My friend TheHistoricalGamer has a video on Command! Give it a watch and if you like historical wargames please subscribe to his youtube channel.
He plays Iron Hand, a scenario focusing on a hypothetical Russian SEAD attack on Azerbaijan.
THE STRATEGIC ASPECT OF SUPERCRUISING FLIGHT
BY Ben R. Rich
For Delivery at the SUPERCRUISE MILITARY AIRCRAFT DESIGN CONFERENCE
17 through 20 February 1976
THE STRATEGIC ASPECT OF SUPERCRUISING FLIGHT
The vulnerability of aircraft to missiles and radar controlled guns was vividly demonstrated in the 1973 Mid East War where 443 aircraft were destroyed in eighteen days. Simulations show that the survivability of aircraft increase primarily with increases of speed, altitude, maneuverability and ECM. These have been confirmed by experience with the SR-71, the only United States supercruising military aircraft. There are other secondary factors that contribute to survivability such as the various aspects of stealth and size, reaction or response times, etc.
The physical and aerodynamic requirements for efficient supersonic flight vehicles ail result in increases of flight altitude with increase in flight speed and vice versa. Speed increase is necessary to meet the mass flow requirements of air breathing propulsion systems. Super-cruiser parametric studies show that as cruise speed increases above Mach 2.0, altitudes for efficient cruise exceed 50,000 feet.
Let us now review the threat to vehicles which cruise at high Mach number and high altitude. Figure 1 depicts Soviet missiles, gun, and aircraft capability vs. altitude. Shown on the right hand column are typical cruise altitudes for strategic aircraft as a function of speed. The data show that for altitudes below 60, 000 feet, aircraft aire vulnerable to a multiplicity of weapon systems. Focusing on the USAF’s only current supercruising aircraft — the YF-12/SR-71 series, which cruise above Mach 3. 0 and 80,000 feet — I will limit my comments to these aircraft. The aircraft has maneuver capability better than 2. 5 g’s. The double delta planform of the SR-71, as shown in Figure 2, is designed, with sharp leading and trailing edges; no right angle intersections, inclined vertical fins, etc. to achieve a low radar cross section. The aircraft, illustrated in Figure 3, is constructed, with over 20 percent of its surface area, of high temperature composite material to give a radar cross section under 10 square meters. The anti-radar design background was given in a paper delivered by Kelly Johnson to the Radar Camouflage Symposium at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on October 3, 1975, entitled “Reduction of Radar Cross Section of Large High Altitude Aircraft. ” (5)
Currently, there is no real operational air-to-air threat to the SR-71. Let us consider the Soviet’s most advanced aircraft, the MiG-25 FOXBAT. Figure 4 provides an overview of the main elements of the intercept problem. Figure 5 gives the operational steady state and zoom envelopes of the FOXBAT. If you assume the pilot sitting in the cockpit on alert, the FOXBAT climbout and missile performance are shown in Figure 6. The data show that it takes 8 minutes from brake release to reach its maximum steady state cruise altitude, assuming no maneuvering. Also shown are the FOXBAT radar and the AA-6 missile characteristics with its aerodynamic and seeker limits. The shaded area shows the limited attack zone against a cruising SR-71. To better appreciate the time and distances involved, Figure 7 shows the FOXBAT climb characteristics on a head-on, fly-over attack against penetrators approaching at speeds up to Mach 6. Just during the time required for the FOXBAT to reach its cruise altitude (8 minutes), the Mach 3.2 aircraft has penetrated 240 nm, while Mach 6 attacker has penetrated 480 nm. The data assumes no evasive maneuvering by either aircraft and instantaneous reaction by the FOXBAT. The effect of maneuvering is shown in Figure 8. This figure assumes that the SR-71 makes a 45 degree weave maneuver. Using FOXBAT performance characteristics, from airborne alert, and for various start locations, the figure shows that no clearly successful intercept can be made. It can be generally concluded that the air-to-air intercept problem is at the present time extremely marginal versus a high supersonic Mach number maneuvering target.
The Surface-to-air missile intercept problem also needs to be considered. Figure 9 shows the SA-2 missile footprint for three nonmaneuvering target speeds/altitude combinations. The way increasing speed/altitude reduces SA-2 capabilities is apparent from the diminished size of the vulnerable area. If you take a vertical cut of this same SA-2 envelope, Figure 10, the effect of speed and altitude are shown. No intercept is possible at speeds above Mach 3.2 and altitudes above 90, 000 feet.
Any type of maneuver considerably reduces the SA-2 capability as was shown in the Viet Nam war. In the several hundred flights over the Hanoi -Haiphong areas, no losses or damage were experienced. Discussions with regards to the SA-5 GAMMON missile exceed the classification of this paper. The above discussion is limited to nonnuclear missiles, no attempt will be made to discuss the nuclear threat.
Strategic Applications for Supercruise Aircraft
There are three strategic missions for a supercruising aircraft: reconnaissance, surveillance, and offense or strike.
The SR-71 is currently performing the reconnaissance and surveillance mission for the USAF Strategic Air Command. The aircraft has been operational in the South East Asia Theatre for over seven years. During the Viet Nam war, it made several hundred combat flights over North and South Viet Nam. During the 1967 Mid East war, operating from the Continental United States, the SR-71 completed several successful overflights of the Suez-Sinai battlefronts. In all these operations, the SR-71 suffered no loss or damage from any hostile action. Since its first flight in 1964, the aircraft has approximately 5, 500 hours over Mach 3.0.
Let me show you how we can exploit supercruising for the strike concept.
During 1965-1966, the YF-12 interceptor successfully demonstrated the firing of missiles from over Mach 3. 0/80, 000 feet. The YF-12 successfully launched 13 AIM-47 missiles (Hughes GAR-9). Twelve successful shots, direct hits or lethal near misses, were achieved on subsonic drone targets flying at sea level to 40, 000 feet over land and sea. The one failure was attributed to a guidance malfunction.
Figure 11 shows a strike version of the SR-71 — called the Bx — with four AGM-69A SRAM missiles. The range of the SRAM missile can be extended by a factor of 4 when launched at Mach 3. 0 and 80,000 feet, as shown in Figure 12. This significant improvement in range derives from the large potential and kinetic energy imparted to the missile by the high altitude and high speed of the aircraft at cruise. The current SRAM is a nuclear missile with no terminal guidance. The CEP’s are therefore not sufficiently accurate for high target kill probabilities; for example, at 100 nm range the CEP is approximately 1,500 feet and at 300 nm it is approximately 3,600 feet. However, with pre-launch navigational update and new improved gyros, these CEP’s can be halved. Accuracy can be further improved, of course, by terminal guidance, the discussion of which is the subject of other papers.
In summary, the super cruise concept when applied to the strategic strike mission can be complementary to the B-1 mission. It provides a highly survivable weapon system and could dilute the Soviet defense system.
Although the discussion has been on strategic missions, the lessons learned from the SR-71′s operation can be applied to a Tactical Supercruiser or an Advanced Tactical Fighter. Significant improvements have been made during the last few years in supersonic aerodynamics, propulsion, materials, avionics and stealth technologies. All these items tend to improve performance and survivability for advanced supersonic aircraft. There can be no doubt that the SR-71 survivability factors: supersonic speed, high altitude, high stealth, maneuverability and ECM will also provide a high probability of survival to aircraft performing tactical missions.
The Baloogan Campaign stream will return this saturday with a special ‘Command: Wargame of the Year’ stream! On Friday Command is coming to Steam!
The date of the event was Sunday, January 22, 2017. The time was 1:03 PM on the East Coast of the United States. The new American President had been sworn into office forty-eight hours ago, and this day he was in the White House with VIP guests, donors, campaign staff, family and friends. This privileged group, like tens of millions of Americans that day, is glued to the big screen television. Today is the highly anticipated American Football Conference Championship; the semi-final before the Super Bowl. The much hyped game was between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens, and kick-off at Mile High Stadium in Denver just happened to the cheers of these elite party goers. The smart money said Denver would walk away with an easy victory – and since the new President hailed from Colorado, no one at the White House was wearing a Raven’s jersey. No one, that is, except the Senate Minority Leader who was from the opposing political party. It was all great fun. Spirits were high, the beer was flowing and the White House Chief of Staff couldn’t have been happier with the electric atmosphere and upbeat photo ops that could only benefit his new boss. Little did anyone know that before half-time arrived, the country would forever be changed.
Please join us on Saturday at 5:00 pm PDT for a live stream of Command: Wargame of the Year Edition.
In other news I’ve opened an affiliate sales account to sell Command; a special link to buy Command is available to the right. A Steam key as well as a DRM-free copy of Command. Using that link means that Baloogan Campaign gets 30%. :)
There have been a significant amount of improvements to Command since release. One might ask, “What does ‘Wargame of the Year Edition’ mean?“ This page outlines all the new features since V1.00.
As always our chatroom is open to all; if you have a question about Command or even just want to chat about geopolitics, military technology & history please drop by!
And finally, I’ve set up a Tumblr Image/Video blog comprised of images and videos from the Baloogan Campaign Chatroom. Any image or youtube video posted to the chatroom is automatically uploaded there.
First new patch in almost two months! Fixes air to air refueling and has performance increases too!
v1.04 (Build 568) (09/06/2014)Patch notes for B568...
This is a recommended update for all existing players.
You must first have Command v1.04 installed before applying this update.
To apply this update, simply unzip to your Command directory (incl. subfolders) and answer “yes” to any overwrite prompts.
- 0007960: RBU-6000 “no armor penetration”
- 0008102: CBU 87 doesn’t hit Inf platoon
- 0007581: Build 521 TLAM-D Bug
- 0007138: Himars/GMLRS accuracy against moving targets very poor
- 0007487:  MLRS not killing tanks
- 0008094: Aircraft launch torpedoes against KNOWN targets way too early
- 0004520: Sverdlov armor issues
- 0008117: AARGMs missing active emitters by large margin
- 0007973: BVR cranking
- 0007593: NCTR
- 0008112: Asroc Shot short; Not landing in Torpedo sensor range of target
- 0007862: Cluster Muntions Issues
- 0008100: Weapons Damage model Issues Roundup
- 0004935: Automatic fire vs Armor Issue
- 0008107: 562- Delete Mission Crash
- 0007245: MGs ineffective against Mobile targets
- 0008119: 565: Intercept Mission Issue- Fighters launch due south well away from intercept target
- 0008121: Strange post-crank behaviour
- 0008051: CTD when deleting mission
- 0005633: LOAD LAST RECORD BUTTON CRASH
- 0008129: Exception received while command was running in background
- 0008126: SARH Missiles seem to guide well outside their archs while aircraft is cranking
- 0008127: SARH Amos shots really problematic with cranking
- 0007778: Naval F-117 RCS too small?
- 0007786: DB3k: 948 Elli-Kortaener Helo facilities issue
- 0007787: DB3k: AV-8B Harrier II loadout 1565 issue
- 0007781: DB3k: Need a 2015 Kusnetsov Magazine with Adders
- 0007782: DB3k: DRPK Issues. Missing Najin and Nampo
- 0007752: New J-7′s a number of African nations have
- 0001891: Damage Status Window Refresh
- 0003199: Damaged Sub rise to surface issue
- 0003324: DB3K: Swiss Hawker Hunter
- 0006619: AAW Mission Enhancement: Add A response area
- 0004284: SCUD B-100 (Project-T)
- 0006103: Add infantry weapons such as M72, RPG7, Milan, Javelin, etc
- 0006364: DB3k Update: Add Irish Samual Becket class OPV
- 0006508: DB3k Update: Add FLIRS to USGG aircraft
- 0003758: DB3k Update: P31 Eithne Update (Ireland)
- 0003760: DB3k Update: Add P21 Emer/Diedre (Ireland)
- 0007061: Offensive ECM marked as DECM
- 0007453: Mike’s tank and IFV’s to finish up list
- 0006713: Cragside converted as USN/SOF mothership
- 0007785: DB3k: AT-16 Scallion too slow
- 0007679: AS-9 Kyle hits ships but doesn’t cause any damage point loss
- 0007777: Super Frelons (Size Class: Lrg) should be able to take off from Clemenceau-class carriers
- 0007842: Milas failing
- 0007883: Add AN/PAQ-1 to Laser Maverick’s director list (and other LGBs)
- 0007885: DB3k: HMS Ocean Upgrade 2014
- 0007902: SLAMER-ATA cannot hit submarine
- 0007829: Add CWDB Platform requests
- 0007822: CWDB: DOB of Chinese Naval Aviation and initial aircraft
- 0008053: DB3k: New LRASM data
- 0007975: 1982-1990 FB-111 does not have the conventional loadouts
- 0007942: Hound Dog missile issue…or not
- 0008065: DB3k: UAE Baynunah fix
- 0008064: DB3k: French Floreal Upgrades
- 0008062: DB3k Update: Add AGM-88F
- 0008099: Israeli Cobra helicopters out of service this year (2014)
- 0008098: Seawolf and Ohio AN/BLQ-10(v3)(v4) aren’t detecting anything
- 0008095: [DB Editor] Raptor pod sensor ranges
- 0008093: DB3k: More flight deck space on San Antonio’s
- 0008114: DB3k: New towed arrays for US navy DDG and CG
- 0008118: A-6E Snakeeye loadout
- 0008125: Soviet SEAD pretty useless if Viyuga can’t pick up NATO TPS-63/FPS-117 Radars
- 0008133: DB3k: Add refueling flags to E-2D
- 0008132: DB3k: Add Krypton KH-31A ASM loadout to Malaysian Flankers
- 0007900: UGM-109E attacks on mobile units
- 0008003: Sub snorkling with nearby contacts
- 0008122: AS-6B ARM still not killing radars
- 0008080: Magic depth charge
- 0007411:  Depth Charge Malfunctions
- 0007865:  Nuclear Depth Charges that miss should still explode and kill nearbye targets.
- 0007986: [General program infrastructure] Crash after RAF Falkirk was destroyed
- 0008044: Sub Transits too deep
- 0008074: [B557] Exception
- 0008038: Diesel bouncing up and down to recharge batteries
- 0007241:  Land units assigned to Asuw Patrol Ground and Mixed dont’ move
- 0007089: HARM hits are not damaging targetted radar
- 0007046: HARM vs. Ships damage issue
New features & improvements:
* NCTR (Non-Cooperative Target Recognition) for select radar systems has been added, enabling active type/class-identification of air targets. See here for introduction to the technology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_MASINT#Non-Cooperative_Target_Recognition
NCTR as modelled in Command is broken into two techniques:
* JEM: Jet engine modulation (aka fan blade counting). This is simpler to process and more widespread but works only within a frontal arc of 15 degress offset from the target’s front (so that the fan blades are visible to the radar).
* NBILST: Narrow-beam Interleaved Search & Track (aka synthetic pseudo-imaging). This is far more demanding computationally and is possible only with phased-array radars, but can work regardless of target aspect.
Interestingly enough, even some quite old radar systems (like Square Pair on SA-5 batteries) have an NCTR ability. However, because of its manual/semi-automated nature (the operator literally looks on raw radar return modulation data on an oscilloscope) the classification time varies highly with operator proficiency. In modern systems the highly automated nature of the process (point the radar at the target and wait) means that crew skill is irrelevant.
When a target is classified using NCTR a relevant message is added to the message log.
* BVR cranking: Fighters launching BVR missiles now regularly attempt to “crank” (turn to the side while still tracking/painting as necessary, and throttle back) once they have taken all their shots. The purpose of the manouver is to reduce the rate of approach with the enemy and thus delay enemy countershots as much as possible.
* Damage repair rates (for sub-systems) have been increased and messages are now provided when a subsystem is repaired for a heavier to a lighter state of damage or fully restored.
When examining subsystems damage on a unit (Damage Control window), the different degrees of subsystem damage (light, medium, heavy) are represented by different colors (yellow, orange and orange-red). Destroyed systems retain the red color.
* Numerous fixes and tweaks to damage modelling including ARM impacts, cluster munitions, proximity blast damage, depth charge damage & duds etc.
* Includes the v418 versions of the DB3000 & CWDB databases with numerous fixes and additions.
v1.04 (Build 562) (08/28/2014)Patch notes for B562...
This is a recommended update for all existing players.
- 0006849: F/A-18F Cannot Refuel each other with Buddy store
- 0007998: Aircraft refueling logic (SH-to-SH buddy)
- 0007811:  Wooden Leg Refueling Issues
- 0007901: Weird behaviour during in flight refueling
- 0006980:  KA-6D tanker problem
- 0003147: Countering “overbooking” in air refuelling
- 0007602:  Units forget the RTB order after going defensive
- 0006618:  Refueling Issues
- 0006847: Refueling Case: Multiple Refueling Aircraft on station with Refueling ROE set to on = Crashed aircraft
- 0007988: Aircraft refuses to refuel from nearest tanker
- 0006772: Serious tanker doctrine issues – set scen/mission/group/unit default to false
- 0008067: [Build 556] Exception Error
- 0006454:  Support mission, 1 time loop and refueling logic
- 0008069: Refueling: E-3 crashes as it can’t seem to link up with KC-135E
- 0003072: Aircraft assigned to the same mission should go to the same tanker
- 0004974: Aircraft running out of fuel and crashing. Not refueling
- 0005517: When Group Refueling ROE is set, individuals aren’t inheriting it when the group breaks up to RTB
- 0005253: Tankers RTB too late
- 0008072:  Sub trying to attack sonobouy
- 0008087: [Build 553] Refueling Sentry keeps hooking up
- 0008086: [558 Refueling] Most Vipers want to keep refueling than return to patrol zone
- 0007974: Need to add color depth check at startup
- 0007880: Crash when using zones
- 0007910: Freezes during tutorial after activation of No-Nav Zone
- 0008088: Tanking fix broke 3rd rule
- 0008058: Dipping Passive Sonar (Build 554)
- 0008091:  Units in ferry missions stay with the tankers instead of follow the mission
This update is defined by two significant improvements.
1) Speed. Major portions of the core execution pipeline have been re-architected to optimize performance and scalability. The boost is most noticeable on “heavy” scenarios (not just in terms of number of units but also activity, e.g. numerous concurrent pathfinding processes, everybody jamming and scanning everybody etc.). Stability is also improved.
2) Air Refueling fixes. You asked for smarter and more dependable refueling AI & mechanics, and we listened.
The list of tweaks & improvements is too long to list here, but three major changes stand out:
a) Crews are now context-aware in their logic of picking the most suitable tanker. Depending on what the aircraft is supposed to be doing (enroute to mission, returning, free-roaming, on patrol, on support circuit etc.) the optimal choice is often significantly different.
b) Tankers are now smart enough to avoid overbooking (and thus getting completely drained). They now reject refuelling requests that they estimate they will not be able to service.
c) Aircraft returning from a mission (e.g. strikers on the RTB leg) will opt to bypass available tankers and head straight for their home bases if possible. This lightens the load on available tanker assets and eliminates the need to manually change the “use refuel” doctrine mid-mission. If they do need to refuel on the return leg they do as before.
One important feature of Command is the ability to import preset arrangements of units and facilities. For example here is a map of static Ukrainian Air Defense sites! Zoom in and click on their markers, its pretty cool!
I’ve been asked a few times about EMCON, specifically how it ties into modern naval tactics.
Almost never turn your radars on your ships. They will turn their radars/jammers on automatically if they think they are under attack.
Your aircraft are your eyes (radars) and ears (ELINT).
If you don’t have any cool aircraft use a
sacrificialscout ship, and take it out of your formation (go into unit mode with 9 on the keypad, press D to detach them from the formation) have this ship take a different course, at a different speed. Turn on its radars, and ideally it should have powerful jammers too.
An LCS is a good candidate for a
sacrificescout. Can make 45 kts, relatively good radar.
Not only do you give away your position if you turn on your radars, but you also give away your fleet’s composition, the different ships in your fleet can now be identified. All it takes is 2 hostile helos a bit away from each other to triangulate your location if you turn on your radar.
Don’t ‘blink’ your radars either. As the USN you want helos to provide surface search radar and hawkeyes to do air search. A large part of Command is managing your ship’s emissions.
One important exception is if you are expecting a ballistic missile attack you should turn your ballistic missile defense ships space search radars on. Nothing else can even spot a ballistic missile at altitude.
Modern naval warfare is a game of smoke and mirrors.
Aircraft in Air to Air warfare should automatically beam missiles, if they have the doctrine to evade defensively enabled. Stealth is really hard to employ currently; its not just the technology but its a whole doctrine of needing standoff jammers and needing to attack when visibility is low: on nights with bad weather. If you fly a B2 at 12kft over north korea at noon on a clear day you will be spotted.
I’ve also been asked “Is there anything I can do about the enemy jamming my missiles and radars? I’m having a ton of trouble in the Duelists scenario because when my 24 Sea Eagles go in for a target, they’re all jammed!”
Sea Eagles have the capability to home on jammer. That means if they can’t find a target with their radar they will seek on a jammer, usually the strongest one from its perspective. Then as it closes the radar eventually gets close enough to see the ship and it then locks on and engages.
There is nothing you can really do about jammers, aside from destroying them. Any modern naval surface engagement with modern platforms engaging modern platforms will involve extensive jamming.
Airborne jammers are really quite effective in this regard, you can jam ASM but the ASM can’t hit your aircraft jammers. Should fly your jammers low to exploit this.
Also manage your jammers, if you spot a long range ASM strike you can arrange your formation tactically to steer anti ship missiles away from high value targets.
If the jamming is preventing you from achieving a solid solution for an ASM strike you can exploit other sensor technologies than radar to develop a solution. Localize with radar, track with passive sonar, and if you are really desperate send someone in to take a look by air, or get a sub to periscope depth to get a visual identification on important high value targets you want to sink.
Increase your ‘baseline’, try to always triangulate targets by having two aircraft with RWR or ELINT sensors fly on very different tracks, even if you can’t ever directly ‘see’ your targets having two RWR sensors far away from each other will allow your staff to develop a shooting solution based on the two bearings provided by the RWR.
Another option is to time your attack for a optical/IR satellite overpass. Optical sats can’t really spot ships out in the middle of the sea without any support, but if they have a general idea of the location of the ship they can pinpoint that sucker. Radar sats are just as susceptible to jamming as earthbound radars.