It’s been an interesting couple of months as TBD finally completed a full Liberation campaign on the Syria map, starting in Cyprus and making it all the way through Syria to take Allepo, via Palmyra.
How did it work?
TBD Flasheart prepared mission briefings on the Discord Channel every Sunday evening with a deadline to sign up for a slot by midnight on the Tuesday. A full mission briefing was then given at 20:00 UK Local Time on Thursday night prior to the mission launch, no later than 20:30. The briefing was carried out with the aid of screen sharing in Discord, giving people a good overview of what to expect in the coming sortie. Flasheart then tended to be the fighter controller in ‘Magic’ or ‘Darkstar’ and would coordinate the mission through SRS.
The campaign started off with squadrons flying from a carrier group in the south of the map and from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. A mix of Harriers, Hornets, Tomcats and F-16s. We had a regular fighter controller, ‘Magic’, fully using SRS, and debriefs with TacView. If pilots lost their virtual lives then their stats were reset and they had to start from scratch. We had CSAR missions to reduce downed pilots from behind enemy lines, night missions, terrible weather and a determined AI bolstered by Russian mercenaries to spice things up.
Flying from Cyprus and trying to hit targets along the coast wasn’t too tricky, though the SAM defences did give some pause for thought. The initial air defence was robust and tricky to deal with in a Harrier, after all there’s no way to out run a Mig-25 and no hope of outranging it with a Sidewinder either! Early missions were intense and could be at the limit of our endurance without tanking. After a few missions in-flight refuelling became a necessity and opened up new possibilities of hitting targets further inland.
The Hornets were quickly able to establish a measure of air superiority in the South with the Tomcats covering the North and protecting Cyprus from attacks coming from the Russian bases. There were some large scale clashes which generally saw us come out on top, but still taking some losses.
Moving to the Mainland
There was a tangible relief when we were able to move over to the mainland. We’d made early gains into Syria and started operating out of Damascus International, once the repair teams had cleared up the mess we’d made. This enabled us to take off with heavier loads and properly engage in close air support missions. The A-10C II’s were able to really pound the Syrian ground forces leaving them in no doubt who was in control of he sky. While we’re waiting for the Apache to be released the Ka-50 made an appearance as a stand-in and was able to provide additional support.
Once Forward Operating Bases had been set up with were also able to fly, and support, CSAR missions for downed pilots. Pilots recovered in this way were able to maintain their mission record and pilot lives to rejoin the campaign.
During our time operating out of Damascus we encountered some terrible weather conditions, with strong cross-winds, low cloud and low-light conditions. We even got to the point of trying to fly a mission but having to call it off as it was not possible to find targets to engage without very high-risk flying. Cloud cover was 10/10 and varying ground levels in the area made it impossible without precise coordinates for targets – which we did not have. As a result of that we made the difficult decision to return to base and attempt landings in zero visibility with strong cross-winds. Thankfully, all made it back successfully.
We were also pleased to be able to welcome some guest pilots into the mix. This allowed for more diverse roles to be carried out with a pair of F-14s with both crew slots occupied, F-16 strikes, and further Hornet missions carried out. It was good to gain the experience of flying with others and seeing how they go about flying a mission. We’d be happy to continue to accommodate this kind of joined up flying in future.
Flash did an excellent job with his briefings, mission planning and overall coordination, and was rightly rewarded for all the work that he has put in. We’re looking to run further Liberation campaigns in future and would be interested in organised groups or individuals want to join us. Updates will be posted on the website when we next intend to start a campaign, please feel free to follow the links on the site to our Discord channel and let us know that you’re interested and what aircraft you prefer to fly. Missions will take place on a Thursday evening at 20:00 UK Local Time (currently GMT/Zulu).