Debrief - At it Again #4 (Panther5)

Wing flight planning and after action reports. Planning for other community flights too.
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Zeus
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Debrief - At it Again #4 (Panther5)

Post by Zeus » Tue Mar 02, 2021 1:59 am

Apologies for having to step away when I did - looks like I missed the debrief by just a couple minutes. Hopefully my surviving wingmen told the tale but I figured I should do a quick post as flight lead...

Panther5 - BARCAP / First Relief Flight
What went well...
For starters, Archer and STAC did really well keeping up with what I briefed from the beginning as a very dynamic / fluid plan. As briefed we departed and took up station to the south so that we could provide support and/or relief to any of the three CAP locations. After a few orbits, we were given a heads up that it might be good for us to refuel first so that we could then relieve other flights that would be running low on fuel shortly. The guys did a great job ducking into Koksan for a quick refueling and got back in the air quickly.

Archer lead the second element and managed to keep my sense of direction in check when we arrived back on station only to find two CAP flights now needing relief; I thought it was center and west but Archer quickly caught my mistake and got us sorted to center and east. Comms within the flight and with other flights was good; all pilots made good use of both the tac-net and intra flight freqs to coordinate.

What could have gone better...
We got a little separated during the initial engagements and started stretching ourselves out probably a little too much which left us unable to properly support each other but a good portion of that was also due to how I decided to try to cover multiple areas (see what would I do different below).

What would I do different...
Two things really (three if you count not being stupid and letting myself get shot down). First, when we were asked to cover multiple CAP stations I accepted and had the flight switch to an East/West cap pattern. While in theory it allowed our planes to be "on station" in two locations, it also left us vulnerable to quick runs to the south by enemy fighters (and Su-30's can move quick). What I should have done was simply stuck to maintaining the center CAP station; that would have let us cover each other and still have the option of moving left or right (but as a team) if the need arrived. Secondly, I let us get too stretched out when the enemy fighters started coming down just as the 3rd flight was looking to leave for fuel and the relief flight was just taking off. I should have coordinated better with that flight and kept my flight together instead of having them press north to engage...that was just pure greed. Which leads me to the final mistake on my part and what I wish I could change - I left my flank exposed for too long allow a Su-30 to get in close and when I turned to engage I couldn't find him and then continued to look instead of turning tail and running. That put me within his kill range when I did find him and we simply exchange missiles. Bad move.

While I would like to put a little blame on BMS for this (we were suffering form the "unheard AWACS bug" for the entire flight - 90% of all AWACs calls could not be heard by our flight) I knew the situation and despite knowing we had less than perfect SA I put us in situations that demanded high SA; again not a good call.

About the only other thing I would add is more of a tactics choice and maybe a lesson to be learned from this. I believe that having a single relief flight is not a good idea if there isn't also a clear plan for staggering flight times. We would have been better off having only two CAP stations with our four flights split between them and delayed take-off times or immediate AAR of the "backup flight" for each station so that there was better coordination / coverage. Something to think about for future missions.

Great learning experience as usual - thanks everyone for turning out, nice to see that many people in the air!
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