Well, we left the Air Patrol in combat with support craft coming up in the rear last time. So let’s get around to some Strike mission planning..
I order all my ground strike units into the FORMUP mission, so that they can start taxiing towards the runway and up to the form up reference point (RP) to circle and loiter until I want to slot them into the exact strike window of time.
I have Intruders and Corsairs carrying Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) and Low Drag General Purpose (LDGP) (unguided aerial bombs), along with some expensive Walleye II’s and Shrikes. High priority targets should get the more accurate and effective payloads.
My Sundowners are now forming up on the AAW patrol to join the Screaming Eagles, providing a fighter screen for my strike forces assembling.
We’re still detecting the Mobile SAM site #66, and looking at the contact report from the emissions it gives off it looks like a Soviet SA-6b.
Just for more visual appeal, heres an image of an SA-6b.
Getting giddy with the visuals here, I thought its about time for a gratuitous Globe shot, showing the Earthly position of this small tutorial conflict. Zooming out with the mouse wheel to fill my periphery with space itself!
Enough of that, it’s time to get my Strike group assembled… oh go on, heres a shot of the Corsair in my database. Enough of trying to be the MilitaryPorn sub-reddit.
As my support aircraft reach their patrol point behind the fighters, I turn on their Offensive and Defensive Electronic Counter Measures (ECM).
You can see my EXCAP Prowler emitting the ECM, with the word JAM over its symbol, and the yellow arc emitting from it. Whilst in a patrolling pattern the arc will waft over the enemy area now and then – I’ve yet to come up with a reference point structure to ensure maximum coverage of Jamming, minimum off target time. That’s a puzzler for later.
Before I send the main bombs in, I need to set up a SEAD (Supression of Enemy Air Defense) patrol using my Shrikes to take out/disable the SAM’s as best I can. I set up the patrol directly above the enemy base, in a cube format. If this patrol is successful that will leave the way clear for the main thrust of my destructive force. Since my Corsairs are all airborne setting this patrol active will send them off fairly rapidly. This illustrates the beauty of the Mission Editor in helping the player schedule formups and then moving your hardware into the appropriate mission and “flicking the switch” to get the timing just so.
My Corsairs are instantly on their way to the target area to perform SEAD duty. I check their loadouts, using the Weapons button on a selected unit. 4 Shrikes, couple of sidewinder air to air, and a Vulcan burst gun – you can also see their decoys and counter measures. The level of detail with loadouts is simply amazing.
Now, time to set off the main attack wing.
I decide to use my more expensive and accurate missiles, the Walleye II’s, a laser guided glide bomb, to directly hit the stationary SAM sites and the Radar station. If all successful, I can blind the enemy, and then they’re at my mercy. For this advantage I deem it worth the cost. These babies nicknamed “Fat Alberts” should be able to do some damage!
I line up four Intruders with GBU-10’s to vape the runway access points.
For the Runway itself, I assign four Intruders with Mk 82 LDGP’s (Low Drag General Purpose) dumb iron bombs.
For the Missile Assembly buildings, I also throw in some Corsairs with Mk82’s.
Lastly, as an added precaution, I take the Air Patrolling Screaming Eagles and send them into the strike area hot zone on an AAW Patrol. Any enemy fighters still airborne will be engaged. The Sundowners will cover the support craft screen.
Now to watch the fireworks.
There is something innately fascinating about watching missile strikes creep in, like watching a natural disaster, it just tickles the Human curiosity. Here we have my SEAD patrol’s Shrikes enter the zone.
We get some hits from the Shrikes, but they are an airburst weapon raining hot shrapnel down on the targets. Hopefully disabling the SAM’s sensors and equipment, taking them out of action – if not destroying the carrying platform itself.
Now its time for the Walleye’s to do their thing. Here you can see a Walleye with its target designation alight, it must be detecting all targets from its nose cone and lighting them up – but its centered on hitting the SAM.
Fat Albert Strike One! More incoming. If you can read the message log, one of my Walleye’s has malfunctioned – I think its the one for the Radar station South of the base.
Now we have the Runway Access Point wave dropping their payload and causing all sorts of issues for the enemy. There’s going to be major problems getting any birds airborne from now on. Runway is also out for the count!
The next set of runway access point missiles do their thing, and splash more infrastructure.
The strike on the Missile Assembly buildings is underway, with a slew of bombs released…
and BOOM! How do you like them apples?!!
I have three Intruders assigned to the Runway destruction who haven’t had a chance to release their bombs – so I must have over allocated on the Runway mission. Using the Mission Editor I can remedy this situation by re-assigning them to destruction of the Radar Station. The Radar slipped by my waves of devastation because one of my Fat Albert’s malfunctioned. Looks like it was only a short reprieve, I have some Mk 82’s with his name on it.
Intruders mark the Radar station as a target and hone in on it…
Bombs away! Boom, Boom, Kaboom!
Lastly the Mobile SAM SA-6b garners attention, although I don’t think its a threat anymore – because it doesn’t seem to be launching missiles at my birds.
With that, most of my arsenal is spent. The boys did a good job, and its time to RTB, possibly doing a flashy wing roll just for good measure.
When the mission ends I have attained a Minor Victory, with 1300 points. If I’d have managed the hits a bit better, perhaps knobble the Aviation Gas Stations and some of the Hangars, perhaps the score could have gone higher. I’m happy with that score though. I felt in control the whole way.
I lost two aircraft, which isn’t brilliant, but I have played this scenario where I’ve lost a lot more. You can see the amount of hardware I threw at them with my expenditures. Luckily, it doesn’t show the actual costs of all those engineered missiles and bombs.
I think the enemy come off a lot worse, and they fired a fair number of SAMs into the sky that day.
I’ve played this mission about 8 times now, its quite involved to begin with – when your just starting out – learning the ropes – with 5 or 6 distinct phases it can be overwhelming – but stick with it and learn the systems and you’ll be trying it out over and over to see if you can better your score. It is a tutorial though, so it’s quite easy to win a minor victory. The first time I tried it without any clue, and lots of chaos, I got 1100 points losing only four aircraft! I think thats probably a testament to how good the sub-ordinate AI is to your mission commands.
No doubt people who are willing to heavily micro-manage it all, will be able to squeeze every drop of performance and score out of the scenario. But I really enjoy the higher command side of things, and I don’t really want to be worried about the altitude of about 30 odd planes at the same time. It reminds me of the ethos behind the Panther Games’ Command Ops series where you are a conductor of the battle and you’re coaxing the very competant AI sub-ordinates to do your will.
The game is a long term investment in modern tactical warfare, with a scenario editor, a dev team who are out in the community already listening and updating the systems, with submissions to the database openly allowed – I can see this title flourishing in our small niche.
Now I have my head down in some Naval Warfare books, getting excited about modern weapon systems and the time when I feel comfortable enough to take on the Falklands scenarios.
If you want to watch an excellent playthrough video of this very scenario, look no further than Baloogan’s Campaign.
Back to Part 1