Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles November 2nd, 2021. The world is reeling from the economic devastation brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, and for world powers, some see it as an opportunity to make a move. Believing the United States is too distracted by China and the lingering effects of the coronavirus, Russia makes its move in Eastern Europe, seeking at last to reunify its military conclave of Kaliningrad with the motherland. It'll also cut off the renegade Soviet provinces of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia from NATO, and force them back into the loving arms of Mother Russia. NATO immediately responds, but Quick Reaction Forces stationed along Eastern Europe are no match for the overwhelming might of the Russian Army. It'll take weeks for NATO to organize a proper military response- but the United States has already begun to strike back. Not in Eastern Europe, but in the Pacific. A US naval task force, part of US Pacific Command, is on its way to attack the headquarters of the Russian Pacific fleet in Vladivostok. Russia's far east has always been problematic for the Russian military to defend. The incredible size of Russia makes reinforcing the far east extremely difficult, and impossible to accomplish in a timely manner. Then again, the US stands to gain little by attacking Russia's far east, except for knocking the Russians out of the Pacific for good. A push into Russia from the east is impossible- the distances to any military objectives worth seizing in the west entirely too far, and transportation networks easily sabotaged by the Russians. Russia however is not ready to give up its presence in the Pacific, and luckily for it the Russian Pacific fleet is its second most powerful fleet. Suffering from years of neglect though, that's not saying much. Steaming out of their home port to meet the first American Carrier Strike Group enroute to their shores is a fleet consisting of 6 destroyers and a half-dozen corvettes, led by the Cruiser Varyag, flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet. The Russians know they're outmatched in open water, so instead opt to use the same tried and true tactics of the 1904 Russo-Japanese war. They'll be fighting the same way they fought the superior Japanese navy and the same way the Soviet Union expected to fight the American navy- utilizing the doctrine of a 'fortress fleet'. Supported by shore-based installations and aircraft, the Russian Pacific fleet never strays more than a few dozen miles from shore. But the first strike against the Americans will come from below the waves. The Russian submarine fleet has suffered from similar levels of neglect as the surface fleet, however with only 1 active carrier in the Russian navy, great emphasis has been put into maintaining available Russian submarines. Gone are the glory days of the Soviet Navy, when hundreds of Soviet subs prowled the world's oceans, forcing the Americans into a game of underwater cat and mouse. Russian military command does not believe their Kilo class submarines, dating back to the waning days of the Cold War, are survivable against the American fleet. Therefore the Kilos are ordered to remain silent, close to shore, dashing in for attacks of opportunity once the enemy fleet is fully engaged. The three Improved Kilo class subs have a greater chance of approaching the American strike group, but only the Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky is combat ready. The attack will fall on the small fleet of Oscar IIs, capable of launching long range attacks with anti-ship missiles. Had the attack come just ten years earlier, the Russians would've likely found great success using their subs against the Americans. After developing the greatest anti-submarine warfare capabilities on the planet during the Cold War, the United States allowed its ASW capabilities to seriously atrophy, resulting in a series of embarrassing mission kills on American carriers during training exercises with friendly nation's subs in the early 2000s. However, the Americans were quick to correct their mistake, even contracting a Swedish submarine for two years to help them restore their ASW capabilities. The American 2021 fleet is not the 2001 fleet that couldn't see a submarine in a swimming pool. The four Russian subs must close to within 350 nautical miles to launch their Granit anti-ship missiles. They don't dare close in for torpedo strikes against the American carrier, knowing they'll be easily spotted well before then. In order to reduce the chance of detection, the subs approach the carrier strike group on a thirty degree offset from each other, which has the benefit of greatly increasing the search radius of the strike group's ASW assets. The Americans know that the first strike will likely come from beneath the waves, and they've been prepared. ASW helicopters fan out dozens of miles around the strike group, equipped with torpedoes and sonar that they periodically dip into the ocean to listen for the tell-tale acoustic signature of a Russian sub. American attack subs always held and advantage over their Soviet and Russian counterparts, and during the Cold War US subs tailed Soviet subs without being detected, allowing them to record a vast acoustic library of all known Soviet and now Russian submarines. Further aiding the efforts in the hunt for the Russian subs are P-8 Poseidons based out of Guam, Japan, and South Korea. With the world's largest air tanker fleet, the United States is able to drastically increase the range of its Poseidons, allowing the aircraft to sweep a corridor across the Pacific for the carrier strike group. The Poseidons lay down vast fields of air-dropped sonobuoys. On contact with salt water, the sonobuoy's batteries activate. Some of the buoys are set to active search mode, pinging the ocean for miles around them with powerful sonar and listening to the report. Others are set to passive, listening for the tell-tale sound of a Russian sub. But further aiding the hunt for Russian submarines is a brand new development by the US Navy- a radar that can penetrate the waves and detect the underwater wake of a submarine. The subs can't evade the vast fields of sonobuoys deployed by the Poseidons, and eventually each sub begins to generate a good track. The Poseidons now drop down to just a few hundred feet above the waves, allowing their Magnetic Anomaly Detector to verify the presence of the Russian submarine below. Upon confirmation, each Poseidon drops two torpedoes. The torpedoes don't even need to score a direct hit. Even a miss of 100 feet generates so much pressure that a submarine's hull will rupture. Round 1 goes to the Americans. Submarines aren't the only way to kill a carrier though, and Russian Tu-22 bombers are already airborne. During the Cold War, Soviet military planners knew that attacking a carrier strike group would be an extremely dicey proposition. Official battle plans called for attacks with a minimum of 100 bombers, with an estimated loss rate of 50%. Even then, a mission kill was likely, but not an outright sinking, merely taking a carrier out of action for a few months to a year as it underwent repairs. Today, the Russian air forces only have 67 Tu-22s, and most of them are stationed in the much more important western theater. What they do have is the Granit anti-ship missile, capable of being launched from stand-off ranges that should hopefully keep the bombers safely out of the strike group's air defenses. Two dozen Tu-22s leave the Russian coast behind. The American carrier is moving at full power, making it a surprisingly fast and evasive target. Russian satellites fix the carrier group's location for the bombers, but only for fifteen minutes before they dip past the earth's horizon and lose radar contact. The best way to fix the carrier long-term would be to use airborne radar assets- but with American air bases in Japan hosting fleets of fighter aircraft, the awacs planes would be splashed in a matter of hours. The greatest difficulty Russian forces are having in taking the American carrier out is simply finding the damned thing. Satellite surveillance gives the Tu-22s a box a few hundred square miles wide where the carrier could potentially be hiding. Now the bombers must approach that target box and remain within range of their Granit missiles- 388 miles (625km)- until a new satellite fix can help the bombers get better targeting data. The bombers could turn on their own radars, but that would make them stand out like a spotlight in a dark room, making them easy prey for the carrier's combat air patrol. While the Russians are having difficulty fixing the carrier's location, the Americans are not having similar problems. Even under intense cyberattack, the American recon satellite network is vast- outnumbered only by the Chinese in physical assets, but not in capabilities. AWACS planes launched from Japan each have a detection range of just over 250 miles, and once more supported by aerial refueling tankers, US air forces are able to cover a wide swath of Russia's pacific coast with radar coverage. Further supplementing the land-based AWACS planes are carrier-launched Hawkeye airborne radar planes and EA-18 'Growlers'. The Russian attack wave is easily vectored and the carrier's combat air patrol dispatched. While the Tu-22s must get within 388 miles to launch their attack, the carrier's F-18 Hornets and new F-35Cs each have a combat radius of over 1,200 miles. Guided in by airborne radar, the F-35s take point. The Tu-22s realize they've been targeted when the F-35's fire-control radar illuminates them- but by then it's too late. Countermeasures spoof a quarter of the incoming missiles, but 10 of the bombers are still downed. The limited missile capacity of the F-35 is its greatest weakness, able to carry only four missiles internally in order to preserve its stealth capabilities. Instead, the F-35s are forced to switch to guns, and for the first time in decades, US fighters strafe enemy aircraft with guns. Cannon capacity is also very limited on the F-35 however, and the Russian planes are built tough. Three more Tu-22s are splashed, leaving nine. They're still hundreds of miles from launch though, and the follow-on F-18s may not be stealthy, but with Russia unable to provide effective air cover past its shores, they don't need to be. The bombers are sitting ducks, speeding straight into a head-on deathmatch with the approaching Hornets. Wisely, the surviving nine Tu-22s turn around and head back for home. Round 2 once more goes to the US. As the surviving Tu-22s arrive home however, the crews are sent for chow and a few hours sleep. As they rest, the bombers are being refitted with a brand new weapon, just delivered from the Western theater. The Russian military still has very small numbers of them, and must use them extremely judiciously- but with the strike group now within 1500 miles of shore, the time is now. Half a day later, the Tu-22s are once more back in the air. They know they'll be immediately spotted by American satellites and AWACS planes once they leave the Russian coast, but this time they don't need to get so close to deliver their deadly payload. The Americans can't believe it- the Russians must be crazy. They're trying the exact same attack that just failed so catastrophically. Vectored in by Hawkeyes and Air Force AWACS, the combat air patrol once more moves to intercept the incoming threat, well outside of anti-ship range. This time, the Tu-22s only need to get within 1,000 miles of the carrier. They have to once more rely on targeting data from the overhead satellites, meaning the American carrier can only be fixed for brief moments at a time. The carrier isn't close enough for shore installations to aid in tracking. They must once more target a very large box of the Pacific Ocean, but this new Russian weapon is fully capable of finding its own targets. It's perfect for the task at hand, and long before the American's combat air patrol can intercept them, each Tu-22 drops two 10 meter black and silver missiles from their wingtip pylons. The Zircon anti-ship missiles immediately fire their rocket engines, boosting them to over two times the speed of sound. The rocket engine now detaches from the missile and falls to the ocean below, as the missile's scramjet fires into action. The missile's scramjet engine has no moving parts- instead it compresses incoming supersonic air and simply adds fuel, which causes the superheated air to explode, the energy redirected behind the missile by the engine nozzle. It's a brilliant design, but only works when you're already at supersonic speed, which has limited its use by militaries for decades. The missiles rise to the edge of the stratosphere, where the air-breathing engines can still supply needed oxygen, but high enough that the missile's onboard targeting suite can pinpoint the American carrier. A stealthy body helps the missiles evade the American AEGIS radars sweeping the sky. As a satellite enters proper phase over the earth, it sends a new fix on the carrier to the missiles, redirecting their course and greatly increasing their accuracy. A few dozen miles from their targets, the strike group's AEGIS radars begin to pinpoint the incoming missiles. Traveling at Mach 9 though, the strike group's missile defenses have less than 30 seconds to respond. The strike group's missile defense systems are fully automated- humans are no longer fast enough to respond to deadly hypersonic threats. Only a machine is up to the task, and the Americans have built themselves one hell of a missile defense machine. Beams of powerful electromagnetic energy reach up towards the missiles in an attempt to directly interfere with the sensitive electronics of the targeting suite or confuse them. Three missiles suddenly careen wildly off-course, tearing themselves apart thanks to their hypersonic speed. 15 missiles remain, 20 seconds to impact. The destroyer escorts prepare to launch decoys. They first deploy chaff as a means to make the missiles think a better target is somewhere else through its super heated metal flakes. However, it soon becomes apparent that these missiles are much more advanced than the Americans thought when they don't even begin to alter course. Quickly altering course themselves the destroyers deploy their more advanced nulka rounds that are more powerful and try to walk the missiles away from the formation. 15 seconds to impact. The Russian missiles are finally within intercept range of the strike group's destroyers, and within moments salvos of interceptors are fired. However, the Russian missiles are moving at such incredible speeds that a superheated layer of plasma around them is making radar lock difficult to maintain. It takes 3 seconds for each volley of interceptors to be fired, and by the time the second volley is fired the Russian missiles are too close to be intercepted by American RAMs. Another four Russian missiles are splashed, 11 missiles remain. 5 seconds to impact. Each missile is now moving at almost 7,000 miles per hour (11113.2 kph) on their descent phase. The layer of superheated plasma around each missile grows in size as the missiles plunge down and the atmosphere thickens. The last line of defense for the strike group comes online, and will have mere seconds to respond. On ships across the strike group, CIWS cannons have already been placed on standby. The plasma surrounding the descending missiles once more makes radar lock-on difficult to achieve. The missiles move so unbelievably fast that by the time they have entered CIWS range and the CIWS systems have swiveled the cannons in the right direction, there's only 2 seconds left to fire. Most of the cannons never fire- there simply isn't enough time for the onboard radar to work out a good lock through the layer of plasma around each missile.