What is a "video game mindset?"
- For example, creating a mission in which a flight of 4 will face wave-after-wave of enemy aircraft, 16 in total. Like in a video game. The US Navy would never send up 4 Hornets against 16 enemy aircraft.
- For example, requiring a strike package to fly a specific flight profile or to use a specific targeting/weapon system with the intent of forcing the flight into a hazard. The US Navy will always develop a mission plans and employ weapons systems that will accomplish the mission objectives while minimizing hazards to the aircraft.
- For example, any discussion that includes a consideration of making the mission "more challenging." The US Navy does not produce Air Tasking Orders to be challenging. Missions are assigned to address tactical or strategic objectives as efficiently and safely as possible. There is no goal of making missions challenging. Challenging is a video game mindset.
Then how to we make our missions realistic?
- For example, ensuring that the flight has a 2-to-1 advantage against any anticipated airborne threat.
- For example, ensuring that the flight can carry 2x the amount of ordnance necessary to accomplish strike objectives.
THIS is how the US Navy would plan missions. The US Navy does not fight fair. The US Navy will always ensure that threats and objectives are met with overwhelming force.
I have asked Dragon, the old VFA-41 XO and most prolific mission builder, for some guidance toward helping us move toward the goal of realistic missions. We have always known his missions to be patterned after actual real-world missions, or designed to reflect what real-world tasking might look like for a protracted conflict. In some cases, missions we flew were startlingly close to real strike missions flown by the US Navy sometime later. I have always hesitated to pry to much into how or where he gets his real-world intel, mostly because I wanted plausible deniability if a couple of black SUVs pulled up in my driveway one day.
He did offer this guidance.
Dragon wrote:I start by going online and researching the theater; air defenses, air bases, air threats, likely targets, friendly and enemy. Then I build the map. There are real world maps of all this.
Then consider the scenario (plot line) and likelihood of encountering the threats. Very few countries are going to take on the US in the air but Iran might. That’s why most flights there would be packages with escorts and SEAD. Is your ATO to be escorts, strike, or SEAD? You can’t be expected to do all three!