Command : Modern Air Naval Operations – Abqaiq Refinery Strike

From The Strategy Gamer

One of the great things about CMANO is seeing a headline and testing it out yourself. The refinery strike on Abqaiq and the Khurais oil fields are a prime example. In this post we’ll explore how to research the topic and turn it into a CMANO scenario.

At approximately 0400 on September 14th the refinery at Abqaiq and the oil field at Khurais were attacked. Initially the information claimed that a group of drones attacked the refineries. Later it was revealed to be cruise missiles. In either case Yemeni – Houthi rebels claimed responsibility.

In our case we’ll explore both methods, first the more conventional cruise missile path and then a hypothetical drone platform.

One of the trickier parts is sorting through the BS. The news, and press releases, all latched on to drones when it was not. Only later were pieces of the Iranian designed derivative KH-55’s found. So we need to start with some educated guesses.

We’ll assume that the KH-55’s are launched from Yemen. We’ll assume they did it to avoid the attention that the Persian Gulf would receive from ELINT and radar coverage. We’ll also assume they are smart enough to do it in a manner that will allow some success.

First off we set up our sides. You could, if you wanted to get complicated, set up sides for the US, Oman, UAE, Iran, and Yemen government. This would make for an interesting scenario but for now we’ll focus on just this aspect.

Force proficiency plays a huge part in how quickly a force can identify a threat and respond. In our case we know the Saudi defenses did not respond to the threat. We’ll drop this to cadet. I think this is even a stretch as the Saudi military is not highly regarded.

A quick Google Map search reveals Abqaiq refinery and gives us the GPS coordinates. We can head over to CMANO, find that spot, and drop a refinery unit. We’ll flesh it out with some more tanks and such as well. If we felt particularly spunky we could make a custom overlay.

There’s our AOO for the refinery. Make sure to check that “unit is auto-detectable” when you right click the units. If we can find it on Google Maps, you can be sure that anyone else can.

For an interesting read check out the articles analyzing the Indian strike in 2019 on the Pakistani mountain camp. They used GPS coordinates from Google Maps which were not corrected for the elevation and all of the ordnance missed.

I’ve grouped the units together for ease of viewing. Now we have to determine what sort of protection these facilities had. And for that we go to the internet! Open source intelligence. We’ll check out a worldwide map of SAM sites to give us an idea. Wikipedia is also a great start.

The website can be a bit slow, it is parsing a ton of data. But we see that the Persian Gulf is quite well covered as is Riyadh. Further out though we have a quiet zone. Assuming the launch did occur in Yemen and not in Iran, we have a fairly clear path.

The Saudi’s have a pretty robust defense network and that’s a bit tougher to determine. Some news I read mentioned Patriot’s and I-HAWK batteries in the vicinity. The Saudi Peace Shield network is extensive, but lacking in capabilities in this area.

First I’ll set a radar in the southwest. I press INS on the area and select the Saudi Radar AN/FPS-117. I follow the map from GlobalSecurity and end up with this :

Placing the I-HAWK and Patriot is a bit tougher. We’ll place a Patriot battery between the two and an I-HAWK battery near each.

You could put up an AEW bird, or a drone, or even a flight of jets. These would all be variables you could add later. For now we’ll head over to the Houthi side and drop some KH-55’s.

Look at that! Already in the DB. I’m not concerned about the launch method. According to this each “unit” will have 12 KH-55’s to fire. We know that 17 hit and 1 dropped into the desert, so we’ll add a second half unit. You could modify placement to test flight paths, but for now we’ll stick them in the middle of nowhere. Save your scenario and then load it up!

At this point it’s fairly simple. You pick the Houthi side, path the missiles (SHIFT-F1) and see how many make it.

Then we start the simulation and see how the launch goes.

I put in a slight dog leg on the Abqaiq path while I let the Khurais path head straight in.

The units without the dogleg took a bit of a spread, but they are converging at the end.

Certain cruise missiles are pathable after launch, these however are not. They are moving at 500 knots, and at 350 ft AGL. If the Saudi radar network is on the ball they should catch these units and alert the air defenses.

At the end we see a fairly impressive rate of interception. Nearly all of the cruise missiles were knocked out by the I-HAWK. We know this didn’t occur in reality so we could drop the skill rate down to Novice and run the scenario again.

You can also run this in editor mode, swap sides, and see exactly what the Saudi radars pick up. In this case the I-HAWK radar picks up the incoming KH-55 about 25nm out. The simulation shows a decent interception rate. Reality bears out a much worse response.

So one has to wonder if the I-HAWK radars were running? Where the operators relying on the Peace Shield network to pick up threats from the most likely aggressor (Iran?) and not Yemen from the far south? If we run this simulation again and turn off the I-HAWK radars all of the Kh-55’s make it through.

What about the news saying that Iranian designed drones did it? The above drone is still being touted as a potential attack vector. Our problem though, the Shahed-129 UAV in the CMANO DB has no weaponry. So we’ll use a Lua script and a trigger to make it act like a warhead.

First we drop a flying circus of drones.

Next we set reference points around the target zone and create an “Unit Enters Area” trigger that is specific to the Houthi UAV’s. We do this for both areas.

<p>ScenEdit_AddExplosion ({warheadid=253, lat=unit.latitude, lon=unit.longitude, altitude=unit.altitude})<br>

Next we’ll modify the above script from the CommandLua Gihub page. We need a warheadid. This will define how large of an explosion will occur at that point. So how large can this thing carry? A KH-55 is pretty big, 190 damage points. Compared to a Hellfire missile at 8 damage points. The point of this exercise is more to see if it can get in detected than to model damage, so we’ll go with the larger of the two warheads just to see how it looks.

local unit=UnitX()</p>
<p>ScenEdit_AddExplosion ({warheadid=555, lat=unit.latitude, lon=unit.longitude, altitude=unit.altitude})<br>

unitX() is a generic method to call out the unit that executes a trigger. It’ll then grab that unit data and send it to the unit variable. Then once the trigger fires it’ll populate the explosion and we’ll have a nice detonation right at the point it crosses the line. It’s not ideal but it’ll do what we need for now.

Don’t forget to populate the Event itself! We’ll set it as repeatable. In this case we can use the same Action with two unique triggers as the UnitX isn’t defined to one or the other.

Then just path the drone swarm wherever you’d like and watch them go. At 70 knots they are painfully slow. They are detected at about the same distance and dispatched.

Do it again but this time disable the I-HAWK radar. Note that once the drones cross the boundary you get a little explosion. You’d need to define quite a bit tighter reference zones and change the altitude in the trigger to reflect actual ground level.

You can also set warhead #47…. this is the GBU-43 warhead. Try it. You’ll like it.

Now to make this a unique scenario we’d have to offer a bit more for the player to do. Operating as the Houthi side isn’t terribly interesting as the options are limited. A better mission would be to allow the player to use the Saudi Air Force without being able to change the EMCON of the Peace Shield air defence units.

You could allow different paths of escalation ranging from a shipping strike in the Gulf, a direct strike on Iran, or a hunt for the launchers in Yemen. Each would offer a unique end point and unique challenges. To add another layer create a special counter for “escalation”. Depending on how the player responds you may see different outcomes. This makes a great scenario as each time you play it’s different.

The post Command : Modern Air Naval Operations – Abqaiq Refinery Strike appeared first on The Strategy Gamer.

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