation because I sent them home manually and sent a tanker to meet them. This was, of course, after I gave that mission specific permission to use the tankers and they waived it off, resetting the WRA saying they didn't need them!
The Notch has now calmed down considerably. Occasionally a SU-33 CAP will come up from the Kusnetsov. About half have been shot down, another two or three went home with AMRAAMS sticking out the side (sigh). But the Kusnetsov has a secret. FROGGYFOOT INTERCEPTORS! That's right, after having enough of my tangling with their CAPS, they brought in the big guns and sent a pair of SU-25 trainers, really, trainers to intercept my F-35s (after thinking about it they may have been after the AWACS). I had to look up just what the A/A capability of an SU-25 was. It has a gun. If this had worked I was going to seriously think about loading up with AAMRAAMS and going after that Battlecruiser. It turned out about how you expect it did. There was one more strike group with about a dozen aircraft total escorted by a couple of those Mig-31s I'm so worried about. Three returned to base, the others are buried in The Notch.
The only thing keeping me from heading into Soviet territory is the formidable air defense there. I sent about 20 token TLAMs in there. Some even got close, some would have even hit except I can't keep the target locked down. I literally have it a hundred miles inside of AWACS ground radar range and every time a satellite gets a hit it bounces the target around even though I know where it is. Is there anyway to tell a guided weapon to NOT accept in-flight updates? That site doesn't move, yet it comes and goes.
Speaking of that S400 site, there are two that I know of, it intercepted a Penguin missile, launched and flying at 200 feet, from 180 miles away. Granted there were 16 missiles launched in three different groups and probably at least that many missiles expended trying to shoot them down (most just couldn't get there in time). Still, this anti-missile stuff is getting just a bit to crazy for me. Two Russian missile boats and an intelligence ship were fatally harmed in this experiment. More spectacularly all 8 F-16s returned to base without running out of fuel! (I wasn't sure about that, they flew the whole mission at 80 feet off the water.) Just waiting on my P-8's to finish rearming (I kind of forgot earlier and they still had torpedos) and I'm going to have a first crack at that Battlecruiser.