Author Topic: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR  (Read 24461 times)

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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« on: April 09, 2015, 10:05:38 AM »
I have been playing this scenario in Command every spare moment I can steal lately, and I thought Iíd do an AAR for it (my first ever!). This is the first in a whole series of scenarios that I plan to play, so probably more AARís forthcoming.

This is a scenario depicting the opening 24 hours of a conventional World War III on the Norwegian front. Really well built scenario and Command does a great job of modeling it. First though, some background to the war:

Basically, the idea is that the Cold War didnít end it 1989. The 1991 August coup prevented the Soviet Unionís demise. Germany did reunite and Poland is independent, which is the cause of the current crisis. NATO is weakened because of the ďPeace DividendĒ but the Communist side is strengthened. Itís February 1994, just before the Lillehammer, Norway Winter Olympics, and the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact are still going strong. What this means is theyíve mass-produced some of their better kit that was developed in the late 80ís and early 90ís. The crisis has built in recent weeks so the Soviets donít have strategic surprise or even operational surprise in the north as the Norwegian military has mobilized their reserves and deployed their forces in anticipation of an invasion. They will likely be able to achieve tactical surprise however, given their ability to choose the time for the start of the war. Ominously, almost all of the Soviet and WP athletes have disappeared from the Olympic village, but havenít flown homeÖ

Iím playing the part of AFNN, NATO commander for Northern Norway. Right now my forces consist only of Royal Norwegian air, naval, and ground forces, but reinforcements have been promised if hostilities commence. My nine missile boats are at sea in the icy waters around the North Cape, deployed in two groups of three and one group of two, with the ninth boat hurrying north from central Norway. The Utstein one of the navyís very capable Ula-class submarines is patrolling off the Cape as well with a small SAG of two frigates and an older Kobben-class submarine also en route north from the Norwegian Sea. J2 tells me we weíll be engaging mostly Soviet coastal and patrol forces if things go hot, as the major units of the Red Banner Northern Fleet will be otherwise occupied.

On the ground, the Kirkenes battalion is deployed with a company forward near the Soviet border around the Kirkenes itself, and the most of the rest of the battalion dug in at the port of Banak, which blocks ground access to central Norway. There are also isolated infantry platoons at several small ports and airports along the arctic coast. As my J2 has noted, this is the wrong time of year for an over-land offensive by the Soviet 6th Combined Arms Army, but we will still face threats from airborne and helicopter assaults, as well as naval landings by naval infantry and special forces.

My forces are most mismatched in the air. To defend Northern Norway I have three squadrons of F-16As, based out of Bodo but with element dispersed to various smaller fields including Tromso, Bardufoss, Evenes, and Banak. Unfortunately, these the longest weapon these fighters have is the AIM-9L sidewinder. Further south at Orland is another squadron of F-16As  and half a squadron of F-16AMs. These latter jets have a single load-out each of the new AIM-120B AMRAAMs, but I will need to ferry them north to get them into the fight. Also at Orland is a squadron of F-5s, but these I will have to use carefully to avoid them becoming Mig-bait. Finally, I have 4 E-3B AWACS and 2 ECM aircraft to provide control and EW support. Supporting these is the NATO network of ground-based radars and ELINT sensors along the coast and across north Norway. On the other side of the ledger, J2 tells me that the Soviets have altogether about 400 front-line aircraft, including large numbers of SU-27s and MiG-29s with relatively long-range missiles to oppose my 40-odd F-16s and dozen F-5s.

I will have to decide whether to try to conduct a forward defense with these assets that will support the ground forces, or to pull my CAPs back, forcing the Soviet fighters to fight at the edge of their endurance but leaving the ground pounders to face whatever the Soviets choose to throw at them. I may get further reinforcements from the UK and Europe if the war starts, but for now this is what I have to work with. It looks pretty thin.

Ok, itís 1300 hours on 13 February, and all indications are pointing to a initiation of hostilities at any moment. I need to decide on my strategy. First things first, I order the -16s and Tigersharks at Orland to start ferrying north. Next, I order the ready jets at Bodo and my dispersal fields into the air to reinforce the 2-ship flight patrolling the North Cape. I opt for a compromise between a forward defense and abandonment of the border areas. I canít content Soviet strength right along the border, so instead I set my CAPs up just outside of detection range of the Russian ground-based radars along the border. This leaves the troops at Kirkennes flapping, but allows me to still support the battalion at Banak. It also gives my fighters the advantage of operating with AWACS support while denying the same to the Russians. In the event of being confronted by overwhelming numbers, my fighters can cut and run west and south.

I start the simulation on normal time, and things start to happen very quickly. My coastal radars immediately pick up six groups of enemy ships; two groups of four patrol frigates (one of Nanutchkas and one of Tarantuls) northeast of the cape heading west at around 30 kts, a pair of massive Zubr-class hover craft moving west at 60 kts, a formation of 6 Osa II missile boats closer in to the shore almost within range of my first groups of missile boats, a convoy further east of what looks like a collection of small fleet auxiliaries escorted by an older coastal frigate, and finally a group of landing craft obviously making their way to the small port of Vardo escorted by another obsolete frigate. There are also a lot of Russian aircraft up and more taking off at an alarming clip, but exact numbers, locations, and designations are challenging due to heavy jamming, an ominous sign. They have two A-50 Mainstay AWACS up and radiating as well.   

Then things get serious. Artillery and Grad rocket rounds begin to impact the ELINT and radar sites east of Kirkennes right on the border. I havenít received and communication or authorization to begin active operations against the Russians, but I assume at this point I can take whatever action I need to in self defense. Not that it will help my radar sites, which are quickly demolished by the barrage. Then my GLOBUS radars begin to pick up a number of Scud rockets lofting into their ballistic arcs, all coming from one spot just across the border but radiating outward towards my more powerful radars. The Russians are obviously trying to do their best to blind my forces and slow our reaction times. Of the six Scuds, four hit their mark, with devastating results. My radar net is seriously degraded (and I wonít be able to reliably detect future Scud launches). So the warís really on, I suppose.

A few seconds later two tight formations of Russian aircraft turn west. The one in the north is at low altitude, about 1000 feet, while the southern one is up at 36,000 ft but will have to cross Finnish airspace to get to Norway. The AWACS quickly identifies these as Su-27s, eight in each group. Itís about to get interesting.

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2015, 10:48:54 AM »
Awesome. Looking forward to more, AR!
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 01:00:39 PM »
It quickly becomes apparent that the northern group of Soviet Su-27s is making for my AWACS flying off the northwest coast. I send my AEW birds west at best speed. My two-ship CAP is closest to this northern group as well, and I set them on an intercept course. The Russian jets are flying over the water right now and havenít technically violated Norwegian airspace, but itís only a matter of time. I donít think my two F-16s can handle eight Su-27s in a head-on fight, so I have them descend into the clouds that are at 20k-23k feet and swing around to the north to try to sneak up on the Russianís tail. This will be complicated by the fact that what looks like a squadron of Mig-29s is also coming west on afterburner in a loose formation just south of and well behind their bigger cousins.

As the aircraft close, my headquarters receives a message from the Norwegian Ministry of Defense at the Akershus Fortress in Oslo telling us that the Soviets have violated Finnish airspace (I can see this with the southern group of Su-27s on my map) and that the Finns appear to be complicit in the attack, or at least not resisting. This is bad news. Now the Soviets have a much broader front on which to attack me. Iím authorized to violate Finnish airspace in self-defense only, but I intend to interpret this rather loosely.

I manage to get my F-16s (each with six Sidewinders) around behind the northern group of Su-27s just before they make landfall and the AWACS begins to lose them in the rough terrain and jamming. The Falcons go to afterburner, turn on their radars, and dip through the clouds. They quickly acquire the Russian intruders, one of whom is beginning to ascend, likely to loft a long-range missile at the fleeing AWACS. We donít have much time. The two F-16s begin launching Sidewinders at the Flankers as fast as the missiles can lock on to their targets, and fighters with red stars on their tails begin cartwheeling into the snowy mountains below. The Russians appear to be completely surprised, and seven of the eight enemy fighters fall to my own pilotsí 12 missiles. They then close in and finish off the eighth with 20mm Vulcan bursts. Overall, a pretty satisfactory first engagement of the war.

One my pilots donít have much time to savor the victory however. The trailing Mig-29s are screaming northwest on afterburner to avenge their brother pilots, and my F-16s are at low altitude and out of missiles. They get an evasion course from the AWACS (northwest towards the Cape), turn on their afterburners and start clawing altitude to try to get away. Itís going to be close.

Just then headquarters receives another message from Akershus Fortress informing me that Sweden has declared neutrality and will forcibly resist any violations of their airspace, interning any violators. If any of my forces stray into Sweden I am instructed to order them not to resist internment. I imagine most of my soldiers, sailors, and airmen would rather not spend the conflict as guests of the Swedes (we Norwegians donít really like them), so weíll try to avoid that. 

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 01:25:20 PM »
Awesome! Like reading RSR!
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2015, 09:53:47 AM »
Initial situation:



Soviets coming on:



Bouncing the Su-27s:


Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2015, 09:54:35 AM »
The initial Soviet strategy is becoming clear. Their two squadrons of Su-27 Flankers are the flanking elements (flankers?) for their aerial offensive. Between and behind these two groups are two squadrons of Mig-29 Fulcrums that constitute the balance (fulcrum?) of a massive fighter sweep over northern Norway that appears to be trying to clear the way for several groups of strike aircraft. Itís an effective strategy. Already Su-25 Frongfoots are going feet dry and hitting coastal radars near the Russian border. More ominously, other strike groups appear to be on vectors for my surviving radars in Finnmark and at the North Cape, or even to hit my airfields at Banak and in Central Norway. Including my two F-16s that splashed the eight Flankers in the opening minutes and are no running for their lives, I now have eight Falcons airborne. Two from Tromso are heading north to cover the AEW birds, and four from Bodo are flying northeast to turn the corner around Swedish airspace into Finnmark. The rest of my jets are will launch as fast as the ground crews can get them ready.

There is action aplenty off the coast as well. So far my easternmost missile boat group has identified the Osa missile boats heading west at high speeds, but they donít appear to have identified my boats yet. They choose to stay incognito for now. My North Cape patrolling submarine, the Utstein, receives the war warning and immediately alters course north and increases speed to intercept the group of four Nanutchka patrol frigates rounding the cape. It will have to burn up some battery charge to do this, but as these frigates aren't supposed to have sonar I am reasonably safe from detection. I ensure my remaining naval assets are exercising strict EMCON to avoid any unwanted attention from the Sovietsí long missiles on their frigates and boats.

Ministry of Defense decides this is as good a time as any to inform me that a war is on. This information does not come as a complete surprise. They also inform me that the Warsaw Pact offensive is general across central and southern Europe, that the NATO council is calling an emergency meeting in Brussels, and that the Norwegian Parliament is meeting in special session to formally place the armed forces under NATO control. The King will be addressing parliament shortly.

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2015, 12:51:40 PM »
Back to the air battle. The initial ambush of the northern squadron of Flankers went so well that the AWACS directs one of the flights coming north from Bodo to try a repeat with the southern squadron, this time hugging the Swedish border to the south and flying low to get behind them. The second two-ship flight will also try to slip behind the Russians to take a crack at the following attack aircraft. I will still have my two falcons defending the AWACS as a backstop if this fails. I think this will be possible because Russians have moved beyond their own Radar coverage and my own AWACS can direct my Falcons to stay out of the Su-27sí radar arc.

Up north, the lead Mig-29 gets within range of my fleeing CAP to launch a spread of long-range semi-active radar homing missiles at them, but these end up falling short for no effect, but more Migs are coming on. Just when it seems things are going to get ugly for this pair, the Russian fighters begin turning back, reducing power, and heading for home. The short-legged Fulcrums are going Bingo fuel! After a few more minutes of running, my northern CAP slows and begins circling over the Cape, though their cannons are the only weapons remaining. Just in time, too! A flight of four Su-24Ms are heading for the Radar station at the North Cape, and the Mig-29s are all heading home, leaving them naked. The AWACs vectors these hard-worked F-16s back southwest and onto the tails of the Soviet fighter-bombers. Complicating factors further for this intercept are two squadrons of Mig-23s that are coming west to take the place of the agile but short-ranged -29s. Looks like this will be another ambush and run.

My Falcons splash three of the four Su-24Ms heading for the North Cape with cannon fire, but this leaves one of the birds completely dry and headed for home, and the other with only enough ammo for one more burst. The pilot closes carefully and spits his final rounds into afterburners of the fourth Sukoi, sending it careening into the icy arctic waters below. My vital coastal radars are safeÖfor now.

Back down south, my lead flight of Falcons manages to get behind the Su-27s, pop up through the clouds, and start launching sidewinders up their rears. The ambush is going great, once again, but then two of the Flankers bank and start launching missiles off bore at their pursuers. My pilots have already expended all their missiles, which have either found their targets, missed, or are still in the air, and so they are free to evade, which they do quite effectively. Even so, the numbers of missiles the Russians can launch and the angles at which they can launch them is overwhelming. Just as the last Soviet Flanker explodes, one of the Russian missiles finds pay dirt, and the first Falcon goes down in flames. The loss is bitter.

But not in vain. The second pair of Falcons has managed to slip south of the Sukois and Migs (the latter of which are now pursuing the single survivor of the first flight as he rockets west on afterburner) and splash the six strike aircraft that appear to be headed towards my vital backstop radar. Unfortunately, downing this raid ends up trapping this flight between a cloud of oncoming Mig-23s and the Swedish border, with nowhere to run. The only option is to turn and fight, which they do valiantly, but the numbers are overwhelming. After evading numerous missiles, both F-16s are blotted from the sky, taking three more Migs with them. My paltry forces cannot afford to face Russian fighters on such unequal terms.

I also have been unable to intercept all of the Russian strike aircraft. Other raids destroy the SOSUS terminal in Finnmark, damage the backup facility further south, and hit various other ELINT and radar stations. My ability to see into Russian airspace is being steadily degraded. Perhaps more ominous is what the Russians are not hitting: the airfield and port facilities for the various towns along the arctic coast leading to the North Cape. At each of these places commercial aircraft are beginning to take off carrying a last load of evacuees south. The Russians let them go, even as they pass yet more formations of fighters and fighter bombers heading west.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2015, 09:47:13 AM »
Ditto and ditto mirth.  O0
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2015, 01:26:04 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement gentlemen!

Here's some more:

At this point the situation in the air looks like this: The initial two waves of Mig-29s are headed home, having used up their fuel in their afterburner pursuits of my fleeing F-16s. The Su-27s have all been destroyed, but two large groups of Mig-23s have now replaced the Mig-29s, effectively establishing air superiority over the northern third of the country for now, since I just donít have enough planes airborne yet to challenge them. They canít stay up forever, though, and Iíve got fighters taking off from Bodo and Banak to try to even the odds somewhat. Time is short, however, as the AWACS detects another raid of six fighter-bombers bearing down on the Backstop radar facility in Finnmark, and more Russian aircraft are taking off all the time.

Further north, the Utstein completes its sprint and is now sitting astride the course of the Russian frigates. The captain comes to periscope depth briefly to  be sure of his targets, the dives again and looses a spread of four torpedoes, one for each enemy target. These are homing torpedoes, but in this case guidance is almost unnecessary, as the Soviet Nanutchkas keep a steady bearing and speed until the moment that the Utsteinís torpedoes detonate under each of their keels, obliterating the four small ships.

Further east, my first missile boat group decides to loose their eight Penguin Mk1 and Mk2 missiles at the six Russian Osa IIs speeding west. The two boats turn, acquire with their long-range cameras, and launch. Strangely, the Russians donít return fire, though they do try unsuccessfully to knock down the incoming Penguins with gunfire and shoulder launched SAMs. The eight missiles fly true, picking off the Russian boats one by one until none are left. The exultation on the Norwegian boats is cut short, however, by a warning from the AWACS that four supersonic missiles are inbound to their location along the bearing to the distant Russian Tarantul-class frigates.  My sailors alter course and try to evade, but to no avail. Two more fireballs light up the arctic coast, and my boats join the six Osas on the bottom.

In retrospect, the decision to engage the Osas was a mistake. My missile boats had apparently been detected but not identified by the Russians. Had they continued east they would have soon been in range of the Russian convoy whose destination I donít yet know. While sinking the missile boats was satisfying, I tend to think the contents of those transports will be more damaging to the NATO war effort, and now there is absolutely nothing that can intercept them any time soon.

Other events start to indicate more of the Soviet strategy. My company at Kirkenes reports being attacked by fighter bombers, followed by Mi-24 gunships. They take a toll of the Russian aircraft with their RBS-70 rayrider SAMs, but they are soon out of missiles and subject to savage strafing, rocket, and missile fire from the Hinds. The last transmission from Kirkenes reports Russian transport helos disgorging infantry, then nothing.

A similar story unfolds across the bay at Vadso, where an infantry platoon is defenseless against fighter-bomber strikes, a flight of attack helos, and finally heliborne infantry. This platoon also goes off the air. Further north at the port of Vardo the motley convoy of Russian landing craft and fishing trawlers moves in and begins landing infantry south of town. The platoon there reports that they wonít be able to hold for long. The Russians seem to be methodically occupying all the ports along the coast towards the North Cape. This likely means that the targets for the Russian convoy and for the two Zubr-class hovercraft will be Mehamn and Batsfjord, the two remaining significant ports along the arctic coast east of the cape, other than Banak which sits at the end of a long fjord and is not threatened from the sea as yet. 

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2015, 12:26:38 PM »
Nice job with this AR. Been a real treat to read so far.
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

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Offline undercovergeek

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2015, 01:31:48 PM »
indeed it has, very interesting and entertaining, i wont interrupt now but at the end i have a few questions if thats ok

Offline bob48

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2015, 01:40:34 PM »
+1. Good read so far, AR.
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2015, 03:25:55 PM »
Thanks all, right now the writing is catching up with the gameplay, so a good deal more to come soon. I'll probably sit down with some Jack and put some more words down tonight while I wait for Brant and B_C to call for the podcast. Glad you all are enjoying it!

UCG, I'm happy to answer whatever questions you have!

Offline undercovergeek

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2015, 03:52:51 PM »
are you a seasoned CMANO player?

im an avid wargamer but have no real knowledge of what platforms/assets go where and why - why would i send F16s instead if F18s for example. I really, really want to get into the game but fear the sheer cliff face of knowledge/expertise required - i know some tutorials are great, including Baloogan, but thats telling me how to play the game not why - why are some planes at 1000ft and some at 36 - dont get me wrong im not asking you to answer the questions more just to give me a hug and say just jump in and learn by your mistakes

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Re: Northern Fury - H-Hour: A CMANO AAR
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2015, 04:06:57 PM »
I got Command for Christmas this year, and I've been learning the ropes since then. I've always had an interest in military hardware, and I'm a soldier so knowing the capabilities of ground equipment is kind of my profession, but much of what I know about naval/air warfare I learned from Tom Clancy/Larry Bond. I find the game is great because I end up looking up the hardware as a play. For example, I didn't really know the different roles of the Mig-29/SU-27 before I started this scenario and it got me reading up on the jets on Wikipedia. As far as tactics, like I said, I learned from reading novels, but the Matrix forums have a lot of good resources. Or you could just ask Starfury.