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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Persian Incursion: Ten preliminary conclusions

I have now completed my playthrough of Persian Incursion. While I don't plan a further go through any time soon (this one took me ten months), I may try single strikes out.

I now present ten initial conclusions that may of course be completely and utterly wrong. I will not of course that things seem to be moving away from a military confrontation... at the moment at any rate.

1. Iran has to use political means if it wants to win

For one thing, most of the cards in Iran's deck are political ones, including threats over oil prices and stoking the Israel-Palestinian issue. It is possible for Iran to win the game if it plays these correctly - what it wants to do is stop the the Israelis from getting overflight rights and keep the Americans one. Both of those moves failed in this game.

2. Israel will do major damage to an Iranian nuclear programme

The sheer number of aircraft that Israel can put into a strike operation - it could in theory operate a 72-plane raid if it jiggled the tankers correctly (and got some more) mean that Iran cannot hope to stop attacks in their entirety, or even in their majority. A bomber will always get through.

3. Iran lacks any reliable means of defeating Israeli planes in the air.

Most Iranian planes cannot hope to even get close enough to a F-15 or F-16 to fire, especially if the latter are packing AIM-120Ds. Even then, they have poor missiles.

The F-14 is designed to shoot bombers. The MiG-29 is their best all round jet... but even then it's a limited plane. The Saeqeh is not modelled, but I cannot imagine it being hugely better.

4. Israel needs at least two squadrons to guarantee a successful strike

If it want to suppress Iranian defences and handle any Tor-M1/Pantsyr response without losing aircraft, you need about 48 aircraft. An effective demonstration of the potency of stealth aircraft, who don't have to worry about the defence issue - the two F-22 strikes were decisive and the second won Israel the game.

5. The Strait of Hormuz strategy is a bad idea

Iran was able to close the Straits, but the move generally annoyed key people it shouldn't have annoyed; when it got a closure and tried to stop the US alliance, the dice rolls were against it.

6. Iran cannot strike Israel effectively, especially if the US come in on Israel's side

The ballistic missile strikes were all failures - generally being intercepted by SM-3s before they even bothered the local defences. A 16-missile strike could do something, but even it is too likely to miss entirely.

The terror attacks can have an effect, but there is a decent chance of it going the wrong way.

7. F-16s are not capable long-range strikers

They are limited in what they can carry into Iran from Israel to two PGMs; an entire squadron on a single site might not be enough to take it out. They are best used as escorts and SEAD planes.

8. The F-22 is a superb plane

Stealthy, big weapon loads... it secured victory for Israel. These would play a big role in any such attack. I never got to try the B-2 out in game.

9. The Small Diameter Bomb is a great weapon

The F-15 and F-22 can both carry these small but potent bombs in quantity; if I'd realised how good these were earlier, I could have probably finished Natanz in the first attack.

10. Iranian SAMs are largely useless

Nearly all of them missed, there's not enough of them in the whole country to stop an Israeli strike and they're easily suppressed by Suter attacks or suppression missions. They can get lucky, but you can't rely on luck.


I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed playing it. Israel had the dice on its side for much of this, but does hold a rather superior position. Iran really needs clear foreign assistance and even that might not be enough - they didn't have any foreign aircraft or SAMs in this game.

However, things got close and who knows how it would play in reality.

I hope we never have to find out.

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