Saturday, November 24, 2012

Indo-Chinese Fleet Action in the Straits of Malacca

My initial attempt at a scenario in Fleet Command:  a skirmish between small Indian and Chinese surface warfare groups during a border dispute.

My small task force's initial position is to the northwest of the entrance to the straits.  I have my ships set a course to the southeast at 2/3 full.

About 20 minutes in I've picked up a contact to my southeast, about 70 miles out.  I need to identify this contact, and sending out the Ka-28a ASW helicopter is a better choice than lighting up surface search radars on the ships.  Doing that will alert the Chinese to my presence long before I can see them, allowing them to get off the first missile strikes.  I have my DDG crew prep the helicopter to Alert 5.

Once the helicopter is at Alert 5 status  I set course to intercept and launch the Ka-28a with orders to make a visual ID.  I need to find those targets...

I give orders to have the helicopter move ESE about 25 or 30 nmi before lighting up its surface search radar.  I want some separation between it and the task force in case the Chinese pick up the emissions.  Once on station, my scouting helicopter crew picks up a second contact to the NE.

I decide to intercept the contact to the NE, in case it's a Chinese ship.  I don't want them leaking around my flank while I probe south.  In the meantime, my scout helicopter's radar has firmed up the first contact as a civilian cargo ship, and picked up two more contacts farther to the SE, moving NW.  I suspect those are the Chinese.

The NE contact is another cargo ship.  The southern contacts pretty much have to be Chinese warships.  I re-orient my forces to scout them and move to intercept.

About then minutes later I have a confirmed hostile contact!  Here's where I screwed up and failed the mission.  Being concerned that the enemy would detect my Ka-28a, I have it dive for the deck and start a high-speed run for home as soon as I get a good ID.  I immediately have my ships launch missiles.

Realistically, ROE doesn't let me target unidentified contacts.  So, while I have three flights of  surface-to-surface missiles in the air, they're all targeted on the single identified contact, an aging Sovremenny 1 DDG.

What I should have done was continue to scout the enemy force with the Ka-28a until I had ID's on all of the contacts.  I should then have closed until my shorter-ranged, obsolescent SS-N-2D missiles were also in range, so that I could have launched everything at once and saturated the Chinese defenses.
Instead, my birds come in piecemeal, and directed at a single target.  Even so, enough get through the SAM and CIWS defenses of the Sovremenny to do some damage.

As I watch my strike get picked out of the air I realize my mistake and turn the helicopter around to finish the scouting I should have done in the first place.  As I close I can see the smoke from the burning DDG rising into the sky.

Eventually all three Chinese ships are ID'd without the Ka-28a coming under fire.  I launch my remaining missiles, a handful of creaky SS-N-2Ds.  The remaining two Chinese ships are a more modern DDG and an FFG; I have little hope that the SS-N-2Ds will get through their defensive screen.

In the end I'm right.  While the Sovremenny takes another two hits (but still doesn't sink!), neither the Haribing or the  Huainan  are so much as scratched.  I withdraw my helo to keep it from getting picked off by SAMs, and begin to lose contact with the enemy task force.

In the end, a poor showing.  While I didn't sustain any damage, I didn't sink a single enemy vessel, leaving the Chinese task force combat effective.

Admittedly, I'm far more a ground-pounder than a squid.  Still, I forgot some basics here, like fully scouting the enemy and keeping contact, as well as concentration of fire and fire superiority to overwhelm the enemy defense.  I was impressed at how well Fleet Command (with the NWP mod) has held up over the years - this is ultimately a 12 year-old sim, but it does pretty well.  It isn't graphically the greatest but it manages to pull off a few graphical niceties that NWAC doesn't do, particularly in regard to launch animations and the like.  Hopefully I'll have time to work some with the scenario editor during the holidays.