From: Washington D.C.
Your third question isn't basic at all, and actually gets to the heart of what makes the game challenging and interesting. The short answer is, "it depends." That's probably unsatisfying, though, so I'll elaborate. When you get down to it, playing Command well requires that you do a lot of planning. To take full advantage of tankers, you need to put a lot of thought into them. Sometimes the computer's thinking is sufficient. Other times it isn't, and you'll need to manage things with varying degrees of hands-on-ish-ness.
Since you really asked several questions in one, though, I'll break up question #3.
ORIGINAL: John S
..If I see a target that is beyond the range of my strike force (or a naval group that will be beyond that range by the time the strike force gets there), what are the steps to take re the strike force and the tanker to set the strike up so it succeeds?
It depends. Probably the first step is to hit the pause button. The next step is to make a plan, although ideally, you already have something rough in your mind to draw on. What the plan looks like depends on many variables. With what kind of weapons can you successfully strike the targets? What is their range? SLAM-ER versus JDAM makes a big difference, although both can be used on many of the same targets. Maybe they need to overfly the target (to drop a BLU-109 penetrator on it!) or maybe they can stand off from a long way and hit it. In the case of the former you might need to fly a lot further than in the case of the latter, where you only need to make it to the missile's launch basket. Once you figure out how far they have to fly, next you need to figure out how to get your strikers to where they need to be. That depends on what kind of strikers you're flying and what kinds of tankers you've got. A big tanker aircraft can refuel lots of tactical aircraft, but a single bomber might drain a whole tanker. Similarly, a little F/A-18 with a buddy refueling pod probably can only refuel one or two aircraft before he bingos out. Your plan needs to make sure that you have enough gas in the right spots so that everyone can get their weapons off and go home. You've got lots of tools at your disposal to solve the problem. It's your job to solve it! Welcome to the job of a Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC), Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC), Composite Warfare Commander (CWC), their staff and subordinates! In Command it's easy to end up wearing a lot of hats. Sometimes it's hard to know where to get started.
Should they refuel before they go in. Should they refuel only after they have gone in and completed the strike?
When do they need the gas? How close can you move the tankers? Can you protect them that close? If they'll need gas after the strike but can't get out of the SAM WEZ and away from the enemy CAPs then you probably need to refuel before they ingress. If they'll need gas on the way in, they'll probably need to refuel before they ingress. If they can get out of the SAM WEZ and away from the enemy CAPs before they need gas, you can top them off on the way out. For a REALLY long strike, you might gas them up on the way in and out. For a REALLY REALLY long strike, you might gas them up multiple times on the way in and out.
Then, the key question for me given the dearth of info in the manual - do I need to set anything up, hit any special buttons, re the strike force (and/or the tanker) to tell them to go ahead and complete the mission because they will be able to get refueled at some point?
Maybe, it depends on what's going on. In the simplest cases things can go pretty hands off. In more elaborate plans, you'll need to mess with more settings and/or handle tanking manually. If you see something like a big bomber coming in and stealing all the gas from your fighters so that they can't make it home, you might need to revisit the plan but assign the bomber to his own tanker and the fighters to theirs. With practice you'll learn to manipulate the "buttonology" to manage increasingly complex plans. You'll also develop rules of thumb for planning to do various things in various theaters (e.g. To transit a flight of X fighters from Hawaii to Guam takes Y tankers). If all else fails, just do it manually. Save game is your friend at this point. In fact, the first thing I do when I formulate a plan is save it and call the saved came "initial plan." Part of the reason is that way, if I goof something up in the plan, I can go and fix or rethink it.
If I get a message saying the target is too far away is there something to do then?
Possibly. It depends. The way that the simulation makes that decision depends on some simplifying assumptions which aren't always true. One of those assumptions is that the tankers that are up there will continue to be there by the time the strike package gets there. Another one of them is that the only tankers available are the ones that are currently up there. That might not be true. In that case, you can tell it to ignore bingo and launch regardless of whether tankers are on station, because you know better than the simulation what's going on. If it's an aircraft carrier, you might just want to move it closer to the target (or maybe not!).
There's other tricks I use. For example, I'll create a "push" point by making a small AAW patrol somewhere for all my aircraft in my strike package to rendezvous and then manually move them to their individual missions once they get there (SEAD, OCA, BARCAP, strike target set A, strike target set B etc..). Usually I'll put a tanker on top of the push point so that everyone has a chance to be fully gassed up before heading in.
Does the strike force adjust the range automatically once they see tanker is half way between them and the target.
It doesn't take into account the tanker's position, just that it's there (Remember those simplifying assumptions?).
How exactly step by step does this work. Note - sorry for this basic inquiry but I have been through about fifteen tutorials and a number of UTube things and have not seen this addressed yet.
That's because they probably don't have an answer for you, or at least not a single answer. It depends on the scenario and the laydown. I also suspect they might not have thought about the kinds of things you're thinking about. You're asking questions which go beyond the buttonology to how to play the game and get good at it. To really get good at Command, and pull off some really challenging strikes (long way away, lots of aimpoints, variety of weapons effects required on the target(s), lots of dissimilar assets) you need to become a good planner and manager. It becomes about getting the stuff you need, where you need it, at the right time, in the right order, given what you've got. Sometimes the greatest weapon of modern warfare is an Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper and a calculator.
< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 7/28/2019 1:48:59 PM >