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Breaking Belbek 1997

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Breaking Belbek 1997 - 6/9/2020 12:04:04 PM   


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This is a lowish-complexity, fairly easy scenario, based on Yeltsin-era Russia coming to blows with the Ukraine over the Crimea in 1997. I say 'easy' only because the victory conditions are rather generous to the player. Those in need of a greater challenge may wish to edit them.

You can only play the Russians. Placed in charge of a variety of fighters, attack planes and support aircraft based in the Caucasus region, you are ordered to eliminate Ukrainian airbase facilities, air defence systems and fighters around Belbek airport, near Sevastopol.

The Ukrainians have a squadron of Su-15 Flagon fighters, which are outnumbered and somewhat outclassed by the Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums available to the Russians. A much greater threat is posed by their SAMs. They have at least three S-300 Grumble systems, one at Belbek itself, another at the Kerch Straits and a third in-between, halfway along the South coast. These are extremely efficient missiles with plenty of reloads. The only good news is that they are limited to a 40nm range. Also at Kerch is a battery of SA-5 Gammons, which have limited ammo (maybe 10 missiles), but long range (155nm), which enables them to interdict the skies directly over your fighter base at Primorsko. There is also an older, shortish-range (16nm) Goa site NW of Belbek, but it's too far away from the main target to pose a serious threat. As a disclaimer, there might be other defences which I didn't discover in my playthrough.

You have a squadron of ten Backfires, which can be used to engage the Gammon site from a safe distance or to hit Belbek via a detour over the Black Sea. I decided to prioritise the Gammons, given the danger they posed to the whole operation. Although I tried to overwhelm the defences by launching all 20 of my Kitchen missiles at once, the Grumbles were just too good at their job and I destroyed just one of the six Gammon launchers. However, due to the AI's tendency to throw everything at you, the raid succeeded in running the Gammons out of ammo and I naively hoped I'd done the same to the Grumbles, as one interpretation of the database suggested they only had the 32 shots they'd already fired...

Next, I sent two pairs of Flankers to deal with the Flagons flying CAP over the peninsula. Given that they use SARH Alamo missiles, I set automatic evasion to 'No', as I was advised on this forum (see Shamal 1991). This worked very well and all ten defending fighters were shot down in a one-sided dogfight, getting-off just one missile in response (which missed). However, although I did my best to keep out of Grumble range, the battery at Kerch proved to have ammo left after all and shot down two Flankers on their way home under an RTB default flight-path. Should have been more careful, but Russian aircraft losses score just 5 VP and Ukrainian planes 20, so I was already on a Triumph, without going near Belbek itself. As I said, very generous to the player...

There were no further Ukrainian fighter sorties, so I returned to dealing with the SAM sites. My Backfires' ready times meant they were only good for one strike, so I fell back on ten Su-24 Fencers, multi-role attack planes armed, in this case, with Kyle anti-radar missiles (two each). With the Gammons exhausted, I could outrange the Grumbles. Although the latter sensibly had their radars off by default, it was possible to provoke them into illuminating by firing single Kyles at a group of constantly-radiating radar sites halfway between Kerch and the middle SAM site. To be honest, this wasn't desperately successful. Of 36 Kyles fired in all, only one got past the SAMs and took-out two radars, scoring 20 VP for each. In all, the Ukrainians launched 134 SAMs over the course of the scenario and still weren't nearly out of ammo. You have almost no chance of doing significant damage to Belbek, so don't try.

As a conventional strike against any of the targets would have been suicide and I already had the game comfortably won, I just ran down the clock, ending with a Triumph and 230 VP. Something I enjoy about playing these scenarios in chronological order is that you can trace the evolution of technology over time. It's fair to conclude that SAM systems were definitely ahead in the race at that juncture.
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RE: Breaking Belbek 1997 - 6/9/2020 1:55:36 PM   


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Su-15 Flagon fighters, which are outnumbered and somewhat outclassed by the Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums

There's the understatement of the month! I'm surprised that any Su-15s were still flying in 97, it was a stretch to include them in the Northern Fury series set in 94

If I recall this scenario correctly you can use the Backfires and plot courses for the CMs around the defences to get Balbek.

Thanks for the report


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(in reply to fitzpatv)
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RE: Breaking Belbek 1997 - 6/18/2020 6:47:39 PM   


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Chances are that the Grumble battery at Belbek would still shoot down most, if not all of the cruise missiles.

(in reply to Gunner98)
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