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Old 02-21-2020, 08:09 PM   #1
Poopskadoop
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Default Sparrow or Sidewinder?

After playing the mission that simulates the first scored kills of the F-18 against 2 Libyan MiG-21s (I forget the name), I researched the original encounter to find out what the actual pilots did. One of the F-18 pilots who scored a kill mentions that he fired an AIM-9 first, then a sparrow. He lost track of the AIM-9 and thought it had (or would) miss and so fired a sparrow. The sidewinder did hit, however, and the sparrow chased after the smoldering MiG. The other F-18 dispatched the other MiG with just a single sparrow.

So... my question is why would an F-18 pilot fire a sidewinder first? I understand the Soviet doctrine and reasoning behind firing two seeker types in tandem and firing the IR first (so it doesn't track the radar missile), but they usually fielded equal range variants of a particular IR and radar missile for that purpose. The article I read mentions he got a lock at 10 miles, hot. I could find no information about the specific range when he launched the sidewinder, but 10 miles seems way too far for an AIM-9. Why would you not lead with a Sparrow first? The only reason I can think is so that you aren't stuck guiding the Sparrow. IIRC, switching to the AIM-9 causes the Sparrow to lose tracking, no? Still, by the time you know a Sparrow is going to miss, you would be in ideal range for the AIM-9, which seems like a better situation. Am I missing something here? Am I underestimating the real effective range of an AIM-9?
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:24 PM   #2
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Don't know the encounter details, but my guess would be that due to ROE (Rules of Engagement) they had to get close to obtain a visual ID and confirm them to be enemies. After that, they used the weapon more suitable for close combat.

Similar with the recent shoot down of Su-22 in Syria, where the first weapon used was Aim-9X, and the Aim-120 only after the X has failed.
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
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Don't know the encounter details, but my guess would be that due to ROE (Rules of Engagement) they had to get close to obtain a visual ID and confirm them to be enemies. After that, they used the weapon more suitable for close combat.

Similar with the recent shoot down of Su-22 in Syria, where the first weapon used was Aim-9X, and the Aim-120 only after the X has failed.
Here's the article I am referencing some of this information from
https://theaviationgeekclub.com/this...-desert-storm/

Bit of a different scenario. Apparently an E-2 confirmed them as bandits, and they were flying head on towards each other. The Su-22 shoot down was an attempt to get it to divert from its course, allegedly towards a US-aligned rebels position. I remember the pilot mentioning he drove right up next to the guy, flashed his weapons, tried communicating, but the Su-22 pilot kept course. Since it was basically shooting a non-maneuvering target, the decision to use the AIM-9X, I believe, was to use the lower cost missile and provide real world combat data for it.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:56 PM   #4
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Listen to this podcast:

https://www.fighterpilotpodcast.com/...torm-mig-kill/

Its an interview with US Navy Captain Nick “Mongo” Mongillo, and they listen to and break down the audio from the engagement.
Its well worth the time to listen to it
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:28 AM   #5
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Basically, the E-2 had declared them “bandits”. The flight lead didn’t hear the call however and ordered a visual ID. So that’s what they did. As soon as they could confirm they were bandits- since they were in visual range), he was in a position to fire either an aim-9 or Aim-7 so he fired the aim-9. He had thought it missed and the general rule is that if the first one misses....try something different. So thinking the sidewinder missed, he cued up a sparrow and fired. Right then the aim-9 hit. So there was no strategy other than trying a different weapon when he thought the first didn’t work

Same thing happened with the F/A-18e shoot down of the SU-24 over Libya. He fired an AIM-9x which came off the rail and just dropped (it was NOT decoyed by flares. That claim all stemmed from a guess by a contributor author to popular mechanics made on his twitter account). Since the aim-9 malfunctioned, he switched to an Aim-120 and used that.

So seems to be a standard thing to fire a radar missile if the IR fails and not Simply firing another aim-9
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveBait View Post
Listen to this podcast:

https://www.fighterpilotpodcast.com/...torm-mig-kill/

Its an interview with US Navy Captain Nick “Mongo” Mongillo, and they listen to and break down the audio from the engagement.
Its well worth the time to listen to it
Thanks very much!
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:28 AM   #7
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Basically, the E-2 had declared them “bandits”. The flight lead didn’t hear the call however and ordered a visual ID.
I'm surprised we don't lose more aircraft in situations like these. A MiG-21 (or really just about anything) is about as likely to kill an F-18 as vice versa. Hell, a Cessna 175 modified to carry sidewinders would be a threat. I guess it all comes down to coordination, tactics, and pilot experience.
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeck View Post
Same thing happened with the F/A-18e shoot down of the SU-24 over Libya. He fired an AIM-9x which came off the rail and just dropped (it was NOT decoyed by flares. That claim all stemmed from a guess by a contributor author to popular mechanics made on his twitter account). Since the aim-9 malfunctioned, he switched to an Aim-120 and used that.
Yes, I remember watching a video of some press conference (I guess) where the pilot was describing the events. Said it failed to track outright. I'm sure there were some hush-hush meetings behind closed doors about that one. Not a good look for our most advanced sidewinder, no matter how many times it has been tested successfully against target drones.
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Old 02-22-2020, 08:27 AM   #9
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By the way, as for the dcs mission itself, I have a lot more trouble than the pilots did, although it's mostly because I'm trying to get both kills for myself because I'm greedy. Is it just me or is trying to use TWS mode with Sparrows pretty much pointless? Or it seems the AI knows exactly what to do. I'll get track of both targets early in the engagement easily enough. But by the time I'm in a decent enough range to fire, I will inevitably lose one or both of them. Often, I'll lose lock after firing the first sparrow on the primary. Usually the MiGs first split up in opposite directions and one dives to the ground to fly past us, meaning there's no way the radar can keep scanning for both and I rarely if ever get the chance to fire on the secondary before its lost. I know how to use the system and I've read all the guides. It just doesn't seem super viable in a combat scenario with AIM-7s due to its range (AIM-120s are a different story). Better to STT one and have your wingman take the other one.

Then there's the bomb target. Well, I haven't really mastered that yet, but SEAD really drags its ass in that mission. There's always something left on the ground to fire on me even after circling around a couple times. I think I just don't know how to use the radio system, because the \ key doesn't even give me options for my wingman in this particular mission. The game mentions something about having "allied flight reports enabled." I'm not sure where that option is.

Also, is there any way not to have your Sparrows default to LOFT mode?
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Old 02-22-2020, 02:18 PM   #10
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In the Western aircraft, you don't use Sparrows in TWS. There's a reason for that. If you recall, in TWS, bandits (or anyone else) do not get a lock alarm (the spike). Which is why TWS was so nice. The Sparrow, however, depends on reflected radar energy off the target. That reflected radar signal IS the lock signal and is quite powerful. If you go into STT mode, they get a spike alarm. (So does everyone near him. Nobody gets a "launch" signal because the Sparrow is not emitting anything; just listening.) That spike is what the Sparrow is guiding on. It needs a direct spike to track. Locking in TWS is nothing more than a normal scan signal which everyone with an RWR can see and is referred to as "nails" as opposed to "spike". The TWS signal is a normal RWS signal and is just what the scanning aircraft's computer is keeping track of, NOT a true lock signal.
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