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AAR - Third Idea (World War in the WestPac)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:11 am
by Beargrowlz
World War in the Pacific
An After Action Report
By: Beargrowlz

Scenario: Third Idea
Battleset: WestPac
Scenario Author: Brad Leyte

I received orders to protect a number of Japanese surface groups, the Japanese mainland and destroy enemy presence on Naha (the southwestern tip of the Japanese islands) and the Kurils (Northeastern tip). (One note here, the orders call for retaking objective YYb in the Kurils, but there is no YYb. I assume the author meant objectives YYb and or ZOa, also in the Kurils).

The tasks looked daunting at first. With only one United States CVBG available, and at that over 1000 miles from the Japanese Home Islands and to the west of Guam,and two distant American bases - AndersonAFB on Guam (1300 miles away) and Shemya (1400 miles) in the Aleutians and no South Korean or Taiwanese assistance, all of the heavy lifting early on in the battle would have to be borne by the forces of the Japanese Self-Defense Force, under strength units compared the the joint Sino-Russian forces and platforms I had little familiarity with to boot.

The "Third Idea" Battlemap.

This would be a challenge operating outside of my comfort zone.

My first task was to prepare my aircraft with the various loadouts I thought I would need in the short haul. I started with my strategic assets. At Erickson I armed the eight (8) B-52H's I had with a Precis-LR loadout comprising of ten (10) AGM-86C CALCM's and ten (10) AGM-86C Blk 1 CALCM's, both of which have a range of 1100 miles. This would put these powerful and extremely versatile aircraft in play against Naha (an objective) and southern Chinese bases within thirty (30) minutes without having the need to move them into a staging area on the Home Islands. These eight (8) Stratofortresses would give me enormous strategic theater capability as two of them alone armed with the CALCM normally are enough to destroy an enemy base.

I also has six (6) B-1B Lancers and four (4) B2-Spirits at my disposal aon Guam and I armed all ten (10) with a Precis-LR loadout of AGM-158 JASSM's, twenty-four (24) for each Lancer and eight (8) for each black beauty. At this point I made a significant error in judgement - fortunately it did not end up hurting me. Instead of staging the Lancers and Spirits to Tokyo or Hamamatsu on the Home Islands for use against far eastern Chinese or Russian bases, I kept them on Guam, thinking I would use them against southern Chinese bases,, forgetting the eight (8) Superfortresses gave me more than ample trhrow weight to take care of southern China.

The B-52H Stratofortress carries 40 cruise missiles with a firing range of
1100 miles. The deadliest platform in Harpoon?

At Shemya, I had two (2) more Lancers, which I eqipped with the same payload as those at Anderson. Their early campaign targets would be Petropovlovsk and Yelisovo in far eastern Russia and later against the Sino-Russian bases in the Kurils. I armed my twelve F-16C/D Blk 50's the same as the Lancers.

I armed my twelve (12) F-15E Strike Eagles with a Precis-LR loadout of two (2) AGM-130's and four (4) AMRAAM's. The six (6) F-22 Raptors I kept with an Intercept package of six (6) AMRAAM'S and two (2) Sidewinders.

The plan was to utilize the Strike Eagles in tandem with the Lancers against the Russian bases as well as the bases in the Kurils because of their long range abilities. I did not think clearly about how I was going to use the F-16's, and again made the mistake of not staging them to a base in the Home Islands, reducing both my strategic and defensive firepower.

Finally, the Home Islands' defense was going to be simple - in loadouts, not in ease of accomplishment. I set the F-15J's to an Escort loadout which loaded them with four (4) AIM Sparrow's and four (4) AAM-3's. Whomever's decision it was - the Japanese or American government's - not to arm the Japanese F-15J's with AMRAAM's makes the defense of Japan significantly more difficult than it should be.

The F-2(FS-x)'s were set with Intercept packages of four (4) AAM-4 (Type 99)'s and two (2) shortrange AAM-3's. Finally the F-4EJ Kai's were loaded with an Intercept package of four (4) AIM-7F Sparrows and four (4) Sidewinders.

The burden of defending the Japanese Home Islands would rest primarily with the
Mitsubishi F-2(FS-X).

I would be using the entire Japanese Self-Defense Air Force for defending the Home Islands and utilizing the offensively superior American air and naval forces to strike at China and Russia. This would leave me with no ability to conduct offensive strikes from the Home Islands, but I was seriously concerned about haing the inferior Japanese air assets overwhelmed by the combined Sino-Russian air forces.

As for the carrier group, the CVN USS George W. Bush, as it turned out it would play no part in the conflict. But I armed it's thirty-two (32) F-18E Block II's with mixes of Precis-LR Slammers or with Intercept packages of AMRAAM'S. The F-18C's I had I loaded with ASuW packages of Harpoons, AMRAAM'S and Sidewinders.

Image Image
The Flag of my CVBG, the CVN USS George H.W. Bush

Here as well I made a critical mistake. The carrier group as a whole would turn out to be too far to play a significant part in the action, but I could have ferried a significant portion of it's Air Wing to the Home Islands and made the defense of Japan that much easier. Instead, the CVBG was limited to running wild weasel (SEAD) missions in front of the B-52 strikes, mostly unsuccessfully.

Once I determined loadouts, my first priority was getting my AWACS eyes up in the air over the battlefield. I covered the entire Japanese chain of islands with a mixture of E-2C Hawkeyes and E-767 AEW's as well as fighter escorts. I had the fighters flying High CAP with sensors on, in addition to the radar blarng AWACS.

As expected on came wave after wave of Russian and Chinese hostiles. They were sperior to my fighter defense net and I was losing too many fighters. I resorted to flying into their AAM range to draw their fire and using afterburners to disengage with the goal of equalizing their attack ranges with my fighters, and then reengaging on more favorable terms. This worked to some extent as I sufferred fewer loses, but still more than I found acceptable. I would need to rethink my air defense strategy if I wanted to reduce the level of losses to an acceptable number and still protect my AWACS.

Meanwhile, I launced a strategic bombing raid on Petropavlovsk across the Bering Strait from Shemya of two (2) B-1B Lancers armed with twenty-four (24) AGM-158 JASSM'S - enough firepower to destroy the base if both made it through, or so I thought. I complicated matters a bit by flying CAP with my F-22's over Shemya, as this brought the unwanted attention of Russian fighter craft over the Bering Strait. Still, with some skill maneuvering the stealthy Lancers managed to avoid detection and their JASSM's hit home. Unfortunately I slightly iscalculated and the strike managed to only damage 98% of the base, memaning another strike would be required.

The stealthy B1B Lancer performed well against the
Russians in the North Pacific.

At the same time I was raiding Petropavlovsk, I launched three (3) seperate B-52 strikes against southern China and one (1) against one of my primary objectives, Naha, Japan. Each strike consisted of two B-52's armed with forty (40) CALCM's. The strikes took out Naha, Japan as well as Yiwi and Daishan China, but did only 12% damage to Ningobo Zhangqiao. I would begin prepping another B-52 strike as soon as they returned to Erickson.

While these offenive actions were taking place and my carrier group slowly meandered it's way towards Tokyo where it planned to engage the CVBG northwest of Misawa that had taken out Surface Group AMS (one of the groups I was charged with protecting) by flying strikes across the Home Islands - something I could have achieved by ferrying part of my airwing to aJapanese base but failed to do - my defense of Japan was frenetic as ever.

I still believed I was taking far too many loses in fighter defense. I had to find another way to countervail the superior firing range of the Sino-Russiian aircraft. I decided to gamblew on a new tactic. I would leave my AWACS aircraft up as bai, hoping they would be enough to detect all incoming hostiles and send my fighters to the deck at VLow and turn off their radars. I was hoping to then be able to maneuver into my firing range, which was well inside hostile firing range, without being detected. It orked magnificently. Red losses began to mount and the rate of downed friendlies drastically decreased. I was very pleased with this result and the battle over the Home Islands turned in faor of the good guys once and for all.

Having failed to protect Task Force AMS I did manage to chase away all hostile raids against orces AOS and even fought a successful sea engagement with Force AKS centered around the DD Asagiri Class Setagiri, resulting in eight (8) destroyed hostile ships and one (1) damaged while losing none with two damaged. The Japanese Naval Self-Defense Force aquitted itself quite well on the day with it's losses coming due to the lack of successful CAP.

Having turned the tide over the Home Islands, I turned back to offense in the Aleitians and southern China. My F-22 Raptors out of Shemya fought a successful fighter engagement over the Bering Strait, chasing Russian CAP back to base. With Petropalovsk damaged at 98% I decided it would be a waste to risk the B1B's so instead I sent an Alpha Strike of six (6) F-15 Strike Eagles, armed with AGM-130A's with a firing range of forty (40) miles.

The F-15E Strike Eagle proved largely ineffective.

Despite flying VLow with radar's off, the Strike Eagles were detected well out and thew Russians scramblewd hostile fighters. The F-15's, unlike the B1B's, were unable to avoid detection and engaged them and drove them off but at a loss of three (3) of the six (6) Strke Eagles. The F-15's then proceeded to carry out their bombing run, but were unsuccessful as either Russian CAP or AAM's took out the entire strike package, leaving me with three (3) downed Strike Eagles and a hostile base still a 98% damage.

Basically a costly waste of time and resources.

Meanwhile to the south, I finally woke up and began the long ferry of sending my six (6) Lancers and four (4) B-2's to Tokyo in hope of getting them involved in the action. However, I would end up winning the scenario before they could be of any use.

I also launhed four more strikes against southern China, but the log travel time of the CALCM's meant they would not hit their targets prior to achieving Total Victory.

Hostile losses continued to mount over the Home Islands with the new fighter tactic of keeping my defensive fighters VLow with no radar emissions. I have to admit that aside from being very pleased at beig able to turn the tide of battle like this, I was quite surprised at the success of the tactic. I have always flown my defensive fighters at high with radars on, but I am also used to managing mainly American or Isreali fighters with superior ranges than the OPFOR. Despite the successful long range bombing strikes, this was where the battle was won, and the victory resulted out of sheer frustration and desperation that resulted in my trying a tactic I had never before usen defensively.

Just goes to show, you learn something new every day.

With the defense of the Home Islands now assured, I did what I should have done in the first place instead of sending the Strike Eagles against Petropavlovsk. I sent another B1B Lancer strike, flying VLow with radars off. Again they avoid detection and destroyed Petropavlovsk and also damaged nearby Yelisovo 59%, returning home to Shemya safely.

Endgame map.

After already declaring that I had met the minimum victory conditions it was at this point that I received communication that I had achieved total victory. It was a rewarding victory as I particularly found the defense of the Home Islands quite challenging at first and was pleased my change of tactics on the fly had a significantly positive outcome.


Despite the total victory, there were a number of lessons to be learned. First among these is to further explore the use of defensive fighters at VLow altitude with radars off. The success of this tactic merits further study on my part.

Second is to get offensive assets where they can be put to use as soon as practicable. I could have used the six (6) B1B's and four (4) B-2's offesively if I had gotten them to the Home Islands sooner. A little forethought as to where critical assets could best be used would have gone a long way to making victory that much easier.

Third, if you can't get the carrier there quickly, at least get some of it's air power in place to project it's power. I could have gotten a number of F-18's involved in offensive and defensive operations on the Home Islands while still having enough to adequately defend the CVBG. Air assets are not tied to a carrier but can be used in advance of a carrier's arrival. Again, a little forethought and planning would have gone a long way in this regard.

Get those Hornets in the air so they can sting somebody! Project force and extend a carrier's
range by forward staging part of its air wing to land bases.

Finally, I could have put the Strike Eagles and F-16's to better use by ferrying them to the Home Islands and using them both as defenvise assets as well as strike craft. I left a lot of assets on the table that could have been put to use in making this battle much easier.

As I said, the victory was quite rewarding. It was a joy to play this scenario, particularly because it took me far out of my comfort zone. It exposed me to a large number of aircraft I had never used and I was not on amiliar terrain in WestPac. The scenario was well designed and a wonderfully exciting challehnge. Many thanks to Brad Leyte for providing me this opportunity to have fun playing Harpoon from a brand new perspective.

NB: I got my first whale kill ever in Harpoon. Nice touch Brad. :)

Re: AAR - Third Idea (World War in the WestPac)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:15 pm
by Herman Hum
Hi Beargrowlz,

Thanks for sharing a very nice After-Action Report, complete with screenshots and pictures. It was particularly nice to see how you encountered problems and then found solutions such as hiding your aircraft at lower altitudes.

However, I disagree with some of your self-criticism. You stated a couple of times that you felt that you had made a mistake by not deploying your assets at forward bases. I think that your self-restraint is commendable and not an error. The game does not prevent you from moving your planes forward. However, you might ask yourself where the spare parts and ammunition are stored. By keeping your big bombers at their original bases, you made the game more challenging for yourself. I think that is a good idea.

I also use a similar idea. I might move my planes forward because aviation gasoline is fairly generic. However, I fly them back to the original base to get supplies and ammo. Others use different policies to simulate the lack of parts and ammo on non-original bases. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to play a scenario (or write an AAR), it is just food for thought and discussion.

Also, you did not move your fighters forward. This might be prudent because the enemy also has long-ranged bombers and missiles. You might find yourself surprised if a wave of ALCM are detected inbound on one of your bases and your fighters are away! It has happened before. :-)

Lastly, your self-developed counter to the air attacks was very nice to see. Just remember, some day, you might encounter an opponent (human) who does the same and hides his aircraft at low altitude with the radar passive, too. What are you going to do, then? It is always fun to see how players respond to new threats.

Re: AAR - Third Idea (World War in the WestPac)

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:06 am
by Beargrowlz
Thanks for the detailed input Herman.

I can't really argue with the base strategy of keeping the bombers far from hostiles, butat least I should have made use of the 6 Lancers and 2 Spiritsa instead of just keeping them in the hangar.

I don't really know how I feel about keepig my fighters at VLow with passive radar. It worked, but it was a tactic of desperation that might not be suitable when playing with Hornets and Tomcats.

Overall I think I played it well, albeit it feels like I lost too many aircraft.

BTW, found a $25 coupon and Ultmate Edition was on sale, so I broke down and bought it. I will have to try my hand at multiplayer soon if anyone is still playing.


Re: AAR - Third Idea (World War in the WestPac)

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 3:00 pm
by Herman Hum
We still play a couple of MP matches or so every month. Ready for a battle whenever you find the time.