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Two of Five Carriers: Battle for the Eastern Med. Late November 2022. Historical Alternate Scenario.

A Harpoon Commander's Edition scenario for EC2003 Battle for the Mediterranean Battleset and the HCDB2-170909 (or later) 1980-2025 era Platform Database. This scenario is designed with Advanced Scenario Editor Build 2017.013 and to be run with HCE 2015.008+ or later.

This scenario is designed to be played from the Blue/NATO side or from the Red/Russian and allies side. You should play a few times first the Blue side to avoid spoilers, and only later play the Red side.

Image: The Italian navy flagship, aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550), arrives at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, March 26, 2021, deployed to the United States for its initial period of flying trials with the F-35B, and just after when the trial was completed. The Italian Navy received four F-35B in March 2022, the original prevision was to embark them from 2024, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine marked their early naval deploy in the ITS Cavour (CVH 550) from mid-2022, including also many AV-8B+ Harrier II Plus. Italian F-35A/B from March 2018 to 2022 are armed with AIM-120C5 (Meteor probably from 2027), and perhaps with the first AIM-9X-2 requested 2021 as per SIPRI (As in the case of the Norwegian F-35A, very probably IRIS-T will be not integrated on F-35). US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mitchell Banks, a serviceperson on duty and in consequence on public domain.

From the eventful year of 2014 (Mainly from the Russian invasion of Crimea) the world was beginning clearly the so-called Second Cold War, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin (ex-KGB lieutenant colonel) was showing clearly his plan to recover the Russian Empire including previous Soviet territories for reinstitute the greatness of "his" Russia, and to guarantee his passage on the History as saviour of the Rodina.

After the massive Russian build-up of forces from late 2021 in Russia and Belarus near the Ukrainian border, NATO forces were forced to an increased and constant deployment near Ukraine and the Eastern Mediterranean, to deterrent Putin's ambition.

The probably original plan was to avoid an intervention by NATO ground forces but preventing the Russian main forces to enter Ukrainian territory, and to get this target to establish an air and sea exclusion zone around and over Ukraine.

But at last, on February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine against most forecast, sinking the world in a new state of international relations, as consequence of a long and failed campaign of unexpected outcomes.

Aside air elements deployed to near NATO countries and strategic bombers in UK, and a constant monitoring of the Russian movements, after three aircraft carriers (USS Harry S Truman CVN 75, FNS Charles de Gaulle R91 and ITS Cavour CVH550) were deployed on the Eastern Mediterranean on February 2022, to keep at bay the Russian forces in Syria and the Mediterranean, and later to reinforce the possible exclusion zone and to execute offensive actions against the Russian forces in the Black Sea and Ukraine. Later, on November 2022 the forces were expanded to five deployed carriers, with USS Gerald R Ford CVN 78 (On her first deployment) and HMS Queen Elizabeth R08 in the Atlantic, and USS George W H Bush CVN 77 replacing Truman in the Mediterranean, but keeping positions near a possible unrest in Algeria. Included in the Mediterranean forces was the STANDING NATO MARITIME GROUP TWO (SNMG2), flagship USS Forrest Sherman, Italian FREMM frigate Alpino F594, Spanish AEGIS frigate Cristobal Colon F105 and German oiler Spessart A1442.

For the Russian side a great number of elements of the Northern, Pacific, Baltic and Black Sea fleets were deployed in the Mediterranean, including amphibious ships sailing to the Black Sea, dangerously depleting the reserves of all the Russian fleets, but after more than six months sailing most have been retired to their parent fleets (Excluded of course the return to Black Sea).

Also, Tu-22M3 Backfire-C with Kh-32 anti-ship missiles and MIG-31K Foxhound with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal/AS-24 Killjoy were deployed in the infamous Russian base of Khmeimim in Syria. And of course the surviving forces of the Assad regime after the 2011 civil war are in the Russian side, defending its country.

On the paper the Russian forces are weaker, but employing old Cold War era tactics could settle a surprise and propaganda blow to the Western forces.

And with Truman keeping an eye on Algeria, only the French and Italian carriers could keep at bay the residual Russian forces on Eastern Mediterranean.

Enrique Mas, November 27, 2022.

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