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Range of optics? - 6/13/2021 4:04:44 AM   
madavid0

 

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Something that I feel is too opaque is the effective range of various optics systems and how visibility is calculated. So, when it comes optical systems their actual effective range against common objects in the game -- planes, vehicles, etc, is much lower than the maximum range value in the database. The challenge is to figure out how close you have to be for a particular optic sensor to see something. For example, a plane equipped with a targeting pod which you utilize for recon. What are you actually going to see on the ground at 30k feet? 12k? 2k? Vehicles on a road vs stationary under camo netting? What about IRST optics? You can hug the deck to get the best possible resolution, but that puts you in range of low-altitude AA threats. So how distant can you be from a target while being able to reliably see it? How does weather impact detection range if at all? Is there a way to figure this out?
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RE: Range of optics? - 6/13/2021 10:37:46 AM   
KnightHawk75

 

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What are you actually going to see on the ground at 30k feet? 12k? 2k?
--
Depends on what's in the way, cloud layer\weather like? (some time ago I posted the % for that (and other sensor degradation I don't have link to that post handy though maybe just search on 'weather and sensors'), ground (ie horizon or LOS blocked), land cover type - which is newer and I've not tested for percentage yet. Then also depends on the zoom\magnification levels in the database for the sensor which are separate for id and classification, I forget if the db viewer actually shows that, I don't think it does. You can though see the unit's id and classification generic baseline ranges though.

There is no one general answer, though for any given specific device vs another specific unit (or unit of similar type and same signature data), under given circumstances you can test the hell out of it and find out.




< Message edited by KnightHawk75 -- 6/13/2021 10:39:13 AM >

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/13/2021 1:49:41 PM   
Gunner98

 

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You should also look at 'Slant Range' of your sensor, you can google that and find any number of scientific or laymen explanations, this one is OK. I also posted something on this a few years ago.

Essentially the range of a sensor has to account for altitude. So for instance if your sensor has a nominal range of 5nm, that equates to ~30,000 ft. So if you are flying at 36,000 feet AGL you have a perfect picture of about 1 square foot of air 6,000 feet above ground level. Not overly useful.

If on the other hand you are ripping through at 200ft AGL, dodging everything from MANPADS to angry coke bottles being thrown at you, more will be seen, but not by much because of all the ground clutter as KnighHawk75 explains.

You need to find the 'sweet spot' and that is not a fixed 'one size fits all' number. It depends on the size of the thing your are trying to find, the weather, the terrain, and of course the defences.





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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 1:35:31 AM   
madavid0

 

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Okay, looks like I have no choice but to experiment. I'll also experiment in ground-based Mk1 eyes ability to spot aircraft. Knowing this at least in general, is really key to modern air to ground ops. When I load up a scenario the first thing I do is check what I have that can do recon, and tactical jets with targeting pods are my go-to but I never know how much danger I can get away with putting them in looking for stuff. I find that ground search radar isn't really effective sadly.

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 4:58:28 AM   
Dimitris

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: madavid0
I find that ground search radar isn't really effective sadly.


Most ground-search radars rely on GMTI to pick out targets, so they work best when the vehicles you want to detect are actually moving (and the faster, the better). If they are stationary or slow-walking you'll have a pretty hard time finding them.

SAR radars can help against stationary targets but their effective range tends to hinge on a few different things (incl. terrain slope and land-type).

The "lay of the land" has a tremendous effect. It's almost always much harder to pick out stuff in e.g. the Korean peninsula or southern Europe (tons of forests & mountains) vs. the Arabian or Iraqi deserts. This was one of the reasons the Serbian mobile forces managed to preserve themselves so effectively in '99, after months of NATO airpower hunting them down.

< Message edited by Dimitris -- 6/14/2021 5:08:53 AM >


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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 6:02:22 PM   
madavid0

 

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Thanks for the info. Experimentation reveals that optics in ideal conditions (day time, clear sky, barren / sparse terrain) isn't very effective. If relying completely on optic search your plane can't see a truck further away than around 4nm. Used in conjunction with ground search radar (in these ideal conditions) optics become much more effective at picking up the contact 20nm out and ID'ing it around 16nm. I also experimented in tougher conditions, an infantry platoon in an Urban / Built-up terrain. Optics requires you flying, basically, directly overhead to detect it. Less than 0.5nm.

So it seems from this experimentation that there's no reliable way to conduct ground recon with air platforms. So, you have to comb over an area and how long it takes is just how long it takes. In optimal conditions WITH the help of a ground radar things are good, but beyond that it seems not very effective.

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 6:24:47 PM   
BDukes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: madavid0

Thanks for the info. Experimentation reveals that optics in ideal conditions (day time, clear sky, barren / sparse terrain) isn't very effective. If relying completely on optic search your plane can't see a truck further away than around 4nm. Used in conjunction with ground search radar (in these ideal conditions) optics become much more effective at picking up the contact 20nm out and ID'ing it around 16nm. I also experimented in tougher conditions, an infantry platoon in an Urban / Built-up terrain. Optics requires you flying, basically, directly overhead to detect it. Less than 0.5nm.

So it seems from this experimentation that there's no reliable way to conduct ground recon with air platforms. So, you have to comb over an area and how long it takes is just how long it takes. In optimal conditions WITH the help of a ground radar things are good, but beyond that it seems not very effective.


What sensor are you using? The mk.1 eyeball or something else? If you can post a file it would help.

The changes looked pretty good when they made them so have been pretty happy with this on my end.

Mike

< Message edited by BDukes -- 6/14/2021 6:25:29 PM >

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 6:29:51 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Speaking from a guy who spent his life on the ground trying to hide from aircraft - that sounds good

I wonder is speed of travel has something to do with it. A helicopter covering the area or a Mach 2 fast mover?

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 7:21:34 PM   
stww2

 

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As Dimitris and BDukes have said, the sensors one is using will make a huge difference here. I don't remember the actual sensor names, but the E-8 Joint STARS and one of the Global Hawks have unnervingly effective ground search radars-think being able to detect (and in some cases ID) targets from hundreds of nautical miles away (or whatever their actual ranges are). As you get to more modern tech, you don't even necessarily need dedicated recon platforms. The radar on the Rafales in the second Kashmir Fury scenario ("Escalation"), for instance, can effectively function as the primary recon asset for the Indian side-all from 36,000 feet at standoff range. I'm pretty sure the F-35's radar has similar ground-search capabilities. Granted, you won't detect infantry with these sensors, but the vehicles and structures are usually the more potent threats anyway. Just watch out for the un-radarable MANPADS!

If you aren't playing a modern scenario, of course, then you won't have the above fancy toys and you'll have to rely on more conventional recon assets and will have to get much closer to the target (horizontally at least, and vertically in most cases too). While the high-powered cameras on the U-2 or SR-71 are ideal, these platforms are generally pretty rare, and in any event are still vulnerable to SAMs at high altitude (especially the former one). By the 80s you should start looking for either FLIR equipped platforms or FLIR equipped loadouts, which can function well for ground recon at low altitude if you lack the more specialized assets. Of course, the oldest recon platforms are camera equipped aircraft. These aren't great but are better than nothing. Depending on cloud cover, they usually can spot medium and large targets from around 12,000 feet or so.

I guess the point of all this is to know the capabilities of your sensors and have realistic expectations. While you can of course use the MK-1 Eyeball for recon too, as you have noted this isn't terribly effective once you get more than a few miles and a few thousand feet away. But most of the time, a scenario that has a ground-recon component will give you the tools to conduct that reconnaissance. Figure out what they are and find a way to use them!


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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 8:24:30 PM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

or SR-71 are ideal,


In Caribbean Fury #4 the player has an SR-71 (not realistic but fun) and that thing can see ---A Lot!---of stuff on the ground. Not infantry, but that's not to be expected however vehicles from 100+nm away.

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 9:18:16 PM   
madavid0

 

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For the test I was using a Eurofighter with a Sniper XR (3rd gen FLIR). I'll experiment with other platforms.

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/14/2021 10:14:12 PM   
stww2

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gunner98

quote:

or SR-71 are ideal,


In Caribbean Fury #4 the player has an SR-71 (not realistic but fun) and that thing can see ---A Lot!---of stuff on the ground. Not infantry, but that's not to be expected however vehicles from 100+nm away.




It's in CF2 as well, right? I remember I had to go into the editor in that one to get the SR-71 to speed up so as not to get picked off by some trailing Migs. Thinking back, CF2 actually has a lot of the ground recon sensors relevant here. The SR-71 of course, but also the E-8, the FLIR's on the A-7's, all the sensors on the AC-130, and the TARPS pod on the F-14s.

< Message edited by stww2 -- 6/14/2021 10:15:06 PM >

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/15/2021 12:43:07 AM   
Gunner98

 

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Yes - I forgot about that one. In CF2 it is on an aligned side, in CF4 it is on the player side.

B

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/15/2021 1:55:33 AM   
KnightHawk75

 

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quote:

As Dimitris and BDukes have said, the sensors one is using will make a huge difference here.

As will the baseline signatures on the unit trying to be detected, while often similar, not all mobile units have same sigs, not all fixed have the same, etc. Most ground infantry for example have either 0.5nm or 0.1nm detect\classification (There may be a couple rare exceptions) so even with sensor with 20x magnification,decent conditions, unbroken line of sight, you're only going to detect or get further classification on those units at closer range optically (unless you're a certain sat flagged sensor, think there may be slightly more leniency applied there).

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RE: Range of optics? - 6/15/2021 2:01:04 AM   
stww2

 

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Good point.

P Gatcomb has a tutorial video where a lot of these concepts are covered, which might be useful for the OP or anyone else curious about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCvQYbFYlt4

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