With the recent talk about Command Modern Air/Naval Operations and in eager anticipation of the DCS Tomcat, I have been tempted to play the awesome CMANO addon Northern Inferno again. Northern Inferno plays in 1975 and portrays an increasingly escalating war between the West and the East. 1975 is a very interesting and well chosen time point, as it is a time of transition. Major new technology such as the Tomcat and the Backfire are being introduced alongside a lot of older equipment.
I plan to write this AAR along as I play. I haven’t played Command for almost two years and Northern Inferno is a long campaign, so we will see how this works…
Scenario 1 - Opening Moves
Well, lets first get our bearings. We have to find find find and destroy Soviet submarines in an area between Greenland and Norway, divided in two patrol areas (Patrol Area 1 NW of Jan Mayen and Patrol Area 2 SE of Jan Mayen). The area as well covered by SOSUS. We have 4 task units composed of various NATO destroyers and frigates. The ships are equipped with a total of 3 Sea King and 2 Wasp helicopters. In addition we have access to 4 Norwegian P-3B Orion at Andoya Air Base. From NAS Keflavik we have 4 British Nimrods patrol aircraft and 11 USN Orions, of which 9 are operational. NAS Keflavik holds 18 B57 nuclear depth charges with a yield of 20kt each. Use of special weapons has been authorized.
My initial stragety will be to to let SOSUS generate a picture of the underwater situation. The ships serve as bases for the helicopters to prosecute any contacts. As I will let the situation develop, the only thing that requires preparation is a patrol plan for the Orions and Nimrods.
Since the patrol aircraft are operating in surge mode and have a turnaround time of 4 hours I should be able to continuously cover a patrol area with 2 aircraft (1 aircraft on station and the other preparing for the next mission). With 17 aircraft available I can plan 8 patrol areas and have one aircraft in reserve for contingencies.
Here we have the patrol plan for the aircraft. The Norwegian P-3 get the two areas off the Norwegian coast. The Nimrods get the two distant areas up north, since they are jet powered and have a higher transit speed. The US Navy P-3 get the the 4 areas closest to Iceland. With everything prepared, let’s start.
Initially SOSUS gets wild with contacts. Let’s give it some time to sort things out. A lot of these Goblins (subsurface contacts) are probably Biologics.
As the SOSUS operators work their magic, the situations begins to clear up. Several contacts are filtered out as Biologics. But we already have multiple customers. A November and a Victor II nuclear attack submarine (SSN), une guided missile nuclear attack submarine (SSGN) and to diesel submarines (SS). Some of the contacts are still just bearings, but the position of two subs has already been narrowed down a lot.
TU 603.01.01, comprising the Canadian destroyer Algonquin, the West German frigate Lubeck and a support ship, is called to action. One unknown SS contact is just 30 NM to the north. The Victor II is 80 NM to the NW. Algonquin carries two Sea King helicopter of which one is launched. The second will only become available in 4 hours. TG 603.01.02 to the NW is unfortunately not carrying any helicopters and cannot provide support.
The situation develops further. We now have 7 confirmed sub contacts of which two are more than just a bearing. The Sea King from Algonquin is closing in on the SS contact in the SE-most sector. Meanwhile TU 603.01.03’s Canadian destroyer Frasier is launching another Sea King, the group’s only helo, to check out a confirmed Zulu IV 105 NM off to the NE. The Nimords and Orians from Andoya and Kevflavik have launched and are moving out to their patrol zones.
As we are still in the twilight between War and Peace, the opponent is marked as “Unfriendly”. No weapons will be launched at this point yet, but everyone eagerly has his fingers on the trigger.
That didn’t take long… Master Arm On!
Algonquin’s Sea King is deploying its dipping sonar and has confirmed the position of SS, now identified as an Foxtrot. Time to engage.
The Sea King drops a single Mk46 torpedo. ASW trorpedos of the era are pretty crappy weapons but a diesel sub is an easy target. Our first kill! Since the Sea King still has a second Mk46 and some fuel left, I order it to the Victor II to the NW, which is still 90 NM away. I am not sure if the fuel will be sufficient, but let’s try.
A situation develops with TU 603.01.03 off Jan Mayen. A Soviet Tu-95RT Bear D suddenly emerges above the task unit (it had it’s search radar off under EMCON). The Canadian destroyer Fraser engages with 76mm gunfire, but can’t hit. Unfortunately neither ship of the unit (the other is the Norwegian frigate Bergen) is equipped with SAMs. The position and identity of both ships is now compromised. If there is any undetected SSGN in the vicinity, I can expect a missile attack within the next minutes.
Meanwhile a Whisky V SS is detected just 35 NM away. Frasier’s Sea King, in transit to a Zulu IV further away is close by and is re-tasked immediately.
Next the Bear is buzzing the frigate Bergen which also unsuccessfully engages with 76mm.
Further development of the situation. We currently hold 7 contacts. The position of both subs that have Sea Kings assigned to have deteriorated. Both helos have initiated a search with dipping sonar. Two Norwegian P-3 have started to drop sonobuoy patterns in their sectors. There is a fairly good Foxtrot contact but it is outside of the Norwegians areas and the responsible USN is still pretty far out. Therefore I have temporary reassigned the northern Norwegian Orion to check on that sub position.
SOSUS has tracked down a Charlie SSGN high up in the Barents sea, but that is currently outside my area of responsibility.
Meanwhile the Bear is heading for my next surface group, consisting of a British and a Dutch Leander class frigate. The just just have some lousy Sea Cat SAM as defense.
Generally I am still waiting for most of the Orions to get on station to start cleaning up the map of contacts.
Vampire inbound! As the Bear was approaching my two frigates I was turning on their radars in anticipation of the engagement. Apparently this electronic signature was the missing piece for the enemy to ID my ships, as moments later inbound missiles are detected. The general direction matches to the Charlie SSGN. Perhaps it is not that war away in the Barents Sea after all? The two frigates probably won’t be able to manage this attack.
Eight missiles inbound, 4 for each frigate. This really looks like a Charlie SSGN. Both frigates have launched their Wasp helos in before their doom, and the helos are racing to a point 35 NM away were the missiles popped up on radar. The Wasp is a simple weapon carrier with no sensor on their own, so I plan to fly there, let them drop their weapons (an awful Mk44 torpedo and two depth charges; where are those nuclear depth charges when you need them?) and then ditch their mounts.
As expected, HMS Bacchante tries to defend itself with Sea Cat SAMs and her 114mm gun but is blown out of the water by the first missile. But the crew of the HMNLS Van Nes has their second birthday. They take down two missiles with Sea Cat, spoof one with chaff and take down the fourth with their 114mm gun! Holy smokes!
The Wasps proceed to the missile datum and on Mk44 torpedo is dropped. Shortly after SOSUS is picking up the Charlie again with an increase in bearing rate, which indicated that it had throttled up scared by the torpedo. But without a good fix, the second Wasp cannot drop his depth charges. Both helos head back to to HMNLS Van Nes, one with the intention to ditch alongside.
Current situation. To the right, the Norwegian P-3 has arrived at the area of the Foxtrot SS contact and starts to track it down. South from it, the position of the Victor II SSN has again solidified. Algonquin’s Sea King is moving in again and the second Norwegian P-3 should arrive there shortly as well. On the upper left, Frasier’s Sea King fruitlessly searches the area of a previous sub contact. Meanwhile a Nimrod is approaching to check out the Zulu IV SS further north. In the center, SOSUS indicates a a November SSN is close by to HMNLS Van Nes and USN P-3 is closing in to support. The Charlie I SSGN is also still nearby somewhere. A close by Nimrod will come in to search it. And finally, SOSOS also tracks a Whiskey V, which could be somewhere between Norway and Greenland.
A second Bear D has also popped up and both aircraft wander around the Norwegian Sea in search of our ships.
At least a success again. In the east, the Norwegian P-3 drops a Mk46 torpedo and sinks the Foxtrot. The Orion is sent back to its patrol sector.
Near Jan Mayen, thing are starting to get interesting again. HMNLS Van Nes turned south at full speed in order get clear, with the November class nuclear attack submarine K-5 in hot pursuit. A USN Orion is coming in to help from the SW. Even the Wasp with its depth charges might get a shot at the November. To the right, a Nimord is laying sobobuyos to search for the Charlie which sunk the HMS Bacchante.
With the help of sonobuoys dropped by the USN P-3, the Wasp attacks the November SSN with depth charges. The first weapon malfunctions, but the second scores. The sonobuyos also detect a couple of enemy torpedoes. Apparently the HMNLS Van Nes started to run for her life not a moment too soon (she is such a crappy ship, she would never detect the weapons itself).
Scratch one more sub.
Meanwhile one of the Bears buzzes the most eastern task unit. The West German frigate Lubeck has nothing to respond. Another one of our surface groups compromised.
The Bear makes another run, this time it strays close to the Canadian destroyer Algonquin. This one is equipped with NATO Sea Sparrow SAM and engages the Bear with 4 missiles, taking it down. Ten minutes later, the second Bear apparently wants to check out what happened and is taken out by Algonquin as well. The Canadians are performing well today.
Meanwhile, the Victor II has vanished again and there is no trace of the Charlie I as well.
Way up north a Nimrod finally arrives at the position of the Zulu IV SS and drops a B57 nuclear depth charge. The explosion is fairly close at 313ft but apparently the sub is not killed yet.
Things are getting busy now with 3 engagements ongoing. The Charlie I SSGN has finally been found by a Nimrod and engaged. Despite scoring a hit with a Mk46 torpedo, the sub is still alive. A shame this Nimord did not carry a B57! The Nimrod is circling around and attacking again, but this time the Mk46 is decoyed.
Simultaneously, the Victor II has been found again as well and is also engaged by a Norwegian P-3, but the Mk46 is also spoofed by counter measures. The weapon circles around to re-attack and this time scores, but the Victor II is only damaged.
Up north, another B57 is dropped against the Zulu IV, missing by 259ft. Apparently the sub is still not destroyed. What kind of boat is this?
The Charlie I is finally sunk by the 3rd torpedo. HMS Bacchante was avenged.
The attack on the Victor II is joined by the Sea King from HMCS Algonquin. It drops its second (and last) Mk46 and sinks the target. That helo killed two subs in one flight. Time for it to head back to Algonquin to refuel and rearm. I am sure the Canadians will throw a party later.
After a while all contact with the Zulu IV is lost as well. Did we nuke it successfully after all?
The map starts to clear up. SOSUS holds remaining contacts on two quite Whisky V SS somewhere out there. All Orions and Nimrods head to their assigned patrol areas and continue regular search ops.
And some surprising news from our second Wasp helo. It found home on the HMNLS Van Nes, which apparently could free up enough space to let two helos land.
The Farragut-class guided missile destroyer USS MacDonough makes active sonar contact with a previously unknown submerged contact at a distance of 12 NM. A nearby Nimrod is diverted to assist, but the Goblin is soon within ASROC range of the destroyer. I am probably going to blow it out of the water as soon as possible. Better kill some biologics than be sorry.
In fact the Nimrod is quicker, drops a Mk46 and kills another sub. The same crew that already bagged the Charlie I. The Nimrod is now down to 2 torpedoes and 46 minutes if fuel left to bingo, so will have to return to Kevlavik soon.
Another Bear is observed taking off from Kola and Norwegian radar stations track it as it flies along the coast. As it approaches HMCS Algonquin, the destroyer powers up its radar and takes the Bear down with Sea Sparrow.
Meanwhile, our nuclear survivor the Zulu IV announces its presence again to a SOSUS station up north. Both remaining Whiskeys prove extremely hard to track. By now various of our patrol aircraft are starting to head back to base to refuel. The replacements should be ready to launch any moment, but it will take them 1-2 hours to reach the patrol zones. In the next hours we might have a shortage of aircraft on station.
As the responsible Nimrod is off station, I redirect a USN Orion from an adjacent patrol area to prosecute the renewed Zulu IV contact. The Orion moves in, drops a string of 4 buoys, a Mk46 torpedo and blows the Zulu out of the water. Finally!
A while later a long search of one of the Whiskey V is finally successful and the assigned USN Orion takes it out with a single Mk46.
SOSUS now holds contact with a single remaining Whiskey V diesel sub.
One and a half hours later, HMCS Algonquin claims another Bear D by Sea Sparrow.
A couple of hours later, HMCS Algonquin gets another Bear D.
Things are getting quite now. It has been several hours since SOSUS had last contact with the remaining Whiskey V. Aircraft are flying regular patrols in their sector, searching for any other contacts.
Hours pass, then finally! A sonobuoy barrier west of Jan Mayen picks up a Goblin. HMCS Frasier is just 24 NM away and launches its Sea King. A USN P-3 is sent to investigate from 120 NM away. Some minutes later, the buoy classifies the contact as SS. Probably our evasive Whiskey! The Sea King approaches and wastes no time, dropping both of its torpedo. Kill with the first weapon.
What a fantastic mission. But this took waaay longer than I anticipated. For subsequent missions, I will probably dial back the details of reporting a bit