From: Firenze - Italia
In my learning curve, after the tutorials, I am trying more complex scenarios and so, after the excellent SAHEL SLUGFEST (first with France - Triumph with p. 1930 - and then with China - Triumph with p. 1630), I played CANARY's CAGE. I'm talking about the first version, because I didn't immediately realize that the second was different (and perhaps more challenging).
HUMAN = SPAIN vs. A.I. = NAIL (North African Islamic League). 12 oct. 2005
The Spaniards have set up a mighty Task Force to reconquer the Canary Islands, occupied by the Islamics with a sudden coup.
The first group of ships (Grupo Alfa) includes the CVH Principe de Asturias (10 Harriers and various ASW, AEW and EW helicopters) with adequate escort of FFGs (RIM-66 and Harpoons IC), while the second group (Grupo Delta) includes the bulk of the invasion force, escorted by seven frigates similar to the previous ones.
Four SSKs are lurking along the way. Also available are the bases of Rota and Moron, in the SW of Spain and the distant Torrejon (Madrid), with 6 Harriers, 16 F-18 Hornets, some Hercules tankers and ECM assets.
The enemy has two bases in Morocco (Sidi in the north and Marrakech in the south) and as many on Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Air forces such as many F-16s, Mirages and MiGs are known, while a heavily escorted amphibious force is known sailing towards the Canaries and, probably, some submarines and other minor ships lurking somewhere.
INITIAL TACTICAL SETTINGS
Local time 11:00. I immediately set up some pre-ordered missions, which are:
- Three AAW Patrols: protection of the left flank Grupo Alfa and Grupo Delta, ie between the fleets and the Moroccan coast and therefore a CAP beyond the Strait of Gibraltar to intercept any (even if unlikely ...) attacks against the bases on the mainland. Both the AV-8B Harriers and the F-18 Hornets operate, all armed with 2/4 AIM 120B AMRAAM, as well as the Sidewinders.
- Two ASWs Patrol: Seahawks / Sea Kings helicopters patrol in front of the two fleets, with the release of sonobuoys and use of dipping sonar.
I also put manually on flight two S.King AEW, as eyes of the two fleets (which proceeds with radar off), and possibly an AB-212 Colibrì EW.
At least two Hercules tankers are brought to the area to carry out the precious refuel in flight. In this regard, the approach is to keep in flight all fighters that have not exhausted their AMRAAMS, considered the main weapons for aerial engagements. Sidewinders, type JULI or L are to be used only as an extreme weapon, or against attack aircraft not equipped with medium range AAW.
Two SSKs are located in the north of Tenerife, another two in the NE of the Canary Islands, between the islands and the coast.
DEFAULT DOCTRINE: all fighter planes are in Weapon HOLD (to be able to manage them manually). Idem for ASuW planes and also for submarines. The Refuel is ALLOWED, as is the Automatic Evasion. The fleet, on the other hand, is normally kept in Weapon TIGHT, so as to automatically react in the event of a sudden attack.
The first relevant contact is made by the Siroco submarine which, in the north of Tenerife, intercepts and sinks a Nanuchka-class missile corvette, with a well-placed 3-mile F-17.
Then there are the first aerial engagements: after a few empty exchanges, the AMRAAMS of CAP Gibraltar hit the mark, shooting down two F-16 Falcons and then, with a lunge, chasing an E-2 Hawkeye almost to the base of Sidi Slimane the F-18s succeded in shooting down the precious AEW, thus partially “blinding” the enemy.
Half an hour later, the F-18s are again called to work to stop a raid against the Alfa Group: two Mirage F1 are shot down, along with an escort Falcon. Even the SAMs of FFG Blaz de Lezo are appreciated, knocking down one of the two Mirages who was getting too close to the fleet.
This clash allows for an interesting assessment of the respective air-to-air missile systems.
Although launched from relevant distance, the AMRAAMs (with final PoH between 57% and 69%) obtained a 2 out of 6, while the F-16s could not, even if they launched 8 AIM-7 Sparrow III. The fact is that the latter are SARH missiles, so when the launcher is forced to defend itself, it loses radar contact with the missile, which then goes off, ending its run into the void ...
The Spanish aviators certainly felt reassured by these first responses against the still fearsome F-16s!
HARPOONS IN ACTION
Then the Hornets armed with Harpoon IC enter the scene which, also leaning on the Hercules tanks, hit a group of fast Egyptian Ramadan patrol boats, before they can dangerously approach within the 100 nm range of the Otomat Mk.2. The six Harpoons, launched from a 65-68 nm. are enough to sink the 4 PCFGs (four hit, one is disturbed and one has a malfunction…).
In the meantime, the Hornets do not give a chance to four fast Libyan or Algerian MiG-25 Foxbat A interceptors, who have barely managed to launch a pair of AA-6 Acrids, accompanied by three other F-16s and their useless Sparrow ...
The Sub Siroco continues its profitable raid, sinking a Muorad Rais, an elderly ASW frigate, Koni class with a pair of F-17 torpedoes (one of which fails ...) and another similar Koni class one hour later ...
The Islamic landing fleet was discovered by an Orion maritime patrol plane. It sails along the coast at 350 nm from the Canary Islands and is made up of around a large Newport-class LST, with three other amphibious ships and a powerful escort of missile-launching frigates (two Perry and three Descubierta). Paradoxically, therefore, Spain has ceded three Descubierta frigates to Egypt and Morocco, which are now backfiring ...
Against this fleet I immediately get a taste of the sunset but the four Harpoons launched by the F-18s are all shot down by the RIM-66E of the Mubarak (an Egyptian Perry) who make an excellent 66% of hits!
FOXES IN THE CHICKEN HOUSE
The epilogue takes place in the night, when the two attack submarines Masorpa (cl. Dauphine) and Mistral (cl. Agosta 70), lurking on the interception route for some time, come to be within range of the convoy, and it is an epilogue tragic for the Arab fleet ...
The Masorpa opens hostilities and launches a salvo of four F-17 torpedoes (two of which in excess ...) to sink a fearsome frigate Perry, which was sailing in the rear of the group.
Immediately after, however, the Spanish submarine is forced to climb to periscope level to recharge its batteries and the darkness of the night helps it to stay undetected, while the Mistral, in turn, goes into action, sinking the other Perry.
The fleet panics, some ships turn around to get to safety but, in doing so, they still run into the Masorpa which kills a landing ship and a Descubierta. Meanwhile, two Hornets arrive on the scene and score three Harpoons on the HUV target, the LST Sidi Mohammed, with all its amphibious cargo destined for landing. The ship is almost immobilized and on fire and the coup de grace will arrive from the Mistral shortly after. The two SSKs and again the F-18’s Harpoons finish the job: it is a tragedy, none of the ships of the Islamic League force are saved! There remain only several lifeboats that do their utmost to save only a few of the many shipwrecked people at the mercy of a sea fortunately as smooth as oil ...
It is the decisive turning point in the battle: NAIL has lost all of its amphibious Task Force, nine units and all in less than three hours! The Spanish attack force recorded only one indirect loss: an F-18 did not find the tanker, run out of fuel and was forced to ditch it. The battle is practically won and, calmly, it is necessary to dedicate oneself to protecting the fleet on its way to the Canaries, from any underwater ambushes.
THE ISLAMIC SURPRISE ATTACK
And here I sinned a little presumption or superficiality, a mistake that could have cost me very dear!
By minimizing the CAP, also to allow the RTB of several fighter, I was suddenly taken by surprise by a powerful enemy counterattack!
First, three Harpoons were thrown at the fleet (by whom ...?) and luckily the "gunners" of the frigates had not let their guard down, but one arrived a few meters from the side of the FFG Navarra, being shot down at the last moment , by the defense-point, entrusted to the 20mm Meroka. It should be noted that this CIWS system, of national implementation, used here for the first time in real war action, provided an excellent debut ...
Subsequently, the radar screens were almost filled by approaching planes ... luckily the detection took place at a good distance, so at least three fighters were able to converge in the area, while another pair of Harriers scrambled from the Principe de Asturias. So, the dawn of October 13 saw an epic air battle unfolding over the Atlantic Ocean at around 120 nm. from the Moroccan coast, with 17 NAIL and 5 Spanish aircraft engaged. The result was an incredible victory for the Ejercito del Aire / Spanish Armada. They were shot down:
- 7 Mirage F1
- 4 F4-E Phantom
- 6 F-16 Falcon
- 2 Av-8B Harrier
Total 17: 2 for Spain.
As for the results of the weapons used, for Spain:
- AIM 120B AMRAAM 12 out of 14 (85%) !!!
- AIM 9 L Sidewinder 3 out of 5 (60%)
- AIM 9 JULI Sidewinder 1 on 2 (50%)
- RIM 66M 1 in 6 (17%)
- 25mm GAU (Harrier) 0 to 2 (00%)
For the NAIL:
- AIM 9 M Sidewinder 1 in 1 (100%)
- R.550 Magic 1 in 1 (100%)
It is observed that many kills occurred with the usual tactic of remote launch, exploiting the superior range of the AMRAAM, but also the fact that the NAIL aircraft were, on this occasion, almost all the Attack version, therefore with loadout certainly not optimal for an air-to-air combat. However, when they managed to close the gap, the short-range IR missiles hit the mark.
Appendix, another clash, further south, with a fierce and spectacular dogfight ended with 4 NAIL losses (2 Mirage F1 ED and 2 MiG-29 Fulcrum C) against a Harrier for the Armada, with a 2 out of 2 for the Sidewinders JULI and a 1 out of 5 for the AA-11 Archer.
At around 09:00, another thrill with three Harpoons flying on the crest of the wave towards the fleet, launched, this time certainly by a "Goblin". Emergency intervention of an F-18 that tests the validity of the AMRAAM and Sidewinder in anti-missile function, assisted by the RIM 66E of the usual Navarre. A Sea King takes care of eliminating the intruder.
After a long chase as far as the Canary Islands, a Harrier "Matador" shoots down a Hawkeye, the second AEW aircraft that NAIL loses (I don't know how many they have, but it's a bad loss…).
HELL AT TENERIFE
Now we have to account for a very particular and unusual action: an infantry attack. The SSK Tramontana, night time, a few hours ago, had landed on the island of Tenerife a little UOE Team commando, which, after having carried out a reconnaissance on the structures of the Los Rodeos base, attacked a SAM Goa and Grail battery, destroying everything with the mtg 7.62 mm. And then he also eliminated the other two SS-3 Styx coastal batteries. Good job !!!
This special unit, not satisfied, decided to carry out a sabotage at the Los Rodeos air base. Result: three MiG-29s and 3 Su-24s knocked out on the airport aprons!
(As a comment I can say that this action seems very unlikely, it seems to me that the effectiveness of four men is definitely overestimated, also because they have not found any resistance ... and this result, perhaps, should not be counted in the final statistics, but ...)
The scenario continues with the shooting down of a pair of Mirages and the sinking of an SSK Romeo that had suddenly materialized in front of the Alfa Group.
FIRST ATTACKS TO THE BASES
The first glimpse is towards the Moroccan northern base of Sidi Slimane.
Coordinating Maverick and Harm, I disable a radar (but the SAM Hawks are quite active ...) and inflict light damage to the base structures, but there don't seem to be any planes ...
So I plan an air attack on the Los Rodeos base.
The main problem will be the coordination of in-flight refueling, because some units will have to travel almost 2000 nm roundtrip! The operation involves 10 fighter-bombers, four escort fighters and three tankers.
Sa-3 Goa batteries (destroyed), aprons and access ramps are targeted, with a Mirage and two Sukoi on fire. Weapons used: Paveway, Rockeye, Mk. 82 and strafing with the Hornet’s 20mm.Vulcan. A Janghu frigate, probably the last floating object of the NAIL forces, is also sunk. We suffer the loss of a Harrier shot down by a Goa.
A DESPERATE COUNTERACTION
Although now on their knees, the forces of the Islamic League attempt a backlash, bringing a night attack with numerous Fencers who, traveling few meters on the water, try to get within range of the Delta Group. But the Harriers promptly intervene attacking the Su-24s even with the Sidewinders, assisted by the deadly RIM of the ships, especially the mod. 66M. In close combat, however, also an Av-8B of the Principe de Asturias is victim of an AA-8 Aphid.
Anyway all 8 Fencers are down!
An SSK Kilo - which had simultaneously carried out its ambush launching perhaps too hastily a pair of torpedoes - also goes to the bottom sunk by a Neartip launched from an ASW helicopter.
VICTORY (OR TRIUMPH…) !!!
From now on, the battle has no more history.
The NAIL no longer exists as a fighting force and Grupo Alfa approaches the bases of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, making target shooting with 76 mm. and above all 127 mm guns., which however prove to be quite ineffective against aprons and structures, now almost devoid of aircraft.
Sidi Slimane is also subjected to a further air attack which leads to the silencing of Hawk's battery and therefore the annihilation of the base as a threat.
At 10:13 am, while there are still almost eight hours to go, until the time runs out, the Spanish marines disembark and force the Tenerife garrison to surrender. The Canaries are reconquered.
Unfortunately, the scenario does not provide a final score, but the final balance is impressive.
Over 80 aircraft lost by NAIL, against five (plus three Out of Fuel) for Spain. The entire fleet, made up of 23 units, was vanquished and the losses of men, means and structures are considerable.
From the NATO Command, which had offered any support, enthusiastic congratulations are coming !
It is unlikely that an Islamic coalition will attempt such an action in the future ...
I apologize for boring you for so long ... but it's not over yet ...
(losses and expenditures follow...)
< Message edited by Steve04 -- 1/10/2021 3:08:31 PM >