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Old 10-05-2018, 11:37 PM   #1
75th-VFS-Striker
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Default VAF - Subjective Air To Air Missile Performance Evaluation - 9-24-2018

Introduction

Hey fellow DCS virtual pilots, thank you for taking the time to read our document on the flight distances and speed of the various air to air missiles in DCS World. First of all I would like to clarify that this document is not for any official use and is simply a helpful guide for virtual pilots to use when deciding to pick various load outs. Some of the motivation to do the extensive testing we did came out of our desire to understand weapon limitations and the best way to counter or leverage these limitations. The data did help us understand our engagements and how better to deal with different threats and although we primarily fly the Hornet in A2A, this information is useful to pilots that chose to fly the Mirage, Su-27 or F-15C.

Also, please be aware that although there is always going to be some bias regarding platforms, we did our best to limit it to the point that it did not have any effect on our evaluation testing. These tests are NOT meant to prove the ability of one pilot over another pilot. The tests are simply to show the performance of each missile based on the exact same or as close as possible to the exact same parameters for both platforms. There are also some differences in initial missile speed that we cannot account for even though both platforms are traveling at close to the same speed. But it appears that some have a slightly higher or lower off the rail speed.

There is no way to simulate all of the different maneuvering techniques used in A2A combat so it wasn't even attempted. We tried to use the best practices in our testing. All engagements were done from either the same altitude or from altitudes that were reversed and also at the exact same indicated air speed and the missiles is fired at the exact same time or as close as possible. All of the telemetry charts are pulled directly from Tacview and the missiles are all set to "relative" time. They show the exact time of launch, flight time and impact time. In a couple cases the impact time had to be estimated. We do not feel that it made the test irrelevant again because we were looking for missile flight time and performance only. Pilot skill is not factored into any of the testing.

Originally we planned on exporting the data from Tacview into Excel spreadsheets for comparison but it's really impractical to do so. All of the information is in the Tacview files and they are zipped up and kept safe as an attachment for anyone to view them. We did all of our testing in sequenced routines to produce one Tacview file at a time so they wouldn't be suspected of being tampered with. The Hornet / M-2000C is one complete file, the F-15C / M-2000C is another, and the Su-27 / Hornet is one other.

Test Setup
DCS Version: v.2.5.3.21708
Map: Caucus
Default weather conditions, no wind.

Test Results F/A-18C vs M-2000C (end of graph line is impact point)

The first set of tests between the F/A-18C Hornet and the M-2000C are all done at 10,000 feet with a indicated air speed of 350 knots and a pure head on aspect. They were also fired at as close to the exact same time or as close as possible just inside shoot cue range between 15 and 16 miles. Radar locks were maintained for the entire flight of the missile.

Case 1

In this first chart you will see the AIM-7M launched from the Hornet against the Super 530D fired from the M-2000C. The S530D achieves a peak speed of 1,700 kts while the AIM-7M only reaches about 1,100. The significant difference is how long that the S-530 can sustain a higher speed allowing for a 13 second difference in impact time.


Case 2

The second test between these two aircraft was done with the AIM-120B and the S530D. In this case the performance ability of the AIM-120B is definitely better than the AIM-7M. They both achieve a close peak boost speed. The significant difference is the mid-course speed of the S530D. It sustains a much higher velocity allowing it to reach the F/A-18C 6 seconds sooner than the AIM-120B reaches the M-2000C. It was also observed that up to 8 nautical miles the missiles are nearly equal in terms of distance traveled after launch in the same amount of time.


Case 3

The third test is with the AIM-120C and the S-530D. The AIM-120C has a higher peak speed but the S530D has a better mid-course sustained speed. This makes the two fired at the same time almost equally matched on their impact point.


Maneuvering Cases

The next set of tests between the F/A-18C Hornet and the M-2000C are all done at 10,000 feet with a indicated air speed of 350 knots and a pure head on aspect but turning to a 30 degree gimbals immediately after firing the missile. They were also fired at as close to the exact same time or as close as possible just inside shoot cue range between 15 and 16 miles. Radar locks were maintained for the entire flight of the missile.

Case 4

In this first chart you will see the AIM-7M launched from the Hornet against the Super 530D fired from the M-2000C. The S-530D achieves a peak speed of 1,700 kts while the AIM-7M only reaches about 1,100. The significant difference is how long that the S-530 can sustain a higher speed allowing for a 13 second difference in impact time. The other significant part of this test may be due to some of the missing ability of the F/A-18C radar currently. It may also be due to missile turn ability. But the AIM-7M never actually impacted the target. It missed by several hundred feet even though the Hornet maintained a constant radar lock. So from whatever reason unknown, the M-2000C turning to a 30 degree aspect somehow caused the missile to miss the target. The difference in impact time can only be estimated but 11-14 seconds should be fairly close to accurate.


Case 5

We found similar results from the AIM-120B launched from the Hornet against the Super 530D fired from the M-2000C. Again, the peak speeds are similar but the significant difference is the cruise speed of the S-530D. It is able to sustain a much higher rate causing an estimated 7-10 second impact time difference. Again, the other significant part of this test may be due to some of the missing ability of the F/A-18C radar currently. It may also be due to missile turn ability. But the AIM-120B never actually impacted the target. It missed by several hundred feet even though the Hornet maintained a constant radar lock. So from whatever reason, the M-2000C turning to a 30 degree aspect caused the missile to miss the target. Note: we were able to reproduce the same results of the missile missing in this and the previous test!


Case 6

The AIM-120C did much better in all tests we've done so far and it was the same case with the gimbals test. In fact you can see from this chart that the AIM-120C actually performed slightly better than the S-530D. It has a slightly better sustained cruise speed which translated in about a 2 second impact time difference. We did repeat the test though and did get slightly different results each time. Sometimes the S530D got there slightly quicker and vice versa.


Non-Maneuvering F/A-18C, Hornet Altitude Advantage

The next set of tests were done at differing altitudes, starting with the F/A-18C first. The Hornet started out at 10,000 feet and the M-2000C at 6,000 feet. Both aircraft maintained the exact same indicated air speed and the firing was done just within the launch cue at 15 miles.

Case 7

In this test you can see that the AIM-7M Sparrow has a slight difference in flight time compared to the same altitude test. The altitude difference reduces the time difference to 9 seconds instead of the 13 seconds when both aircraft are at the same altitude. The performance is still poor compared to the S-530D.


Case 8

In the next test here the AIM-120B does a little better than the same altitude test but only by a few seconds. Again, the S-530D arrives at the impact point over 5 seconds before the AIM-120B. The interesting thing about both of these first different altitude tests is that the S530D is way outperforming the Sparrow and even though the AIM-120B has a slight advantage during the burn phase, it quickly loses power and its descending performance is bad even compared to the climbing S-530D.


Case 9

This test shows that the AIM-120C has much better initial performance until about 2/3 of the flight with the S-530D pulling ahead slightly at the end. Because there was a 4,000 altitude advantage, the AIM-120C was able to get to the target about 2 seconds earlier.


Non-Maneuvering Mirage 2000 C Altitude Advantage

Now we switch to the M-2000C having the altitude advantage at 10,000 feet and the Hornet at 6,000.

Case 10

The interesting aspect about this shot with the F/A-18C is that even with the same conditions of head on aspect and speed, the performance of the AIM-7M is very similar to the performance at the same altitudes. This is probably because the missile was fired in LOFT mode. The initial trajectory of the Sparrow appears to be enough to overcome the altitude difference, probably within very limited differences though. It really didn't matter in the test though because the S-530D still got to the Hornet 13 seconds before the Sparrow and had a much higher rate of glide performance while descending.

Case 11


The AIM-120B was not able to perform even a modest climb from 6,000 to 10,000 feet and was not able to maneuver to the target. The missile ended up passing below the Mirage even though the Hornet maintained a constant lock on the target. The entire flight time difference was 9 seconds compared to 6 seconds for same altitude firing testing.


Case 12

The AIM-120C performance was extremely close to the S-530D. In all of our testing with the Hornet at the lower altitude, there was only a 1 second difference. In our opinion this fight could go either way based on the chart. Same altitude, probably a tie, Hornet low, probably the M-2000C the victor, but if Hornet with an altitude advantage, the likely outcome is the Hornet as victor. The AIM-120C has the ability to climb and keep on target.


Will be posting results of next round of testing on next section.
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Attached Files
File Type: zip Tacview-20180923-194147-DCS-VAF Missile Comparrison Test.zip (427.2 KB, 4 views)
File Type: zip Tacview-20180923-191839-DCS-VAF Missile Comparrison Test.zip (321.0 KB, 6 views)
File Type: zip Tacview-20180921-170806-DCS-VAF Missile Comparrison Test.zip (1.38 MB, 8 views)
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Last edited by 75th-VFS-Striker; 10-06-2018 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 10-05-2018, 11:38 PM   #2
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Default Other Aircraf Test Results

Next we move on to some other aircraft with FC3 modeled systems. We wanted to see if there was any major difference between the Western missiles against the Mirage when fired from a different aircraft. So we set up the same set of first tests with the F-15C and the M-2000C. After doing these tests we decided that it wasn't necessary to repeat the dissimilar altitude or gimbals tests because they would probably have the same outcome. Our conclusion is that the performance of the missile itself would probably be almost exactly the same repeating all the same tests.

Same altitude (10,000 ft) shot, F-15C and M-2000C, both at 350 kts, slightly over 10 seconds.


Same altitude (10,000 ft) shot, F-15C and M-2000C, both at 350 kts, slightly under 5 seconds.


Same altitude (10,000 ft) shot, F-15C and M-2000C, both at 350 kts, just about 1 second difference.


Next, we move on to the Su-27 and the F/A-18C. Even in a level fight at the same altitude and with the same speed, the R-27ER clearly outperforms the AIM-7M, AIM-120B and AIM-120C by 14 seconds, 11 seconds and 6 seconds. Not only does it have a superior initial energy rate but it's glide path is outpacing everything but the AIM-120C. We did have a slight difference in aircraft speed but are not certain it's enough to redo the tests based on these results. (May redo the test because of my inability to read the airspeed properly)





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Last edited by 75th-VFS-Striker; 10-06-2018 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 10-07-2018, 05:54 AM   #3
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Really interesting stuff - you should report that issue with the Hornet's missiles not tracking in the Hornet bug forum and hopefully they can get that fixed!
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Old 10-07-2018, 04:52 PM   #4
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It should be taken in to account that belly launched missiles have less performance than wing launched missiles.
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:55 PM   #5
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That would account for the Sparrow launch speed difference compared to the others since it's on the fuselage. I doubt that would change the numbers significantly but we'll retest and post the results.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:25 AM   #6
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Would have been interesting to redo the second and third kind of tests with the Eagle ,instead of the first type, so you could check if the guiding issues are still present
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:54 PM   #7
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Great tests, but I would like to see it taken place at higher speeds 500-550 knots or so.
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:45 AM   #8
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Already tried different speeds but it really doesn't change the results significantly other than the overall speed of all of the missiles. They just get there a little faster or slower relative to their starting point. The time differences were always dramatic with the exception of the AIM-120C.
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:36 AM   #9
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Possible to add graph comparison for the 27ER and 530? These missiles seem to be really close to each other with the 530 probably coming slightly on top.
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:00 PM   #10
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Yes, I'll add it to the list when we repeat the Sparrow tests.
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