DCS comms in SP (F/A-18C Alert 5 mission)

I’m trying to determine a good strategy for the Hornet SP Alert 5 mission with regards to tasking my wingman. Telling him to engage fighters isn’t enough direction. I flew it 4 times tonight and came to grief every time, usually with an R60M from the other MiG, but once with an AIM9. Yeah, that’s right, at the merge I broke for the bandit that was going vertical and received a heater from my wingman for my troubles. And sometimes he goes after the Fencers leaving me defensive with his Fulcrum whom is pissed because I smoked his boss with a AIM7. In other words, if I shoot at 18 miles we arrive at the merge not long after our missiles and having to keep the nose pointed at the engaged bandit puts me in a bad position to defend against his wingman.

What I’d like to do is sort the MiGs and assign one to him and let me deal with the other. Question: if I lock one of the Fulcrums and order my wingman to engage my target, can I then break lock and go after the other one? Or should I shoot sooner and higher leaving me more time to engage the second MiG?

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In every other fighter, it works like this. It doesn’t for the hornet, at least not right now. Right now I just tell him to engage bandits, assume he’s going to go for the closest one, sort around that and hope for the best.


Thank you Fellas, got to try this. Good informative stuff.

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Eventually we will get to a Falcon BMS level of sophistication and be able to assign individual radar tracks to specific wingmen. (I hope.)

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Technically, you have to keep your radar pointed at him. The common tactic is to take the BVR shot, then turn left or right to a point where the target is near an edge of your scan volume. This significantly reduces your closure speed / extends the time before the merge. In that time, hopefully your missile has found its target and you can lock on to his wingman (the beauty of TWS). If not, you still should have time and distance to put a Winder in his face. If that doesn’t kill him it will at least make him go defensive.

…and I just shot my watch…:wink:


Foster Brooks roasts Jimmy Stewart


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Thanks Hanger200. With regards to cranking, do I have to keep the diamond inside the big circle on the HUD, or should I reference the DDI radar display? And we are talking AIM7 here. I think I’ve got the 120 figured out.

Going to read the updated manual at lunch today.

The circle in the HUD is the NIRD, which gives you steering to where to shoot. Once the missile is off the rail, all you need to do is keep within the radar gimbal


Good to know dat NB! Will certainly improve SA.

I actually found this one very easy, but I’d be spamming my wingman with “engage bandits” constantly before he’d finally comply. My strategy was only to shoot the targets that he wasn’t shooting.

I found this mission to be difficult flying solo, but when it was modified to be played on a server with 4 actual players it was MUCH MUCH better :slight_smile:

I also find the head on engagements that are BVR very tough indeed. Feels like a big game of chicken as to who’s going to get a missile off first. Generally I’m on the losing end of these fights.

I played it again and found very easy. Here’s what I’m doing:

Quick check of everything, lights, etc. then firewall the throttles. Start up RWR, set up CM program, leave EW page on right MFD. AA mode, select Sparrow, set to norm, 7M. IR cool switch to NORM. Tune radio to AWACS. Left page to radar, set scan to 40deg, 6 bars. When bandits get to 40nmi, tell wingman to engage bandits. Lock up closest bandit, then at ~20nmi, fire a Sparrow.

In this case, I had a Fulcrum locked and my wingman shot at the other one. My Sparrow stayed true so I didn’t have to follow up, but I switched over to Sidewinders when it was apparent the Sparrow wasn’t going to have the energy. I fired a Sidewinder on shoot cue, but the Fulcrum took a bath right after I fired.

From there, the other Fulcrum was going after my wingman, who had decided that the Backfires were more important, so I swung around to engage him. Sidewinder range, went true, hit him.

After that, the Backfires decided to dogfight us for some reason, so I used 3 more Sparrows to shoot them down as they tried to engage.

My track went off the rails after I bagged this Backfire and watched myself send missiles into the ocean, but it’s never been real difficult for me.

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Nice job Franze. Question, when you move your radar to the left DDI, does your sensor control switch function the same, or reversed?

Seems to function the same for me.

One thing to beware of: the default loadout is very heavy. I was mashing the hell out of the G limiter override just to make my turns. I’d suggest trading a couple Sparrows for an extra set of Sidewinders because the engagement goes close real fast. I played it several times and more often than not, Sparrows will miss the Fulcrums and by the time you find out whether or not the Sparrow will hit, you’re in Sidewinder range. As per usual, I ended up having more luck with the gun than any of the missiles. Also note that I’m restricting myself to a '89 weapons set; if you grab AIM-120 or AIM-9X, scenario will be way easier.

Couple of Notes/commentary Franze (that will also help anybody else with this stuff)
Your loadout is really not too heavy, The Hornet maneuvers quite well with 6 Sparrows and 2 Sidewinders, its only an extra 3,000 pounds, and the A/A missiles do not add a whole lot of drag (should be about the same as a clean jet with 1 full tank in regards to weight and probly better in drag).

What was making you have to use the G limiter override was your Speed

Corner speed for the hornet is going to be ~350-400 knots, you are merging with the fulcrum in your 2nd screenie up there at 550+ knots.

This is going to make your turn radius the size of Texas and you are on the power side of the curve at that speed and cannot pull enough AOA to start bleeding down your speed without immediately reducing the throttle.

Next, The reason your sparrow missed (initially) is because you fired it at 20NM from 7,000 feet
The sparrow is a perfectly capable 20NM weapon in DCS if fired from 20-30,000 feet or greater (if you get to 40,000 you can shoot it from 25 without too much trouble).
If the bandits are down low as well, your WEZ is only going to get smaller due to the thicker air the missile has to travel through.

A generally decent rule of thumb for Sparrows for head on shots (and amraams btw) is that from 10,000-20,000 feet, your Max WEZ is about the same as your altitude, plus a bit if hes significantly higher than you, minus a bit if hes significantly lower than you. Below 10,000 10NM works pretty solidly all the way down. Above 20,000 for sparrows you have to get all the way up to 40,000 to start seeing a significant enough range improvement. This is due to the fact that sparrows only function in game (assumed battery timer) for 60 seconds, you have to get a lot higher for that 60 seconds to start translating into extra range, you will get better kinematics out of a 30,000 vs 20,000 foot shot however.

Amraams have a longer time to live ~(90 seconds IIRC) so you can take shots farther out with them.

If you had been up at 20,000+ feet when you took your first shot, it probly would have connected.
Also a good rule of thumb on these types of intercepts. If you don’t crank (put him 45-50+degrees off your nose) after the shot, expect the missile to timeout (hit or miss) at about 1/3rd the distance you shot it (in your case a 20NM shot, you should expect it to hit/miss at 7NM from you) If you crank, its 1/2 the distance from you (10NM in this case)

IF THE BANDIT REMAINS POINTED AT YOU (if he turns around these rules of thumb are invalid).

You had plenty of time for a follow up shot if you see 7NM and no explosion, go ahead and point at him take a second sparrow, and know that it is going to timeout, right about when you are getting ready to start employing a sidewinder, giving you another swing at killing him prior to the merge.


I have a tendency to follow Tim Taylor’s advice in these kinds of things, so ditto on the speed; but I definitely feel the weight of 4-6 Sparrows when I started dogfighting. I did a trial run where I tried to take single Sidewinders on the outboard stations, but found they were bugged… But having 4xSparrow instead of 6x had a marked difference on my handling.

Conversely, I’d forgotten my old IL2 maxim, which is “more altitude.” When I hit burners with the 4xSparrow loadout and climbed to 20kft, I didn’t even need to crank and my first Sparrow popped the Fulcrum easy. Every shot taken from altitude at this point seemed to do fairly well and after repeatedly playing around it seems this is the best strategy. The attackers seem to hold at 5kft and the Fulcrums will attack whoever is targeting the Backfires, which in this case is my wingman… Who is flying directly at them and behind me. Made taking out the Fulcrums pretty easy, provided the Sparrows fly true.

ETA: AI loves the water in this mission. I watched my wingman go right into the water with 3 Backfires on 4 separate occasions.

Aren’t they fencers in that mish?

Ran it for the first time.

Took off from the cat, did an aggressive climb to 27,000 feet. Shot my first sparrow at one of the escorts at ~23NM flying just above the Mach. Performed a crank with a dive to put the Bandit above the horizon, fired a second Sparrow at ~10NM. Both missiles impacted more or less simultaneously.

My wingman was at this point taking a Sparrow shot at the Fencers. The second Fulcrum was moving to engage him, but happened to fly across my nose within five miles. Gambled on an opportunistic frontal aspect -9M shot which connected. Converted on him to confirm the kill, then continued my turn to swing in behind the Fencers. I gambled again on a ■■■■ poor geometry Sparrow which failed to connect, then sealed the deal with an AIM-9 from 3,000ft astern. Drove a second Su-24 into the deck, then gunned the last one.


There’s also the small matter that the MiG-29s were only loaded out with a pair of R-60s, so you can kill them with impunity outside of two miles.

Yeah, I was shooting at around 18 miles and 15k which scored pretty consistently with the Sparrow, but we were getting to the merge shortly after the missiles and the remaining Fulcrum was targeting me and not my wingman. Anyway, much learned from @klarsnow’s post. I’m thinking that the best strategy would be to go A/B to 20k + and be closer to corner speed at the merge. Fun quick mission to try different approaches to the problem. I also like watching the F-14’s intercept the northern group of Fencers on the replay.

We’ll, I suppose you may not “need” to crank but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

It is good to use standard TTPs–tactics, techniques and procedures–for each engagement. For a head on, BVR fast closing rate, my TTP is:
1 - Lock the target
2 - When in range, center the dot
3 - Launch an AIM-7
4 - Take my cut…turn…angle… (we are calling “crank”…there is an actual term that I can’t seem to remember)

At that point its the other guy’s “turn” do do something. If he…
…shoots at me, I give pump out chaff and give my missile a bit more time before I do a hard, 0-Doppler break
…stays on course, I give my missile all the time it needs before Turn mack into him.
…goes defensive, I turn back into him, go zone 5 (or what ever it is in the Bug) and switch to AIM-9 for the follow up shot.
…stays pointed at me & my shot misses, turn back into him for potentially another Sparrow or a Sidewinder shot in the face (if I’m using M’s pr X’s), then work the merge…two circle or one circle?…lead turn or not?

We have all seen THE movie*. What they didn’t show was all the classroom time where the the Topgun instructors go over these tactics and more. :sunglasses:

*If you have to ask, you might be more instructed in the Mud-Basket-Weaving forum. :wink:

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