CV32 Posted November 15, 2005 Report Share Posted November 15, 2005 This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of discussions on tactics in HCCE, inspired in part by Pete's suggestions. The first topic will be power projection or strike planning: These are my personal comments on Strike Planning. I like to borrow from the USAF's Targeting Guide, which is far more complex than necessary than required by HCCE, but it contains helpful principles and guidance. For example, for the purposes of this exercise, I assume that we have already determined what target we want to hit and what objectives we hope to achieve by hitting that particular target. Let's assume, as well, for the sake of our assessment, that our target is a point target, such as a bridge, protected by SAMs. 1. Weaponeering The first step might be weaponeering, that is, an assessment of the types and quantities of weapons estimated to achieve a desired level of damage to the target. This takes into account the vulnerability of the target, weapons effects/reliability and delivery accuracy, as well as damage criteria. Large bridges in the Harpoon Classic Commander's Edition (HCDB) have 800 damage points (DP). This includes the "Generic Large Bridge" and those bridges bearing specific names (e.g. Baghdad Rail Bridge). The "Generic Small Bridge" has 400 DP. At first glance, these values might seem a bit high for a "simple" point target like a bridge. However, bridges are remarkably tough targets. Think about the substantial engineering effort that must go into the design and construction of a bridge: it will be expected to stand up to the considerable abuse of both heavy traffic and the natural elements for a very long time. Another factor is that bridges (like airfields, in some respects) can often be readily repaired if the damage is not immediately catastrophic. (You usually have to drop multiple spans to take it out for an appreciable period of time). The DP values in the HCDB therefore try to take into account both factors. (Admittedly, it's a little abstract, but I think it works pretty well, especially since the AI cannot actively conduct repairs and thereby regain DP). If you're still not convinced, consider a couple of classic real life examples from Vietnam: the Paul Doumer Bridge over the Red River in Hanoi, and the Ham Rung ("Dragon's Jaw") near Thanh Hoa. The Paul Doumer bridge northeast of Hanoi served no fewer than four separate rail lines, and had a total of 18 large concrete piers that supported its length of just over a mile. Prior to 1972, despite countless attempts, and a huge expenditure of sorties, munitions and lives, the Paul Doumer was only dropped for a few weeks at a time before being quickly repaired. The first major strike against the bridge on 11 August 1967 saw the bridge absorb 94 tons of bombs in direct hits and near misses. Three of the bridge spans had been dropped into the river. Remarkably, however, the bridge was back in operation only 53 days after the strike. The next major attempt to drop the bridge came on 25 October 1967, this time with 63 tons of bombs. Again the bridge was knocked out, but less than a month later, the bridge was once again back in operation. On 14 December and 18 December 1967, another 90 tons of bombs were dropped. Still, the Paul Doumer Bridge remained, though badly shaken. Worse, the Dragon's Jaw bridge was never dropped. During the 1967-68 air campaign, 177 fighter-bombers were sent out and dropped 380 tons of bombs on the bridge before the bombings in the north were halted by Washington. It wasn't until mid 1972 that the Paul Doumer and Dragon's Jaw bridges were both finally put of commission. We'll return to the example of the Paul Doumer Bridge later as part of our discussion. So, what do we need to take out a 400 DP bridge ? Target vulnerability takes into account the susceptibility of a target to terminal effects or specific damage mechanisms of a munition. Given the robust nature of the target (typically constructed of concrete and steel), we'll need weapon characteristics that produce damage effects including penetration, blast, overpressure, etc. This means either a small number of weapons with very high DP or a very large number of weapons with smaller DP. What about delivery accuracy ? A bridge (regardless of how large) is in many respects a tough target to actually achieve a decent hit, let alone inflict sufficient damage. The desired mean point of impact (DMPI) is (or are) relatively small. This means we are going to want a significant degree of precision, and force preservation dictates that we will want to achieve this precision with the least expenditure of munitions possible. Therefore, it looks more likely at this point that we will be opting for a small number of weapons with very high DP. We also need to consider damage criteria, that is, what kind of a kill we desire (at a minimum) to achieve. Victory conditions in a given scenario may come into play here, in addition to other factors, but I usually look to achieve at least 33% damage in any given strike. In the case of a bridge, however, this might not be sufficient to achieve even a Mobility Kill (M-Kill), and in fact, we might need 75% or more to achieve a Catastrophic Kill (K-Kill). Other factors that ordinarily come into play include hit probability (pH), kill probability (pK) and weapon reliability. In terms of HCCE, all of these are in large part determined by the weapon's PH value. In other words, if the given weapon found in the HCDB can hit the target, it will inflict the equivalent DP factor. Let's go back to our Paul Doumer Bridge example for a bit. On 11 August 1967 the Paul Doumer Bridge was attacked by a flight of 26 F-105D Thunderchiefs (not including their escorts and other supporting aircraft, which I will mention again later), each carrying a pair of 3,000 lb iron bombs. That's over fifty in all. Three spans were dropped under this awesome bombardment, but it still wasn't enough to put the bridge out of action. What finally took it out ? The laser guided bomb (LGB). Though admittedly the damage to the Paul Doumer Bridge was cumulative, several strikes in mid 1972 settled the issue once and for all. On 10 May 1972, 16 F-4D Phantoms attacked the Paul Doumer bridge, 12 of them carrying a pair of the new 2000 lb LGBs. The next day, four more F-4Ds again attacked with LGBs, this time dropping several spans. After several more attacks with LGBs, the bridge wasn't rebuilt until after the ceasefire in 1973. (The troublesome Dragon's Jaw bridge followed two days later, in even more summary fashion. It took some specially built 3,000 lb LGBs, but resulted in one end of the bridge being lifted off its abutment and tossed into the river). There are numerous precision guided munitions that might fit the bill for our 400 DP "Small Bridge Target", depending on the player's order of battle. Most of these are built around a 2,000 lb bomb (often the US Mk 84) or a similar heavy warhead. Smaller warheads or those designed to maximize penetration often lack sufficient brute blast force to destroy a bridge. Some examples of laser guided bombs from the HCDB include: (1) the US GBU-10 Paveway I/II series (especially those with DP 72) (2) the French BGL-1000 (DP 67) (3) the Russian KAB series (ranging from DP 65 for the 750 kg KAB-750L up to DP 100 for the 1,000 kg KAB-1500L) There are also a range of guided bombs and missiles with standoff capability (permitting the launch aircraft to avoid the lethal envelope of enemy point defences, which we will discuss later). Again, these often center on a 2,000 lb or similar weight warhead, and include: (1) the GBU-15(V)1/2 or its rocket powered cousin, the AGM-130A (with DP 72 and 71, respectively) (2) the US/Israeli AGM-142A Have Nap (DP 68) (3) the Hakim PGM-2000 used by the United Arab Emirates (DP 72) (4) the Israeli SPICE Mk 84 (DP 72) (5) the Russian AS-14 Kedge (TV guided Kh-29T or laser guided Kh-29L) (DP 63) For really long range standoff, stealth and accuracy (all of which comes at an expensive price tag, of course), you might opt for a cruise missile, such as either of: (1) the US AGM-158A JASSM or the TLAM-C series (both with DP 76) (2) the European Storm Shadow or Taurus KEPD350 (both with DP 67) Some simple math comes into play here. If our bridge target has 400 DP, we're going to need a minimum of four or five 2,000 lb class weapons to inflict the kind of catastrophic damage (a K-Kill) that we are looking for. So, now we know what weapons might be available to kill our bridge target. But how many aircraft we will need to deliver them ? 2. Force Application We must now use the information generated by the weaponeering phase to determine the best force necessary to meet our operational objectives. We assume we have good intelligence about the target (haha, big assumption, huh) and a recommendation for a weapon system. Now our operations and intelligence staff (which, in HCCE terms, refer to the left and right sides of your brain) must merge their planning efforts. A first step in this phase might be to prepare a tentative force assignment, that is, a "mission package". Again, our example of the Paul Doumer Bridge provides some useful historical guidance. The first major strike on the bridge, conducted on 11 August 1967, comprised the following mission package: - 26 F-105D Thunderchiefs, each carrying a pair of 3,000 lb iron bombs - two F-105D Thunderchief "Wild Weasel" aircraft, each protected by two wingmen and all armed with anti-personnel bombs - four F-4C Phantoms conducting flak suppression near the target - more F-4Cs flying high altitude MiGCAP - several EB-66 Destroyer "College Eye" aircraft orbiting high over the strike force, jamming enemy radar and alerting the MiGCAP of the approach of any hostile fighter aircraft - pairs of RF-4C Phantoms to fly in over the target area and conduct bomb damage assessment (BDA) after the strike - KC-135 tankers to provide refueling of the Thunderchiefs and Phantoms as they came off the target All of the usual elements of a mission package are represented here: the strike aircraft, the fighter escort, the SEAD (suppression of enemy air defences) escort, the airborne early warning and electronic warfare support, the reconnaissance aircraft, and the refuelers. How many of each might we need for our own bridge target ? While the Paul Doumer Bridge attack called for a flight of 26 strike aircraft and a total of 52 very large bombs, keep in mind that they were dealing with a very robust target and were using unguided munitions dropped from relatively unsophisticated aircraft. Large margins were introduced to boost chance of success. Should we do the same in our own example ? Of course. It is almost always best, should conditions permit, to choose more than one target and weapon combination. This allows planners to have greater flexibility. Personally, I like to use a factor of at least 1.5 to 3, dependent on the difficulty of the target, as well as my own capabilities and those of my adversary. This means we are going to need three to six strike aircraft, each carrying a pair of bombs (most modern types are comfortable carrying a pair of 2,000 lb class weapons). How about escorts ? For the offensive counter-air mission (i.e. dealing with enemy interceptors inside enemy airspace), I like to use a factor of 1-2. This means that every strike aircraft will have at least one, and preferably two, fighter escorts. Again, this depends on factors like the number of enemy fighters I am likely to encounter, and the distance from friendly airspace to the target. The capability of my strike aircraft to carry their own defensive air-to-air missiles also comes into play here, since many modern strike/attack aircraft are quite capable of defending themselves. Beyond visual range (BVR) capable air-to-air weapons (e.g. AIM-120 AMRAAM) are preferable. For the SEAD mission (i.e. dealing with enemy SAM/AAA defences), I go back to the 1.5 to 3 factor. Why ? Because I may have to fight my way to the target, hitting SAM and AAA installations on the way, as well as dealing with point defences that might be situated near the bridge. Also, SEAD is often a "make or break" factor when it comes to a strike mission. Enemy fighters can often be diverted, distracted, or avoided, but flying a strike package into the teeth of a defensive SAM envelope is often suicidal. Also, while cluster bombs served well enough during the Vietnam war, to suppress 37mm, 57mm and 85mm flak batteries, they are less than adequate in today's battle environment. Modern "double-digit" SAMs like the SA-10 often require generous applications of sophisticated anti-radar missiles (like the AGM-88 HARM or ALARM) to suppress the supporting radar systems, and wherever possible, this should be followed by precision delivery of a heavier weapon, like an LGB, to physically destroy the site. Airborne early warning (AEW) and jamming support go hand in hand with the SEAD escort. In the case of electronic warfare (EW), sometimes the SEAD escorts are also the jamming platforms, as is the case with aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler. It is usually not possible, however, to provide 1.5 to 3 times as many jamming aircraft as there are strike aircraft; the EW aircraft are simply too rare and too valuable. Therefore, the bulk of the SEAD aircraft are usually made up of ARM (anti-radar missile) capable strike aircraft like the F-16C/D, F/A-18E or Tornado, rather than specializing jamming platforms like the Prowler or Growler. AEW aircraft (like the E-3 Sentry or E-2 Hawkeye) are even more scarce, and generally unable to take on the kind of risks that EW and SEAD aircraft are capable of. They might have to remain outside hostile airspace, require their own heavy fighter escort, and might not be able to provide a constant radar surveillance umbrella over the mission package. In most cases, I will simply push my AEW asset as close to enemy airspace and/or the target as I dare, without endangering the asset or expending too much extra support. In most cases, I can extract some degree of advantage from the AEW coverage for the bulk of the ingress and egress phases of the strike mission. Bomb damage assessment (BDA) requirements are not something that is modeled very well in HCCE, at least not with fixed installation targets like a bridge. You know the results of your strike as soon as it is carried out, and the damage is expressed as a percentage value. If your target were a mobile one, like a ship or a SAM launcher, you would only know the results of your strike as long as you had firm contact with that target. BDA is performed by reconnaissance aircraft after the strike is over, but often it is useful to conduct reconnaissance of the target prior to the arrival of your mission package. In terms of HCCE, this is especially true when trying to determine the extent of the enemy's air defences in proximity to the target or along your intended route. Mobile SAM launchers, AAA guns and manportable air defence systems (MANPADS) are invisible to the player until and unless discovered by the appropriate sensors. Conducting pre-strike reconnaissance might serve to reveal these dangers, but it might also alert them. Your call … Finally, whether your mission package will require in-flight tanking support will be entirely dependent on the capabilities of your aircraft and the range from their home base to the target and back. If your aircraft have "long legs", you might get away with a minimum of aerial tanker support. As with AEW aircraft, tankers are quite valuable, vulnerable and need to be protected. If you're really lucky, you have aircraft that are capable of carrying both "buddy stores" and defensive air-to-air missiles. Some major considerations to remember in the context of HCCE: (1) your tankers can only refuel single aircraft or a group of aircraft, and can do so one time only; and (2) be sure to allow for more than just simple Point A to Point B distance calculations, and keep in mind that your mission package might need to do some "bobbing and weaving" on both the ingress and egress. 3. Execution Planning Once we have determined the size and composition of our mission package, its time to prepare the actual tasking, construction and subsequent execution of your mission. This includes how you will employ your aircraft and what tactics you will use. This inevitably leads into an area that is much more expansive than intended here, but I will say the following: I don't assemble all of my mission package components into a single group (even if they are all located at the same base), and I will usually split them up according to their various roles (strike, escort, etc.). If there are sufficient numbers, I will also split up the strike and escort elements into smaller groups to add more flexibility. If I can afford it, I will often assemble a separate offensive counter-air mission (a sweep and escort, essentially) and send it ahead of the strike mission package in order to determine, disrupt and divert enemy air defences. Wherever possible, I will have my mission package approach the target from a direction other than direct path, and do the same on the egress. I am sure other people around here have more to add, but I hope this helps. Brad Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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