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Thread: Opposed Strike Package - AAR and Desired Focus Points

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    510th vFS Pilot ExNusquam's Avatar
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    Opposed Strike Package - AAR and Desired Focus Points

    This is an overview of a fairly challenging scenario that we just threw at a few of our 510th vFS pilots. This was flown on DS1 using our standard threat setup. Package was to strike a group of ammo storage bunkers in Range 75. Briefed threats were 2xSA-2 systems and a single aggressor simulating an Su-27 (AA-11/10C/D shooter).

    Package composition was Zesty 1 (ZY) flight tasked with OCA/SEAD and Showtime 2 (SE) and Python 3 (PN) flights tasked with strike. Arson (AN) flight was aggressor support. ZY flight would push, attrite the air threat then engage the SA-2s with HARM. SE would make a stand-in attack with GBU-31s, with each aircraft having residual HARM to engage SA-2s if ZY flight was unable to do so.

    As the flight progressed, ZY flight encountered a bandit as single contact flanking at 70NM, 38K, which pitched back hot at 40NM, 40K and Mach 1.2+. ZY flight was behind timeline, employed and went out late, which was compounded by the relatively high and fast bandit. SE flight delouses (also late on timeline), which removes the air threat.

    ZY pushes to the target, and places one HARM on the northern SA-2, although ZY12 is killed due to late threat reactions. AN regenerates over TNX, and kills ZY11 in a rundown due to late exit. SE targets AN from inside MTR, employs by LSR and is out by MAR. AN called dead and separates.

    SE pushes towards target, attempting to target HARM. AN regenerates over TNX at low-altitude. PN is directively targeted to the new threat, but AN drags out the AMRAAM and attempts a low-to-high conversion on SE flight. SE turns cold, and SE22 is killed with an HOBS IR shot before AN is killed by PN11. Strike package aborts and RTBs.

    There's a video of the flight from AN1s perspective here:


    I apologize for the hot-mic (which may be annoying), I generally leave Hot Mic enabled since it lets me remember anything I'm saying to myself in-flight.

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  3. #2
    510th vFS Pilot ExNusquam's Avatar
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    In typical 476th fashion, the debrief probably took longer than the actual flight.

    Desired Focus Points:
    1. Why did blue have poor timeline awareness?

    Contributing Factor: A/A Threats not briefed in detail to all flights.
    A/A targeting gameplans were not briefed in detail within the strike flights, so there was not a pre-agreed A/A targeting plan. When operating with an A/A threat, all flights should brief planned engagement ranges, flows and defenses.

    Contributing Factor: Blue unaware of Red Pk Criteria.
    Blue was expecting that shooting 2 AMRAAMs per bandit presentation would assure Pk. Two Red Pk Miss calls in a row surprised ZY flight. Recommendation: treat every shot as if it will miss and stay on timelines.

    Contributing Factor: Draggy loadout.
    All blue fighters were loaded with A/G stores, which significantly limited G available and acceleration performance.

    Root Cause: Poor Timeline Mech
    Most blue flighters executed poor timeline mech. Employment past Transition Ranges, slow to initiate cranks, and failure to recognize when bandit was able to reference High MAR and was violating timeline mach assumptions.

    Significant time spent in Stern WEZ running cold; once youíre inside Stern WEZ range, and the bandit has an employment opportunity, the lower risk option is to pitch back and kill the bandit. Remember pitchback criteria: Directed, Defensive or Naked. Stern WEZ violation while spiked meets Defensive criteria.

    2. Why did ZY12 Die to the SA-2?

    Contributing Factor: Late HARM employment due to SAM remaining silent.
    The SA-2 did not activate itís FAN SONG until ZY flight was within 15NM. ZY had planned tactics expecting that the FAN SONG would illuminate at close to max range, allowing for greater standoff. Had ZY recognized engagement would have occurred at shorter ranges, they would have employed via decoy-shooter roles to optimize aircraft survivability.

    Root Cause: ZY12 failed to employ countermeasures.
    ZY12 did not recognize range from the SAM and incorrectly believed countermeasures were not required for defeat.

    3. Why did blue have poor Coordination/SA?

    Contributing Factor: slow directive targeting by flight leads.
    When flights are facing threats inside MTR, per the 3-1 targeting matrix, they should directively target other flight leads A/R to ensure no untargeted groups threaten friendlies. ZY/SE/PN flights did not promptly re-assign targeting to ensure coverage.

    Contributing Factor: Poor comms
    Numerous blue comms were late or not IAW 3-1 guidance. More detailed briefing on expected comms, and more practice would improve this element.

    Root Cause: Incorrect Assignment of Package Lead by Planners
    Package lead was assigned to the ZY flight lead. As the engagement developed and ZY flight became engaged they lost SA on the overall picture. SE21 should have been the assigned package lead so they could maintain better overall situational awareness and control the package better.

    Learning Point:
    1. Why was blue late to push?

    Root Cause: Poor planned loadouts.
    Loadouts were planned by the overall package lead and red-air. Incorrect planning assumption of the impact of the drag count/weight significantly limited the performance available to ZY and SE flights.

    Recommendation for planning is to reference performance manuals for planned drag counts instead of working off gouge to understand actual excess power available. If possible, carry fewer weapons across more aircraft.

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  5. #3
    510th vFS Pilot Scaley's Avatar
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    Just to add a few lines to what Ex has said about loadout:

    The OCA flight were 4Ax2Wx2A88x2. Fully fuelled and loaded the max available G at 28,000 was about 2.1, and sustained was about 1.6. Given that the range from the tanker to the merge across the top of the NTTR is only about 100nm this meant we were still really heavy when we engaged. Coupled with the fact that we can't loose the external tanks over the range meant that both defensive and offensive BVR manoeuvring was extremely limited.

    Suggestion: For NTTR flights where we know the transit times are short consider fewer tanks, partial tanker onloads, and possibly empty pylons with simulated shots to try to replicate the configuration the jets are likely to be in in a combat scenario.
    Last edited by Scaley; 15Nov20 at 13:01.

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  7. #4
    510th vFS Pilot Trigger's Avatar
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    To add my thoughts:

    Loadout
    • Strike flight even heavier/draggier than OCA flight. Unable to achieve A/A acceleration/maneuverability assumptions without jettisoning external stores. When operating in NTTR, stores jettison only for IFEs or over target. Weapon load was appropriate for DLOs but not for self-escorted strike with continual Red Air presence.


    Mission Planning:
    • Briefing focused on DLOs that were A/G related. As a package, we didn't brief collective reactions to A/A threats, flows and contingencies. Lack of A/A gameplan exploited by a quickly re-generating hostile. I certainly entered the mission with the wrong mindset for what subsequently evolved. Better to focus on fewer DLOs and do them well.
    • 480GS with heavy/draggy configurations is possible but little smash available to recover if behind the timeline. Planning 450GS would allow greater flexibility.


    ALR Criteria
    • We have separate ALR criteria for A/A and A/G missions. For self-escorted strikes, we need to stop treating A/A and A/G as separate entities and consider a combined ALR matrix/table.


    Mission Execution:
    • With OCA element shot down, strike element would have aborted and/or jettisoned A/G stores if a combat operation. In a training scenario stores were retained.
    • 2nd strike flight SPUN on directive from Package Cdr putting element out of position with respect to evolving fight. Discussion on Package Cdr assignment has already been captured earlier in thread. What I would highlight is that Element leads should be prepared to take initiative and react if situation deteriorates rather than waiting for a directive call from someone else.


    Red Air:
    • For training, Red Air should also be reactive to unfolding situation and consider whether to press in light of briefed DLOs. Mission ended up as a series of A/A engagements rather than briefed A/G-orientated DLOs.
    Last edited by Trigger; 15Nov20 at 13:52.

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