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Contents:

  1. SAM Tactics
  2. Air Defense Units in TacOps
  3. Air Defense in the Real World

1. SAM Tactics

The following scoop also applies to OPFOR SA16s.

Fixed wing air strikes in TacOps are currently assumed to be high speed, low altitude approaches that take full advantage of terrain masking. Accordingly the window of portable SAM engagement opportunity is pretty much the last instant before the aircraft drops its load over the target. To be effective the overwatching SAMs need to pretty much have a clear line of sight to the air just over the airstrike's ground target.

Although portable SAMs can fire when carried by APCs they are much more effective when they support from exposed, stationary overwatch positions. The game logic assumes that SAM gunners in unsupressed carriers are standing in a hatch --- they may fire but the chance of target acquisiton is much lower. If you are advancing, then leapfrog your SAM carriers. If the SAMs are traveling inside a vehicle, dismount them. If they are mounted on a vehicle then stop the vehicle. This will increase the chance that they will acquire the target.

Keep the SAMs 500 to 1000 meters away from your other units. Check the data base for their minimum ranges. Suppressed SAM units are almost useless. You want to keep them away from ground fighting generally and away from enemy artillery in particular.

Position the SAM unit so that it has maximum clear line of sight to the units that you wish to protect. Placement on the edge of high ground so that the SAM unit overlooks long distances of low ground is particularly effective.

Don't position SAMs deep inside woods and towns. If they must be located in woods and towns, then put them at the edge so that they can see out.

The portable SAMs in TacOps are more likely to distract and drive off fixed wing aircraft than to actually kill them. They are very effective against helicopters, but they will rarely actually shoot down a fixed wing aircraft. They will often cause the fixed wing aircraft to abort its run without dropping its ordinance. If the fixed wing aircraft does drop its ordinance after engagement by SAMs, the aircraft will very frequently either miss the target completely or have a greatly reduced casualty effect.

It is true that the effectiveness of portable SAMS against fixed wing target drones is probably around 100%, but the historical combat record does not show very many fixed wing aircraft being killed outright by portable SAMs when compared to the overall ground attack sortie rate. There are plenty of examples of fixed wing aircraft being distracted or driven away by portable SAMs, a few examples of their being hit and damaged, but almost none have been shot down before bomb release. Portable SAMs have proven devasting when used against helicopters and they have proven to be highly effective at discouraging accurate fixed wing bomb release (in and of itself a very worthy achievement) since pilots of all nations tend to ignore their ground target the instant they notice an incoming SAM.

Air Defense Units in TacOps

Q: Do you have a PMS in the TacOps? (pedestal mounted stinger) It's basically a Humvee with a .50 cal and a turret of eight stingers.

A: The Humvee air defense version that includes a .50 cal mg is not in the game, but the version with only STINGERs on the pedestal is. It can be found in the "Custom Scenario US Army" and in the "Custom Scenario USMC" [these are templates provided for user built scenarios] - add the unit named HMMWV Air Defense. I don't think it is in any of the "normal" scenarios. You could roughly simulate the multi weapon version by colocating a HMMWV with the STINGER pedestal with a HMMWV mounting just the .50 cal mg.

The USMC LAV-AD is also in the templates (and perhaps some of the normal scenarios as an optional unit) and offers STINGERS and a 25mm gatling gun.

I have a note here that the HMMWV STINGER pedestal with .50 cal is not going to be funded/fielded for US use. Please let me know is you have more current info. I ain't infallible.

My research to date shows that very few Stingers are actually provided to US troops in forward areas - especially USMC. The teams that exist tend to be held at higher command levels in garrison and tend to get heavily soaked off for defense of forward aviation bases, arty units, and higher headquarters units when in the field. That is reflected in the scenarios.

Air Defense in the Real World

For the properly bewildered - "LAAM" is Light Anti Aircraft Missile Battalion and "MAW" is Marine Aircraft Wing. Stinger teams along with HAWK missile batteries are in the LAAM. The point here is that the Stinger teams in the LAAM Battalion belong to, train with, and live with the aviation combat element while in garrison. In the field, where they go is up to the task force commander. For a long time in the Marine Corps there was a controversy (may still be one) about where best to employ Stingers to support the troops, i.e. the ground combat element. The aviation community tended to view their fighters and long range HAWK missiles as being the best weapons to protect the ground element and therefore the short range Stingers should be primarily arrayed in the rear for airfield and battery defense. The aviation community also tended to not like the thought of a lot of lance corporals running around the forward area somewhat independently each with a personal capability to shoot down a USMC Harrier or a CH53 helo. The grunt view tended to be "hey you guys can't be everywhere all the time, we need the Stingers up front with us to nail what slips through."

In all the TV and print coverage of Desert Storm I never saw a Stinger team that looked like it was in the forward area, Army or USMC. Doesn't mean they weren't there though. Anyone know where the Stinger teams were during the ground war? For that matter, where were the Army Vulcan AAA vehicles? Never saw one of them either. It is my understanding that the Vulcan can not keep up with the Bradley and the M1 tank due to being mounted on the old M113 APC.


Netscape HTML Checked! January 22, 1995 - Robert Lentz (ralentz@ralentz.com)

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