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Escorts vs CAP

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Escorts vs CAP - 5/19/2019 3:42:41 PM   

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What would be the reasons to either escort bombers to the target vs setting up a CAP near the target? Interested in light of programing the AI side of a scenario where you have to program into a lot of unknowns given each player will use different tactics. I suppose you would escort if you thought the AI bombers were going to be intercepted inbound or out. Otherwise, it might be a better use of the fighters in a CAP to keep them on patrol as long as possible. Would it differ for a strike mission vs an ASuW patrol?



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RE: Escorts vs CAP - 5/19/2019 5:18:04 PM   


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Setting up a CAP means at most 1/3 of your force is available and if it is at long range then you might only have a few minutes on station. Further, if there is some bad timing with refueling or running out of missiles, your bombers will be left undefended - this is particularly true for the AI, which can't abort or delay missions based on the tactical situation. In any sort of contested air environment I would lean towards escort over CAP. It's only if I have near complete air superiority and plenty of fighters with nothing else to do that I would switch to CAP.

However, for the AI the best option might be to use a timed CAP mission that begins a few minutes before the bombers launch and ends when they leave the target area.

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RE: Escorts vs CAP - 5/20/2019 10:05:59 PM   

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Doing a really challenging strike mission in Command can require a lot of planning and coordination. The tactics you employ to protect the strikers as they ingress depend a lot on how you think its best to protect them and the number of aircraft you have. There's lots of different things you might do. If you don't have enough fighters to protect the bombers, then the strike is probably a bad idea and you're better off shooting cruise missiles from a long way away.

You might attach close fighter escorts to the bombers. The problem is that against enemies equipped with longer ranged missiles, they often don't succeed in getting between the attacking aircraft and the bombers before they are able to launch. As a result, I'm not really pleased with the results I've gotten using fighters in close escort against the most modern defending fighters and weapons. I might use them as a sort of "last ditch" defense in case aircraft manage to get through my fighters using the other tactics I use, though.

Another tactic you might try would be to define a lane along the ingress route and "sterilize" it of fighters. Using this kind of tactic requires that you time things so that the fighters arrive in the lane to be cleared in advance of the ingressing bombers. Sometimes, for longer routes, I might break the route into sections and manually shift the fighters between them for a little better control. That lets me do things like guard the rear as the bombers pass if it's necessary.

A third tactic you might consider is to set up barriers between air bases along your route, and the planned route for your bombers, then move the fighters between those planned barriers so that your fighters stay between the bombers and the bases as the bombers fly by. This would work if the enemy tends to keep the bulk of their fighters on the ground and then launch them when bombers are detected. If they approach your bombers, the fighters will engage. If they don't, the fighters stay in their orbit and don't waste missiles.

If I'm striking a fighter base, I might set up a patrol directly over the airbase that's timed to arrive before my bombers arrive. Their purpose is to shoot down any enemy fighters as they take off. Then the bombers arrive and they switch to assist in protecting them on the way out.

Depending on how many aircraft you have, you might use any or all of these tactics in combination. There isn't a "one-size-fits-all" solution.

As for the ASuW patrol versus strike mission, it depends. I use both missions to represent a variety of different behaviors. I might use an ASuW patrol if I know the general location of a target but need to do some searching (e.g. ballistic missile TELs). In that case I might have a fairly extensive package of supporting aircraft to protect them as they ingress deep into enemy territory. I might also use an ASuW patrol to represent "on call" CAS or helicopter engagement areas supporting ground forces. In that case, it's probably reasonable to assume that the ground forces would not advance so far that they'd get in front of their defensive fighter cover, so a lot of that might just be assumed away. It depends on the scope of the scenario, though. I wouldn't think of the fighter cover as acting in direct support of that package, in that situation though, necessarily.

When you're making your plans, it's important to look at the range of your missiles and those of the enemy. If you're carving out a lane, for example, then the lane only needs to be twice as wide as the longest ranged air to air missile in their inventory plus a few miles wiggle room. If you kill anything in a lane that wide, nothing can touch a bomber coming up the middle of it. Similarly, if you're setting up barriers, then you want to space your capping orbits so that there's overlapping coverage of their missile ranges. That way nothing can slip between your aircraft without getting shot at. The more aircraft you have, the wider the barriers can be.

I hope that helps.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 5/20/2019 10:29:20 PM >

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RE: Escorts vs CAP - 5/21/2019 2:25:36 PM   


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for the AI the best option might be to use a timed CAP mission that begins a few minutes before the bombers launch and ends when they leave the target area.

As SQ says, there are no 'one size fits all' solutions, but I tend to use this more than escort to the strike missions. Setting this up for the AI takes a bit of trail and error but its important if you don't want your strikers to become missile-bait.

The other advantage of this method is that RPs are easy to move with Lua so you can adjust your CAP mission along the way. I think this would be more akin to a Ftr sweep: Set the CAP mission (with an assigned # of ftrs, not using the 1/3 switch) ahead of the strike, both geographically and in time, then leap-frog the rear RPs forward based on your timetable for the strike. I like to assign more fighters (2-4) to the sweep each time the box moves, just for added insurance that there will always be someone in the box. If the lane you are trying to sanitize is more complex, than the same can be achieved with a series of CAPs and reassigning the Ftrs with Lua.



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