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Countering the US/NATO FLIRs

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It's abundantly clear from account after account here that the BLUFOR sensor edge exerts enormous in-game effect, an effect which I would particularly expect to be on full display in the event of a Russian attack in which Russian ambush ingenuity would be useless. It occurs to me that maybe the Russians need to execute a Cold War nightmare scenario of mine while at Hughes. This was Russian mass use of broadband obscurants (which they had and we didn't) to screen the much shorter gun range Russian tanks so they could avoid long range attrition from TOWs and tank cannon, allowing them to close range and use their numbers in a knife fight. Our tactics back then required killing elements of the seemingly endless Russian tanks as far away as possible, but western intel was dismayed to discover the Russians had already reverse mapped our planned firing positions for the glorious/vital long range TOW shots, whether from ground or attack helo and were planning on blanketing them with artillery and rocket fires, removing a great deal of our overall antitank capability in the process. As if that weren't bad enough to contemplate, it was in this time frame in which we became aware of Russian ERA, meaning that such tanks were effectively immune to such ATGMs as did survive. We expected the rest of the tank force would be trailing the ones with ERA, whose job would be to kill the ATGM positions, paving the way for their otherwise HEAT vulnerable main force. As I've explained many times, the actual armor/antiarmor situation was far worse than we thought, too.

Obviously, there is no Russian tank horde in CMBS, but there is broadband obscurant, and the Russians can field more tanks for a given budget than can the Americans, let alone when massed locally for an attack. It therefore seems to me that something like the above could be done by the Russians. If they can get to probably 1000 meters or so, then their guns can kill the Abrams, and as we know, numbers tell. The T-90s, I believe, all have built-in gyrocompasses, so ought to be able to navigate through smoke, which need not be all that much of an obstacle, since it would be placed between them and BLUFOR positions anyway. Obviously, MRLs are tailor made for such a task, but we don't have any, so instead it becomes 122 and 152 mm tube artillery and 120 mm mortars as delivery systems. A real world attack would also employ obscurant delivery from fixed wing and helo tacair as well. This is quite evident in some of the Russian combat exercise videos.

I believe this basic approach above would work, maybe even work well, but I'm still learning to crawl in the game, so it'll be quite some time before I can essay it myself. It might gag the CPUs to run it, but it sure would look cool, too.


John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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I'd swear I watched it being done in the DMS vs c3k AAR. I distinctly recall remarking upon how artillery smoke didn't block thermals and was resoundingly told that arty smoke these days wasn't like the HC of WW II. There exists, for example, a video interview with a German PzH 2000 CO in which he specifically talks about being able to block not just visual but thermals with artillery smoke. Page 30 of the CMBS Manual says artillery smoke blocks visual band only. My Russian is minuscule, but I'm fairly sure I hear an expression that refers to millimeter wave (radar). What I think the announcers says is "millimeter metrogo" or close, to a first approximation, if I'm right, "millimeter measurement." What's absolutely clear is that the smoke munition airbursting is indeed visual and IR blocking. This shell was demonstrated at IDELF in 2006. I believe 0:46 forward speaks volumes.

Compare that image with the Shtora-1 obscurant grenade detonation at 1:01.

They look the same to me. Q.E.D. I believe BFC made a mistake in the manual, since I'm pretty sure I saw artillery smoke block IR in the game. Additionally, this article, "Obscurants and Electronic Warfare," Winter 2011, Chapman and Reichert, writing in the Army Corps of Engineers equivalent journal to ARMOR, is most informative, starting with Figure 1, which indicates the US has multiple means to block not merely visual, but even visual clear through MMW.


Note the use of the present tense here. "Include," not "will include." They're improving the broadband obscurants they already have! I can tell you for a fact that in 1978 the Russians already had obscurants in the field on their tanks which protected against visual and thermal observation when fired. That came straight from the Branch Chief for Image Metrology and Target Signatures for the US Army's FSTC (Foreign Science and Technology Center).

"Future adversaries are also aware of our own reliance on advanced sensors and precision weapons and, in turn, have accelerated their development of advanced obscurants to defeat our use of the EMS. Their capabilities include small- and large-area multispectral obscurants that can defeat our communication and targeting systems and active jammers and eliminate our ability to defeat certain types of improvised explosive devices."


John Kettler

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This was debated during development. Our best information at the moment is that neither the US nor Russia issue multi-spectral artillery rounds to combat units. We have detailed listings of ammunition type and amount for nearly all systems in the game and all the smoke rounds are WP or HC.


Anyone claiming that artillery smoke blocks IR in the game is wrong.

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  • 1 month later...

Vanir Ausf B,


Judging from TRADOC's WEG (Worldwide Equipment Guide), Volume 1, Ground Systems, BFC may wish to rethink its position. Pages 13-2 et seq. say


Agents. The OPFOR employs a mix of smoke agents and their delivery systems, as well as improvised obscurants to generate obscuration effects. The more common obscurants include

  • Petroleum smokes (fog oil and diesel fuel).

  • Hexachloroethane (HC) or hexachlorobenzene (HCB) smoke

  • Aluminum-magnesium alloy smoke (Type III IR for bispectral effectsvisual/IR bands)

  • Phosphorus: white phosphurus (WP), red phosphorus (RP), WP/butyl mix (PWP)

  • Metallic (including graphite or brass) smokes for MMW band and multi-spectral effects

  • Improvised obscurants: Colored signal smokes, dust, burning tires, oil wells, etc.

    The table below shows regions of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum that different types of obscurants can block and the types of EO systems that operate in those spectral regions.

  • (Personal comment: I first learned about the metallic smokes in 1978, practically as soon as I got my SECRET clearance. The Russians already had them operational on their tanks, and they were very much a threat issue for the WASP smart swarm antitank missile program, which used MMW guidance. Info came straight from Tom D'Isepo, Branch Chief, Image Metrology and Target Signatures, US Army Foreign Science and Technology Center. He was the customer at the very first threat briefing I gave.)

Note: Because the Forum software wouldn't let me--something about a prohibited extension type, I couldn't include the vital table, which provides a very thorough breakdown on what effects are vs what weapons and in which spectral region or regions. I have bolded the key passage of the table's summary.




As shown above, smokes may operate in more than one band of the spectrum. The OPFOR is capable of employing obscurants effective in the visible through far-IR wavebands as well as portions of the millimeter waveband. These obscurants are commonly referred to as multi-spectral smoke. The OPFOR uses a number of different smoke agents together for multi-spectral effects. Thus, obscurants such as fog oil blocks portions of the electromagnetic spectrum more fully when seeded with chaff. The vast quantities of white phosphorus (WP) on the battlefield also suggest that random mixtures of this agent with other obscurants (both manmade and natural) could occur, by chance or design. Neutral smoke agents are liquid agents, pyrotechnic mixtures, or phosphorus agents with no toxic characteristics.




Worldwide Equipment Guide Dec 2011


Delivery Systems. Ample OPFOR smoke dissemination munitions and equipment includes: Smoke grenades.
Vehicle engine exhaust smoke systems (VEESS).
Smoke barrels, drums, and pots.

Mortar, artillery, and rocket smoke rounds.
Large-area smoke generators (ground and air). Spray tanks (ground and air). 


Artillery. Artillery (including mortars) can deliver various types of smoke rounds. Seven to 10 percent of all artillery fire may be smoke rounds. These are mostly WP and plasticized white phosphorus (PWP), which have a moderate degrading effect on thermal imagers and a major one on lasers. The table below shows ammunition expenditures required for various types of artillery to produce a 1-km smokescreen for 15 minutes. 


Seems to me that incorporating the above information into the game would put a bit of a dent into the American sensor and fire control edge. Degraded American thermals would help Russian battlefield longevity, and depriving the Americans of their lasers and night vision would really smart.





John Kettler



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