02 September 2012

Harpoon 1.32


After playing about with advanced SAM systems and carriers with enough planes for a small air force, this next scenario was a major step down in capabilities.

First to set the scene. In 1974, after the Greek military junta deposed the civilian government of Cyprus, Turkey (another nation prone to military involvement in politics), invaded the strategically important island. The result was a Turkish occupation of the northern third of the island, a country being created that only Ankara recognises and an unresolved diplomatic situation that impacts duty free allowances in the EU.

This scenario, set in 1994, explores a possible attempt by Greece to take back the island. I have a pre-programmed course for a group of Jason-class LSTs (this apparently can vary each time the scenario is loaded), which I can't really touch.

My air assets are limited in quantity and to be honest quality. I have only eleven fixed-wing aircraft, all shore based, and a single ASW helicopter in the amphib group (henceforth designated ACS). The shore-based aircraft are a bunch of F-104 Starfighters with two Sidewinders and A-7 Corsairs with iron bombs (the scenario designer said not to change the loadouts to give the A-7s stand-off weapons as it would break the scenario balance). Greece has not been at the forefront of military technology for over two millennia.

I have one Type 209 submarine with Harpoons in its tubes. This might be handy.

The ships are an even ruder awakening; on both sides. Most of them are hit-and-sink missile boats, FRAM destroyers from the Second World War and the aforementioned LSTs which are literally just ships with tanks inside. No Harrier carriers for me; most of my ships don't even have SAMs.

Then there's the MEKO 200s, which appear on both sides. This German design is probably the best surface platform of the scenario, but it's just a frigate with SSMs and 16 Sea Sparrows. It's better than nothing, but it's not going to stand up to concentrated attack.

I decide to keep my forces on their pre-set courses as the game begins, then made some minor sensor tweaks (although ACS stayed EMCON A). I rapidly get a contact; a large surface group north of Cyprus including a Sumner-class destroyer. These will need to be dealt with and I decide to initiate an airstrike to hit at the same time as my submarine attacks. As I start to launch my aircraft, I find that three of my F-104s lacked enough range to reach the target. I decided to use these as ground-based CAP, to be launched to intercept inbounds on my airbases. The rest headed for the ships.

As they started to form up for the strike, my ground radars detected a Turkish fighter, probably an F-5E Tiger II. I scrambled the Starfighters to intercept.

At around the same time, I detected a helicopter with my submarine and decided to launch my Harpoons as I was probably detected (I probably wasn't). The two Harpoons were both, rather amazingly, shot down before they could hit their targets.

Consecutively with this, ACS got painted with active radar and I switched on my radars after staff advice. In the Maverick/Sea Sparrow exchange that ensued, the Turks lost three Tigers for one hit on a LST that didn't do any real damage. Not a good exchange ratio.

The air-to-air F-104s went to military power then re-heat, making an intercept on the Turkish attackers, launching their measly six AIM-9Ls and missing with all of them. This caused the Turk to turn and run. A result of sorts.

I detected a Berk frigate south of ACS during this and lobbed three Harpoons at it. This sunk the vessel and the Israeli (I think) national anthem played.

I moved my submarine closer to the Turkish group and launched torpedoes as the airstrike closed in. I failed to factor in a run-time; it would take an hour in game time to reach the target.

The air strike was a disaster. SAMs took out all of my aircraft bar one A-7, which destroyed two patrol boats with iron bombs. I thought a frigate was out of SAMs and sent the A-7 to drop some more 500-lb bombs on it. Turns out it still had some. I should have put in the AG in at low level and gone after the weaker Sumner with the A-7. Give me Harpoons! Still, those were two missile boats out of the equation.

I was unable to get my saved game back and so ended this version's play here.

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