|Falcon 4.0 Instant Action
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Falcon 4.0 offers both a Dogfight mode and an Instant Action mode that is configurable to your liking. In the Instant Action mode you can choose A2A or A2G action, time of day, and also choose the difficulty level and whether or not there will be SAMs and AAA to face.
I've spent about four hours flying Instant Action with some interesting results. Like most of you will do, I started off at the easiest settings to familiarize myself with the sophisticated avionics and targetting systems of the F16. In the process I've learned some things about surviving multiple bandit engagements.
Instant Action on EASY, with no SAMs or AAA, allows the pilot to concentrate on the task at hand: engaging multiple bandits with unlimited resources of an F16. As a result, it's an unrealistic but very effective way of learning tactics and weapons systems. It's also a way to learn the particular slant of this training module, which is probably the best way to regard this component of F4.
When you first enter Instant Action in this mode you'll find yourself on the tail of about eight TU 16s and a couple of IL 28s. After a few go rounds, I realized I was carrying some heavy A2G stores. Best to pause the sim as soon as you enter, hit ALT J to bring up the jettison menu, and get rid of that useless weight. The jettison menu pops up in your right MFD, and you simply select the relevant pylon then hit SPACE to jettison the pylon. Repeat the procedure for both wings.
Before you can proceed to the engagement stage, however, you must exit the jettison menu by clicking the SMS button at the bottom of the MFD, then hit the dogfight key (D). Now you are in dogfight mode: short range missile mode with the combination of the gun pipper.
Wiser and lighter, you are ready to engage some hostiles! Actually, at this early stage these guys aren't very hostile, but once you lock them up they will try to evade you. Unpause the sim, make sure your throttle is way back, and get ready for action.
To lock up your first bandit simply hit the Designate button (0 on the keypad). Fire off your first missile, then shift your nose (you are in boresight mode now) a bit so that the next bandit is close to the center of your HUD +, hit KP. to Undesignate, then hit Designate again. Fire off another round. Keep this up for as many bandits as you can.
If you're really quick and don't overshoot (you will have to use your brake in here somewhere) you can get as many as eight hits before you have to clean up with guns and then engage the escapees with AIM 120s. Some of these aircraft will not go down with a single hit, and of course some will not manage to evade your missiles entirely.
A word of warning on use of guns. You have precious few shells and should get under half a mile before firing. Just tap your trigger, you only need a couple of hits. If possible try to be in the same plane as the bandit when firing. If you close to less than half a mile you have a good chance of taking some damage if the bandit breaks apart so use your brake when necessary.
Once you've made this initial pass, you can circle to take out the few that have evaded you, and then other bandits will begin to appear outside of ten miles. Hit M to go to medium range override and do a sweep in TWS mode. Hit F4 to increase your radar range to 20 miles or click on the up arrow in your left MFD radar display.
After this it gets a bit tricky. I tap Q twice and then choose 1 to get a vector to the closest threat when I can no longer find a bandit. However, this will occasionally result in a vector to the nearest parachute!
The bandits appear to come in waves, even on EASY mode, and they become increasingly aggressive and stealthy as time progresses. Their own evasive techniques become increasingly sophisticated, and you will spot a MiG 21 out of the corner of your eye, begin to turn into him, only to find he has dropped out of sight with a low yo-yo. Best to tap "4" twice for padlock as soon as you can and then pull your nose around.
A few things become critical as time progresses. First, don't fixate on a single target. Bring up your RWR in the right MFD and stay tuned for a radar warning. They won't lock you up at this stage so you won't get a tone from your RWR. They use radar to locate and then IR to take you out.
Second, manage your speed carefully. In order to do pull your nose onto a bandit who appears suddenly at your 4 to 8 o'clock without blacking out you need to be at 450 knots or less. If you black out you will have no control of your aircraft.
Third, stay low, under five thousand feet and even lower. It's a lot easier to locate a bandit silhouette against the sky, and they know this too! As time passes you will find some of these guys coming in low and fast and watching out for you. Check in with AWACS every minute or so when you have no target and keep checking your six.
Fourth, use the terrain to hide, and expect some of the bad guys to use it the same way. In the shot above I'm literally fighting for my life with a MiG 21 who snuck up on me. I almost lost consciousness on this turn.
I have to confess that I love the no cheat mode of the G-loc model in Falcon 4. When you black out you can still go to an outside view to locate the bandit, but you will not be able to control your aircraft anyway. This FORCES you to learn to manage your airspeed and manouvering more precisely. My flying and energy management is beginning to improve!
Finally, let me re-emphasize the danger of target fixation. In this shot I had a bandit at 15 miles and released an AIM 120 and then hit my AB to close the distance. I had gone from 4500 feet to about 6500 at 550 knots when I noticed a spike on my RWR. A few seconds later I was fighting a bronco and then had to eject.
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Last Updated November 27th, 1998