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Missing Missiles: The Missing Link

  By Ryan "Kosmo" Cowley, 187th Avengers VFW


  "Kosmo, bandits, 2-ship, bullseye 086, 22 miles.....engaged defensive!" The cockpit fills with an orchestra of light and sound. The RWR emits a launch tone, you look and see the red missile launch indicator is illuminated, confirming a radar missile inbound. The RWR indicates it's from the North, 11 o'clock. Decision time!

A Russian MiG. Any pilot's worst nightmare, and rightfully so. The MiG is a mobile weapons platform capable of delivering its lethal ordnance right to your door step, anytime, anywhere.

A combat pilot knows that accomplishing a successful mission will undoubtably entail a tangle or two with a MiG. And we all know that the skies in a Falcon 4 Campaign are full of them. Therefore it will serve you well to know exactly what you're going to do when that moment comes....before that moment comes.

Of the ordnance a MiG is capable of delivering, the radar guided missile will most likely be the first one you encounter, as it has a stand off range similar to that of the AIM-120. It's important, therefore, as a proficient combat pilot to fine tune your radar guided missile evasion skills.

The Maneuver

This maneuver, while not being the only way out of a potential hamfist with an air to air, missile, will grant you a 75% "get out a jail" rate (the author admits he doesn't know what a hamfist is, but it can't be good). If you're regularly getting shot down before any of your AI wingmen...well that's just a shame, and you had better seriously consider putting yourself through Tactical Weapon School.

In a typical engagement you will find yourself engaged head on into the MiG. If the MiG happens to get a shot off before you, standard evasion procedure dictates that you immediately turn perpendicular to the bandit, putting him and his missile on your 3-9 line, as seen in Fig. 1. We're going to take it a little further, and ensure that the pursuing missile isn't able to acquire the correct, and lethal, firing solution.

The incoming missile is confined in its maneuvering capability, as the rocket motor has a limited burn time, ussually only a few short seconds. During the burn time, most missiles will immediately begin a climb above their intended target. This allows the missile more energy after the rocket burns out as it dives towards its intercept point. It's this weakness that you should take advantage of.

Turning and putting the missile at your 3-9 line serves two purposes. First, it verifies that the incoming missile you see is tracking YOU! This is standard doctrine, developed by "Boots" Blesse and the like way back in Vietnam.

" a few minutes I spotted the three-ship flight and rejoined. Soone we were in the Hanoi area providing cover for F-105s and F-4s striking targets just west of town. A SAM was fired at us, beginning a sequence of events that was not to end until nightfall. When a SAM was fired, it was our procedure to turn, placing the missile at 90 degrees left or right to judge its approach.

"The SAM usually went above you and descended - from there you could determine if it was guiding toward you. If so, you took your flight down as steeply as possible, watching the missile increase its dive angle. At the last moment you would pull up and the SAM, unable to turn as tight, would fly into the ground. It required good timing and calm heads, but it worked." ("Check Six, A Fighter Pilot Looks Back" by F. C. Blesse.)

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Figure 1

This maneuver complicates the missiles' target solution. After this initial turn you are able to observe the missile turn and track you. Now it's time to take action, or face that long and lonely float to the ground. Oddly enough, the Air Force frowns upon planting a $26.9 million dollar F-16C as a permanent landscape fixture.

If it has a good track on you, it will turn and start going high. Russian missiles consistently track in a very steep lead pursuit course. We're going to exploit that tendency.

Dogfight Mode

This move will take some practice, until you can get the timing down just right. The best place to learn is in the Dogfight module, using external views, then after you become comfortable move into the cockpit so you'll recognize the angles and maneuver from the seat. Put yourself up against a MiG-29, enable jammers, load yourselves out with a couple of radar missiles, and put about 35 miles distance between you.

At the first sign of a missile launch, usually the RWR, throw on the jammer and make that first turn to put the missile at your 3-9 line. Now you have about 3-5 seconds to look over your shoulder and spot the incoming missile. You'll want to hurry and get a visual on the missile before its motor burns out, because it's easier to see while it's trailing smoke, otherwise it's just a little white dot. (Ed. Missile visual size is increased slightly in the 1.08 patch).

Figure 2.

This is where the timing becomes critical. There's no way to get an exact figure, but about 6-8 seconds before it looks as though it may hit you, roll inverted 180 degrees and pull on that stick for all you're worth. Make sure you hit the F-16's corner speed of between 330-440 kts. This will put you in a dive for the ground. As you keep pulling, you'll finish level with the horizon, but on a compass heading 180 degrees from your original course. See Figure 2 above.

We'll roll inverted and pull towards the ground to let gravity help us with a tight, quick half loop. Be sure you're dumping plenty of chaff out the back while turning. You'll learn early the importance of liberal chaff distribution.

Go to Part II.


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Last Updated November 29th, 1999

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