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Author Topic: Selecting a landing zone  (Read 941 times)

Colt Ward

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Selecting a landing zone
« on: 18 October 2018, 15:24:52 »
Dropship troop delivery operations would IMO mimic current airborne or past/current amphibious landing operations to get the troops into the fight.  Whether for a raid or a full-on invasion what would be the strategic/tactical requirements for a DZ?  What additional benefits from surrounding infrastructure, terrain features, or enemy force disposition would you seek to garner?  What distance would you ideally be from Day 1 objectives? End Phase Objectives?  What terrain features would you avoid having near your DZ?

Does raid vs invasion make a difference in your choices?

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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #1 on: 18 October 2018, 20:58:42 »
Wouldn't the answer always be "it depends on the target, the forces defending the target, and the local topography?"

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Greatclub

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #2 on: 19 October 2018, 08:15:39 »
Biggest consideration, your dropships. Your base, your supplies, your way home, your strategic mobility, and your body and fender shop all combined into one breakable package. You can't ground it someplace it'll be wrecked without a really good reason. Some are tougher than others, and Fortress are actually designed create beacheads. But none of them mount much more firepower than a couple assault mechs. 

AlphaMirage

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #3 on: 19 October 2018, 10:52:45 »
For a raid I would want it relatively close to the center of two viable objectives, flat with good roads (for trucks) being ideal.  That way the defender has to watch two areas while my ground troops hit one.  When the battle is about to be joined head toward somewhere reachable in ahalf hour going in the same direction (Away from other defenders)

For an extended solo campaign I want somewhere central to my AO with decent cover and limited clear approaches (so my guard force doesn't have to be everywhere).  Preferably with a river nearby (Mechs and hovers always  can cross but I'll pull the bridge if enemies show up.  The crew can crack H2 remass from the water while we wait)

For a big operation I want The Major Starport or a smaller transport centric city with rail, road, air, and water links to ease logistics and follow up force deployment without having to risk the dropships.  (Not invading New York or DC as much as Baltimore or Boston)

Colt Ward

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #4 on: 19 October 2018, 10:55:17 »
Wouldn't the answer always be "it depends on the target, the forces defending the target, and the local topography?"

Sure but some examples can be found . . .

For instance, if I have a large armor contingent as part of my invasion and they are traveling as cargo I might want to land on the opposite side of a major river if it has a few large bridges- dropping BA or infantry to try to seize the bridge so my mechs can rush from LZ to the bridge and across.  The river acts as a barrier and limits what sort of counter-attacks that can be launched against your LZ & unloading operations.

Or if you expect it will take X amount of hours to unload most of your combat force, what you plan to use for offense, you will land your force X+1 hours away from your Day 1 objective that has enough of a garrison to respond & challenge your forces.  The time could of course be adjusted downward if there were a terrain feature that your attackers could seize for a temporary defensive posture before any of the garrison reached it.

Or for a invasion, do you plan your initial DZ for a Day 1 (or maybe 2) objective of taking a road/rail/port nexus?  For example, and unfortunately not having read through the Coalition's invasion of Terra to end the Jihad or how Kerensky invaded when he had his turn but . . . looking at a US map, IMO the ideal place to conduct the initial landings would be to the SE of St Louis along I-44 to Springfield.  Send a force up, take St Louis, secure the Missouri & Mississippi crossings, go east for pop & industry or the west is opened up to cross the plains with the mighty rivers at your back.  St Louis' little pocket wrapped around by the two big rivers anchors the flanks and gives you a more defensible spacehead that can be expanded as you land more forces at the spaceport in cargo droppers.  Only real downside is the 'mountains' and hills west of St Louis that would give opportunity for NOE attacks from ASF, CF and SC on your spacehead.
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Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #5 on: 19 October 2018, 11:04:39 »
I'd agree the question gives fundamentally different answers depending on the variables.

One thing that I think does carry true across all contexts is the importance of security.  If you lose your planethead, you lose the entire campaign.. full stop. 

In raiding contexts, the surest way to force the raiders to have to withdraw is to threaten their LZ.  So the raiders want the LZ close enough for convenience, but it's still got to be far enough away from any troop concentrations that the LZ can't be moved upon before the raid can run its course.  And the best way to stretch that timeline is often going to be secrecy.  Most planets in the Inner Sphere are very sparsely populated, so there should usually be patches of uninhabited wilderness from which to choose a LZ.  Planets so densely populated that there are no plausible places to land where the local civilians won't stumble across your man-made Tunguska Blast qualify as pretty major raids, and you'll need to bring along troops not just for the raid's objective but more troops beyond that dedicated to defeating or delaying the defender's attempts to overwhelm your LZ.  And that's an spiralling problem.. the bigger the baggage train the more troops you need to protect it, which in turn requires a bigger still baggage train, etc.  Major raids end up being short term invasions, really.

Elmoth

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #6 on: 19 October 2018, 11:14:44 »
Invasion.
Area where I can amass my guys. Should not be heavily defended, so I can take control of it fairly easily. Should be easy to fortify once my engineers. Work on it. Good approach avenues to the enemy key areas. Easy to bring in more guys and supplies form orbit. That means a starport and a few air strips as well as good roads.

Raid.
100 km for target at most. Not defended by anything mildly capable.
Good escape routes. Good road network if I am using trucks. Not necessary if I am just here to wreck stuff.
A small force should be able to move fast from it and create a diversion elsewhere, like a pair of light mechs and an infantry squad while my 3 mediums break havock in the real objective.
Very easy to reach for my guys but secluded from the enemy if possible. This is why for these operations I think aerodynes are best, since egg dropships can be spotted from very far away in their clamorous atmosphere entries.

If all that is not possible, use a Leopard, drop the mechs at 15 km from the target area and move to orbit. Rendevouz at an airfield when the mission is achieved and stay put on the ground for 5 minutes only.

Frabby

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #7 on: 19 October 2018, 14:04:39 »
My takeaway from campaign gaming back in the mid-90s was that you should forget about fluff and keep your DropShips the heck away from enemy fire. Period. They're just big and fragile targets.
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Major Headcase

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #8 on: 20 October 2018, 04:20:15 »
I've never played invasion scale games or campaigns, mostly small unit raids and scouting/infiltration missions, company strength or less. And I almost always plan for drop insertion and later rendezvous with hidden dropship or hot LZ pick-up at secured location.
In our campaigns the dropship is just too precious to risk in a fight unless absolutely necessary.
In the era's we play, only House forces have the resources to risk their dropship and even then it's rare. The number 1 condition for dropship landing in security. Prepared defences are best, but well scouted isolation is a close second.

Col Toda

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #9 on: 29 October 2018, 06:40:39 »
Covered this somewhat with long range insersion thread . Raid VS invasion makes a huge difference . On any invasion they actually has to have an infantry component not just battle armor but infantry . For a raid if you are including combat vehicles with ICE or fuel cells you want to land within 100 - 150km tops from the objective which limits your  options . If you are doing an invasion you could try using corporate investment to lay down some ground work for an invasion . So you have refueling and repair facilities waiting for you at your DZ . Trying to seize infrastructure that you do not on some level already control invites scorched earth tactics by the defense.  You have to reduce it to a ground war ASAP . Taking out or most of the Areospace opposition so you can pull out most of your fighters on the next offensive somwhere else is Strategically important . Having Mule Drop ship with it's contents changed to become a MASH and Police Action Base that parks itself in city parks and such until the civilian infrastructure and civil service comes under your control. Mobs and insurgency is very different from standard warfare . The Reunification Wars book tends to deal with it . You Breakup a mob unit with type I chemical agent ( Tear Gas ) and Snipers shooting rubber bullets to break a mob unit w/o committing war crimes .  Invasions are very costly business the territory had better be worth it. 

Shin Ji

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #10 on: 29 October 2018, 09:01:40 »
One thing I'm not totally clear on - the only reason for a grounded DropShip to remain grounded and let Battlemechs and such pound on it is because it doesn't want to leave unloaded personnel and equipment behind, right? Generally speaking, you leave it running, and startup is pretty quick, isn't it?

Colt Ward

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #11 on: 29 October 2018, 11:22:50 »
While I am not totally sure there are rules reflecting this . . . yeah, there are instances in fiction where the DS are kept on something similar to Alert Five in hostile territory- engines on standby.  Yes, it probably increases the maintenance requirements during down time.  Yes, it compounds the wear and reduces the lifespan of components.  Does not matter, military equipment is not designed to be the most efficient long term operating.

But its also why you do not want to unload everything that you might use in the DZ- if you have to dust off, its going to get wrecked.  Additionally, you cannot unload things like the mech or vehicle cubicles you will be using for repairs.
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truetanker

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #12 on: 29 October 2018, 19:13:23 »
Well I usually have my droppers deploy what is needed and then boost back to orbit, worthy of combat drops, Mechs or supplies. But IF I have to ground to deploy, I'd load up only the things that can NOT be replaced fast enough, like ICE tanks and supplies. If it's a smash and grab, I'd try to save what I can...

But sometimes things happen and so on...

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Daryk

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #13 on: 29 October 2018, 19:19:35 »
The rules you're looking for are under "Systems Status" on pages 71-72 of StratOps, specifically "Hot Engine Status" with the crew "On Standby".

Elmoth

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #14 on: 30 October 2018, 04:37:15 »
This topic got me thinking.

Probably an aerodyne can land in a highway. That increases a lot the tacticla flexibility of aerodynes. their main advantage should be being less conspicuous than roundships (less visible while landing) or they would not be much use considering that roundships have larger holds, toughness and weaponry. If dropships are more flexible and equally detectable there is not much reason to use aerodyne dropships.


Colt Ward

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #15 on: 30 October 2018, 10:42:25 »
Bonfire of Worlds has a Lyran counter-invasion force using a stretch of double 2/3 lane highway as a landing strip- aerodynes landed on the strip and spheriods dropped down onto it as well.  They were in standby and flushed when a Wolf feint started peppering them with missiles.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #16 on: 30 October 2018, 13:25:05 »
This topic got me thinking.

Probably an aerodyne can land in a highway. That increases a lot the tacticla flexibility of aerodynes. their main advantage should be being less conspicuous than roundships (less visible while landing) or they would not be much use considering that roundships have larger holds, toughness and weaponry. If dropships are more flexible and equally detectable there is not much reason to use aerodyne dropships.

Don't aerodyne dropships land vertically via thrusters in their belly?

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Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #17 on: 30 October 2018, 14:33:58 »
No, but all they need is a generally open field.  I don't recall how many hexes long of the same elevation level... iirc 6.  Still, a patch of open ground a couple hundred meters long with no elevation change greater than +/- 12 meters is easy enough to find that you can reasonably even land an Aerodyne in a mountain chain.

Daryk

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #18 on: 30 October 2018, 16:34:33 »
Don't aerodyne dropships land vertically via thrusters in their belly?
Usually only in vacuum.  Doing it in atmosphere does Bad Things to them.

R.Tempest

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #19 on: 30 October 2018, 22:46:56 »
 Can Aerodyne's do water landings? I'm remembering one of Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion novels where the troop shuttles did water landings/take offs.

Daryk

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Re: Selecting a landing zone
« Reply #20 on: 31 October 2018, 04:15:49 »
StratOps page 73 gives rules for it, but it's considered a crash with a 50% chance of the craft coming to rest upside down (effectively destroyed).  So, "yes, sort of".

 

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