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DCS F-14A - RWR Upgrades & Development


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Hi Everyone,

 

As the team continues to work hard on getting the F-14A ready for primetime, we thought we'd start off by talking a little more about one of the core upgrades we're making for this variant of the aircraft!

 

Our RWR simulation for the F-14B is one of, what we consider, the crowning jewels of our F-14 product. However, we always feel like we can take a step further, and developing the ALR-45 for the F-14A provides us with exactly that opportunity. As a refresher, if you haven't seen or don't quite remember one of our development snapshot updates on the ALR-67, check it out
.

 

 

RWR – basic principles of operation

Let’s start from a short recap of how a typical aircraft-mounted RWR works. An aircraft has at least four antennas attached to its body. These antennas are spiral, wide field-of-view type. Their characteristic is such that the closer the direction of the emitter to the antenna direction of observation, the stronger the received signal is. The four antennas are connected to the central processing unit. When an electromagnetic signal is registered, the RWR compares the strength of the signal recorder by the antennas. Based on that, it computes the direction of the emitter and displays that information to the crew. More advanced devices can compare the signal characteristics with a database of known emitter types, and present that information together with the direction..

 

A not so powerful crystal ball

A typical RWR is quite good at letting the crew know that there’s a radar emitter. However, it struggles at providing precise information on the distance, elevation, and what is the target of interest for that emitter. Additionally, the calculated direction is usually inaccurate. An RWR doesn’t know if a threat is above or below. It has no way of telling if it observed the main lobe or a side lobe; or what was the threat’s radar power of the emitter. It must assume many factors and combine that into the most accurate yet the most pessimistic (or conservative) picture. It is better to warn about a threat that isn’t there, rather than to let the pilot fly into a deadly trap of an enemy SAM by hiding some weak and ambiguous signals.

 

The ALR-45/50 and the ALR-67 – a two-generation leap

The Heatblur F-14B is equipped with the ALR-67 – a standard modern RWR used by the US Navy in the ’90s. It combines over 30 years of experience in signal processing, computing, and intelligence and it represents the third generation of the radar warning receivers.

On the other hand, the standard equipment on the F-14A since it entered the fleet was the ALR-45 radar warning receiver with the ALR-50 missile warning receiver. This set was introduced to the fleet in the early ‘70s, and it represented the dusk of the first generation of the radar warning receivers. While the capabilities of the ALR-45/50 were sufficient for the end of the Vietnam War Era, they became annoyingly inadequate in the ‘90s.

 

Compared with the ALR-67, ALR-45/50 isn’t a full-digital RWR. The receiver wavelength spectrum is narrower (2-18 GHz) compared to the ALR-67 (0.5-20 GHz). The system is unable to perform threat identification or prioritization. Registered emissions are presented on a circular display as strobes, with the length of each strobe representing the strength of the signal. In addition to that, the RIO has a set of warning lights for selected threats: SA-2, SA-3, SA-4, SA-6, AI (airborne interceptor) and AAA. They are lit when a corresponding threat is detected.

 

With the ALR-45/50, the information provided to the crew is limited and raw. It requires more experienced crew and more attention during a mission to build a similar level of situational awareness when compared with the ALR-67. On the other hand, a skilled RIO can benefit from being able to read raw signal readings and for example, estimate the distance to the threat from the length of the strobe.

 

RWR model upgrade

With the release of the F-14A, we will include the ALR-45/50 with its controls, display, and logic. In addition to that, we will also update the codebase common for both RWR's. The first and the most significant upgrade will be the new threat database containing updated emitter parameters such as frequency bands used by each radar and new beam parameters. The second change will be related to scan patterns and sidelobe emulation for different scan modes. The result should be a richer and more complex electromagnetic environment, particularly noticeable when observed on the ALR-45 scope.

 

We combined our passion, experience, and knowledge to create the most realistic simulation of radar warning receivers for the Heatblur F-14. Once the F-14A is released, you’ll be able to try and compare the bare analogue ALR-45/50 and the modern and all-digital ALR-67 on the F-14B. No matter which one you choose, we hope that our RWR will let you return safely from any combat mission, but most importantly, give you an in-depth, realistic representation of RWR's as found in these two legendary aircraft!

 

120042774_1564859923701620_6388624975408290239_n.jpg?_nc_cat=101&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=2oNtAtelZQkAX9dkxy6&_nc_ht=scontent-vie1-1.xx&oh=3c1fc4632e9d29c0a9562c02e827ab62&oe=5FA478A1
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Nicholas Dackard

 

Founder & Lead Artist

Heatblur Simulations

 

https://www.facebook.com/heatblur/

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Sounds awesome. Looking forward to work with this tech! :joystick:

 

Question:

With the release of the F-14A, we will include the ALR-45/50 with its controls, display, and logic. In addition to that, we will also update the codebase common for both RWR's. The first and the most significant upgrade will be the new
threat database containing updated emitter parameters
such as frequency bands used by each radar and new beam parameters.

Is this database the same that is used by the Viggen's RWR and ELINT Pod or do you at Heatblur maintain different threat databases (with emitter frequencies and such) for the Tomcats and the Viggen?


Edited by QuiGon

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DCS Panavia Tornado (IDS) really needs to be a thing!

 

Tornado3 small.jpg

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In the azimuth representation, what does the different lines mean? I imagine the type of line (continous/long dashed/short dashed etc) is tied to the frequency of the emitter, so that one can have an idea of what the threat is at a glance?

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Some years ago you showed a preview of the ALR-45 that used a different type of display which is more advanced than this one you are presenting here but still not as good as the fully digital ALR-67 in the F-14B:

 

ALR45.gif

 

Will this one still be available as an option or has it been rolled back in favour of the earlier spec? I would like to know more about these and how they were employed (if this later type was a later retrofit but only present in low numbers for example).

 

Thanks.

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That doesn't look like the RWR display in the corner, it looks like a display mode on the TID, judging by the stick in front of it.

It will be on pilot's HSD (switchable) afaik.

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So glad Heatblur are giving us the -A. I mean I still prefer (and will continue to drive) the B but the A opens up a lot of scenarios which are used online where the B is used as a stand in for the Iranian Airforce. DCS is severely lacking in REDFOR aircraft as we all know and another superiority fighter which can (plausibly) serve on the RED side is very, very welcome. KUDOS to the team!

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In the azimuth representation, what does the different lines mean? I imagine the type of line (continous/long dashed/short dashed etc) is tied to the frequency of the emitter, so that one can have an idea of what the threat is at a glance?

 

At least on the predecessor, the

, the line type indicated one of the three supported frequency bands (Older and newer Fan Song and Low Blow), and there were some indicator lights to further refine that information. Gun radars were seen on the lowest band with an additional triple-A warning light; aircraft radars showed up on the highest SA-3 band with two lights indicating either a gunsight ranging or an "all-weather" modern radar. It definitely required some operator skill, but the signal environment was rather simple back then, too.

 

I believe the threat classification capability of ALR-45 to be somewhere between APR-25 and the later ALR-67.

 

That video is seriously worth watching if you're ever wondered how RWR systems work.

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At least on the predecessor, the
, the line type indicated one of the three supported frequency bands (Older and newer Fan Song and Low Blow), and there were some indicator lights to further refine that information. Gun radars were seen on the lowest band with an additional triple-A warning light; aircraft radars showed up on the highest SA-3 band with two lights indicating either a gunsight ranging or an "all-weather" modern radar. It definitely required some operator skill, but the signal environment was rather simple back then, too.

 

I believe the threat classification capability of ALR-45 to be somewhere between APR-25 and the later ALR-67.

 

That video is seriously worth watching if you're ever wondered how RWR systems work.

 

Good lord that is a ridiculous system. Thank god im the pilot and not the rio- Ill let my buddy figure that one out.

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The first and the most significant upgrade will be the new threat database containing updated emitter parameters such as frequency bands used by each radar and new beam parameters. The second change will be related to scan patterns and sidelobe emulation for different scan modes.

 

Will that means that we will have a sound for each type of radar emission to identify each kind?

 

I dont know if this RWR did that, but other wise how could you discern between a Mig29 vs a F18 for example


Edited by Renko
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what is dash line and dot line meaning in RWR display?

 

 

These lines show different emitter types and signal strenghth from the emitter to you. The ALR-45 tells you wether you are being locked up by a SAM, AAA or an AI radar emitter. Sadly, I forgot which type of line stands for what. Someone else needs to jump in here. But on older systems like the APR-25 I think a dashed line was for X-band emitter meaning AI radar, the solid line was S-band and meaning SAM emitter or AAA and the dotted line was C-band for other stuff. Not sure for the ALR-45, though. Anyway, this is combined with raw audio of the emitter painting you in it's current operating frequency. You can also tell by the raw audio from the emitter which type of emitter exactly is painting you, i.e. an SA-2 or a MiG-21. The longer the lines get that you see on the RWR display passing through the rings, the closer the threat is to you. A three ringer usually means the threat is close and ready to launch on you whereas a one ringer just sees you on his scope but is no threat because he is probably quite some distance away from you. There are some exceptions to this but this would go beyond the scope here. On older Vietnam style RWRs you could also more or less safely determine when you passed over a SAM or AAA emitter as the line to the threat would start to twist on the display. Don't know if that's a thing with the ALR-45, though. I hope this helps understanding what you actually see on that type of RWR.


Edited by Tango3B
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These lines show different emitter types and signal strenghth from the emitter to you. The ALR-45 tells you wether you are being locked up by a SAM, AAA or an AI radar emitter. Sadly, I forgot which type of line stands for what. Someone else needs to jump in here. But on older systems like the APR-25 I think a dashed line was for X-band emitter meaning AI radar, the solid line was S-band and meaning SAM emitter or AAA and the dotted line was C-band for other stuff. Not sure for the ALR-45, though. Anyway, this is combined with raw audio of the emitter painting you in it's current operating frequency. You can also tell by the raw audio from the emitter which type of emitter exactly is painting you, i.e. an SA-2 or a MiG-21. The longer the lines get that you see on the RWR display passing through the rings, the closer the threat is to you. A three ringer usually means the threat is close and ready to launch on you whereas a one ringer just sees you on his scope but is no threat because he is probably quite some distance away from you. There are some exceptions to this but this would go beyond the scope here. On older Vietnam style RWRs you could also more or less safely determine when you passed over a SAM or AAA emitter as the line to the threat would start to twist on the display. Don't know if that's a thing with the ALR-45, though. I hope this helps understanding what you actually see on that type of RWR.

 

thanks for detailed reply!

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It will be on pilot's HSD (switchable) afaik.

<EDITED out>

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Some years ago you showed a preview of the ALR-45 that used a different type of display which is more advanced than this one you are presenting here but still not as good as the fully digital ALR-67 in the F-14B:

 

ALR45.gif

 

Will this one still be available as an option or has it been rolled back in favour of the earlier spec? I would like to know more about these and how they were employed (if this later type was a later retrofit but only present in low numbers for example).

 

Thanks.

 

That was an early misunderstanding on our part. That is the later integration of the AN/ALR-67 which was possible from the PTID and onwards as that upgrade added the 1553-bus.

 

The AN/ALR-45 we're doing and that both use the HSD and ECMD as displays though. But the information shown on the displays is different.

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That was an early misunderstanding on our part. That is the later integration of the AN/ALR-67 which was possible from the PTID and onwards as that upgrade added the 1553-bus.

 

The AN/ALR-45 we're doing and that both use the HSD and ECMD as displays though. But the information shown on the displays is different.

 

Both -B(with PTID upgrade -B)and -BU are added 1553bus?

 

mind to explain dash and dotted line meaning?what kind of different between HSD and ECMD(MDI)?

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hey awesome. I have a question.

it was mentioned RIOs could actually hear different radar emissions in their head sets, or maybe it was missile tones. It was also hinted that you may simulate this down the road. Has consideration to this been given
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Both -B(with PTID upgrade -B)and -BU are added 1553bus?

 

mind to explain dash and dotted line meaning?what kind of different between HSD and ECMD(MDI)?

 

Afaik the upgrade that added the PTID added that bus allowing the integration of the AN/ALR-67.

 

The information shown on the HSD and ECMD are the same, I was referring to the display being different using the ALR-45 and -67.

 

The different types of lines on the display indicate different types of threat.

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So glad Heatblur are giving us the -A. I mean I still prefer (and will continue to drive) the B but the A opens up a lot of scenarios which are used online where the B is used as a stand in for the Iranian Airforce. DCS is severely lacking in REDFOR aircraft as we all know and another superiority fighter which can (plausibly) serve on the RED side is very, very welcome. KUDOS to the team!

 

Ill definitely fly the A. It heavily outnumbered the B until at least the mid 80s. A lot of cold war scenarios are for the A. and the A isnt as bad as people think, just pit it against contemporaries and know what youre doing.

And as you said - Iran. I have the DCE Tomcat IRIAF campaign. Im dying to have it be 'legit' by flying an A instead of a B.

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Afaik the upgrade that added the PTID added that bus allowing the integration of the AN/ALR-67.

 

The information shown on the HSD and ECMD are the same, I was referring to the display being different using the ALR-45 and -67.

 

The different types of lines on the display indicate different types of threat.

 

oh,I see,thanks for reply.

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Oh, so the information from the RWR is displayed on the HSI, without needing to switch to the ECM page? That's neat actually.

 

 

edit: oh, and the -A vastly outnumbered the -B for most of the Tomcat's service life. It's not even remotely close. There were 712 Tomcats built, of which 633 served in the US Navy. 37 were newly built -Ds, and 38 were newly built -Bs, and 66 A's were upgraded to either B or D.


Edited by TLTeo
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