Here's how it went for me.
Well, India is resisting our natural Chinese destiny for hegemony over anything in our grasp, so it’s time to teach them a lesson and seize their bases on the southern-most of the Nicobar Islands. We’ve got a heavy carrier group composed of both of our carriers and numerous powerful escorts headed NNW through the Straits of Malacca, immediately ahead of a strong amphibious group. We’ve got another replenishment group further back down the straits, just passing Singapore, and a few subs scattered around the area. There’s also a base full of bombers and tankers and AEW back home in Yunnan province, and we’ve got permission to overfly Burma to get them into the theatre.
The Indians reportedly have both their carrier groups out to sea somewhere, and presumably they have subs deployed as well. They’ve got multiple airfields scattered along the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (four of them, including the one we want on Great Nicobar), plus bases all along the Indian coast and into the interior.
My ships are ordered to tighten up formation a little, getting into good anti-missile and ASW screening formation. I’m naturally concerned about subs in the confined straits, and since there’s nowhere to hide, I might as well be overt. Fish-stunning levels of sound are to be blasted into the channel by our powerful active sonars. My two eastern subs will patrol quietly towards our expected operation area SE of Great Nicobar, in case anyone’s lurking there, while the two western ones will wait for information on the position of the enemy carriers.
My bombers are ordered to commence with an immediate ALCM attack on the northern three airbases on the islands (I used the option to switch from KD-63s to KD-20 ALCMs at the start of the scenario – much longer range, and more of them per plane). My fighters, which are all down for reloading at the moment, are directed to commence regional patrols once they are ready. My AEW planes in China are ordered to set up patrols off the southern tip of Burma, to guard against any intrusions from the north.
As my surveillance assets head out, I soon get indications of multiple MPA, both manned and unmanned, operating in the region of the islands, but I have no fighters to tackle them yet! Satellite ESM also picks up signs of two carrier groups out to sea, or, rather, their AEW helicopters. My own AEW plane comes across Burma, and soon gets indications that the Indians have their own AEW plane and a tanker operating in the north end of the Bay of Bengal, and some Su-30s operating out of their base on North Andaman. I also find multiple small patrol boats operating amongst the islands, some zipping around at an impressive 42 knots, but no major warships seem to be present. There are also a number of radars emitting near my objectives at Campbell Bay, so there’s at least some air defence in the region.
The first major action comes when my bombers unleash a massive ALCM attack on the island chain, with missiles arriving simultaneously at all the northern bases. All runways are cratered, and numerous base facilities are smashed, and there doesn’t seem to have been any air defence reaction at all, not even at the large northern base.
My own fighters are finally ready now, and they swiftly sweep the area, killing multiple MPA and UAVs, as well as a tanker operating west of the islands. They also get a good look at those fast movers, which turn out to be little Super Dvoras, and even strafe one or two, but they generally leave the small ships alone. Two of them head north, towards my tankers orbiting over Burma, and kill off the undefended Indian AEW plane and tanker operating up there.
To my surprise, there has been no enemy air activity out of INS Baaz on Great Nicobar. My fighters will continue to operate freely throughout the region, slaughtering intruding MPA and recce aircraft for the remainder of the scenario.
At 1345 local, my radar satellites make a beautiful pass over the region, clearly identifying the two Indian carrier groups which are converging towards Great Nicobar. Their courses are calculated, and my two western subs are sent to ambush them.
My fighters also commence operations in the region of the southern carrier. At first, my skirmishes with the MiG-29s are largely indecisive, although I do manage to kill a few of the carrier group’s helicopters despite interference from the ships’ SAMs. Eventually I smarten up and send some heavy fighter sweeps, and with numerical advantage I start making good kills on the enemy aircraft, until no more come up to fight. A few fighters are left to patrol in case any other aircraft pop up.
At 1730 local my planes commence SEAD strikes against the radars on Great Nicobar, although lousy ARM accuracy means it takes a ridiculous number of missiles just to hit a few of the surveillance radars. Shots at the small ships in the region don’t do much better.
My carrier group continues to advance towards the region, despite a few close-range ASW scares from biologicals, eventually emerging from the mouth of the straits and commencing to use its shorter-range ASMS to plink the small Indian ships in the area. There’s no sense in using the good long-range stuff to hit these, and even so it’s faintly ridiculous to use a full-fledged missile to hit the tiny runabouts, but I’ve got no other real option unless I want to resort to guns or iron bombs. (My helicopters aren’t ready yet.) Despite an appalling string of malfunctions, misses, and wizard defensive gunnery on their part, they are eventually all sunk.
At about 2200 local, the Yuan Zheng, a Chinese Kilo gets into firing position in front of the Vikramaditya. Creeping at a ghostly 2 knots, she puts four torpedoes into the carrier. As the enemy mills around in confusion, she reloads and puts another one into the carrier, and sinks two escorts and cripples a third. Unknown to the Yuan Zheng, the escorts are trying to launch ASW helicopters, but my patrolling fighters manage to get to them before they ID my sub. Her final salvo torpedoes another two escorts, and the two last shots head for the carrier. One sinks it, and the last torp wobbles around, locks on to the wounded Sayhardi, misses it, comes around for another attack, and finally sinks it. It’s 2230 local, the Yuan Zheng is out of anti-shipping torpedoes, and the entire carrier group is gone.
My amphib group is approaching Great Nicobar in the small hours of the morning. Missile-carrying Helixes are the first on the scene, scouting around in the dark, killing a small battery of Harop SSMs, and playing hide-and-seek with a pair of SA-19s, eventually killing them when they pause to reload. They then overfly the airport, strafing the P-8s which are parked there, and confirming the absence of troops.
My LCACs get underway around 0115 local, and they arrive on the beaches of Campbell Bay shortly afterwards, unloading light tanks and infantry. Meanwhile, transport helicopters are dropping off troops in the surrounding hills. There is no opposition, and the occupation of the island is well underway.
Fighter sweeps have been tangling with the Vikrant’s air wing for a few hours now, and once the opposition is down a couple of planes sneak in and put four anti-shipping missiles into the leading escort, sinking her before she can react.
That leaves the way open for the Chang Zheng 5, my Han-class SSN, to lie in wait and torpedo the oncoming Vikrant. Five of six torpedoes hit the carrier, and then another two sink her. At 0230 local she’s underwater.
The remaining escorts are not quite as easy to hit. The Han’s torpedoes are slower than the Kilo’s, and the alert escorts can outrun them unless I launch from so close they can hit me with RBUs. Therefore, the SSN sneaks around behind the survivors, as they form up and continue SE, and gets into their baffles for a stern chase. She manages to torpedo two more of the escorts, undetected from close range, but the third one runs off at 32 knots and can’t be caught. She’s all alone in the ocean, however, and she’s eventually hunted down and sunk by aircraft.
By 0900 the following morning, all is complete. The beachhead is firmly in control, more troops and supplies are shuttling ashore, and the amphibious operation is a success. Both carrier groups have been annihilated, and, other than a few small patrol craft up near the Andamans, there is no further sign of the Indian Navy. ASW patrols are in place around the beachhead, and even if one of their subs does come calling, I expect I will be able to spot it before it reaches the ‘phibs. So, it seems safe to inform HQ that the mission is a success.