DCS F-14 & RIO Gaming

Intercept Geometry – Part X: Fleet Conversions p2 & Advanced Intercepts [P-825/02]

This article concludes the overview of the P-825 in use 19 years ago, featuring the second and last part of the discussion about the Fleet Conversion Procedures and the Advanced Intercepts, with the first introduction to the intercept of a non-cooperative (id est jinking) bogey.

Intercept Geometry: Table of Contents


In Short

  1. The “Unknown Procedures” are guidelines to follow in case the fighter lacks info or has poor SA (such as no contact on the radar).
  2. The Fleet Conversion Procedures are applied when the CC is dropped and the goal switches to a FQ missile employment.
  3. The Advanced Intercepts introduce non-cooperative bogeys and basic rules about how to deal with jinking bandits.

Due to the length of the discussion, the three topics have been split into two articles. This chapter covers the second part of the Fleet Conversions procedures and the Advanced Intercepts. The “Unknown Procedures” and the first part of the Fleet Conversions are discussed in the previous chapter (IX).


Fleet Conversions Procedures – Part B

The second part of the Fleet Conversions Procedures is rather short and introduces the concept of “Jinking Bogey“.
A Jinking bogey is defined as:

A “jinking bogey” is a bogey that changes heading, airspeed, and/or altitude during the course of the intercept.

CNATRA P-825/02, p. 143

Unfortunately, the P-825/02 discusses only superficially the case of a jinking bogeys at this stage, and it is limited to a jink in heading (which hardly happens in DCS).
Nevertheless, the effects and the steps that the fighter has to follow to contain the manoeuvre are indeed very interesting.

Heading Jink: Spatial Relationships

As discussed before, the DP (displacement point) places the bandit about 25° off CB after DT, resulting in a controlled and expected drift ratio no matter the initial TA.
However, if the bandit jinks in any direction, the TA changes, and consequently the LS. The ATA does not change immediately. In a re-attack scenario, post FOX-1, the DT will be incorrect if the bandit jinks.

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Heading jinks cause immediate TA change;
  2. The jink can be recognized on the radar scope due to similar symptoms of an over or underdisplacement;
  3. If the bandit jinks into the target, TA is decreased, the bogey is closer to CB and the rate of outward drift is less than expected.
    The actions required are similar, in principle, to those used to correct an underdisplacement;
  4. If the bandit jinks away from the target, TA is increased, the bogey is further away from CB and the rate of outward drift is greater than expected.
    The actions required are similar, in principle, to those needed to correct an overdisplacement.

Techniques

The following table summarizes the effects of a jinking bogey and suggests the actions required to counter it:

Bogey’s Action Indication Fighter’s Reaction
Jink into fighter drift (hot) Less rapid outward out to cool off CT Redisplace further
Jink away from the fighter More rapid outward drift (cold) Harden turn to heat up the CT

ROC and Range Rate of Closure (RROC)

The closure rate is an intuitive and immediate aid to determine the direction of the bandit’s jink: if the bandit jinks towards the fighter, the TA is immediately affected and decreases. At the same time, the VC noticeably increases. Vice versa, if the bandit jinks away from the F-14, the TA increases and the VC decreases along it, as the bandit is getting closer to the beam (if not cold).
The Range Rate of Closure is another valuable aid: if the progression down the scope slows down, then the RIO can assume that the bandit is jinking away. Similarly to the previous situation, if the rate increases, then the bandit might be jinking into the fighter.
In the F-14 this is clearly noticeable in Pulse mode on the DDD, less so on the TID (but the TID provides additional / different information).

The Big Four

NOTE: The following paragraph is straight on point, so I took it as it is from the documentation – p.145.
Four indicators can be used to determine a heading jink:

  1. VC
  2. Heading or TA vector
  3. Drift
  4. RROC

These indicators are arranged in descending order of occurrence.
While it may seem easy at first to just rely on ROC to identify a jink, it will lead to problems in the advanced phase. Remember, ROC will not be available in search. The same range/ROC gates used to deal with hot/cold situations in Unknowns are useful to detect bogey heading jinks.
Turn commands in the rear quarter after the jink should be limited to a hard turn or less. The bogey should be kept within 20° the nose (since the new bogey heading is unknown now). A jink into means more DTG. A jink away means less DTG.

Conclusions

This concludes the brief look at the Fleet Conversions Procedures. Several notions previously discussed have been touched: drift, angles, VC and many others. In fact, the documentation concludes the paragraph by saying:

The conversion intercept is a long-range set-up which requires the application of all previously learned material. A solid understanding of conversion procedures will greatly improve the spatial picture.

CNATRA P-825/02, p. 145

The second sentence explains why it is worth having a look at these procedures, although they are be hardly applicable directly to DCS, at least in a less simulative environment. So, the reason why we do this, is to learn and improve our ability to build and maintain Situational Awareness; as this is really the most important parameter in a fight: the more situations and relations we discuss, the better the RIO can handle different scenarios. Particularly important are the “giveaway signs” of a variation of the flight parameters of the bandit (i.e. jink), allowing the RIO to react promptly and respond.


Advanced Intercepts

Besides a brief mention in the discussion about the Fleet Conversion Procedures, the scenarios described so far have seen the target being “cooperative“, flying a maintaining constant heading, speed and altitude.
The real life, and DCS for us, are quite different, and hardly an aircraft flies combat scenarios in such conditions.
This paragraph combines most of the techniques and notions discussed so far and applies them to bandits jinking and evading.

Unfortunately, the documentation still barely scratches its surface of this topic, as the focus is on controlling the intercept without going into the details of the nuisances of this potentially very complex (and interesting) scenario.

The following is the structure suggested to the trainee to achieve the objective of controlling the intercept. It is divided in three stages, functions of the range.

Stage Task
Stage I
Range ≥ 20nm (Fox-3)
  • Control the intercept;
  • Determine TA, convert it to < 20°, if possible;
  • If shot parameters are met, employ Fox-3.
    Stage II
    Range 20nm to Lead (Fox-3 to Fox-1)
    • Control the intercept;
    • Recognize and react to jinking target (in HDG, ALT, SPD);
    • Employ AIM-7 within parameters.
      Stage III
      Range inside Lead (Fox-1 to Fox-2)
      • Control the intercept;
      • Attempt normal CT after reacting to jinks or react aggressively to jink and attempt FQ (forward-quarter) close-aboard merge when no turning room is available;
      • Employ AIM-9 within parameters (RQ or FQ).

        Stages detail

        The following part breaks down the three stages and adds additional details to each of them.

        Important!

        Several passages of this chapter are strictly related to the real-life simulator or the aircraft used for training (T-39). I tried to adapt the useful notions to the use in DCS but for the original content, please refer to page 151 of the P-825/02. For example, one of the concerns when the bogey is higher than the T-39, is that the T-39 tends to bleed speed very fast when climbing, something we usually do not worry about in the F-14 (within certain parameters, of course).

        Also note that if you have read the BVR Timeline article written last year, the déjà vu feeling is expected 🙂
        Although no clear indication of the Timeline is given, the basics are there already, and this trend becomes even more clear in the P-825/08 and eventually the P-825/17.

        Stage I: Fox-3

        At long range, determining the TA allows to control the intercept. Depending on the range, converting less than 25 TA may satisfy the Fox-3 employment parameters.

        Gameplan

        The first step is determining the Target Aspect by analysing the drift or by menas of other techniques. Then, if SR > 20nm and the TA is > 90 (beaming towards cold aspect), the fighter should reset and break-off the intercept. The call used is:

        [callsign] is re-setting to the [cardinal direction], GCI monitor group, BRAA [___]

        If the bogey turns hot again, the fighter can “Recommit“.
        If the bogey is manoeuvring and reaches 90 TA, the recommendation is to continue to analyse the drift and avoid resetting a bogey doing a 360 and pressing downrange, as this can erode valuable intercept range and potentially the room to employ one or more missiles.

        Weapons Employment

        The documentation recommends the following parameters when employing a SARH missile (AIM-120 or AIM-54):

        1. Target locked up (STT) with good track presentation;
        2. Bogey confirmed hostile by GCI;
        3. Target SR > 20 nm;
        4. TA < 20°, and dot within steering circle. Lead point = ½ TA in the opposite direction.

        Stage II: Fox-3 to Fox-1

        The focus of Stage II is again on the target aspect, but also to the recognition and counter of the bogey jinks, culminating in the employment of an AIM-7.

        Recognizing Jinks
        Altitude The documentation suggests that the only tool available to the fighter is the “El Strobe”, the Elevation Strobe or Elevation Indicator. This is present aboard the F-14 as well, but the RIO can use the TID to immediately determine the altitude of a contact.
        Airspeed The tools used to determine the airspeed jinks are multiple and include the VC, changes in the velocity vector (both TID AS and GS), TID readout, drift and RROC.
        Heading The Effect of heading jinks can be found in the velocity vector in both TID AS and GS, drift, VC and RRCO.
        Note that Heading and Airspeed jinks use the same indicators and this can cause confusion, especially the TID AS. In TID GS instead, the length of the VV won’t change, just its heading in case of Heading jinks.
        Reaction to Jinks
        Altitude No reaction if range > 15 nm.
        If range < 15 nm, RIO commands climb or dive but not closer than 1,000ft (to avoid crossing the bogey’s altitude).
        This manoeuvre ensures that the target will be inside the radar limits during the CT.
        Airspeed Slow bogey: the fighter has tactical speed advantage. Preserve it as long as the head work allows.
        Fast bogey: depends. Documentation suggests that matching speed is logical, but waiting until DT is acceptable as well but:

        “[…] the key is not forgetting to put the speed on at all and winding up with no shot and an opening contact.”

        Heading At range, the RIO recalculates the TA and re-establishes CC or executes the gameplan for the new TA.
        For TA > 50, a conversion to preserve the Fox-1 parameters may be required.
        Post F-1 range, the fighter must aggressively react to the initial heading jink, then access subsequent jinks and react accordingly.
        If TA > 60, the fighter is not in the bogey’s radar any more, and it will be relying on GCI information. The fighter may place the bogey on the nose to monitor the defensive manoeuvre: it may be turning cold and run away or try to place the fighter on the nose.
        The specific reaction to a jink depends on the scenario, fighter mission/mindset, and ROE.

        Stage III: Fox-1 to Fox-2

        CT are executed as usual, although more complex scenarios may occur:

        • Fast or Slow bogey
          Target’s speed post Fox-1 range may change. The issue in this case is obtaining the target’s speed through jamming and possible failures, when the bogey is off CH post displacement after Fox-1, although this hardly applies to DCS.
          If the bogey has speed advantage, the fighter can set buster after Fox-1 to match airspeed, and the scenario evolves in the co-speed CT discussed in the previous parts. If the bogey jinks into the fighter, the RIO must recognise the situation and aggressively attempt to cool off the situation, hence creating the turning room that enables the CT. The time available is less in the latter scenario, and if subsequent jinks happen, there may be no time to bring the bogey to the nose for a Fox-2. Remaining at “base speed” leaves more time to assess the turning room and react to a jink. If the room is not sufficient, remaining at “base speed” grants more time to manoeuvre for a FQ Fox-2, and the speed will be closer to corner speed if a merge subsequently starts.
          If the bogey is fast and jinks away in the CT, the fighter should match airspeed as soon as the jink is recognized whilst placing the target towards the nose to pull lead as required.
          If the bogey is slow, maintain speed advantage, besides heading jinks, VC is lower and drift differences from co-speed will not be significant until later in the CT.
        • High/Fast bogey
          The main point raised by the documentation are about the tendency of the T-39 to bleed speed in a climb. If a bogey is fast and ΔALT > 3,000ft, then the VD must be considered.
          Besides that, the suggestion is to under displace the bogey (10° for 20TA and higher) to establish enough LS. Eventually, the decision about how to heat up or cool down the CT is up to the RIO.
        • Low/Slow bogey
          The main issue in this scenario is the difficulty in slowing down during a steep dive and the suggestion is to cool off the curve (5°-10° cooler than the reference) to avoid becoming hot.
          Over displacing the target by 10° to establish a cold CT is another possible option. As in the previous scenario, ultimately it is up to the RIO.
        • Forward Quarter Fox-2
          The danger of fixating on the CT vs a bandit trying to place the fighter on the nose is that the bandit may eventually roll out in the fighter’s RQ. Therefore, after the first attempt to cool off the initial heading jink, the fighter must drop the CT and employ a FQ Fox-2 (ROE met), and then continue to a forward quarter merge.
          The decision of when, quoting, “the fighter can or cannot make it around the corner” is made by assessing parameters such as TA, VC, drift, RROC and applying a trend analysis. If the fighter is late in the CT, the probability of employing Fox-2 is low but, by placing the target towards the fighter’s nose, at lest a neutral to offensive position is maintained.
          Weapon Employment
          The FQ FOX-2 can be employed against an uncooperative bogey that denies turning room to the fighter. If post reaction to the bandit jinking into the fighter, still no room is available, the decision can be made of, quoting, ““shoot him in the face“. The following procedure should be followed:

          1. Expeditiously bring the target to the nose; give multiple AREO calls; try to get a tally;
          2. Manoeuvre to place the dot within the ASE circle (select AIM-9);
          3. Within 5 and 5½nm, say “Your Dot / VID” and get a tally if not done yet;
          4. Determine and coordinate the merge gameplan (crew coordination).

          (Note: The documentation adds more points, some of which are strictly related to the safety of flight in a training environment. Such as a 1,000ft flight bubble and so on.)

        • Bug Out
          Post merged, the bug out manoeuvre is used to maximise the range between the fighter and the threat, especially when the separation is minimal and DTG close to 180. The fighter should “neutralize the fight” by:

          • check-turn 30° into BFP;
          • unload to < 1 G;
          • apply full power;
          • place the bandit at 6′;
          • then reset radar and inform the Controller.

          This manoeuvre is so defensive that opens a RQ shot opportunity from the bandit, so be aware of the possible consequences.
          Quoting the documentation:

          “In other words, the fighter would be writing its own death certificate.”

          CNATRA P-825/2; p.155

          If the fighter is defensive and bugging-out is not an option, then the only alternative is to continue defensively and hoping that the bandit makes a mistake.

        • Escort VID
          The fighter may be tasked with identifying and escorting an unknown aircraft.
          If VID and Escort is required, FQ VID is not desirable, and CT is the best option. If the necessary turning room is denied, then VID must be performed at the merge or pre/post merge.
        • Communication
          Throughout the three stages of the advanced intercepts, BRA and AERO calls remain the same, with BRA used down to FOX-1 range.
          In addition, any jink should be announced globally, according to the documentation. Whatever the case in DCS, updating the pilot on the manoeuvres and the situation of the bandit is critical, especially as the range decreases from BVR to WVR.

        Conclusions

        This concludes the overview of the P-825/02. This last article gathered the concepts discussed so far into a single flow, from a BVR SARH employment, to an ARH employment, down into the WVR arena. Finally, we had a glimpse at some of the techniques and procedures used to counter a jinking bandit; a situation very common in DCS, no matter the type of experience you are looking for.

        The next part will go further back into the past, looking for the analogies in the doctrine used in the 70s and earlier.

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