Northern Fury – BUFF Stampede
Playtest Report by AndrewJ Feb 2016
I finally had a chance to try this one out. I think my approach was reasonably conventional.
After some initial sniffing around with the RC-135, TR-1, and P-3 (goodbye AGI!) I decided to use two of my TLAM allowance to remove the central surveillance radar and provoke the local radars to illuminate, and send pairs of the remainder to try and mess up the small southern island airport and the two western-most small airports on the N side of Iceland. This destroyed a few aircraft on the ground, and slowed down launching a little, but didn't completely shut them down. The surveillance radar died, and my sensor guys went to work as local radars turned on. (The sub had a peaceful voyage thereafter.)
After building up a better ELINT picture of what was going on, my first flights of F-16s and EF-111s approached silently under full EMCON, while the B-2 snuck in over the bay to drop its bombs on the Reykjavik runways. This was a complete success, and my jammers and F-16s lit up to cover the B-2's retreat and deal with the fighters that came charging up out of Keflavik.
The Keflavik runways were supposed to be shut by CALCMs around the same time, but this was a poor choice, as a lot of the CALCMs got shot down by ZSUs, and their blast-frag warheads (although powerful), weren't optimal for attacking runways. Some damage was done, but the runways stayed open. (The CALCM toting B-52s hung around in the background acting as jamming support for the remainder of the operation.)
With the B-2 safely out of the way the Greenland SEAD wave came in, as a dogfight was developing in the Kef/Ryk area. The F-18s' long-range Sparrows were supposed to be a useful counter to AA-10-Cs, by shooting from the security of my jamming screen, but the Russian ground based jammers kept hampering things so it didn't go quite as smoothly as desired. Nonetheless, with half their local fighters trapped on the ground in Ryk, we were able to gain the upper hand in this area, and then knock down most of the better SHORADS with HARMs.
At this point we were able to move in aircraft equipped with good ground search radars, and we started detecting additional logistics targets on the western side of the island. As the B-1s started arriving they were able to deal with many of these, zooming around at very low altitude, and plastering the area with strings of iron bombs. They also started working over the airfields, shutting the Kef runways while confidently staying just out of AAA range. That's when the Grouse gunner lurking in the residential area announced his presence, nailing a $200 million strategic bomber with a shoulder launched missile. I never could spot him, and had to spend the rest of the scenario another kilometer higher to stay out of MANPADs range while bombing.
When the B-52s arrived they started laying down nice thunderous strings of bombs across the two major airports. They only scuffed the HASs, but did a nice job on hangars and other soft targets, racking up a fine score of parked Su-24s. My fighters were almost all on station by this point, and I was confident I could handle any sorties from eastern Iceland, so rather than making single passes the bombers loitered in a cab rank, and were sent in one at a time to grind down the enemy, adopting a bomb-look-bomb policy. Some of the B-1s were sent around the coastal airfields, destroying logistics sites and radars, while the fighters stood guard, and dealt with the few remaining Russian aircraft that popped up. (Although things got a bit hairy at one point when I was confidently facing off against Su-27s. They had no jammers, and I was screened by 4 of them. Nice and safe, right? Except the buggers were cheerfully ignoring their radars, and using their IRSTs to lob long range IR-guided Bs and Ds at me, dammit!)
Up to this point I'd stayed away from Hornafjordur in the SE corner of Iceland. I hadn't seen any modern long-range SAMs in the Ryk/Kef area so far, which made sense given the dedicated SEAD efforts in the SW in previous scenarios, but in previous scenarios I'd usually left Hornafjordur alone. If the SAMs were anywhere, they would be there. Long range radar turned up one jammer and one mobile contact in the area, which might have been a SAM, but I didn't want to get closer for a better look. Eventually I gathered the courage to send one B-1 in from the north, nap of the earth over the mountain and hurtling down the valley towards Horn, hoping to stay screened below the valley walls until it was too late for the enemy to react. Bursting out of the valley mouth the bomber rushed towards the SAM site and seconds later it was inside the SAM's minimum range, pulling up and dumping a dozen 500 lb bombs across the battery, then pulling a few degrees left it shot across the airbase, bombing the airfield radar as it dropped back down to minimum altitude and rushed out to sea with all its jammers turned up to 11. Fortunately, that was the only SAM there, or the story might have ended poorly.
After that the systematic bombing continued, and aircraft were eventually recovered to their airbases in England, or back in Greenland for the F-18s, EA-6s, and Hercs.