DCS F-14 & RIO Gaming Resources

One-to-One Public Training Session: NAVGRID, ZDF&Notching, Timeline, Geometry

A brief presentation I put together in a couple of days for a trainee in anticipation of his MQT Checkride (Mission Qualification Training) as RIO in the 108th squadron, 132nd Virtual Wing. The event was public and open to anyone interested.

Due to time constraints I do not host similar events often any more, so for the occasion I opened it to anyone interested in the topic discussed, whilst maintaining the one-to-one approach and giving priority to the trainee.
Between the spectators, a former Tornado Nav, who added a few interesting considerations about ROE, ZDF & Notching.

The topics discussed were:

  • NAVGRID, Bearing (BRA calls), Relative Bearing and AWACS;
  • Brief mention to ZDF and notching, especially how to recognize and defeat them;
  • Simplified BVR Timeline;
  • Fundamentals of Geometry.

Later, the plan was flying a number of practical exercises, but the presentation took longer than expected. The resulting exercise was rushed, hence not useful. However, the final part may be of interest to new RIOs, as I mentioned a simple means to use the Pulse Radar at shorter ranges and / or looking down. This last topic is briefly mentioned further on and included in the video.


The session is available in its entirety (besides a few seconds removed as I was doing admin stuff) here:


The presentation is available here (Google Drive open link). It served as a guideline and reference for the discussion, more information about the contents can be found in the articles listed below.

Reference Documentation

If you are new to these concepts, jumping straight into the video may be more confusing than helpful. Therefore, here is a list of articles that should help you to better follow the discussion:

Pulse Radar: Look-down and Close range

The only part of the practical exercises I kept in the video shows how I usually employ the radar in Pulse mode when either the target is below the F-14 or at short range. The considerations about the radar scan volume are applicable to Pulse Doppler modes as well, although those are more susceptible to ZDF and notching.

Last year, a reddit user on /r/hoggit (PALLY31) suggested having a look at the effects of the Pulse Gain in certain situations. I wrote a brief article and recorded a video about the topic. Since then, the settings I am using (even pre-setting them at startup) for the Pulse radar management are:

  • Pulse Gain to minimum: this reduces the effect of the ground returns;
  • Pulse Video and Erase to max: the Pulse return is sometimes barely visible due to the low gain. Increasing the Video and the Erase delay help to better view the target.
Important! The WCS has been overhauled a few months ago, and therefore switching to Pulse to guide a TWS-launched AIM-54 is not possible any more.

The radar instead is set to 4 or 8 bars and the azimuth is narrow, depending on the situation: remember that the shorter the SR, the higher the angular error (in terms or bearing) induced by a drifted INS.
The reasoning behind these settings is the fact that the azimuth is simple to adjust, either visually (“Tally“) or via Controller or Datalink but especially at short range, the elevation can be a more tricky. The result is a “tall ‘n tight” scan volume: think about it as a TWS scan volume rotated vertically (hence more similar to 4B) but even taller and narrower.

The following image compares different radar settings with the technique described above. The latter is represented by the orange rectangles with dashed borders. The scan volume is ±10° and ±20° for 8 bars.

The following chart represents the volume (elevation) covered depending on range and bars.

The details of the other radar modes are discussed in this article.

An alternative to such procedure is the Manual mode, but I find its usage quite convoluted. At the end of the day, use whatever works better for you!

A note for the next training sessions

From the point of view of an IP, an important lesson here is that flying, checking the TID, monitoring and guiding the trainee is not really feasible: I was entirely focused on the TID and the trainee rather than flying, so I was going all over the place. Next time I will have someone else flying whilst I watch the RIO streaming his point of view.
The fact that I never flew the Tomcat in MP or for more than 10′ did not really help either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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