Author Topic: GREATER AUSTRALIA  (Read 27984 times)

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« on: December 11, 2011, 05:51:04 AM »

A Sharper Spear

Following the end of the Second World War, the Australian government instigated a massive program of immigration. After narrowly preventing a Japanese invasion and suffering attacks on Australian soil for the first time, it was seen that the country must "populate or perish". Immigration brought traditional migrants from the United Kingdom (UK) along with, for the first time, large numbers of southern and central Europeans. Five million immigrants arrived between 1948 and 1960 alone, with many newly-arrived migrants finding employment in government assisted programs such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme.  Parallel to this, Australia like many countries also experienced a significant ‘baby-boom’.   The result of all this was that by 1960, Australia’s population was approximately 20 Million and growing.

Concurrent with this was a booming Australian economy which stood in sharp contrast to war-ravaged Europe.  Australia was extremely well-endowed with natural resources.  In addition, the manufacturing industry, which had previously played a minor part in an economy, was greatly expanded, thus contributing even more to the wealth of the nation.

In summary, by 1960, Australia was rated as one of the richest nations on the planet.  It had an abundance of natural resources; the growing ability to exploit them; was politically stable; had a strongly growing, well educated population, and was a key part of the Western alliance of nations.  It didn’t take a genius to realise that this would be something envied by others.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Chief of Air Staff Sir Frederick Scherger, later backed by other senior military officers such as Rear Admiral G. J. B. Crabb of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) argued the case to their Ministers for purchasing British-made atom bombs and leasing British 'V' bombers - Victors, Valiants or Vulcans - to deliver them, at least as far as Jakarta.  Initially, this push was hampered by a reluctant Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, who thought that such weapons should be left in the hands of the three great powers that already had them - the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and the USSR - and in those of no other!

By the middle of the decade however, things changed.  First of all, Prime Minister Menzies had left politics due to medical problems.  He was initially replaced by the cautious Harold Holt.  In December 1964 though, Holt disappeared while swimming at Cheviot beach in Victoria. As a result, the new prime minister from January 1965 was John Gorton, a former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter pilot and a maverick who believed that Australia, like Israel, could and should be militarily strong and robustly self-reliant.

Gorton’s accession to power coincided with a growing concern about Australia’s ability to defend itself.  In November 1964, the Australian Financial Review speculated that Indonesia was likely to go nuclear, a claim which prompted many in the media and Government to assert that Australia must have a nuclear deterrent against both China and Indonesia. At first, the option of basing either British or American nuclear weapons (missiles, bombers or submarines) in Australia was considered.  However, it quickly realised that no nuclear power would be willing to hand over nuclear weapons without a veto or control over their use, and that Australia should therefore consider its own indigenous development of such a deterrent.

While reserved about actualities, Federal Cabinet pronounced in October 1965 that “Our military thinking does not exclude the possible contingency in the longer term, that, due to advances in military technology or to the development of a more serious threat of a direct attack on Australia ... our forces should have as far as possible a potential capability to operate with nuclear weapons and in the face of nuclear opposition.”.  Thus was borne the Australian Nuclear Weapons Program.

This program was able to move quite rapidly thanks to support from the USA which had been quietly urging Australia to take on a greater role in the world.  In fact, in 1963, US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara had told the Minister for External Affairs Garfield Barwick in Washington, that it would be natural for Australia to develop nuclear weapons if China did. In 1964, Secretary of State Dean Rusk told Cabinet in Canberra that the United States supported Australia “…advancing to a point just short of final manufacture”.  Therefore, when Australia quietly asked for assistance with its program, it was forthcoming – though neither nation publicly admitted this.

Concurrent with these developments, moves were also afoot that were to arguably have even greater impact on the region than Australia acquiring nuclear weapons.  In mid 1965, during a meeting with the New Zealand Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, Gorton raised the possibility of establishing closer ties.  The reply was even stronger than he could have hoped for – Holyoake suggested that not only was it possible, but that in his opinion it was desirable.  New Zealand had been watching with envy the growth of Australia since the end of the war and now the chance to link itself to that growth was on offer.  After a series of joint conferences and public forums, in May 1967 the people of both countries were asked to vote on whether the two countries should adopt a common currency and establish a number of combined Military units (so called “ANZAC” units).  The vote, which in Australia’s case also gave the vote to Indigenous Australians, passed with a massive majority in both countries.  Over the next 3 years, both countries adopted a single currency and established a number of the ANZAC Units both in the Army and Air Force (the Navy was somewhat more difficult, though the number of cross military postings was increased here as well).

With the development of warheads underway, it was now time for Australia to consider the means to deliver them.  Initially land based missiles were considered.  After all it was argued; during the 1950s, Australia had participated in the development of the Blue Streak missile, a Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) intended for delivery of a nuclear warhead.  This position was soon changed though to something of a more dynamic nature.  This would also be influenced by the now Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee Sir Frederick Scherger as well as the equally influential Chief of Naval Staff (and distinguished naval aviator – in 1940, he led six Swordfish biplanes in carrying out the first ever torpedo attack by aircraft on a capital ship at sea, and had also formerly commanded the carrier HMAS Melbourne) Admiral Sir Victor Alfred Trumper Smith.

Under their influence, it was decided that Australian nuclear weapons would be delivered from aerial platforms – both land based strike aircraft and aircraft carrier based aircraft.  For the land based element, it was decided that the already planned F-111 fleet would be initially used.  These would be supported by a fleet of 12 KC-135As.  These, along with the first 24 F-111Cs (combining the F-111A with longer F-111B wings and strengthened FB-111A landing gear) arrived in 1968.  At first the plan was to increase this with a second batch of F-111Cs.  However, in 1971 this order was changed following an approach by General Dynamics to co-develop with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) a new, longer ranged, strategic version of the F-111.  This would eventually be known as the FB-111H and was a significantly larger aircraft with more powerful engines able to carry significantly more payload and to a greater range.  The first of these flew in 1975.  Full production started soon after and the first of 36 entered RAAF service in 1977.  Versions were also soon acquired by the USAF (for use with SAC where they were known as Super Aardvarks) and the RAF (as a V-bomber replacement where they were known as Excalibur GR.1s).  In RAAF service, they were simply known as Ultra Pigs.

During the period it took to develop the FB-111H, the RAAF leased a squadron of F-111As from the USAF.  Upon the FB-111Hs service entry these were to be returned to the USAF, however it was decided to purchase them instead - half were converted into RF-111A reconnaissance aircraft and the remainder into EF-111A electronic warfare aircraft. The existing F-111Cs were also kept in service but moved from the nuclear strike role to one of more conventional interdiction.

Supporting the F-111s were the existing Dassault Mirage III fighters.  In 1970 however, these were supplemented by 24 McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantoms under the 'Peace Reef' agreement.  In order to simplify its logistics chain, the RAAF soon commissioned Hawker de Havilland to study a re-engining program for the Mirages.  The result was the Mirage III-79 (also known as the Mirage III+) which replaced the SNECMA Atar 9C turbojet with the more powerful General Electric J79 as used in the Phantom.  Although initially thought to be a simple upgrade, this (just as with the earlier CAC Avon Sabre) soon grew to become a significant change.  In order to accommodate the new power plant on the Mirage III's airframe, and to deliver the added cooling required by the J79, the aircraft's rear fuselage was slightly shortened and widened, its air intakes were enlarged, and a large air inlet was installed at the base of the vertical stabilizer, so as to supply the extra cooling needed for the afterburner. As part of the update, the aircraft were also fitted with canards which greatly improved the aircraft manoeuvrability and slow speed control.

On the Naval side, the centre-piece of the new strike capability was to be two new super carriers.  Initially, American carrier designs were looked at, including even a modified version of the American John F. Kennedy class.  However, in 1968 another option suddenly presented itself when the partially complete second and third British Queen Elizabeth class (previously referred to as the CVA-01 class) carriers HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Prince of Wales were offered by the British Labour Government who wanted to cut back defence spending.   With the carriers being offered at virtually ‘bargain basement’ prices (the British Government wanted them gone), it was an offer the Australians couldn’t pass up on.  However, the ships would not be completed as standard Queen Elizabeth class carriers.  As part of their completion, it was decided to undertake an extensive upgrade to the basic design. The most significant part of this upgrade involved increasing the length of the flight deck by 20 feet and an increase in displacement to 60,000 tons.

By early 1971, the first of these, HMAS Gallipoli was launched.  The second, HMAS Kokoda was launched two years later in 1973.  The ships subsequently entered service in 1973 and 1975 respectively.  The centrepiece of each ships air wings were two squadrons of F-111Bs giving a total of 18 aircraft per ship (both the Blackburn Buccaneer and Grumman Intruder had also been considered, but the combination of superior performance and commonality with the USN and the RAAF’s F-111s saw the F-111B chosen instead).  These were primarily dedicated to the Strike role though with secondary anti-shipping/ground attack roles.  Theoretically, they could also be used in an interceptor/fleet defence role, though the RAN pilots did not train for that role and the aircraft were equipped with radars optimised for the maritime/land attack environment rather than dedicated air-to-air radar.  In RAN service the F-111Bs received the seemingly playful name of Platypus (though one was always reminded that the aircraft, just like the mammal, carried potent ‘venom’). Initially supporting the Platypi on each ship were a squadron of A-7 Corsair IIs and one of McDonnell-Douglas F-4F Phantoms (this was a navalised version of the F-4E), however shortly after HMAS Kokoda entered service the A-7s were replaced with a second Phantom squadron.  Rounding out the air wings were mixed units with E-2A Hawkeyes (the Blackburn Puffin was also briefly considered), C-2 Greyhounds, and SE-2A Albatrosses.  This last aircraft was a dedicated ASW version of the E-2 without the Roto-dome but with retractable mad boom and sonobuoy tubes (Gallipoli actually first operated with older S-2 Trackers for a year).  Later on, a number of additional C-2s were acquired and converted into KC-2A tankers.  A number of S-61 Sea King helicopters were also carried serving in multitude of roles.

Supporting each of the new fleet/strike carriers were the legacy HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney.  These were also equipped with A-7 Corsair IIs as well as S-61 Sea King helicopters (in both ASW and Assault versions).  With the introduction of the new carriers however, the role of these smaller ships was re-assessed.  It was soon decided that both ships would be re-tasked either with Amphibious Assault or Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) depending upon their air-wing composition.  Both roles lent themselves to the use of helicopters though.  As such in 1974, the A-7s were passed to the RAAF initially and then sold to New Zealand (who was in the process of seeking a new combat aircraft, having initially leased A-4 Skyhawks, which were subsequently returned to the USN).  Both HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney also had their catapult equipment de-activated and were converted to operate all helicopter air wings.  Depending on the tasking at the time this might comprise either S-61s (for ASW) or UH-1Hs Iroquois and AH-1T Taipans. 

This latter platform was the result of a joint Australian-US Marine Corps program which modified the existing US Army’s AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.  Both forces were very interested in the AH-1 Cobra, but requested greater load carrying capability in high temperatures as well as twin-engines for improved safety in over-water operations.  The resulting AH-1T (which quickly received the Taipan name after the deadly Australian snake) had a lengthened tailboom and fuselage with an upgraded transmission and engines and was designed to be more reliable and easier to maintain in the field. The version was given full TOW capability with targeting system and other sensors, and received a more powerful gun turret featuring a three barrel 20 mm cannon that was based on the six barrel M61 Vulcan cannon.

Also supporting the new carriers were a fleet of new destroyers.  These, the “Bismarck Sea” class (each ship was named after a naval battle involving the RAN and included the HMAS Bismarck Sea, HMAS Han River, HMAS Coral Sea, HMAS Sunda Strait, HMAS Java Sea and HMAS Savo Island) were based on the USN’s Spruance-class destroyer and were designed for air defence in hot weather.  Their primary armament was the RIM-66 Standard missiles on twin Mark 26 launchers, though they also were fitted with Twin Mark 45 127 mm guns as well as RGM-84 Harpoon missiles and torpedoes.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 03:57:19 PM by GTX_Admin »
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 02:25:16 PM »
Testing Times

In 1972, following the election of the new Labor Government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, the Australian participation in the Vietnam War was ended and the deployed forces withdrawn.  However, despite the initial fears of many in the Defence Forces, Whitlam did not cut the new capabilities.  As a former RAAF navigator in WWII, Whitlam was appreciative of the importance of a strong defence force for Australia.

In December 1974 Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin.  Central to the disaster relief operation was the brand new HMAS Gallipoli which embarked with a combination of RAAF and RAN helicopters (UH-1Hs, CH-47Cs and S-61s).  This operation only helped to strengthen the plan to keep the ships in service.  It wasn’t long however before another, more significant test was to occur, this time triggered by events on the other side of the world.

In April 1975, the left-wing Movimento das Forças Armadas mounted a coup d'état against the right-wing authoritarian government in Lisbon.  Following their successful takeover, they announced the intention to rapidly withdraw from Portugal's colonial possessions including East Timor.  Indonesian nationalist and military hardliners saw the Portuguese coup as an opportunity for East Timor's annexation by Indonesia.  Moreover, President Sukarno, who had moved steadily from democracy towards authoritarianism, saw this as a means to help strengthen his own position. 

On 7 December 1975, Indonesian forces invaded East Timor. Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus) was the largest military operation ever carried out by that nation.  Following naval bombardment of Dili, Indonesian seaborne troops landed in the city while simultaneously paratroopers descended. By noon, Indonesian forces had taken the city.  On December 10, a second invasion resulted in the capture of the second biggest town, Baucau, and on Christmas Day, around 10,000 - 15,000 troops landed at Liquisa and Maubara. A large proportion of these troops were from Indonesia's elite commands.  It was during this last phase that an unknown radio operator sent the following broadcast: "The Indonesian forces are killing indiscriminately. Women and children are being shot in the streets. We are all going to be killed.... This is an appeal for international help. Please do something to stop this invasion…".  This was quickly picked up and repeated by the Australian News media.  With long held anxiety in Australia about Indonesian intentions, this Christmas Day invasion quickly resulted in calls for something to be done.  However, military action was the last thing many Western governments wanted, particularly the United States who at the time was completing its own withdrawal from Vietnam.  The situation was further complicated by the Soviet Union’s apparent support of Indonesia - this support prevented any United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution being passed.  For two weeks nothing happened…

Finally, under greatly mounting public pressure (and some not so public urging by allies such as the USA), Whitlam announced that “…Australia could no longer stand by as atrocities were carried out on the door step… Indonesia must recognise the Sovereignty of the East Timorese people”.  He then declared that “…Australia expected Indonesian troops to start withdrawing within days or else further action to evict them would be considered…”  This declaration received widespread backing from Australia’s allies, especially New Zealand, the USA and Portugal.  In Indonesia however, the reaction was at first to do nothing.  Then, two days after the Whitlam declaration, what would become known as the “Balibo Five Incident” took place.  The Balibo Five were a group of journalists for Australian television networks based in the town of Balibo in East Timor.  In what was believed to be a reaction to the Australian media’s unfavourable reporting of the Indonesian invasion, Indonesian military forces arrested and then executed the journalists.  This was the last straw.  Whitlam ordered the Australian Military to initiate Operation Astute.

In the early hours of the 20th January, 1976 the quiet of Dili was broken as RAAF F-111Cs screeched across the city.  Their target was the airport and the main Indonesian Air Defence batteries.  Also struck were the believed main barracks of the Dili based occupation forces.  Similar attacks also took place at Baucau and other key points across East Timor.  At dawn, the next phase began as RAAF F-4Es and Mirage IIIs as well as RAN F-4Fs and F-111Bs operating from HMAS Gallipoli entered the battle.  Their main missions were to eliminate any Indonesian strong points.  Also in action was the RNZAF, which placed two A-7 squadrons under RAAF command.  It was during this first day, that the first aerial battles also took place.  The Indonesians weren’t going to give up easily!  The Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara, (TNI–AU - Indonesian Air Force) reacted more quickly than anyone predicted.  TNI–AU MiG-21s and some of the new MiG-23s (two squadrons of these had recently entered service) intercepted a flight of Mirages returning from a strike.  In the ensuing dogfight, two MiG-21s and a single Mirage were downed.  Over the next 3 days the battle continued.  More aircraft were lost on both sides.  Indonesia also lost a number of warships which were specially targeted by the F-111Bs.

On the 24th the next phase of the Australian led action took place.  Following the elimination of the main air defence units surrounding Dili, Australian paratroops were dropped.  They quickly secured the airstrip which allowed C-130 aircraft to land and disgorge more troops with heavier equipment.  Also landing were two enormous Lockheed C-5 Galaxy transports (these were ‘on loan’ from the USAF and had been quickly painted with RAAF roundels over the US markings – they still flew with USAF crews though).  Over the space of a number of missions, the C-130s and C-5s allowed Australian Army M-113 armoured personnel carriers, FV101 Scorpion light tanks and even new Chieftain AS-1 main battle tanks (MBTs) to be deployed.  With a concurrent amphibious landing in the south at Suai, Australia quickly started to take control of the country. 

However, the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (TNI–AD - Indonesian Army) troops fought just as hard on the ground as their TNI–AU comrades were in the air.  On the 28th, a new development took place.  As a way of striking back at Australia and potentially opening up a new front in the what was now known as the East Timor War, Indonesian forces struck at Australian interests in Papua New Guinea (PNG).  Operating from bases in Irian Jaya (Western New Guinea to Australia), Indonesian special forces supported by TNI–AU Il-28 Beagle bombers struck.  Initially the targets were isolated villages and mine sites, but still it was an invasion of Australian territory (since 1949, Australian had administered the territories of Papua and New Guinea) and as such would garner a reaction.  On the ground PNG “Head Hunter” units (these were small units of Papuan troops that had been trained by Australia’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) and were at home operating in the tough PNG mountainous regions), began a series of reprisal attacks against the Indonesians.  In addition, the RAAF targeted the Indonesian air bases from which the attacks were launched.

For the next week or so, the war continued with mounting casualties on both sides.  By the end of the first week of February, Australia was in control of virtually the whole of East Timor (though small pockets of TNI–AD troops still held out).  At this point, sensing the battle was over and fearful of Australia expanding the war into West Timor, The Indonesian ambassador to the United Nations asked the Soviet Union’s ambassador to support a cease-fire deal.  Within 24hrs, the UN Security council had voted on the associated resolution and called for both sides to stop the fighting.  This was agreed to and thus on the 7th February, the East Timor War officially ended.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 03:59:04 PM by GTX_Admin »
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2011, 02:39:49 PM »
Repercussions and Rewards

Following the war, a number of developments took place.  First amongst these was that within weeks of the ceasefire, the politically weakened Sukarno was toppled by the head of the military, General Suharto, who was formally declared President in March 1976.  With the Indonesian Military seen as having distinguished itself in the war, this was a popular action throughout the majority of the country. Suharto’s first act was to order the re-equipping of the military to make up the losses incurred during the war.  The Soviet Union was the main recipient of the resulting equipment orders and quickly supplied new fighters (MiG-21s, MiG-23s, Su-15s and Su-22s) along with Air Defence missiles (SA-3s and SA-6s).  Also purchased were Mi-8 Assault Transports and Mi-24D ‘Hind’ Assault gunships and T-72 tanks.

On the Australian side, initially there was no change – the existing forces took on an occupying role until replaced by a United Nations administration and peace keeping force.  By the end of 1976, elections were arranged and a new East Timorese Government elected.  Following the ‘Liberation’ this new administration looked very favourably towards Australia.  As a consequence, in 1977 Australia was ‘rewarded’ with the drafting of a treaty to share resources in the Timor Gap. The treaty was signed in May 1977, with an estimated five billion barrels of oil to be shared between the countries.   This agreement, along with general economic partnership, was a crucial factor for the East Timor’s quick recovery from the war.

Politically, Prime Minister Whitlam initially reaped the rewards that any successful war inevitably gives.  However, in a surprising development his government was narrowly defeated in the general election of 1977.  The new Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, entered office in December with a majority of two seats. 

For the Australian military, the period following the war was a period of analysis.  Some equipment such as the F-111s (both the C and B models) had performed superbly, whilst others such as the Mirages and even the Phantoms, whilst still very capable, were assessed as not being sufficient for the future.  As a result, a new program to replace these was initiated.

In 1978, the RAAF and RAN agreed to purchase a new common fighter to replace the Mirages and Phantoms.  Following detailed analysis it was decided to purchase two types in a Hi-Lo mix.  For the Hi category, the choice was between the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 (in both conventional and Naval versions), Grumman F-14 (single common version), Panavia Tornado ADV (in both conventional and naval versions) and Dassault Mirage 4000 (which didn’t actually have a naval offering), whilst for the Lo category, the choice was between the General Dynamics F/A-16 (again with both conventional and naval versions), McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 (common version), Sepecat Jaguar (in both conventional and naval versions) or Dassault Mirage 2000 (again with no naval version).  Finally in 1979, the decision to purchase F-14Bs (these were fitted with the GE F110 engine) and F/A-16/Ns (both also fitted with the GE engine) was announced - the RAN F/A-16N order was later changed to conventional F/A-16s when it was decided that the carrier air wings would be centred upon the F-111B and F-14B.  Incidentally, a ‘home-grown’ option was also considered for the Hi role, when CAC offered an interceptor version of the FB-111H – this, the F-111G was fitted with the same Hughes AWG-9 radar as the F-14 and carried the same AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, in this case though in excess of 16 could be carried.  However, whilst undoubtedly impressive, the F-111G was ultimately rejected since it lacked the multi-role ability of the F-14. Concurrently with these new fighter programs, the existing F-111Cs and F-111Bs were also to be upgraded with the same engine (they would be redesignated as F-111C+/F-111B+ after this) and eventually, the AVQ-26 Pave Tack forward looking infrared (FLIR) and laser designator system (though this suffered developmental problems and was not actually introduced into service until late 1981).

Other changes taking place were the purchase of 6 (later increased to 8) Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft and the ‘proper’ acquisition of 6 C-5 Galaxy transports.  The RAAF also successfully argued for the introduction of a small (1 squadron) but dedicated combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter fleet.  Initially a variant of the CH-47 was considered, but eventually 12 Sikorsky HH-53H Pave Low III were ordered from the US.

Another major lesson was the importance of air defence capability for the Army.  Although already equipped with shoulder launched systems such as he FIM-43 Redeye, the experience of attacks by Indonesian aircraft during the war had shown this to be insufficient.   It was also felt that the protection of allied fighters could not always be guaranteed – as indeed was the case during the war.  As such, a program to acquire a more powerful system for the ARA was begun.  At first, off the shelf systems such as the US Army’s MIM-72A/M48 Chaparral or M163 Vulcan Air Defense System or even the newly proposed British Tracked Rapier system were considered.  However, an indigenous option was soon put forward that beat all of these.  This proposed modifying the existing Chieftain AS-1 MBT with a new turret.  This was basically similar to the existing turret in appearance though was lightened (with reduced armour).  The 120mm main gun was replaced with a General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger, seven barrel 30mm cannon fed by a magazine holding up to 1600 rounds.  This had an effective range between 350 m and 2000m.  Supporting the main gun were two 4 round pods fitted with Swedish RBS 70 laser-guided missiles.  These had an effective range of up to 8km and were also being introduced in a MANPADS version for the Army as well.  Supporting both the gun and the missiles was a targeting/surveillance system comprising a radar and independent optical/laser turret.  Following trials, the Chieftain AS1 Air Defence Variant (ADV) or, as it was quickly named: Echidna; was quickly proven to be the winning solution. A total of 32 Echidnas were subsequently ordered.  A version was also subsequently ordered by both the British Army and the Iranian Army (though these were not delivered due to the Iranian revolution).

« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 04:00:20 PM by GTX_Admin »
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2011, 02:46:20 PM »
Of Sultanates and Southern Oceans

In 1979, events on the far side of the world were once again to have an impact upon Australia.  Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralysed Iran. Finally in mid-January 1979, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran for exile. Two weeks later, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.  The royal regime collapsed shortly after on February 11th when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting.  Iran voted by national referendum to become an Islamic Republic on 1st April 1979, and a new theocratic constitution whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country was approved in December 1979.

This revolution had profound repercussions around the world.  Most significantly, it inspired Islamic groups in a number of countries to consider similar.  In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, the leaders of the Darul Islam were just such a group.  Newly inspired, they immediately began to initiate protests through out the country often using students from the more radical Madrasahs that had been established through out the country.  The group also began staging raids on nightclubs and bars in the major cities to punish proprietors and patrons who did not adhere to Islamic values. Things reached a climax in March 1980 when members of Komando Jihad (a militant offshoot of Darul Islam) stormed the Presidential residence in Jakarta.  Following a gunfight that took many hours, the group displayed the body of President Suharto and declared that Indonesia was now an Islamic State to be known henceforth as the Indonesian Sultanate and would be ruled by a council of Islamic scholars.  Over the weeks that followed, the group strengthened its position.  Central to this were the Madrasah students who fervently sought out anyone who did not comply with the new Sharia law.

The world reaction to this development was initially fear – first Iran and now Indonesia!  Where might be next?  In Australia, the Government under Prime Minister Fraser was just as stunned as the leaders of other Western leaders.  Although appalled but what was happening on their doorstep they didn’t know how to react – this was especially compounded by the fact that most in Australia had mixed emotions about the deposing of Suharto.  After all, he was the man most associated with the Indonesian military’s actions in the recent East Timor War.  As such the official reaction was to do nothing more than to issue calls for calm.

Also competing for the Government’s focus at this time was the Rhodesian situation.  The Rhodesian Bush War had been underway in one form or another since 1964.  By 1979 however, a resolution was finally in sight.  During the 1979 Commonwealth Conference, Fraser, together with his Nigerian counterpart, convinced newly-elected British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to withhold recognition of the internal settlement Zimbabwe Rhodesia government (Thatcher had earlier promised to recognise it). Subsequently, the Lancaster House talks were held and Robert Mugabe was elected leader of an independent Zimbabwe at the inaugural 1980 election - Fraser was widely recognised as 'the principal architect' in the installation of Mugabe.

At the 1980 election, Fraser hoped to capitalise upon this however it was not to be and in fact, he saw his majority sharply reduced and the coalition lose control of the Senate. Fraser was however able to form a minority government by way of deals with a number of independent parliamentarians. The writing was on the wall though - in 1981 the economy experienced a sharp recession; and a protracted scandal over tax-avoidance schemes run by prominent party members plagued the government. Finally, a popular minister, Andrew Peacock, resigned from Cabinet and challenged Fraser's leadership. Although Fraser won, these events left him politically weakened.

By the end of 1981 it was also obvious that the popular former trade union leader Bob Hawke was going to become Labor leader. Fraser was emboldened to call a snap election before Hawke could consolidate his position. However, he had left his run too late. On the day Fraser called the election for 5 March 1982, Hawke was formally declared as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition. A former Union Leader, Hawke was always ready for a fight.  Sensing the public’s concern with the Indonesian situation, he made this a major campaign platform calling for stronger action.  At the resulting election, Fraser was heavily defeated.  However, before anything substantial could be done about Indonesia, events once again took an unexpected turn…

On 2nd April 1982, Argentine forces mounted amphibious landings of the Falkland Islands, following the civilian occupation of South Georgia on the 19th March.  In the period leading up to the war, Argentina had been in the midst of a devastating economic crisis and large-scale civil unrest against the military junta that had been governing the country since 1976.  The Falkland Islands lay east of Argentina and their name and sovereignty had long been disputed (Argentina referring to them as Islas Malvinas). The junta calculated that the UK would never respond militarily to their taking of the islands. In doing so the junta hoped to mobilise Argentines' long-standing patriotic feelings towards the islands and thus divert public attention from the country's chronic economic problems and the regime's ongoing human rights violations. Such action would also bolster its dwindling legitimacy.

Word of the invasion first reached Britain via amateur radio. The retaking of the Falkland Islands was considered extremely difficult - the U.S. Navy actually considered a successful invasion by the UK to be 'a military impossibility'.
The main constraint was the disparity in deployable air cover with the UK having a single operational aircraft carrier (HMS Hermes) with at most, 28 Harriers against Argentina's 220 jet fighters.  This situation had come about as a result of another round of Defence cuts whereby the British Labour Government of James Callaghan had decided to replace the formidable HMS Queen Elizabeth fleet carrier with a pair of simpler (and it was hoped, less expensive) HMS Invincible class Anti-Submarine carriers.  As such, the HMS Queen Elizabeth had been sold to Canada (along with its air wing of Phantom FG.1 fighters; Buccaneer S.2 strike aircraft and E-2 Hawkeye AEW aircraft – not to mention quite a few RN FAA pilots who also transferred services) as a replacement for the HMCS Bonaventure – in Canadian service the ship essentially retained its name but was now officially HMCS Queen Elizabeth.  Although the Callaghan government had recently been replaced by that of the conservative Margaret Thatcher, the sale was already long past.  To compound the problem, the two new carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious, were seriously delayed.  The aging Commando carrier, HMS Bulwark, was also available, though this was only equipped to carry helicopters and was considered to be of doubtful use.

Against this backdrop, the Argentines considered their position secure.  However, they hadn’t counted upon the willingness of the British to call upon their Commonwealth ‘children’.  Within days of the initial invasion, Prime Minister Thatcher had rung her Canadian and Australian counterparts requesting their assistance.  Both reacted positively with the result that a combined Commonwealth task force was now tasked with the recapture of the islands.  From Canada came the HMCS Queen Elizabeth escorted by 2 Iroquois-class destroyers, HMCS Huron and HMCS Algonquin.  From Australia, the HMAS Kokoda and 3 “Bismarck Sea” class destroyers HMAS Han River, HMAS Coral Sea, and HMAS Java Sea as well as a pair of replenishment and support vessels.  The remaining forces would come from the UK and would comprise the HMS Hermes as well as in excess of 30 destroyers, frigates and all important troop transports and logistics ships.  Thanks to a splendid effort at intelligence security, the participation of the Canadian and Australian forces was totally unknown to the Argentine forces. 

By mid-April, the RAF had set up an airbase at Wideawake Airfield on the mid-Atlantic island of Ascension, including a sizable force of FB-111H Excalibur GR.1 strike aircraft, Handley Page Victor K Mk 2 refuelling aircraft, and McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR Mk 2 fighters to protect them. Meanwhile the main British naval task force arrived at Ascension Island to prepare for war.  A small force had already been sent south to recapture South Georgia.

In mid April, a Boeing 707 of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA) attempted to approach the British Task Force during their travel to the South. Before it was escorted away, it managed to spot the HMCS Queen Elizabeth (which had only joined the task force days beforehand) and report this disturbing development to the Argentine High Command.  The involvement of Australia was still a secret though.  Attempts by FAA 707s to make closer approaches were intercepted by RCN Phantoms; the unarmed 707 were not attacked because diplomatic moves were still in progress and the UK had not yet decided to commit itself to war.   This would soon change though.

On the 1st May, all hell broke loose as the combined Commonwealth forces struck (Australia’s involvement was only officially communicated via their Ambassador 30 minutes before the first strikes).  From the RAF, Operation "Black Buck” involving a total of 6 Excalibur GR 1 strike aircraft, supported by a large portion of the available RAF Victor K Mk 2 refuelling force struck the airfield at Port Stanley.  Although the raids did minimal damage to the runway, the damage to radars and air defences was unrepairable. Shortly after this, a strike force of RCN Buccaneers from the HMCS Queen Elizabeth also struck and completed the job – the runway was totally out of action.

To the West, the Australian part in the operation was also beginning.  Flying from the South, two strike packages of F-111B+s escorted by F-14Bs and a single EF-111B+ (the EF-111B+ was a dedicated electronic warfare version of the F-111B+ using the same equipment as the RAAF’s EF-111As) each struck at the Argentine air bases at Rio Gallegos and Río Grande   Coming as a total surprise, and with aircraft equipped with the new Pave Tack pods and associated GBU-10 Paveway II laser guided bombs, the effect was devastating.  After the single attack, both bases were unusable for the duration of the conflict.  Whilst many aircraft were caught on the ground, some at Rio Gallegos were already airborne.  However for the RAN F-14B pilots (many who were veterans from the East Timor War), these were easy targets – within minutes, two A-4B Skyhawks and a Mirage IIIEA were shot down.  These kills were also the first for the F-14.

In the days that followed, the carnage continued, as the Argentines, though mounting a brave defence, were simply outclassed.  On the 2nd May, the vintage Argentine light cruiser ARA General Belgrano was set upon and torpedoed by the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror. Three hundred and twenty-three members of Belgrano's crew died in the incident.  Two days later on the 4th May, the sole Argentine aircraft carrier Veinticinco de Mayo was struck by AGM-84 Harpoon missiles fired from two RCN Buccaneers.  It would eventually sink 18 hours later with the loss of over 800 crew.  On the same day, the FAA struck back when the RN destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile fired by a FAA Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard.  A day later the frigate HMS Ardent was also mortally hit by an Exocet fired from a shore based trailer.  That evening the frigate HMS Argonaut and destroyer HMS Antrim were also hit by Argentine bombs but these failed to detonate.  They would be the last ships damaged during the conflict as the overwhelming superiority of the Commonwealth forces combined with ongoing strikes against the mainland bases took effect.

The tempo of operations increased throughout the second week of May as the UN attempts to mediate a peace were rejected by the British, who felt that any delay would make a campaign impractical in the South Atlantic storms.  During the night of 12th May the British Amphibious Task Group under the command of Commodore Michael Clapp mounted Operation Sutton, the amphibious landing on beaches around San Carlos Water, on the north-western coast of East Falkland facing onto Falkland Sound – the 4,000 men of 3 Commando Brigade were put ashore.  By dawn the next day they had established a secure beachhead from which to conduct offensive operations.  By this time, total Commonwealth air superiority had been achieved – the combination of RAN F-14Bs and E-2s were especially deadly accounting for the majority of the kills (in fact, so devastating were the F-14Bs, the Argentines named them "la Muerta Negra (the Black Death)".  Over the next week, the British ground forces started to conduct operations.  They were supported by RAF Harrier GR.3 close support aircraft operating from HMS Hermes and met with little resistance – once air superiority was achieved the Argentine forces knew it was all over.  On the 16th May, the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore – some 9,800 Argentine troops were made prisoners of war.  A day later, the Argentine government accepted an end to hostilities.

The Argentine loss of the war led to ever-larger protests against the military regime and is credited with giving the final push to drive out the military government that had overthrown Isabel Perón in 1976.  Elections were held on 30 October 1983 and a new president, Raúl Alfonsín, took office on 10 December 1983. In the long term the debacle concluded the periodical intervention of the Argentine military in the politics since the 1930s.

For the UK the war, though still costly, was considered a great victory for the UK and indeed the Commonwealth (without whom it was acknowledged, the result could have been significantly different). The war provided a substantial boost to the popularity of Margaret Thatcher and undoubtedly played a role in ensuring her re-election in 1983.

Air power proved to be of critical importance during the conflict. Air strikes were staged against ground, sea and air targets on both sides, and often with clear results.  Moreover, the importance of AEW&C guided fighters was proven beyond doubt. The Argentine Exocet and Commonwealth Harpoon missiles also proved their lethality in air-to-surface operations, leading to retrofitting of most major ships with Close-in weapon systems (CIWS).
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2011, 02:48:04 PM »
Business as Usual and Business Unfinished?

Following the Falklands War, the Australian Forces returned triumphantly.  Very quickly, it was back to normal operations.  First issue to be addressed for the defence force in the wake of the Falklands War was the issue of replacing the two light carriers HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney.

The need to secure a replacement for these grew as the carriers’ age caused their operating costs to increase.  In June 1977, the Defence Force Development Committee had approved an investigation into acquiring two new STOVL/helicopter carriers. By August 1979, the decision was limited to three designs: a modified American Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ship, an Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi class carrier, and a Sea Control Ship design that later became the Spanish Navy's Principe de Asturias.  By February 1981, the Iwo Jima class was the preferred option.  However, the confusion of the latter period of the Fraser Government threw this into disarray.   When the new Hawke Government came to power one of their first decisions was to re-initiate this project.  This drive was largely led by the passionate, young Minister for Defence, Kim Beazley – he would quickly get the nickname “Bomber Beazley” for his fervent support of all things military. 

The new project quickly took on the lessons of the Falklands War.  Two of the main ones were that size was beneficial to help withstand the effects of missile strikes (the fitting of additional CIWS was also crucial in this respect), and that a greater ability for the conduct of amphibious operations was highly desirable.  As a result of these (and other) considerations, focus now switched to a variant of the American Tarawa class amphibious assault ships.  The new Tarakan-class (as they were known – after the Battle of Tarakan) warships had a more squared-off forward flight deck with 12° "ski jump" and no forward sponsons.  In addition, the Tarakan-class warships were 24 feet longer in overall length to better accommodate a "well-deck” for launching landing craft or Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft. Each Tarakan-class warship also had a hospital with 600 patient beds and six operating rooms – this latter feature was also seen to be of significant use in disaster relief operations.   The first of the new class, HMAS Tarakan was launched in 1985 and entered service two years later in 1987.  Its sister ship, the HMAS Balikpapan was launched in late 1986 entering service in 1989.  Both ships were equipped with an air wing tailored for each mission, though generally they carried 6 AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft, 4 AH-1T+ Improved Taipan attack helicopters (this was an upgraded variant with four bladed main rotor and more powerful General Electric T700 engines.  It also acquired some sensors from the AH-64 Apache), 6 CH-47 Sea Chinook helicopters (these were a version of the standard CH-47C but with added navalisation features) and 8 – 10 MH-60B Helicopters (the latter were acquired in 1986 as replacements for the venerable UH-1 Iroquois and were a hybrid of the standard UH-60A troop transport with the navalisation features of the SH-60B-2 ASW helicopter which had also been acquired as an SH-61 replacement).

The other major project gaining support in 1984 was that to replace the long serving Oberon class of diesel-electric submarines.  Initially, a new diesel-electric design was considered, but following the success of the Royal Navy’s SSNs in the Falklands War (in particular their ability to operate virtually indefinitely), a nuclear powered option was soon favoured.  Designing and building the submarines in Australia would be one of the most complex projects ever undertaken and was initially met with a great deal of criticism.  However, thanks to campaigning by several figures in Australian industry, the support from several trade unions, and the drive of Beazley, the view that it was both possible and feasible soon came to dominate.

The project was given the procurement designation of SEA 1114.  The RAN had four main requirements: that the submarines were tailored to operating conditions in the Australasian region; that the submarines be multi-role capable adopting both a nuclear strike role and special forces delivery capability in addition to their primary hunter-killer role; that they be equipped with a combat system advanced enough to promote a long service life; and that appropriate and sustainable infrastructure be established in Australia to construct the boats, then provide maintenance and technical support for their operational lifespan.  The requirement was for eight boats and they would be designated the Collins class (the lead boat taking its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins, with the other seven submarines named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in action during World War II).

Proposals were received from seven companies, with two selected for a funded study, and the winning design announced in mid-1987. The resulting submarines, based upon a proposal from the General Dynamics Electric Boat were arguably the largest, most complex attack submarines in the Western world.  Equipped with an advanced combat system and 8 torpedo tubes plus 12 dedicated vertical launch (VLS) tubes for launching land attack missiles the design was also one of the most heavily armed of all submarines.  Power was provided by an Australian designed (though with assistance provided by the USN) pressurized water reactor capable of delivering 45,000shp.  The boats also had extensive equipment for shallow-water operations, including a floodable silo capable of simultaneously deploying eight special forces operators and their equipment.  In fact so impressive was the design, that the USN also used it as the basis for their own Seawolf class submarine.  However, being such a complex project there were inevitable delays and the first of the class would not enter service until 1993.

Other new equipment changes during this period were the introduction of the AAC Wamira and T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft.  The Wamira was also adopted by the RAF, partially as thanks for the support offered by Australia during the Falklands War.  Finally, a new Close Air Support/Forward Air Controller (CAS/FAC) platform was sought.  Initially a version of the Wamira was considered likely, however following lessons of the East Timor and Falklands conflicts, something with substantially greater firepower and survivability was looked for.  Simply acquiring more Taipan helicopters was also considered, but these would be limited in their ability to operate effectively in some of the mountainous terrain of the PNG territories (where Indonesian forces had infiltrated during the East Timor War).  Consequently, in 1985, the decision was made to acquire 24 Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.  These would be designated OA-10C and were based upon the A-10B Night/Adverse Weather version but without the impressive GAU-8/A 30mm Gatling gun (this was considered unnecessary for their intended role and was replaced with a 20mm M-61 instead – the smaller gun allowed for increased ammunition and fuel capacity as well).  In Australian service, the aircraft quickly received the nickname Devil after the Tasmanian Devil.  They were often based from small airstrips throughout Northern Australia and the PNG Highlands.

Despite all the new equipment programs, the issue of Indonesia had not been forgotten.  As one of the principle campaign platforms of the Labor party during the 1982 election, strong action was planned.  With the Falklands War taking centre stage though this was initially ‘put on the back burner’.  However, by June, with the war over and the Australian forces back home, it came to prominence once again.  In July Australia tried to get the UN to introduce sanctions, however, this was vetoed by the Soviet Union.  As such, in August it announced that it would introduce its own sanctions aimed at encouraging democratic elections in the country – these sanctions were also supported by the USA, UK, France, Canada, New Zealand and a number of other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. 

Other action inspired by the Indonesian Islamic Revolution and the earlier East Timor war was to establish a new defence and security pact between the nations of the region.  This would become known as the Oceania Defence Treaty (ODT) and involved Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji and most of the other small island nations in the south Pacific.

In late 1985, a significant development took place.  A RAAF Jindivik Mk 5R Surveillance UAV (this was a long span - 11.5m wingspan - reconnaissance variant of Jindivik target drone powered by more powerful General Electric J85 engine and able to cruise in excess of 75,000ft.) operating from RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia, spotted what appeared to be a number of mobile missile launchers being unloaded from a ship.  These were later identified as launch vehicles for Scud-C ballistic missiles – the missiles themselves were spotted being offloaded from subsequent ships and were believed to have been supplied by North Korea with funding provided by Iran.  Such weapons were able to strike many Oceania Defence Treaty signatories including Singapore, Malaysia, East Timor and for the first time Australia directly (The northern city of Darwin was within range of missiles launched from Indonesian territory).  Even more frightening was intelligence that Indonesia may have been collaborating with Iran and Pakistan on developing Nuclear, Chemical or even Biological Warfare warheads for these missiles.  This was a development that Australia especially could not tolerate. 

With diplomatic options considered unlikely to succeed, the option of military action was increasingly seen as necessary.  As such, the order to begin planning what would later become known as Operation Stabilise was given.  Initially focussed upon the elimination of the Scud missiles and their launch vehicles, this soon grew into a far larger operation aimed at neutering much of Indonesia’s military power – to a large degree, this was seen as the unfinished business of the East Timor War.  Consideration was also given to eliminating the ruling members of the Indonesian Sultanate as it was considered unlikely for democracy to develop whilst this remained in place. 

Consequently, at midnight on the 12th August 1986, the first strikes in what would be Australia’s largest military operation took place.  Supported by forces from New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia, these initial strikes were aimed at the Scud launch vehicles (the main operating/maintenance base for the vehicles had been identified from intelligence sources) and the main Air Bases throughout the country.  The first strikes were undertaken by FB-111H Ultra Pigs equipped with Kingfisher Supersonic ASMs fitted with conventional warheads (these were a ramjet powered missile typically fitted with a nuclear warhead and were the primary weapon of the FB-111Hs).  These first strikes were aimed at the Scud vehicle depots and the Air Defence systems surrounding the main Indonesian airbases at Iswahyudi, Abdulrachman Saleh, Hasanuddin, Halim Perdanakususma, Pekanbaru and Adisucipto.  A strike was also targeted at the former Presidential residency in Jakarta where the ruling Islamic Council were believed to be located.  Following this strike were waves of F-111C+ and B+ strike aircraft (both RAN carriers HMAS Gallipoli and HMAS Kokoda were taking part in this operation along with the HMAS Sydney) supported by EF-111B+/C+ jamming aircraft.  RAAF F/A-16s were also heavily tasked with attack missions.  The RNZAF sent two squadrons  - one of A-7s plus one of F/A-16s (New Zealand had joined the Australian program to purchase F/A-16s and was in the process of replacing it’s A-7s with them), whilst Singapore and Malaysia both committed their forces of A-4 Skyhawks and F-5E Tigers (Singapore, also committed some aging Hawker Hunters) to the fight.  Protecting all these Oceanic attack aircraft were RAAF and RAN F-14Bs, out to add to their reputation from the Falklands War. 

In the days that followed the initial strikes, the battle escalated.  Although the initial strikes were successful (the Scud threat especially was believed to have been eliminated in the first strike), throughout the entire war though, six FB-111Hs were kept at 5 minutes readiness armed with nuclear weapons should a launch be detected.  This however was not made public until many years later), just as in the East Timor War, Indonesia was putting up a strong defence.  However, the initiative was firmly with the attacking forces.  Despite some losses (the A-4s, A-7s and even F/A-16s all suffered losses), the overwhelming superiority of the F-14Bs soon made themselves felt.  By the end of the second week, virtually the entire Indonesian inventory of aircraft had been eliminated either on the ground or in the air.  With the Air Defence batteries and SAM sites also having been largely eliminated, the way was now open for the elimination of remaining military assets considered a threat.

By end of the first week of September, the operation was over.  The Islamic Council had been overthrown by surviving elements of the Indonesian Army led by a Colonel Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – he would eventually be elected President.  Within hours a call for a ceasefire had been sent which was accepted by the attacking Oceanic forces.  In the weeks that followed, Indonesia also witnessed a partial disintegration up as first Irian Jaya (soon renamed West New Guinea) and then Aceh declared their independence.  Not long afterwards, both Yogyakarta and West Timor also broke away – in West Timor’s case, unification was sought with their increasingly prosperous neighbour East Timor.


« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 04:05:36 PM by GTX_Admin »
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2011, 02:49:54 PM »
Greater Australia

For Australia, the operation proved an outstanding success and vindication for their initiating of the ODT.  In this atmosphere, a new proposal was formally made to the members of the ODT by the Australian Prime Minister and Defence Minister. This proposed taking the treaty a step further and creating a single Oceanic Defence Force (ODF).  In reality, the proposal was not really new and had in fact been talked about in one form or another ever since Australia and New Zealand had established closer ties in the late ‘60s.  However, now that it was formally proposed, it soon gained support from both New Zealand (who already had a long history of joint operations and joint ANZAC units with Australia) and most of the smaller ODT Nations.  Both Singapore and Malaysia declined the offer though.  The proposal soon took on a life of its own and grew into an even larger one whereby the participating nations would have their economies formally linked to the Australian one (which had been booming for quite some time).  This linking even went to the extent of having the ANZ dollar made the official currency through out the participants.  By the end of 1987, the proposal for what would be now known as the Oceanic Confederation was ready to be put to the vote.  It passed with overwhelming majorities in all the ODT signatory nations (except Singapore and Malaysia which had already declared their non-interest).  The new nations of West New Guinea and Yogyakarta also voted to join as well as West Timor which was also voting to unify with East Timor. 

By mid 1988, as just over 45 Million Australians celebrated the nation’s Bicentenary, the new Oceanic Confederation was declared ratified.  The associated Oceanic Defence Force (OCDF) – comprising the merged forces of all the participating nations (though by far dominated by Australia’s) was also declared operational.  This adopted the new Southern Cross markings on all its major equipment.  Unlike the traditional forces that preceded it, the OCDF did not have separate Army, Navy or Air Force elements but rather was a single ‘purple’ force.
Despite being a true partnership, with all participants having a voice within the governing Oceanic Council, the Oceanic Confederation quickly received the moniker “Greater Australia” in the press.

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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2011, 02:50:25 PM »
A Brave New World?

The formation of the Oceanic Confederation was at the start of a tumultuous time for the world.  In 1989, following decades of Communist rule, a revolutionary wave swept across Central and Eastern Europe.  The trigger for these revolutions was the advent of reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and his introduction of a policy of glasnost (openness) in the Soviet Union, which emphasised the need for perestroika (economic restructuring).  Gorbachev soon urged his Eastern European counterparts to also imitate perestroika and glasnost in their own countries.  Almost overnight, elections were taking place with dramatic results as one communist regime after another were swept from power. This largely bloodless political upheaval began in Poland, continued in Hungary, and then led to a surge of mostly peaceful revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria.  Soon there was talk of a so called “peace dividend” resulting from a decrease in defence spending as the Cold War apparently ended.  This view was soon shattered though.

On August 2, 1990 following months of tension, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military launched an invasion of neighbouring Kuwait. The assault was led by the elite Iraqi Republican Guard divisions supported by helicopters including gunships and the Iraqi Air Force (IrAF).   Kuwait was caught unprepared and despite brave resistance from individual units, the country was overrun in two days. 

Within hours of the invasion, Kuwaiti and US delegations requested a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops. UN Security Council Resolution 665 soon followed, authorising the naval blockade to enforce the embargo against Iraq. It said the “use of measures commensurate to the specific circumstances as may be necessary … to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations and to ensure strict implementation of resolution 661.”  Finally, Resolution 678 gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline of 15 January 1991, and authorizing “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660,” a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force.

One of the main concerns of the west was the threat Iraq posed to Saudi Arabia. The conquest of Kuwait had brought the Iraqi army within easy striking distance of the Saudi oil fields. Iraqi control of these fields as well as Kuwait and Iraqi reserves would have given it control of the majority of the world's reserves. Moreover, Iraq also had a number of stated grievances with Saudi Arabia.

In support of these resolutions, the United States, assembled a coalition of forces to join it in opposing Iraq, consisting of forces from: Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, The Netherlands, Niger, Norway, The Oceanic Confederation, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States itself.

After the USA, the Oceanic Confederation was one of the largest contributors of forces sending a contingent (as Operation Damask) comprising the carrier OCS (former HMAS) Gallipoli supported by the OCS Tarakan and the four destroyers OCS Han River, OCS Coral Sea, OCS Sunda Strait, OCS Java Sea as well as a number of replenishment and support vessels.  Also sent were a squadron each of F-111C+s, F-14Bs and a combined one of OA-10Cs, AH-1T+s and CH-47Ds to support a regiment sized combined arms battle group.

On the night of the 16th January, a day after the deadline set, the coalition launched a massive air campaign which began the general offensive codenamed Operation Desert Storm with more than 1,000 sorties launching per day.  Over the following weeks, coalition airstrikes continued.  At first, the IrAF fought back but very shortly it was overwhelmed and by the end of the first week, many aircraft began fleeing to Iran.  Despite this, the coalition still experienced losses from SAMs and ground fire.  Amongst these was an OCDF Harrier II operating from the OCS Tarakan.  During a sortie over Kuwait on the 28th January, this was shot down by an Iraqi Roland SAM, killing the pilot.

Finally, on the 23rd February, the ground assault (Operation Desert Sabre) began.  Within 100hrs, this was over and Kuwait was liberated.  Coalition forces also occupied a portion of Southern Iraq.  In the weeks following the ceasefire, the Iraqi Ba'ath Party regime under Saddam Hussein was toppled by a Coup led by disgruntled factions within the Iraqi Army.

Following this successful action, the many in the west felt they were entering a brave new world.  The Cold war was over; a range of Eastern European countries were becoming democratic…

On the 4th August, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev had left to holiday at his dacha in Foros in the Crimea – he would never be seen again. On August 18 Sunday, all communications lines from the Foros dacha (which were controlled by the KGB) were shut down. Additional KGB security guards with orders not to allow anybody to leave the dacha were placed at its gates.

On the 19th state radio and television broadcast that Vice President Gennady Yanayev, was the acting USSR president on the pretext of Gorbachev's inability to perform presidential duties due to "illness" and that the State Committee of the State of Emergency (or Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Chrezvichaynomu Polozheniyu -GKChP) had been established "…to manage the country and to effectively maintain the regime of the state of emergency".  The GKChP banned all newspapers in Moscow, except for nine communist-controlled newspapers and also took several radio and television stations off the air. The GKChP issued a populist declaration which stated that "the honour and dignity of a Soviet man must be restored".

Concurrently, Tanks, IFVs and APCs of the Tamanskaya motorized infantry division and Kantemirovskaya tank division rolled into Moscow.  Paratroopers also took part in the operation.  Russian SFSR President Boris Yeltsin along with multiple Russian SFSR people's deputies (and others considered the "dangerous") were detained by the KGB and held on an army base near Moscow.

At first the reaction in the west to the developments in Moscow was one of disbelief.  This was soon followed by calls for sanctions and the reinstatement of Gorbachev.  Unfortunately, this was perhaps the worst thing to do as it forced the Coup leaders even further down their path.  Feeling threatened, they fell back on decades of Soviet dogma and issued statements that”…this was an internal Soviet matter and that the Imperialist west should stop interfering…”.In the weeks that followed, relations with the west took a decidedly sour turn.  By the end of the year, a new cold war was starting to take shape.
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2011, 02:50:58 PM »
The Bomber Takes Charge

The liberation of Kuwait was the first military operation for the new OCDF.  Even before the forces returned, the analysis of the operations began.  Just as in the Indonesian war a few years earlier, the largely Australian forces had performed superbly. It was noted however that some of the platforms (especially the carrier Gallipoli, Destroyers and F-111s) were getting somewhat ‘long in the tooth’.  The fact that for many, this was their forth war was not overlooked as well.  It was quickly decided that a major re-equipping would soon be needed.

Luckily for the OCDF, the right man was in place to lead this push.  In June 1991, Australian Prime Minister Hawke declared his intention to retire.  In his place, the former Defence Minister Kim “Bomber” Beazley was elected – this was part of a secret agreement (the so-called "Kirribilli agreement") between the two.  The new Prime Minister Beazley quickly made the re-equipping of the OCDF a priority – the Soviet coup d'état was also a contributing factor in this decision.  With the Oceanic Confederation Economy booming, this was an easy decision though.  The first priority was to launch a major update of the two carriers.  This would see the ships equipped with a multitude of newer systems.  Concurrently, a project to design replacement ships would begin.  With the Collins Class SSNs already well underway, it was soon decided that the new carriers would also be nuclear powered.

With the Oceanic Confederation’s (in reality Australia’s) naval architects totally committed to the design, development and construction of the new Collins class SSNs and now carriers, it was decided that the replacement destroyers would be based on a largely off-the shelf design.  Following a review of options, it was decided to acquire a design virtually identical to the new USN Arleigh Burke class.  This new class would be known as the Confederation class (although there was no actual ship named OCS Confederation) with all eight ships of the class being named after founding members of the Oceanic Confederation:  OCS Timor, OCS Solomon Islands, OCS Vanuatu, OCS Samoa, OCS Fiji, OCS West New Guinea, OCS Yogyakarta and OCS ANZAC (this last represented both Australia and New Zealand).  The ships were built around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-1D multi-function phased array radar.  Their armament was centred upon a 90 cells Mk 41 vertical launch system with RIM-66 Standard SAMs.  The first ship, OCS ANZAC, was commissioned on 15 November 1993.  Over the coming years they would gradually replace the earlier Bismarck Sea class.

For the army, the aging Chieftain AS-3 tanks were also to be replaced. In June 1992, after competition with the M1A2 Abrams and the Leopard 2, it was decided to acquire some 200 Challenger 2 MBTs.  In addition, it was decided to adapt the Echidna turret to the Challenger 2 Hull to develop what was soon called the Echidna II.  The existing turrets were completely refurbished with new systems including a more reliable/capable radar and sensor turret.  The formidable GAU-8 armament remained unchanged, although the RBS70 missiles were replaced with the more potent Oerlikon Aerospace Air-Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) in two sets of four missiles.  Apart from providing a longer ranged, more potent punch, these also gave the Echidna IIs a useful anti-tank capability.

At the same time it was decided to replace the aging M113 armoured personal carriers and FV101 Scorpion light tanks.  After considering the options, it was decided to acquire both a tracked and a wheeled solution – each had their advantages and would allow greater tailoring of forces for operations.  For the tracked vehicle, a version of the new Swedish CV90 was selected.  This the CV90-AS had the standard 40 mm Bofors cannon replaced with a new Rheinmetall 35/50 mm Rh 503 cannon.  It also had two box launchers for TOW missiles added to the turret to give a more potent punch along with numerous other changes to better operate in the Oceanic conditions. 

Supplementing this was the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV), an Australian manufactured version of the Canadian LAV (itself a version of the Swiss MOWAG Piranha 8x8).  This was purchased in multiple versions including:

•   ASLAV-35 (Reconnaissance) - A three-man reconnaissance vehicle armed with the same Rheinmetall 35/50 mm Rh 503 cannon as the CV90-AS;
•   ASLAV-PC (Personnel Carrier) - A two man vehicle armed with a .50 BMG M2 machine gun and capable of carrying 7 scout troops;
•   ASLAV-AD (Air Defence) – a dedicated air defence variant to supplement the heavier Echidna IIs and fitted with an electric turret mounting a 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer Gatling cannon, and two, four missile pods, containing FIM-92 Stinger SAM (Surface-To-Air Missiles).
•   ASLAV-M (Mortar) – a fire support version with a turret mounted 120mm mortar;
•   ASLAV-C (Command) - A vehicle equipped with enhanced radio installation and radio masts, map board, stowage compartments, appropriate seating and annex;
•   ASLAV-S (Surveillance) - A specialised surveillance vehicle equipped with thermal imager, laser range finder, day television camera and battlefield surveillance radar RASIT or AMSTAR on a hydraulic mast;
•   ASLAV-A (Ambulance) - Equipped with medical equipment and litter stations this ASLAV can carry three lying patients or six sitting patients;
•   ASLAV-F (Fitter) - Maintenance support vehicle with HIAB 650 crane, crewed by soldiers of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) for the repair and maintenance of ASLAV vehicles; and
•   ASLAV-R (Recovery) - Maintenance support vehicle with recovery winch, also crewed by RAEME soldiers for recovering damaged or bogged vehicles.

Finally, a small batch of Wiesel 2 light Armoured Weapons Carriers were acquired to replace the Scorpion light tanks in the airborne assault role.  These were armed with either 25mm cannon or TOW missiles and were able to be carried by the CH-47 Chinooks as well as C-130 transport aircraft to support airborne assaults

In the case of combat aircraft, it was decided that both the F-111C+, F-111B+ and eventually the F-14B would be essentially replaced by a single type – the F-23.  This was the result of a joint development program since the mid-‘80s.

In 1981 the USAF and USN had developed a requirement for a new air superiority fighter, to replace the capability of the F-15 Eagle and F-14 Tomcat – this would be known initially as the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) and Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF).  This requirement was aimed developing next-generation air superiority fighters to counter emerging worldwide threats, including development and proliferation of Soviet Su-27 "Flanker"-class fighter aircraft. It was envisaged that the resulting platforms would incorporate emerging technologies including advanced alloys and composite materials, advanced fly-by-wire flight control systems, higher power propulsion systems, and low-observable/stealth technology.

By mid 1985 however, it was becoming increasingly apparent, that such a program would be extremely expensive, even for the USA. Concurrent with this, a number of the US’s allies were also starting to formulate requirements for new combat aircraft.  In the UK, the recently collapsed Future European Fighter Aircraft (FEFA) programme had been planned to satisfy this need.  Alas, political wrangling amongst the European partners over work share had seen this program collapse (eventually Germany, Italy and Spain joined the French Avion de Combat eXpérimental (ACX) program which would eventually produce the Rafale fighter). 

In the case of Australia, having relatively recently acquired F-14Bs, the requirement not so much for a air superiority fighter, but rather for a strike aircraft to replace the various F-111 variants in service with the RAAF and RAN (they were not alone in this requirement though – both the USAF and RAF were also starting to consider replacements for their F-111 variants as well).  That said, the search to replace a fighter often begins at the time it enters service, therefore the Australians were interested to see what the ATF/NATF program would deliver.

These threads now all started to come together.  The result was that in late 1985, the USA formally asked the UK and Australia if they would like to join the ATF/NATF program.  Shortly thereafter, Canada was also offered, and accepted, the opportunity to join (Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan were also offered but declined – the first three joining the ACX program, whilst Japan considered an indigenous program).

The program was quickly renamed the Joint Advanced Tactical Fighter (JATF).  A request for proposal (RFP) was issued in July 1986, and two contractor teams, Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics and Northrop/McDonnell Douglas were selected in October 1986 to undertake a 50-month demonstration/validation phase, culminating in the flight test of two prototypes, the YF-22 and the YF-23, respectively.

On 23 April 1991 the Joint Program Office (JPO) ended the design and test flight competition by announcing Northrop-Grumman’s YF-23 as the winner.  The resulting F-23 was to be built in three main versions:
•   The land based F-23A,
•   The carrier based F-23B, and
•   A two seat combat capable trainer, the F-23C.

Interestingly, a number of names were to be used for the F-23s.  The original name chosen by Northrop-Grumman was the "Black Widow II", although the F-23B also quickly picked up the name “Hellcat II”.  In RAF service, the F-23A was named the “Tempest II” whilst in Australia, although initially referred to by the official name, it quickly received the nickname “The Red-back” after the spider by the same name (which it was jokingly noted, also had a stealthy attack style!)

Being older, the priority to replace the F-111B+ and C+ took priority.  The F-14Bs, although well used in battle, were still relatively young (when they were eventually replaced, some were sold to South Africa, Chile and Italy – the latter using them as a stop gap whilst awaiting the Rafale).  As such, the OCDF’s F-23A/Bs initially took on a strike/ground/maritime attack focus.  For this they were equipped with a new weapon – the Kerkanya winged guided bomb.  This fitted a standard MK80 series bomb with a tail unit and pop out wings to extend range.  The weapon was also able to be fitted with various sensor heads (typically laser guided or anti-radiation, though later on GPS guidance was also added) to aid targeting.  In addition, all the typical OCDF airborne weapons were able to be carried either internally or externally.

During the development of the F-23, a proposal also was put forward by Northrop Grumman to develop a replacement for the FB-111H.  This grew out of the obvious need for a replacement for the various FB-111H incarnations in RAF, RAAF and USAF.  The proposed FB-23 would be a scaled up aircraft using many common systems from the F-23 but be dedicated to the same strike role as the FB-111H.  Lockheed also proposed a similar version of their losing JATF candidate, the FB-22.  With the option of spreading development costs across both programs, the option of the FB-23 was soon adopted.  By being developed slightly in lag of the F-23 but sharing many systems, this was able to progress quite quickly.  The resulting aircraft was much larger though, being approximately 50% larger than a standard F-23.  It also came with a dedicated weapon systems operator.  Power was supplied by two F-119-200 engines – these being more powerful versions (40,000+ lb thrust rather than 35,000lb thrust) of the engines used by the F-23.  A much larger weapons bay bas also fitted.  Being so different, the FB-23 name was quickly deemed inappropriate and thus it was changed to the FB-24 upon entering service.  Unlike its F-23 sibling, only a single name was ever used for the FB-24: Wraith.  In the OCDF, the FB-24 started to replace the FB-111Hs in the late ‘90s, and were initially dedicated to the nuclear strike mission.

Of course, this still left the F/A-16s, A-10Cs and indeed Harrier IIs without a comparable replacement.  Once again, a similar need was also being experienced with the Oceanic Confederation’s allies.  Since the mid ‘80s, both the USA and UK had been studying Harrier replacements under the guise of the Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) program.  In addition, in 1990 the USAF had initiated the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) program in order to develop a relatively low-cost F-16 replacement.  With the JATF program already in progress, and with similar requirements in all countries, it was only a matter of time before somebody suggested another joint program.  The result was the Joint Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (J-CALF).

The J-CALF program's aim was to develop both an ASTOVL aircraft as a Harrier/Harrier II replacement and a highly-common conventional flight variant as an F-16/F/A-18 (and similar) replacement. In 1991, the Oceanic Confederation was offered the chance to join.  Shortly thereafter, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Norway and Denmark also joined seeking replacements for either their F-16s or Harrier IIs.

From a technical point of view, the most difficult part of the J-CALF program was to develop a workable STOVL system.  A number of concepts were investigated and trialled (this had actually been going on since the mid ‘80s) before it was decided to focus on the shaft driven lift fan technology.  Once selected, competing design teams were asked to propose concepts for a fighter that could be manufactured in two versions:

•   The ASTOVL version using the shaft driven lift fan technology; and
•   A conventional version with the lift fan and associated equipment replaced by additional fuel.

Three teams submitted proposals:  Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas/Northrop-Grumman and Boeing.  In 1994, the design submitted by McDonnell Douglas/Northrop-Grumman was selected.  This team had the advantage of being able to transfer knowledge and experience gained in the F-23 program into their submission.  In fact, their design even had the appearance of being a smaller F-23.  The resulting F/A-25 would be built in three versions:

•   The F/A-25A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant,
•   The F/A -25B STOVL variant, and
•   The F/A -25C two seat combat capable conversion trainer variant.

The name team Demon II was initially proposed as the name for all variants, though this never received much support.  In the case of the OCDF, the name Kittyhawk II was quickly adopted and became popular.  This soon started a trend in other users with the name Warhawk II being adopted by the USAF, USN, USMC, whilst the RAF also used Kittyhawk II.

The Oceanic Confederation placed an order for all three variants – the F/A -25A would replace the F/A -16s, the F/A -25B would replace the Harrier IIs whilst the F/A -25C would support both and be used to supplement the A-10Cs in the FAC role (the A-10Cs were still kept however).

With the main fixed wing platforms now being replaced with low-observable (or stealthy) platforms, it was felt that perhaps their rotary wing brethren should also be so-equipped.  After all, the survivability rational that drove the fixed wing need was equally applicable here as well.  Conveniently, there was a solution becoming available.  In April 1991, a Boeing-Sikorsky team was selected to build the RAH-66 Comanche stealthy armed reconnaissance helicopter.  The OCDF quickly ordered a substantial number as part of Project AIR 87 – the first would enter service in 1995 following an accelerated development program (the acceleration was largely driven by the US Army’s desire to get this platform in service to face the renewed Soviet threat).  These new Comanches would replace the existing Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters and serve alongside the AH-1T+ Improved Taipans, which although not stealthy were able to carry a larger payload.

Finally, the aging KC-135As and E-3 Sentries were also due for replacement.  These would be replaced by two new Airbus developments:  the KC-330 tanker/transport and the related EA-340 Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.  A total of 24 and 12 of these respectively were acquired.   Concurrently, the E-2 Hawkeyes received an upgrade whilst the SE-2A Albatrosses were replaced by new build S-3B Vikings.  This latter change was due to the SE-2As being found to be suffering extensive fatigue due to their constant use at low level.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 04:04:21 PM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline GTX_Admin

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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2011, 02:51:38 PM »
Making a Mark

One of the first actions Prime Minister Beazley took was to rectify a growing outrage in the region.  In 1988, unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression had led to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the country known as the 8888 Uprising. Security forces killed thousands of demonstrators, and General Saw Maung staged a coup d'état forming the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). SLORC changed the country's official English name from the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" to the "Union of Myanmar".

Under international pressure, the military government finalized plans for People's Assembly elections on 31 May 1989.  In May 1990, the government held free elections for the first time in almost 30 years. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won 392 out of a total 489 seats, but the election results were annulled by SLORC, which refused to step down.  The United States, Oceanic Confederation and a number of other countries placed sanctions on Burma but these were not seen to be having any effect.

When in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Beazley as head of the Oceanic Confederation Council of Ministers, proposed that the situation in Burma be rectified, if need be unilaterally.  This was agreed to, with the result that on January 1st, 1992 the Oceanic Confederation announced that”… it would no longer accept the SLORC regime as the leaders of Burma…the people of Burma had legally elected Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy …and that wish must be complied with.”  The statement went on to announce that the SLOC had three days to accept this situation and agree to hand over power or else they would be forced to.  To back up this threat, the amphibious assault ship, OCS Balikpapan along with two destroyers and a number of other ships were stationed off the coast.  At first the SLORC leaders ignored the threat.  However after a pair of OCDF Harrier IIs made a low level pass over the capital, Rangoon, they quickly changed their minds.  The next day on the 2nd January, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest and officially recognised as Prime Minister-elect.  She quickly established a unity government, including some of the SLORC members.

All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline GTX_Admin

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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2011, 02:52:11 PM »
The Sun Shines on the Peninsula and the Dragon Stirs

For the next 10 years or so, the world was a relatively peaceful place for the OCDF (in some ways this was one positive side effect of the renewed US-Soviet cold war which had clamped down on potential hotspots around the globe).  After the hectic ‘70s and ’80s this was a nice change.  It also allowed the various re-equipment/upgrade programs of forces to proceed in an uninterrupted fashion.

On the evening of 25 June 2000 that all changed.  As part of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the "Fatherland Liberation War" (North Korea’s term for the Korean War) a test launch of a Taepodong-1 rocket took place.  At first it appeared as though this would be a straightforward test with the rocket landing in the southern Sea of Japan.  However as the rocket reached its apogee things suddenly changed as computer screens throughout the region went blank.  This was the result of a massive Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) resulting from the explosion of a nuclear warhead at extreme altitude.  In effect the Taepodong-1 launch was but the first shot in a renewed Korean War.

Kim Jong-il, the ruler of North Korea had declared the 50th anniversary as the date to complete his father’s work in uniting all the Korean People under one government.  This operation had been planned for decades.

Immediately following the EMP wave, dozens of BM-27 “Uragan” and BM-30 "Smerch" heavy multiple rocket launchers supported by conventional artillery and other systems began a bombardment of the South Korean/UN frontier outposts and rear areas.  They were also supported by a barrage of Hwasong-5/6 and Rodong-1 rockets that penetrated much deeper into the South Korean territory striking at major airfields, military strong points and other key targets.  Unlike the Iraq War, this time the air defence batteries were unable to do anything having been largely rendered unusable by the EMP wave.  The rockets war also much more accurate - this having been an area of special focus since the Iraq war showed up the shortcomings of the standard Scud derived ballistic missile. Moreover, many also carried chemical warheads causing hundreds if not thousands of casualties within minutes.

In the air above the peninsula, waves of North Korean jets headed south to also wreak havoc.  These included MiG-23s, MiG-27s and MiG-29s as well as Su-24s and Su-27s – these had all been supplied in mass by the Soviet Union which had been using its massive Arms Industry to bolster its economy since the ’91 Coup (the Russians had also introduced two new types – the MiG-33 and Su-37 – which freed up many surplus types for export).

Whilst the air and missile bombardment was still underway, masses of the latest North Korean T-90 MBTs supported by BMP-2 IFVs and thousands of soldiers began to advance.  Equipped with the latest Soviet night vision equipment and supported by Mi-24 Hind assault helicopters and Kamov Ka-50 attack helicopters as well as many Mi-17 Hip troop transports, they made rapid progress.

The North Korean attack was made all the more successful due to the inability of the South Korean and Allied (primarily USAF) air forces to respond.  This was due to the fact that a large number of the major military airfields in both South Korea and indeed Japan had been specially targeted by North Korean infiltrators.  Using special transmitters, these allowed almost pinpoint strikes by Hwasong-5/6 and Rodong-1 rockets.  Supporting them were a large number special force teams. Using various weapons such as precision guided mortars, guided Anti-tank missiles as well as more conventional explosive charges, these forces struck through out South Korea and Japan leaving carnage wherever they struck.

Within 24 hours of the North Korean attack a second blow fell upon the West as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced that “…due to the growing conflict within the region, special measures would be taken to preserve all the territories of China…”.  This was the thinly veiled attempt to excuse the long awaited invasion of Taiwan – in fact China had been aware of North Korea’s plans for sometime.

In scenes similar to the North Korean attack, dozens of PLA DongFeng 11 and DongFeng 15 balistic missiles rained down on major military establishments across the Island.  At the same time wave after wave of air and ground launched cruise missiles also struck.  Supporting these were waves of PLAAF fighters and bombers including the latest JH-7 and JH-8 (Chinese license produced Su-34) fighter bombers and J-11/Su-27 and J-12/MiG-29 fighters.  Unlike Korea though, in the case of Taiwan, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) wasn’t caught totally on the ground.  Many fighters had been held in secure hardened shelters and now managed to take to the air to defend their homeland.  These included F-16s, Mirage 2000s, AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuos as well as the latest Harrier II+s recently acquired from ex-USMC stocks.

Despite the massive battles underway with its allies in South Korea and Taiwan, and despite suffering significant casualties of their own, the USA found itself effectively check-mated.  Although the desire to strike back with overwhelming force was there, the US found itself unable to commit any of their substantial Europe or Middle East based forces due to the fear that this may still be a prelude to an attack by the Soviet Union in Europe or potentially the Middle East oil fields.  This situation was only exacerbated by the fact that the USA was in the middle of the Presidential election lead up – in effect there were three potential leaders:  The actual Head of State, though arguably ‘lame-duck’ President Bill Clinton; his deputy, Vice-President Al Gore who was the Democrat candidate for President; and Governor George W Bush, the Republican candidate.  Both Gore and Bush were neck-to-neck in the poles and given they may have to deal with the outcome of any decisions made, demanded a say.

Eventually, the US found a possible way out of the situation by calling upon their allies.  Thanks to personal phone calls from President Clinton, both the Oceanic Confederation and Canada agreed to send substantial forces to the warzone.  Concurrently, President Clinton also secured support from the European NATO countries to take up some of the slack in Europe thus allowing the transfer of useful US reinforcements form Europe to the East.

Soon a task force of Canadian warships lead by the carrier HMCS Queen Elizabeth fresh with her F/A-18C and D fighters (unlike its USN and OCDF partners, Canada had not selected the F-23B having only replaced their aging Phantoms and Buccaneers in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s) and escorted by the Frigates HMCS Regina and HMCS Montréal as well as destroyers HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Iroquois as well as submarine HMCS Windsor plus support vessels, was on its way West.  In the middle of the Pacific, they met up with the USS Nimitz/USS Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group heading from Pearl Harbour.  This latter Battle Group also included the USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Boxer LHDs as well as numerous other ships.

From the South, the OCDF Battle Group comprising the refitted OCS Gallipoli and OCS Tarakan supported by the destroyers OCS ANZAC, OCS Samoa, OCS Fiji and OCS Yogyakarta as well as the submarines OCS Farncomb and OCS Rankin along with numerous support/replenishment vessels.  Also within the task force were three new fast wave-piercing assault catamarans OCS Jervis Bay, OCS Dili and OCS Auckland.  These had recently been acquired and were intended to provide an additional means of rapidly transporting troops for amphibious landings.  The ships were lightly armed with only a single of 35mm cannon and pair of RAM CIWS missile pods each – the ships planned rely on their high speed for protection.  Each ship also carried a pair of Bell/Hawker Eagle Eye tilt rotor UAVs able to be armed with a pair of Hellfire or Stinger missiles.  The main striking power of the force was undoubtedly the F-23B and F-25B fighters carried by the Gallipoli and Tarakan respectively.

As the two battle groups converged on the war zone, planners and politicians alike struggled with what strategy to take.  Unsure if this was part of a something larger involving the Soviet Union and which could soon erupt in Europe and/or the Middle East, the allied forces were cautious about over committing.  Similarly, the fact that WMDs had already been extensively used by North Korea threw a whole new edge to the situation.  Against these aspects which called for restraint, was the desire to strike back.  In the end a strategy of separating the China/Taiwan situation from the North Korean one was adopted.  Under this strategy, North Korea would be the main focus for offensive operations whilst those against China would be largely focussed on containment.  It was also decided that the best way to ensure other fronts did not open or that Soviet Forces wouldn’t somehow be committed was for the action in Korea to be over as quickly as possible.

With the surviving South Korean, US and other allied forces fighting for their lives on the Korean peninsula, the additional forces couldn’t come fast enough.  A massive airlift was underway with forces landing both in Japan and South Korea.  Amongst the first to land in Japan were a squadron of the OCDF’s new FB-24 Wraiths.  These were soon in action striking key targets deep in North Korea.  In addition to the airlift, a major sealift of troops and equipment was also underway.  In order to add their contribution to this, the three fast wave-piercing assault catamarans surged ahead of the main OCDF fleet to unload their cargoes.  It was to be a fateful decision…

One of the major ports where allied forces were being unloaded was Jinhae in the South.  This was home to a Republic of Korea Navy shipyard and base facilities as well as other major naval facilities including Commander-in-Chief Republic of Korea Fleet (CINCROKFLT) and the Naval Academy.  It was also host to the only US Naval base in Korea, US Naval Fleet Activities, Chinhae.  All of this already made it a major target for the North Koreans.  Now, as one of the major offloading points for reinforcements form the west, its importance only grew.

On morning of the 7th July, North Korea struck.  Two modified 3M-54 Klub missiles launched from a North Korean Lada class attack submarine detonated over the harbour.  Amongst the casualties were the three OCDF catamarans which were in the process of unloading.  The fact that nuclear weapons had been used in a more direct manner by North Korea was a significant turning point in the war.  The initial Taepodong-1 explosion took place at high altitude and thus was somewhat able to be tolerated.  This new attack would not be though.

In the hours that followed, debate raged both within and between the USA, Oceanic Confederation, Canada, South Korea and Japan (which was also affected) about how best to react to this attack.  Although they wanted to hit back, many also did not want things to escalate out of control (they also wanted to maintain the moral high ground against North Korea).  On the other hand, many argued that North Korea had proven they were too dangerous to be tolerated. Being the only two allies with the option of nuclear weapons, the USA and Oceanic Confederation would always have the final say.  And in this, they differed.  President Clinton, whilst acknowledging the need to strike back and to do some decisively, didn’t want one of his last acts as President to be the use of nuclear weapons.  Prime Minister Beazley alternatively was all for action and didn’t have such qualms. In the end a compromise was reached.

Concurrent to all this, representatives of both the Soviet Union and China were advised to not get involved.  Given the seriousness of what had taken place, and well aware of the barely contained rage that was pent up in the affected nations, both heeded this warning.  In fact, China now announced a halt to operations over Taiwan lest they be caught up in the storm that was about to break.

A storm was an apt description.  Having already suffered massive losses from both conventional and chemical weapons, and now nuclear strikes, the western allies were not going to hold back.  The details of the compromise reached between President Clinton and Prime Minister Beazley were now revealed to their respective militaries.  The plan was for the USA, Japan, South Korea and Canada to hit back in a non-stop 24hr onslaught using all the advanced conventional weapons at their disposal.  The OCDF would also contribute to this, but with one significant difference.  The Squadron of OCDF FB-24 Wraiths received orders for the use of nuclear weapons against selected North Korean targets. Under the codename Operation Brimstone, these Wraiths would provide the heavy hit to the Allied counterattack.  Just after midnight on the 9th July, the FB-24s left on their mission.  The targets included, the command bunkers for the North Korean senior military and political members (including a number suspected of being used by Kim Jong-il), the primary military airfields, weapon bunkers and naval bases across the North, as well as a number of targets.  All up, a total of 24 strikes were made.

The effect was exactly as hoped for.  Not only was the shock effect on the troops enormous; with their political and military command now non-existent (either vaporized or simply cut-off), the forces were in disarray.  Moreover, with many key military targets also taken out, the ability to fight back against the allied conventional forces was seriously diminished.  Over the next 72hrs, the allied forces routed the remaining North Korean forces.  Amongst this was the North Korean sub believed to have launched the attack against Jinhae.  This was tracked and sunk by the OCDF submarine, OCS Rankin.  Unfortunately it was not able to effect this attack before the submarine had managed to attack and mortally wound the HMCS Queen Elizabeth some 10 hours beforehand (the Canadian submarine, HMCS Windsor was unable to track the quieter Lada class sub).

By the middle of July, the whole of North Korea was under allied control.  Over the coming months, a UN administrating force was gradually introduced.  A large part of their role was to remove any remaining North Korean WMDs and to help deal with the effects of the OCDF strikes. 

12 Months later, this clean up was still underway.  The new unified Korean Government - the former North and South Korea unified in the months after the war, thus in an ironic way completing Kim Jong-il’s and his father’s original plans.  As part of the events accompanying the unification, Prime Minister Beazley and newly elected President Al Gore committed significant resources to help repair the damage from the war and to get the country back on its feet.  This was also seen as crucial to help deal with the ongoing issue of China/Taiwan which was still in a state of tense ceasefire – much like Korea itself had been 50 years beforehand…


All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline Tophe

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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2011, 06:00:57 PM »
This (Hi)story is so serious I wonder what is delirious and what is half-serious. Are the elegant FB-24 and F/A-25 derivatives of existing prototypes or (genius) imagination?

Offline Litvyak

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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2011, 03:03:28 AM »
All I can say is... what a cracking read! And lovely profiles to go with it!
"God save our Queen and heaven bless the Maple Leaf forever!"

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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2011, 07:45:17 AM »

Offline sotoolslinger

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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 08:18:35 AM »
When I get back to Texas I will make it a top priority to finish the FA-25 I started  :-[

Offline GTX_Admin

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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2011, 03:54:24 PM »
Are the elegant FB-24 and F/A-25 derivatives of existing prototypes or (genius) imagination?

The FB-24 is essentially the real world FB-23 proposal seen here:

The F/A-25 is based upon the original McDonnell Douglas early JSF contender with appropriate modifications (similar to what happened to the real world X-35 to turn it into the F-35) - I always thought this was the most visually attractive of the original contenders:


All hail the God of Frustration!!!