The Western Pacific D+7-D+9 (16-18 July, 1987)



A series of skirmishes break out between ships, submarines, and aircraft of the Soviet Red Banner Pacific Fleet and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force throughout the day. Two Japanese destroyers, and an attack submarine are sunk, and at least four other ships of various classes damaged. Soviet losses are estimated to be three patrol craft, two frigates, and a single diesel submarine. However, post-war investigation of Soviet records revealed a second submarine was also lost and presumed sunk in La Pérouse Strait on D+7.


Satellite photographs, and ELINT data suggest the North Koreans are beginning to move additional ground forces from bases around Pyongyang to the DMZ area.


USAF F-4 Phantoms from the 3rd TFW at Clark AFB strike Soviet air and naval facilities around Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam.


Discussions between Chinese and Soviet officials in Beijing do little to resolve the current tension between the two Communist nations. Beijing warns the Soviet Union not to goad North Korea into attacking the South, while the Soviets inform Beijing that its future support of North Korea is inexorably connected to the situation on the Sino-Soviet border.



Air battles occur between Japanese and Soviet fighter planes over Sakhalin Island.


Pyongyang officially invites the presence of Soviet military advisers, and equipment in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Moscow accepts the invitation.


Two hours later clashes erupt on the Sino-Soviet border between PLA forces, and Soviet border guards, reinforced by motor-rifle troops. Casualties are reported to be heavy.




The Soviet Union announces a Red Banner Pacific Fleet task force will be dispatched immediately to the Sea of Japan in order to ‘maintain the peace’ and ‘deter the American puppet states of Japan, and South Korea from invading North Korea.’

The USS. Ranger and USS. Midway battlegroups rendezvous 200 miles southeast of Yokosuka. The two-carrier formation then begins steaming on a course which will bring it into the Sea of Japan via the East China Sea.


The PRC quietly requests satellite photographs, and other intelligence on Soviet dispositions and troop movements near the Chinese border.


North Korean forces near the DMZ go on maximum alert.  As night falls in Pyongyang, Kim Il Sung addresses the nation and warns his people of an impending ‘imperialist attack’ against the country. Once the speech ends, air raid sirens wail across the city and a nation-wide blackout takes effect.


Combined Forces Command and Eighth Army commander General Louis Menetrey. US Army, informs Washington he believes there is an 80% chance of North Korea invading the ROK within the next twenty-four hours.

20 Replies to “The Western Pacific D+7-D+9 (16-18 July, 1987)”

  1. Ah yes, having studied the inter-Korean military balance over the Cold War myself, while the North is at one of its higher points against the South on paper at the time, that’s more than made up for by the south having a week (at least) to mobilize (I can’t see any reason why they WOULDN’T the moment the Fuldapocalypse started, if not sooner).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, the NKs always march to their own beat. There were some political considerations, and I’ll discuss that more in-depth in the future. But now that war on the peninsula is about to kick off, the WestPac entries will be more detailed. Timeline time is over.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great as usual! I guess my question is: why move the carrier battle force into the Sea of Japan so soon? I would think you would want more time to “sanitize” the area with ASW ops.

    I know you’ve read the Naval War College war game summaries from the 80s. In several iterations, the carrier force hangs to the south for a while, until the red forces already at sea since D-day are attrited. Then, the battle force moves north to hit Soviet installations, but with a heavy screen of ASW and land-based air power. Or did you already address that and I missed it?

    How big was Soviet Naval Aviation in the Pacific? Or were most of the Backfires based on the North Cape?

    Anyway, keep up the fantastic work. I feel like I need popcorn every time I start reading another entry! Hope you are feeling better, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good question. I haven’t addressed it as much as I’ve wanted to. That’s my fault. I’ve been so focused on European theaters, I really do need to provide some additional background info for the peripheries.
      Long answer short: The Western Pacific theater hasn’t panned out the way either side expected. Everything is coming together at a slow pace, with some variables thrown in. As a result, pre-war battle plans are being revised, or completely disregarded.

      Naval Aviation, and Long Range Aviation in the Far East was considerable. They had about 20% of the Badger and Backfire inventory. That’s about 113 airframes in 1987. Enough to give the carrier groups reason to worry.

      Thanks! Glad the entries are keeping you entertained.

      I’m feeling pretty good. Treatment hasn’t been as rough as I thought. One day at a time, I guess.


    1. That’s a good point. Everything we had was either in the desert or in Europe. They could’ve captured Seoul in a few days at least


      1. There is no way the North Koreans capture Seoul in a few days. The South Koreans were dead set on insuring the disaster that happened in the 1950s did not happen again. The ROK military may not have been as good as it is today but it was still good enough to hold Seoul.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree. Barring a surprise attack that the ROKs didn’t see for whatever reason, there was no way the North Koreans could’ve taken Seoul if war broke out in the 80s. The simulations I ran in the lead up to this blog revealed that time after time.


            1. Under idea circumstances you’re right. But since the world went to war in the summer months, Kim Il Sung’s choices were simple: Wait on the sidelines and miss the opportunity or take the plunge.


              1. Not sure how taking the plunge makes sense when their odds of success are even lower than their attempt durign the 1950s and they couldn’t even succeed then. I’m not sure they would be willing to take that gamble again.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. In this situation they decided to take it. Maybe a little later than they should’ve, all things considered


    2. Considering even the Soviets were supporting operations in Iraq at the time, international opinion against instant sunshine isn’t so crazy against the Norks.

      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: