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  • #90917
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Greetings all, I’m playing a solo mercenary air campaign using the Missile Threat rules, thought I’d write it up here.

    The idea of the mercenary air campaign is that you run a group of fictitious mercenaries, buying aircraft and ordnance, flying missions, getting paid and trying to survive. Its slightly a-historical and aimed at “rule of cool”, but using period accurate aircraft tailored to a certain theater and alignment.

    I’m aligned with the government forces in Eastern Europe / Balkans in the 1980s. Which means I’m working for the Soviets and/or Yugoslavian government and will be up against Western tech.
    Playing medium difficulty, so starting with 2 pilots and 120 million rubles (last time I played hard mode with 1 pilot and limited funds…)
    Bought myself a MiG-23, and a G-4 Super Galeb, as well as a few R-60 Aphid missiles and a casual 30 250kg bombs.
    Should hopefully be able to provide my own air cover with the MiG-23 while the Galeb does the bombing.
    Our Situation at the start of the campaign, after purchasing our aircraft and ordnance:

    First mission seemed to go ok, until the last turn…
    Simple strike mission, shot down a poor quality pilot in a Saab 35 Draken, no biggie, bombed the target (although turns out the G-4 can’t carry enough bombs to gain a “partially successful” strike mission result – only carries 4 and we need 5 points of damage!)

    We were on the way out of the area when an F-4E appeared behind us, poor quality pilot, but with some top gear. Casimir turned back and loosed his last 2 R-60 Aphid missiles, and it looked like that was it for the F-4. The F-4 pilot fired 2 AIM-9Ls before being blown to smithereens.
    The AIM-9Ls homed in on Casimir’s MiG-23, he went evasive but the missiles still exploded nearby, severely wounding Casimir and damaging the MiG. He was able to land regardless, and will have to spend 3 months recovering before being able to fly again (3 campaign turns). The damage on the MiG isn’t a problem, but looks like this crew will need to re-think their ground attack tactics and weapons, and maybe hire another pilot while Casimir recovers….
    Situation after the first mission:

    Next month, flew an uneventful CAP with just Lazlo in the MiG-23 (which cost ~20 million rubles to repair…). Saw a Puma helicopter just as the ‘bingo fuel’ warning was coming on, so no chance to turn back and engage.

    Then the month after flew a medium risk CAP same set up (still waiting for Casimir to recover from the close call with the F-4E).

    Straight away the CAP got interesting – Hostile aircraft! piloted by a Competent pilot! This is where I started stressing out, as Lazlo is average and this competent pilot would be activating first…
    Then I randomized the enemy aircraft – an Aermacchi MB-339A – light ground attack / trainer aircraft with only 2x 7.62 MGs on board.
    Then I didn’t feel as stressed.

    The MB-339 climbed to try to get to the same level as the MiG-23, but its service ceiling was much lower, and it was much less powerful so it was a bit of a sitting duck, even going first each turn.
    Lazlo pulled the MiG around and loosed 2 R-60M aphids at the Aermacchi, but the good pilot was able to evade them and take no damage. The Aermacchi lost crucial speed during this defensive maneuver, and so was not able to make a cannon attack during its next turn.
    There was some jostling for position and both aircraft turned hard to get on the other’s tail, the MB-339 was able to get a bead on the MiG for a cannon attack, but it was just out of range, after which the MiGs power put it in just the right place for a missile launch. The MB-339 was out of speed at this point and the single R-60M Aphid streaked in, the enemy pilot unable to do anything about it. The R-60 impacted and the Aermacchi disintegrated, although the pilot did eject.

    Finally, the first partially successful mission of the campaign – we were paid 12 million rubles, and Lazlo gained 1 xp.

    Current situation:

    This now means I’m out of R-60s and will have to rely on the radar guided R-23Rs (and the cannon) from now on, unless Some R-60s come on to the market next turn.

    Thankfully haven’t met any F-16s yet…

    #90918
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Flew another mission today:

    Took the MiG-23 out on a high risk Combat Air Patrol, just the one aircraft, as my other pilot is almost recovered (will be able to fly again next campaign turn).

    The mission started quietly, with our intrepid pilot carefully circling outside of the enemy IADS System (which was impressive – 2 SA-2 sites, 2 SA-3 sites, 2 SA-6 sites and a smattering of AAA, including heavy AAA with guidance radars)
    Staying outside of this enemy SAM envelope seemed like a very good idea…

    On turn 1 an enemy AH-1 cobra appeared, but being a helicopter it elected to stay low and well inside the IADS system, to keep away from our prowling MiG-23. A wise move as it would be an easy kill for the MiG.

    Turn 2 an enemy aircraft appeared with a veteran pilot (the highest quality possible), flying a Saab 37 Viggen. The Viggen had 6 Rb.71 semi-active radar-homing missiles (SARH) and it immediately went on the attack, getting a radar lock on our MiG-23 and ripple firing 2 Rb.71s. Our MiG was at a decent distance away, and the missiles didn’t hit immediately, but this also meant that the Viggen was out of range of our R-60s (we managed to find some more on the market – only 8 of them though…), and our MiG pilot didn’t have time to get a lock as well as fire the R-23Rs. Our pilot attempted to gain a radar lock, but was unable.

    Another hostile enemy aircraft turned up – a Harrier FRS.1 pilot by a competent pilot. He appeared at low altitude and began to climb and turn to intercept.

    The Rb.71 missiles closed in on our MiG, but the Viggen also closed in – the Viggen was pointing off on a tangent and ended up in a position where his radar was no longer able to see the MiG. This happened at a crucial time, as the MiG was cutting across the Rb.71s, and due to the lack of guidance from the Viggen, both Rb.71s missed.

    Our MiG turned hard and was able to launch 2 R-60 missiles at the Viggen from close range, but the skillful pilot in the Viggen evaded them (although sacrificing much speed to do so.)

    The Bingo fuel warning was sounding, and our MiG attempted to disengage, although the dogfight had bought the MiG into the engagement envelope of 2 SA-3 sites, whose Low Blow radars immediately locked on and each fired a single SA-3 missile. Our MiG was able to evade the closest missile, diving for the ground and pulling a hard turn, and we were able to disengage.

    Not a successful mission, so we didn’t get paid, but at least we survived a high risk mission… Hopefully with 2 pilots we will have better chances in the future.
    We still can’t afford to buy any new aircraft, so hopefully we can just scrape by with the MiG-23 and the Super Galeb.

    Current Situation:

    #90944
    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Pretty cool stuff man!  I love these sorts of campaigns.  We did an “Area-88” style campaign when CY6JA came out.  Fizzled eventually, but was a good time.

    Thanks for the detailed AARs, really enjoying them.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #90947
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    No prob Darkest Star, I’ll keep posting as the campaign continues. Not sure how long it will last, the fun part about the Missile Threat merc air campaign is every mission could be your last…

    Stay tuned to see if I lose by going bankrupt, being unable to fly and/or by getting shot down.

    I think my last campaign lasted 6 turns after which both my aircraft were destroyed and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one, ending my mercenary business.

    #91689
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    The next month, Casimir (our main pilot) had finally recovered enough to fly. We perused the available aircraft and ordnance:

    A J-22 Orao new on the market looked particularly appealing, being able to carry enough bombs to easily complete a strike mission, but we couldn’t afford it. Hopefully after our next mission we will be able to purchase it.

    We selected a Medium Risk Strike mission, as we weren’t equipped for CSAR (need a helicopter), and the other missions didn’t take our fancy. A strike would be easy enough, and with some planning we knew we would need to strafe the target as well as drop 4 250kg bombs in order to inflict enough damage for a partial success (and to get paid…)

    We wrote our flight plan, Lazlo in the Galeb with 4 bombs, Casimir in the MiG-23 with the usual A-A ordnance of R-60 Aphids and R-23R Apex missiles. Lazlo would come in at low altitude, while Casimir covered from above, hopefully out of the enemy air defense envelopes.

    As we got closer to the area of attack, we realized it was much more heavily defended than we thought:

    2 SA-3 sites, various AAA and AAA guidance radars (the Fire Cans), as well as an SA-6 site. Each SAM site had dedicated guidance radars (the Low Blows for the SA-3, and the Straight Flush for the SA-6).

    Game start: (using a Mirage F-1 as the Super Galeb, as I have yet to see any 1/600 Yugoslavian aircraft…)

    It looked like we would need to slightly alter the plan in order to get past these fairly formidable defenses. Casimir immediately dropped altitude, planning to strafe the SA-6 site with his MiG’s cannon, in order to make a hole in the defense network. This would allow both aircraft to bypasss the SA-3 sites, which were the real threats. AAA we would just have to weather as it happened.

    Casimir lined up for a strafing run on the SA-6, but its Straight Flush radar immediately got a solid lock on his MiG – this wasn’t part of the plan!

    Casimir made a hard break, knowing he was within the SA-6’s engagement envelope and attempting to break the lock before it fired. The maneuver didn’t work, but it did cost him precious speed. His Radar Warning Reciever switched from “enemy lock detected” to “MISSILE LAUNCH” and a screaming came through his headset. The SA-6 had launched!

    The SA-6 missile streaked in, Casimir quickly climbed and made a last ditch break, but the SA-6 blew the entire rear off the MiG. Casimir saw the rear half of his aircraft in front of him and decided this was a good time to eject. He ejected safely, and miraculously made it to the ground completely without wounds. Goodbye MiG-23 though.

    The MiG explodes:

    Meanwhile Lazlo in the Super Galeb decided to try to hit the SA-6 site as well, he squeezed off a few rounds, but they didn’t hit the target. Meanwhile the SA-6 switched its lock on to the Galeb.

    The SA-6 launched, this time at the Galeb,

    Seeing the SAM launch gave Lazlo the exact location of the SA-6 site, and he squeezed the trigger, 23mm rounds ripping through the SA-6 site and destroying it! Lazlo was also in a good position to avoid the SA-6 already in the air, when he heard his radar warning reciever groaning, a Low Blow radar had just locked on to him…

    The SA-3 being guided by the Low Blow immediately launched!

    With the MISSILE LAUNCH alarm screaming in his ears, Lazlo swooped past the now burning SA-6 site, and was able to position himself outside of the tracking area of the SA-3 missile:

    SA-3s each hold 4 missiles though, and the Closest SA-3 launched again!

    It didn’t look like Lazlo would make the mission target – all of this was in vain! No wonder the governement wanted to hire expendable mercenaries for this mission!

    Lazlo, low on speed and unable to break the lock from the Low Blow SA-3 guidance radar, decided to ignore the incoming missile and attempt to make it into bombing range of the target. This proved to be a very bad idea, and the SA-3 streaked in, 60kg of high explosive tearing his Super Galeb apart:

    Lazlo was able to eject, and the sudden silence around him was deafening as he floated back to earth.

    Meanwhile Casimir had made it back to friendly lines on foot. Lazlo, severely wounded by the missile impact, was able to limp past the burning SA-6 site, admiring his handy work through the pain and disappointment, he made it through a small forest and eventually back to friendly lines.

    And with both our aircraft destroyed, and not enough cash to buy a new one, our Mercenary Air Campaign comes to a close.

    The final look of our roster sheet:

    So thats the end of the campaign, hope you guys enjoyed reading about it. I certainly have some things to think about, both as a player, and perhaps tweaks to the system with regards to the number of air defense assets in each mission.

    #91908
    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Aw man, what a bummer!  I guess such is life in that high stakes game!  At least they both lived to fly another day.

    Have you flown western aircraft int he other campaigns?

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #91950
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    In the first campaign, I mainly flew an A-6 Intruder, which was awesome for strike missions, being able to destroy things like AAA and SAMs from a standoff distance using AGM-12 Bullpups and also carrying a butt-ton of bombs.

    Then we also had an Mi-8 for pilot rescue and CSAR. Our only problem was we didn’t really have any air cover so we both got shot down by an A-1 Skyraider… 🙂

    #91973
    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Oh man!  That is both unfortunate and hilarious!  Can’t an A-6 carry AIM?  But still, if an A-1 gets in close you’re canon fodder…

    Tell us about our gaming mat, please.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #91978
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Nah, the A-6 is ground attack only, you can see here in our last mercenary roster entry that it just holds bombs and/or AGM-62 Walleye air-to-ground missiles

    We did buy a MiG-21 at the end, but it felt like the campaign was over after losing the A-6, and both pilots were wounded and unable to fly without negatives (and the chance of death if anything went wrong…)

    The gaming mat is from Deep Cut Studio in lithuania. I asked for a 6′ x 4′ PVC mat, with a custom design, specifying european fields with no water and no hexes, suitable for WW1 and WW2.

    #91996
    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Very nice, thanks for the info!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #93235
    Thomaston
    Participant

    Nice campaign, tempting to get into air wargames again.

    Noticed in the aircraft roster that you only had one variant for the F-16 and F-18. There could be at least 3 variants for each for 80s-2000s. Capability difference especially for F-16 were pretty big. F-16s having more hardpoints than F/A-18 seems weird.

    F-16A, F-16C, F-16D or F-16E/F same for F/A-18s.

    Another aircraft is F-104, later G and S variant has better weapons options.

    #93261
    NKL AerotomNKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Hi Tomaston, for the F-16 we use the F-16C block 50 stats, which has 11 hardpoints according to wikipedia. We simplify this to 10 and assume the center Hardpoint is used for a drop tank. The difference in F-16 generally comes from the loadout, which is left to the player. The usage of the AGM-88 and AIM-120 is the only major thing that changes in the later variants of the F-16 (with regards to these rules at least), and that is controlled by the availability of those 2 weapon systems – which are only available from the 90s.

    We use the The F/A-18/C/D stats for Missile Threat, which has 9 hardpoints according to Wikipedia, which we simplify to 8, assuming the center harpoint is used for a drop tank.

    The variants of the F-105 are covered, including the G variant. I have not heard of the F-105S, and it’s not present in the Variants section of the wikipedia entry.

    Hope that answers your questions / concerns 🙂

    #93268
    Thomaston
    Participant

    Thanks, I suspected you were using weapons availability in stead of aircraft variants.

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