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#1 Joe K

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 11:09 PM

I run into this situation quite a bit, but fail to see why it is the way it is... so would someone please enlighten me?

The situation is where an AI base that I wish to attack has had its radar knocked out, has no attached land AA/radar Units, and has no formation air patrols with active radar (as evidenced by the following:
- The Report display for the Base says, "Other damage - Sensor" and Land Units: 0
- Friendly air groups having SEAD and AAM loadouts give the "No released weapons ... for Land attack" message when commanded to attack the base (thus implying that there are no active land-based radars and no formation air groups on the base).

Yet, the Range Circles for that base show both active air and active surface radars. Also, something guides the SAMS from nearby (but currently undetected) SAM sites to down attacking air groups with unreported SAMs.

I will attach a game-save from the WestPac "Backyard" scenario that shows an example of this sort of situation - in this case involving Red airfield ZYa, Red AD Mobile 00m, and Blue air group AUA (along with other groups that are irrelevent to this example).

Please tell me what causes this, and how to finish knocking out whatever radar is guiding the AD Mobile SAMs agaist the attacking air group, and thus making it impossible to attack the airfield.

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#2 CV32

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 10:43 AM

I run into this situation quite a bit, but fail to see why it is the way it is... so would someone please enlighten me? The situation is where an AI base that I wish to attack has had its radar knocked out, has no attached land AA/radar Units, and has no formation air patrols with active radar (as evidenced by the following:
- The Report display for the Base says, "Other damage - Sensor" and Land Units: 0
- Friendly air groups having SEAD and AAM loadouts give the "No released weapons ... for Land attack" message when commanded to attack the base (thus implying that there are no active land-based radars and no formation air groups on the base).

Yet, the Range Circles for that base show both active air and active surface radars. Also, something guides the SAMS from nearby (but currently undetected) SAM sites to down attacking air groups with unreported SAMs. I will attach a game-save from the WestPac "Backyard" scenario that shows an example of this sort of situation - in this case involving Red airfield ZYa, Red AD Mobile 00m, and Blue air group AUA (along with other groups that are irrelevent to this example). Please tell me what causes this, and how to finish knocking out whatever radar is guiding the AD Mobile SAMs agaist the attacking air group, and thus making it impossible to attack the airfield.


Well, your premises are wrong.

Red airfield ZYa (Ussuriysk) DOES have attached land units (air defense systems, specifically) - seven in all - and they are very much alive.

They don't show up in the Unit Map as being attached to ZYa because you haven't detected them.

You cannot, of course, attack enemy radars that you have not yet detected. (The SAM circles are a bit of a cheat in favor of the player here, because it warns you of the potential danger).

(There is also another, independent air defense group nearby with another 7 land units (SAMs and AAA) within it. I am getting ESM hits from it.)

Meanwhile, the sensor damage you see at ZYa is for the installation's own air search/air traffic control radar, NOT for the attached air defenses. They have their own radars.

Notice that when you move AUA closer to ZYa, and light up its radars, you get hits on the air defenses arrayed around ZYa.

This savegame is a fine example of where misunderstanding the dynamic between Installations and MLUs (Mobile Land Units) placed within their formation, particularly air defense systems, can lead to a whole host of entirely wrong assumptions.

#3 Joe K

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 01:24 PM

...
Red airfield ZYa (Ussuriysk) DOES have attached land units (air defense systems, specifically) - seven in all - and they are very much alive.

They don't show up in the Unit Map as being attached to ZYa because you haven't detected them.

You cannot, of course, attack enemy radars that you have not yet detected.


Obviously.

The thing that baffles me is how to deal with those situations. I mean, IME, the only way to detect the attached sites is to spend a dozen or so a/c to go in close and get visuals - but they usually become "write-offs" well before they can even visually detect anything. Can't use "Wild Weasel" tactics, either, because they shoot down the planes apparently without ever lighting up their radars - at least I've seen no way of detecting any radar activity - even with AWACS etc. fairly close in. Yet those annoying SAMs show up only just before they nail the planes... or just as often, the planes simply blow up without warning - never seeing what targeted them nor what hit them. Not very effective. :-{ And the pilots have this weird tendency to mutiny when ordered on such useless suicide missions...

But the thing that puzzles me most is how those mobiles are able to detect, track, target and kill the aircraft - usually without ever revealing their radars or their in-flight missiles. Very tricky business...

#4 CV32

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 03:10 PM

The thing that baffles me is how to deal with those situations. I mean, IME, the only way to detect the attached sites is to spend a dozen or so a/c to go in close and get visuals - but they usually become "write-offs" well before they can even visually detect anything. Can't use "Wild Weasel" tactics, either, because they shoot down the planes apparently without ever lighting up their radars - at least I've seen no way of detecting any radar activity - even with AWACS etc. fairly close in. Yet those annoying SAMs show up only just before they nail the planes... or just as often, the planes simply blow up without warning - never seeing what targeted them nor what hit them. Not very effective. :-{ And the pilots have this weird tendency to mutiny when ordered on such useless suicide missions... But the thing that puzzles me most is how those mobiles are able to detect, track, target and kill the aircraft - usually without ever revealing their radars or their in-flight missiles. Very tricky business...


Is SEAD a tricky business? Absolutely. Is it an impossible business? Nope, not at all.

If you have assets with ESM and a good surface radar, put em up high near the enemy SAMs but not so close as to be in danger. Better yet, put two or more up, and at different bearings.

ESM will only give you a bearing and a zone of uncertainty unless you are very close. Combine triangulation with a decent surface search radar set and you will be able to find, fix and destroy enemy SAM sites.

Providing, of course, you have the assets and the weapons to do so.

#5 Warhorse64

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 09:08 PM

The thing that baffles me is how to deal with those situations. I mean, IME, the only way to detect the attached sites is to spend a dozen or so a/c to go in close and get visuals - but they usually become "write-offs" well before they can even visually detect anything. Can't use "Wild Weasel" tactics, either, because they shoot down the planes apparently without ever lighting up their radars - at least I've seen no way of detecting any radar activity - even with AWACS etc. fairly close in. Yet those annoying SAMs show up only just before they nail the planes... or just as often, the planes simply blow up without warning - never seeing what targeted them nor what hit them. Not very effective. :-{ And the pilots have this weird tendency to mutiny when ordered on such useless suicide missions... But the thing that puzzles me most is how those mobiles are able to detect, track, target and kill the aircraft - usually without ever revealing their radars or their in-flight missiles. Very tricky business...


Is SEAD a tricky business? Absolutely. Is it an impossible business? Nope, not at all.

If you have assets with ESM and a good surface radar, put em up high near the enemy SAMs but not so close as to be in danger. Better yet, put two or more up, and at different bearings.

ESM will only give you a bearing and a zone of uncertainty unless you are very close. Combine triangulation with a decent surface search radar set and you will be able to find, fix and destroy enemy SAM sites.

Providing, of course, you have the assets and the weapons to do so.


I'll add that decoys and, especially, jammers can really earn their keep in SEAD. CV32 is giving you good advice here, I have beaten this situation in this scenario using pretty much these tactics. I find that the SLAM is a great weapon for SAM-plinking, but the most important weapon of all is PATIENCE! If you haven't got a hard lock, don't shoot, circle around and try again. Eventually you'll get there ... B)

#6 Joe K

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 10:11 PM

If you have assets with ESM and a good surface radar, put em up high near the enemy SAMs but not so close as to be in danger. Better yet, put two or more up, and at different bearings.

ESM will only give you a bearing and a zone of uncertainty unless you are very close. Combine triangulation with a decent surface search radar set and you will be able to find, fix and destroy enemy SAM sites.


OK, then I'm even more puzzled... because I've tried the triangulation approach in several situations, but I must be doing something wrong because the only time that worked was in the scenario involving the RA-5Cs and the North Viet Nam bridge. The RA-5Cs were able to triangulate easily, where even the Hawkeyes found nothing. In the other scenarios that have only AWACS, EP-3s, etc. even triangulation doesn't locate the ADs, in fact it, most times, I get no detection, and other times, it still shows only one uncertainty zone for each unit - instead of showing one on a different bearing for each AWACS - like I'd expect and like happened with the RA-5Cs. Going in any closer only results in lost AWACS, with no better detection. I made the mistake of moving some A-6Es from low to medium altitude in hopes they'd detect something... well, they did: Missiles up their tailpipes!

It baffles me how the ADs can knock down aircraft without revealing themselves in some way.

Anyhow, back at the ranch... In the game-save, I'm curious why I can't see the attached AD units even using the cheat. Doesn't that show up attached units?


I'll add that decoys and, especially, jammers can really earn their keep in SEAD. CV32 is giving you good advice here, I have beaten this situation in this scenario using pretty much these tactics. I find that the SLAM is a great weapon for SAM-plinking, but the most important weapon of all is PATIENCE! If you haven't got a hard lock, don't shoot, circle around and try again. Eventually you'll get there ... B)


Man... I must be absolutely an idiot about this, then. For example, in Backyard, I tried going in with a couple of EA-6Bs at low altitude - but they didn't even survive long enough to launch against the base's radar, let alone any attached units. And for attacking the SAM sites and mobiles, my first thought was also to use the longest-ranged ordnance that I could (for stand-off), but since I couldn't get any fixes, those were pretty much useless. I ended up - as usual - just going in with GP and taking the lumps. Pretty costly on the first few runs, but strangely enough, later attacks go in almost unscathed. Never could make any sense of this...

#7 CV32

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 06:38 AM

It baffles me how the ADs can knock down aircraft without revealing themselves in some way.


ESM will only detect actively radiating units. SAM and AAA that don't use radars will, of course, not be detected.

That's why I suggest using a good surface search radar as well. It will pick up those radar silent units and hopefully prompt the others into energizing their radars if they haven't already.

Anyhow, back at the ranch... In the game-save, I'm curious why I can't see the attached AD units even using the cheat. Doesn't that show up attached units?


Yes, Ctrl Alt S will reveal all units.

Man... I must be absolutely an idiot about this, then. For example, in Backyard, I tried going in with a couple of EA-6Bs at low altitude ...


The Prowlers will work much better at higher altitudes.

#8 Joe K

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 09:11 AM

It baffles me how the ADs can knock down aircraft without revealing themselves in some way.


ESM will only detect actively radiating units. SAM and AAA that don't use radars will, of course, not be detected.


Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?

That's why I suggest using a good surface search radar as well. It will pick up those radar silent units and hopefully prompt the others into energizing their radars if they haven't already.

What would be suitable? (I've tried most available AEW and EW types, as well as things like A-6E and F/A-18C - and I even seem to recall there was some fighter type (F-15 or F-14 variant) that surprizingly -to me- had surface radar. The A-6Es seemed to be the most effective - as well as being the most vulnerable).

Anyhow, back at the ranch... In the game-save, I'm curious why I can't see the attached AD units even using the cheat. Doesn't that show up attached units?


Yes, Ctrl Alt S will reveal all units.

OK - I wasn't even aware of the cheat until a few days ago, so please bear with me... It looks like the cheat exposes all enemy groups but the report for the base in question still says that there are no attached land units - and I don't see any AD stuff showing up graphically (??)

Man... I must be absolutely an idiot about this, then. For example, in Backyard, I tried going in with a couple of EA-6Bs at low altitude ...


The Prowlers will work much better at higher altitudes.

Ironically, I tried high altitude with my first two EA-6Bs (inadvertently - because I failed to notice that their default patrol altitude is High :( )... but that simply caused them to get destroyed about three times as far out as the other pair did at Low altitude... and they hadn't detected anything by that point.

Is there some trick to getting detections that I'm just missing in all this? Like I said originally, about the only way I can seem to get fixes on the AD units is to send planes in to literally "trip over" them (i.e. - spot them visually). Of course, that results in the loss of a lot of pathfinders, but if I play the cards right, and have another group or two with Precis loadouts following a few miles behind the sacrificial recons, then they can (usually) plink the offenders before the fix is lost (that is, due to the loss of the pathfinder a/c that spotted the AD unit visually). Anyway, this "down and dirty" technique is way too costly for anything other than the most critical missions.

#9 Silent Hunter UK

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 09:35 AM

It baffles me how the ADs can knock down aircraft without revealing themselves in some way.


ESM will only detect actively radiating units. SAM and AAA that don't use radars will, of course, not be detected.


Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?


Some of the SAMs that are infra-red tracking yes.

There might also be something about IADS, but I'll let Brad talk about that.

#10 CV32

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 09:38 AM

Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?


Absolutely. There are many SAM types that don't require a radar at all. When SHUK references IADS, or integrated air defense systems, I expect he's referring to the fact that some air defense systems that don't themselves have a radar can rely on detection/tracking made possible by other units.

What would be suitable? (I've tried most available AEW and EW types, as well as things like A-6E and F/A-18C - and I even seem to recall there was some fighter type (F-15 or F-14 variant) that surprizingly -to me- had surface radar. The A-6Es seemed to be the most effective - as well as being the most vulnerable).


Some fighter/multi-role aircraft have multi-mode radars, which include both air and surface search modes. We can't model the modes, so both work simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the Intruders and Hornets should be detecting surface targets for you, as well as most of the AEW and EW types. You can't determine true radar performance (ie. PD, or probability of detection) from the Unit Display but you can see range. So, as a general rule, greater range will mean better detection capability.

OK - I wasn't even aware of the cheat until a few days ago, so please bear with me... It looks like the cheat exposes all enemy groups but the report for the base in question still says that there are no attached land units - and I don't see any AD stuff showing up graphically (??)


I don't have the demo here, but I can put up a screenshot later using Ctrl Alt S and point out what can be seen.

Unless someone else wants to help me out? :)

Ironically, I tried high altitude with my first two EA-6Bs (inadvertently - because I failed to notice that their default patrol altitude is High :( )... but that simply caused them to get destroyed about three times as far out as the other pair did at Low altitude... and they hadn't detected anything by that point.


Both ESM and jamming function is strongly related to altitude. The higher up you are, the better both will work. Of course putting vulnerable platforms (as reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft tend to be) into harm's way will often reduce their life span.

Is there some trick to getting detections that I'm just missing in all this? Like I said originally, about the only way I can seem to get fixes on the AD units is to send planes in to literally "trip over" them (i.e. - spot them visually).


There are no sure fire 'tricks', sorry. Just experience and tactics. Some air defense units, like the MANPADS, will have a very low RCS and you might not ever spot them, except at very close range and then only visually (or you have a superb radar).

#11 Kavik Kang

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 01:43 PM

Joe,

I have a lot of experience with games and gamers. I've been playing Harpoon again for the first time in like 20 years so I've been reading these forums.

It sounds to me that you are sending the search planes out ahead of everything else, like they are SR-71's or something. You need to keep the search planes behind fighters. Especially considering that the AI is almost obsessed with going after your search planes. Without fighters protecting them, the search planes will get shot down.

I also think the other poster suggesting that you be more patient was on to something. In the next scenario you play try this, and remember I have a LOT of experience with games and gamers... The next scenario you play forget about the mission objectives and time limit and just spend the first 3 full hours establishing air superiority. Even if it seems like all the enemy planes are dead, don't do anything for the first 3 hours that is not related to downing enemy planes. Don't launch any strike aircraft, only fighters and air search planes, and just ignore everything but enemy planes for the first 3 hours. Then continue that scenario as if you were just starting. I think doing that will teach you a lot, both the first 3 hours and how different everything is than it normally is for you after that 3 hours.

I actually take advantage of the fact that the AI wants to get the search planes so badly. The EW plane serves a dual role in the air supremacy phase, it detects enemy units and draws their fighters too it like moths to a flame. So use that, position the search plane both where it will detect enemy units AND where you want their fighters to be drawn too. Have the search plane radars on, and the fighters that are protecting it radars should be OFF (that is important). Then defend that area well, because if you don't a fighter you don't see might appear and get the spy plane anyway (you can't win them all).

Finally, when it comes to taking down SAM defenses, keep the phrase "peel the onion" in mind, that will help;-)

#12 Joe K

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:13 PM

Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?


Absolutely. There are many SAM types that don't require a radar at all. When SHUK references IADS, or integrated air defense systems, I expect he's referring to the fact that some air defense systems that don't themselves have a radar can rely on detection/tracking made possible by other units.

Ouch! Well, that would tend to explain the aggravating aspect of planes getting plinked from unknown/never seen sources... I had been operating under the impression that I could expose the ADs by enticing them to shoot at some of my planes... but apparently, that's a waste of resources. :(

Meanwhile, the Intruders and Hornets should be detecting surface targets for you, as well as most of the AEW and EW types. You can't determine true radar performance (ie. PD, or probability of detection) from the Unit Display but you can see range. So, as a general rule, greater range will mean better detection capability.

IME, generally, the much shorter-ranged radars of the attack planes are more effective at detecting (although they have difficulty fixing) AD units - in comparison to the AWACS, etc. The RA-5C was the only exception to this, that I recall. Seems like they could get detections from well beyond their radar range, and fixes from quite a ways out - maybe 50 miles or so - where other types could barely get detections at that distance. But, the Vigilantes seemed to be quite inept in regards to air targets, as they were forever tripping over unseen interceptors - even with AWACS and fighters nearby...


Both ESM and jamming function is strongly related to altitude. The higher up you are, the better both will work. Of course putting vulnerable platforms (as reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft tend to be) into harm's way will often reduce their life span.


I was never sure whether the player's side actually could do jamming/decoys - at least, I never figured out how to make it do anything worthwhile as far as protecting my air groups from those dastardly sneaky AD units... If that can be controlled, is there some operational procedure that I should be aware of for doing that?

Thanks.

#13 Silent Hunter UK

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:16 PM

Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?


Absolutely. There are many SAM types that don't require a radar at all. When SHUK references IADS, or integrated air defense systems, I expect he's referring to the fact that some air defense systems that don't themselves have a radar can rely on detection/tracking made possible by other units.


That's correct. Specifically, a lot of Soviet-aligned states had centrally-controlled air defence systems that could share data across the "network" and coordinate a response against an attack.

This included steering interceptors onto attacking aircraft. The attackers wouldn't know the interceptors were there until it was too late.

#14 Joe K

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:36 PM

Joe,

I have a lot of experience with games and gamers. I've been playing Harpoon again for the first time in like 20 years so I've been reading these forums.

It sounds to me that you are sending the search planes out ahead of everything else, like they are SR-71's or something. You need to keep the search planes behind fighters. Especially considering that the AI is almost obsessed with going after your search planes. Without fighters protecting them, the search planes will get shot down.

I also think the other poster suggesting that you be more patient was on to something. In the next scenario you play try this, and remember I have a LOT of experience with games and gamers... The next scenario you play forget about the mission objectives and time limit and just spend the first 3 full hours establishing air superiority. Even if it seems like all the enemy planes are dead, don't do anything for the first 3 hours that is not related to downing enemy planes. Don't launch any strike aircraft, only fighters and air search planes, and just ignore everything but enemy planes for the first 3 hours. Then continue that scenario as if you were just starting. I think doing that will teach you a lot, both the first 3 hours and how different everything is than it normally is for you after that 3 hours.

I actually take advantage of the fact that the AI wants to get the search planes so badly. The EW plane serves a dual role in the air supremacy phase, it detects enemy units and draws their fighters too it like moths to a flame. So use that, position the search plane both where it will detect enemy units AND where you want their fighters to be drawn too. Have the search plane radars on, and the fighters that are protecting it radars should be OFF (that is important). Then defend that area well, because if you don't a fighter you don't see might appear and get the spy plane anyway (you can't win them all).

Finally, when it comes to taking down SAM defenses, keep the phrase "peel the onion" in mind, that will help;-)

I like your tactics... B) in fact, I do pretty much the same things - especially in regards to air superiority and "baiting" the AI interceptors with AEW/EW/Recon planes. (The only problem I've had with that is that in a fair number of cases, the AI interceptors can sneak up unseen on the bait planes - despite extensive air radar coverages of mixed types. But, it works a lot of the time - so long as I have enough of my own interceptors around to cover all the stuff the AI throws out).

The situations I've been disussing here may not involve 100% air superiority, but certainly air dominance. Anyway, the destruction of my planes in these cases is almost exclusively at the hands of the hard-to-detect AD units - well, at least, I rarely detect any signs of aircraft or their AAMs getting after the attackers. As far as I can tell, it's almost always surface stuff that gets 'em.

"Peeling the onion" is the only way I have any sort of success, yet there always seems to come a point where I can't get any closer to the core without extreme losses... mainly because they can shoot my planes but my planes have nothing to target.

By the way, as an aside, I've wondered for a long time whether it is even possible for the player's side to get hits with bearing-only attacks using SSMs or ASMs. In all the years I've been playing, I don't recall ever getting a hit while using a bearing-only attack (other than with torpedoes, that is). Back in the early days, I tried messing around a bit with that, using different activation distances, and different types of ordnance, but eventually came to the conclusion that without a solid fix, there was zero chance of even coming close to the target. I always wondered if there was just something I wasn't doing properly - or if it's just a fact of life that the player needs a solid fix before shooting.

#15 Joe K

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

Understood... but are the SAMs capable of tracking the a/c without using detectable radar themselves?


Absolutely. There are many SAM types that don't require a radar at all. When SHUK references IADS, or integrated air defense systems, I expect he's referring to the fact that some air defense systems that don't themselves have a radar can rely on detection/tracking made possible by other units.


That's correct. Specifically, a lot of Soviet-aligned states had centrally-controlled air defence systems that could share data across the "network" and coordinate a response against an attack.

This included steering interceptors onto attacking aircraft. The attackers wouldn't know the interceptors were there until it was too late.


That was always my assumption - at least in terms of game play - that the AI utilized any existing radar to guide attacks via other units. But the part that always baffled me was when I'd knocked out all known radar, and yet the AI was still able to successfully find and attack my planes. Just couldn't figure it. And I'm always doubly puzzled when the AI will vector an intercept against my groups that are hundreds of miles from the nearest AI platform, and well out of all reported radar range. Sometimes, it's as though they have HUMINT riding backseat on my planes... Danged spies, anyway!! :(




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