In this mission I have to defend the airbase, whilst destroying theirs.
I have three priorities:
- The first is to set up a defensive "picket" around my task force and airbase.
- The second will be to scout the enemy defences.
- Thirdly, I will assemble a strike force and attack the enemy airbase.
The Threat Axis:
The first thing you need to do is identify the "Threat Axis" - this is the likely axis of enemy attack. Once identified, you can position your defences accordingly.
The outer layer of defence is your picket. This is usually composed of AEW (recon), CAP (combat air patrol), and low profile/stealth ships. In land warfare this would be your screen. Normally this picket line is placed around 350NM out from your surface fleet, and it's job is to destroy enemy recon elements, detect incoming missiles, and engage enemy air assets. In this particular scenario, one of my planes is not in position yet (the right most), as the mission just started.
For my picket I have chosen two airwings of air superiority fighters flying mid altitude, with an UAV element flying highest altitude with radar ON. The UAV is cheap and expendable in relative terms, so I don't mind it lighting up the sky and serving as a distraction. My other fighters have their radar's set to OFF. I have all my picket units set to patrol small boxes and half speed to save on fuel. Their job is to loiter up there as long as possible.
I also have enough reserve units at my airbase to reinforce my picket, rotate units low on ammo, and intercept any missiles or aircraft that break through the picket.
The Outer Screen:
The outer screen is usually located around 40NM away from your core units, or high value assets. The job of the outer screen is to engage units that break through the picket. In this case my outer screen is composed of a task force of three ships (One DDG and two FFGs), one airwing (also currently out of position in this scenario), and two helicopters on ASW duty. One helicopter is launching sonar boys along the threat axis, and the other is launched near my ships on stand by, ready to engage any threat that is time critical. Always have at least one ASW helicopter airborn and near your fleet, because by the time you see an enemy sub, it's usually too late!
The Inner Screen:
The inner screen in a CBVG is usually the ships protecting the carrier, but in this case my inner screen is the airfield, which is my primary objective I need to defend. The airfield itself is protected by SAM's and CIWS which make up part of the inner screen. I also have interceptor airwings on standby to intercept anything that breaks through.
I have one AWACS airborne, set to circle at highest altitude on half speed for its radar to be more effective, and a tanker set to circle at medium altitude on half speed so it is harder to find. The AWACS is the primary eyes and ears of my forces, as I tend to keep the active RADARs off on the vast majority of my units, unless heavily engaged.
Emissions Control (EMCON) is very important. It is vital that your surface ships, submarines, and aircraft remain undetectable. You should only engage active RADAR's when in dire need, ie being swarmed in battle, or on key units which you believe can act as a picket/screen, or are at the rear and safe.
AAM Missile Tactics:
Don't always fire at max range, unless you want to 'scare' off an enemy unit. What I tend to do is if I want to scare off a large strike force, I will launch one BVR missile at each member of the enemy strike force, which will cause them to take evasive manoeuvres. Too much of this and it may cause smaller fighters to go BINGO fuel and RTB. When engaging to kill though, if you have your RADAR's off and are using a stealth fighter, you should be able to sneak up on the enemy contacts and engage at closer rangers. Fire two missiles at each target and wait to see if they are eliminated, then fire another volley of two. This helps conserve ammo but ensures you have a higher pK (Kill probability).
Offensive Strike Packages - lead with your ECM and ECCM units, preferably equipped with HARM or the equivalent missile types. These missions are called "Wild Weasel" missions are are effective at engaging enemy air defence units when they activate their radars, allowing the follow on strike elements greater chance of success. I like to use my strike packages in groups of two wild weasel, then wings of four strike elements.
Fly low, and the idea is to launch volleys of missiles. I also try to use multiple strike forces attacking from multiple directions - if you can used recon you should be able to figure out the enemies threat axis. Engage enemy structures and surface ships manually, launching as many missiles as possible before getting out of dodge as quickly as possible.
Most importantly though, make sure you have a big enough strike package, if attacking an enemy CVBG for example, you will need 60+ anti-ship missiles to bypass their defences, possibly even more. NATO fleets with the SM can engage a hell of a lot of targets (hundreds if you are up against US DDG's) so plan accordingly. Remember, you CAN reequip your air assets, but you need to wait some time.
Feel free to add tips of your own.