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Bersama Lima 2003

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Bersama Lima 2003 - 6/30/2020 9:57:37 PM   


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I notice that HalfLifeExpert wrote a good review of this scenario (which I didn't read in advance!) but, as mine went a little differently, I'll add my own for the sake of completeness in my series.

The UK, Australia and New Zealand come to the assistance of Brunei, which has just lost two fast attack craft to encroaching Chinese ships. Commanding the Allied force, you have a carrier group based on the smallish Ark Royal (just 6 strike planes) in open water between Borneo and Vietnam, a surface group off the coast of Brunei and an ANZAC surface group coming up the W coast of Borneo. Additional air support is provided by an Anglo-Australian group based at Brunei Airport. Finally, the SSN Turbulent stands guard near the Ark Royal.

The Chinese have numerous destroyers and frigates with Soviet-style long-range anti-ship missiles. In general, they are weak in SAM and ASW capability, but are greatly assisted in the former by a couple of Russian-built Sovremenny DDGs. Perhaps three subs are in-theatre, one being a Song-class with more long-range missiles. In the air, they field Badgers (a mixture of tanker and bomber models with, you guessed it, yet more long-range missiles), plus Flounder MRCAs and some ASW choppers.

I opted to keep my radars dark and rely on planes for recon, putting-up the usual CAP, AEW, ASW and long-range patrols. Noted that Turbulent was in shallow water and unable to use her towed array, but her standard 70nm sonar was adequate for the situation.

Quickly found lots of surface contacts off Brunei. Although they all proved to be harmless fishing junks, any that enter the Exclusion Zone off the Sultanate's coast get flagged as Unfriendly. They then get pegged for what they are, marked Neutral, then switch to Unfriendly again. This goes on ad nauseam and is a major nuisance - so much so that I turned Contact Change updates off after a while.

US satellites traversed the area of operations and provided invaluable intelligence, helping locate three Chinese task groups (NE of Borneo, off Vietnam and one ship W of Borneo). Another real asset was the presence of Tristar and VC-10 tankers at Brunei, which did much to boost the endurance of my CAP and strike planes.

As the Chinese were marked as Unfriendly, I needed to provoke them into attacking as safely as possible. Did this by sending a GR.7 Harrier attack plane over the Jianghu IV frigate Lushun W of Borneo (which had no SAMs). On the third pass, at a risky 2,000', it took the bait, missed at low odds with 4" guns and was then blown out of the water with Paveways.

Shortly afterwards, Chinese aircraft began to appear, so I engaged with my tanker-supported Aussie Hornets and British Sea Harriers. This accounted for a couple of choppers and, in the end, six Badger tankers, which were stooging around unprotected. This did much to neutralise the Chinese Air Force by putting it out of range. Choppers apart, I heard no more from them.

Ark Royal then loosed five GR.7s at the Luda-class destroyer and Jiangwei II frigate off Vietnam. Their Crotale SAMs have a ceiling of 16,500', so the plan was to go in above that. This worked pretty well and both ships (the Dandong and Kaifeng) were sunk with Paveways and Mavericks, but one Harrier took it upon itself to dive to low altitude against my wishes and paid the price. Annoying.

It all seemed to be going very well, though I wasn't sure what to do about the Sovremenny in the group NE of Borneo. Suddenly, though, two choppers materialised near the Ark Royal group and, soon afterwards, I detected a three-ship task group to the NW. Worse, another pair of Chinese warships was spotted by satellite off Malaya. Not so easy after all...

Shot down one chopper, whereupon the other dodged a missile and returned to its ship to refuel. Recon planes identified this force as a second Sovremenny (the Hangzhou), plus the Jianghu III frigate Wuhu and an oiler. Decided to send Turbulent after them, with a Harrier riding shotgun in case the chopper reappeared. Ark Royal headed away, staying dark.

Meanwhile, the NE group was getting closer to Brunei, so I attacked it with four Harpoon-toting Hornets. Launched all eight missiles at the Sovremenny Fuzhou from a safe distance, but she got VERY lucky, spoofing/jamming four shots at 20% chances or less and apparently escaped. Later recon, however, showed that she had been hit after all and was down to 12 knots and shipping water.

At this point, I detected a Jianghu III (the Huangshi), further NE off the island of Palawan.

Turbulent intercepted the NW group and put down the Wuhu with a brace of torpedoes (no doubt with appropriate celebratory cries). With her poor 2nm sonar, she was a sitting duck, but I had to let her get close to prevent any chance of her outrunning the tinfish.

The Hangzhou launched her Helix chopper as expected, but the waiting Harrier disposed of it at the second attempt. With a sigh of relief, Turbulent made the most of her 8-4 range advantage and the Hangzhou's foolish aggression, sinking the destroyer with two hits after waiting for the range to close to 5nm. She then chased and sank the oiler Poyanghu, which scored a whopping 100VP, taking the score to +385. This was enough to break Chinese resolve and the game ended in a Major Victory. Could have continued, I guess, but it was getting late.

Sank two destroyers, three frigates and an oiler and shot down 5 choppers and 6 tankers for the loss of one Harrier.

Good scenario overall, with potential for things to turn nasty if you're careless.
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