Thursday, August 17, 2017

COMMAND: Northern Inferno Scenario 13: Deliverance Part 4

In Parts One, Two, and Three of this scenario, the NATO surface groups tasked with retaking Iceland from the Soviets have undergone some severe trials. They have been sustaining incessant air attacks from Keflavik and also cruise missile attacks from Soviet submarines. The damage has been extensive, including the loss of one ship and several others heavily damaged. But the USS Oriskany and the FS Clemenceau managed to launch a counterstrike.

The strike hits Keflavik hard, destroying several aircraft on the ground and damaging all of the Runway Access Points in hopes of putting the airfield out of action. Every Runway Access Point is damaged, but it remains to be seen if they are damaged enough to curtail flight operations. If the Soviets manage to get off another strike against my surface groups, I'm in serious trouble.

October 15, 1975, 110000Z
I have launched an F-8J Crusader from Oriskany to attempt to take out a Tu-95 Bear that has been spying on my surface groups.  I also launch a RF-8G Crusader to do recon over Keflavik to see if it can do more BDA.

111809Z First there's some good news as my ASW helos from Oriskany finally close in and kill a Foxtrot that has been shadowing me.

112503Z More good news is that my F-8J Crusader successfully takes out the Tu-95RT Bear D.  The Crusader still has three Sidewinders left, so I decide to keep him in airborne in case the Soviets decide to launch another Bear.

113508Z My RF-8G Crusader recons Keflavik, detecting many ground units defending the base, and after wandering a little too close to some SAM launchers, has to dodge eight SAMs. But fortunately it survives, and continues at a more respectful distance.
Many ground units detected.
After another circle of the area, I send it towards Reykjavik, and it immediately comes under fire from an SA-6 Gainful. Fortunately it dodges the pair of SAMs launched at it. After another quick flyby, I send the Crusader home.

120249Z Crap. My E-1B Tracer detects a pair of aircraft launching from Keflavik, which is very bad news. It means that my attempt to disable the airfield was unsuccessful. It also means that it's only a matter of time before the Soviets launch another strike at me.

120708Z One of my Sea Kings sinks a Charlie II submarine that was getting uncomfortably close to the Iowa group.

124348Z For a while now I have detected a submarine contact by its radar emissions. It has been too far away to post a threat, but I sent a RF-8G Crusader to investigate, and it turns out it's an SSR. SSR? A recon sub? I scan the database and determine that it is probably a Whiskey Canvas Bag, a radar picket submarine.

130000Z I've been watching my damaged ships for a while. The major fire on USS Harry E. Yarnell is now severe, which does not bode well for it. The USS Oriskany, on the other hand, had a severe fire which is now only major, which implies that the fire fighters on board are starting to get it under control, which is very good news.

131500Z USS Lang has sealed all leaks, and its severe fire is reduced to major, which is also good news. USS Semmes on the other hand, sealed its leaks as well, but its fire has increased from minor to major.

140724Z A Sea King from Oriskany sinks another Charlie II submarine. By this time Oriskany has also managed to reduce its fire from major to minor.

It is not all good news, however. Minutes later I get a message from Yarnell. While it has sealed the leaks, the fires rage out of control, and the captain is forced to order Abandon Ship.
USS Harry E. Yarnell sinks.

142749Z My E-1B Tracer detects another pair of aircraft launching from Keflavik. I hope it's more CAP aircraft and not the beginning of a strike. After a few minutes, it does appear to be a CAP. Whew.  Over an hour until the first of my strike aircraft will be ready again, and more than two hours until the majority of my strike aircraft will be ready.

150401Z USS Oriskany has extinguished all fires, which is a big relief. USS Semmes however, still has a major fire, which is soon upgraded to severe, and I anticipate that the ship will soon be abandoned. USS Lang successfully extinguishes all fires, and sets a course for Semmes in an attempt to assist with fire fighting or rescue operations. It is still damaged, however, so it can only make five knots, which means it will be two hours before it can reach Semmes.

152116Z One of my F-8J Crusaders shoots down another Tu-95RT Bear D.
USS Semmes sinks
154059Z As expected, USS Semmes is forced to abandon ship.

171819Z Early on in this mission, the Soviet CAP consisted of three flights of two aircraft, all patrolling a sector around Keflavik. Counting the shootdowns and strikes upon Keflavik, I've taken out sixteen MiG-23s. After the strikes, they have only managed two-ship CAPs, and the last one is a single-ship. This would imply that they only have seven MiG-23s left and are following the 1/3 rule. It's also consistent with them starting the battle with a regiment of some 24 aircraft.

Many of my aircraft are now ready for a second strike, and also with the Soviets only having one aircraft airborne, this is the ideal time to strike.

I have a little breathing space since the airfield is already damaged, so I can plan a little more methodically and also worry a little more about force protection.

In southern Iceland the Soviets have emplaced a Long Track [P-40] air search radar that is serving as their primary early warning radar and also a mobile air search radar near Hvammsfjordur that I will take out. I will use my Shrike armed A-7 in an attempt to take them out.

Following that I will launch an RF-8G Crusader to do recon and BDA. Then my strikes will consist of launching my Walleye-armed A-7s to go after the Runway Access Points again. After the last strike they were in the following condition:

Runway Access Point 1: Heavy Damage and  Major Fire (and a destroyed MiG-23 blocking it)
Runway Access Point 2: Light Damage
Runway Access Point 3: Heavy Damage and a Minor Fire
Runway Access Point 4: Light Damage
Runway Access Point 5: Heavy Damage and a Major Fire
Runway Access Point 6: Heavy Damage and a Severe Fire

However, I am sure the Soviets are attempting to repair them, and also they have managed to get a CAP up, so the airfield is still partially operational. I have to keep hitting it to make sure it stays only partially operational, if at all.

After that, I will launch my strikers in an attempt to reduce the number of SAMs and AAA in the area. The losses I took during the first strike were too much, and if I am to keep striking, I need to perform some SEAD.

172500Z I begin launching aircraft for the strike.
The strike is inbound
174432Z The single MiG-23 Flogger flying CAP detects and launches missiles against my two F-8E Crusaders detailed to take him out.

Two more bogies are detected at Keflavik. I guess the Soviets have detected the raid and are now sending up what they can to stop it.
The Soviets respond to the strike
The two new MiG-23s join the dogfight and begin firing radar-guided missiles. One of the Floggers is shot down by a R.550 Magic.
A second Flogger is shot down
Seconds later, the same F-8E shoots down the last MiG in a head on pass with his guns. The skies are clear...for the moment.

My Shrike-armed A-7 launches a pair of Shrikes at the 2D Long-Range Air Search Radar at Hvammsfjordur, but they are both shot down by SA-8 Geckos. The A-7 launches its second pair of Shrikes, but they are also shot down.
Walleyes away!
The first Walleye is a direct hit
One of the Walleyes is shot down and another misses, but there are other hits. My RF-8G Crusader flies over the area to spot targets, and comes under wave after wave of SAMs, and every time it evades, it seems to evade right into the path of several other SAM sites. Eventually, it is shot down by a ZSU-23-4. Fortunately, it locates many of these targets for the strike aircraft to attack.
Strikers converge on Keflavik from multiple directions
The first A-7 to arrive attempts to drop some cluster bombs on a SA-7b Grail site, but can't locate it, and is promptly shot down by it.

The second A-7 manages to spot his SA-7b target and takes it out with Mk20 Rockeyes. The third takes out an SA-9 Gaskin, but is shot down as well.

Two Etendards arrive, and each one takes out its intended targets of an SA-7b Grail and a SA-9b Gaskin, and miraculously both live to tell about it.

Two more Etendards are next, and go after another SA-7b Grail and a ZSU-23-4, and both are successful.

Next is two A-7s with Mk83 1000lb bombs, and they go after Runway Access Points, one of them scoring a direct hit, the other a near miss.

Another A-7 arrives, does BDA on the two Runway Access Points his fellow pilots hit (Heavy Damage, Severe Fire and Heavy Damage, Major Fire), and then drops his Mk82 Snakeeyes 500lb bombs on a Tarmac Space and takes out a MiG-23 and a pair of Su-24 Fencers.

The next Etendard takes out a pair of Su-24s and a MiG-27 with its 400kg bombs.

The next pair of Etendards launch their AS.30 missiles against hangars, taking out two MiG-23s, two MiG-27s, and one Su-24.

Three more Etendards arrive, shooting their SNEB 68mm rockets at more aircraft on the ground, killing ten Su-24 Fencers, two MiG-23 Floggers, and two MiG-27 Floggers.

All in all, not a bad strike.

The later waves in the strike did not run into any anti-air fire to speak of, so it looks like Keflavik is suppressed. All in all, my aircraft killed tally is:

24x MiG-23M Flogger B
30x MiG-27 Flogger D
21x Su-24 Fencer B

A significant chunk of aircraft. My next strikes will scan for any surviving aircraft on the ground, take out any remaining hangars, go after radars, and starting pounding the Soviet ground forces in preparation for the amphibious assault.

185025Z My amphibious fleet is 174nm from its zone by Iceland, and moving at 14kts, I should get there in just under 13 hours, or around 0530 local time, so it will be an assault at dawn.

191506Z I detect another Recon Bear to the north, and I send an F-8J Crusader to take it out, killing it with a Sidewinder. That's three Bears down.

200849Z My E-1B Tracer detects a bogey over Keflavik. So despite all my efforts, the airfield isn't completely neutralized. Two minutes later I detect a second bogey. They begin circling Keflavik, so they are clearly an attempt at a CAP again.

230907Z I shoot down another Recon Bear to the north. My E-1B Tracer--my only E-1B Tracer, finally goes Bingo and heads for home. This means I have some three hours without any AEW support. But it is the dead of the night, and since I keep shooting down their Recon planes, I'm counting on the fact that they can't really do anything to hurt me now.

Come morning will come the amphibious assault, assuming all goes well...

Continued in Part Five.

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