From: Western Australia
I have a series of question for all of you COMMANDER.
1) I'm flying a plane of an helicopter equip with an average surface radar. I'm trying to 'spot' a convoy of modern frigate equip with radar and some SAM on the sea.
What's the best way to find them without being shot on sight?
Do i have to fly very high and maybe hope to 'see something' or to get some emissions from their radar?
Or do I have to stay at the lowest altitude possible and trying to approach them ? (I'm not even sure there is any 'terrain masking' on the sea at all)
This should be modeled in Command, but I have not checked - for starters the sea has direct terrain masking when you are over the horizon - the lower you are, the closer you can get while still being over the horizon.
2) Speed. When i want my aircraft to be stealth as possible. What's the recommend throttle? does it change anything?
spend as little time as possible in the danger area. fly low to take advantage of direct terrain masking. I dont know if indirect terrain masking is featured in Command. The speed of your craft is insignificant compared to the speed of light which is what RF propagates at, so usually speed is irrelevant. however, against doppler radars if you can match relative approach speed to the radar with a notch speed, the radar will not pick you up. 0 (so neither approaching or departing the radar set) is always a notch, but other notches exist for doppler radars, depending on the radar set. These speeds are pretty heavily classified, so I dont think command features any of them except 0.
3) If my group of airplanes may encounter some fighters on the way. Does flying 'high' provide any advantage? (minus the possible terrain masking ofc). What about the speed ? Should I try to enter the fight very fast?
well, missile range and kinematics IRL depends on a lot of factors. a missile's starting speed is dependent on the plane it is launched from - obviously, the missile starts at whatever speed the plane is doing. likewise, its initial altitude is that of the plane.
the missile has to burn its motor to accelerate - if it starts out faster, it gets to a higher top speed when its motor runs out of propellant. similarly, if it starts out above its target, then it will be traveling 'downhill' while its target's missile will be traveling uphill the whole way.
in short, if two missiles are fired, one at higher altitude than the other, and one at higher speed than the other, the one at higher altitude and speed will travel much further. Even if it does not need the extra range, when they both get to their target, one will have more kinetic energy and will be better able to intercept its target.
additionally, at high altitudes (above around 35,000ft) the missile has less drag on it, and less atmospheric pressure on it (which affects plume size). A missile which might be able to be launched from a 500 knot aircraft at a head on 500 knot aircraft at 10,000 ft from 12 miles to get a hit might be able to be launched from 30 miles or 40 miles at 40,000 ft.
that said, I am not familiar with how Command handles energy states for aircraft and missiles, so I am unsure as to whether the advantage of having more kinetic energy, more potential energy, less drag and more thrust is actually modeled.
realistically speaking, for a BVR (Beyond Visual Range) engagement, you want your fighters to enter the engagement very fast, very high, to launch their missiles, and then turn off at an angle while still illuminating their targets (this is called 'cranking', and is an attempt to lessen the approach rate of your aircraft to their missile), and then when their missiles have acquired the targets, to turn nose cold (away from the fight) and try to defeat the enemy missiles either by outrunning them (preferred, possible if you have a 'range' advantage), or by defending against the missile kinematically (dodging it - not preferred).
if it is your intent to have your fighters engage Within Visual Range (WVR), they need to approach the fight as fast as possible, at the same altitude as the enemy preferably, and to slow down to their best rate of turn speed before they start to turn with the enemy in a 'dogfight'. Be aware that this will 'anchor' the aircraft in place until either the enemy or your forces are defeated, as turning and running from such a fight will likely result in a missile up the tailpipe.
4) By default the AAW patrol set the radar 'on'. Do i have to unset it ? does it offer any advantage to let the radar of my plane 'on' considering I could already cover the zone from a boat or a radar station.
well, if the ship radar is as reliable as the aircraft radar, one tactic you could try is launching an Active Radar Homing missile (ARH) at the enemy aircraft which has not detected you, with the aircraft radar shut down. The missile should be able to acquire the enemy and attack with the enemy hopefully still unaware of your presence.
Generally speaking, aircraft radar sets can pin down the location of targets much more precisely, due to their being closer, and often due to their relatively high frequency. Realistically speaking (and I think this is the way it works in command), a radar set can only detect presence of targets within a Radar Resolution Cell. This is based on the angular resolution of the radar - at range, 4 very close aircraft could show as a singe target, as they only occupy a single cell, whereas when the get closer, the size of the cell is smaller and thus they are detected as multiple targets.
for the long range radars, pinning down a precise location well enough to detect a threat aircraft and also track it for weapons launch could be difficult to implausible. Worth a try in command though!
(I think, if the combat happen over the sea and I'am without jammer to cover my track.
I'm almost certain my enemy units will spot my planes anyway.
I believe I'm not stealth enough anyway to spot them before they can spot me.
Should I still try to setup my radar off? (like to reduce my electronic signature))
well, leaving your radar off will help at range. Due to fighter RWRs and dedicated ELINT aircraft, you can be detected by your radar emissions. as you likely know, your radar emissions can be detected at ranges greater than you can detect, due to a round trip being required for detection. If you leave your radar on, you can be picked up by ELINT measures, but you will also detect threat aircraft when they come closer to you.
My personal preference is for fighter aircraft to ALWAYS use their radars for CAPs, and to switch them off for missions where I cannot rick detection, such as NOE strike missions.
5) Using a Jammer and a radar on the same unit ? (like on a Russian missile frigate). Can both be 'on' at the same time without problem?
Will it help at all the enemy to 'pinpoint' me with some SEAD missiles?
well. This I am less sure about how it works in command. Any OECM set should be on but not active until it detects a threat emission, at which point it should attack that emission. HARMs are capable of homing on your radar set, and will not be susceptible to radar jamming as they do not make emissions of their own.
Additionally, some missiles are capable of homing on jammers as well.
6) I'm under heavy missiles fire (ouch). Should I try to activate the radar to help any counter measure or to 'see' better the incoming attack? (to help evasion)
any time you make an active emission of any kind (sound, radar, etc), you are improving your chances of being detected.
if you have a missile countermeasure system which are you hobbling to try to prevent detection, you are improving your chances of being hit.
I guess its your call, but if you have missiles inbound, it seems real obvious to me that you have been detected, and that survival is a bigger priority than avoiding detection (usually).
7) Sonar usage with a submarine. When do you really use that sonar? Can you just 'probe' for a few seconds just to check is anything is around or it's too risky ?
well, this depends again. I think navwarcol offered a good answer to this one! Still, I also think my comment above about priorities still stands. you are trading off a chance of detection (and if someone is listening, a good chance) vs a chance at detecting a threat.
8) Frigate and sonar. I imagine a frigate is not a stealth as a submarine. considering some air unit could spot my frigate from far and send the coordinate to a enemy sub. ( I imagine my location is somehow known by them from now) Should I try to probe actively for a submarine with my sonar ?
again, if your location is already known, what are you losing? do they know you are there, but are still searching for your precise location? do they already have GPS bombs inbound on your location? detection and acquisition are two different things : ) Id say its best to think about what you stand to gain and lose with each action.
I know it's a bunch of questions :p but i would greatly help me with my strategy in general !
How do you think about all those problems yourself ? Do you check the possible loadout of the enemy units to make those decision ? (when you can)
Thanks for your help (and bravo for this great game :)
I hope this helps your strategy then! RE loadouts, whenever I have time I like to know as much as possible about enemy capabilities, down to loadouts, performance, sensors, etc...
To go up, pull back on the stick.
To go down, pull back harder...
Speed is life. Altitude is life insurance.