Battle of Vukar Tag - 2667

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Battle of Vukar Tag
Part of the Terran-Kilrathi War
Date 2667
Location Vukar Tag System
Result Confederation victory
Belligerents
Terran Confederation Empire of Kilrah
Commanders and leaders
Admiral Wayne Banbridge Kalralahr of Fleets: Rusmak (K.I.A.)
Kalralahr of the Imperial Legions: Gar (K.I.A.)
Representative of the Royal Bloodline: Baron Jukaga nar Ki'ra
Units involved
Confederation Task Force Kilrathi Home Fleet
Strength
Four Carriers
* TCS Wolfhound, Flagship
* TCS Concordia
* TCS Trafalgar
* TCS Gettysburg
* Seventy Escort Vessels (corvettes, destroyers, cruisers, supply ships, minesweeps, and light battle frigates)
Seven Carriers
Dozens of Escort Ships
At least nineteen Troop Transports
At least four Imperial Legions
Casualties and losses
TCS Trafalgar Destroyed
TCS Gettysburg seriously damaged requiring a year in dry dock
Seven Escort Ships Destroyed
Ninety Six Pilots KIA
Five Carriers Destroyed
Two Carriers seriously damaged requiring over a year in dry dock
Sixteen Support Ships Destroyed
Nineteen Troop Transports Destroyed
Four Imperial Legions completely annihilated (40,000 troops)
Kalralahrs Rusmak and Gar KIA




The Battle of Vukar Tag was the main fleet engagement of Operation Back Lash. The battle involved a Confederation task force of four carriers and over seventy escort vessels ambushing a large section of the Kilrathi Home Fleet in the Vukar Tag system.

Background

Confederation Situation

By the mid-2660s the Terran Confederation and Kilrathi Empire had fought each other to a virtual standstill. However, starting in 2665 the Confederation began to suffer heavy losses, particularly in carriers. 2666 proved to be particularly disastrous for the Confederation, with nine carriers destroyed and the TCS Austerlitz so heavily damaged that she would remain in dry dock until 2668. The Confederation was left with seven fleet carriers to cover the entire front. Operation Back Lash was developed in response to the Confederation's desperate situation. The Confederation needed time to bring more heavy carriers, then under construction, on-line. Military commanders had war gamed a scenario that, while very risky, could provide huge rewards.

Operation Back Lash was a straight forward plan. Admiral Banbridge stated the objective simply as:

"Gentlemen, I expect to tear the guts out of the Kilrathi Home Fleet, smash their carriers, and shatter their ground assault legions in their transports or while trapped in their landing assault craft."

The Confederation would provoke the Kilrathi Home Fleet into action by attacking Vukar Tag. A Confederation task force centered around four carriers would lay in ambush waiting for the Kilrathi carriers and Imperial Marines. Six months of planning had arrived at a distinct problem: the Confederation task force could not win against the full ten carriers of the Kilrathi Home Fleet. If three or four of the carriers could be diverted Confederation forces stood a high probability of doing significant damage to the remaining six carriers and landing forces.

Strike Force Valkyrie was an essential part of that plan. In order to split the Home Fleet, Confederation planners incorporated Strike Force Valkyrie into the overall plan. One of the newly constructed Wake-class escort carriers and two escorts were to penetrate into the Kilrah system using a recently-discovered jump line that made the trip considerably shorter and would offer the best chance to cause a dilemma for Crown Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka when the strike force exposed itself at a critical moment. By striking at the home system while the Kilrathi Home Fleet went to redeem the honor of Emperor Joor'rad nar Kiranka's mother, Dowager Empress Graknala nar Kiranka, by retaking Vukar Tag, Thrakhath would be put in an untenable position and forced to split his fleet. It would produce the events that are known as the First Battle of Kilrah. This was the key to Operation Back Lash.

Kilrathi Situation

The Kilrathi military, operating under the command of Crown Prince Thrakhath, had to respond to the dishonor caused by the Confederation invasion and continued occupation of Vukar Tag. They were fed information by a hidden burst signal facility (the Confederation had deliberately let it remain active for this very purpose) on the surface of Vukar Tag. It captured images of Confederation marines looting and then destroying the Dowager Empress' estate. The castle had special meaning for the Crown Prince who had spent some time there as a cub. The insult to the Imperial family was clear and had to be avenged. The entire Home Fleet with ten carriers and several legions of Imperial Marines would sortie to retake Vukar Tag.

The Importance of Vukar Tag

Vukar Tag was the ancestral home of the Dowager Empress Graknala. The Confederation succeeded in gaining intelligence on the planet on the third mission sent to the system. The first two attempts to obtain information on Vukar Tag had ended with a Venture-Class Corvette destroyed each time with all hands lost. The TCS Johnny Greene successfully obtained imagery of the planet through the self-sacrificing efforts of Lieutenant Commander Ramona Chekhova.

A castle structure, reminiscent of medieval castles on Earth, was located in the southern hemisphere of Vukar Tag. This was the ancestral home of the Dowager Empress. The castle was contained alabaster and sapphire and from multiple human descriptions was labeled a "fairy-tale castle." This castle was the primary objective of the Invasion of Vukar Tag. Its destruction would set in motion the main aspects of Operation Back Lash and lead to the battles of Vukar Tag and Kilrah.

Opposing Forces

Confederation Task Force

Task Force Commander: Admiral Wayne Banbridge, Flag on TCS Wolfhound


Kilrathi Home Fleet

Representative of the Royal Bloodline: Baron Jukaga nar Ki'ra
Kalralahr of Fleets: Rusmak
Kalralahr of the Imperial Legions: Gar

  • Seven Carriers
  • Escort Ships
  • Troop Transports
    • Imperial Legions

The Battle of Vukar Tag

Invasion of Vukar Tag

Two Wake-Class Escort Carriers, TCS Tarawa and TCS Sevastopol, and nine Marine Transports were deployed to capture the planet Vukar Tag. The flight wing from the Sevastopol handled space-based threats while the Tarawa provided air-to-ground support for the marines landing on the surface of the planet. Dozens of Kilrathi fighters and an orbital base were destroyed by fighters from both carriers. The First Marine Commando Battalion, with General Duke Grecko personally leading the assault, stormed the castle. After looting the structure they desecrated it and destroyed it with explosives. These images were broadcast to Kilrah by a Kilrathi listening post that Confederation forces had let live for this very purpose.

Once Kilrathi resistance had been eliminated Confederation engineers began building fortifications and all the structures necessary to transform Vukar Tag into a forward base. It was part of the ruse to entice the Home Fleet to do battle in Vukar Tag.

"To Split a Fleet is Never a Wise Tactical Maneuver"

Six days out from Kilrah, Crown Prince Thrakhath received intelligence on Strike Force Valkyrie's discovery on a path towards Kilrah. Thrakhath held a council with Baron Jukaga and Kalralahrs Rusmark and Gar over the new development. Jukaga argued for scrapping the mission to Vukar Tag altogether calling it "a boring and dusty world." However, the others argued that Imperial honor must be avenged and Thrakhath decided to split the fleet. Thrakhath would take three carriers the six days back to Kilrah, while the remaining seven carriers and the imperial legions were to the five and half days onto Vukar Tag.

Baron Jukaga commented on the decision:

"To split a fleet is never a wise tactical maneuver, especially when confronting a potential unknown. I still maintain that the assault on Vukar was intended to be more than just a mere insult to the Dowager."

Battle of Vukar Tag

The Kilrathi opened the battle by sending eight destroyers through the jump point. Six destroyers moved to Vukar Tag and began bombarding the planet. One destroyer took picket position at the original jump point the Kilrathi had come through while the other remaining destroyer moved to a picket position by the jump point Confederation forces would use to enter the system. Tolwyn noted this was the Kilrathi's "classic opening move." He noted that within six hours the Home Fleet would be arriving in system.

The Kilrathi Home Fleet began a massive bombardment of Confederation positions when it arrived in system. Once the Kilrathi had committed their first wave of troops and their fighters were committed to air-to-ground operations, Confederation forces jumped in system and launched an immediate strike at the Kilrathi fleet.

The battle resulted in an overwhelming Confederation victory. All seven of the Kilrathi carriers were either destroyed or crippled along with the complete annihilation of four Imperial Legions.

Causalities

Confederation Task Force

  • TCS Trafalgar Destroyed
  • TCS Gettysburg seriously damaged requiring a year in dry dock
  • Seven Escort Ships Destroyed
  • Ninety Six Pilots KIA

Kilrathi Home Fleet

  • Five Carriers Destroyed
  • Two Carriers seriously damaged requiring over a year in dry dock
  • Sixteen Support Ships Destroyed
  • Nineteen Troop Transports Destroyed
  • Four Imperial Legions completely annihilated (40,000 troops)
  • Kalralahrs Rusmak and Gar KIA