This fictional campaign is inspired by the events of the Iranian vs Iraq, a conflict started in 1980 and fought for almost a decade.
It is a tentative of replicating a low-intensity conflict fought with older hardware.
Unfortunately, the Persian Gulf map is not the most apt to replicate the conflict.
The campaign is set in 1987. The full-scale war has left both sides exhausted and short of resources and bodies for the meat grinder. The geopolitical isolation caused by the revolution of 1979 means that Iran is even more cut-off from the world than the Iraqi. Therefore, for the time being, the Iranians have retreated to take advantage of the rough terrain of their country, as the Iraqi spend more and more resources trying to dislodge them hill by hill. The islands in the Strait of Hormuz have been almost entirely abandoned to fulfil this controversial strategy. The Iraqi tankers and warships now have free passage between Iraq and the Gulf of Oman, and from there to the lucrative ports of the rest of the world, craving for their oil. The Iranians are still in possession of the island of Qeshm, and their oil can leave the shores only from the Bandar Abbas, which is hammered on daily basis.
Saddam, in turn, is gaining popularity. The occupation of the island in the straight means that the international shipping lines and tankers are relatively safe. Or so it would seem. The “big players”, such as the US, Russia and other countries are officially not aligned. Yet.
Areas of Operation
The theatre is divided in two adjacent areas: the western area (operating around Shiraz), and the southern area (based in Lar).
Shiraz is surrounded by hills and rough terrain. Since the Iraqi have moved all sorts of SAMs and AAA around the area, the terrain allows the Iranian forces to manoeuvre and engage close to their lines, using the terrain as cover from the air defences. On the other hand, the terrain heavily affects the detection range of the hostile assets. Of course, the Iraqi have the same advantages and drawbacks.
The Iraqi instead have no operative airfields in the area, and they have to rely on long journeys from the main land, or from the islands in the Strait. They have instead opted for a vast series of defences and FARPs, rather than air superiority.
In this area, players can expect to meet different types of missions: from intercepting fighters and air-to-ground assets, to helicopters conducting reconnaissance missions or infiltrating units behind the Iranian lines. In general, the goal is resisting the relentless push of the Iraqi army.
The Lar theatre is wider, the terrain is more varied, and operations are conducted over longer distances. Anti-shipping missions to disrupt enemy tankers and stop the progressive fortification of the islands are expected. There is little cover from long range SAMs in this scenario, the only relief is that those batteries may be located on islands far from the coast.
The objectives in this area are multiple: from avoiding an invasion from the sea, to protect tankers and ships moving and the oil stored in Bandar Abbas.
Friendly relevant positions where a Regional HQ is located are labelled on the map. They feature a series of air defences, plus other assets, such as FARPs, staging and maintenance area for vehicles, warehouses and so on.
The Iraqi (known) command points are marked as well. Others may be discovered later by the players, or as the campaign progresses.
The goal is creating a series of very short missions, long about 1h, so two can be played on after the other, each located in a different AO.
Due to the peculiarities of each area, the tasks should change and offer a different experience every time. This aspect is augmented by the high randomness of the missions: to minic the lack of intel and ensure a degree of variety through the missions, the generation of hostile and friendly forces is heavily randomized. For example, a division of Tomcats may face 3-4 hostile aircraft between the strike group and its escort, or twice that number. This forces the players to cooperate, and perhaps chose between satisfy the mission criteria, or fight another day.
The limited intel is mirrored by the reduced awareness “automatically” generated for the players. The unrealistic precision of GCI and certain avionics is tackled by the lack of Datalink (LINK4C is forbidden to the players, whilst we wait for the F-14 95), limited LOS of the EW and the F-10 map shows only drawings and notes. On the other hand, a series of triggers may alert if a FW or RW is detected in a certain area. However, the timer is again heavily randomized, players may never notice a hostile asset flying through the friendly airspace, or be immediately warned of the presence of the hostile. This mechanism mimics visual observation and reports from the ground to the area command, and eventually to the aircraft.
The poor intel available can be improved by the players. By taking notes and observing, the players can populate the F10 map. The TCS of the F-14 is not realistic (although Iran was close to receive them) but will be used for reconnaissance operations, a-la RF-4 photo equipment.
During a mission, a lot of emphasis is placed on the communication and the cooperation between assets.
After the first few missions, the objective is leaving the tasking to the players, if they like. After each mission, they will submit a report listing BDA / Intel and ordnance used. The gathered information will affect the operations of the friendly ground troops, avoiding needless losses.
I have prepared a flow chart to direct the campaign from the Iraqi side: if certain objectives are not met, or the losses of strategic assets are too high, they may ask for a cease fire, or withdraw, thus losing the campaign. Therefore, the missions, albeit manually edited, will follow a reasonable thread.
The Iraqi side may conduct SEAD missions through artillery or other assets before attacking a position. If the players spot the artillery battery, they can destroy it, thus saving valuable assets.
They also need to know the location of the battery and other targets, exactly as the players have to. To find their targets, they will conduct reconnaissance operations via air or ground, depending on the weather (for example, by using SA342 Gazelles).
Again, if the players manage to stop these operations, they can affect the next mission (for example, the area attacked by an artillery battery may be very narrow with good intel, or huge without it).
The Iraqi fields all sort of aircraft, sometimes provided by other countries. The list includes the Hip and the Gazelle, L-39, Su-22/24 and MiG-19/21/23/25 (the MiG-19 mimics the Su-7 adn the J-6 used in the 70s). Air defences feature old 88mm, leftovers from the Second World War, 23mm and 60mm cannons, several types of SAMs including SA-2,3,5,6 and Roland. The Antonov An-26B is commonly used as military transport.
The Iranians are more limited in their arsenal, using UH-1 and Hind (since the AH-1 is not playable) as RW and F-5E, F-14A and F-4E primarily. Air defences include a similar set of AAA with 23mm and 60mm cannons, and MIM-23 Hawk and Rapiers as primary SAMs. The C-130 is their most common transport.
- The campaign replicates a low-intensity war, in a limited scenario. About 8-12 players, translating into 4-6 aircraft top.
- ATIS is available at the main airfields (Shiraz, Lar, Bandar Abbas), providing updated info about active runway, QNH, weather and so on.
- Mission Datacards, detailed for the F-14, and a more general version for the F-5 (enabling navigation via dead reckoning, pilotage and NAVAIDs) are provided in every mission.
- To simplify the navigation for the F-5s, three mobile TACAN stations are located in elevated key positions.
- No script or mods are used (besides the F-14A skin made by Chris from DCAF). DATIS is server-side.
Join the Campaign!
To participate, hop into Discord. There are no strict requisites but proficiency with the airframe of choice is required, along the ability to perform basic tasks such as navigating via NAVAIDs, dead reckoning, pilotage. Basic air-to-ground techniques such as pop-up, dive and level toss are recommended to minimize the exposure to hostile AAA.
Missions are played in EU evening time (schedule TBD, but probably at ~1900z on Friday).
English is the used lingua franca.