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[NON-ISSUE] Radar cone / Fighter radar

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[NON-ISSUE] Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 9:42:16 AM   


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i think the radar cone of fighter aircraft is too narrow. It should be increased to 60 degree or more.

With one radar sweep real fighters cover much more than what is modelled in the simulation.

It would also help to prevent that missiles become blind.

As far as i know the real F-14 was able to attack 6 targets within a very wide area compared to the limited area in the simulation.


< Message edited by emsoy -- 5/7/2014 6:38:12 AM >
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 9:55:05 AM   

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The game models the search and engagement arcs separately for each sensor.

For example for the F-14A Tomcat


Command Developer, Warfare Sims.

(in reply to Dragunov)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 1:02:13 PM   


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Thanks your for your answer.

I think arc search controls the missile because everytime i start a Phoenix and the Tomcat changes the course the missle goes blind. If arc engage would be used it would not occur.

I still think that the radars of fighter aircraft should get a wider radar arc because the radar antenna of real fighters sweep. I just found the information that the AWG-9 covers an arc of 170 degree.

For example the radar of the E-2 covers 360° with a continuous sweep whereas the AWG-9 covers 170° and then changes direction.

(in reply to RoryAndersonWS)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 1:28:07 PM   


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Thank you for your feedback Dragunov, it is much appreciated

A full 8-bar 130-deg (not 170) arc on the AN/AWG-9 takes almost half a minute, and the AIM-54 needs SARH guidance update every 2 seconds. So it is limited to 4-bar/20deg or 2-bar/40deg arcs. The AN/APG-71 improved this a little with smarter scan sectors, but targets still needed to be painted every 2 seconds. Hence the arcs in Command.

So what needs to be adjusted is the way fighters pursue their targets, possibly by using direct pursuit instead of lead pursuit when guiding weapons. This would only be a temporary fix, though.

Further into the future we'll improve the AI by allowing the fighters to tilt their 40-deg scan arcs sideways up to the 65 deg max after weapon launch, and in some cases even climb to lose speed, so that they reduce their closure rate by more than half. That will allow them to fire more weapons before a merge & dogfight occurs.

But first we (the devs) need to get a little rest & recreation, and fill up our energy reserves.

Thanks again!

< Message edited by emsoy -- 4/4/2014 2:34:02 PM >


Developer "Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations" project!

(in reply to Dragunov)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 2:01:28 PM   


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ORIGINAL: Dragunov

As far as i know the real F-14 was able to attack 6 targets within a very wide area compared to the limited area in the simulation.

Regarding that... You need to read Kurt Plummer's post on the real capabilities of the AN/AWG-9 & AIM-54. You'll see that the capabilities in the sim are actually quite optimistic.

Dimitris, you still have the links to his Usenet posts?

< Message edited by Sunburn -- 4/4/2014 3:05:22 PM >


Developer "Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations" project!

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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 2:04:10 PM   

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Which brings me to the AIM-54. Called the Phoenix but known as the Buffalo,
despite a 'Mach 4 class' (Mach 3.8, AIM-54A Rocketdyne Mk.47 motor) and even
'Mach 5 class' (Mach 4.5, AIM-54C, Aerojet Mk.60 motor) what you have in
this weapon is a 'trainwreck' (or a thundering herd of buffalo, driven off a
cliff) mechanic in which a very slow start and midcourse also employs
terminal dive attacks that (though greatly complicating endgame intercept
geometry for the missile) reenergize it's final approach.

As an example of how bad this 'getting there' deficit can be- In April 1973,
a single Tomcat, flying a standard loiter at about Mach .67 and 25,000ft
(i.e. a preplaced FORCAP orbit), with one AIM-54 Phoenix aboard (minimum
weight and drag) was turned to intercept a BQM-34E which was _itself_
closing at Mach 1.5 and 50,000ft. Starting from initial detection at 132nm,
the F-14 flew an additional 20nm (1 minute) to achieve firing parameters of
Mach 1.5 and 44,000ft. The missile then flew for 2.62 minutes or 157
seconds. To achieve a downrange intercept at a mere 72.5nm. DURING THIS
TIME, average /missile/ velocity, including the parent boost and a specially
tailored (engineers spent all night tweaking the analogue autopilot gains,
something which would never happen in the fleet) profile of 103,500ft
altitude (as near zero-drag vacuum as you can get) was no more than 1,656
knots. Or roughly Mach 2.93.

What happens if, the target turns away? If the target is going slower? If
the target performs a beaming or 'notch' maneuver? If the target postholes
down into the clutter where the Hi-PRF looses it in the clutter? The missile
misses that's what.

In another 'miracle mile' event, an F-14, firing at a BQM-34A with an
initial setup of 10,000ft and Mach .72 vs 50ft and Mach .75 at 22nm
separation showed the weapon intercepted at around 16nm in 54 seconds.
DESPITE being a SARH-PDSTT all the way (no firing lag to account for time
share TWS on multiple missiles) in nominally 'snap down' assisted conditions
for acceleration, where there was no time spent climbing to the loft.
DESPITE the fact that the missile was indeed /powered throughout the
flight/. Average Missile Mach was only 1.88.

In the 'so impressive' 6v.6 engagement, the aircraft _could not_ achieve
'maximum kinetic assist' because, with six Phoenix aboard, it didn't have
the gusto to do more than about Mach 1.2 and could not achieve even this _in
the time available_ to initiate TWS tracking on 'fighter sized' (3-5m
augmented drones) targets. And the crew were pressed so hard already (in
retaining adequate radar scan volume overlay) that, instead of a wall or
conventional shelf, the UT-33 and BQM-34 were arranged in an 'extended card'
type formation with azimuth spacings on the order of 5nm in frontage (three
sets of two for 15nm) and with upwards of 35nm in trail (83 vs. 110nm) yet
only 5,000ft of altitude separation. What this allowed the F-14 to do was
generate a maximum X minimum scan of 120` X 2 bars in a giant pie-slice
sectoring of sky that kept everybody visible with missiles in the air and
with no AWS-27 (E-2) uplink.

Even so, at the outset of engagement, a completely bogus 'orchestration' of
formation behaviors had to occur so that none of the targets drifted out of
the scan volume or steamed right through it so that the initial drones flew
at Mach .6 and the trailing aircraft at Mach .8 while the last was a
'sprinter' coming in at about Mach 1.2 to play catchup. The F-14 initiated
firing at a mere 31nm and continued to do so over a steady-flight period of
38 seconds, opening up on the closest targets /last/ (exposing itself to
their weapons systems) to ensure that 'all missiles impacted within a few
seconds of each other' for a virtual simultaneous seeming engagement. As a
part of this exercise in idiocy, it 'maxxed the dot' (ASE starboard) so that
it could bias it's TWS volume into the target lane while setting the
geometry physically to engage the final AQM-37 (sprint) target coming up the
far right side of the engagement.

/Conveniently/, not only did the drones all arrive at co-pole distance with
the missiles due to their careful range distribution, but they actually
/curved inwards/ to follow the Tomcat (like a drunk crossing lanes into
oncoming traffic) so as to better stay in-volume.

'And So', over a total period of 3.92 minutes (235 seconds, 33 miles at Mach
.9, 55 miles at Mach 1.5, a /veritable eternity/ in fighter vs. fighter ops)
the Tomcat killed all but the furthest-out (lefthand biased) 2 targets,
thereby proving that multi-on-multi _did not_ work. Because even with all
this grooming of the engagement variables, the AWG could not keep everybody
under track long enough to get a missile out to each of them, dumping one
target completely before the AIM-54 could hand off. While the other drone
had its FQ augmentation now so far out of field that the AIM-54 itself could
not maintain the target track at the severe crossing angle.

Keep in mind that NONE of these were 'valid kills' because despite the
nominally /enormous/ LAR or 'Launch Acceptability Region' of the Phoenix
itself, the combination of scan lag and limited PRF ability to handle
various low closure/high crossing angle targets through the Hi/Lo interleave
ensured that TWS was unavailable until a point (roughly 50nm) at which the
structured missile flyout sequencing necessary to get all six targets
challenged the assumption of killing before being killed. And so, regardless
of supposed simultaneity, the entire raid behavior was suspect, not only for
being designed to bring the targets into the Phoenix envelope ONLY as the
weapons came to bear. But rather for what it did NOT require the Tomcat crew
to do so as to avoid threat bypass or direct engagement of the F-14 itself.

This is something which no halfway competent (threat) fighter pilot would
'step into' as he:

1. Doubled the altitude separation so as to force the F-14 RIO to compress
his azimuth scan field to deepen the bar search.
2. Transited the combat area at a MINIMUM 550 knots or Mach .95 to compress
the flyout vs. SARH timeshare problem even more.
3. Maximized his formation frontage densities to make sure the Tomcat had to
open fire at closer to maximum (TWS interleave) of 50-60nm to have a hope of
killing all targets in a very tight separation of missile guidance updates.
For which sudden, drastic, formation changes would leave little or no
ability to adjust final missile update steering into handoff conditions.

All of which leads to the generalized sarcasm of "Ignoring the Phoenix
shots..." among those AF pilots in particular who sparred with the USN
Tomcat community off Rota Spain during the late 70's and early 80's when the
AIM-54/AWG-9 was at the height of its 'mystical' powers (achievement is the
inverse of expectation, the Pentagon Paradox).

Indeed, the saddest element of this story is that no Tomcat has ever flown a
Fleet Defense Bravo loadout of six missiles in active (cruise) service. They
cannot safely recover or (single engine ROC) launch with that much weight.
And further they cannot themselves maintain adequate smash to aggressively
maneuver at altitude to set the geometry vs. fighter targets without going
supersonic which both eats fuel and instantly compresses the fight. Indeed,
most of the squadrons did even not deploy (before 1988 anyway) with the
outboard horn rails because they were draggy as hell and a pain to
mount/dismount in trade for the more common Sparrow or even Sidewinder (6X2
or 4X4) alternate loadouts. Lastly, the USN only produced about 5,000
AIM-54s and of those, only about half were the AIM-54C+ 'ECCM/Sealed'
(either as new or by conversion) which had the seeker, warhead fuzing and
autopilot upgrades to be any good against more than the dumbest threats. The
/total/ number is only sufficient to allow every Tomcat a Fleet Defense
Alpha loadout of 4 missiles. One time. And the actual magazine count during
cruise was never more than a fraction of even this (back when there were
actually two squadrons of 12 Tomcats on every deck).


(in reply to ComDev)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 2:08:53 PM   

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The AWG-9 was severely limited on the width at which it could support multiple SARH mid-course updates to the enroute AIM-54s because of its mechanical-scan nature.

The later Zaslon (MiG-31), being a phased-array radar, can provide updates to all in-flight R-33s instantaneously across the full scan width. It can therefore engage multiple targets at significantly larger angular separation.


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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 2:12:26 PM   


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Thank you

< Message edited by emsoy -- 4/4/2014 3:13:24 PM >


Developer "Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations" project!

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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 5:38:55 PM   


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Thank you for your answers.


Further into the future we'll improve the AI by allowing the fighters to tilt their 40-deg scan arcs sideways up to the 65 deg max after weapon launch, and in some cases even climb to lose speed, so that they reduce their closure rate by more than half. That will allow them to fire more weapons before a merge & dogfight occurs.

That would be great.

I always thought that the F-14 with the Phoenix is nearly unbeatable. At least i wanted to believe that. What would have been the result if a battle between one (or several) USN CVBG vs a Soviet fleet including Oscar subs and Backfires occured in the late 70s or early 80s? If the Tomcat/Phoenix weaponsystem was so bad, how would the USN have been able to protect the carriers?



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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 5:48:09 PM   


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ORIGINAL: Dragunov

What would have been the result if a battle between one (or several) USN CVBG vs a Soviet fleet including Oscar subs and Backfires occured in the late 70s or early 80s?

If only we had some way to simulate this...

Sorry for the snark, I couldn't control myself. I think someone just created a set of scenarios trying to answer this very question. Check the scenarios section.

Edit: Here is what I was thinking about. If this isn't what you are thinking, feel free to make your own scenario.


< Message edited by Yokes -- 4/4/2014 6:51:41 PM >

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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/4/2014 8:51:25 PM   


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ORIGINAL: Dragunov
If the Tomcat/Phoenix weaponsystem was so bad, how would the USN have been able to protect the carriers?



By giving an increasing slice of the air defense mission over to missile-armed ships.

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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/5/2014 9:22:44 AM   

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AEGIS was perceived need.


"To meaningless French Idealism, Liberty, Fraternity and Equality...we answer with German Realism, Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery" -Prince von Bülov, 1870-

(in reply to Apocal)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/5/2014 11:49:32 AM   


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ORIGINAL: Dragunov

Thank you for your answers.


Further into the future we'll improve the AI by allowing the fighters to tilt their 40-deg scan arcs sideways up to the 65 deg max after weapon launch, and in some cases even climb to lose speed, so that they reduce their closure rate by more than half. That will allow them to fire more weapons before a merge & dogfight occurs.

That would be great.

I always thought that the F-14 with the Phoenix is nearly unbeatable. At least i wanted to believe that. What would have been the result if a battle between one (or several) USN CVBG vs a Soviet fleet including Oscar subs and Backfires occured in the late 70s or early 80s? If the Tomcat/Phoenix weaponsystem was so bad, how would the USN have been able to protect the carriers?



The Tu-22M-2, SS-N-3/12/19, etc, had a lot of shortcomings as well. So guess in a way they balanced each other out hehe.

The Northern Fleet didn't receive any Backfires until the very late 1980s, ca 15 years after the first Tu-22Ms had entered service. The Tu-22M-2 was less than satisfactory, and the Tu-22M-3 fixed a lot of problems with the initial production version. Only about 210 Tu-22M-2s were built, compared to 270 of the improved M-3.

< Message edited by emsoy -- 4/5/2014 12:53:00 PM >


Developer "Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations" project!

(in reply to Dragunov)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/5/2014 1:39:09 PM   


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For me, the interesting thing about the F-14A and AIM-54A was it's use in the Iranian air force.

There's more than a few claimed kills with this combination vs. fighter sized opponents.
1976-1981 kills

1982 and later kills


On 16th September 1980, Iranian F-14s were vectored against a fast-moving contact, approaching Khark oil terminals at Mach 3. The MiG-25 was shot down by an AIM-54. This was the first confirmed kill by F-14 against MiG-25s.

On the same day, another MiG-25RB was shot down in extremely hard conditions. The MiG-25 was approaching fast and was already within 113 km, yet the F-14 RIO was unable to acquire the target. A positive lock-on was made at a distance of only 70 km, almost inside the minimum range for this type of look-up shot against a high-speed target. A single AIM-54 was launched in snap-up engagement mode at 64 km. The missile worked perfectly and the MiG was downed.

On 2nd December 1980 one of the closest range shoot=downs by AIM-54 occurred. Captain F. Dehghan of the 8th TFS was flying on patrol covering Khark Island oil teminals, when a number of approaching bogies were detected. Lock-on was attained only from a distance of 10 miles, too close to the minimum range of the missile. The F-14 had to use the Phoenix, though, as otherwise the plane would have been too heavy for dogfighting. The Phoenix was launched in short-range active mode and it managed to hit a MiG-21.

At 20th November 1982, two Iraqi generals boarded an Mi-8 helicopter to visit the front lines. The Mi-8 was escorted by two other Mi-8s, an Mi-25, four MiG-21s and four MiG-23s, that were replaced by additional fighters when they ran low on fuel. The formation was spotted by two Iranian Tomcats escorting an IRIAF KC-707 tanker, which was waiting for an Iranian F-4 strike to refuel. The F-14s were flying a race-track pattern, scanning over the front line with their AWG-9 radar. Captain Khosrodad spotted a large number of targets approaching slowly from the west, already within AIM-54 range. Khosrodad ordered his wingman to keep with the tanker and attacked, first firing two AIM-54s, then two AIM-7E-4s some 10 seconds later. According to Iraqi reports, one MiG-21 and two MiG-23s were shot down within a minute, forcing the Iraqi generals to abandon their mission.

On 20th February 1987, an IRIAF F-4 lured an Iraqi strike force into a trap, which was ambushed by two F-14s of the 81st TFS. An AIM-54 was launched at very long range, hitting the lead Mirage flown by IrAF Brig. General Hekmat Abdul-Qadr. The Iranian listening posts recorded the leader of the accompanying Su-22 flight scream "F-Arba-Ashara! Yalla! Yalla!" with the seven remaining fighters turning and fleeing. In English the leader had called "F-14! Run! Run!"

During late 1987, the Soviet Union supplied Iraq with MiG-25BM "Wild Weasel" aircraft. The planes tested the ECM systems against Iranian Tomcats and attacked Iranian targets with new anti-radar weapons. The MiG-25BMs proved they could operate with impunity at up to 69,000 ft, until on the night of 11th November a MiG-25BM was intercepted by an F-14. The Tomcat fired a single AIM-54 in Home-On-Jam mode. The missile guided flawlessly but failed to detonate. Yet, the missile clipped the MiG-25's fin and forced the pilot to bail out.

Although it may not be the most uber simultaneous killbot system ever invented, in an actual wartime scenario it seems to have been more than capable in other cases with the origional and non upgraded variant.

< Message edited by AlmightyTallest -- 4/5/2014 3:10:21 PM >

(in reply to ComDev)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/5/2014 1:59:43 PM   


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Just ran that data through excel. 77 Kills total for AIM-54A

5 TU-22B
3 Super Etendards
5 SU-22/20
2 SA-321G (helo)
13 Mirage F.1EQ
2 Mig-27
11 Mig-25
15 Mig-23
13 Mig-21
1 B-60
1 C-601
6 or so others.

No data on total shots and no data on what the targets were doing (manuevering, intercepting, high speed recon, etc).

< Message edited by mikmyk -- 4/5/2014 3:00:19 PM >


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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/5/2014 2:12:26 PM   


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Yea, that's the interesting part, I'd like to know what the enemy aircraft were doing.

Did early export Soviet era RWR not work so well? Perhaps they didn't know they were locked up by the AWG-9, and only knew when the AIM-54A went active??

Who knows, but it's a rather interesting record using the first version of the Aircraft+missile combo in an operational evironment against real piloted aircraft, many of which aren't the large bomber sized ones this missile was supposed to destroy.

Found a few first hand accounts, it seems the Iranians didn't really have more than 200 AIM-54's and most engagements seem to only fire one AIM-54, since I'm guessing it was a pretty important asset to not squander given their situation.

Edit: Had to dust off my membership at ACIG to find some more info, very interesting stuff regarding the Iranian AWG-9's and AIM-54A


According to my calculation, it includes a total of 54 firings of AIM-54s (that's roughly 70% of the total number we know was fired in combat). Accordingly, the current break-down of the results is as follows.

- total number of missiles fired: 52
- known to have missed/malfunctioned etc.: 2
- possible/unconfirmed kills: 8

Type and number of targets destroyed:
- MiG-21: 5
- MiG-23: 12
- MiG-25: 9
- MiG-27: 2
- Su-20/22: 4
- Mirage F.1EQ: 5
- Tu-22: 4
- H-6D: 1
- SA.321GV: 1
- unknown: 3
total: 46

Now, as can be easily calculated, 46 conf. kills + 8 possible/unconfirmed + 2 clear misses makes a total of 56. This figure is higher than the number of AIM-54s I said above were known to have been launched.

The reason for this "discrepancy" is simple: in one case a single AIM-54 shot down three MiG-23BNs, and one possible. In another, a single AIM-54 is confirmed to have shot down two MiG-23s.

In addition we have meanwhile learned that during the war there was a total of seven known firings of AIM-54s and AIM-7s against anti-ship missiles (AM.39 Exocets and C.601s). We don't know the exact break-down of the Phoenixes and Sparrows, but know that in all but one case the missile failed to hit the target. The successfully intercepted target was a C.601, fired from a H-6D bomber in February 1988.


As a matter of fact, there were two kinds of engagements in which AIM-54s were used (and, bear in mind that the general order for Iraqi pilots was to avoid engagements with F-14s at any price):

a) long-range: in such cases the Iraqis, Soviets and others who flew for the IrAF at the time would have no clue about the attack, unless the AIM-54 hit home (or, in only four cases known: miss); the only exception in this rule were MiG-25s - equipped with an excellent RWR;

b) short range: here the opponent would know that the F-14 is nearby, yet - for different reasons - couldn't distance away in time and came under attack either while trying to do so, or continued to approach without any clue about the AIM-54 already being underway.

Of all such cases we know only about one where the target recognized the attack (after all, in that case the AIM-54 was fired from a range of only 8.000m, so the Iraqi pilot certainly noticed the white plume) and tried to maneuver. The missile locked on without problems and proxy-fuzed nevertheless, and there is a nice shot from the TISEO-camera of the accompanying F-4E, showing the AIM-54's detonation only few meters over that MiG-23. There was also one case in which the missile passed within the lethal distance of the target, but failed to detonate (that was against a Mirage running away from the Tomcat, in 1987).

We discussed this matter extensively with IRIAF F-14-pilots (regardless if retired or still active), and the general conclusion was that - except the Iraqi MiG-25-pilots - all the others they targeted had actually no clue about the attack. At best they recognized it only after it was too late and there was no time to initiate an evasion maneuver or do anything else.

I mentioned above that we know about 52 AIM-54s being launched (i.e. we know about more of them being launched, but for these 52 cases we know most of the details about the engagement, and the outcome): except in the case of that MiG-23 and most of the cases in which MiG-25s were engaged no target ever tried to maneuver, i.e. to avoid the shot.

In four cases not even the MiG-25s tried to do so, which points at a possible weakness in their RWR systems under specific conditions.

BTW, what I forgot to mention in the list above is that two other cases are known where the AIM-54 malfunctioned - i.e. the fuze failed to detonate: the first was in the case of a MiG-21 shot down in December 1980, where the missile hit home, failed to explode, but cut the target in two pieces; another is that of the engagement against a MiG-25RB, in May 1981, where the fuze malfunctioned, but the missile cut off parts of the fin and the horizontal stabilator away: that MiG came away.

Hi Kurt,
let me add some more stuff, "just at random";

The missile goes auto-pilot, SARH, ARH, or ARH immediately upon launch if the target is too close (and, guess what, the target was - in several cases of the last mentioned I remember - a MiG-21).

The 'Stealth Twiz' is not _only_ the function of power, range, PRF and weapon guidance method, but also of the RWR. Considering the fact, that so many Soviet types were slow to get an RWR until the early 1980s, and that even then their RWRs/RHAWs were not showing more than 10-20 miles around the plane (with a "reserve" for perhaps 10 more miles) a shot from 50-60 miles would went unnoticed completely. And if, then there would be an "AWG-9 in PDSTT-mode" particular emission of some two-three seconds in endurance. Enough to alert anybody? Depends on the situation and range.

Re. F-14/AIM-54 launching speeds: let me just remark, that Iranians quite often went for Mach 1+ in such cases, and I know of cases in which even Mach 1.4 was reached before the launch. The F-14 has fat wings, that's right, but don't forget that the pilot can swing them back on manual, "unload" and pick up some speed at tremendous rates (was, BTW, also a favourite disengagement maneuver): I don't believe that even MiG-23 could match such capability.

Re. eventual additional upgrades to the AIM-54C;

there are indeed two sub-variants of this version, albeit, I don't know if they are separatedly designated:

- "early AIM-54C", with serials 80001 thru 83106, have liquid cooled avionics, just like the AIM-54A, and rely on continuous flow of chilled oil from the F-14 while being carried;

- "later AIM-54C", or "AIM-54C+" (first flight in August 1990) with serials from 83107 updwards, have that built-in closed-circuit cooling system (the situation went so far, that F-14Ds were not equipped with a cooling system for AIM-54s at all, so they cannot use older weapons), and also enhanced ECCM capabilities (no details known).

Furthermore, bearing in mind, that Iranian Tomcats flew most of their patrols alone, or - very seldom - in pairs, and had sometimes to fight against Iraqi strike packages of up to 12 aircraft, supported by heavy ECM, the use of AIM-54 - also at shorter ranges - was more than logical. If for no other reason, then because sometimes AWG-9s were able to "burn" through Iraqi jamming only at distances perhaps too short for the AIM-54s, but also not quite inside the ideal range of AIM-7E-4s (i.e.: between 15 and 25miles).

"In the early days of December 1980 a single F-14 took off from Khatami Air Base in Esfehan. The pilot was patrolling and scanning the sky over the Persian Gulf about 60 to 70 miles west of Bushehr at an altitude of about 3 to 4 thousand feet, when ground radar advised the him of multiple boogies closing fast toward him. His aircraft was too far out to send in any back up help, so ground radar told the pilot, "you are on your own, and good luck."

The pilot turned around towards them knowing he had a disadvantage in numbers. By now the F-14 and two boogies were head to head about 20 miles apart. The crew got a Phoenix Missile lock at about 10 miles, although it was a close range for phoenix. The pilot went ahead with "Fox 1", he fired an AIM-54 phoenix. Following the smoke path of the Phoenix he saw a ball of fire from the wing of MiG-21 that was breaking-up. Moments later a splash down from pieces of MiG-21 were visible in the ocean. Meanwhile the F-14-pilot observed the second MiG-21 doing a hard G-turn away from the fire ball since the 2 MiGs were flying close together. The Iraqi was going back toward Iraq. The F-14 in pursuit could not get any radar lock on the second MiG-21 before he went supersonic."

Basically, it could be said, that there were three phases of the AIM-54 use by the IRIAF. In the first phase, F-14s carried four or six such missiles and used them against small two- or four-ship Iraqi formations. Usually, a hit against one Iraqi aircraft was enough to send the rest of the formation back home, but there were several multiple firings the results of which were destruction of most or whole Iraqi formation.

In this phase, it seems that AIM-54s were used in all their available modes (and those available on AWG-9 system) and from distances as short as 15 and as far as 120 kilometers, but almost exclusively over the sea. Except in four or five cases, all the targets were low-flying tactical fighters.

Some problems were experienced by the high-PRF working mode of the AWG-9 (consequently, it seems that no kills were scored when AIM-54 was fired from the rear hemisphere). Additional problems were experienced with the fuzing, however even in the cases where the warhead failed to explode, AIM-54s guided precisely enough to score a direct hit and destroy the target.

From 1984 until early 1986 there are not many reports about any successes, although the AIM-54s were now carried only in pairs of single and used for opening the battle from relatively short distances (15-30 kms). The situation changed also in so far, that Iraqis now used to operate in packages of up to 16 aircraft (but in most cases 12), and that a single kill against one of them was not enough any more to send them back home.

To set things straight - again: the F-14A/AWG-9/AIM-54A Phoenix combinations WAS used in combat; in large numbers and successfully. It proved to be a reliable and exceptionaly effective system, especially against fighter-sized targets - at all possible ranges. This under very problematic and negative circumstances.

The problem is, that this happened in a war in which the USA were officially "not involved at all" and "neutral". Furthermore, there is a strong American reluctance to admit Washington's dramatic miscalculation regarding the viability, competence and capability of Iranians to maintain and operate their sophisticated US-supplied weapon systems following the Islamic revolution in 1979. With other words, for most Americans (but, it seems for many others in the West as well), "it's impossible that Mullahs flew and used F-14s and AIM-54s effectivelly, because they are dumb". Exactly such a miscalculation lead not only to the complete ignorance
of Iranian capabilities, competence and proficiency, but also to negation of the fact, that the F-14A/AWG-9/AIM-54A were used in combat.

Found Kurt Plummer is a member there too: His contribution to the discussion:


If yes, bear in mind, that the AWG-9 will get a glimpse of a target with RCS of 5sqm at something like 200-210km at best. But, the system can engage such a target if used in PDSTT (I don't mean the "Primary Designated STT", but "Pulse Doppler Single Target Track") mode only from a distance of some 110kms or so; besides, the high-PRF of the PDSTT will certainly scream any RWR/RHAW at 250-300km around. So, when a "stealthy" attack is the best solution, then the TWS will be much better, as the power-output is far lower, and the emission characteristics are almost the same as that of the search mode, while it still offers something like 160km detection range, with a max Phoenix-range of something like 90-95km. The difference for the RWR (in the best case for the target) is: the PDSTT means "attack underway"; the TWS means "somebody's looking at me; well, fine..."

The AIM-54 will use the TWS at least as well as the PDSTT, and "I" can even engage both of your fighters simultaneously (and four others, if I carry enough AIM-54s and AIM-7s): remember that there are nine guidance channels. It is certainly not an uplink weapon, but its is a SARH-weapon along the mid-course phase. You're right in one point, however: the initial guidance programms for the AIM-54 were not bringing the weapon close enough to the target before the DSQ-26 activated. This, however, was changed already by 1977 (i.e. also before the revolution).

Then the ECM: you can try deception, barrage, spot or overload jamming, but this would either not function, or if - then for such short periods of time, that it can't make any difference. Namely, even non-modified AWG-9s have a very good frequency agility, and this can be used as a main ECCM (simply by moving radar frequency away from that at which jammer signals are emitted), especially together with different scan patterns (remember, these range from 8 bars, 65° each 13 seconds down to 1 bar, 10° every quarter of second on AWG-9 - if that's not "sophisticated" for a late 1960s-system, I don't know what is). So, one is not only using different frequencies, but also different wavenlenghts. Guess which combination at which moment....

For evasion maneuvering (and here is the largest difference between exercises and the reality) only one thing functions for sure: turning the tail and running away below 100m at highest possible speed, all the time praying that this will break the AWG-9 lock on due to an eventual escape outside the scan volume (during the turn), ground clutter, and decrease of the doppler shift. The F-14-crew can then try to switch to medium-PRF, but this shortens the radar range usually by 20-22%; so, if the target is far away enough, there is a chance of escape.

What you were actually talking about with that "high speed" abeam maneuvers is better known as "close beam crossing" (i.e. "beamer"). Something like that could only be done when the opponent closes to inside any functional AIM-54-range (i.e. if he survived the AIM-54-attack), and would force the Tomcat-crew to switch to one of three close-in AWG-9-modes, which have relatively narrow scan volume (remember, the boresight of the AWG-9 in "pilot lock on" is only 2.3 to 2.4° with the range of only 9km, narrowing down to 1.1° at 4.5km; the vertical scan is somewhat better, with 4.8° in azimuth and +25°/-15° in elevation). The opponent then has two possibilities: either he's aggressive, has a speed of at least Mach 0.8, and moves at less than 100 meters, so he can turn left of right, break the radar lock on and deliver an attack, or he likes escaping more, turns left or right and escapes due to the the problematic use of the AWG-9 against pursuing targets.

The actual envelope of the AIM-54 appears to be completely unknown in the public. While usually even USN and Hughes people will say that it cannot hit anything beyond the range of 200km, the actual inofficial max-range kill record is 212km. While official soruces will deny it can target anything under 15kms (if I remember correctly, the USN teaches its pilot not to target anything closer than 15-20nm), the manual talks even about 4.4kms, while the shortest test-kill figure I know about was 7.75km. Speeds differ with the range to the target, which influences the trajectory: the usual figure is Mach 3.8, but also Mach 4.4 at over 24.000 meters was recorded.

Last, but not least: bear in mind that not only the technology, but also the psychology plays a significant role in any combat: battling a system which will probably detect you much earlier than you'll ever know, which is utterly problematic to jam or evade, which can shot you from a long range, shot you from the medium range, shot you from a short range, and even - if needed - turn with you and shot you at very close range, needs guts....


In essence: depending on RWR/RHAW system, the target will have between 0 and 10 seconds time to react. While it is impossible to say with 100% certainity if that is so (I haven't found anybody so far which survived an AIM-54-attack so I could ask), I'm not sure if anybody targeted by it ever really saw any AIM-54 closing. So I can't say if anybody tried to initiate a defensive maneuver only on that basis - and succeeded with it. What I know, however, is that extensive countermeasures were employed in order to spoil the possibility of being targeted by it - and that these were not especially successfull.

Let us take one of the cases of the F-14A downing a MiG-25RB as an example. The MiG was at more than 60.000ft, and Mach 2.3, and the F-14 was at 40.000ft, and Mach 0.4. Upon detection, the Tomcat accelerated to Mach 1.2, and launched a single AIM-54A from a range of more than 70km.

Upon the launch (which obviously haven't alerted the enemy), the F-14 turned some 55° to offset from the MiG's route, and decelerated to Mach 0.8, so not to come too close too fast, but also in order not to lose the radar lock-on (the AWG-9 can look up to 60° off-boresight without losing the lock-on). This was needed in order to supply the MCGU to the missile.

The missile impacted the MiG after crossing something like 36km.

In theory only in theory - one could use the AIM-54A in the way you suggested. But, this would decrease the PK considerably, and the AWG-9 is so powerfull and so flexible, that it either saturates the enemy RWRs, not revealing the Tomcat's position, or - if the RIO is good (and most are) - is not even revealing itself to enemy RWRs.

Finally, I can tell you, that in most combat situations the case was simply so, that the Tomcats would first attack with Phoenix and then "bore-in" in order to finish the enemy with Sparrows, Sidewinders or guns.

Regarding the three planes shot down with a single AIM-54A:


I have no exact idea, but it was certainly a very tight formation, with only something like 20-50 meters between single aircraft.

From what is known the missile impacted the leader that had a full load of bombs aboard, causing a tremendous explosion, which damaged the other three planes too. Two of these went down almost immediately: it could be their bombs were also ignited. It only remains unknown what happened with the fourth MiG-23.


The agility is really not a question here: when used during the IPGW the AIM-54 usually scored hits from such ranges and came as such a surprise that hardly any of the targets was maneuvering. And, in the cases of those that did - like several shots at (relatively) short ranges against MiG-21s - I don't know about a single case where the AIM-54 was outmaneuvered.

Finally, there at least three cases in which a single AIM-54 shot down more than one enemy fighters: specifically, in one case three or four, and in two cases two each Iraqi fighters were shot down by a single AIM-54 (for details, see here: ).

Regarding a 2004 AIM-54C test:


we have the permission from the USN to post their articles, under condition to state the full details about the owner. So, here the whole stuff:


CVW-7 Completes History-Making Missile Shoot
Story Number: NNS040317-06
Release Date: 3/17/2004 11:17:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Tracey Goff, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- Launching from USS George Washington's (CVN 73) flight deck on the afternoon of Feb. 25, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 fired 17 live missiles onto a range over the Arabian Sea in two separate waves.

The history-making missile exercise took place during a routine deployment for the George Washington Strike Group, deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The ordnance was delivered by Fighter Squadrons (VF) 11 and 143 flying F-14B Tomcats, and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 131 and 136 in F/A-18C Hornets. Clearing the way for the fighter jets were the E2-C Hawkeye pilots of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 and Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31 in the S-3B Viking.

Each squadron had its own responsibility to ensure a safe and successful exercise. A total of four F-14s and four F/A-18s left the ship in two separate waves on what may be one of the last live missile exercises for the F-14 Tomcat, which proved it could still deliver a lethal blow to enemy targets.

“The theory was to prove that even though the Phoenix has been in the inventory for more than two decades, they are still capable of projecting power and showing that they remain a very viable option in the air-to-air regime,” said Lt.j.g. Matt Tallyn of VF-143 "Pukin' Dogs.”

The Hornets provided the targets. “We dropped two of the three tactical air launch decoys, or TALDs,” said Lt. Brian Larmon of VFA-131 "Wildcats." “It’s a type of ordnance that glides. It simulates the profile of an aircraft we would be shooting at. It can be set up to turn or go straight. We can pick it up on radar and shoot it.”

Once the Hornets dropped the TALDs, it was time for history to be made. The Tomcats and the Hornets fired their missiles: a total of 16 Phoenix missiles from the Tomcats and one Sparrow from the Hornets.

“It’s very rare that you’ll see eight Phoenix missiles shot off at the same time,” said Tallyn, a radar intercept officer in the second wave of aircraft. “They all worked perfectly, exactly as they were designed. We were excited and thrilled that we were able to go out there and prove that the system is fully functional, and get eight picture-perfect missile shoots. That’s as much as you can ask from a missile shoot.”

VF-11 "Red Ripper" Lt. Garrett Shook agreed. “It was a once-in-a-career opportunity for me, because we shot two at a time, which is pretty rare. In one hour, I doubled the number of missiles I’ve shot in my career.”

Lt. j.g. Mike Manicchia of VFA-136 got the rush of shooting the Sparrow. “It’s pretty out of the ordinary. We get to drop plenty of bombs at practice targets, but not fire missiles. That’s something we never do. Most guys might get to shoot one missile on their first sea tour, so this is a big deal.”

Working out the intricacies of a tactical exercise of this magnitude does not happen overnight. Lt. Mike Burks, the air-to-air weapons training officer from VF-11 who planned the missile exercise, said it was only through a culmination of efforts that this mission was a success.

“It was about a three-week process from start to finish,” he said. “It required the coordination of assets from all the squadrons in the air wing, as well as reserving both the air space and the sea space for the missile exercise."

Once the range was clear, it was time to let the beasts off the ship, or in this case, the Tomcats, the Hornets, the Sparrow and the Phoenix.

“The Hawkeyes and the Vikings were out there about three hours before the exercise began, clearing the space and establishing a good picture for all of us back here so we could start to build a game plan,” said Burks. “By the time the missile shoot was launched, we had a very good idea of what the sea space and air space looked like, so we didn’t encounter problems with range foulers.”

“We provide overall safety and a digital picture of what the battle space looks like,” said VAW-121's Air Control Officer, Lt. Chris Barker. “We paint a picture of the area with our over-the-horizon radar.”

This technology is used to make sure the area is clear of any civilian traffic, or range foulers, which could slow down or halt the exercise. “We ensured there were no commercial airliners or any ships that are non-military, such as cargo ships and oil tankers, in the area of the missile exercise,” Barker said. “If there are, we then provide steering courses for the S-3s to relay to the ships.”

The VS-31 "Topcats" then used their aircraft’s unique ability to fly low and slow as a means of contacting ships straying into the reserved sea space. “We are in charge of range clearance,” said Lt.j.g. Brad Beall, a naval flight officer for the "Topcats." "We call them on a maritime common frequency to let them know they are in a military live fire exercise. We ask them to alter their course and get them out of danger.”

But the aviators are quick to mention they couldn’t do it without the help of other ship and squadron personnel. The squadron's ordnance personnel got a unique opportunity to use the skills they've trained so hard to hone. “They get to load live ordnance that they don’t usually get to see,” said Manicchia.

“There are always a lot of people that go and really make it work," Tallyn said. "We tell them this is what you do all the hard work for; this is why it’s so important to keep doing it. We’re just the ones who pull the trigger.”

Once all the aircraft returned to the ship, the reality of the accomplishment set in. “You really only get one opportunity to do this,” said Burks. “Making sure all the players know their role is the number one key to a good missile exercise. It’s a matter of briefing everybody and making sure that all the players know their responsibilities and also all the back-up plans so if we need to move to a back-up plan, it’s smooth and efficient, and people aren’t having to ask a lot of questions.”

Shook backed Burks up. “For a missile exercise, it went real smooth. The coordination, the planning and the cooperation between squadrons all went smooth enough to get the missiles off on the first try.

“When we do a missile exercise from the beach, we’ll probably fly the missiles without shooting them at least once. We’ll practice once, then go out and shoot it. We’d never flown the missiles before. We’d never practiced the scenario. We just briefed it, and then went out and did it. It was real successful.”


BTW, has anybody noticed the part Eric posted? ALL the missiles worked exactly as advertised - and bear in mind what they fired here were AIM-54Cs, the supposedly "poorly manufactured" version...


This depends on the range. In general, from what I have learned to this topic so far, anything bellow Mach 1 is actually uselles. For example, a MiG-25 targeted from 90km turned away and escaped the first AIM-54 dashing to speed of Mach 2.2. Then it slowed down, but meanwhile the pusuing F-14 was at Mach 2.2 as well and it launched another AIM-54 from a range of almost 140km - against a MiG that was now underway at something like Mach 1.4 and still moving away from the point the AIM-54 was launched. Passing almost 200km the Phoenix killed that MiG too.

If such targets are closing - the faster they are that better for the range. A Mirage F.1 closing at Mach 1 was killed from a range of about 150km, just for example. Several MiG-25RBs and MiG-25BMs were killed from ranges between 70 and 110km. All of them were apporaching at speeeds over Mach 2, and they were not killed from longer ranges only because of their relatively late detection by Iranian ground-based radars. The "closest" kill against a MiG-25RB was from something like 35km.

Don't know who said that no kills were scored in pursuit, but I actually know only about three AIM-54s that missed pursuing targets, plus one that exploded near a target that turned away after the missile was launched.

One was against the MiG-25PD I mentioned above. In one case a MiG-25BM was damaged by AIM-54 while attempting to outrun an IRIAF F-14 - with the missile clipping off the fin and a part of horizontal stabilizer, and damaging the aircraft sufficiently that it crashed and was beyond repair in Iraq. In the other case the AIM-54 passed only few meters by a Mirage F.1 that was attempting to escape at low leve. AFAIK, in all three cases the fuse failed to explode and that was the actual reason the target was not shot down. In the fourth case the AIM-54 passed by a MiG-24RB that was racing away at Mach 2.8, but detonated at a distance that was not sufficient to bring the Foxbat down.

In all these cases, the Tomcats were usually at speeds around Mach 0.9 and Mach 1.4, and levels between 30.000 and 45.000ft.

Wow, so an entire chapter of Cold War history opens up that I never knew about before. Very cool stuff!! The engagements and ranges are facinating to read about.

< Message edited by AlmightyTallest -- 4/6/2014 3:52:07 PM >

(in reply to mikmykWS)
Post #: 16
RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/7/2014 9:18:28 PM   


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Just wanted to mention I had set up a few engagements that tried to mirror some of the above described air combat with the F-14 vs. Iraqi fighters using Command: Modern Air Naval Operations.

And I have to say I'm pretty impressed, for the most part, the Mirage F.1EQ doesn't react until the AIM-54 itself actually goes active, giving the Mirages a rather scant 5 second window to try and evade as the missile drops out of the sky at them from 100,000 feet and 70+ miles away.

Interceptions against very high speed and high altitude Mig-25PD's are also pretty much as described in the combat text.

The trick to multiple targeting is that the targets do need to be a considerable distance from the F-14's to keep them all in the radar cone and supported all the way until the AIM-54 goes active on it's own.

So, very well done guys, I'm pretty impressed with being able to simulate the air engagements of the Iran Iraq war like this.

< Message edited by AlmightyTallest -- 4/7/2014 10:19:40 PM >

(in reply to AlmightyTallest)
Post #: 17
RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/9/2014 9:30:12 PM   


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I did a lot of testing with F-14B with AIM-54C missiles vs Tu-22M2, Tu-22M3, AS-4 and Shipwreck missiles now.

In my opinion the kill chance against the Tu-22 is much to low. Sometimes when i started the engagement from 110-120 nm not one of the four Phoenix hit the target. The hit chance from this range is only 36% (85%, with range modifier 52%, minus 16% because of the maneuvering of the target). This means only 1 of 3 Phoenix hit the target. Adding the jammer with a succes chance of 15% (Tu-22M2) or 25% (Tu-22M3) and the chaff with 30% only 1 of 4 missiles hit.

The hit chance against AS-4 missiles is always 85%, even when the Phoenix is launched from maxium range. The hit chance against Shipwreck missiles is also 85% but the F-14 radar cannot track them at long ranges.

After 100 long range engagements of Tomcats vs Backfires (very simple scenario where 10 Tomcats attack 10 Backfires in one on one engagements) which i did i came to the conclusion that the kill chance is even worse than described above. A salvo of two Phoenix missiles launched from 110-120 nm has a chance of about 29% to kill a Tu-22M2.

Therefore, if engaging Backfires which carry two AS-4 each, it is better to attack the missiles than the planes. Four Tomcats with 16 Phoenix will kill 2-3 Backfires but they will kill 12-13 AS-4.

My suggestions is to reduce the hit chance of AAMs against anti ship missiles and to increase the hit chance against planes. Maybe the best way would be to reduce the success chance of chaff from 30% to 15%.

(in reply to Dragunov)
Post #: 18
RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/10/2014 1:43:05 AM   


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I just love how these threads with a simple question turn into fascinating information sources. I learn much reading these boards.

(in reply to Dragunov)
Post #: 19
RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/10/2014 2:09:16 AM   


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I learn a lot from the others too like that Casinn.

But dragonov seems to have stumbled upon something interesting. I didn't try any of my tests with the Tu-22's.

Most of the engagements I found info for seem to point to the fact that when the Iranian's were engaging Iraqi aircraft, most simply didn't seem to detect they were being engaged by the AIM-54A when it went active. Which seem to point to the target not having a good Radar Warning Reciever setup to warn them to take evasive action.

It would be neat if the simulation could be setup to give the individual weapon system, in this case the AIM-54C a better chaff rejection modifier to simulate ECCM built into that version, or something of that nature.

< Message edited by AlmightyTallest -- 4/10/2014 3:14:43 AM >

(in reply to Casinn)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/10/2014 6:19:30 AM   

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ORIGINAL: Dragunov
The hit chance against AS-4 missiles is always 85%, even when the Phoenix is launched from maxium range. The hit chance against Shipwreck missiles is also 85% but the F-14 radar cannot track them at long ranges.

We are looking into this. The fundamental problem is that the nominal PoKs assume a large cooperative target (e.g. B-52 / B747 non-manouvering) and while we have a good range of modifiers for mannaed aircraft, there are no similar modifiers when engaging missiles. We are looking at a combination of quick-fix and longer-term upgrade.


(in reply to Dragunov)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/10/2014 6:20:54 AM   

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ORIGINAL: AlmightyTallest
It would be neat if the simulation could be setup to give the individual weapon system, in this case the AIM-54C a better chaff rejection modifier to simulate ECCM built into that version, or something of that nature.

IIRC we do this already, the AIM-54C+ ECCM/Sealed has a 10-year tech edge on the original AIM-54A and this is taken into account on calculations vs chaff, jamming etc. (You can see some of that on the weapon endgame messages),


(in reply to AlmightyTallest)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/10/2014 1:28:38 PM   


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Thanks for that info Sunburn, that's pretty neat to have all those factors already figured in.

I didn't know we had the AIM-54C+ version available, when I did my tests, I only found F-14 loadouts with the standard AIM-54C.

Is it possible to model the aspect of the aircraft at the moment it's engaged by the missile? What I mean is will the missile factor in that a large bomber is cruising along at 400mph when the bomber detects the missile and turns to go into the notch to evade and dumping chaff, versus the same bomber that's already going mach 2 and trying to do the same thing?

The second scenario obviously presents a harder target to intercept, and in some cases a smaller, faster aircraft might go outside the seeker limits of the missile and evade in some cases.

< Message edited by AlmightyTallest -- 4/10/2014 2:38:09 PM >

(in reply to Dimitris)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/12/2014 8:21:41 AM   

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You'll see a variation of this in one of the near-future releases, first applied to engaging missile contacts.


(in reply to AlmightyTallest)
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RE: Radar cone / Fighter radar - 4/12/2014 2:00:37 PM   


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Sounds great Sunburn.

So this what you guys do on your break??

(in reply to Dimitris)
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