In order to archive victory in air-to-air
combat, a pilot must be both aggressive and self-confident. These
two traits interact with each other constantly. Aggressiveness
drives the pilot to stay in the fight and thus achieve more self-confidence;
self-confidence drives the pilot to push the limits of himself
and his plane, becoming more aggressive in the process.
To be an expert in fighter combat, a pilot must know how and
when to engage the enemy. This instinct, an important part of
overall situational awareness, can be trained. He also needs
to know how to avoid being "painted" by an enemy's
radar so he can enter his target area undetected and complete
his mission. To accomplish this, he must understand the two different
types of ground radar and how to avoid both. Finally, the pilot
needs to know what the different formations are and how they
affect a mission.
This part describes modern jet air combat: Basic Fighter Maneuvers
/one-versus-one air combat/ and Air Combat Tactics /one-versus-many
air combat/. Also included are description of aspect angle and
turn geometry, how to avoid a missile or SAM, and how to use
directive commentary /giving instructions to your wingman/.
This part describes the two different types of ground radar:
continuous wave/doppler and pulse-doppler. It also covers how
to avoid being detected by these radars so you successfully complete
The final part deals with the various formations you can select
when planning a mission. It shows what the different formations
look like and gives description of how and when to use them for
The following is based on part of Pete "Boomer" Bonanni's
upcoming book, Falcon Air Combat, published by Osborne/McGraw-Hill.
Pete is a major in the U.S.Air National Guard and has flown F-4,
A-7 and F-16 fighters. As of September 1991, he is stationed
at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, flying the F-16C.
The nature of air combat has remained the since Fokkers fought
Spads in air power's World War I debut. The Red Baron himself
summed it up when he said, "Rove your allotted area, find
the enemy and shoot him down...... anything else is rubbish."
These words, describing the ultimate goal of the fighter pilot,
are ar true today as they were 75 years ago. While the nature
of air combat has remained the same, the mechanics have undergone
radical change. Most of this change, surprisingly, has come about
in the last 10 years because high-thrust fighters such as the
F-16 entered service in large numbers and expanded the combat
The Basic Fighter Maneuvers /BFM/ that many generations of fighter
pilots grew up with became obsolete with the introduction of
the F-16 in the early 1980s. Fighter pilots had to change the
way they thought about BFM in order to successfully employ the
F-16. In the one-versus-one maneuvering environment, vertical
out-of-plane maneuvers such as high yo-yos were rapidly replaced
with in-plane turn circle BFM. The new maneuvers were perfected
in the skies above the Nevada desert by the men of the F-16 Fighter
Weapons School. In this next part, we will discuss these modern
F-16 air combat maneuvers and provide you with the latest F-16
BFM techniques to help you build a solid academic foundation
for performing BFM.
Basic Fighter Maneuvers /One-versus-One
BFM is the art of exchanging energy for aircraft position. Energy,
in this discussion, means fighter speed and altitude. The goals
of offensive maneuvering in the simulation or the real F-16 are
to remain behind an adversary and to get in a position to shoot
your weapons. In defensive maneuvering, you turn your jet and
move the bandit out of position for shot on your aircraft. In
head-on maneuvering, you get behind the bandit from a neutral
position. When you execute maneuvers to accomplish any of these
objectives, you invariably bleed off or expend energy. "Pulling
Gs" and turning cause all aircraft to slow down or lose
altitude /or both/. In this part, we will describe the geometry
of the flight and the specific maneuvers needed to be successful
air-to-air Falcon pilot.
BFM is flown in the
Many discussions of BFM describe maneuvers as if they were cards
or chess pieces played sequentially in a game of move and countermove.
Modern aerial warfare, however, is more accurately compared to
a wrestling match. It is a fluid contest of quick reactions with
both opponents executing their moves in a blur. Aerial combat
requires immediate reaction. Fighter pilot, as a rule, are not
too bright on the ground; in the air, however, we are brilliant
for very short periods of time. Within seconds, a pilot must
constantly go through the following basic steps:
1. Observe the bandit.
2. Predict a future position in space for the bandit based on
3. Maneuver your jet in response to this prediction.
4. React to changes in the situation as you execute your maneuvers.
BFM is flown in the future and not in the present. You must constantly
predict the bandit's future position /where he will be a few
seconds from the time you observe him/ and fly your jet based
on this prediction.
In order to perform BFM, the pilot must understand his spatial
relationship to the target from four perspectives: positional
geometry, attack geometry, the weapons envelope, and the control
Range, aspect angle, and angle-off /also known as heading crossing
angle or HCA/ are terms used to describe one aircraft's position
relative to another. These conditions, shown below, define the
angular relation between two aircraft. This angular relationship
in turn tells you how much position advantage or sisadvantage
* Range is the distance between your jet and
* Aspect angle is the number of degrees measured from the tail
of the target to your aircraft. Aspect angle is important because
it tells you how far away you are in degrees from the target's
stern, which is the desired position.
* Angle-off is the difference, measured in degrees, between your
heading and the bandit's. This angle tells you relative fuselage
alignment. For example, if the angle-off were 0 deg, you would
be on a parallel heading with the bandit and your fuselages would
be aligned; if the angle-off were 90 deg, your fuselage would
be perpendicular to the bandit's.
Attack geometry describes
the path that an offensive fighter takes as he converges on the
bandit. To start an attack on a bandit, there are three distinct
paths or pursuit courses that you can follow: pure pursuit, lag
pursuit, or lead pursuit.
* If you are pointing directly at the bandit,
you are flying a pure pursuit course.
* If you are pointing behind the bandit, you are in lag pursuit.
* If your nose is out in front of the bandit, you are in lead
The weapons envelope
The weapons envelope is the
area around the bandit where a missile or gun would connect.
The envelope is defined by range, aspect angle, and angle-off;
the dimensions and position are dictated by the type of weapons
you are carrying. If your jet is loaded with all-aspect AIM-9M
or AIM-120s, the weapons envelope around the bandit looks like
the illustration above - a doughnut with the inside edge being
minimum range /Rmin/ and the outside line being maximum range
/Rmax/. If you are carrying a AIM-9P stern aspect missile, then
the vulnerable area is shaped like a cone. These two missile
envelopes are different because their seeker hears are based
on different technologies. The AIM-9P's seeker head can only
pick up the engine's IR energy from the rear of the target. The
AIM-9M's seeker head can see the IR energy from all aspect or
The control zone
The control zone, also called the "elbow," is the place
behind the bandit where you can establish a stable position from
which to employ your weapons. Here, its relatively easy to remain
behind the bandit and in control. Why "elbow"? Because
fighter pilot describing air combat use their hands, and the
elbow of the arm that is showing the bandit's motion is in the
approximate position of the control zone. In F-16, this position
is about 3,000 - 4,000 feet behind the maneuvering bandit when
the bandit is at corner velocity. Corner velocity is the speed
that an aircraft can turn the fastest, tightest turn; for bandit
this speed is approximately 400 knots. As the bandit bleeds off
energy and slows down, the control position gets closer to him.
A 200 knot bandit cannot generate a very high turn rate so you
can fly much closer to it and still stay in control.
All aircraft can execute only three basic maneuvers: roll, turn
and accelerate. All other maneuvers are simply combinations of
these. Roll is used to position your lift vector. The nose of
the aircraft will turn in the direction of the lift vector once
you put some Gs on the jet. Offensive BFM involves turning your
jet to solve aspect, angle-off, and overtake problems created
by the bandit's turn. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task.
You must know precisely where and how to turn in order to solve
these problems successfully and stay behind the bandit.
Turn rate and radius
Two characteristics of a
turning aircraft that a fighter must understand are turn radius
and turn rate. Turn radius is simply a measure of how tightly
your jet is turning. If you were looking down on the aircraft
as it turned, turn radius would be the distance from the center
of the turn circle to the aircraft, measured in feet.
The equation for turn radius is: TR=V2 /gG
V is the aircraft's velocity in feet/second. Little g is gravity
and big G is the G force the aircraft is pulling.
It is not important to understand how to compute turn radius,
but it is important to realize that velocity is squared in the
equation and that the equation also includes aircraft Gs. The
more Gs you pull, the tighter the turn.
Turn rate is another important characteristic of turning the
jet. Turn rate tells how fast the aircraft is moving around the
turn circle /how fast the plane is moving its nose/. Turn rate
is measured in degees per second and is also dependent on Gs
Turn rate = K G/V
K is a constant, and big G and V are the same as in the equation
for turn radius. This equation tells the fighter pilot that the
most Gs can pull, at the lowest airspeed, gives him the best
turn rate. Turn rate is very important in BFM because it measures
how fast you can put your nose on the bandit. Since you have
to put your nose on the bandit to shoot missiles or the gun,
you need a fast turn rate.
You will never master BFM unless you can control your airspeed.
A good overall combat airspeed is 400 - 450 knots. If you fly
faster when you are trying to turn, your plane will have a very
large turn radius and slow turn rate. If you fly slower than
400 knots, your turn radius will be small but your turn rate
will go down because you can't achieve high Gs at a slow speed.
In an A-G configuration /with bombs or Mavericks loaded/ or in
the presence of SAM's, you want to keep your speed up to at least
550 knots. If you start turning when you are loaded with bombs,
you will soon bleed down your airspeed to the desired fighting
speed of 400 - 450. If you are flying an air-to-air intercept
and are going to turn and fight, then you should enter the "merge"
/within visual range or WVR/ fight with your airspeed at 450
Acceleration is how fast you go faster. It is very important
because BFM usually results in energy bleed off and a fighter
must be able to regain this energy by acceleration. The best
way to accelerate is to light the afterburner /AB/, roll the
wings level with the horizon, and head for the ground in about
20 deg of dive.
Falcon offensive BFM
This part discusses specific offensive, defensive and head-on
Falcon maneuvers.. In an air-to-air fight, you are forced to
execute specific maneuvers in response to the bandit. In offensive
maneuvering, BFM must be performed when the bandit turns into
you and creates aspect, angle-off, and range problems. The BFM
that you can actually execute in F-16 is constrained due to limits
on what you can see in the simulation. The bandits in the simulation
are difficult to see until they are at very close range. Outside
3,000 feet it is very difficult to tell what the bandit is doing
and to judge the geometry of the fight. Because of this, most
fights with the bandit result in a confusing "fur ball"
of high speed passes and missile engagements at ranges greater
than one mile. You know you did good when the bandit blows up,
but you're not sure what happened or why. In this section, we
discuss methods for going through the basic BFM steps: observe,
predict, maneuver and react. We will also highlight some simulation
"work arounds" that will help you execute the offensive
BFM needed to win.
Flying to the elbow
Offensive BFM is necessary because a bandit in fear of dying
will turn his jet at high Gs. To solve the BFM problems created
by this turn, you must execute a turn of your own with the objective
of flying your jet to the elbow. The key to F-16 offensive BFM
is knowing when and how to execute this turn. If you are behind
a bandit, remember the objective is to kill him and not put on
an airshow at his 6o' clock. The first action to take when you
have a bad guy in or near your HUD is to shoot something at him.
If you can't shoot because the bandit starts a hard turn into
you, then you must execute the following steps to get control
of him and start shooting again.
1. Use the HUD, the Radar
Scope, and the Threat Indicator to observe the bandit. If you
cannot determine the bandit's turn direction by looking out of
the HUD, look at your Threat Indicator. There you will see the
bandit moving around the circle, either right or left.
2. When you observe the direction of turn for the Bandit, predict
his movement across the sky and start a turn in the same direction.
For example if the bandit moves to the left in your HUD or on
your Threat Indicator, you turn left.
3. When you see the bandit turning out in front of you, ask yourself
this question: "If the bandit keeps turning at his present
rate, will his nose come around to point at me before I can close
with him?" If the answer is yes, you are outside the bandit's
turn circle and you are not flying offensive BFM - you are flying
head-on BFM. You cannot solve aspect, angle-off and range problems
when you are outside the bandit's turn circle. The reason is
simple: no matter what you do, if you are outside his turn circle,
he can always point at you and force a head-on pass. The illustration
above shows a Falcon both inside and outside the turn circle.
For now, assume you are inside the bandit's turn circle /the
bandit's present turn rate will not bring his nose around to
point at your jet/.
4. From inside the turn circle, maneuver to place the Flight
Path Maker out in front of the bandit /lead pursuit/, start pulling
5-7Gs, and adjust the airspeed to gain 50 knots of closure.
5. Now, you must observe the movement of the bandit in your HUD
to determine how to react. The bandit will do one of three things
in relation to your FPM.
* If the bandit stays in the same spot in the HUD, you are matching
his turn rate and will close the range and fly to the elbow.
Just keep doing what you're doing and prepare to strike a blow.
* If you pull the FPM to
lead and the bandit moves rapidly across your HUD and back under
your nose, ease off the G and let him fly back into view. In
this case, you are pulling too much lead for the bandit's present
turn rate. Once you regain a "tally ho" /visual sighting/,
put the FPM behind the bandit in lag pursuit. When the range
closes, the bandit will start moving away from you in the direction
of the turn. When this occurs, pull the your nose back to lead
pursuit and again get ready for a gun shot. In both of the above
cases you may pass through Sidewinder parameters.
* If the bandit moves through the FPM and you go from lead to
lag pursuit, you are not matching the bandit's turn rate and
you will overshoot. An overshoot is when you fly past the bandit
and are in danger of going out in front of him. The picture above
shows a bird's eye view of an overshoot situation. The solution
to this problem is to turn the Falcon as hard as possible and
check your airspeed. If you are over 450 knots, you will overshoot
the bandit every time - remember that velocity is squared in
the rate and radius equations. If you do
overshoot, don't worry; keep turning in the direction of the
bandit and you will get behind him.
All the above steps are designed to get you
to the elbow of the bandit. You must be aware of your airspeed
and closure at all times when flying these maneuvers. In the
F-16, we have a saying: " Fight BFM with both hands."
This means that you must not only move the stick but also the
throttle when you are fighting. Failure to do so - in either
the real jet - will send you riding that big thrust engine right
on past the bandit into a gross overshoot.
If you are an experienced simulator pilot or a non-F-16 fighter
pilot, you will notice that our discussion of offensive BFM did
not have a single word about high yo-yos or any other out-of-plane
maneuvering. In the F-16, you can kill the bandit faster and
stay out of trouble longer if you only fly lead, pure, or lag
pursuit as described above.
Falcon defensive BFM
You are not sure what went wrong, but there he is - a blood-hungry
National Socialist at your 6 o'clock. Before you reach for the
ejection handle, let's discuss your options. Defensive BFM is
a very easy concept to grasp in the F-16. A will to survive is
the most essential ingredient needed. The geometry of the defensive
fight is very simple, and the maneuvers are equally straightforward.
You must be able to execute them, however, while you are under
pressure and enduring the physical duress of violent, high-G
maneuvering. Defensive maneuvering requires patience, stamina
and optimism. Keep asking yourself, "Self, am I still alive?"
If the answer is "yes" - keep fighting.
Maneuver and ECM
The first thing you need to do defensively is to create BFM problems
for the bandit. You know how difficult it is to stay behind a
hard-turning bandit; to give the enemy the same trouble you had,
execute the following procedures for these defensive situations:
Missile Launch: Pay close attention to the Threat Indicator;
if you see or hear a missile launch indication at any time, stop
what you are doing and execute the following procedures:
1. Dispense chaff and flares and turn on your jamming pod /ALQ-131/
if you have one.
Don't try to figure out which type of missile the enemy is firing
/radar or IR/. You will have plenty of time to ponder that in
POW camp if your defensive reactions don't work.
2. While you are using your countermeasures, you must also put
maximum Gs on your jet as quickly as possible to give the enemy
missile a difficult target. Again, don't sweat which way to turn;
just do it.
If you get a lock-on indication before you get a launch, dispense
chaff only and turn the pod on. In this case, you have more time
to maneuver the jet against the bandit.
Bandit on your six: When the bandit is at your 6 o'clock
and you get a lock-on indication or no indication, look at the
Threat Indicator to figure out the direction of your defensive
turn. Then execute the following steps:
1. If the bandit is on the right side of the scope, turn right;
if he is on the left, turn left. In the rare instance when you
actually can see the bandit, turn towards him.
2. Roll to set your wings at approximately 80-90deg of bank and
start a hard turn into the bandit at maximum G. Turn with as
much G as the jet will give you.
3. Next, look at the Threat Indicator and note the direction
of movement of the bandit.
* If the bandit is approaching your 12 o'clock
position, your turn is working. You are giving him a problem
he can't solve, and he is moving out in front of you. Keep turning
until he gets to your nose and your radar locks on. Then you
are no longer on the defensive but are probably flying offensive
or head-on BFM.
* If you turn hard into the bandit and he does not move to the
12 o'clock position on the Threat Indicator, you are in for a
real tussle. First check your airspeed. If you are flying faster
than 450 knots, slow down to give your jet a tighter turn circle.
If you are slower than 350 knots and you are not in AB, get there.
This might get you airspeed up to 450. If it doesn't and you
still have external stores on the jet, jettison them.
Hopefully, one of the above steps will solve
your problem and put the bandit moving near the 12 o'clock position
on the Threat Indicator. If not, these is nothing more you can
do except keep turning and hope he runs out of gas or makes a
mistake. I wish I could give you a "magic move" that
would put the bandit out in front of you, but unfortunately that
move doesn't exit. Just remember that a MiG at 6 o'clock is better
than no MiG at all to a confident and aggressive fighter pilot.
Falcon head-on BFM
This BFM is flown after passing the bandit head-on. At this point,
you could keep going away from the bandit or you could turn and
"duke it out" with him. Head-on BFM is very easy to
execute but difficult to understand. The following steps will
help you take a head-on situation and convert it into an offensive
1. Use the Threat Indicator, the HUD and the
Radar Scope to point at the bandit. The goal is to place him
at your 12 o'clock position.
2. When you get an in range /IN RNG/ indication in the HUD, shoot
a Sidewinder. If the Sidewinder doesn't work, switch to guns
and shoot when you get inside two miles.
3. Stay heads up for a missile launch indication on your Threat
Indicator as the bandit approaches. If you get a launch indication,
respond as described in the defensive BFM section. There should
be no doubt in your mind that when somebody shoots at you, you're
4. When you see the bandit fly past you or the Threat Indicator
shows the bandit moving toward your 6 o'clock, start a hard turn
at 5-7 Gs in the direction of the bandit.
5. After starting a hard turn into the bandit, keep the turn
coming until you get the bandit in your HUD again. At this time,
analyze the aspect angle. If it is high /above 120 deg/, you
are still in a head-on fight. Go back to step one. If the aspect
angle is medium or low, you are winning the manly contest of
head-on BFM. Just keep pulling hard in the direction of the bandit
and you will soon be behind it.
6. Anytime you get confused, remember this: always turn in the
direction of the bandit. If you can't think of anything else
to do, just keep turning into him, using the Threat Indicator
as a reference.
One last point about head-on BFM: you can execute a hard turn
into the bandit in the vertical plane as well as the horizontal.
If you go into the vertical, just remember to keep on pulling
all the way through until you are pointing at him again. In an
F-16 you should always drive the fight into a tight, high G circle
because you can get around that circle faster than any other
jet in the sky.
The goal of maneuvering in offensive, defensive and head-on situations
is the same: to survive the attack of the bandit and shoot him
down. To do this you need weapons.
Why fighter pilots were born
Flying BFM or 1-versus-1 air combat in the F-16 is a wonderful
thing! The F-16 is a small, highly maneuverable fighter that
can dominate most other jets in a fight. You must be aware, however,
that maneuvering at high Gs to get to the bandit's 6 o'clock
is not the objective of the fight. Fighter pilot were born to
kill the enemy and to survive. To kill the enemy, you must use
your weapons. The best air-to-air engagements are brutal ambushes
of the enemy. One minute the bandit is flying along nice and
relaxed - the next minute your missile hits him and his body
parts are flying formation with pieces of his jet. A sustained
maneuvering fight can be very unhealthy in modern aerial combat.
As you go around and around with the bandit, other pilots are
attracted to the fight like moths to a flame. You may be winning
the fight you are aware of while you are losing a fight you don't
even know you're in. For this reason, you should shoot every
time you get in parameters on the enemy and end the fight quickly.
The life you save will be yours.
Air Combat Tactics /ACT/
ACT are used when more than two aircraft engage. All ACT is built
on BFM tactics; the bottom-line in ACT is always to use your
best 1-versus-1 tactics first - before you consider the other
aircraft in the fight. For example, once you make a decision
to kill a bandit out in front of you, fight your best 1-versus-1
offensive BFM to kill him - regardless of how many other bandits
are in the area or what your wingman doing. The crucial parts
of this example are making the decision to engage and deciding
how long to stay in a turning fight. Trying to kill that bandit
may be suicide if the air is filled with enemy jets and the engagements
requires you to be anchored in a sustained turning flight. On
the other hand, offensive BFM may require that you turn for only
a few degrees to get a kill. The point is that ACT involves tactical
decision. Once keep in mind that ACT is only an extension of
single ship BFM.
Single ship combat against multiple enemy aircraft is one of
the most challenging air-to-air engagements a fighter pilot will
ever face. One-versus-many tactics are difficult to execute but
straightforward conceptually. We will discussion of one-versus-many
tactics into offensive, defensive, and head-on situation.
* You are on the offensive in 1-vs-many situation
if the bandits you are fighting are all out in front of your
aircraft. Keeping the bandits out in front is the difficult part.
It is important to shoot as soon as possible at the nearest bandit
and then maneuver to stay in control of the fight. If you shoot
a missile at the nearest bandit and hit him, you improve the
odds and change the mind-set of the surviving enemy fighters.
If you miss your shot, then the maneuvering is even more critical
because you have angered them and they still outnumber you.
* A rule-of-thumb for maintaining control of the fight is to
keep the bandits on one side of your jet. This makes it much
easier to keep the bandits in sight and makes it harder for them
to sandwich you. In addition, you should also try to keep all
of the bandits either above or below you in altitude to make
it easier to keep track of the bandits and keep you from getting
* The question may come up: "What do I do if there are more
than two bandits in a fight and I do not kill one before they
all see me and start a turning engagement?" The answer is
simple - separate from the fight. The way to do this is to pass
the bandits as close as possible at 180deg of heading crossing
angle at the speed of heat.
*A rule-of-thumb is that if you are alone and
there are more than two bandits, do not turn more than 90deg
to get a shot and do not let your airspeed bleed off below 400
knots. After 90deg of turn or when you are reaching 400 knots,
get out of the fight. Separating from fights is an art more than
a science, and it is a critical fighter pilot's skill.
* A defensive 1-vs-many fight starts when a bandit gets behind
your 3/9 line with nose position. Remember, bad stuff can happen
to you when the bandit puts his nose on your within range of
his weapons! When this occurs, fight your best 1-vs-many defensive
BFM. It makes no difference how many bandits are in the sky around
you; the rule-of-thumb on defense is to fight 1-vs-1 BFM against
the most immediate threat. When you have defeated this attack,
you will probably have another bad guy saddling up on you so
get ready to fight the next one. When you are fighting multiple
bandits, remember that one may leave you in order to give the
change to kill you to another one who is in better position.
If you see one bandit disengaging, keep checking six because
you may be about to be engaged by his wingman. If this does not
occur, then keep accelerating and separate from the area.
* A head-on 1-vs-many fight has a very simple scenario. If you
pass multiple bandits head-on, plug in the afterburner and keep
on going. It is very foolhardy to start a 1-vs-many fight from
a head-on pass. In fact, the only way you should initiate a 1-vs-many
fight is from an offensive position.
2-vs-many fights are conceptually very similar to 1-vs-many engagements.
The difference is that your wingman can even up the odds and
give you several additional options that you do not have single-ship.
The presence of a wingman, however, does not mean abandoning
the principles of 1-vs-many air combat. Your wingman could be
blown up or engaged by a SAM, and you'd be in a bad position.
For this reason, always fight your best 1-vs-1 BFM and follow
the rules for 1-vs-many that we discussed. The biggest advantage
of having a wingman is that you can stay in a turning fight longer
to achieve a kill.
This does not mean that you can disregard your "escape window".
The presence of a wingman does mean. However, that you can delay
a separation and spend more energy in the form of airspeed and
altitude because your wingman can pick off any other bandits
that try to enter the fight. Just remember: in 2-vs-many fights
your wingman will probably become engaged soon after the merge,
and you will be thrust suddenly into a 1-vs-many fight.
left/right: A break turn is a maximum
G turn into a attacking bandit. It is performed to keep an enemy
fighter off your back. You would direct your wingman to "break"
if you detected a bandit at his 6 o'clock closing into a firing
position or if a missile is in the air.
Break high/low: This is the same except it is in the vertical. Use
it if a bandit is coming from high or low.
Roll out and fly straight and level: Use this directive
when you notice that your wingman is starting to do something
that does not fit into your current scheme of maneuver.
Bypass the current
waypoint: This will tell your wingman
and the rest of the fighters in your flight to skip the current
waypoint and head for the next one.
Return to provious
waypoint: This is opposite of the
last command. All the aircraft on your flight will start to head
back to the last waypoint you reached.
Maintain radio silence: If you want
your wingman /and others in your flight/ to shut up when you're
engaged in a dogfight, you can tell them to keep radio silence.
This works two ways, however. You won't be able to hear their
cries for help, but by the same token you won't get their warning
This part of the AFT section will go into detail on the two types
of ground radar /continuous wave/doppler and pulse-doppler/.
Each of the two kinds of radar have their flaws in that you can
fool them into thinking that you are just another part of the
Radar stands for Radio Detection And Ranging. A radar transmitter
puts out either a beam or a series of pulses of radio energy.
The transmitter antenna itself or a separate antenna can be used
as a receiver to detect the beam or pulse coming back, which
it does if it hits a solid object. Since radio waves always travel
at the same speed, timing the reception of the return tells the
receiver how far away the reflecting object was when the beam
hi it. Modern radars are very discriminating, capable of telling
both size and basic shape of an object by its radar return.
Continuous wave / doppler
A continuous wave/doppler radar puts out a constant signal. You
need a second antenna to act as a receiver, since the transmitter
cannot receive while it is transmitting. This form of radar was
the first type built and nowadays is mostly used for doppler-effect
ranging, using the doppler effect of the beam bouncing off object
moving toward or away from the receiver. If an object does not
show movement toward or away from the radar emitter, the radar
does not display it.
The probability of being picked up by a doppler radar depends
on the plane's angle to the radar and, of course, on the power
and range of the doppler radar. If an aircraft turns 90deg to
the beam of the doppler radar, it makes as little doppler-shift
return as possible and the radar does not note any difference.
This technique is called "beaming" the radar. The more
powerful or close the doppler is, the more likely it is to catch
slight variations in the position of the plane and realize it
Pulse-doppler radar puts out its radio beam in pulses, rather
than a continuous beam, and uses a separate receiver to measure
the radio pulse return. Most radars use pulses instead of a continuous
beam because it is cheaper and less cumbersome to use the same
antenna as transmitter and receiver. A radio pulse is issued,
and the same device attempts to pick up any return on the beam
caused by it bouncing off a solid object.
As a rule, pulse-doppler radar is shorter ranged and less efficient
than doppler radar. It shows everything the radar beam bounces
off of, making for a lot of "snow" on the screen. The
best way to fool pulse-doppler radar is to "charge"
it head-on to make the smallest target for the beam to pick up
and blend in the rest of the static.
Determining types of
You can tell what kind of radar is in the area by looking on
your Threat Indicator. Following is a graphic of the different
types of radar.
Multiple radar signals
Common practice among nations who have both forms of radar is
to alternate them and overlap their coverage areas, so that a
plane coming head-on to pulse-doppler radar will be detected
by a continuous wave radar and vice-versa. However, radars cannot
be placed too close to one another because their signals interfere
with each other. Also, radar systems are very expensive items
- crowding them too close together in one area may mean not enough
radar coverage in another. Therefore, it is possible for a clever
pilot to wave between radars, alternating a head-on approach
and a 90deg approach depending on which radar signal is stronger.
This is something referred to as "threading the needle."
Various devices such as chaff and an ECM pod
also can confuse radar, though the radar receiver will know that
something is up there or the interference would not exist.
Other methods of avoiding
Since radar waves travel
in lines, large ground object and mountains will generally obscure
a radar's signal. Therefore, if you pick up a radar signal behind
a hill, you can drop altitude to a point below the peak of the
hill, this masking your radar signature. This is a useful technique
to approach a radar installation undetected and for breaking
a radar's lock on your aircraft.
"Nap-of-the-earth" /NOE/ flying
The other way to hide yourself from a radar broadcast is to fly
as low to the ground as possible. This is called "nap-of-the-earth"
or NOE flying. When you fly extremely low to the ground, a radar
may get confused and think that you are part of the landscape.
While NOE flying is quite effective in avoiding radar, its disadvantage
is that it makes your plane very vulnerable to AAA and small
arms fire from ground troops.
Each of these formations are arranged in an eight-plane formation.
Keep in mind that the aircraft in black is Plane #1 /your plane/,
while the aircraft in gray are the other ones in your flight.
Some of these formations are more useful than others because
they may confuse enemy radar into thinking that your formation
has fewer planes than you actually have. In addition, other formations
may be useful for air-to-air encounters while others may have
more merit in a ground attack situation.