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Drop Tanks: do they ever drop?

 
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Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/26/2019 7:24:44 PM   
c3k

 

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I'm running the (very basic, but very helpful) air tutorials. They're based around some Israeli F16s and F15s patrolling, refueling, then running intercepts on various targets.

I have yet to see my aircraft drop their external tanks. They have 'em...and they see enemy aircraft, but they don't drop the tanks when they run to intercept.

Is there a way to force this? (If they're not under attack, is the "Jettison Ordnance" doctrine setting appropriate?)

I'd like to drop the tanks, but not any ordnance. Eg, sprint them out at min-drag, engage offensively, then RTB.

Thanks,
Ken
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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/26/2019 8:23:24 PM   
Cik

 

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they drop them if set to and only when defensive IIRC. they will not drop them when engaged offensive.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/26/2019 10:11:42 PM   
Primarchx


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As stated, there's no manual way to do it. They drop if the doctrine is set and the ac is shot at.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/26/2019 10:21:11 PM   
HalfLifeExpert


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What about if they run empty?

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/26/2019 11:18:17 PM   
Tailhook

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: HalfLifeExpert

What about if they run empty?

This isn’t really standard procedure, at least in the US military. There’s only a finite number. You either punch them off because you need to (emergency/max defensive performance) or bring them back.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 12:00:41 AM   
c3k

 

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"Tailhook": assume the name refers to a Navy pilot?

Understood that there may be limited stores of drop tanks on a carrier, but is that how USAF operates?

Other nations' forces?

Peacetime, sure, hold onto the tanks (expense and dropped object issues). Wartime, would the doctrine hold? Even if in a max-speed sprint to nail an inbound target before it gets in range of some protected zone?

When did the "don't drop" start? (In WWII, it was standard to drop the tanks as soon as they were empty if aircraft were on a mission...as I understand it.)

Empty tank: a lot more drag; more weight; more RCS.

Thanks.

Ken

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 12:08:08 AM   
DWReese

 

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c3k,

I'm sure that you know this, but.....many F-15I and F-16I aircraft have conformal exterior tanks. These are treated like extra tanks, but are never dropped. Please make sure that that isn't the case in your situation.

Doug

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 12:29:13 AM   
SeaQueen


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quote:


Understood that there may be limited stores of drop tanks on a carrier, but is that how USAF operates?


I have a photograph in a book of mine of a C-5 Galaxy unloading brand new drop tanks at an airbase in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Apparently the USAF went through them quite quickly. Drop tanks are relatively cheap compared to weapons, and they're intended to be expendable, but still, dropping stuff at near supersonic speeds is generally a bad idea. When you jettison the tanks, they don't just evaporate. They land on something. Unlike over the ocean, over populated areas jettisoning the tanks is not a "risk free" thing to do. They might land on houses, businesses, roads, etc. and possibly damage property and harm people unintentionally.

The "don't automatically drop" doctrine apparently held in the Balkans, Gulf War and Syria.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 2/27/2019 12:31:28 AM >

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 2:58:46 AM   
AKar

 

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In peace time, they are only dropped by mistake (has happened! ).

Noteworthy is that in today's conflicts, scenarios have been very asymmetric from air power's point-of-view. Situations that would make it necessary to drop the tanks won't come by that often in missions such as, say, routine CAP or on-call CAS. When getting into combat, dropping them can introduce more harm than what the very little performance gain gives. Even air combat maneuvering can be done with modest loads including drop tanks and that's how it is practiced during peace time as well. An empty drop tank weighs very little, though it does carru some noticeable aerodynamic penalty.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 5:07:06 AM   
RoryAndersonWS


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Drop tanks also contribute significantly to RCS.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 12:00:01 PM   
c3k

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese

c3k,

I'm sure that you know this, but.....many F-15I and F-16I aircraft have conformal exterior tanks. These are treated like extra tanks, but are never dropped. Please make sure that that isn't the case in your situation.

Doug


Double-checked. The in-game loadouts all specify various _drop_ tanks for all F15s and F16s (In addition, yes, the F16s have the conformal tanks, as well.)

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 12:12:52 PM   
SeaQueen


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Yeah.. but on a non stealthy platform, there's probably other factors which would drive an engagement's outcome. I've noticed one of the predispositions of this forum is towards sneaky forms of warfare. For some reason people really like thinking about that here. Different platforms fight differently. Some might rely on speed and agility, others on their firepower and ECM. Each platform has a different "style," and it drives its tactics. Different nations settle different ways to satisfy their military requirements. Furthermore not all conflicts are the same, maybe on a stealthy platform, adding drop tanks is not so much of an addition that it's a problem given the threat they're facing. If you're flying F-22s and you're up against MiG-21s and SA-2s, then the benefit of holding on the drop tanks probably outweighs the penalty.

Playing this game at its most interesting is very often less about picking single the "correct" solution and more about finding a good compromise. There's often more than one answer, and reasonable people can disagree on what that is. Ultimately, the only thing we can say is, "I tried XXX and it worked," or maybe it didn't. The more exposure I have to real world tactics, though, the less I think about it in formulaic terms, "In situation XXX we always do YYY." It's really more about providing a flexible tool box with which one can attempt to solve problems. In a given situation, maybe fuel capacity is more important than RCS and agility. Players should have the opportunity to make that judgement, because that's the kind of judgement real life officers make.

quote:

ORIGINAL: RoryAndersonWS

Drop tanks also contribute significantly to RCS.


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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 1:00:50 PM   
c3k

 

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I'll try to post Drag Index numbers, but the drag from a drop tank is significant. Curious why it would be retained, in wartime, during air-to-air engagements. Or, at least not having the option to drop them.

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by c3k -- 2/27/2019 1:03:06 PM >

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 1:03:49 PM   
c3k

 

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...and another (From a Rand study, found on: http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14939



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by c3k -- 2/27/2019 1:04:20 PM >

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 2:55:39 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Would not be surprised if logistics played a part in setting the general policy for an AO. If you have a long tail and relying on air transport, keeping your drop tanks for another mission might become more important. CMANO doesn't track drop tanks as ordnance the same way it does for weapons or pods so the logistics end of this discussion is hard to measure.

B

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 4:52:31 PM   
ARCNA442

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gunner98

Would not be surprised if logistics played a part in setting the general policy for an AO. If you have a long tail and relying on air transport, keeping your drop tanks for another mission might become more important. CMANO doesn't track drop tanks as ordnance the same way it does for weapons or pods so the logistics end of this discussion is hard to measure.

B



Thanks for pointing out that CMANO doesn't track drop tank usage. I never thought to test it and had been including extra drop tanks in the magazines when building scenarios.

I do sort of wish there was a "logistics mode" where the game did track the little stuff. Endless sonobouys in particular seems like it leads to unrealistic tactics.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 5:34:35 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: c3k
I'll try to post Drag Index numbers, but the drag from a drop tank is significant. Curious why it would be retained, in wartime, during air-to-air engagements. Or, at least not having the option to drop them.


You'd always have the option of dumping them. Whether you'd exercise that option automatically is the question. If the range is a stretch or the planned VUL time very long then dumping them might make it a challenge to get back home. If I hugely overmatch my opponent in the air to air domain, for example, in a situation where I can easily range my enemy, then maybe I'm less worried about about the drag penalty because I can shoot them down from so far away that it doesn't matter.

One of the quirks of Command is that because of the way the AI works, it's almost a given that eventually the aircraft in combat will merge. That isn't necessarily the case, though. A faster aircraft or an aircraft with a longer ranged missile can control the rate at which to aircraft merge so that WVR engagements are rare. Then it's about range or staying on station, and ammunition supply so you don't Winchester out quickly.



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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 7:46:32 PM   
Cik

 

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it's very plane dependent. sometimes dropping tanks will be the key to controlling range (as you gain a significant amount of max speed due to much-decreased drag) if you need the fuel in the tanks to get home, then you're stuck with them.

whether jettisoning is a good decision is hugely situational and depends greatly on your opponent, your plane, their plane, their allies, your allies, your mission etc. though it's important to note that they are made to be jettisonable for a reason, and at some junctures jettison is key to continued survival, it will not always be.

the tanks aren't infinite, but probably more replaceable than the pilot & aircraft.

personally I err on the side of "if you see the smoke trail, and it's motionless in front of you, and you think you will need the Gs, you get rid of them without a second thought." but I don't know how the various world air forces feel about the topic. it probably varies.

< Message edited by Cik -- 2/27/2019 7:49:21 PM >

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 9:33:23 PM   
Zanthra

 

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I would like to see a generic "jettison ordinance" option in the game. Several times I have had cases while using tankers where my planes end up RTB with heavy ordinance onboard and not enough range, and the best solution is to disable fuel state and send them to the nearest target to drop a load of bombs (or jsut Bearing Only lauch stuff if it's capable of that) to reduce the weight. That's not an option for air to air missiles though. I would like to at minimum have the ability to order an aircraft to drop all weight, and ideally specific loadout items. This would include Drop Tanks. This would solve both this need and others.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/27/2019 9:51:15 PM   
Cik

 

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i have seen aircraft jettison for range if they are incapable of making it home before. it is a feature, it's just not manual.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/28/2019 1:18:01 AM   
Zanthra

 

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Yeah, I think if they are on a strike mission with doctrine option set to jetisson ordinance. I should experiment with it to see if I can add units to a strike mission in order to get them to immediately jetisson all ordinance. That does not help with manually droping fuel tanks however.

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/28/2019 3:05:42 AM   
Tailhook

 

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Yes I am speaking from a navy perspective.

Again, most situations don’t call for you to punch them off. There certainly are situations, be it an in flight emergency, a max performance situation, or some weird sneaky RCS situation where they most certainly can be punched off. But 99% of flights you’re not at max range, not in a max performance break, and honestly not worried about your RCS to the point of nitpicking ordnance (unless you’re fifth gen).

Vietnam certainly counts as extreme situations because you had tactical bombers getting ambushed and punching everything off. Very different than a CAP over Syria, Afghanistan, or what have you.

So no, you bring them home, unless you had to dump them. You don’t do it for the sake of doing it because that’s more paperwork.

< Message edited by Tailhook -- 2/28/2019 3:06:41 AM >

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RE: Drop Tanks: do they ever drop? - 2/28/2019 4:25:04 AM   
Zanthra

 

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One thought I just had. In CMANO, planes don't burn less fuel as the amount of fuel they have decreases. This has an impact on the drop tanks even as they exist now. If the impact of the drop tanks on flight range is based on their weight when full, they are not as effective as they should be. If it's based on their impact when empty, then they are more effective than they should be.

On the other hand if they are averaging the impact of flying with the drop tanks over the entire flight, they could have an impact that ends up somewhere in-between (although it can't be perfect with mid air refueling and various weights of other loadout items). If so, being able to drop the fuel tank mid flight would mess with that average, and nescessitate a more complex fuel weight calculation for consumption.

PS (more tests I should have done before I posted): I did a quick test with the editor, reducing the drop tank quantity under weapons had no effect whatsoever on fuel burn rate (although it does reduce max fuel and reduces current fuel to max fuel if greater). On the other hand when defending against a missile, the absolute onboard fuel quantity affects the weight fraction, and thus the agility. Without any changes to the game engine, jettisoning drop tanks will only have an impact if it reduces your maximum fuel below your current fuel.

TLDR, drop tanks have no weight, no drag, free fuel, but if you end up if a dogfight with more fuel due to them, you take an agility penalty. I don't know about RCS changes, but the drop tank database entry is pretty empty, so it's quite possible they have no impact there either.

< Message edited by Zanthra -- 2/28/2019 5:01:37 AM >

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