AWACS apparently is not useful for locating ground units (eg. SAMs attached to bases).
Apparently. It leaves me wondering what types are
good at finding them... because the RA-5Cs are rarely provided in the scenarios that I've played... in fact, maybe only in that bridge scenario.
Complicated question: You have a bunch of F/A-18s armed with Harpoons and Sidewinders at the start of the scenario. Do you
a) re-arm them with Sparrows right away and risk being hit before they're ready, or
put them up as is right away, or
c) dither, or
d) cheat by playing the scenario twice to learn the future?
All of the above.
It depends on the situation, and what's available. Unless it's dire circumstances, or unless I'm expecting imminent missile attacks, I generally won't deploy anything that doesn't have a Sparrow or better for ATA defenses. So, in that case, I'd likely re-arm those types right away - as reserves.
From experience, I know that scenarios typically involve AI attacks of some nature very soon after the scenario starts AND that the provided initial loadouts on player's aircraft generally aren't well-suited to meet the particular attacks that will show up. So, I try to throw up an adequate defensive posture to cover all those potential attacks to the degree possible, at least until I can get some AWACS or other platforms in place to provide situational awareness... and then adjust my coverage accordingly.
Because I'm running the demo these days and have only a limited number of scenarios to choose from, I suppose I sort of cheat via recollections of past play. But, there have been a few cases when I played a scenario and was almost literally decimated almost before I could even assess my assets... and I re-played those scenarios with some tactical adjustments according to my glimpse of the near future. (I remember one in particular - although not its name - where the player's group was northwest of Norway and literally moments after the scenario started, what must have been several hundred bombers and incoming missiles were detected. Those blew right through the few CAP assets that had gotten up, and swamped the shipboard defenses, and literally wiped-out my fleet. The AI achieved total victory within five minutes of game play, and left me in the "What the ____???" mode. Well, I replayed that scenario and immediately turned on all the radars, and launched literally every plane that had any AAW capability in the direction the previous attack had come from. I then turned on all the radars of those planes - so they would attack any missiles that came within range (because there was no time to intercept the bombers). Well, between much fewer attackers the second time through, and having some assets in position to knock down some of the incoming missiles, my carrier was able to survive, although damaged... and I still lost several escort ships, but still had something
left to continue playing the
scenario. So, yes, I cheated in that case... but I also think that the scenario cheated a bit to begin with.
(I still can't figure how the scenario was set up so that AI bombers were in position to launch their missiles so soon after the scenario started, nor did I ever figure out how they were detecting/targeting my carrier group in that first run, where I hadn't even had time to turn on the sensors nor start the group moving. It also seemed a bit unreasonable that the AI had something over 700-800 Tu-22 type bombers available to attack my group.
When I say, put all fighters on the front line during the air superiority struggle, I don't really mean that. You need to keep some back as replacements for when the first lot runs out of fuel so as to maintain continuous coverage. What is the proper ratio? That is unclear. 2/3 up front to start with? In any case, the AWACS can't be up there if you don't have adequate fighter protection. So you have to deal with that problem as well.
Yes. My comments were simply regarding the initial
deployment at the outset of the scenario. Once I've gotten a feel for what's going on and what enemies are lurking around, then I get down to the business of establishing air superiority. But I try to get lots of fighters up initially, in order to fend off attacks that come in before I can find out the big picture.
If enemy fighters can freely approach your AWACS, then something is very wrong.
My thoughts, exactly.
I do have a couple of suggestions. First, pickets are not the issue. Detection is from the AWACS, not the pickets. Second, depending on which one it is, an AWACS should have a good air search radar and maybe a good ground search radar. Now, as I understand it, and please correct me if I am wrong, the AS radar does not work at all altitudes. So a plane at low or VL can safely and invisibly drive right up to your AWACS unless it has a good GS radar. Third, maybe you are dealing with real stealth fighters. Fourth, I am assuming that your AWACS is flying as high as possible, otherwise the radar ranges go down. Fifth, good jamming may degrade the AWACS radars.
1. Pickets: What I meant by "pickets" in this case are various air groups that happened to lie along the ingress route of the AI interceptors that were going after the AWACS. I typically array some defenders at low altitude, with short-cycle intermittant radar - partly in order to try to detect any sea-skimmers. In addition to that there typically have been other air groups, and even surface groups, with active or intermittant radars along the presumed ingress route of the AI interceptors. Yet, none of these pickets typically detect the AI group as it presumably passes near them.
2. Low/Vlow approach: That's one of the reasons that I park those defender groups at low altitude with short-cycle intermittant radars.
3. The only scenario that I recall that had any sort of stealth fighters involved some Eurofighters. The undetected interceptors in most of the other cases have been things like MiG-29s, MiG-19s, etc. and usually in groups of three or four. (In some cases, the interceptors were never seen, so I don't know what they were - and can only infer what they may have been based on the unit types that were in the particular scenario. Generally speaking, there were no stealthy types involved - at least not ones that are known to me to be stealthy).
4. Yes, the AWACS are always stationed at their default altitude - which I believe is their maximum allowable altitude.
5. I don't recall ever seeing any jamming indicators on the AWACS in these cases.
If you decide you need to kill all the AI units for your own satisfaction, then maybe you might find yourself removed from command after throwing your planes away unnecessarily. If the mission is to destroy ground units, you may find that you get units with the capacity to actually do the job. Scenario victory conditions are usually given in the orders.
LOL! I should reiterate that the "kill all the AI units" situation usually happens when no victory conditions have been achieved, and so I continue playing and about all I can do is to try to destroy as many AI units as possible in hopes of possibly satisfying victory conditions. I must say that I regularly satisfy the stated victory conditions, yet no victory announcement is forthcoming in many of the cases. That's why I wish I could check the actual
victory conditions via the Scenario Editor, so see why the orders (or my understanding of the orders) differ from the actual requirements. Unfortunately, that's not an option while lacking the Scenario Editor.