Ever since World War II proved the stunning capabilities of radar, military planners have come to depend on it more and more in modern combat. At
present, the U.S. builds weapons and trains personnel in preparation for the radar war of the future, relying almost exclusively on the combat
advantages of radar-guided missiles, radar-avoiding stealth technology, air- and land-based early warning radar, low-level terrain-following radar,
and target acquisition radar.
Stick with one argument about one system and stop trying to tar and feather the lot with different operational and technical considerations that do
not apply universally.
At the heart of radar's performance is an uncanny ability to find and hit targets at distances beyond enemy killing range, primarily beyond visual
Not true. The principle advantage of radar is it's ability to function in all weathers while sanitizing volumes of air or landspace for the
EMPTINESS which does not contain a valid target set. Optics cannot yet come /close/ to the ability to do this, even though they are potentially
cheaper to use in select applications which might create a network system.
It should also be noted that 'Beyond Killing Range' is /not/ the same as BVR. Because many nations are developing Medium Range Missile or Long
Range Missile technology which can be resoundingly defeated by stealth. But which poses a significant threat to both tanking and standoff
surveillance platforms by which those stealth assets are targeted.
It should also be noted that 'BVR' is itself deceptive because a 20ft tall emitter will indeed suffer clutter and broken LOS (Line Of Sight)
conditions at about 12nm while a stealth treated AShM (Anti Shipping Missile) /counts/ on being able to approach a target to a last second popup and
sweep which allows it to engage from a distance for which hardkill reaction systems are stressed to the point of non-reactivity. At visual
At the same time, radar can be used to provide early warning of an enemy's intentions while radar-jamming and stealth techniques can help to avoid
detection by enemy radar. It is almost as if radar has become a kind of Rosetta Stone for the practice of modern warfare.
The only reality of life which matters is persistent kill. If you sit on X and can only shoot at a target which is detected at Y, you have instantly
localized your sphere of influence to the distance at which a target can render YOU a target. By association with your emissions. Or by simply
outreaching or numerically saturating your WEZ or Weapons Engagement Zone. OTOH, if you make a weapons system that can FLY OUT to a given point.
_Sit There_ as a kind of minefield. And then either RTB to a parachute and airbag recovery. Or sweep forward in a networked skirmish line, it
doesn't matter where the initial (sensor) cue that causes it to attack comes from. Only that you are no longer defending a POINT of dirt with a ring
radius surrounding it. But a VOLUME of airspace thru which an enemy must travel.
Obviously this is an AAW (Air to Air Warfare) postulant but there are multiple variations of theme for land and sea warfare whereby taking away the
predictable 'associability' of a weapons system with a targeting network redefines the entire scenario of engagement to the level for which a threat
may engage /after/ a given area is swept clean. _Irrespective_ of what we 'know about' emitter locations.
Unfortunately, radar has not only turned out to be less than invincible, it has recently become a liability. Fueling what is now a raging debate are
the last few shooting engagements in the Middle East: The USS Stark could not defend itself against two Exocet sea-skimming missiles
The U.S.S. Stark was commanded by a moron who did not read the obvious signs of a popup to program a weapon which was only fired from 8-10nm out and
which went active late because of a very tight 'gate' of target predictor location. Hence he did not light off the Mk.15 CIWS. He did not activate
SRBOC. He did not unmask his aft engagement radar. Given that the same aircraft had been making repeated strikes 'just across the way' against a
known Iranian VLCC traffic lane. And given that we had reasonable 'stand back or we'll shoot' exclusion zones around each ship, you cannot blame
the sensor for the CMIC's (Chief Moron In Charge) stupidity.
USS Vincennes Aegis cruiser fired BVR at what its crew thought was an attacking fighter and downed an Iranian airliner;
Depending on model, the SM-2 Standard is good for between 15 and 70 miles. They were operating in a 'blue haze' environment for which the sky
looked clear but mid level pollutants interfered with optics (which admittedly the Vincennes did not have). The Captain was operating outside his
designated ops zone in Iranian territorial waters as part of a deliberate effort to incite Iranian attacks from local oil platforms. His 'hot
pursuit' of Iranian PCIs that had 'flashed' (likely nothing more than sun off glass) an SH-60 helicopter sent to keep an eye on them was thus
itself illegal, even though it meant his CIC crew was effectively fighting an SUW action when the AAW contact came up. He further conferred with
several other flotilla ships who confirmed that the Airliner in question was IN THE AIRWAY AND BROADCASTING THE CORRECT IFF (according to /their/
And even his own system told him he had a tracking gate over a target back at Bandar Abbas (IIRR) that was a known dual-use civillian and military
field. And it was THIS tracking gate which sent the potential IFF signal. i.e. Another gunho iguana who should never have been where he was.
Letting loose of the leash on his doberman's without paying _proper_ attention to the what both his own systems and his fellow LINK-11 vessels were
all telling him.
and two F-14s fired twice at intruding Libyan fighters, missing them BVR with radar-guided Sparrows and shooting them down within visual range with a
Sparrow and a heat-seeking Sidewinder.
Depending on which engagement you are talking about, the Su-22 were within visual range in a more or less neutral intercept condition when _they fired
first_. An AA-8 Aphid which has about a 2-3nm maximum flyout. And which was seen to be leaving the pylon of the fighter in question.
The Libyans were using ground attack fighters with poor physical and almost non-existent radar performance. They were using a shi**y missile that is
ideally never fired from the Front Quarter. And they maneuvered their airframes like sheered sheep in a blizzard. 'Radar' perse had nothing to do
with their deaths. Only their total incompetence and our ROE dictated the outcome.
In the second instance, we had decided to declare the Libyans potentially hostile from the outset which meant, by doctrine, that we were allowed to
maneuver for position which is to say turn out laterally so that, as they swept by, we could convert on their sterns. Everybody waves, everybody
takes pictures. And we all go home proud to be fighter pilots. Unfortunately, the MiG-23's were being vectored by GCI (Ground Control Intercept)
and so for every turn away we executed to gain spacing, they turned 'back into us for the third time'. While continually closing the range.
At which point, we had a _very_ clear idea of who they were because the AWG-9 _radar_ was pointing an AXX-1 TCS (Television Camera Set) at them and we
could see OPTICAL silouhettes. i.e. Radar VOLUME scan cues televisually magnified (10X what man can achieve which means 20-25nm for a fighter) target
Unfortunately, here too a killer monkey got all hot and bothered and, from the backseat, popped an AIM-7M which promptly proceeded to miss because THE
PILOT (the guy who is nominally in charge of firing all missiles) was not expecting the shot and did not have the dot centered in the ASE or Allowable
Steering Error circular reticle which supported good tracking. Indeed, the very geometry (my plane, his plane) was ALL wrong. And again, you had a
20-25nm weapons system opening fire at about 10nm which meant that once the GIB decided to make it lethal, we HAD TO finish things with heat
The DOD has been trying since 1977 to ive birth to the advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) as a replacement for the AIM-7 Sparrow and
the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Almost 13 years later, the technical challenges of creating the AMRAAM are still to be met. One of those responsible for
developing the missile in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Charles E. Myers, says "the drive to create it was a reflection of the frustrations
in the radar weapons community."
Oh please. The U.S. Weapons Development Community tried to:
1. Get a 20nm capability in a missile that weighed about 2/3rds as much and had a 1" narrower diameter than the existing 510lb, 8"X12ft Sparrow.
2. They further added a primitive datalink, tail controls and some classified stuff to the missile seeker which meant the development of a first
hybrid then MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits, systems which can handle raw signal feeds from the radar TWT (travelling wave tube) and
receiver/channelizer without an analogue bridge to protect the 'digital' electronics.
And they FAILED MISERABLY. Why? Because the weapon which was supposed to IOC in 1984, then in 1986. Then in 1988. On F-16's which otherwise would
have been vulnerable to RADAR face shots by Flogger and Foxbat (let alone Fulcrum and Flanker) could pretend to be multishot missileers. With an
APG-68 radar that was utterly incapable of supporting long range IFF interrogation. HDTWS (High Data Rate Track While Scan) across a large enough
volume to see and sort multiple contacts. And which had no datalink to enable multiple flight elements to coordinate their actions.
The result? We would have gone to war (and lost) with F-15's that could easily have integrated this capability in a Sparrow class missile (the
508lbs is a veritable anchor on the LGPOS or little grey piece of ***t) in the required timeframe for an 80's NATO war.
But were themselves instead restricted to SARH tactics that required careful speedup-slowdown-turnaway-remerge-with-traffic control of angles and
offsets in what amounts to setpiece tactics in the most dynamic of all combat types. The Eagles also lost out on an optical tracking set similar to
the TCS. And JTIDS II terminals with which to coordinate their activities (passively) with AWACS.
All because the F-16 and AIM-9 were NOT capable of winning a high intensity fight. And being so incredibly cheap that we would only buy/upgrade a jet
which we had first whored the world over, we chose to wrong technology investment path to invest in with AMRAAM.
How ironic when the reality of life is that AIMVAL-ACEVAL was 'all about' proving the superiority of the Super Teen fighters over the lowly
The dogfight was consigned to the scrapheap of history when radar-guided missiles appeared in the '50s. Guns disappeared from from fighter planes,
and missiles were hung in their place to defend U.S. borders and naval vessels from air attack. Sorting friend from foe was never considered
worrisome, even at the higher closing speeds of jet aircraft and greater firing range of the airborne missile. Then came Vietnam and what one-time
combat pilot Myers calls "military-political gymnastics" instead of a real air war.
Some of those 'gymnastics' including:
1. Restriction from fighting the good fight.
Pssst. When the odds are like 800:100, _it doesn't matter_ what your ACMT/DACM (Air Combat Maneuver Training/Dissimilar Air Combat Maneuvering)
competencies are. As long as you have decent targeting; you go in, you SMASH their airpower _on the ground_ and then you wipe the floor with their
2. The USAF instituted, service wide, an RHIP formation system called 'Fluid Four' whereby one man (the flight lead) shot, and his wingman and his
second element lead and /his/ wingman, stood there and watched. From >
Suddenly, a minor enemy arose who put up a limited air challenge with inferior MiGs. The U.S. fielded its front-line fighters, in particular the F-4
Phantom II, which had been designed for fleet defense rather than violent close-combat aerial maneuvering. Back came the dogfight, but since pilots
had little dogfight training and worried about killing their buddies, the Americans did not do well, especially with radar-guided Sparrows and
especially beyond visual range.
Yeah Right. First off, you incredible putz. We fought that airwar THREE DIFFERENT TIMES. First in 1966. Then in 1967-68. Then (after a 3 year
intermission so that the bad guys coud go back to clobber college and bone up on tactics yet again) in a running fight throughout the summer and
through Christmas of 1972. Each time our airwarriors were effectively starting from scratch over unfamiliar terrain a long ways from friendly forces.
Each time (the cadre` survivors of) their combat veterans were working all the home-team advantages of known turf and tactics.
Yet despite all this, do you want to know what the total combined (USAF, USN, USMC) losses were for U.S. fighters to enemy air action?
For a grand total of 79.
Do you want to know how many VPAF jets went down? Including 1965-66 which was the 'heart of the envelope' for bad missile variants, early jets, no
integrated IFF/vectoring, no podded EW, no decently dissimilarly trained U.S. pilots?
Guess which side I want to fly on.
In a conflict where (Operation Bolo) a single engagement that destroyed 7 aircraft meant /halving/ the Vientamese Peoples Air Force inventory of their
best jet: the MiG-21PF Fishbed. Viet losses like the above can only be possible if you let the enemy rebuild his airpower. From the ground up.
Where did I get this data? Well, the USAF kills comes from here-
The U.S. losses come from a book entitled _OKB MiG_ by a Russian author named Piotr Butowski.
I have later discovered it is supported by this web page-
Even though Vietnam drove home the lesson that pilots and aircraft must learn to dogfight within visual range, the air services asked for improved
radar missiles. The AMRAAM emerged, supported by advocates inside and outside the DOD.
Gee, do you think it could be because the USAF BVR system /works/ when it is properly supported by airborne warning and control and a decent set of
ROE compared to the USN approach which is based on machine-gun-in-shopping-cart, high AOA at fully merged low speeds?
To score a kill during a swirling dogfight, a pilot would have to launch missiles one after the other at multiple targets, a dubious tactic quickly
called "launch-and-leave." "What no one wanted to say," says Myers, "is that they already had a missile that did this -- the cheap, accurate
Crap. Launch And Leave (Fire And Forget) is a definition applied to the seeker of a weapon which does not require continuous single target tracking
by the parent fighter to 'see' a reflection from the illuminated target to home on. While nominally this is a good idea, it makes no reference to
the DISTANCE at which the seeker can acquire said target. NOR does it acknowledge the flyout time and residual terminal energy of the MOTOR which
which brings the two together.
In this the Sidewinder is better described by the term 'LOBL' (Low Ball or /cheap/) as a Lock On Before Launch weapon. While AMRAAM, though it can
be fired as a LOBL method, is more often shot as a _LOAL_ or Lock On AFTER Launch system. In which the weapon is not seen coming because it is fired
like a torpedo with a delayed action activation of it's seeker group. No noise means no F-Pole turnaway and extension or dive into draggy
Either way, the 120 is better than the AIM-9M and roughly equal to the AIM-9X. Because while the 9Mike will lockup a target at 6-8 miles reliably (if
the air is clear and cold) the AMRAAM will lock up at 10-12. And while 9Mike is lucky to hit a target 2 miles away from astern and 4-5 miles in the
face. AMRAAM will flyout to as much as 10nm from a launch point of 14-17 in which it _did not see_ the enemy at firing.
i.e., whether by cloud cover or tactical reasons for required stealth (the longest known AMRAAM shot was from 21nm out as an F-16 pilot 'timed' the
racetrack of a fighter patrol orbit to have target meet threat, inbound) the AMRAAM can see it's threat sooner. And chase it down with more reliable
speed-as-evasion-countermeasure terminal energy when it gets there.
And it always will since 2/3rds of it's 360lb weight is motor. While roughly half of the 196lb AIM-9M is.
MOST importantly, the AIM-120 has a one-way (parent to target) radar sideband datalink and is getting a two-way digital-independent version soon.
This means that you can shoot it at ONE specific target, update the target's position inflight. And, with the C7, get the missile to tell you where
/it/ is, inbetween. This means that there is no tendency to 'Pit Bull' (shake a mad dog in a sack and it will jump the first person it sees when
you let it loose) AND that your Launch And Leave option doesn't mean abandoning a missile before it has achieved optimal (close intercept) distance
necessary to get a kill without yelling out it's presence by early activation of the active seeker.
Comparitively, heat weapons are used in what is known as the 'look shoot look' mode. Which rapidly tends to degrade to 'look break look'. As
they are so lethal and the globe of airspace they can exploit so large (90` off the seeker boresight, 360` around the target) that there is no way to
be sure of defeating them on a Pyrhhic victory basis of getting the first kill. But not the last shot.
This is why most fighter pilots who are honest about the PHYSICS of what they and their platform can do, at speed (the USAF enters fights at 500
knots. The USN at often less than 350), will tell you that a dogfight is, at best a 50:50 Russian Roulette revolver gambit with 3 rounds in the
spinning cylinder and two trigger pulls, yours and his, with the gun to your head. An action born of desparation which completely devalidates the
nominal superiorities of Western Technology.
At $ 500,000 a missile, the AMRAAM solution has a cost 10 times higher than a Sidewinder. It is so expensive that the services have been forced to
stop buying the Sidewinder because they can no longer afford both radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles.
No. The reason we abandoned Sidewinder development is because the Heat Weapon is /worthless/ as an extended range system when mounted on a 200lb,
'lightweight', missile chassis. And you cannot mount it on a long range motor unless you are willing to pay to have a secondary RF ability for
looking through clouds or against terrain clutter. And that would mean million dollar missiles.
Furthermore, entering a 4-6nm WVR (Within Visual Range) arena where said 'dogfight weapons' can actually have a chance of chasing an enemy down
means taking THREAT first-shot fires for at least 4-5nm with weapons like the R-27T, the MICA-IR, the ASRAAM and the Python-4/5 which are ALL
kinematically superior to even our latest AIM-9X. Because they have a 6.5" to 9 inch motor diameter vs. the 5.2 of the AIM-9. And they weight
200-250lb to 400lbs instead of the 9X's 185. Thus, even with an imaging seeker that finally lets the AIM-9X challenge the AIM-120C for absolute
tracking range, you are left with a 20km acquistion, 10km flyout, 'damn the torpedoes!' time delay lag in your so called Launch And Leave
Particularly where you are flying a hulking aluminum overcast like the F-15 or F/A-22 as your principle 'Air Dominance' fighter; you cannot afford
even a single banked turn to break away from that fight. And so you are left praying that a radar-silent approach using MIDS/IDM type datalinks will
keep you safe from detection until you can get an assassin kill.
And that is just pure bogus dimwittery in a jet which runs anywhere from 50 to 183 million per copy vs. the 30 million it takes to grind out another
Dorito Fighter (crunch all you like, we'll make more!) like the MiG-29.
The REALITY of modern aircombat is that the seeker itself is not as important as the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit, the strapdown gyro of the missile
autopilot) and the tether type.
Because if you can fly the weapon out to X distance. While /guiding it/ from Y. You can can fire from 20miles out on a target. And kill it with a
detached support jet 20-40-60nm further back yet.
With today's weapons in which the missile tethers (datalinks) are pretty primitive, the baseline is the 'Chainsaw'. Whereby two elements of two
aircraft create an offensive split of geometry change (hilo as a 'pinch' or widearound as a 'heart' [shaped] attack). SOLELY to take at least one
pair outside the incredibly limited scan field of enemy radars operating in a 40-60` wide by 2-4 bar deep (where a bar is a subtend of arc that is
anywhere from 1.5' to 2.5` degrees):
Which, is an incredibly soda-straw limited field of view when set against the great wide sky but all that the radar data processor can handle in terms
of sorting contacts within a reasonable (mechanical array) timeframe to keep everybody tracked.
Once separated, one or the other element will slingshot forward while receiving datalink radar data from the hung-back pair. Fire their missiles.
And retreat to rejoin.
Just like the teeth of a chainsaw.
Under these conditions, even pilots of the LGPOS whose radar is nothing if not pathetic, prefer X3 AIM-120C and X1 AIM-9. Or X4 AIM-120C (night). To
_any other_ kind of weapons mix. Because it is easier to fling a longspear and take two steps back to redevelop a 'picture' of the results. And
then do it again to clean up any survivors. Than it is to close to knife-range where your mechanical countermeasures (flares etc.) may not work. And
you are taking on the entire formation rather than the dregs of disorganized, leaderless, survivors of a 'bolt from blue' attack.
In the AMRAAM project office, Air Force Col. James Burton had been handed the job of collecting hard information on the effectiveness of missiles in
air-to-air combat. Burton studied all 407 known missile kills made in the air since 1958 (except for the 1967 Middle East war and Pakistan's 1971
clash with India), focusing hard on the 2,014 missile firings made during the Vietnam War and the 1973 and 1982 Middle East skirmishes.
Burton fast became one of the most unpopular men in the Pentagon. He titled the briefing he gave on his findings "Letting Combat Results Shape the
Next Air-to-Air Missile." His findings? Of more than 260 Arab aircraft knocked down by Israel in 1973, only five fell to Sparrows in 12 firings.
1. The Israelis only have two platforms: the Phantom and the Eagle which can fire Sparrows. They didn't have the F-4 during 1967 (Mirage only) and
they didn't have the Eagle during 1973. What does that tell us about the reliability of the initial dataset to give garbage out data from an absent
2. During ALL their wars prior to the 1982 Bekaa, the Israeli's have operated in a fighter bomber role, either because they really needed to pump
out the sorties and French jets aren't worth crap for hauling pig iron. Or because they were fighting without benefit of decent IADS in which the
first you saw of an enemy was when he flew across your nose.
3. At the time of the 1973 war, they would have been using AIM-7E1 or 2 which is a pathetic version of the Sparrow with _SARH not ARH_ homing. At
the time of the 1982 war, they would have been using AIM-7F which is, if anything, a step back. Having a better motor but an even worse seeker.
4. During both their 'SARH Spoken Here!' battles, the IDFAF were faced with a tactics driving S2A (Surface To Air) threat and relatively primitive
air to ground ordnance which would have prevented the use of medium altitude tactics. i.e. The fighters don't gain anything flying up because they
either don't have look down radars or are blocked by the Shouf mountains from seeing the Syrian Air Force response. The bombers are attacking at low
level because they can't hit squat from high. And the enemy interceptors are going to be where the bombers are regardless. WHY TAKE AN SA-6 TO THE
FACE WHEN YOU HAVE NO JAMMING AND NO RADAR WARNING FOR A WEAPONS SYSTEM WHICH HAS TO TARGETS TO SHOOT?
5. The Israeli's are good. But only in perspective of the Arabs being complete morons. Outnumbered 10:1, surrounded with ZERO depth of field to
trade in any kind of maneuver campaign, if the Ragheads got their shiite in one sock and fought like they had a COMMUNAL purpose rather an a coup
psychology going, the Mediterranean would flow red with Jewish blood and Cairo, Riyadh, Amman and Damascus would all be self lighting parking lots.
What a dinkus.
Of the 632 Sparrows fired in all the wars Burton studied, only 73 destroyed the airplane they were fired at, for a kill rating of 11%. The ancient
Sidewinder did almost three times better: of some 1,000 Sidewinder firings, 308 kills resulted in a kill rating of 30%.
The only REAL war in which to measure the effects of BVR tactics is and always will be Vietnam. Because it is the only one in which the campaign was
protracted enough for technology development to have more of a dominant effect than sheer logistical:attrition scaled 'replacement theory'.
And because it was the only one where the enemy proved willing to fight a hopeless battle on the basis of making a stink that the U.S. News Media and
Communism Whores like Jane Fonda would translate to victory. Though the numbers were never decisive in any engagement, the continuous threat of said
attack drove much of the large scale planning around which we flew the Air Superiority mission 70% of the time. Maneuvered it against an airborne
threat 20% of the time. And killed with it 7-10% of the time. Those kinds of numbers themselves generate 'statistical margin' in the number and
types of encounter mode by which every American is a target and the environment is rich with them.
For all of this, it was only in 1972 where 'everything came together' (Nixon was willing to extinguish the North Vietnamese from history if it would
give him diplomatic grounds to end our commitment).
And in this stage of the fight (one year, the most intense of the entire war from Easter to Christmas), 281 AIM-7E2 Sparrows were fired for 34 kills
for an SSPK (Single Shot Probability Of Kill) of around 12 percent.
Comparitively, 95 USAF AIM-9s (both B, E and J) were fired for a total of 9 kills or a 13 percent success rate.
A statistical differential which is not even worth comparing. EXCEPT for what it indicates as a certain truth in the secondary figures:
1. Where targets were unhittable with AIM-9s, AIM-7s were used. Where AIM-7s were used in greater numbers, their _total kill rate_ remained the
same. Whether because the pilots did not trust their Sparrows and so fired in salvo. Or because the AIM-7's were the only weapons available for
that particular shot geometry. DOES NOT MATTER.
2. The USN fired 50 AIM-9D/G for 23 kills or an SSPK of roughly 46 percent. But the USN /only shot down/ 24 aircraft. Half that of the USAF which
encountered their enemy in a variety of very challenging environments (more challenging threat airframe, deep inland with little or no gas margin, at
night supporting F-111 and B-52, or while slowed down escorting bombers while laden with pods and smart weapons that reduced the number of Sparrows
carried [EW and targeting pods used the same fuselage wells] and flat out DENIED the Sidewinder option).
And lastly, even this is deceptive because, again, USAF ego driven Majors and Colonels reserved MiGCAP (Sweep) flights /ahead of/ the strike packages
as a personal hunting ground RHIP mission set like some mighty bwana'd hunter in which only the lead ship shot while the other three cheered. And
there were only 2-3 flights of four active in total as the principle effectors for the majority of the shootdowns.
What this means is that if you don't have a very good weapon. You will be overrun or outrun on sheer threat numbers.
In Southeast Asia, Sparrow had such a poor reputation that pilots routinely ripple-fired their Sparrows, firing off two or more in a row rather than
taking a chance on a single shot. Even though few fighters came to Vietnam equipped with guns, they had a better kill rating than Sparrow-equipped
fighters. Burton found that guns actually made about one-third of all the kills counted in Vietnam.
First off, the first USAF jet ace to come out of the conflict made ALL FIVE of his kills with the AIM-7E2. In 13 firings. For an SSPK statistic rate
of nearly 40%.
Because he knew what he was doing, had a good WSO running the radar and that radar weapons _system_ worked. Once we knew what was wrong with the
Combat Quick Lock.
The F-105 was the only _bomber_ equipped with an internal gun. It's use as a gun platform came about because the AIM-9B Sidewinder it usually
carried one of was too poor perfoming to be useful on it's own and took too long to activate from within the principle bombing mode that the pilot
was usually heads-buried concentrating on when a MiG flew in front of his windscreen. Which was the only way an F-105 could hit anything because it
had a turning rate and radius the size of a small city. Indeed, of the TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY TWO F-105 losses, SIXTY TWO (vs. 32 Thud kills + 1
'combined' AIM-9+Gun victory) were at the hands of enemy interceptors, i.e. a 2:1 LER (Loss Exchange Ratio) /in favor of the Vietnamese/.
Which collectively only proves only that if you close with a target to bomb, you will get shot at by everyone who knows where you are going to be.
And the only reason the F-105 had to be in range of those fighters AND ground fire without escort. Was because the F-4 'all missile' systems (at
the time) did not have the EW pods to even try to get close.
i.e. The data is skewed by the number of options available and is actually in _direct contravention_ to what the 'true fighters' (later F-4C/D with
optional centerline gunpod or F-4E with inbuilt cannon) would would achieve. Because of the 117 or so kills that the F-4 community (all services)
scored. ONLY 14 were gun kills. Roughly 11 percent.
Indeed, the best 'pure air combat' airframe we had in the war (Highest number of kills per engagement) was the F-8 Crusader and while known as the
'Last Of The Gunfighters', thanks to it's quartet of 20mm cannon, only 3 of it's 20 odd kills were by the gun. And it lost 4 jets doing so on
nothing more than the sheer opportunism by which an enemy at close range can and will turn the tables (or soak your Situational Awarness while his
wingman does so) in levelling the statistical odds.
To the horror of those he briefed, Burton told them he found only four BVR kills in all the wars he covered. What is more, each of the four (two by
Israel, two by F-4s in Vietnam) was carefully staged outside the confusion of combat to prove BVR's combat worthiness. One Southeast Asia kill was
listed as a MiG-21 when it was really an F-4 mistakenly identified and shot down using Combat Tree, the BVR identification equipment of the era that
was supposed to sort friend from foe. According to Burton, the only reason Israel went after its two BVR kills was strong pressure from the U.S. to
establish BVR doctrine.
The fact of the matter is actually the exact opposite. The _very first_ official missile kills of the war were by an F-4B pair in 1965 which achieved
a double kill from a starting range of 14-17miles out, low over the clutter, using the earliest APQ-100 radar and AIM-7D (liquid propellant!)
missiles. OTOH, if you 'stage things' so that your shot comes off the rail at 4-6nm instead of 8-12, you will inevitably have a high percentage of
"Haha! Now I have you!" messy fights in which the missile is avoided or fails due to rapidly compressing geometry and no time for a second shot.
And baddabing. You are back to the Red Baron days of clawing for each other's six over multiple minutes of air combat maneuver while planform
showing anyone within 50 miles your location in space as a visual target TEN TIMES that of a head-on silouhette. And worried as hell that your gas
will run out before you're enemy's nerve because he has a shorter trip home than you do.
The certainty of BVR warfare is that we have never exercised it to full-stretch in a WARPAC vs. NATO type conflict for which total engagement numbers
are in the low thousands and the enemy can come across the border at the 'full weight' of 100 F-15's out of Bitburg and CNA with as many as 800
jets in a single raid.
In /that/ kind of warstate, you will create freefire separated engagement zones between SAMs and Fighters (split by ceiling as much as range) and
start nocking and loosing arrows at 20-25 miles out. And if a few allied interdictors which _should_ be either grounded or within safe passage lanes
across the FLOT get whacked. _So Be It_.
Because the consequences of losing a REAL airwar are like unto Desert Saber with an armored avalanche pouring over Hitler's Highway network and
broaching the nuclear floor within 18-24hrs of conflict start.
For any and all 'secondary theater' wars, the reality is that you will destroy or paralyze their air defenses with a combination of numbers and
sneak attack (Cruise etc.) weapons which effectively catch them when they are down in a combat turn, desperately trying to reload and refuel when
'the next raid' arrives overtop their airbase and they are rolled back and then crushed, in place. On the ground.
In summarizing how the 407 missile kills were made, Burton came up with some unsettling conclusions:
* Most targets were unaware and were fired on from the rear.
With LPI/Sniff modes and some deceptive EW tricks, they still are not. The two MiG-29's that Boomer and Bear took out over the Boz died after a BVR
shot at around 8-10nm which continued to close to about 6nm, at which point both F-15 drivers got tally on the Fulcrum pair urgently trying to notch
the AMRAAMs as their seekers lit off, less than a mile from the kill.
It was too little, too late, and the MiG's never fired back which, at that point, they were within parameters to do with R-73.
* An insignificant number of targets were aware and maneuvered hard to avoid the attack.
No MAWS (Missile Approach Warning) and a biolimited Maneuver capacity to about 11Gs vs. a weapon with a digital autopilot:seeker overlap of optimized
terminal strategies to bring weapon collision vector over the canopy regardless. Big Surprise. Old missiles were good for about 17-25G. Gen-3 took
this to about 40-45. Modern systems can handle more than 70. On a 5:1 basis of maneuver exceedance (missile velocity impairs it's turning radius)
that STILL means you are about 5-7G's short of the required evasive energy necessary to hop out of the pickle barrel spatial proximity that the
weapons proximity fuze is about to handgrenade your a$$ in. Expendables and Smart Jamming can sometimes add a few G but especially terminal, it's
more often a case of the weapon seeker missing cleanly. Or not being bothered by your flash and dazzle at all.
* Many rear shots were fired from above the target, making them more difficult shots to hit.
Which makes no sense whatsoever since the vast majority of Sparrow shots were taken before LDSD was even available while the guidane bias of the
typical heatseeker will ALWAYS treat the topside of the target as the 'hotside' for lead rate purposes.
* There were almost no head-on BVR shots because of the high closing speeds of the aircraft involved.
ROE and pilot egos being what they are... We have long since solved the fuzing gate circuitry problems requried for FQ radar weapons useage. Heat
weapons are more about angle off on the initial shot vs. motor reserves and dive thru planing but are still pretty much 'invincible when in
envelope'. And besides, who says nose-to-nose like some knights at joust is a good idea? Assassins win honorable wars.
Even though BVR shots were almost nonexistent in the wars Burton studied, he reached one unsettling conclusion: "The most dominant aspect of missile
air combat to date has been the requirement to positively identify the target." And the only sure way to do that has been by eye.
This I agree with to the extent that both JEM and 2D ISAR techniques have taken /way/ too long to get into the field while optronics have largely been
ignored. Something particularly irksome when you look at the Swedes who openly state that their IR-OTIS (IRST) testbed is achieving upwards of 120%
of radar optimal detection thresholds (admittedly vs. an unstated RCS threshold) vs. their PS-05. However; the reality remains that, for the longest
time, we have been radar shooters because the operating environment where we /could/ be forced to fight is so hostile as to make even EO systems
questionably capable in their performance through weather and what not. Now that our radar NCTR is getting better and we have the ability to 'two
eyes on target' track a threat from launch through to Fox for sureties on 'track history' if not Mode&Code, the fact remains that the ability of
the radar weapons system is now more dominant in it's _achievement_ than it ever was in the past promises.
Furthermore, as I hinted at earlier, the reality of air combat is that WHERE YOU ARE PRESENT, PREDICTABLY, YOU WILL BE FOUND, COOPERATIVELY. Via
networked IADS operating on a multitude of bandwidths and spectra. The key is to 'no be dare' to be attacked. And increasingly this means taking
the stealth concept and multiplying it with the standoff precision guided munition and indeed /multiple/ (small) PGMs so that you only need breach the
outer layer of the enemy defensive shell.
And can thus avoid most of the 'vectoring' threat collation-of-sensor-data process altogether. Fewer jets in the air also means fewer secondary
encounters on sheer random odds+numbers basis and thus less need _for the enemy_ to buy his defensive intercept force in numbers to match.
Fewer numbers all round reduces the variability of unknowns in a largely static (plateau'd) equation and this too helps 'contain things'.
When validation tests were under way in the late '70s, on the air combat missiles and doctrines of the next generation, the cry went up that the
results would be useless since most of the flying was done under clear air visual conditions and BVR shooting was so limited. Myers suggested giving
AMRAAM's proposed operational BVR parameters and air-to-air anti-radiation missiles (ARMs) to Red Force. This would give everybody some rules and
results worth measuring, but the idea was struck down by the AMRAAM office. Clearly, the new rules might have pointed up radar's inherent weakness: A
simple, inexpensive missile like ARM can home in on radar and kill in an instant.
The F-5E force at AIMVAL was operating with 'Concept C' missiles that were effectively bore-only AIM-9Ls as 'best that the Russians could do in a
decade's time'. In point of truth the Tiger II's APQ-159 radar couldn't handle even emulating some of the more complex, cued, seeker modes being
tested. And the R-73M2/K-74 series represented as big an advance over the AIM-9L as it did over the AIM-9B.
The difference then being whether you have the 400nm of instrumented range space to set up a /real/ 'Wall of Eagles' type engagement scenario rather
than having the jets roll in from neutral=lineabreast starting position and playing first-second circle games with Energy Maneuver (speed plus planing
altitude=rate) tactics that are themselves worthless in a world of 'Superman' post stall maneuvering at AOA's beyond 60` with missiles that have
40-60` worth of HOBS to stop-drop-fling that handgrenade across the circle or even over the shoulder at you.
i.e. There is NO SAFE PLACE TO BE IN A DOGFIGHT ANYMORE. Because an enemy may kill you not realizing he has zeroed his airspeed for your wingman.
And you're still just as dead.
Which is where you once more have to ask how realistic a setup you can run over the Flag ranges at Nellis or China Lakes missile complex. You need
something more like the PMTR to do it the right way (50nm acceleration, 100nm breakaway/rejoin) and we just didn't have the Deci styled
ACMI/TACTS/OBEWS type options to do that, back then.
In 1984, Burton managed to have the idea tested in McDonnell Douglas' differential maneuvering simulators. The results were devastating. Over and
over, ARM-equipped fighters shot down AMRAAM aircraft and missiles. The results were turned over to the AMRAAM office, which invalidated them and
threw out the exercise. In airborne tests in Nevada, Red Force aircraft using simple radar homing and warning devices could see Blue Force AMRAAM
radars coming on 10 mi. away. The warnings allowed Red Force to turn away and beat the missile. When the AMRAAM radar was reset to come on 5 mi. from
the target aircraft, the change negated the longed-for BVR scenario.
Late model AIM-120C already has a secondary receiver channel capacity to 'look thru' the principle lobe for things like cruise missile radar
altimeters. I wouldn't be surprised if some kind of sophisticated HOJ (Home On Jam) or full up AA-ARM mode is also possible. But the fact remains
that if the combination of detection threshold, missile impulse and parent boosting can be synergized correctly, you can usually 'work the problem'
in ways that are rather obvious when thought about.
1. Sometime around the AIM-120C4, they completely repackaged the Guidance and Control Section. This left them with nearly a foot of empty void space
inside the missile tube. In the AIM-120C5, they filled /part/ of this space with a longer motor. That still left them 7" which was spacered out.
With the (USAF) AIM-120C6, this space is supposedly taken up by an enhanced linear-blast warhead which acts something like a shaped charge to get very
high closure rate surety kills off of the F/A-22 supercruise boosted launch. With the AIM-120C7 further guidance improvements were made to the
autopilot, most likely as a result of a digital FOG strapdown gyro and perhaps GPS assist. 'Somewhere around Phase III' of the preplanned
improvement program, the AIM-120C8 or D as it's sometimes called was supposed to pick up the other 7" of void space as motor fill (ala Raytheon's
failed 'ERAAM' candidate to arm Eurofighter) so that non-supercruising platforms could enjoy the same 20nm NEZ, 40nm extended FQ capability that the
Raptor does. And sometime after that, a completely new missile communication suite was supposed to bring the ability to let individual aircraft share
secure digital missile keys rather than having discrete (analogue) channel blocks which were more or less pretuned between missile:shooter systems.
These kinds of improvements are always being shuffled around for order and timeline (left or right) and often the 'official' (Civillian) released
nomenclature is miles and years behind what has been batch produced under a different labeling system. But all the basics are in place to make the
AMRAAM easily twice as long ranging as it is today. If only by virtualization of datalinks to accept guidance updates from a much wider set of
distributed tracking vs. shooter platform separations.
2. The F/A-22 can slingbomb a GBU-39 some 60-80nm from a midrange supercruise at 40-50K feet. And that's an unpowered glide bomb. It can track
large targets from over 325 miles away. Imagine what happens when you gently loft the weapon parabola up to say 60-70K feet. And then turn away to
gently oblique your way out of direct closure while slowing down 2-3 Mach points to increase the relative differential on F-Pole flyout times. In
theory, you should be able to 'honor his shot before he takes it'. As your wingman provides guidance updates from 20miles further back. And the
missile, which averages Mach 3-3.5 during Midcourse (by way of comparison the AIM-54 only does about Mach 2.7) should PLUNGE upwards of 20,000ft to
regain terminal energy after literally /overflying/ especially a runaway (NEZ challenging) target. To intercept as the enemy flies back into the
seeker box. All because the missile and /whatever/ system (it could be an RQ-4 or an E-10) is providing the guidance solution are 'sharing numbers'
on both weapon and target positions.
3. I have read reports which quantify the F/A-22's RF VLO as being as good as 'flash across the canopy bow before acquisition' vs. threat
emulators in the APG-63V1/2 category that are the best we have. I personally tend to discount this as being deliberate misinformation but would
willingly accept a 10-15nm threshold for radar detection vs. one of the later Zhuk or Bars equivalent radars. Maybe a little more for the
CAPTOR/AMSAR or RBE. What remains largely an unknown to me is the levels of capability inherent to 'topcoat' which appears to have a largely IR
inteneded spectral scattering/refraction mode inherent to a candy-finish metallic paint buried in clear carrier. i.e. Together with certain flight
control modifications to attitude on the airframe, it changes the specular index at which the F/A-22's IR signature reradiates what it cannot
(possibly) absorb through fuel sink thermal controls. _In Theory_ I think this could reduce even optical detection indexes (and what the hell else
could be above FL40 doing Mach 1+?) to around 20-25nm subsonic. And perhaps 30-35 supersonic. Which dovetails in nicely with predictions for
EuroFIRST/PIRATE and OSF of about 60km frontal detection range.
IF it all comes together (and it damn well better for the cost) this capability translates into an ability to fire from the edges of a /very long/
periphery of detection/engagement zone. So that a Raptor pilot who wishes to attack a Rafale or Eurofighter baseline threat capability can
preposition himself WELL OUTSIDE the predictor zone of baselane coverage. And as the threat air comes up. Hit them from a lateral offset orbit
(completely beyond frontal sector aperture coverage) before exiting the fight while another section or even a longendurance E-jet guides the weapon
home. If it is true, it will be a first in the way it allows our forces to literally 'ambush forward' _without_ commiting to direct WVR fight.
While illuminating from distances beyond which even an AA-ARM can make distance before it either runs out of gas. Or (assuming ramjet propulsion on
the Meteor) the parent aircraft dies and the midcoursing Raptor shuts down and moves out of the seeker cube where presumably a backup I2R or ARH based
seeker must expect to find it.
In addition, the missile's fabled multiple-target tracking and killing capability turned out to be no more effective than single-target shooting,
either in simulations or live aerial firings. "The simple launch-and-leave ARM casts a pall over the whole issue since it homes in perfectly on an
illuminating radar," says Defense Dept. analyst Thomas Amlie. "This means you can't use AMRAAM, AIM-7, Phoenix, or any other radar-guided missile
Range vs. Time on flyout sir. Nobody says that the LPI radar will be heard. Because it may well not be /on/. At least in the jet which is shooting
a weapon 30-50 miles closer to the target than the one which is providing guidance.
Meanwhile, the USSR has a well-developed series of ARMs, including the AA-10 Alamo for air-to-air combat. They have also converted the AS-4 Kitchen
and AS-6 Kingfish, both with 2,200-lb warheads, into ARMs. Notes Amlie: "They never throw anything away. Flying at Mach 3+, these are a tremendous
threat to the U.S. fleet, which is virtually bathed in radar. Now our prime weapons systems, such as Aegis, STARS, E-3A, Patriot, and Hawk, are in
I think the AA-ARM models were actually based on the AS-9 Kyle (off of Tu-26) and AS-11 Kilter (off of MiG-25BM). The R-27P never eventuated. And
the other two are 40ft long AShM derivatives of MiG-21 technology base whose principle advantage over any carrier group is the certainty that the USSR
was already /in/ the theaters they intended to fight for. And so could easily afford to trade nukes-at-sea their entire surface fleet. Which is
something at 2,200lb warheads on a 10-20,000lb missile could readily enable you to do. _IF_ you have 100,000lb bomber force (Tu-16/22/22M/95) to
carry them with.
OTOH, we have been able to hit such threats, including the 70K high diver models, since about 1984. So it's not like it's an unknown so much as a
very dated approach to killing large airpower basing modes that are themselves antiquated beyond all practical use.
Targeting the enemy has never proved difficult for the Soviets, especially with American fighters. "All fighter radars in the U.S. transmit on the
same frequency, right around 10,000 MHz, to get all-weather capability," Amlie says. "That is very convenient, a missile designer's dream. The
Soviets have no need for IFF transponder identification since their radar frequencies are higher or lower, so ARM use is almost risk free, even in a
mixed air-to-air fight." As soon as U.S. pilots turn on their radars, the opposition gets some valuable information as well -- how many fighters are
out there, their nationality, their direction, whether they are locked on to fire, and type of fighter -- based on their radar pulse signature.
Not all weather capability. Range and Range Discrimination within a sufficiently wide bandwidth to do serious signal processing. Including AJAM and
guarded signal stuff.
You have one sheep bleating that won't shut up until you yell at it and it's a nuissance. You have have a herd of 1,000 sheep doing so and it's a
hopelessly-hoarse situation for an offensive EW system to counter a target which is displacing it's mean azimuth/elevation at 400-500 knots, uses
it's emitter only occasionally, and has multiple channel steps to switch about, in-band to fool you into attacking X while it runs along merrily at
Y. Now through in complex signal modulation and pulse train actions which work through multiple interleaved /sideband/ (half channel steps, quarter
channel steps, whatever) using digital pulse ID/encryption algorithms that vary with each squadron's if not jet's radar data and signal processors.
At which point the cacophonous baaaaaahing doesn't merge into a sourceless whitenoise little greater than the background ether.
Again, everybody seems to assume in this paper that both the mode physics and tactical employment methodology of radar is based on continuous usage.
It is not. And has not been in /ages/. "He who lights up is the first to get smoked" having been common wisdom since the late 1970s at least.
The pilot firing the ARM still has problems, such as obtaining distance from the target, the need for his own radar to paint the target and give its
range, the possibility of the ARM homing in on multiple enemy and friendly radars in the air, ground, and sea, and the very strong possibility of
homing in on decoys. Regardless, the mere presence of ARMs in the air can lead to everyone turning off their radars, which puts the real combat arena
squarely back into the visual, maneuvering, close-up fight that, AMRAAM supporters say, is not likely to happen because of the "reality" of BVR
Baaah. The only thing dictating the ambivalence of AMRAAM BVR employment is the pathetic energy of the micro-fighter launch platform and the
too-small missile volume that resulted from constraining the weapon to fight it. You take missile warfare out to 40nm or beyond (BVRAAM has been
quoted at over 200km in some articles) and by the time you get /any/ weapon out to the target, neither it's tactically modified route (to expand the
seeker cube volume for secondary homing lockon) nor your own single-ping ranging will mean much vs. a supercruising LO threat.
And the later capabilities are set by _conventional_ threat MEZ/WEZ constraints on super-SAM like the S-300 and S-400. Just as with dogfighting, so
long as you hold the highest frontier of overhead/standoff battlefield mapping, why even -enter- the envelope of such systems just to prove that they
cannot touch you with ARM or TVM (EOCG, whatever) 'backup modes'.
These are systems which cost several /hundred/ million to buy in battalion weight numbers. And they are still so few as to be more target than
threat. If you can attack from the 50+nm standoff zone dictated by your LO threshold. Fighter weapons platforms you simply outweight or outwait. By
sortie numbers and conventional rollback theory.
In 1969, the DOD tried to test an air-to-air ARM developed from the Sparrow airframe under the project name Brazo. At modest cost, three test firings
destroyed three target drones. Amlie says the program "was cancelled when it could be interpreted as eliminating large radar fighters such as the
F-14 and F-15, since the tests proved you could not use a radar fighter in combat when up against ARMs. The only countermeasure was to turn the radars
off, so everything was swept under a rug." Now, department rumblings suggest that development of an air-to-air ARM is again under consideration.
As I recall, Brazo and Seekbat and all the other 'wonder toys' in fact came about when the MiG-25 was being touted (falsely, knowingly) as the
bogeyman threat to beat _with the F-4_. And then only as a recce platform which could be expected to run SAR mapping runs along very predictable
However; I don't recall ever reading or seeing anything about the Brazo in particular (AIM-97 was /huge/ being little more than a Standard ARM with
optical seeker adjunct) that emphasized it's use in a mixed tactical environment. Indeed, as I recall it (Brazo) was little more than Shrike
'reintegrated' with the AIM-7 concept using similar fixed seeker index and target processor architecture which would have made it little more than a
flung rock against all but the most permissive of target sets. And god knows what it would do in a 'dogfight' saturated environment with F-16's
huffing and puffing to carry it's weight along with the 4 AIM-9's this man seems to think are 'all that is necessary'. At best Brazo was a
stepping stone to a potential dual-mode 'SRARM' (another never-was paper chase) that could be integrated with AIM-9 rail architecture as a kind of
productionized, multiservice, SideARM. For 99.999% of the time when the air threat was elsewhere. And you had to worry about that Shilka or Gaskin
that suddenly popped up as you were in the chute 3 seconds from release.
The host of U.S. radar-based weapons are all vulnerable to ARMs. The E-3A AWACS has a superb radar antenna that can detect hundreds of targets
simultaneously -- and can itself be seen at extremely long distances. An AS-4 or -6 could be launched 300-400 mi. away and home in on it with ease.
The same is true for the 40 Aegis cruisers and destroyers destined for fleet service with the Navy. With hundreds of Soviet ARMs ready for firing from
submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and land, a U.S. carrier battle group, heavily dependent on radar, might be in serious trouble, especially if the
missiles were sea-skimmers.
At best, Navy countermeasures are limited against so simple a weapon. Sea-skimmers pop up over the radar horizon a bare 14 mi. away, and when radar
does detect the missile, the radar reflections bounce off the waves, making it difficult to determine altitude, thus throwing off tracking. A third
Soviet line of attack comes from their radar jammers, among the world's most powerful.
We've done this one. See above.
Pilots of B-1 and B-2 bombers penetrating Soviet airspace most likely will use terrain-following radar to stay low and avoid detection. Using
inexpensive radar finders, like the fuzzbusters motorists use to avoid police speed traps, on hiss surrounded by flat terrain, the Soviets should have
no trouble seeing the bombers coming. And Soviet radar homing and warning equipment can pick up VHF transmissions or over-the-horizon radar from
distant approaching aircraft. In fact, the whole issue of stealth technology could become moot, if one considers that a radar antenna runs along the
entire length of a B-2 wing's leading edge. Once in visual range, stealth is irrelevant. It is more than probable that an F-117 or a B-2 can be
found, identified, and shot down using basic common sense. The F-117 has to make such wide turns that its survival in a visual air-to-air fight is
The B-1 and B-2 will most certainly /not/ be penetrating at low level in anything other than SIOP conditions. Indeed, the Batwing has multiple
overlapping oblique LPI ISAR, Startracker and INS/GPS modes to compliment it's _high altitude_ (all radar reflective features are 'high hot' sided
away from ground radar) so that it doesn't need to make /any/ direct to flight path emission. The B-1 is admittedly more of a pig in a poke platform
but like the batwing it is certain to vacuum up support assets for MILES around.
The Antenna in question is the APQ-181 and is actually located in large stopsign shaped arrays on the forward belly just outside the cockpit
enclosure. This radar operates in the Ku band which is something like 18-20GHz and is specifically designed for _short range_ mapping at high
definition but low power (High signal loss through atmosphere). The only other antenna in the wings of the Batarang are related to comms and LO and
they are all imbedded striplines unlikely to be targetable.
Gee, you mean the F-117 is compromised by a lack of agility in the close in fight? THEN WHY THE HECK ARM IT WITH SIDEWINDERS AND AA-ARM!?!? Not
/least/ because the jet has only two weapons stations for carrying _air to mud_ ordnance to bein with and every weapon which it carries 'just in
case' is another exposure to target defences the next night to bag what was missed the