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TWS upgrades on the F-14D


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Based on recent experience with the DCS module I started wondering if there were any real world improvements made to the APG-71 in terms of the TWS / track correlation.

 

YMMV but with all the recent updates my general feel for the Phoenix has switched from an AMRAAM analog with a much bigger motor, to more of a Super-Sparrow. With the previous modelling holding the TWS lock all the way to active would certainly help the missile but wasn't absolutely required.

My current tactics are far more 1980s era head on sparrow shots...just with the option of more than one in flight at a time. 

 

The biggest item trashing my shots is not the kinematic or even tracking performance on the missile end, but with TWS auto supporting them on the flyout, the track correlation of the early (mostly analog?) AWG-9 leaves a lot to be desired so with a multishot (usually 2 at a time) I would say its averaging out to a little above 50% success rate.

 

Some of this is down to still relearning all the available modes but from my understanding the closest to a "modern" (AIM120) idea of Fox3 that we have, ignoring active off the rail due to the range limitation is SARH/DL all the way to active. 

 

My experience with the AWG-9 shows that even in that mode if you lose a track or a target manoeuvres into your range gate or into the notch even momentarily the missile will be trash, the AWG-9 will not provide any further updates to the missile in flight even if you re-acquire because its considered a new track, and the missile will be commanded to go active when near the old position which usually results in the missile comfortably cruising over the targets head at mach 2.5 😅

 

Theres 2 parts to my questions, firstly any in game advice / experience for trying to complete and keep pace (even in PVE) with mid 2000s era fighters like the F-16 and 18 that don't involve ending up in a F-pole / sparrow joust

 

Secondly, in the real world we know that the Navy had to choose between LANTIRN and AMRAAM, and as was proven correct the LANTIRN was by far more important to keeping the jet relevant.

 

- What was the plan for a high-end fight from say the mid-late 90s into the early 2000s?

- Did the F-14D / APG-71 have improved TWS capability due to the parts lifted from the APG-70?

- Did the F-14D have even a notional AIM120 compatibility for the same reason?

- Since it predates the AIM120 by at least 20 years is the AWG-9 even capable of being upgraded to support the missile without basically rebuilding it into an APG-71?

 

I know that possibly starting in the late 80s / mid 90s timeframe the Phoenix was starting to be considered for more than just fleet defense missions as a reaction to higher end russian fighters like the SU27 / Mig29 although I suspect this was more due to the range and less for multi-shot /fox3 capability since the Russians in that timeframe also didn't have a good system for allowing this, so until it was retired was the basic doctrine for air superiority in the F-14 effectively unchanged from the late 80s in terms of having a good STT intercept supporting a head-on Sparrow shot?

 

 

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2 hours ago, AH_Solid_Snake said:

- What was the plan for a high-end fight from say the mid-late 90s into the early 2000s?

- Did the F-14D / APG-71 have improved TWS capability due to the parts lifted from the APG-70?

- Did the F-14D have even a notional AIM120 compatibility for the same reason?

- Since it predates the AIM120 by at least 20 years is the AWG-9 even capable of being upgraded to support the missile without basically rebuilding it into an APG-71?

 

  1. Throw Phoenixes at the enemy. The primary threat considered were Fulcrums and Flankers with AA-10Cs, and the Phoenix was considered an acceptably capable overmatch. Part of it was range, part of it was launch and leave capability. FWIW DCS uses an extremely simplistic modelling of chaff, and is overly conservative estimating how a missile seekers vulnerability to the notch.
  2. The best analogue we have in DCS would be how well the Hornet's APG-73 handles TWS, so imagine that but with the power turned up to 12. I want to caution it's almost certainly not a direct analogue, but the computational bits of 73, 71 and 70 are apparently common or closely related. I would also point out it's nowhere near as simple as taking the Hornet's radar and putting it in a Tomcat.
  3. Unknown. Most of the guts of the radar are taken from a family of radars that support the AIM-120. I've read that they still needed to do the software integration. I've also read the software integration was completed and the only thing stopping adoption was the lack of funding to test and produce a compatible launch rail (I personally rank this with bigfoot sightings in credibility, neat if true though). There's a lot of hearsay on the subject
  4. Unknown, but with enough work, probably. The radar is clearly capable of generating a datalink and providing midcourse updates, the question is could it be made to "speak" AMRAAM. 

This is all kind of wishful thinking though, we're almost certainly not getting an F-14D due to lack of available information. 

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1 hour ago, near_blind said:

 

  1. Throw Phoenixes at the enemy. The primary threat considered were Fulcrums and Flankers with AA-10Cs, and the Phoenix was considered an acceptably capable overmatch. Part of it was range, part of it was launch and leave capability. FWIW DCS uses an extremely simplistic modelling of chaff, and is overly conservative estimating how a missile seekers vulnerability to the notch.


I should maybe clarify this wasn’t meant as a “can I haz the D” type post, more of a how to work with what we have and wondering how it worked out real world.

 

Your only point that I can’t line up with what I’ve read along with experience in DCS is the launch and leave aspect against fulcrums etc, I can follow the logic except that with the AWG-9 as presented there just isn’t a launch and leave, in that if you throw a Phoenix and then turn around it will never get that critical “go active” command. In the best case you you do outrange them, and the Phoenix will close the gap very fast at Mach 4, but while it’s doing it you have to accept closing range and likely not even being able to F pole if you want to hold the track, this also doesn’t account for the enemy making any movements to trash your shots.

 

given enough F14s and enough AIM54 you could get them all without them touching you - but limiting the numbers of either sounds like we risk ending up in a merge or going for a late STT + sparrow shot for any stragglers as the Pk I’d expect out of the 54 in this scenario is not that great?

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30 minutes ago, AH_Solid_Snake said:

Your only point that I can’t line up with what I’ve read along with experience in DCS is the launch and leave aspect against fulcrums etc, I can follow the logic except that with the AWG-9 as presented there just isn’t a launch and leave, in that if you throw a Phoenix and then turn around it will never get that critical “go active” command. In the best case you you do outrange them, and the Phoenix will close the gap very fast at Mach 4, but while it’s doing it you have to accept closing range and likely not even being able to F pole if you want to hold the track, this also doesn’t account for the enemy making any movements to trash your shots.

 

Launch and Leave = I support the missile until it goes active and then turn around, rebuilding distance.

As per HB's podcast back in the summer, the PH ACT switch should eventually offer a workaround towards overriding the time to active counter.

 

As per closure, unless you literally turn around after shooting, you will always have to accept some form of closing range to be an offensive actor, that's just the nature of the game. The AIM-54 is ARH, the AA-10C is not: you will be able to beam or exit before he will and still expect the possibility of a kill, he cannot. The AIM-54 outranges the AA-10C, 40NM is a perfectly reasonable shot in the heart of the DLZ for a Phoenix while 30NM is the max range for a AA-10C due to battery issues. The A pole for the Phoenix in that situation is going to be 20+ NM, the F pole for the Chuck is going to be at best 15NM. In a defensive situation with a wingman you have the option of setting up a grinder where you never enter the lethal range of a Flanker's missile and they cannot get within 20 miles without an AIM-54 going active on them. In an offensive situation you have the option of leaving without danger, or forcing the bandit defensive to follow up with additional shots. 

 

57 minutes ago, AH_Solid_Snake said:

but limiting the numbers of either sounds like we risk ending up in a merge or going for a late STT + sparrow shot for any stragglers as the Pk I’d expect out of the 54 in this scenario is not that great?

 

I generally expect a Pk of .5 with AIM-54Cs. Whether or not you accept a merge is up to what mission you are trying to accomplish and your risk appetite. Generally speaking I exhaust my Phoenixes with enough breathing room to set up a 20NM Sparrow shot if needed. 

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Ok, so if I've understood you then you're going for STT launches against 1 Flanker at a time and the Super Sparrow analogy is accurate? F-pole plus SARH all the way in?

 

Assuming a launch at 45-40nm followed by a 50 degree turn and waiting for a timeout even single ship you can continue your turn away, build distance, and then either recommit or continue to bug out?

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No he's talking about shooting in TWS-A, as you are supposed to for an ARH AIM-54 at range. If you shoot in PD-STT you will have a SARH missile that will NEVER go active if you snip it. If you shoot in TWS-A, wait until you see the target track start blinking, that is your missile activation cue, and you no longer need to support it. If you turn around prior to the blinking target track, your missile will also NEVER go active. If you have Target size set to medium, that happens at ~16 seconds to go. If you tell jester/your RIO to set target size large it happens at ~23 seconds to go.

 

If you shoot in TWS-A and crank, the missile will go active ~roughly~ 2/3rds-3/4ths the distance you fired it from. So if you shoot at 40NM, you should be able to turn around by 25-30 miles with an active missile, leaving the target 25-30 miles behind you, and any R27ER that they have fired completely defeated.

 

This is what the Phoenix appears to do when fired in BVR modes with a lock. the ACM cover or boresight button switch it into ACM modes which are rather unclearly documented. Essentially expect it to be active off the rail and probably fly straight ahead down the Armament Datum Line until it sees something, it "might" get cued by a lock in PD or P-STT or the TCS when in an ACM mode, but that is not documented well in the heatblur manual or anywhere else.

 

1. TWS-A: Phoenix flies via a "quasi" SARH/DL mode until it is commanded active by the AWG-9 based on the target size switch in the RIO pit. Once it goes active it no longer requires or can receive any support from the AWG-9.

 

2. TWS-M: as soon as you pull the trigger the radar switches to TWS-A, see above for how that works.

 

3. PD-STT: A phoenix launched in PD-STT flies like a giant Sparrow, SARH only, will never go active, and must be supported with a good PD-STT lock throughout its entire time of flight.

 

4. P-STT: Missile is given cueing to the target and is launched with its seeker active, no support or guidance from the AWG-9 is possible once it has launched, and it flies in a straight line along the angles passed by the AWG-9 when you pulled the trigger until the onboard radar finds something.

 

 


Edited by KlarSnow
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How successful are you finding F poles when supporting TWS Phoenix? Since December I’ve found it drops lock more easily if I take 40-50 degree cut away and most of the shots are tanked due to tracking onto the persisted but not updated track, I’m not sure how much of the issue is my own manuvering vs anything the target is doing.

 

that’s where my initial question about range came into play, generally I don’t want to slow down too much if I’m forced to hold my nose on aspect to support the missile but that can mean you finish out the intercept closer than I’d like, with a potentially trashed Phoenix 

 

Is there any way to salvage a Phoenix mid flight? In TWS my understanding is no because the AWG9 is unlikely to correlates “new” track back to an existing (and fired upon) file.

 

in any of the STT modes if the lock is dropped and reacquired quickly does it resume SARH?

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in PD-STT it may continue to guide if you manage to relock the target in PD-STT.

In TWS there is nothing to be done. go out, preserve range, recommit and shoot him again.

To help minimize the track hold issue (which is far better than it used to be) After shooting descend below the target, that way the target can no longer notch your radar and cause a track hold/decorelation that way. May still happen, but it helps. Next if you are shooting into a complicated blob of targets it can also happen, you kinda just have to accept it. 

With a wingman, this is where you can either both double tap the same targets so if the track hold issue happens its less likely to affect both of you, or you can set up with one of you in trail so that if the first shooters shots get trashed by the track hold problem, then the guy in trail can shoot that guy again. As a single jet your options are much more limited in mitigating the weaknesses.

 

About the only way you can actively help the decorelation problem is by setting the target size to large, this will make the missile go active sooner, which gives the track less time to mess something up. And descend below the targets altitude to minimize doppler notch problems.

 

With any missile you only have so much control over what happens once the missile leaves the rail. you have to accept that and work the possibility of misses and failures into your tactics. There are ways to minimize or mitigate, but not ways to completely remove these weaknesses. You cannot expect to get a 100% successful missile on any particular shot, and have to account for that.

 

I fully expect 50% of my BVR shots in DCS to fail, and build my tactics and techniques around that, so that a single missile missing doesn't result in either me getting hit or my wingman getting hit, and I give myself options. I may go out into the exact same scenario and run it over and over, first time every missile hits. reload the mission second time half my missiles hit, reload the mission 3rd time 1 of my missiles hit. My tactics and gameplan did not change between any of those, its just the luck of chaff, what exactly the bandit/bandits did after I pulled the trigger, and how well I executed and maintained my SA on what was happening.


Edited by KlarSnow
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