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Weapon loadout choices

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Does anyone have some knowledge of educated guesses on how airforces decide on their weapon choice for a given mission?

I assume that weapon price is a factor taken into account so that you don't bring AGM-84 SLAM-ER for taking out a technical, but on the other hand, there seems to be plenty of accounts of Coalition air forces dropping GBU-12 on technicals? What goes into the decision making on when you bring expensive smart weapons versus dumb bombs and unguided rockets?

I find unguided weapons more interesting to use generally and I like to challenge the pilots to fly my missions but at the same time I don't want to limit them in weapons just for the sake of it. I'd love if there was some matrix used to work out what kind of weapons the expected target warrents.


maybe something along the lines of,

undefended, no risk of colatteral - Category 1 - unguided

lightly defended or risk of colatteral - category 2 - laser or TV guided.

heavily defended - category 3 - standoff weapons, GPS guided and Sensor fuzed bombs.


I'm basically wondering because if I always have free choices my loadout would always end up with Guided bombs for buildings and cluster bombs for enemy units, preferably sensor fuzed 97's.

I'd love to have a good reason for loading 6 MK-82's no an aircraft, but I can't find any.


any input valued.

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  • 2 months later...

I don’t know how the military does it, but if I was planning a mission, first thing I’d figure is a ballpark figure of fuel needed for out and back (scheduling air refueling if appropriate, and/or drop tanks).


Then I’d examine the intended target(s), including alternates. Infantry, armor, bunkers, mountains all have specific weapons designed to neutralize them. In theory, an A-10 has many weapons stations and could carry beaucoup “dumb” bombs, but if the target is a hvy wpns platoon (40-50 men, iirc) that is ludicrous overkill.


Then one would look at the air defenses-light? Medium? Too much? Perhaps a stand-off weapon is called for. Friendlies on the ground are able to lase the target? We can use that info to plan guidance systems.



There may be other factors which will affect weapons loadout, but that’s what I would be looking at in the planning stage.


Fwiw, I found it interesting to read about “typical” ground attack weapons loads in Iraq...few were loaded-for-bear, most had maybe two Mavericks or two smart bombs and four dumb bombs. That could be because after “Shock and Awe” there just wasn’t many serviceable tanks and troops left.

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