Pulse Radar, Gain and WCS

The idea behind this article and relative video comes from a discussion on Hoggit about how to defeat the AIM-54.
One of the suggestions I gave is manoeuvring and notching. On the other hand, even if the target manages to break the lock, there are at least three ways for a RIO to reacquire the target (some of them are covered in this old article):

  • Disable the MLC filter;
  • Switch to Pulse Search;
  • Manoeuvre to change the geometry of the engagement.

I also added that, usually, being lower than the F-14 is a good idea, because a notching target when the AWG-9 is looking down is a tough client: MLC turned off means seeing clutter and ghost contacts and the Pulse basically works as a very simple ground mapping radar. That’s when /u/PALLY31 suggested setting the Pulse Gain knob fully CCW.

Following the manual, I used to increase the Pulse Gain up to NORM:

[..] the PULSE GAIN control knob (20) which controls the radar gain in the pulse modes. This control affects the gain of the radar directly. Normally left in the detent at the fully clockwise position which allows the WCS to control it automatically.

Following PALLY’s suggestion, I did some tests. This is what came out:


Part I: Pulse Gain

The video is divided in three parts. In primis the Pulse Gain test versus a target flying at the same speed and heading, but 20,000ft lower than my F-14. As you may have realized already, such contact cannot be picked by Pulse Doppler settings, due to the Zero Doppler Filter.
However, with my default settings, the Pulse Radar return was full of clutter, until I turned the gain fully CCW.

NOTE: if you are new to these shores and looking for the Antenna Elevation Angle kneeboard page (or the others), you can get them from the download section.

Part II: Pulse Gain vs Range

I was concerned about how a low Gain may affect the detection over longer ranges. As you can see from the video, it actually has no impact.
I placed a number of targets at 20nm, 40nm, 60nm, 80nm and the first three were clearly seen on the DDD, whereas the last wasn’t: 80nm is well beyond the normal Pulse Radar detection range.

Part III: Losing lock and WCS

I covered this topic in one of my very first articles, almost one year ago. I did not, however, have a video about it, although this is one of the fundamental concepts a DCS RIO must take into account to understand whether his missile can be considered thrashed or not (and therefore decide to fire again, leave, or something else).
This simple test shows how, the longer the range, the easier is to defeat a missile with a simple notch. Although the RIO has means of finding the target again, the WCS stops guiding the AIM-54 in a loft during this period. This means that a lot of the energy of the missile is wasted. Even the second AIM-54, albeit it resulted in a kill, could have been defeated if the target simply cranked.

Important Note

These considerations are based on the current implementation of the AWG-9 WCS. We already know that Heatblur is working on a new, more realistic, implementation, but we do now when it will be deployed to DCS (I heard about some issues with MP, so they are waiting for ED but don’t quote me on that!).
Here you can find the details of how the new WCS will work.

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