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Question regarding differences between 54A and 54C


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So something that me and a friend have discussed and are now curious about is that for the 54, currently, its SARH till impact if you have a target in STT.  It seems this may be based off of one document that is purely talking about the A model phoenix.  Does this limitation actually exist on the C?  What are the actual improvements made to the C? I know it was the basis for the 120 guidance system so just color me suspicious that it may not have this limitation just want more info to figure this out.

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Our AIM-54C is basically the same but better performing than the -A.

 

The problem is that there are many people out there guessing about its performance but no hard data and until there are we're not gonna start guessing.

But if you have or find any data to that effect you're more than welcome to send it our way.


Edited by Naquaii
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Best data out there on the 54C is that it adds a Command Inertial mode. No details on how that functions or what exactly that means. You could read between the lines because that is a completely different terminology than any of the AIM-54A's modes, and it also matches AMRAAM terminology (Command Inertial Active). The minimum you can draw from that along with the fact that the AIM-54C has a strap on IRU/INS type system is that it probly implemented some form of AMRAAM style command inertial guidance. How that functions with the AWG-9, what its limitations are, how it swaps between that and the other still available modes of the AIM-54 (nothing says any of the other guidance methods were removed) is unknown.

 

Best source is the Forecast International report I've snipped out right here. If you google search AIM-54 Command Inertial, you should be able to find it.

 

Screen Shot 2021-02-20 at 10.05.53 AM.png

 

 

 

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Yeah, I hear you and I've seen a lot of those sources before. Problem is that it's a lot of "probably", "maybe" and assumptions from sources that are either not in the know or prohibited from giving the whole picture. In the end we still lack any sort of hard evidence which makes it really hard to draw any solid conclusions.

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Question remains, if it used so much advanced tech and especially tech shared with the AMRAAM why wouldn't it be safe to assume that it used very similar guidence methods? There are plenty of reports about its capabilities comapared to the early A models. I don't think it would be a stretch to assume that the 54C guides and has INS + active commands similar to the AMRAAM. Obviously there will never be any actual documentation proving this as fact as most of it will remain classified. Because currently the DCS 54C really has no noticeable differences to the A, even in CCM or PN coefficient, which will hopefully change once ED is done with the missile API an it's fully applied to the Phoenix. 

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The overwhelming response if you ask any tomcat aircrew or read any reports about the difference is if you are given the choice between an AIM-54A of any flavor and an AIM-54C, throw the AIM-54A in the trash and go with the AIM-54C every single time. Unfortunately right now in DCS its just a pick between better kinematics (Mk60) or better Chaff resistance (AIM-54C). It should be a much more distinct difference than that, and making it operate like an AMRAAM instead of the rube goldberg device that the AIM-54A is would go a long ways to delineating that. 

 

Unfortunately as Naquii said there is no hard data, just reading between the lines and assumptions based on how other things work/worked.

For example, there is no data on how an AIM-54C would behave in PD-STT, would it still operate as a SARH only missile? It still has all the same modes as the AIM-54A, how would you delineate or what settings would tell it what to do?

 

Do I think if Heatblur wanted they could make reasonable assumptions as to functionality and implement a more distinct and in the process probably more "realistic" if not completely accurate version of the AIM-54C, yes I think they could.

 

But thats their decision to make. And so far they have decided that that does not fit their development model, which is fine.

 

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What sucks is that I found a despository of aim 54 manuals and documentation. But It is all locked for DOD contractors only.

 

Also it should be noted that the 54C uses a WGU much like the 120As, and the 54C ECCM variant (of which the marjority of Cs were) had a WGU that was MORE advanced than the 120As. 

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FWIW, as a consumer with absolutely no background in software design, I'd say in the absence of hard data, Heatblur should go ahead with the sum total of all the soft data they can collect, and make their best guess. I have been simming since 1984 and the old Microprose games on the C64, so getting mere approximations is - by God - nothing unheard of. It never, ever killed immersion for me, even when they gave us "F-19 Stealth Fighter" (based on a fantasy plane, the F-19 "Frisbee" that was conceived to mislead the public about the real F-117 at the time, when widespread rumors about a secret stealth fighter began to surface).

 

EF-2000, Total Air War... those were the best guesses by the DID developers at the time. Probably wildly inaccurate, yet a lot of fun. Even the more hardcore ones (Longbow 2, or the "sim can't shan't be named here") were approximations with a lot of guestimates.

 

So, as far as I am concerned, guess away. 🙂

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54 minutes ago, Skysurfer said:

Question remains, if it used so much advanced tech and especially tech shared with the AMRAAM why wouldn't it be safe to assume that it used very similar guidence methods? There are plenty of reports about its capabilities comapared to the early A models. I don't think it would be a stretch to assume that the 54C guides and has INS + active commands similar to the AMRAAM. Obviously there will never be any actual documentation proving this as fact as most of it will remain classified. Because currently the DCS 54C really has no noticeable differences to the A, even in CCM or PN coefficient, which will hopefully change once ED is done with the missile API an it's fully applied to the Phoenix. 

This is my suspicious as well and the reason I made this thread.

1 hour ago, Naquaii said:

Yeah, I hear you and I've seen a lot of those sources before. Problem is that it's a lot of "probably", "maybe" and assumptions from sources that are either not in the know or prohibited from giving the whole picture. In the end we still lack any sort of hard evidence which makes it really hard to draw any solid conclusions.

Yeah and maybe at some point we may just have to make a leap of faith based on these I truly do wish there was more info but I don't think that saying that, for example, the AIM-54C goes active even in STT or active on its own is a major stretch.  Ugh only if we had more info.


Edited by nighthawk2174
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8 minutes ago, Grater Tovakia said:

What sucks is that I found a despository of aim 54 manuals and documentation. But It is all locked for DOD contractors only.

 

Also it should be noted that the 54C uses a WGU much like the 120As, and the 54C ECCM variant (of which the marjority of Cs were) had a WGU that was MORE advanced than the 120As. 

Grater, if you can post the name and location of the documents, that could help with an FOIA request.

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Take an example, the lowest hanging fruit code-wise would be to allow the AIM-54C to go active without explicitly being told to do so via the link from the AWG-9.

 

Do I think that would've been technologically possible? Yes. Do I think that would've been technologically possible for the -A as well? Yes!

 

The problem is that we do not have the full picture, we do not know why the decision to have the -A only go active after getting the command was made. Maybe the same decision was reached for the -C? Without having the full picture it would still be only guesses and all decisions are not always made because of technological limitations.

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3 minutes ago, Naquaii said:

Take an example, the lowest hanging fruit code-wise would be to allow the AIM-54C to go active without explicitly being told to do so via the link from the AWG-9.

 

Do I think that would've been technologically possible? Yes. Do I think that would've been technologically possible for the -A as well? Yes!

 

The problem is that we do not have the full picture, we do not know why the decision to have the -A only go active after getting the command was made. Maybe the same decision was reached for the -C? Without having the full picture it would still be only guesses and all decisions are not always made because of technological limitations.

Yeah I don't disagree at all.  To me though it just makes more sense that the 54C would not have such limitations as its key guidance components were basically replaced from my current understanding.  How much are the SME's you guys talk to allowed to say?  Can they say the 54C went active on its own or is that too much?  It is a weapon system that has been out of service for over 15 years now and based on tech from the 60's/80's.


Edited by nighthawk2174
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2 minutes ago, nighthawk2174 said:

Yeah I don't disagree at all.  To me though it just makes more sense that the 54C would not have such limitations as its key guidance components were basically replaced from my current understanding.  How much are the SME's you guys talk to allowed to say?  Can they say the 54C went active on its own or is that too much?  It is a weapon system that has been out of service for over 15 years now and based on tech from the 60's/80's.

 

That's mostly a no-go area. Problem is that the fact that there's likely much in common with the early AIM-120s also likely mean that it'll be a long time till we see the F-14 manuals containing AIM-54C info unclassified. So the same reason we're discussing this is also likely the reason there's very little information available if I'd wager a guess.

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I also do not disagree, but I also think that making distinctions like that in the absence of information are fine because again reasonable assumptions in the absence of hard data.

 

It also serves the purpose from a game mechanics perspective of making the two missiles distinct and having separate capabilities and distinct advantages/disadvantages and employment considerations. To me thats more important in a game than just a different chaff value.

 

I mean you could just implement it and say "These are our best assumptions based on the lack of hard data" caveat, that is essentially what you are also doing with the AIM-7 and the AIM-54A, or what ED is doing with any of the other missiles in the game, you just have more pieces of the puzzle available.

 

Keep in mind I'm not knocking anybodies development or research into any of these weapons or how they are implemented. But it's a game with mechanics, and assumptions have to be made about important things that aren't known about every system that gets implemented.

 


Edited by KlarSnow
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Just now, KlarSnow said:

I also do not disagree, but I also think that making distinctions like that in the absence of information are fine because again reasonable assumptions in the absence of hard data.

 

It also serves the purpose from a game mechanics perspective of making the two missiles distinct and having separate capabilities and distinct advantages/disadvantages and employment considerations. To me thats more important in a game than just a different chaff value.

 

I mean you could just implement it and say "These are our best assumptions based on the lack of hard data" caveat, that is essentially what you are also doing with the AIM-7 and the AIM-54A, or what ED is doing with any of the other missiles in the game, you just have more pieces of the puzzle available.

 

 

Well, yes and no. The AIM-7 is out of our hands as that's entirely ED. The AIM-54A we do have a bit of info on as that's what allowed us to implement what we have.

 

And I do agree that there needs to be a distinction between the -A and the -C, that's why we've been adamant that the -C need better chaff resistance. The fact that the AIM-54C is likely to have a lot in common with the early AIM-120c might mean that it can go active on its own but then again, it might not. We don't even know the reasoning behind the design of the seeker logic in the AIM-54A, just a bit of insight into how it actually did work.

 

When designing our AIM-54A we did so according to to the information we have and we're quite certain it's implemented according to that within the limitations of DCS. When implementing the -C we made the decision to make it work the same way as the -A but improve the chaff resistance (apart from rocket motor values). So in that way it's based on the information we have but improved slightly. To say that we should change the way it works because of a likely similarity to a later missile which we in itself do not know that much about to be fair, would be speculation.

 

What if the reason for the seeker active logic being the accuracy of the IFF and long range performance of the AWG-9? Maybe the -C even worked differently with the AN/APG-71? I'm not saying it did, but it might've.

 

In the end, I'm not saying that it couldn't go active without a command but I'm also not saying that it could. We've based our -C on our -A because that's the information we have and as it currently stands my opinion is that we do not have enough data on the missiles to make a change. I hope that do change but I'm not certain it will in the near future.

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4 minutes ago, Naquaii said:

When designing our AIM-54A we did so according to to the information we have and we're quite certain it's implemented according to that within the limitations of DCS. When implementing the -C we made the decision to make it work the same way as the -A but improve the chaff resistance (apart from rocket motor values). So in that way it's based on the information we have but improved slightly. To say that we should change the way it works because of a likely similarity to a later missile which we in itself do not know that much about to be fair, would be speculation.

 

 

Which is fine and your decision to implement it that way *but* since the Tomcat basically came out and until now myself and many other could not see or measure a quantifiable difference in CCM between the A and the C. It does not help that ED basically broke CCM for most missiles in the last few patches making each and every one of them go for one or a couple chaff bundles, every time. But I think there is enough literature, SME input and hard data to say that chaff shouldn't really be this effective against the more modern missiles to begin with. And again, the CCM of the C needs to be significantly noticeable, which it never was, despite the changes made in the base weapons .lua, which I dont think really affects the actual implementation in DCS. Just something to consider and hopefully something that can be wrapped up after all this time so we have a solid, not constantly changing frame of reference for weapons employment in DCS.

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Just now, Skysurfer said:

 

Which is fine and your decision to implement it that way *but* since the Tomcat basically came out and until now myself and many other could not see or measure a quantifiable difference in CCM between the A and the C. It does not help that ED basically broke CCM for most missiles in the last few patches making each and every one of them go for one or a couple chaff bundles, every time. But I think there is enough literature, SME input and hard data to say that chaff shouldn't really be this effective against the more modern missiles to begin with. And again, the CCM of the C needs to be significantly noticeable, which it never was, despite the changes made in the base weapons .lua, which I dont think really affects the actual implementation in DCS. Just something to consider and hopefully something that can be wrapped up after all this time so we have a solid, not constantly changing frame of reference for weapons employment in DCS.

Yeah, I totally agree and we will continue to tune the chaff resistance towards that goal. Fixing the ability for the AI to magically know when you've fired a TWS shot would also help a lot.

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1 hour ago, Jayhawk1971 said:

FWIW, as a consumer with absolutely no background in software design, I'd say in the absence of hard data, Heatblur should go ahead with the sum total of all the soft data they can collect, and make their best guess. I have been simming since 1984 and the old Microprose games on the C64, so getting mere approximations is - by God - nothing unheard of. It never, ever killed immersion for me, even when they gave us "F-19 Stealth Fighter" (based on a fantasy plane, the F-19 "Frisbee" that was conceived to mislead the public about the real F-117 at the time, when widespread rumors about a secret stealth fighter began to surface).

 

EF-2000, Total Air War... those were the best guesses by the DID developers at the time. Probably wildly inaccurate, yet a lot of fun. Even the more hardcore ones (Longbow 2, or the "sim can't shan't be named here") were approximations with a lot of guestimates.

 

So, as far as I am concerned, guess away. 🙂


Yeah i'm sure you do . 
Are you serious though ? 
The chaff is already 'guessed' on a bases of "it was probably something like the amraam C" model. 
What exactly are you after ?


Edited by Csgo GE oh yeah
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SATAL : "Summary - Tomcat limited to 2 AIM-54A mk74 Phoenix per aircraft for both Diamond and Gold leagues. All other Phoenix types, AIM-54A mk60 and AIM-54C, are currently banned."

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Tbh, I don’t think the AIM-54C need to go active on its own like the AMRAAM. The range advantage that the 54 offers easily makes up for the lack of ability to go active on its own. If you utilize the range advantage and the countermeasure resistance of the 54C and follow BVR timeline, you can even give the most advanced fighters (the F-16 and F/A-18) a run for their money in BVR (if you lost to a Hornet in BVR when you have AIM-54 equipped, it will kind make you look bad). However, a command for Jester to set missile mode to PH ACT (Phoenix Active) or turn MLC off will be nice, so if you’re reading this developers, please consider this feature. With that said, I’m all in for the changes of the AIM-54C’s guidance if sources become available.


Edited by the_big_iron
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The wording of that snippet mostly makes me thing the improvements reflect the intent to use the missile against fighters in the future (solid state electronics, better reliability off the rails, better response during beaming scenarios), as for what exactly "active inertial" means..... i guess people that know aren't allowed to share. What makes me more puzzled though, is that after all these years, even the user manuals seam to be prohibited. I can understand the tech, manufacturing and maintenance manuals, but user manuals? I mean, you can't actually build the missile or its components from one....

Current modules:

FC3, Mirage 2000C, Harrier AV-8B NA, F-5, AJS-37 Viggen, F-14B, Combined Arms, F/A-18C, F-16C, MiG-19P, F-86, FW-190A, Spitfire Mk IX, UH-1 Huey, Su-25, P-51PD, Caucasus map, Nevada map, Persian Gulf map......ah yes, forgot the Super Carrier! Shows you how often i fly these days....

 

Modules in waiting: F-14A, MiG-23, F-4U, F-8, Falklands Map

 

 

Wish list: South East Asia map, F-4J/N, A-6, F-15A/C, Su-27, Sea Harrier FRS.1, Mirage III, MiG-17.

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