by Richard on Aug 27, 2017 at 09:59 PM
See http://opredflag.com/journals/28233 for the background and BLUFOR report.
The OPFOR strategic plan was simply to take out the southern section first using the B-1B using F-15 as support.
From Leto’s report it may have seemed like we were storming ahead from the start; whereas in fact we were confused and disoriented trying to understand what BLUFOR were doing, and more importantly where it was being done. After an initial successful bombing run, completed at 20:00Z, with the destruction of three bases I mistook disarray for a cleverly coordinated plan, not suspecting what was really going on. For the first couple of hours we lived in fear of losing bases. At one point I even started to wonder if the ease of destruction of bases was in fact because we were suffering equal losses, or impending losses in our northern sector. ; I even thought that we were being tricked into deploying our assets into the Southern sector. At no point did we suspect it was disarray; rather we suspected a cleverly put together plan being executed – and expected to be losing bases and aircraft at any moment.
Phase 2 - more bombing
The next phase of the event was much harder; we struggled against numerically superior forces, failing really to make much headway until around 22:00Z. During the intervening period, after I was shot down I became unsure of what to do next. There was even a period of confusion, sitting on the runway at ESIB for whilst trying to understand what was going on. From the very start Slobb used the F-15’s radar to locate the opposition, to engage them and to protect the ongoing bombing operations. We were both very concerned about being overwhelmed.
Once we had chalked up 5 bases destructions, the event still could have gone either way. I had already decided not to waste our resources on engaging the bonus truck. Then when Leto reported he’d got that it still felt to me like we could be on the cusp of losing our small advantage at any point. Rather fortuitously, as it turns out, we decided to carry on with the plan and continue the bombing runs. At this point Snowy joined the team, and although there was some delay on his operational status. Getting back up three team members at this point was a massive boost to morale; Snowy initially patrolled our Northern sector.
Going well, but vulnerable
The next phase from 23:00Z was our most worrying. The BLUFOR plan seemed to be coming together; Yesrev had started to take out our bases, and I truly believed that we were about to lose our advantage. To try to stop this I jumped into an F-15 at our nearest base, that was still operational, and flew the F-15 at the speed of heat; I could almost hear the paint bubbling on the wings whilst travelling at mach 2.0. In a total state of panic, and with almost no fuel left, I launched two missiles at Yesrev; both missed. I couldn’t work out what was going on, and knew that I didn’t have the fuel to do much about it. He was escaping me unless I had afterburners, and I simply didn’t have enough fuel for this to be possible. So in a last fit of desperation I launched all the rest of my missiles at the B-1B – and they all missed. I was truly convinced that this was the end for us.
The final furlong
The next three hours really were hard going. Slobb had told me that he couldn’t last much longer. After a period of reflection, I decided that it was time to go back to the original plan, and continue to take out as many bases as possible, avoiding the enemy by flying low level. This worked out well at first, as NC-687 launched on me as I was passing him, taking me by surprise and with a new confidence partly helped by the infra-red night vision I dived to the deck and probably more by luck than judgement the missile flew by. I continued towards the bombing target at full power, continuing at low level. This combination of speed and altitude proved fatal, with this attempt failing when I ran into a mountain that was hiding in the darkness.
It felt like a war of attrition had started. My next attempts in the B-1B were unsuccessful; Slobb and Snowy were continuing to valiantly fight or try to find the enemy.
Once Slobb had left, myself and Snowy continued on alone. I knew that our only chance for victory was to continue to deny BLUFOR bases and operational flexibility by denying them the selection of bases. The plan now was to take out the Southern bases and then move northwards. The loss of our Northern bases hit our plan hard; leaving a journey of 452nm from our most Northern base; to their most Southern base.
The purchase of the SAM caused me great concern; I’d applied logic to figure out that it was probably protecting the base, with BLUFOR down to two players and three bases to protect. The trouble is that it was the first time I’d come up against a SAM. Confusion and uncertainty set it again as I was on my way to launch what I hoped would be the decisive bombing run. In the end the run failed as I was shot down by the same.
It was now roughly 03:00Z; Pinto joined the team, and I knew that only one more bombing run was possible; and that our victory was looking fairly safe. Unfortunately I was exhausted after not leaving the controls since the start of the event and fell asleep whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
The event was well planned, thanks to Pinto and Leto for their work putting it together. It was never easy but an incredible experience.
My personal thanks and appreciation to everyone who took part. It was great to fly with new (to me) players.
To anyone reading this who is considering taking part in an event, but worrying that it seems too hard my advice is don’t worry. We all feel like this. There is no substitute for signing up for the next event and learning whilst flying. All skill levels are welcome; skills can be learned – I think it’s fair to say that what we all appreciate is enthusiasm and participation.
 Know your equipment. I realised that I wasn’t sure effective the F-15 radar actually is now. I should have better understood the changes that the excellent improvement in RCS made. This was a failing on my part and lead to uncertainty.
 Victory loves preparation. Ensure the scenery is loaded, that equipment is functioning and that you have a craft on the runway ready to deploy.
 Train prior to the event; in this case fighting at night is hard; I had a unplanned terrain aircraft interaction twice during the event. I didn’t realise that the cockpit of the B-1B has malfunctioning cockpit and instrument lighting; a lot of the cockpit is dark and I should have tried this prior to the first night flight. Use of the ALS infra-red filter helped considerably. Training in the appropriate conditions prior to the event would have been a massive help; and given me time to even repair the cockpit lighting.