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Total Air War - AWACS Briefing, Part II

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Strategy Guide
Article Date: June 11, 2001

Back to AWACS Briefing, Part I

Strategic Goals

In Part I we started with the target list, which is an effective way to make strategic use of the list. This time we'll first check the current strategic goals.

Strategic Summary

When you re-enter any campaign you will be given a damage and score summary, along with charts that show you the progress of the campaign. Once you are in the campaign you can bring up the screen above by clicking on STRATEGY from the War Room interface.

Notice that the current Allied strategy is to strike C4 targets. This means that your current SEAD flights will be heading for various Command, Communication, Computing and Control targets. If you want to support these flights and run intercepts or escorts wherever possible, you need to know where they are.

Taking this information back to the Theatre Map, one selects C4 from the display control buttons at right, bringing up the C4 targets on the map.

War Room

You can see in the image above that the C4 sites have a huge red ring around them, and at the center of these rings will be a small white number. Referring again to the image above, you can see that there is more than one number at Kassala Air Base: a 2 and a 9, to be precise. The green aircraft symbols (for Allied flights) are an inbound strike flight and wild weasel. Now look at the current target list:

Target List

Kassala is listed at both #2 and #9 positions, and you can see that there is currently no damage, but there are three flights inbound to that target.

Pinpoint a Flight's Location

You can verify the current position of the inbound flight by highlighting list position number 2 and then holding down the left mouse button, bringing up this screen:

Target List Map

Now you see that an EF2000 SEAD flight is inbound (although the compression makes it tough to read). In this case there wasn't much I could do from the AWACS Command chair to support this flight, though I could have gone to the Mission Selection screen and chosen a CAP and then flown a spontaneous escort mission.

In another campaign, however, I had some tough decisions to make when an EF2000 force with a Mirage escort went on a deep strike mission that was rated very high in importance.

Target List Map

Theatre Map

Getting Some Stick Time

After locating the mission on the Target List map I went to the AWACS map to see if there were any flights I could vector as escort. Seeing none but noticing an F-22 flight 100 miles southeast I decided to fly the escort myself.


In this case I simply clicked on FLY then on AWACS Command and then selected the F22 flight. Clicking twice on the flight drops you into the pilot's seat. Unless the flight has been in the air a long time the F22 will have plenty of range.

Tactical Considerations


As AWACS Commander you cannot call up new flights, you can only choose to fly or to direct traffic. Where the Commanders job becomes most difficult is when the enemy is throwing all their weight against you at the same time as you have committed a high percentage of your own assets to strike forces. You must then make a number of tactical assessments based on the information you have. You must decide:

  • What are the current enemy goals;
  • Which current missions you can afford to support while defending your critical stations;
  • Which enemy flights you will engage and which you will risk ignoring (in truth they are not totally ignored since you also have ground defenses).

AWACS Intercept

Putting It All Together

I recently faced a situation where I had five incoming flights numbering approximately twenty aircraft. These included Su 25s, MiG27s, MiG 29s, MiG 31s and Su 27s. I had only three CAP flights in near vicinity, and one outgoing strike force of sixteen aircraft including eight F-16s and four F-15Es. I also had a single F-22 at approximately 200 miles.

Based on current intelligence these aircraft would be primarily destined for C4 targets, critical Command and Communication sites on my soil. These targets are almost as crucial as my AWACS and required defense.

I knew that there would likely be a couple of scrambled flights from near air bases, but I still had to make the best with what I had. Unfortunately, a pair of MiG 21s were included in my CAP tally. Although I had hoped to support the first major Strike flight that had been fragged, I was now faced with vectoring the F-15E escort after the first incoming MiG 29s. The escort was currently toward the back of the force, and I vectored them to Intercept so that they would increase their speed and engage.

Selecting the Escort

In the meantime one of my CAP flights engaged, and I vectored the MiG 21 CAP north while ordering the other to Intercept and engage. I would hold the MiG 21s in reserve since they were the least effective of my four immediate choices.

I also had IRON7, an F-22 flight, 200 miles south. This happened to be a scramble flight that was sent up to deal with two Su27s. One of the flight had been destroyed but the other was still airborne. TAW does not allow one to vector a SCRAMBLE flight to intercept or assign a new patrol area as you can a CAP, but you can vector to ESCORT. I selected IRON7 and dragged to order an ESCORT on a flight a bit south where the engagement would occur. (My other option was to jump in and fly to the northwest myself).

I watched as the engagement unfolded. My flights were doing better than the enemy on the whole, not quite a 2/1 kill ratio. All but one of my F-16 SEAD aircraft stayed completely out of the engagement and enroute to their designated targets at Kassala.

As the engagement neared its close the balance began to shift as another pair of Su27s joined the fray for the enemy. However, a SCRAMBLE flight of EF2000s also joined the battle and my lone F-22 was now at about sixty miles.

In TAW knife fights can drag on for some time (a weakness in CCP AI) so I jumped in to assist at maximum range. At 35,000 feet and thirty miles I loosed four AIM120 Rs and took out both Su27s. This finally freed up the remaining two F-15Es to continue to escort the F-16s on their mission.

F22 on the Runway

With their escort far behind them, my F-16 strike flight pressed their attack. Of the eight aircraft that reached Kassala, one was killed by SAMs before the target and six engaged ground targets. Three were killed in air-to-air engagements within a few minutes of hitting the target, and two more were killed as they attempted to egress. The F-15s turned at the border and so weren't much use in the end. Only one F-16 returned to friendly territory.

About the time my F-16s hit their targets I had a new threat to deal with and very limited air resources in the vicinity. Not far south of where the first incursion had been I had at least ten enemy aircraft incoming. At my disposal I had my lone F-22, now with six AIM 120s and two AIM 9x mounted. I also had the EF2000 flight a bit to the north where they were in the process of recovery.

TAW does not allow you to order an INTERCEPT to a flight that is in the process of landing. However, you can order an ESCORT, so I ordered the EF2000s, who were at 65% fuel and still had some A2A stores, to escort my lone F-22. The F-22 had already been vectored by AWACS to engage the incoming bandits, and the EF2000s obediently left their landing pattern to follow.

When this engagement was finished IRON7 was winchester and I called for recovery, then jumped out of the cockpit and ordered the depleted EF2000 flight to land at their designated base. Back in my AWACS Command chair I decided to deal with a hostile incursion on my eastern border.

While doing this I noticed that IRON7 was turning toward the border to engage another enemy flight, despite having exhausted air-to-air stores. In fact, if your F-22 still has cannon ammunition, it will turn to engage hostiles. I didn't want to lose this valuable asset so I selected IRON7 and dragged to the airbase to order a landing.

Vector to Home Plate

Not Always as Expected

The green triangle appeared and IRON7 acknowledged the order. This is the only way you will be able to control the destination of a SCRAMBLE flight once you jump out.

Some Final Thoughts

As you gain experience as Theatre Commander you will see that your own tactical assessment and control is generally more effective than leaving the management to WARGEN. This means that you will win a campaign more quickly if you spend time directing flights personally. Once the enemy is on the defensive your personal time in the AWACS Command chair will become less critical.

On the Way to the Target

If you happen to lose your AWACS to an enemy attack, you will no longer be able to play from the AWACS Command. At this point it will be even MORE critical that you fly missions personally, even ESCORT missions, so that you can personally intercept incoming flights.

The best thing, of course, is NOT to lose your AWACS but always to keep an eye on the patrol, ensuring that it is properly protected or vectoring further south when necessary.

Too Late to Move the E3

Whichever way you approach Total Air War, you will find it involving, unpredictable, and a great deal of fun.

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