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CAS (mis)representation


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I believe the way the game approaches fixed winged CAS is flowed:

1) there is no justification why helos can be brought on a CAS mission without LOS or UAV observation while fixed wing cannot

2) even where there is LOS or UAV observation  there is no reason why each plane of a multi unit CAS cannot be designated different targets, especially buildings. It is standard that before a strike mission each plane plots a  target to its computer and when the group passes the IP point each plane zeros on its pre planed target.

3) With Russians in particular, where there is always only an air controller (I wonder why designers do so) and noone else can call air support, fix wing support is rendered useless for any other purpose than killing tanks and AFVs.

I know that people will argue that CAS is Close Air Support mission (i.e tanks and vehicles are the targets) and not a strike mission. But in large battlefields with lots of buildings it makes much more sense to use the bombs against key buildings. One way to mitigate this (especially for Russians) would be to make the planes available from the beginning in order to allow pre planned missions.

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8 hours ago, Euri said:

I believe the way the game approaches fixed winged CAS is flowed:

1) there is no justification why helos can be brought on a CAS mission without LOS or UAV observation while fixed wing cannot

2) even where there is LOS or UAV observation  there is no reason why each plane of a multi unit CAS cannot be designated different targets, especially buildings. It is standard that before a strike mission each plane plots a  target to its computer and when the group passes the IP point each plane zeros on its pre planed target.

3) With Russians in particular, where there is always only an air controller (I wonder why designers do so) and noone else can call air support, fix wing support is rendered useless for any other purpose than killing tanks and AFVs.

I know that people will argue that CAS is Close Air Support mission (i.e tanks and vehicles are the targets) and not a strike mission. But in large battlefields with lots of buildings it makes much more sense to use the bombs against key buildings. One way to mitigate this (especially for Russians) would be to make the planes available from the beginning in order to allow pre planned missions.

1) Agree, although seeing as this game simulates low level fixed wing CAS, it's pretty freaking hard to spot a tank when you're hauling the mail at 1000' AGL or lower.  I don't know what altitude exactly the fixed wing CAS is supposed to be at but it's apparently low enough to where SHORAD is a factor.

2) That's not really how controlled CAS works.  One controller is going to control one strike, even if it's multiple aircraft.  Simple example: Husky 42, 2 F/A-18s would attack tanks in the open at grid 123456.  If Husky 421 is going to attack a tank while Husky 422 is supposed to attack a building, ~90% of the time they'd have entirely separate coordination efforts for their strikes.  Again you get more flexibility as (fixed wing) aircraft altitude increases, but that's now how this game works.

3)  From my understanding that's just Russian doctrine.  Only the FAC is trained in how to call in a strike.  American forces have learned a lot of lessons in the employment of force multiplication in the last 16 years, which gives them a wider access amongst ground forces.  You'd still get best results with a JTAC, but if a platoon leader can describe his target to me in plain English I can figure it out.

CAS can also be applied to buildings, woodlines, etc.  It's simply in support of friendly forces currently engaged, so don't get hung up on the definition.  As for pre-strikes, like artillery, if you have access to the planes at the start of the round you can use them for minute 1 strikes on buildings (I often do).  If they don't show up until later that's the mission makers choice, not an inherent limitation of the game.

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On 9/12/2017 at 9:48 PM, HerrTom said:

To add, I don't believe Soviet or Russian doctrine ever really emphasized CAS missions. That was a job for artillery or helicopters which can pick their own targets. Fixed wing aviation was for strike, escort and interception missions.

Yes. Which adds to my point that Russian fixed wing should be made available at the start of the mission to allow for preplaned strikes, rather than arriving in the middle as inefficient tank hunters 

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59 minutes ago, Euri said:

Yes. Which adds to my point that Russian fixed wing should be made available at the start of the mission to allow for preplaned strikes, rather than arriving in the middle as inefficient tank hunters 

Sounds right to me...but what do I know: very little when it comes to contemporary doctrine and practice.

Michael

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3 hours ago, Euri said:

Yes. Which adds to my point that Russian fixed wing should be made available at the start of the mission to allow for preplaned strikes, rather than arriving in the middle as inefficient tank hunters 

But again this is a scenario issue, not a game issue.

Also, can't jets target a building without it being observed by a unit? I recall this but may be mistaken.

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Area is a 'seek and destroy' - if the pilot spots something that fits the mission parameters (general/personnel, light - heavy) then they will fire. Point fire plus mission parameters means they will use that munitions bracket on that point, regardless of whether the pilot sees something.

Missions except for pre-planned ones before the scenario begins have to be observed, yes. Again that's more of a scenario issue - with fixed wing support usually being reinforcements. I am not sure why that's the case when it isn't for Rotary wing support; but I'm willing to think Duchess has a point with low-flying CAS and actually detecting anything at that speed. 

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Generally, "Area Fire" for aircraft does not seem that effective.  (They have a hard time spotting anything.)   Point target is usually good.  But sometimes is spectacularly inaccurate.  It's annoying to order a "Heavy" attack on a building that is easy to see...  and the aircraft makers a huge hole 50 meters away.

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With my (obviously 150% true to life and accurate) experience flying Viggens in DCS the low attitude strike missions barely give you time to see your target.

In the above I had maybe 3 seconds to line up the bridge and drop. Out of 12 bombs only one actually hit the bridge.

I can't imagine picking a single building out at that level without GPS or targeting pods!

 I'm sure Duchess will tell me everything I said is wrong though. 

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9 hours ago, HerrTom said:

With my (obviously 150% true to life and accurate) experience flying Viggens in DCS the low attitude strike missions barely give you time to see your target.

In the above I had maybe 3 seconds to line up the bridge and drop. Out of 12 bombs only one actually hit the bridge.

I can't imagine picking a single building out at that level without GPS or targeting pods!

 I'm sure Duchess will tell me everything I said is wrong though. 

Meh not really that wrong.  Generally speaking in real life you have better SA than you would in a sim, but a low level to an unfamiliar target is still very challenging.  It's all about planning ahead of time (I know this isn't done nearly as intensely in even the strictest of sim communities) with multiple checkpoints.  But at the end of the day you'll probably only have a few seconds to see your target when you're down low.  PGMs (lazed from someone else or GPS guided) can make a difference here but often your launch basket is so small that you may justify nonguided weapons and hope for the best.  That's the complaint I have with aircraft in this game: they follow a very cold war mindset of low level "one pass haul ass" kind of runs, whereas that's not how this would go in real life, short of like A-10s.

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If you want to do pre-planned strike missions set them up during initial scenario setup, not after game start. You'll be able to target building and bridges and such without direct LOS. Planes like F15 and SU-34 tend to fly considerably higher than SU-25 and F-16 and loiter longer. They still have to come around to make multiple passes, though.

Ukraine has had real world experience with CAS against a high tech opponent and it basically grounded their air force. They've had real world experience with using forward observers and drones against an opponent with ECM capability and... well... things have been difficult. This isn't the US air force targeting an ISIS compound in the northern Syria desert. This is a war where the opponent shoots back in a cluttered target-rich environment, where replacement aircraft and air crews aren't easy to come by. 

 

Edited by MikeyD
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I think it's probably possible, but the air controller would have to be good enough to tell the pilot exactly where to go and you still have limited ability to actually hit what you want. In the above example the only way I could get near the target was by screaming in at Mach 1.2 at treetop level.

Which makes me think. It would be kinda nice if we could really do a "one pass and haul ass" in CMBS. If I could get an SU24 to drop its payload in one go I feel like it  might be more effective!

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On 9/14/2017 at 9:54 AM, Rinaldi said:

Area is a 'seek and destroy' - if the pilot spots something that fits the mission parameters (general/personnel, light - heavy) then they will fire. Point fire plus mission parameters means they will use that munitions bracket on that point, regardless of whether the pilot sees something.

Missions except for pre-planned ones before the scenario begins have to be observed, yes. <Snip>   

I like the "Seek and Destroy" way of thinking of an aircraft area target mission.  That helps to explain an area mission.

For aircraft I believe there are only three types of air missions: Heavy, Medium and Light.  (general or personnel are for some artillery) 

Heavy, Medium and Light refers to the type of ordnance to be used.  In general Light = bullets Heavy = large bombs

In the WWII titles it also depends on what configuration aircraft was purchased in a QB or added by a scenario designer.  Example: A Strafe configuration would always be light even if given a heavy mission since it only has light ordnance.  CMBS has a more generic aircraft purchase configuration.   

 

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16 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

So, how would it go in real life?

Michael

Going to go ahead and call myself out on this one

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I'm not going to go too heavily into tactics and capabilities because security but here's how the air war would play out over Ukraine.  This is pretty much just going to concern NATO vs. Russia because the Ukrainian Air Force won't exist after 12 hours.  Note that I've hit this before but it's time for a refresher.

Day 1-3 - Blunt Russian attacks, fight for Air Superiority.  Any and all CAS operations will be conducted by organic rotary elements to Ground forces (i.e. AH-64 and AH-1Z).  A-10 wouldn't survive the environment and fast multirole jets (even F-35) will be dedicated to counter air.  F-22 Rapid Raptor package on station by the end of the day, if not sooner.  Strikes behind enemy lines (not necessarily and most likely NOT across Russian border) would be done by Tomahawks, of which we have approximately 100,000 ready to go at a moments notice.  These would primarily be SEAD and C2 strikes, although the Army might be able to ask nicely enough to get logistical dumps and troop concentrations to get hit too, maybe bridges.  A lot of missiles will get shot down by fancy Russian AA systems (of which I remain skeptical of full claims) but I can't emphasize enough how many missiles we have.  Plus every S-400 used against a Tomahawk is one not used against an F-18.  You may also see Tomahawks acting as a bastardized version of dire need CAS because it can loiter and hit moving targets now.  That role is speculative on my part though.

Russia will be at the biggest advantage because NATO air forces in theater will be at their lowest number (assuming there isn't like a weeks warning).  This is probably the only day where Russian fixed wing CAS exists.  That's good though because they don't have a lot of PGMs, so use them while you got them.  If NATO has enough warning to get squadrons in theater, or a carier in the eastern Med, before the fight Russia has no chance.

Day 3-5 - Initial hodgepodge of NATO reinforcements (F-16s from Aviano, F-15s from England, European squadrons, Tankers, AWACS, other ISR/EW assets) start to arrive.  NATO air superiority bubble grows, first SEAD strikes (on things that Tomahawks didn't wipe out on first day.  Again, we have just soo many).  If you want you can assume that Euro NATO types don't go on offensive but are more than glad to man the second line of aircraft.  There's still more than enough USAF jets to own the front line skies. Russian Fixed wing CAS exists only in temporary bubbles provided by heavily escorted strike packages.

Day 5-7 - Even more NATO reinforcements arrive, Russian attrition really starts to show.  Fancy SAM systems are now most reliable counter to NATO air, either by surviving first few days or firing from Russia.  Heavily escorted strike packages may push in now to hit ground targets, be they troops or strategic nodes.  But these are going to have a very heavy anti air and SEAD escort, backed by EW and ISR assets.  The only low level strikes would be against time sensititive fixed positions that for some reason a cruise missile can't hit, but those still remain the best option.  NATO Fixed wing CAS exists only in temporary bubbles provided by heavily escorted strike packages.  Russian fixed wing CAS ceases to exist.

Day 7+ RuAF assets in theater no longer exist in being, are kept purely for homeland defense.  Surviving fancy SAMs are the only real threat to NATO aircraft but it's not like NATO has no counters and there's a political element to firing them from Russian homeland.  Fixed wing CAS makes its persistent appearance, dropping PGMs from high altitude to stay out of Russian SHORAD.

Takeaways: As the fighting goes on, Russia simply doesn't have the fighter force to last against NATO.  There are more F/A-18s in the US Navy than all types of Russian fighters in their entire armed forces.  That's not to say that all of either will be employed, but there are so many more assets (and better ones with better trained pilots with more available better munitions) available to the US and NATO.  The Russian Air Force is good enough though that NATO won't be able to provide CAS for the first few days (the above timeline can be modified lengthwise but that's the way it would flow) unless it's some super pressing need-it-now-or-we-lose-the-war need in which case it would require an Alpha Strike.  It's simply too risky these days to risk aircraft down low where Russian SHORAD provides a solid defense, and multirole jets will be focused on winning the air war.  All of NATOs PGM and ISR strengths are best employed at altitude where they are also less likely to be shot down.

Russia on the other hand is a lot more likely to employ low level risky flights.  NATO Shorad sucks enough to where they can get lucky dodging jets up high, and the Russians don't have nearly as many precision munitions or targeting pods available to get the best use of high altitude CAS.

Conclusion:
CAS in this game still makes no sense.  Jets should never be at risk from any of the AA assets in game, and even helos (at least the AH-64E) have enough standoff that they should never be at risk.

Edited by Codename Duchess
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40 minutes ago, Erwin said:

How would all those be stored and kept safe from pre-emptive strike, but at same time easy to launch? 

Tomahawks are ship and submarine launched, the land based units were retired at the end of the Cold War.  The launching ships could be in Turkish or Polish waters and range most of the Ukraine from my beer math, which given current US deployments to the Med or Northern Atlantic wouldn't be too difficult to task.

Which is to say,  the Russian capability to go after US Naval vessels, especially ones within NATO controlled waters, often behind NATO controlled land/air space would be challenging.  This would also mean rearming underway would be done in normally "safe" waters.  

The US managed to put 802 Tomahawks into Iraq in 2003.  It would be pretty sporty to be a high value Russian target in the Ukraine.  

Edited by panzersaurkrautwerfer
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1 hour ago, Artkin said:

100k tomahawk missles..? Wtf

Slight exaggeration but not by as much as you think. I think the real number is close to 20,000. Google Ohio SSGN

56 minutes ago, Erwin said:

How would all those be stored and kept safe from pre-emptive strike, but at same time easy to launch? 

Their official range is "over 1000nm." A SWO once told me that Tibet is about the only part of the planet that we can't hit. But yeah Tomahawks are on every Navy sub and ship and they would not be withheld against Russia. And that doesn't include air launched conventional cruise missiles. You could probably walk from one side of the Black Sea to the other end, wide way, across Tomahawks if push came to shove.

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"Tibet is about the only part of the planet that we can't hit."

If you look at a map Tibet is not that far from an Ocean.  There are landlocked places far further.   This all seems hyperbole.  Are certain folks hoping the Russians are reading these forums to get RW info on US capabilities.  (They will be a real walkover if that's the case lol.)

And if Tibet were that safe, one would imagine all Chinese bases would be relocated there.  After all, we're more likely to get into a war with China.

Edited by Erwin
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The Tibet thing was just a joke...they don't literally mean they can't hit Tibet. Its like saying the only thing we can't hit is the moon, implying that we can basically hit everything.

 

I mean its not hard to imagine a cruise missile, a missile specifically designed to fly far and hit a target can fly about 1000nm. I believe CMANO puts the newest Tomahawks range at 1500nm. This is roughly the same for the Russian Kalibr cruise missile they've been firing at Syria for the past couple years.

 

None of this should be a surprise to anyone thats interested in this kind of stuff, especially if your in the intelligence community in Russia or the US.

Edit: Duchess brought up the Ohio SSGN earlier, one of those carries about 150 Tomahawks, so I mean you could do serious damage to Syrian and Russian airbase infrastructure with one of those for example.

Edited by Raptorx7
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