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The After Action Report Thread


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Post stories of brilliant victories and (or even your unfortunate demises) here.


To start things off I decided to play the <<Shamal*>> Gulf War scenario in Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations in order to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm. The scenario takes place on the 4th day of the air war on January 20th, 1991 (25 years to the day of this post, in fact), wherein Coalition forces of the US Navy and Air Force and the British Royal Air Force must conduct strikes against three targets: The hangar and munitions storage facilities at the H2 airbase in the western part of Iraq, the runways at the H3 airbase close by, and the C-7 Chemical Production Facilities in the heart of Baghdad itself. Though over the past few days the Iraqi command and control, IADS network, and air force have been battered by hard fighting and punishing airstrikes, Saddam's forces, blooded by years of hard fighting against Iran, are highly experienced and remain dangerous, and given the complexity of coordinating the combined Coalition forces, plenty of opportunities exist for them to toss a wrench into today's sorties.


<<"This aggression will not stand, man.">>


*Arabic for "North," referring to periodic wind storms that blow over Iraq and other Gulf states.




To support the day's operations, E-3 Sentries and E-8 JSTARS would fly a racetrack pattern at edge of the Saudi border with Iraq, providing real-time threat updates and targeting information with their powerful radars. As many of the airframes for today's strikes are positioned a long ways away from their targets, tankers would fly some distance behind Sentries and JSTARS to top off the tanks of strike craft on their way to their targets and back to their airbases. Friendly forces and their assigned airfields were as follows:




Tabuk - King Faisal Air Base: F-15C Eagle


Jeddah - King Abdul Aziz Airport: KC-135E Stratotankers,  KC-10 Extender


Taif - King Faud Air Base: EF-111 Raven,  F-111F Aardvark


Riyahd Air Base: KC-135E Stratotankers,  E-3B Sentry,  E-3A Sentry,  EC-130H Compass Call,  E-8A Joint Star


Al Kharj - Prince Sultan Air Base: F-15C Eagle


Dharan Air Base:  Tornado ADV,  Tornado GR.1A


Sheik Isa Air Base:  F-4G Phantom II (Wild Weasel),  RF-4C Phantom II


Al Dhafra Air Base:  F-16C Blk 42 Falcon,  KC-135R Stratotanker


USS Saratoga: F-14B Tomcat, F/A-18C Hornet, A-6E Intruder, KA-6D,  E-2C Hawkeye, EA-6B Prowler, SH-3H Sea King, S-3B Viking.


USS John F. Kennedy: F-14A Tomcat, A-7E Corsair [FLIR], A-7E Corsair II, A-6E Intruder, KA-6D Intruder, E-2C Hawkeye, EA-6B Prowler, SH-3H Sea King, S-3B Viking.


USS America: F-14A Tomcat, F/A-18C Hornet, A-6E Intruder, KA-6D Intruder, E-2C Hawkeye, EA-6B Prowler,  SH-3H Sea King, S-3B Viking.


In order to sanitise the airspace for the "mud movers", US Navy F-14s would fly combat air patrols on the western air corridor into Iraq, USAF F-15s in the center, and RAF Tornado ADVs in the east. Though Iraq's air force has been heavily attrited both in combat in the air and on the ground by strikes against their airfields, some resistance was expected from a hodge-podge of Mirage F1s, MiG-21s, MiG-25s, and the vaunted MiG-29 and would almost certainly try and engage Coalition strike packages if the opportunity presented itself.




However Iraq's remaining fighters are not the Coalition's chief concern today...


Meet the SA-2 <<Guideline>>:



Otherwise known as the S-75 <<Dvina>> or colloquially <<the Flying Telephone Pole>>, the Iraqis still has hundreds of these missiles at their disposal, survivors of relentless SEAD strikes in the opening days of the war. In fact, the previous day a large package of F-16s on a hastily planned mission on their way to strike targets in Baghdad had come under intense fire from SAMs, resulting in the loss of two airframes and some being forced to jettison their ordinance in order to gain speed and energy to evade the missiles:



Coalition planners resolved that the debacle would not happen again, and today preceding the main strikes F-4G <<Wild Weasels>> with AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles and F-16s armed with AGM-65 air-to-ground missiles and CBU-87 cluster bombs would neutralise SAM sites in Baghdad and both high and low-level defences at the H2 and H3 Airbases.




The operation commenced 2245 local/1945 Zulu under cover of night. The Stinkbugs* had done their part throwing the Iraqi command and control network into disarray, now it's up to us to finish what they started. The tankers (callsigns Texaco, Mobil, and Shell), E-3 and E-8 (callsigns Disco and Star, respectively), and combat air patrol fighters take up their positions near and at the Saudi/Iraqi border in preparation for the SEAD and main airstrikes.


*Colloquial name for the F-117A Nighthawk




F-16s from Al Dhafra AB in the UAE and F-4Gs from Sheik Isa link up with their Tornado ADV escorts. Most of the F-4Gs would strike at SAM sites in and around Baghdad, concerning themselves with only the high-altitude threats, while the rest of the F-4Gs along with the F-16s would search and destroy both SAMs and low-level anti-aircraft artillery in the vicinity of the H2 and H3 airbases in the western part of Iraq. To make the journey, they gas up with the tankers just outside of Iraqi airspace.




As the larger flight of F-4Gs approach Baghdad, they immediately come under fire from a combination of SA-2s and the shorter range SA-3s. The Wild Weasels respond in kind with their AGM-88 HARMs.




The AGM-88 HARM (in this image mounted on an F-16) was tailor made for SAM threats like the SA-2 Guideline and SA-10 Grumble. It works by homing in on the radiating energy of enemy radars (ideally that of the fire control radars, such as <<Fan Song>> for the SA-2 and <<Flap Lid>> of the SA-10) and destroying the arrays. Intelligent SAM crews may try to shut off their radars in order to fool the passive seekers of anti-radiation missiles, but the HARM's party piece is a memory unit pioneered in its Vietnam-era predecessor, the AGM-78 Standard, allowing it to "remember" where the emitter was so that it can airburst over the powered down radar and shower it and its crews with shrapnel. 




As the Weasels let loose their missiles, one by one the enemy radars are destroyed. Though the actual missile complexes escape relatively unscathed, with their fire control radars that provide guidance for them out of commission they are nothing more than very expensive bottle rockets.




Here we illustrate the danger of SEAD operations; while engaging an SA-3 site another SAM has opened up on this flight of F-4Gs. Many times the actual aircraft must actively expose themselves to enemy fire before they can shoot back. At the start of Desert Storm coalition forces employed tactical air launched decoys to provoke Iraqi air defences into firing at them, exposing themselves to a HARM shot, but those had long since been expended. Making themselves out to be the decoys and dodging SAMs has earned the Wild Weasels the unofficial motto of <<YGBSM>>: "You gotta be s****** me".






After having expended their HARMs and the SAM threat largely neutralised, the SEAD package over Baghdad egresses south east to RTB to Sheik Isa airbase.


Tomorrow we'll see how the SEAD strikes on the Iraqi airbases go.

Edited by Agiel
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“Political philosophers have often pointed out that in wartime, the citizen, the male citizen at least, loses one of his most basic rights, his right to life; and this has been true ever since the French Revolution and the invention of conscription, now an almost universally accepted principle. But these same philosophers have rarely noted that the citizen in question simultaneously loses another right, one just as basic and perhaps even more vital for his conception of himself as a civilized human being: the right not to kill.”
-Jonathan Littell <<Les Bienveillantes>>


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