- This article is about an in-universe event. For the in-game mission, see The Inferno.
- "The Belkans are setting fire to their own..."
- ― Pixy
Operation Cannibal, also known as the Bombing of Hoffnung, was an Allied bombing run on the industrial city of Hoffnung in South Belka to limit the Belka's military weapons capability during 1995 in middle of the Belkan War. The operation has drawn criticism for the Allied Forces' indiscriminate use of weapons as well as Belka's scorched earth policy.
Many Belkan towns were starting to grow weary of the war, and some surrendered peacefully to the Allied Forces when they reached them.
Hoffnung, however, had not surrendered; it was vital to Belka's war effort and it was one of the cities in Belka that didn't suffer the pains of the war. The Allied Forces decided that Belka's ability to counter-attack had to be pummeled to the ground; they prepared a bombing raid on the city.
The operation took place on June 1, 1995, with B-52 Stratofortress performing the bombing and other aerial squadrons, including the infamous Galm Team, providing close support. By the time the support squadrons had arrived in the airspace, the bombing campaign had already started.
Rather than a tactical bombing run, however, the bombers' priority was placed on destruction rather than accuracy. As Patrick James Beckett noted, they were "just tossing bombs all over the place." While many key military targets were destroyed, many civilian areas of the city had caught fire.
Nonetheless, all of the pilots carried on with the operation. All anti-air units on the ground, as well as many of Hoffnung's vital military resources, were annihilated.
Near the end of the bombing raid, the following transmission was intercepted from Belkan Operations HQ: "Abandon Hoffnung. However, do not retreat until all facilities are destroyed. Leave them nothing." Belka was putting into place a scorched earth strategy to keep the Allied Forces from approaching any further. They set fire to the entire city on their way out and abandoned it.
Even though most of the city was already destroyed, the legendary Belkan Air Force showed up in stealth fighters with the intent on shooting down the bombers. However, they also brought a pair of B-2A Spirits to destroy the remainder of the city. They managed to shoot down one bomber before the Galm Team managed to support them. All of the Belkan air units were destroyed.
This was a large victory for the Allies. Without Hoffnung, Belka had very few war production facilities left; this greatly reduced their ability to counter-attack against the Allied Forces.
However, Belka's scorched earth policy prevented the Allies from actually being able to use anything in Hoffnung, save for some experimental weapons retrieved from a captured factory. This turned out to be a minor setback in the end, since the Allied Forces still had Osea's expansive military strength to utilize.
- "Hoffnung" is German for "hope". The fall of Hoffnung thus symbolizes Belka's hope becoming despair.
- The scorched earth policy used on Hoffnung is similar to the Russians' scorched earth policy in World War II. Whenever the Russians retreated, they destroyed everything the Germans could use. Later in the war, the Germans did this as well (most notably in destroying the bridges over the Rhine), but failed to do so as quick and effective as the Russians did.
- This operation is likely based on the real-life bombing of Dresden during World War II.
- Strangely, the Belkan stealth formation deployed to destroy the B-52Hs during the second part of the mission included B-2As, but in real life, destroying an aircraft using a dedicated bomber, which cannot carry air-to-air missiles and is deprived of any guns, is somewhat difficult if not impossible. Therefore, they were likely deployed to perform the same task as the retreating ground troops: destroy the remainder of the city and leave nothing for the Allied Forces.