03 September 2012

Harpoon: 1.32A

The Sri Lanka Incident: HDS II IOPG

Clearly there was a severe problem with 1.32 for us to get a 1.32A, but I digress

The Tu-16 "Badger" bomber was exported rather widely by the Soviet Union and remains in service in its H-6 form in the People's Republic of China. The Soviets did a massive amount of modding to a type they considered a workhouse and the venerable "Badger" only went with the end of the USSR.

The "Badger" can be dubbed a slow-moving very large target that doesn't stand a chance against a half-way decent air defence. However, when you're not facing said air defence, say against a surface fleet or in your own airspace, it can be a devastating aircraft. In fact, for an opponent it's more annoying than Weebl's infamous memetic animation, which rather nicely sums up the aircraft's ability to create "mushrooms" if used in sufficent numbers. No wonder the Israelis give them special attention in 1967.

I have more to say about the Tu-16, but onto the scenario. India backs a coup in Sri Lanka, so the British decide to invade with their amphibious forces supported by two CVHs. My mission, in charge of a former British navy vessel that used to be called HMS Hermes is to stop them, basically by parking myself off the coast or as it later transpired, sinking them before they could even get there.

Not only do I have the Harriers on Viraat, I have some decent land-based air; including "Flankers" and "Badgers". In retrospect, this scenario looks tilted too far in favour of REDFOR. I have two submarines, export "Kilos"; so not too bad.

My orders state Weapons Tight, which means I can't start shooting people until they start shooting me. I commence with launching two recce Badgers and 3 Flankers. The former are going to seek out the amphib group to the south of India, while the latter are providing an off-shore CAP (ah, the repeatable patrol feature...)

The carrier group sets up a small CAP and an ASW patrol. I hold the rest until something develops.

Fairly quickly, I get an ESM detection via my recce Badgers that IDs itself as a Merlin and an AEW Sea King. This of course immediately gives me a ballpark estimate of where the carrier group is (I've clearly been hanging around American forums for a long time; I've got Americanisms slipping into my language).

As soon as the Badgers detect this, I run into a Mach 2 problem. A visual one that calls itself a Tornado F.3, which I then see launching Sky Flash missiles at me. The Badgers go down in flames. Like I said, can't handle a decent air defence.

Deciding that I need to deal with these Tornadoes sooner rather than later, I send the Flankers after them but they lack the fuel to make the intercept and have to RTB. So too do the MiG-25 "Foxbats", aircraft which are all speed and no range.

As I have a good idea where the enemy is, I decide to launch a fighter escorted reconnaissance in force with some of my Badgers. Hopefully the Flankers can deal with any fighter opposition until I get into a decent range and start lobbing AS-6s at them. Oh, yes...

The Tu-16s find a group of surface contacts and launch their high explosive payloads...

Of the 14 AS-6 anti-shipping missiles that were launched by the 7 Tu-16s, 12 were shot down on their way to the targets. I had allocated my missiles to the larger targets, figuring that they were amphibious targets or a carrier. Two missiles struck a single large target and send it to the bottom; this was revealed to be a Type 22 Batch 3 frigate.

Harpoon in the CE version groups its contacts by three size classes for detection purposes: Large, Small and Very Small. The H4 paper rules use five. For some reason, the 4,900 ton T22/3 enters the "Large" category. OK...

I launch another attack with 7 more Badgers from another airbase (IIRC) and during that approach, the Flankers approach two Tornadoes. The groups merge and fire missiles at each. All the missiles miss and the groups break away without loss.

However, I'm not prepared to let the Tornadoes go and pursue them, launching four more AA-10 missiles at the Tornadoes. In a further engagement, I destroyed the two RAF fighters, one with AAMs and one with cannon fire. The problem with the F.3 is that it isn't designed to get into dogfights unlike the much more agile (and surprisingly large) Su-27.

Back to bomber action. I forgot to turn my radars on and ended up launching the AS-6s bearing-only. The game has a nice feature for you to set the desired activation distances, but I think you're expected to have a good idea of rough ranges before you do it.

The British must been thoroughly surprised to see 14 supersonic missiles on their scopes. Eleven survived to actually go active. As a result of all this, I destroyed a Fearless class LPD. I actually had to look up the type in my High Tide annex, which shows what I know about the history of the Royal Navy...

Taking advantage of the 30-minute readiness time (would that even be possible in RL?), I launch another strike, this time going for the carrier... 

I managed to detect some fighters somewhere and launched ground-based Flankers to intercept them. Around the same time, my Badgers picked up a Type 42 destroyer on ESM.

Once I got into range, I launched my missiles, allocating ten at the CVH, as it was the bigger and more important target. The missile clock was six minutes until activation; which can be a very long time.

During this six minutes, one of my submarines hit the bottom in the shallow Gulf of Mannar (the bit between Sri Lanka and India); this would take a little while to sort out.

I only managed to hit one target with my Kingfish, but it wasn't my intended one. In fact it was Sir Galahad, an LST. That'll do. In retrospect, sinking that would have helped the Indians more than the carriers.

I had sent my Flankers in to do what might be termed "Airborne Anti-Anti-Sub Warfare", namely shooting down the ASW choppers that were protecting the carrier/amphibious group so my submarines would have an easier chance later. I managed to take down a Sea King AEW, although I was now in the AAW range of a group containing a carrier that packed Sea Dart.

I took my eye off the ball and lost two of my Badgers to Tornadoes, so I sent the Su-27s after the interceptors. The fight, one of the five Flankers was lost, then I lobbed no less than 30 missiles at the four Tornadoes. Yes, this could be termed "overkill", but as I destroyed all four in one go, it was worth it. I decided to launch another strike with the Badgers.

Things then developed in the east; one of my Kilos found a CZ target (these seem rather easy to find) and I ordered it to attack, but declined the suggestion to accelerate to 20 knots to close the range more quickly - fast gets you located and torpedoed.

A recce Badger D that I'd somehow forgotten about ran out of fuel and crashed; I didn't get a bingo fuel message.

The next strike was a failure; the 14 AS-6s failed to find anything and dropped into the ocean before they could find a target. Then the Tu-16s actually found the group, having wasted their missiles.

For some reason, which I think was impatience, I decided to ready six of my Sukhois with the LR Iron Bomb loadout and accompany them with Badgers carrying AS-6 Kingfish of the anti-radar version (the Kh-26MP). I was intending to use the Badgers to suppress the enemy SAM defences to allow the Flankers to finish the job, but I didn't do my strike timing right - in fact not at all. The Flankers managed to drop a total of 18 iron bombs at the Type 42/3 HMS York. At least five (the entirely of second batch and some of the first 13) missed entirely, but I did 65% damage on the vessel. Two of the supersonic jets were lost and I then ordered the group to RTB.

I had got a good idea of the location of the eastern British group, which consisted of at least another carrier and a Leander 2TA. That would be my next target...

As I was readied my Harriers for an attack on the eastern group with Sea Eagles, the Badgers arrived in range and launched their AS-6 ARMs at the southern group on bearing-only; hopefully the British would turn their radars on and the missiles would home in on those.

The missiles finished off York then two hit Ark Royal, sending the carrier to the bottom. Those are powerful missiles. Very powerful missiles. If two can sink an escort carrier, no wonder the US spent so much on AEGIS...

I had sunk 4 ships and a carrier. Since I didn't know what my minimum victory requirement was, I had to keep going. Another two ARMs then took out Exeter, an earlier T42 model and there were six missiles remaining. However, they merely proceeded to land on some sharks rather than a target.

A group of MiG-25s shot down a Merlin in the southern group. I then ordered them to go VHigh and Reheat, before bringing them back to base as they entered the AAW range.

I discovered that the Harriers didn't have the range for the eastern group at this time so I would have to wait until it was closer; which of course meant that they would be in range as well.

This would ultimately not prove an issue. My Kilos got into range and Sindugash launched three torpedoes at the Leander. I felt it best to focus on the escorts. This resulted in the entire force popping up on my scope and a helicopter dropping a torpedo at me. My subs turned and crept away, but the torpedo missed as did the ones I fired.

My next note says "5 more radars sent at E group", which is a bit nonsensical. After that though, I launched 14 BOL AS-6s at the eastern group, which took out the Type 22/3 Campbeltown and Tobruk another LST, the latter sinking shortly after I left it. This was enough for me to get minimum victory and I called it a day at that point.

This was a very easy scenario for BLUFOR; the local forces are arguably overpowered here against a not particularly pro-active AI.

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