Tactical Air Launched Decoy weapons?
I am an author and i am working on a book that takes place around 1990, and i am using simulations on the computer and on the tabletop to determine the outcome of the battles that are in the book..
Well all that said, today we ran a simulation that was to determine the opening air battle of a campaign fought around Panama.
the people i had doing the USN portion of the sim planned a SEAD mission and well i got a taste for the first time in an exercise of using the ADM-141 TALD decoy missiles. The USN side of the table put together a very nice strike package for the night.
Among the strike package was a SEAD task force made up of four F/A-18C Hornets each carrying six TALD missiles, six F/A-18C Hornets each carrying four HARM missiles and a few bombs, and two EA-6B Prowlers carrying jamming pods and two HARMS each.
In this exercise, they used the SEAD to sanatize an area near the boarder with Columbia. The plans carrying the TALDS released them from about 60 miles out and man did they draw the fire from "Red" force. Target acquisition radars popped on all over the place and the rest of the task force fired the HARMs and moved in and dropped bombs. In the end by using the TALDs they were able to clear our or suppress an area of around 200 square miles for the rest of the rest of the nights strikes from the Enterprise. These strikes cut bridges with Paveway II bombs, bombed tank and truck parks with Mk 20 Rockeye and Mk 82 Snakeye bombs and laid minefields along the main roads into Panama by using Gator mines.
Given the success of the use of TALD weapons in this simulation, I wonder just how effective in real life this weapon was. The weapon used in this operation were ADM-141A/B systems witch are glide weapons. that can be programmed to fly erratic courses during the glide and they can be equipped with radar signal enhancers to make them appear as other types of aircraft. In this case they were set up to emulate A-6 Intruder bombers. and they were aimed at what would be considered potential first strike targets such as command centers and field forces and things like that. The 24 TALDs drew radar signals and actual SAM shots that were quickly dealt with by the rest of the task force. For the most part the rest of the strike packages had a "SAM free" night and only drew fire from one or two missile sights and SPAA guns that were dealt with by the two EA-6B Providers using jamming and firing of their HARM missiles.
In real life these systems were also used in the Gulf War, and everything i have found said they were used to good effect, but with all the SEAD operations going on there, I wonder if you can really be sure.
Air launched decoys have been used for years with varying degrees of success. SAC used ADM-20 Quails to emulate B-52 bombers and so on. This was a fairly good counter measure to keep the Russians guessing but, they weren't meant to conduct SEAD operations.
During Vietnam and in the USAF's opinion the best decoy was using a "live" target such as a F-4 to draw fire because the pilots were more convincing then firing decoys. These "Wild Weasels" did a wonderful job of suppressing SAM sites and radar during Vietnam. Also the USN used A-6 intruders in similar "Iron Hand" missions.
In the simulations we ran the ADM-141 TALD weapons accomplished the mission, but in real life are these systems really as good as using the manned decoy missions that were used in previous actions? Can a weapon of this type really do that convincing of a job to fool the enemy into firing on it and painting it with its radars?
I am still not sure.