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The Whaling War - a possible future history (Consolidated)

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..things hadn’t stayed still on the CDF side either.  Following the loss of their Viking in Tasmania along with a large quantity of their supplies and stock of Harpoons, they had been temporarily forced to halt operations.  However, this was only a temporary halt as very quickly donations of money and offers of help came flooding in.  Moreover, since the attack on Australian sovereign territory had brought with it a strong call for retaliation (of some sort) from the public, the Australian Government felt forced to at least offer sanctuary to the CDF forces.

These forces were very quickly bolstered by a ‘donation’ of 4 more Vikings from US stocks along with the requisite logistical support (pilots being no problem with many qualified crew offering their support for what they felt was a just war).  However, these aircraft would never reach their intended operating bases.  On 27th January 2009, whilst on transit to New Zealand, the 4 aircraft were intercepted by 2 JASDF F-15Js over the Pacific.  Despite the valiant attempts of their crews to escape, all 4 were quickly shot down (only one crew member survived to tell what happened).

Meanwhile, New Zealand had been watching apprehensively as events spiralled seemingly out of control.  Following the retirement of the A-4 Skyhawks years earlier, the RNZAF new it wouldn’t be able to defend against a real aggressor in the area, let along an angry one armed with F-15s.  to quickly prepare for the worst, a call was put out for modern combat aircraft.  This call was answered from the other side of the world.  Within the space of a couple of weeks the first of 8 Saab JAS-39As and 2 JAS-39Bs were on their way to New Zealand aboard leased Antonov An-124s.  These aircraft had earlier been retired by the Swedish Flygvapnet, but had been maintained in flyable storage.  They would soon be in action…

Strike Back

…ever since the attack on Tasmania and the public outcries that followed, the world knew Australia would retaliate. However, no-one could have guessed just how strongly this would be.  At exactly midnight on the 13th February 2009, in attacks timed to strike simultaneously, 18 RAAF F-111Cs (in what would be their first true combat action) and 6 AP-3C Orions, divided evenly into 3 strike groups struck not only the Japanese Naval/Whaling fleet in the Southern ocean, but also the Japanese detachments in both Fiji and Indonesia.  All 3 strike groups were able to attack stealthily thanks to a combination of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network and secure data links provided by high flying UAVs.

The aircraft attacking the fleet were armed exclusively with 4 Harpoons each giving a total of 32 Harpoons launched at the ships.  Even though the two destroyers were able to destroy many of the incoming missiles, a significant number still made it through.  The Kirishima and Akagi were both hit, though because of their trained crews and construction, they were able to survive, initially.  Not so lucky were 4 whaling ships.

Almost immediately after the first air launched Harpoons struck, the Japanese fleet was struck again.  This time the attack came from beneath the waves as Mk48 ADCAP torpedoes from the Collins submarines HMAS Waller and HMAS Dechaineux struck home.  The Kirishima was immediately broken in half with the loss of all crew.  The Akagi lasted slightly longer and was able to get most crew off before it too sunk.  The Atago escaped damage but decided that it was wiser to move out of the area escorting the last remaining whaling ship.

To the northeast and northwest, the RAAF aircraft attacked using a combination of AGM-142 Raptors (2 per F-111) and AGM-84K SLAM-ER (these having been secretly passed to the RAAF by the USN a few weeks earlier and being fitted to the AP-3Cs).  These missiles struck not only the runways and hanger areas but also fuel farms and radar towers on each base.  Also destroyed were most aircraft.  The following morning the images of the destruction were beamed around the world and the both the public and their governments waited to see what Japan would do next…

Preparations for the Next Round

…for the time being though nothing happened.  Having been badly bloodied during the attacks and having lost two major warships plus the best part of two combat squadrons as well as a number of other military aircraft (not to mention the whaling ships), Japan at first decided to pull their forces back.  For now the world breathed a collective sigh of relief as tensions appeared to ease.  However, the anger on both sides had not subsided and in the months that followed, both sides planned and prepared for the next round.

On the Japanese side, this centred upon the need to increase its embarked fixed wing capability.  With the key western nations still viewed as hostile, it was recognised that this support would need to either be sourced from non-traditional suppliers or better yet developed at home.  Both strategies were pursued.  To begin with, the agreement to purchase half of India’s Sea Harriers (6 aircraft in total) was finalised.  These were quickly transferred to Japan and were upgraded to incorporate new Japanese electronics/sensors – including most importantly, a new radar able to provide guidance for the Mitsubishi AAM-4 medium-range radar-guided air-to-air missile.

Concurrent to this, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries reached an agreement to purchase all design related material and production jigs etc for the stillborn Yak-43 VTOL fighter.  The resulting Mitsubishi F-3 fighter incorporated the latest Japanese electronics and sensors right from the start.  With the full weight of Japan’s aerospace industry behind it, the new fighter was able to be developed in record time.  Furthermore, with production of initial airframes being undertaken concurrent with development, the first new fighters were flown within 6 months.  Shortly thereafter, the first squadron of 6 aircraft also began to be trialled from the Hyūga.

To the south other changes were also taking place.  The most significant of these was the creation of the Oceanic Confederation.  This consisted of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji and most of the other small island nations in the south pacific.  This idea was brought to the fore by the recent events (especially the ease at which Japan had been able to gain an operating base in Fiji in return for large cash payments), though it had been building for some time.  In return for a number of concessions (most important being the agreement to exclude foreign military forces from the area), the smaller nations had 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 Australian dollar made the official currency through out the confederation. The militaries of all the nations were also formally merged into the one Oceanic Defence Force (ODF) – in reality, this meant that virtually all members received a major boost to their defence capabilities for minimal outlay.

Given that the new area covered by the Oceanic Confederation was extremely large an investment was made in new equipment to patrol/defend it.  The first of these acquisitions was a fleet of 18 refurbished S-3B Vikings (these being selected due their good all round capabilities and ready availability – in addition to 16 airframes supplied by the USA, the two remaining CDF aircraft were also acquired).  Before being introduced into service, the Vikings underwent an upgrade to become what was soon known as MS-3C (the ‘M’ standing for ‘Multi-role’) Super Vikings.  This involved upgrading the radar and avionics of standard S-3B so that it could undertake not only maritime surveillance and attack functions but also air-to-air functions including the guidance of AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.  The aft sonobuoy tubes were also reduced in number in return for more fuel to give a greater endurance.  In operation, the MS-3Cs were deployed in flights of 3 aircraft throughout the region.

In addition to these aircraft, it was also decided to purchase an additional batch of JAS-39A/Bs (consisting of 14 JAS-39As and 4 JAS-39Bs) from Sweden to compliment those acquired months earlier by New Zealand.  These were relatively in-expensive, but thanks to their multi-role design, extremely versatile.  They would now be based in two squadrons and provide a useful compliment to the F/A-18A+s and F-111Cs (soon to be replaced by F/A-18Fs) already operated by Australia.  To support these aircraft, Australia also doubled its KC-330 tanker buy to 10 aircraft.

To help fly/support these additional aircraft, a large number of ex-pat nationals came home to provide their services (the war had provided a strong enticement for many to return).  In the short term though, the ODF also employed the services of the Aegis Defence Services Private Military Company (PMC) to help out.

And so came the 2009/2010 whaling season, and the world waited to see what would happen…

A Respite?

… however, to everyone’s relief nothing at all happened.  With it’s whaling fleet largely destroyed and with the new military additions still not complete, no Japanese ship even approached the southern ocean.

Meanwhile for the new Oceanic Confederation Defence Force (OCDF), there was a new addition.  Whilst the war of the previous summer had largely ended in Australia’s favour, it had been recognised that a more capable force would be needed to defend the new, much larger Oceanic Confederation.  Whilst basing forces on the various islands etc that made up the Confederation was one part, there was still a lot of ocean between these that would also need defending (both of fishing resources and the increasing mineral resources thought to lie in the area).  As a result, the CODF now revived a proposal that had been made a few years earlier – that of a series of small, high speed mini-aircraft carriers.  These ships would provide a more responsive compliment to the 2 Canberra class LHDs already being built for Australia.

The two Australian ship builders, INCAT and Austal, polished off their earlier catamaran based designs and worked together to quickly develop a new single Oceanic class High Speed Aircraft Carrier (HSAC).  This design was 130m in length, able to cruise at 45 knots and able to carry either 6 JSF sized fighters or a similar number of helicopters.  They also carried a small VLS missile battery and 2 CIWSs as well as a comprehensive sensor suite.  As soon as the design was completed, the OCDF ordered 3 each from INCAT and Austal.   Thanks to their relatively simply construction, the first (OCS Oceanic) would be ready to launch in October 2010.  As the ordered F-35B fighters planned for it weren’t yet ready, it was to be equipped with a combination of MRH-90 Wombat and ARH Tiger helicopters as well as leased Harrier AV-8B+ aircraft (the exact mix would vary depending upon the mission).  The second ship, OCS Kokoda would be launched 1 month later in November, just in time for the 2010/2011 whaling season…

Ominous Developments

…unlike the previous year, this time the Japanese were sending a whaling fleet, and it would be a fleet unlike any other.  Apart from being larger then any previous (18 whaling ships in all) it would be heavily armed.  To begin with, the newly constructed whaling ships were solidly constructed to withstand possible attacks.  They were also each equipped with a CIWS to defend against attacks (such a system would also be useful to deter pesky protesters).  Escorting the fleet was a total of 7 JMSDF vessels.  These included 3 Atago class guided missile destroyers; the Hyūga mini carrier (equipped with a full compliment of 8 new F-3 fighters and 4 SH-60 helicopters), and a pair of Harushio class SSKs.

 By far the most impressive though, was the new Hiryu class Super Carrier.  This was the first of two such vessels (the other being the Soryu) constructed for the JMSDF in record time.  These were developed by modifying existing double-hulled VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier – also referred to as super-tankers) already under construction in Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation yards.  These ships were modified to have a large flight deck with a simple island to the rear, starboard side.  Whilst they did not have catapults (they were planned to be re-equipped with such in the future), they did have a large ski-jump to allow for STOBAR operations.  Apart from a well equipped self defence system, the ships each carried an air group of 12 F-15JN (a rapid naval modification of some of Japan’s existing F-15J fighters), 24 F-2C/D (newly constructed naval variants of the F-2A/B), 12 F-3s, a pair of E-2Cs and a number of helicopters.  These ships also still carried a large amount of fuel and thus were able to act as underway replenishment ships for the rest of the fleet.

Also joining the fleet this time would be 2 Norwegian ships – a whaling vessel and the new frigate, Roald Amundsen.

The fleet left Japan in early December and headed south with no intention of being stopped this time…


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