Good questions! Exactly the type of pressure testing that can make the end product better!
My responses below, see what you think...
Okay, I'm late to this thread and I haven't read it yet, so feel free to ignore my questions if they have been answered already.
- Why a fixed installation for the UCAV base?
Because it is intended to survive disruption to the satellite network used to control drones over greater distances and provide localised air support over the Strait in that environment and a base from which to strike Russian far east targets, Lavrentiya/Anadyr etc. I did think about basing the story around a mobile unit which was based in and around Nome, which can easily be done, but the rationale for the base is not to provide a constant source of operations, rather a covert second strike capability in case other installations in Alaska are compromised and sat links disrupted. And it’s fun to play with the idea of how to build a base under a rock, even if it does stretch the imagination.
Why put it directly on a tiny island in the middle of a narrow strait that undoubtedly, after the recession of ice allows a regular shipping route, will receive more or less intense surveillance?
As above. It isn’t intended to conduct constant air ops, just in time of need. Bit like an ICBM silo but more flexible.
Even IF the strait becomes ice-free most of the time, there will be periods where everything freezes over again, potentially forcing operational downtimes
Drone launch and recovery would not be interrupted by ice as the drones don’t take off or land on the surface of the sea. The take off through a chute emerging halfway up a cliff face and fly inside the cave mouth to land on the water inside the cave, which has been artificially enlarged. The pond inside can be kept from freezing over, but good point, would that mean there would be visible melted water at the mouth of the cave which might look strange? That might need camouflaging from surveillance.
Logistics. Assuming that you can launch and retrieve the UCAVs without being detected, how to you supply the base (undetected). The only means to keep it supplied in a covert manner would be submarines, requiring dedicated supply subs and regular runs to swap personnel. Traffic analysis will eventually blow the cover of the secret base, it's only a matter of time until enough sonar tracks will have been acquired to indicate activity around that specific location
The base does have a sub docking facility through which it can be supplied and was originally envisaged as a covert anti ship missile and sub resupply facility . But most resupply of materiel and personnel is done overtly because there is a radar facility on top of the island. It is largely automated, so the personnel stationed there are actually working below in the covert facility, not above ground, in the radar facility. But because of the radar facility people and supplies can be brought over by ship and chopper, dropped at the radar facility above, and then freighted down under the rock. Traffic analysis would just show traffic consistent with a major radar and sea surveillance facility. Sub resupply would be very limited.
Similarly the radar facility serves as cover for the local signals transmission needed for drone pilots to manually pilot the drones for their takeoffs and landings and operations in the immediate area of the Strait. Direct line of sight signals mean real time flight control is possible, whereas for normal drone operations, or operations further afield, satellite links are needed which introduces lag time making control of drone for air to air combat purposes problematic.
There is redundancy built in, in case the radar / transmision facility on top of the rock is wiped out, with an undersea transmission antenna buried in the sea floor.
You raise good questions snake! It might be better inthe end to build the story around a mobile UCAV battalion deployed/dispersed along the coast north and south of Nome. Another alternative is to drop the idea of a UCAV base and focus on unmanned combat submersible vehicles - UCSVs. A covert sub base might make more sense than a covert air base? Or hell, go with both - the mobile UCAVs on the coastline of the mainland, and the covert UCS base under the rock! Double the tech, double the fun!
PS, I’ll keep moving forward with the story as is, won’t go back re-edit, use all this good input for the manuscript when I get around to finalising it.