Phase I: Ready aircraft
Select NAS Fallon air base on the map. In the Unit Status pane press the Aircraft: 72/72 button to bring up the Air Ops (Air Operations) window. Press the + (plus) to the left of the aircraft types to list each individual aircraft on the base. Review the list of aircraft and their loadouts. The aircraft that will participate in the strike have been readied with combat or support loadouts, the rest are set to unavailable.
There are F-14A Tomcat fighters armed with long-range air-to-air missiles (AAMs), A-6E Intruder bomb trucks in the strike role armed with various types of bombs, A-7E Corsairs in the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) role armed with anti-radiation (anti-radar) missiles (ARMs), and more A-7E Corsairs in the stand-off role and ground attack role armed with TV-guided glide bombs and iron bombs.
It is possible to change the loadouts but this will take time as the crews will have to be re-briefed, the mission planning re-done, the ordnance brought out of the ammo magazine for assembly, testing and mounting on the aircraft, and so on. So it is recommended to leave those as they are for now.
Phase II: Fighters
Start with getting the F-14A Tomcat fighters airborne. The fighters can either be assigned to missions so that the computer will handle the job automatically, or they can be flown manually.
1. You may choose to create an Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) patrol area in the Mission Editor to accomplish this task.
To do so:
The AAW patrol mission uses reference points to define the area to be patrolled. You will need to insert new reference points near the target area where you want the fighters to operate. Deselect any existing reference points and select the reference points to be used or define your own area by using the Define Area function.
You can deselect all reference points by left click drag selecting a box over all reference points. You'll know they're unselected when they appear to be gray x's.
You should then define the area you want to patrol by left click drag selecting the reference points to activate them. You'll know they are selected when they appear as gold diamonds and you see their names in bold white.
You could create your own box by pressing the control key while right clicking the mouse. When the drop down appears select Define Area and left click drag select the area you would like to create a zone which creates four selected reference points.
Next select Add new mission from the Missions + Ref. Points drop down menu at the top of the UI.
When the New Mission dialog appears give the mission a name, select class (Patrol), select type (AAW Patrol) and then click the okay button.
When the Mission Editor Dialog appears select the mission to edit by selecting your mission name from the mission list on the left. You'll know it is selected when the text is highlighted.
Select the armed F-14A Tomcat fighters from the Units unassigned list on the far right by clicking the check box to the right of the aircraft type or individual aircraft and then click the left arrow button moving them into the Units assigned to mission column. Your units are now assigned to the AAW Patrol mission you created.
Press the Mission Doctrine / ROE / EMCON (Rules of Engagement / Emission Control) button. Click on the EMCON Settings tab and uncheck the Inherit From Parent checkbox. Then set Radar to Active to ensure that the Tomcats are using their impressive radars. Also verify that the RTB when Whinchester option is set to yes which means the aircraft will return to base when out of relevant weapons.
Make sure to uncheck the 1/3rd Rule option so that all aircraft are launched immediately. Click Close to complete process of assigning the fighters to the AAW Patrol mission. Start the game (F12 key) and wait for the aircraft to take off.
2. The UI does provide some helpful clues about the environment your aircraft are operating in. Your mouse data block displays time-of-day, weather information, land elevation, and so on. To measure the range and bearing between two points, press Ctrl + D and click on the first point. Then move the mouse pointer to measure the range and bearing. To start a new measurement, press the mouse button again. To exit the range and bearing tool, press either Ctrl + D again or Esc.
The light red rings show the maximum range of your air-to-air weapons against a static target (0 knots), while white arcs show the range of your air-to-air radars.
3. Review the sensor dialog (F9 hotkey) to learn about the type of sensors your aircraft carry and how to best use them.
4. You may control your aircraft manually if you rather prefer to have full control over them. For details on how to fly them manually please refer to the last phase of this tutorial, Flying under manual control.
Phase III: Air-to-air combat
As soon as the Tomcats are airborne and start operating their radars you will detect unidentified aircraft also known as bogies. If assigned to missions, the fighters will automatically close on the bogies to intercept. To manually turn on or off radars you need to change the EMCON (Emission Control) settings. Select an aircraft or a group and press the F9 key to bring up the Unit sensor window.
When assigned to missions the aircraft will attack bogies automatically. If under manual control the aircraft can be ordered to automatic attack targets by selecting the aircraft or group you want to use in the attack and press the F1 key. Then select the target or targets, and these will be added to your aircraft's target list. Alternatively press Shift + F1 to bring up the Weapon allocation window to manually allocate weapons to targets. It is also possible to right-click on an aircraft or group, click Attack Options, and select one of the options. Pay attention to the Ignore Plotted Path When Attacking flag. When this flag is checked the planes will ignore the current flight path and bore in on the nearest target for an attack.
The TV Camera Set (TCS) on the F-14A Tomcat can identify airborne contacts at up to ten times the range of the naked eye. Typically 12-15nm against fighter-sized targets in clear weather. In order to avoid friendly fire incidents or shooting at neutral targets, the ROEs (Rules of Engagement) stipulate that air contacts have to be identified before opening fire. However this puts the F-14s with their impressive long-range weapons at a disadvantage as the fighters have to get quite close to their targets before firing.
If you are absolutely sure there are no neutral units nearby then you may allow the aircraft to engage unidentified contacts as if they were hostile. Select an aircraft or group, right-click and select Doctrine + ROE. Then set Engage non-hostile targets to Yes. You can also set this option for the mission itself in the Mission Editor window.
To change these settings for all own units, go to Game => Side Doctrine + ROE. The changes made there will apply to all units unless specifically overridden by the Doctrine and ROE for missions or on the individual units or groups.
It is also possible to create an Exclusion zone to create a free-fire zone. Please refer to the manual on how to do this.
Phase IV: Ground Strike
Take off with all attack aircraft that will take part in this Alpha Strike and proceed to the B-17 bombing range marked by the reference points on your map. There are three target complexes; an air base, an industrial target, and a missile assembly site. These targets are defended by various air-defence systems including surface-to-air missile (SAM) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) sites. The location of fixed ground objects such as runways, tarmacs and hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) are known on forehand and will automatically appear on the map when you press Play. Fixed SAM sites are marked as well, and can be struck relatively easily granted the batteries haven't been moved overnight. Mobile air defence units are far more difficult to suppress as the exact locations are not know. Be real careful when hunting down these.
Modern Red air defences are extremely lethal and have to be suppressed quickly before the main body of the Alpha Strike arrives. Some of your A-7E Corsair attack aircraft have been armed with AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles (ARM) that home in on the air-defence sites' fire-control radars. For the fixed sites you can create normal strike missions while for the mobile ones you can use a SEAD Patrol (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) mission. It is also possible to control the aircraft manually.
The target complexes will be struck using both A-7E Corsair light-attack and A-6E Intruder medium-attack aircraft. Some A-7Es carry stand-off AGM-62B Walleye II glide bombs. These have a TV seeker and a datalink channel that transmit the target image back to the launching aircraft. The glide bombs can be dropped at high altitude and at a long distance from the target, outside the reach of most point-defence systems. But due to the high cost of the weapons these are in short supply and should be used sparingly, preferably against highly important and highly defended point targets such as bridges, military C3I targets, power stations, etc. The fact that the weapons use a TV seeker also make them a clear-weather day-only weapon.
Other A-7E Corsairs carry Mk82 iron bombs. These are cheap dumb bombs and are available in great numbers. They are typically released at low altitude and high speed, and require the releasing aircraft to overfly the target. Some A-6E Intruders are armed with Mk82 bombs as well but carry a much larger bomb load than the Corsairs. The accuracy of these bombs depends a lot on the release altitude and the bombs sight and navigation system type fitted to the carrying aircraft. A handful A-6E Intruders are armed with GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. These bombs are guided to the target by the laser illuminator onboard the carrying aircraft, and can only be released from medium and high altitudes in clear weather. The weapons are expensive and are in short supply, and should be used only against critical targets.
1. You may choose to create an SEAD patrol mission and ground strike mission in the Mission Editor to accomplish this task. To do so:
The SEAD patrol mission uses reference points to define the general area where the targets are located. Deselect all previous reference points. You'll know they're deselected when they appear to be dull gray x's.
You should then define the area you want to patrol by adding new reference points by left click drag selecting the reference points to activate them. You'll know they are selected when they appear as gold diamonds and you see their names in bold white.
You could create your own box by control + right clicking, select Define Area and left click drag selecting the area you would like which creates four reference points.
Next select add new mission from the Missions + Ref. Points drop down menu at the top of the UI.
When the New Mission dialog appears give the mission a name, select class (Patrol), Select Type (SEAD Patrol) and then click the okay button.
When the Mission Editor Dialog appears select the mission to edit by selecting your mission name from mission list on the left. You'll know it is selected when the text is highlighted.
Select the A-7E Corsair light-attack aircraft armed with AGM-45 Shrike missiles from the Units unassigned list on the far right by clicking the check box to the right of the aircraft type or individual aircraft and then click the left arrow button moving them into the Units assigned to mission column. Your units are now assigned to the SEAD Patrol mission you created.
Make sure to uncheck the 1/3rd Rule option so that all aircraft are launched immediately. Press the Mission Doctrine / ROE / EMCON (Rules of Engagement / Emission Control) button. Click on the EMCON Settings tab and uncheck the Inherit From Parent checkbox. Then set Radar to Passive to ensure that the Corsairs don't give themselves away by radiating. Also verify that the RTB when Whinchester option is set to yes which means the aircraft will return to base when out of relevant weapons.
The defence suppression aircraft are now ready to take off. Proceed with creating the strike missions for the strike aircraft.
Zoom in on the Red air base and switch to unit view (the 9 key on the numeric keypad, numeric lock disabled).
Select a facility or drag select multiple facilities you would like to strike.
Next select add new mission from the Missions + Ref. Points drop down menu at the top of the UI. Create a Strike Mission, Land Strike, and assign one or more aircraft.
Then repeat for as many targets and aircraft as you want.
Start the game (F12 key) and wait for the aircraft to take off.
2. You may control your aircraft manually if you like to have full control over them. For details on how to fly them manually please refer to the last phase of this tutorial, Flying under manual control.
Phase V: Support missions
The fighters and strike aircraft will be supported by E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, EA-6B Prowler radar and communication jamming aircraft, and KA-6D Intruder tankers.
For the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, add new reference points and set up a Support Mission. When the Mission Editor Dialog appears, assign all available Hawkeyes to the mission and set the 1/3 rule. Next press the Mission Doctrine / ROE / EMCON (Rules of Engagement / Emission Control) button. Click on the EMCON Settings tab and uncheck the Inherit From Parent checkbox. Then set Radar to Active to ensure that the Hawkeye has its radar turned on while patrolling.
Repeat for the EA-6B Prowler aircraft, but instead of using active radar, set OECM (Offensive Electronic Counter Measures, i.e. radar jammers) to Active.
For the KA-6D Intruder tankers, create new reference points between the home base and the targets and make a support mission using the same procedure. Tanker aircraft on support missions will automatically refuel aircraft that come close.
Phase VI: Flying under manual control
It is possible to manually control the aircraft. If the aircraft are already assigned to a mission you can unassign them by removing them from the mission in the Mission Editor. For airborne aircraft it is also possible to select the units or groups and press the U (Unassign) key.
In the Air Ops window, it is possible to launch aircraft singly or in groups. To select multiple aircraft either drag-select the aircraft or alternatively select the first aircraft, then hold down the Control (Ctrl) button while selecting the rest. Then press the Launch Individually or Launch as Group(s) buttons.
The aircraft will leave their parking areas and proceed to the runway for takeoff. Select the Air Facilities tab in the Air Ops window to watch the aircraft move around the base. After the aircraft have taken off and the groups have formed up, select the group you want to plot a new course for, press F3 and then plot a course. Press F3 again to end plotting. To delete a plotted course, simply press F3 twice.
Next, set altitude and speed by pressing F2. Change the throttle and altitude, and close the window.
Change the EMCON settings by pressing F9. For fighters and airborne early warning aircraft turn radars on.
Set the doctrine and ROE (Rules of Engagement) for the aircraft. Right-click on an aircraft or group and select Doctrine / ROE option. Play around with the settings, including Engage Non-Hostile Targets and RTB (Return to Base) When Winchester settings.