April 17, 2024

Command: Modern Operations ~ Desert Falcon (Showcase Scenario) Overview

Peter Robbins, 27 November 2023

SPOILER ALERT

BEFORE PROCEEDING, THIS ARTICLE INCLUDES SPOILERS.

While I plan for this to only include a description of the immediately known situation and resulting planning before hitting the Play button, there may be spoilers as to the scenario’s content. So, read this article at your own spoiler peril. Stick to the Overview section of the article to avoid spoilers.

SPOILER ALERT

DesertFalcon 00000003

click images to enlarge

BONUS: Interview With Scenario Author, Jacob Keyes

DesertFalconInterview

Overview

The Command: Modern Operations crew have recently released a fantastic showcase scenario called “Desert Falcon”, designed by Jacob Keyes.I’ve been advised this is Jacob’s first foray into scenario design, and if this result is any indication of what Jacob is capable of, I’ll be first in line for any other scenarios or DLC packs he works on; as its very well done. What I like most about the scenario is that it includes a lot of detail and a good combination of effort and coordination to pull off successfully, all while not being overwhelming to the player. That is key, as it’s a very manageable and approachable scenario as a result; while still being realistic in scope.

I try to stay away from pricing in my reviews now, as I feel like it warps my feelings about the offering too heavily, BUT, a $2.99 price tag for a very well designed mission is a no-brainer in my book. Go right now and buy it. It’s one of the better missions I’ve played for Command: Modern Operations, and it warrants being in your library, period, case closed. That is less than a cup of coffee for a well thought out and presented scenario. Darnit, I failed not to bring the price up again in a review. Oh well.

The scenario general description on the Steam Store Page will give a reasonably unspoiled high level view of what the scenario entails:

“The year is 2027 and France’s position in the Sahel has become untenable.

A coup d’état in Chad has brought an anti-colonial regime to power. Militant groups are seizing foreign assets and government security forces have gone over to the United Sahel Liberation Front. With militants advancing on Massenya Airfield, the main base being used to evacuate French and foreign nationals, only the French air force can provide the necessary support to prevent a massacre.

The closest fighter squadron equipped to support the evacuation is staged over 2,000 nautical miles away in southern France. You will need to manage multiple air-to-air refueling, synchronized multi domain strikes, and the logistics of evacuating Massenya. The 500 civilians there will only be safe once they have landed in Libreville, in Gabon. Operation Desert Falcon uses the Multidomain Strike Planner, Ops Planner, Cargo 2.0, and Palletized Munitions to give you all the tools you need to execute a difficult mission, the evacuation of an air base under siege.

This Scenario Features

  • Playable as the French and focused on the Rafale C and the A330 Phenix, along with other supporting platforms like the C-130 and C-17.
  • Multiple political factors in play. Libya is the most direct route but will you risk flying your strike mission over an active conflict zone?
  • Plan for zero losses. With France’s position in Africa already teetering, any loss of aircraft or national humiliation will be considered a mission failure.
  • Plan for the unknown. Chad has an arsenal of MiG-29’s, Su-25’s, and JF-17 N’s that could disrupt your plans.
  • Race against the clock. Militants are closing on the Massenya Airfield and the evacuation must be conducted quickly and with proper security.
  • Utilizes new Command features like the Ops Planner, Multidomain Strike Planner, Cargo 2.0, and Palletized Munitions. It is highly recommended that the player completes the MDSP tutorials before playing.”

 

Jacob mentions in the Designer Notes of the scenario that it was primarily influenced by Operation Eldorado Canyon (See: This AirForce Magazine March 1999 Article) and you can definitely see the influence in the distances involved, and the very apparent need for mastering refueling techniques in Command:MO before attempting the mission.

I highly recommend you review P. Gatcomb’s video on refueling before attempting the mission. Jacob also mentions in the designer notes: “This scenario was designed to demonstrate the Ops Planner, Multidomain Strike Planner, Cargo 2.0, and Palletized Munitions. It is highly recommended that the player completes the MDSP tutorials before playing.” I second that, as the palletized weapons in particular will come in much handy while executing this operation. Also, understanding Cargo 2.0 is vital as the main goal of the mission is to load up and deliver the French nationals to a friendly airfield outside of Chad.

Those MDSP Tutorials are found here:

DesertFalcon 00000002

Timing is absolutely essential in planning out this operation, and that is where the MDSP techniques available in the latest version of Command: Modern Operations will come in handy. Yes, you can roughly time things in your head if you are more of a micro-manage-y player (unfortunately I am, not from lack of fore-sight, but lack of Command skill, like most of us) still time things in your noggin, but it is a lot cleaner to let the newer tools help you get assets where they need to be in close proximity, from varying directions, at near to a very specific time. Not only is timing important in this mission for striking sake, but also for the temporary cordoning sake of the area the French nationals are hiding out at.

This is a very well thought out scenario, and well worth buying and taking an appropriate amount of time planning for.

 

The Scenario

The overall situational summary provided by Jacob upon opening the scenario is as follows:

DesertFalcon 00000001 L

 

DesertFalcon 00000015 L

 

DesertFalcon 00000016 L

 

DesertFalcon 00000017 l

 

Order Of Battle / Friendly Forces

C:MO Tidbit: Use the menu item Game / Order Of Battle to get to the listing I’m about to show.

First up, dear ole’ Clementine, the French satellite which offers plenty of SIGINT for your operational needs.This particular satellite helped me in an early go at this scenario by picking up major ground movements towards Massenya Airfield, where the French nationals are hunkering down before the air lifting commences.

DesertFalcon OOB 2

 

Next, we have a good ole reliable E-3F Sentry to help establish an airborne early warning zone likely from nearby Algeria and Niger area. This will help to establish air superiority over Chad and its immediate surroundings early in the mission play out.

DesertFalcon OOB 3

 

Next, we have the workhorse of this DLC, the Airbus A.333-200 MRTT modernized tanker. This is the creme de la creme (aside: see I know French nana! – my great grandmother used to speak French to me as she was French-Canadian) of modern refueling tankers.

DesertFalcon OOB 4
Note added pic of the A.333 MTCC to bottom left of image. As C:MO is missing a pic of it in its database overall.

 

We move on to the Libreville Airport which will be the destination of evac helos once we snag up the French nationales, and get them the blazes out of Chad proper. Here we have two additional refueling tankers, in the form of KC-130J Hercules. These may come in handy in the southern area below Chad, in case any long distance flying Rafale C’s or other accompanying aircraft get into any trouble. Also, in a pinch, they may be able to help perform CSAR and get any downed pilots if they are stuck in the arid regions of Niger or Algeria.

DesertFalcon OOB 5

 

As seen below, also at Libreville airfield are a set of three A.400M Atlas transport aircraft, ready to potentially drop a solid 350+ Paratroopers into the immediate area of Massenya Airfield if in dire need to cordon off the facilities. Not a bad idea to consider dropping them in early to make a ring around the French nationals against ground based attacking dissidents.

DesertFalcon OOB 6
Note: Added French Paratrooper image to bottom right. C:MO did not have a pic of them in the database.

 

The target area, Massenya Airfield has landing space for at least 10 helos and three or more larger airframes at any one time. It’s actually quite large overall, and should offer plenty of space for the extraction of the nationals. The main question is, how many ground forces may be in the area or approaching by the time we can safely establish air superiority in the area to protect the raid.

DesertFalcon OOB 7

 

DesertFalcon OOB 8

 

Here at Orange-Caritat airfield in southern France is the larger squadron of 24+ x Rafale C that is assigned the overall task of establishing air superiority and precision strike capability over Chad proper. The Rafale C is a lovely little “4.5 generation” multi-role superiority fighter. Note that the Rafale C is due to have SEAD capabilities added by the year 2030.

DesertFalcon OOB 9
Note: Added pic of Rafale C to the image, as not present on the C:MO Database.

 

RafaleRefueling

 

Pleiades 1 and 2 are additional French satellites that have been tasked fly overs of Chad and its immediate surroundings. So far in my play thrus, they have not been as successful at detections as Clementine. I don’t know if that is a limit in their capabilities or they have weird times they are passing over, but I’ll look into the scenario design in editor later to determine the whys of that.

DesertFalcon OOB 10

 

So this is the toy I’ve been waiting the most to play with, the US Air Force’s loaned C-17A Globemaster and its friendly little palletized Rapid Dragon land attack cruise missile deployment system. This represents the crazy awesome simple new idea of stacking up racks and packs of large extended range cruise missiles and dropping them out the back of what are otherwise cargo transport aircraft. Simple, but effective. Can’t wait to try this out!

DesertFalcon OOB 11
Note: Added picture of cruise missile deploying from rapid dragon to the right of image.

 

Ground forces in the immediate area of Massenya include two reinforced companies worth of French light infantry. A small platoon of light armor and a platoon equipped with MANPADS are on hand. These forces may withstand an initial wave of inbound enemy, but the larger battalion’s worth of Paratroopers should additionally be brought in to cordon off the facility with a more appropriate defensive ring.

DesertFalcon OOB 12

 

DesertFalcon OOB 13

 

Below is the LPD or Amphibious Transport Dock Tonnerre which has room for 16 x H160M Guepard helicopters. This is the contingency of helos for extracting the French nationals from Massenya airfield to Libreville Airport in Gabon. Each can handle about 12 passengers. So this operation will take at least two full loads of passengers to get all of the nationals evacuated. That is a lot of time to alot on the Event Listing for evac.

DesertFalcon OOB 14
Note: added pic of the light helo in use, as the C:MO database is missing pics of it.

 

A couple destroyers and a guided missile frigate are in the surface group with Tonnerre, but these will not come into play much during the scenario, as no enemy surface fleet is present. That, and Chad is too far inland for effective fire support from the ships.

DesertFalcon 00000019

 

DesertFalcon 00000021

 

HeloTransport

 

COA (Course Of Action) General Considerations

  • Long range palletized missile bombardments on the northern airfield and its flat iron radar system may be warranted to help obtain Air Superiority early in the mission.
  • Precision LGB strikes are cleared against designated airfield defense systems. Airfield denial attacks are additionally valid.
  • Avoid collateral destruction of facilities which support civil aviation in the country .The country already appears to dislike us, we don’t need them to utterly despise us once we evacuate our citizens.
  • I do not see any SEAD capabilities in the friendly OOB (the irony is that France is considering the SEAD/DEAD role for Rafale C starting in 2030). So, precision bombing of the suspected area of the radar and SAM facilities in the northern airfield area may be the only bet to clear out that portion of Chad’s airspace, allowing then for the squadron to move into the area for superiority coverage.
  • This is very much a one-shot raid, and HQ have placed highest priority on survival of the French airframes. Any downed airplanes will be considered a mission failure.
  • It is vital we drop in the paratroopers under cover of darkness (within the first six hours of the operation) to help defend the air base at Massenya while other air forces begin the process of clearing the airspace for the helicopter forces to come in and evacuate the French nationals safely.

 

Sample COA Sketch

I supply this as a simple example of COA planning in phases. It may be roughly drawn, but it’s clear what he was intending in each phase. I just wanted to include this to show you that you do not need to be Picasso to pull off a COA sketch. Just get it out on the paper or white board and talk out the timing of it all; and what you think the enemy is thinking and doing while you are attempting these phases! How will the enemy’s timing affect your overall timing? They do have a vote in the matter as they say.

COA Rough Sketch Example RevenantTankSim
from Revenant of the TankSim Discord Community

 

Translation Of COA Into C:MO Starting Missions

  • Established a No Fly Zone over Libya.
  • Set two refueling lanes, to in effect establish a highway in the sky with off ramps for fueling up.
  • Set two CAP zones, CAP1 and CAP2. One in North Chad, one in South Chad.
  • Set one strike zone on the flat radar in the North.
  • Globemaster approach zone set for the sake of setting up the USA’s C-17 Globemaster ahead of striking the northern air facilities and radar site with Rapid Dragon palletized cruise missiles. (They have a horizon range limitation, and must not be fired over Libya).
  • Setup a Paradrop zone on top of Massenya airfield to set the targeted drop of the 300+ French paratroopers for cordoning off the French nationals ahead of evac operations.
  • Will quickly take off flights of 4 x Rafale C as groups, half of which are set with precision strike loadouts, and the other half for CAP (that is how they are loaded at mission start*). We’ll get them up at 10 minute intervals max to keep the highway busy but not all bunched up. If we tried to re-load out , it would take at least a half hour or more to get them all ready on the tarmac. We have to go quickly when the scenario start with what we have.

DesertFalcon 00000048

 

A Hint At What’s To Come

To avoid major spoilers in this Overview article, here are some shots from playing out the above COA planning. Do not look through these if you want to avoid spoiling some of the messaging and intel updates you get during the execution of the plan. Suffice it to say, while the overall course of action seemed sound, things changed along the way. The enemy always gets a vote in any plan as they say. Needless to say, I will have to be playing this scenario a few times to get it just right and get the best result possible.

DesertFalcon 00000039

 

DesertFalcon 00000020

 

DesertFalcon 00000022

 

DesertFalcon 00000045

 

DesertFalcon 00000043

 

DesertFalcon 00000040

 

DesertFalcon 00000044

 

DesertFalcon 00000045

 

DesertFalcon 00000046

 

DesertFalcon 00000047

 

 


Thank you for visiting The Armchair Dragoons and mounting up with the Regiment of Strategy Gaming.
You can find our regiment’s social media on MastodonBlueSky, Facebook, TwXtter, YouTube, and even Threads, if we could ever get an auto-post to it.
(We have an Instagram page and it’s really just a placeholder & redirect to our articles.)
You can support The Armchair Dragoons through our Patreon, also, and find us at a variety of conventions and other events.
Feel free to talk back to us either in our discussion forum, or in the comments below.



There once were Dragoons in their chairs,
Wargaming expertise beyond compares.
With passion they’d play,
Strategizing all day,
The Armchair champions, nobody dares.
In the hobby, they stand proud and tall,
Wargaming prowess, they enthrall.
In each tabletop fight,
They prove their might,
Armchair Dragoons, the best of them all!

Armchair Dragoons PAO

Official Public Affairs account for The Armchair Dragoons, for official site news, and other contributors.

View all posts by Armchair Dragoons PAO →

One thought on “Command: Modern Operations ~ Desert Falcon (Showcase Scenario) Overview

  1. Hey there Peter,
    that’s a nice AAR, well put, and a pleasant read overall.

    Now, a little something that I’d like to bring up to your attention, as it seems to me you are not aware of it and kept mentioning.
    Some platforms in the database are a projection of what is known as of today. In other words, they do not yet materially exist yet. “Obviously” you might think, but bear with me.
    The thing with the images pack, is that the platforms that are not in existence yet does not have a picture in the database.
    Why? Because the pictures, which are not “in the C:MO Database” per se, are coming from what is known as, in the words of its designated curator, CV60, the “Accurate Image Package”. That package is the source of the pictures that you are seeing displayed in C:MO.
    To further elaborate onto why you did not see pictures of a 2027 helicopter is, and I’m quoting CV60 again, that the pack “tries to provide technically and historically accurate images of the weapons and platforms represented in the game. Where possible, the image used represents the exact type of platform and from the appropriate date and nationality.”.

    One more little thing to know is that sometimes you might see several pictures displayed, in a smaller format, below the main one. These are called “alternates” and these one are “are used to show various aspects of a platform, or in some cases are just nice photos but are not necessarily the exact type or from the exact time period.”. Still from CV60. 

    With that in mind, whenever you see a picture that might be actually missing, please pitch in the dedicated forum thread : Updated DB image & description packs are available! – Matrix Games Forums https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10201&t=244450

    Cheers

Tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: