Saturday, November 10, 2018

CMANO, Kuril Sunrise - The "Gotcha!" Becoming a "Got Me!"

I'm playing the Kuril Sunrise DLC as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

You can read the detailed briefing a few lines below. But to make a long story short my mission is to stop a Russian convoy with our meager forces consisting of diesel submarines, a nimble division of destroyers and assorted air assets which consist of F-15Js, F4s and just three P-3 Orions. The Russians will cover the move of the convoy with one frigate, a bunch of older corvettes and an undetermined number of nuclear submarines.

The government plan to seize the Kurils has reached new levels of tension and drama. The Russians have been pulling out all the stops to reinforce the islands, the United States has condemned us and blocked off some of our most modern units, and we as a "self-defense force", remain fundamentally unprepared for such a conflict. Some of it may be due to our own soldiers deliberately slow-walking the preparations, but a simple lack of parts and experience is causing more delays. Still, we press on.
Enemy Forces
The Russians have assembled a makeshift convoy of ten civilian ferries at Petropavlovsk that has been spotted rounding the Kamchatka Peninsula. They have deployed radars and anti-ship missiles on as many of the minor islands as possible. Heavy SAMs have been deployed on both Sakahlin and both islands, but appear to be under strict ROEs.
While the JASDF and VVS are in a mutual tie-down in the west, we believe that at least one regiment of circa 30 MiG-31s at Yelivozo and a detachment of both MiG-29s and Su-33s from the refitting Kuznetsov on the hastily refurbished Burevestnik airbase on Iturup itself will contest the skies over the Sea of Okhotsk. At least one regiment of Flanker derivatives has been spotted staging from Sakhalin, although we do not know its motivation.
Enemy surface forces amount to one modern frigate and a number of Cold War surplus corvettes. The real threat are the submarines, the exact number of which we cannot determine. Not only are most of the Pacific Fleet's SSNs deployed at Kamchatka to begin with in support of the boomers, but numerous Northern Fleet submarines have been seen making the long journey-including the Sevorodvinsk, the new Yasen submarine. What was a nightmare in 1905 is trivial with nuclear power. That the US allowed them to cross the Bering Strait was a sign.
Friendly Forces
For such an important mission, we have very few assets available. The reasons are mainly political and strategic. Politically, we have the problem of:
-China being clearly ready to pounce on the disputed islands there, necessitating a huge array of forces to the south.
-Russian "warning shots" and the possibility of attacking the mainland leading to the government keeping a huge number of aircraft and ships to defend it. The populace is anxious and divided, and must be reassured.
-The United States blocking off joint bases, keeping them under lock and key, and guarding them ferociously. This has costed us the F-2s at Misawa and the P-1s at Atsugi. 
 Strategically, we are overcome by two main problems:
-The first is a desire to husband resources for the planned invasion itself, not to squander them early while a second wave of Russian units strip-mined from Europe then pounce.
-The second is that the invasion has been approached in a clunky, slapdash way. Not realizing that the United States would block off the bases is one of the oversights. More mundane but equally damaging are spare parts issues and an institutionally defensive culture. We simply cannot maintain a high sortie rate at this time. [In game terms, this means aircraft are in "sustained" mode without quick turnaround, so only one sortie every twenty hours]
That being said, the available forces consist of: 
-Two squadrons of F-15Js at Chitose, along with one of F-4s flown in.
-One squadron of P-3 Orions at Hachinohe.
-One division of destroyer escorts in the Sea of Okhotsk.
-Six submarines that had been preplaced in Okhotsk already, a mixture of the newest Soryu and older but still capable Oyashio class. These are our main force, as our intelligence staff believes a direct sprint to the Kuriles is the most likely enemy course of action. An additional Soryu class has been earmarked to guard the approach to Iturup from the east-do not move it north unless the convoy is confirmed sighted.
Press the attack on the convoy, and prepare for the worst. The convoy must be destroyed completely, because Kunashir and Iturup must both be taken in their entirety. Leaving a single patch of land in Russian hands when the inevitable ceasefire comes will mean they can play the frozen-conflict card for as long as they want.
The length it will take for the convoy to approach the islands depends. It may take several days if they prefer a cautious approach, but little more than 24 hours if the Russians simply sprint for the islands. So be prepared to not have much time.
Command New Chitose Air Base, EMCON State C
At the start of the scenario, convinced that I can cope against the Russian submarine screen with my really silent diesel submarines, I decided to leave the skies uncontested. At least for the first day until the Russian submarines are accounted for.

Submarine contacts started to pop out and torpedoes began to swim. In this screenshot, my Oyashio class SSK Makishio is dealing with two Russian submarines. The one in the north was destroyed a few minutes after this screenshot ...

... But the contact to the north-west had to be re-acquired and dealt with. The killing of the two Russian submarines took a good two hours, but the Makishio came out as a hero submarine.

At this point things were working more or less fine. There was a submarine loss for my side when another of my Oyashio class submarines made an extremely lousy move while trying to get a better reading of an underwater submarine which turned out to be a Russian SSN. But the list of Russian submarines lost was up to three at this time (one Akula I Improved, one Akula II and one Oscar II).

One has to recognize not only how inconspicuous the diesel submarines are (which allows them to close almost un-noticed), but also how painstaking is getting into range with the Type 89 torpedoes which have just and 8 nm range.

And then ... Gotcha!

The "hero submarine" Makishio makes contact and started painting a detailed picture of the convoy.

And (it never fails) a few minutes later the Makishio had a Russian FFG on her.

Contact SKUNK #609 turned out to be a MPK Steregushchy.
Fortunately, the Russian frigate succumbed to one of the Makishio's torpedoes. Which brought the Makishio's kill tally to 3.

It may have not escaped you that in the previous screenshot, there is a hostile submarine contact west of the Makishio. This was a Yasen-class submarine, the worst threat one could imagine, sailing at flank speed with an east course.

This Yasen-class certainly caught the smell of something and I wouldn't be surprised if it is all the noise generated from the Makishio's kills.
You also may notice I have a submarine some 16 nm south of the Yasen-class Russian submarine. This is a Soryu-class Hakoriu submarine.

My first instinct is just to launch Harpoons at the convoy from the Makishio. But that will just paint a big target on it for the unstoppable 35 knots that the Yasen is pulling.

Do I have a chance at the Yasen with the Hakoriu? Am I better off stopping the Makishio in wait for the convoy, risking getting targeted by the Russian escorts?


No comments: