It is October 2005 and, in a nightmare scenario, Islamic fundamentalists have come to power across North Africa, from Egypt to Morocco. They then seize the Canary Islands from Spain in a surprise amphibious operation. In true Falklands War style, Spain sends a task force to take them back.
Despite what it says, this scenario is neither simple nor easy. It took a long time to play and often involved managing multiple crises on different parts of the map at once. Worth noting that, for some reason, there are two versions of the scenario - I played the second one when the folder is sorted in date order.
Spain puts out two task groups - a convoy of 4 transports guarded by 7 frigates, preceded by a light carrier and 7 more frigates. These ships are decently armed, with plenty of Harpoons, but only a handful of planes on the carrier (Principe de Asturias). Partly covering for this are land-based fighters, Hornet strike planes and tankers on Peninsular bases. Four diesel subs are on station nearer the islands.
The North African Islamic League opposition are more than a cut above Islamic State, having lots of good-quality Western, Russian and Chinese equipment, manned by professional servicemen from Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Morocco. There are also a LOT of them and they should not be underestimated. In addition to a screen of ships covering the Canaries, they have a reinforcement convoy steaming down the Moroccan coast and seven subs strung-out in your way. Their planes include F-16s, MiG-29s, Mirages and high-end Phantoms and, in theory, can match yours for quality, so much so that I decided to rely primarily on SAM cover to fight the expedition through.
My subs soon detected the screen near the islands. As this included missile boats with poor ASW defences, I set the subs to stalk these while avoiding the more capable Mourad Rais ASW frigates amongst them. I could afford to have the boats at periscope depth much of the time, which was good for intel gathering and saved battery power. Not long in, one sub, the Tramontana, was ordered to deliver special forces (that I didn't know she carried) to Tenerife and I detached her accordingly.
Presently, enemy aircraft began launching from Kenitra in Morocco - F-16s with Hawkeye support!. Sortied fighters from Rota and Moron (!) bases in Spain and did well to down 9 fighters and an AEW plane for one Harrier and an Orion (which got too close to the action while I was distracted). Setting Evade=No on Doctrine gives you a real edge fighting opponents with SARH missiles (but you have to keep doing it). Watch-out for planes taking off with their radars off - it happens a lot here.
Having located the enemy convoy, I attacked with Hornets, sinking a transport and two escorting frigates despite plenty of SAM cover. The Hornets' ability to defend themselves enabled them to bag a pair of F-16s in the process.
Off the Canaries, the sub Sirocco stalked and sank a Chinese-built frigate with torpedoes, exploiting a small range advantage and sucking her well into the 'no escape zone'.
Ongoing air battles saw the Harriers from the Principe dispose of 4 Foxbats and 2 Mirages without loss.
An Orion then found a Romeo-class sub armed with Harpoons and removed the threat satisfyingly. This was clearly intended to co-ordinate its attack with that of four Ramadan-class missile boats carrying Otomat missiles (100nm range). The Spanish carrier group's superior radar cancelled out the Islamist range advantage and a straight missile fight ensued. Having SAMs gave the Spanish a decisive edge and all four Ramadans were sunk, but a missile got through and damaged the frigate Numancia. Just at that moment, the Libyan Foxtrot sub Al-Badr slipped in close and finished Numancia with torpedoes. Helicopters quickly exacted retribution, but it was clear that both Spanish task groups were facing an awkward choice between moving too fast and reducing sonar detection chances and too slow and not reaching the Canaries in time. Opted to keep going quickly, with consequences later...
MiG-29s from the Canaries were making themselves felt and the Pricipe's Harriers were getting overworked. Two Hornets from Spain covered (with tanker support) and accounted for two of the dangerous Fulcrums.
Another enemy sub, probably an Algerian Kilo/Rais Hadj Mubarek, popped-up, crippled the frigate Navarra and escaped. Detached Navarra and sent her home to keep-up speed - she eventually survived the battle.
By now, Tramontana had landed the UOE commandoes on Tenerife. Evading a nearby infantry company, they moved inland and did great service by taking-out two Styx missile batteries which were covering the landing zone. Even out of ammo, they then performed valuable intel work for the rest of the game.
Ongoing dogfights saw two enemy F-16s and a Hawkeye destroyed for two of the Principe's Harriers lost to MiG-29s. A wave of 6 F-16s then took-off from Kenitra and headed for the troop convoy, but none made it past our CAP. Another Harrier was lost in the process.
A wave of missiles then appeared out of nowhere, aimed at the carrier group, but were all stopped by SAMs. This suggested the presence of more Romeo-class subs lurking undetected.
The Harpoon-toting Hornets from Moron were now ready for a second strike and this obliterated the remaining three Islamist transports, also sinking a frigate. This, however, was the limit of the available Hornet/Harpoon sorties.
Low-level air skirmishes continued, accounting for a Mirage and the last of the enemy's three Hawkeyes. Not having eyes in the back of my head cost me a Harrier, which crashed when out of fuel (the AI must have been unable to handle the tanker operations).
Kenitra launched another strike at our transports, which resulted in 4 Mirages downed for one of our Hornets.
A Seahawk found and disposed of one of the previously-hidden Romeo subs, while Tramontana (now free of covert ops duties) hunted and killed a second Chinese-made frigate near the islands.
I then had a 'three things at once' problem. The sub Mistral was detected by the remaining pair of enemy convoy escorts, who sent a chopper after her, while another Islamist sub attacked the frigate Baleares and the Sirocco was threatened by an ASW frigate near Tenerife. A Harrier shot-down the enemy chopper but was then taken-out by a badly-timed pair of Mig-29s. Baleares spotted the sub (a third Romeo) in time and blasted her with an ASROC and the Sirocco managed to slip away from harm. Hectic stuff!
Soon after this, I had a similar dose of 'triple jeopardy', with Sirocco stalking a Ziyad/Nanuchka-class missile boat, a fourth Romeo being hunted and two Mirages intercepting the choppers doing it. A Harrier broke-up the Mirage attack just in time, downing one, but was lost in the process. Thankfully, the second Mirage turned away under 'shotgun' doctrine. A Sea King then dealt with what was happily the last Romeo. Sirocco continued her excellent performance by torpedoing and sinking the Ziyad.
Two more Mirages then pounced on a Seahawk. The chopper was well inside my SAM umbrella, but my RIM-66s incredibly missed SIX times running on 55% chances. Happily, the Mirages were too busy evading to attack the chopper and their luck then ran out.
Another air attack then came-in from Marrakech. It cost me a Harrier (not many left now), but CAP and SAMs shot-down 7 or 8 Phantoms and Mirages and broke it up.
By now, the carrier group had closed with the two remaining convoy escorts and attacked them with Harpoons. Unbelievably, the two pesky MiG-29s turned-up just in time to intercept some of the missiles, but one frigate was still sunk and the other badly damaged. She still had functioning SAMs and stopped a couple more Harpoons, so I risked sending Mistral in to finish her. Both sides had equivalent-range torpedoes, but I fired at kinematic range to give myself an edge and this did the trick.
There was then a serious reverse when a Rais Hadj Mubarek sub snuck in close to the convoy and managed to sink the frigates Blas de Lezo and Reina Sofia with torpedoes before being hunted-down and killed. Moving slower would have helped, but I had to reach Tenerife in time.
The two MiG-29s then committed suicide by flying straight into the carrier group's SAMs. This proved to be the last enemy air strike, though I had several messages to say that one had been 'fired' but had 'failed a probabliity check'. Too many planes downed, perhaps?.
Tramontana then sank the last Islamist missile craft, a Rais Hamidou/Nanuchka, near Gran Canaria. Freed of missile danger, the carrier escorts closed with and attacked the two Mourad Rais ASW frigates, which were only armed with 76mm guns. Harpoons accounted for one, but the other survived the eight aimed at her. Sent the frigate Baleares in to outrange and destroy her with gunfire.
With all Islamist surface ships down, an Orion then found their last sub (another Rais Hadj Mubarek, probably the one that hit the Navarra) and blew her out of the water.
Baleares then continued her sterling service by battering a Goa SAM site near the landing zone and shelling Tenerife Los Rodeos Airport, destroying several aircraft on the ground. Escorts from the convoy group continued the good work, finishing-off the SAM site and wiping-out the infantry company guarding the beaches.
I then had a message to unload the LCMs from my four transports and move them to a set of reference points by the beach. Once I'd worked-out which these were (by left-clicking on them), this was accomplished and the game ended in a zero-point Spanish victory (you are entirely judged on whether the landing force gets through).
In all, I lost 3 frigates (plus one crippled), 10 fighters, an Orion and 2 choppers. In return, I took-out 9 frigates, 6 missile boats, 7 subs, 4 transports, 52 aircraft, 11 choppers, 2 Styx batteries, a SAM site and an infantry company. An exhausting but pretty enjoyable scenario,