The Southern Flank: D+0 (9 July, 1987) 0600-2359**


Authors Note: I had misplaced the original narrative entry for this time and date. Over the holiday break I’ll rewrite it and post. Until then, I’ve made a handful of brief changes to this timeline. When the narrative is posted, I’ll put a note up on the main page. 


Southern Flank 9 July Timeline 0600-2359

0639– Super Etendards from the Clemenceau attack the Slava SAG, damaging a frigate.


0700– The Slava SAG launches a salvo of SS-N-12 missiles at the Clemenceau group sinking a destroyer and damaging a frigate.


0715– In a loosely coordinated effort, Soviet Tu-22 Backfires based in Syria follow up with a strike against the Clemenceau group. The carrier, along with her surviving escorts, are all sunk. Search and rescue efforts begin immediately from Turkey and RAF Akrotiri.


0745– A Hungarian merchant ship sinks mysteriously in the Suez Canal, effectively blocking the waterway.


0800– The Moskva SAG launches its own SSM attack on the Saratoga group. All Soviet missiles are intercepted by SAMs and CIWS, or lured away by defensive countermeasures.


0900Saratogaโ€™s airwing conducts a Sierra strike against the Moskva group. Moskva, and four accompanying escorts are sunk. Two others are heavily damaged. Only one undamaged warship remains. Greek A-7s operating from Crete will sink the surviving ships later in the day.


0915– Soviet diplomats meet with Turkish and Greek officials in a last ditch effort to keep the rival nations on the sidelines of the war. The Soviet Union promises to respect the borders and sovereignty of both nations in exchange for declarations of neutrality. Ankara and Athens both refuse.


0945– In response to the Greek and Turkish refusals, Soviet warplanes begin systematically striking military targets in Turkey and Greece. These attacks will continue through the entire day, effectively tying down much of the Turkish and Hellenic air forces.


1100– Yugoslavia declares its neutrality.


1300– Skirmishes break out on the Thrace frontier between Warsaw Pact and Greek and Turkish ground forces. The intermittent fighting continues off and on for the day.


1320– HMS Superb sunk in the Eastern Med by Soviet ASW forces.


1340– Backfire bombers from airbases on the Black Sea coast attack the Saratoga battlegroup. Raid warning is established early, US Navy F-14s from the carrier meet the bombers over the Aegean and inflict severe losses. A number of ASMs are launched though. Most are intercepted, but two make it through the group’s layered defenses and hit the destroyer USS Preble. She sinks almost immediately with all hands lost.


1415– In the Western Med, a Soviet Foxtrot class SS and a Charlie class SSGN are sunk respectively by a US attack submarine and Italian ASW forces.


1500– In its second Sierra Strike of the day CVW-17 targets the Slava SAG. Slava, a Kresta II cruiser, two Udaloy class destroyers, and a Krivak III frigate are all sent to the bottom of the Eastern Med. A Kashin class destroyer survives the attack with minor damage. He begins making his way towards a friendly anchorage in Syria but is later destroyed by French Super Etendards now flying out of RAF Akrotiri.


2045- USS Pogy and a Soviet Victor II SSN are sunk in the Eastern Med.


2300- NATO reconnaissance flights detect heightened activity in southern Bulgaria, including the movement of Warsaw Pact armor and infantry towards the Greek and Turkish borders.

20 Replies to “The Southern Flank: D+0 (9 July, 1987) 0600-2359**”

    1. I’m totally in agreement. Confined seas, rough terrain, allies that hate each other and in the end just a sideshow that wouldn’t directly impact the main battle on the central front.


  1. Don’t know if you guys ever played the boardgame Aegean Strike looking at Nato’s southern flank. The Bulgarians on their own couldn’t do much against the Greeks and Turks but if they ever got there the Russian had some scary units earmarked for that front out of the Odessa Military District? And their airpower was brutal compared to anything the Greeks and Turks could put together, apart from some US support flying off of carriers or out of bases in Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That reminds me. In a CMANO scenario focusing on this theater, the author commented that it was a role-reversal of the usual stereotypes, with qualitatively superior Soviet aircraft fighting off waves of lesser previous-gen NATO ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From what I remember about that game the Turks would mostly have been running F16s in the late 80s? The Greeks would be a motley crew of more modern F16s plus a bunch of 1970s era F4 Phantoms, F1 Mirage and F5 Freedom Fighters. The US had a wing of F16s (401st Tactical Fighter Wing based in Spain) tasked to support AFSOUTH plus whatever Naval Aviation they might have in the area. I’m not sure what the Italians, Spanish and Portuguese were supposed to do but I’ve got a feeling that the Italians were probably more worried about a Warpact push through Austria and Northern Yugoslavia.


        1. The Italians were really worried about that. The Austria route mainly by the mid-80s. Their job would’ve been to block the passes in the Alps and prevent the Pact from making a southern advance along that route. As the 80s went on, Yugoslavia was becoming more of a mess internally. Even the Soviets saw the light and withdrew a possible advance into Yugoslavia from their war plans at that point.
          On the air front, you’re right. The Greeks had a mix of fighters, mostly 70s vintage. The F-16s and Mirage 2000s didn’t begin to arrive until 89. The Turks, Greeks,and Italians were all still using F-104s in the late 80s as well. The Southern Flank was kind of like an air museum of sorts. ๐Ÿ™‚


      2. What’s the name of that CMANO scenario? I’d love to try it out if its still up on the forum or in the Community scenario list. I love Command and use it professionally, not just for leisure. I gamed out the first day of air and naval fighting on the Southern Flank by building a scenario centered on it. Quite interesting to see it actually play out on the map real time. ๐Ÿ™‚


    2. Aegean Strike was a great game. I enjoyed playing the NATO side because, like you said, the Soviets had a very good units in the Odessa Military District. Soviet airpower, especially LRA/SNA bombers were the biggest threat. They could use those do serious damage to Turkish and Greek airfields, as well any NATO carrier groups in the East Med.


  2. sorry, but I’m confused about the fabulous ease with which you sink the soviet ships.
    if you think that these planes, in principle, can harm the ships you named, please explain why.
    if you see an analogy with HMS Sheffield, his death in 1982 was only a ridiculous accident. its defensive systems, operating in automatic mode, identified Exocet missiles as friendly as they were manufactured in a NATO country, and removed them from surveillance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. Good point, and I’m glad to respond.

      One of the reasons is because I gamed the attacks out multiple times using Command: Modern Naval Air Operations and the PC version of Harpoon. Each time the results were the same: Enough US Navy Harpoons got through to cause major damage to the Soviet group. The EA-6B Prowlers contributed to the successful strikes considerably. Each time I gamed the attack out, I stacked the deck in the Soviets’ favor as much as possible. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

      This particular post needs a rewrite. When I get to it, I’ll transfer it from the timeline format to narrative and will explain in detail the USN attack against the Soviet ships. Or, I could simply do a narrative style post on the attack and explain it there.

      Sheffield’s loss was a tragedy which never should’ve happened. A simple error, as you said, led to her (or his ๐Ÿ™‚ ) death. And keep in mind, Western electronics and sensors were of far better quality than their Soviet counterparts in 1982. ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. OK. But as I have noticed, in all games, their respected authors, “play along” to NATO very much.
        Russian often seem completely stupid animals, but this is not correct.
        If You are going to develop this interesting theme, I would ask You to refrain from such a mistake. There is no heroismIn the fight with wild animals. It is much more honorable to defeat a strong and treacherous enemy.
        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mike, enjoying the series so far. In regards to Michael’s comments, the recent events in the Black Sea (though different in nature and details not fully known) suggest your theory likely to be correct.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Robert. There really are some similarities between past plans and present actions regarding the Black Sea.


  3. One nitpicky detail. You have a Charlie-class Soviet sub listed as an SSN. While technically correct, wouldn’t it be more accurate if he were labeled an SSGN?


    1. You’re right. I didn’t even realize I did that. It’s definitely considered an SSGN. Thanks for noticing that, Dave.


  4. F104 – reminds me of something Pierre Sprey said about the Harrier – ‘a totally useless aircraft’. Much offended an ex-RAF pilot I mentioned it to…..

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: