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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.

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.

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.

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.

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…




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