Heatblur F-14 and Forrestal Update



When the 54 was being designed in the early 1960s, it wasn’t intended to be used against fighters.

When the F-16 was developed, it wasn’t intended to be used against ground targets. When the F-4 was developed, it wasn’t believed it would need a gun or be used against ground targets let alone go SAM-hunting.

The fact that later they were impressed into those roles doesn’t negate the objectives at the time of design and testing.

Given the ease with which fighters break radar lock over 20 miles in DCS, I fully expect it to be more prudent to use Sparrows or Sidewinders instead unless you’re just looking to lighten your load.


It just so may happen that the characteristics that make the Phoenix rather capable against bombers at super long range, also make it rather capable against fighters at longer than normal ranges.

Namely, Massive kinematic lofting (there are many white papers on this if you want to understand why it helps so very much, including some that relate specifically to DCS) a long burning rocket motor, high speeds in the interim and strong control surfaces in order to maneuver a big bulky missile.

All of this results in a missile that can go a long way, and can maintain its kinematics a long way.
Which means that it can also maneuver when it goes terminal, and keep up with most fighters as well as bombers.

It has a big warhead as well, so it doesn’t have to impact its target (especially a fighter sized target) in order to kill it.

Combine that with the active missile seeker and it really is quite effective against fighters regardless of whether it was initially designed for it or not.

For reference, the AA-10C (R-27ER) weighs nearly 700+ pounds, it is an ENORMEOUS missile (I’ve stood next to one in the aggressor bar at Nellis) the Phoenix wieghs ~1000 Lbs, not a whole lot more. and really is a generation ahead of the R-27ER in many aspects.

Where the Phoenix falls apart is in the maintenance and upkeep side of things, along with the cost of modernizing it. This more than anything else is why it ended up getting replaced by the AMRAAM.


The AIM-54A had a higher maximum G rating than any contemporary Sparrow or Sidewinder. It was successfully tested against fighter targets doing fighter maneuvers during operational evaluations. The multiple improvements introduced with the C and its revisions only improves this capability.

Every crew interview and tactical document I’ve read universally endorses using the AIM-54 against fighter targets supply permitting. The consensus is if it’s a question of whether or not to take the missile: take the missile. The only concern I’ve ever read isn’t whether the missile can successfully intercept, it’s concern about wasting multiple missiles on the same Target.


I have this ludicrous picture in my mind of some dude losing his radio controlled airplane to a Phoenix missile test.

“Quick, we need to knock out that helicoptor drone taking pictures. Fire up an AIM-54!”


Aaaaand they put it on an f111



Less RC air hawg, more QF-86H doing a sustained 6G turn. You can also find some QF-4s getting shwacked.


I played golf with the Sq. commander of the tomcat that had the Phoenix fall into the ocean. He volunteered that same story when I mentioned I was an ordinance guy in a prior life. Obviously salty as the day it happened.


This has been brought up already, but let’s not forget that in the real world, AIM-54s weren’t cheap to keep around. It’s not a great idea to blow an expensive missile on a target that isn’t a big threat to the carrier group. Take away the limitations of cost, complexity, maint issues, etc. and give yourself a limitless supply of perfect missiles – why wouldn’t you use those on anything flying? Sorta like AMRAAM currently is now.

In DCS, I expect that defeating the Phoenix isn’t going to be that hard, but it is going to have an impact on the overall fight. Unless of course it’s helicopters – I suspect rotary wing will laugh them off, like they do everything else now.


hope it’s ok if I drag this off-topic a little, but all this missile dynamics talk led me to a burning desire for a question I’ve honestly have had for years. What is the reason/advantage that this missile (R-27 family) has such distinct trapezium shaped “butterfly” wings/canards? I’m also curious why it isn’t found on any other system that I know off.

While we are on this topic, I’m also curious why the PL-12 has this distinctive rear fin design

I appreciate all answers and educated guesses. Just in case I am also summoning @AeroMechanical :smiley:


… But I’ll see if I can figure it out.


Missiles are generally sealed rounds, the cost isn’t in keeping them around, it’s in in manufacturing them. The limitation on the Phoenix is only so many were made, and only so many of those were allotted to any carrier at any given time. That number varied depending on where the carrier was going, what it was doing, and the time frame.

The criteria of what situation was applicable to which missile also varied by time frame, and from squadron to squadron. There’s no point holding a Phoenix for a Backfire that may not come when a group of Flankers is looking to roll over you now. Likewise while the Phoenix is certainly capable, it is not universally the best choice for every situation. Everything is contextual.

As for the ease of defeating it? We’ll have to see how close HB gets to the real deal with respects to the radar. If it’s close to reality? Good luck trying to play that game with an AIM-54C.


It’s been a while, but I recall reading somewhere that the AIM-54s were quite maintenance intensive. I somehow doubt it was unique among aerial launched weapons that flight hours didn’t result in either the weapon needing to be expended before life ran out or maintenance required. The AH-64’s missiles and rockets have similar requirements, with a certain amount of flight hours before they must be expended or returned for maintenance or rebuild. My knowledge of the F-14’s particular weapons is far from perfect, but I’m pretty sure the vast majority of ordnance out there has a shelf life, the AIM-9, AIM-7, and AIM-54 included. The chemical compounds alone such as rocket fuel and warheads especially.

Fun joke: AIM-54 was retired because the Navy decided they had better anti-submarine weapons available. A joke like that doesn’t exist if your missile system is perfect from a sealed container.

I think it’s been about 15+ years, but there was an authorization letter out there somewhere allowing some Guard units to employ older Mk40 rockets in their AH-64s for practice purposes. Reason being, newer Mk66s were expensive and earmarked for actual conflict use, Mk40s were near the end of their shelf life, and it made sense to expend them as practice rather than destroy them or rebuild them. I’m all but certain the AIM-54 faced similar challenges.

Within DCS, provided nothing changes (and most I suspect will be dependent upon how HB’s handling of the AWG-9 is), there’s several videos out there of how to defeat AIM-54s:

But bottom line is if you’re in the weeds, with an obstacle between you and the F-14, it’s kinda hard for the radar to see you. That’s the way I see most Flanker and Fulcrum players doing it after years of dealing with F-15s and AMRAAM. I don’t see the F-14 + AIM-54 combo somehow changing that, especially when the vast majority of Maverick-wannabes aren’t going to be skilled players.


That, and it’s a very heavy weapon to carry into ACM. Makes way more sense to loose them on an incoming threat (fighter or otherwise) than jettison to save weight. I’d think if you’re carrying a full pallet of 4 you’ll want to have put most -if not all- of them to work before the merge…


The current in game representation of the phoenix/Tomcat combo is 0% like what heatblur is giving us in terms of kinematics or capabilities.
Radar stuff

Missile stuff

Keep in mind all of this missile design work was BEFORE the current ongoing missile rework that ED is going through, and that at least one of the features that ED has added since august (variable G limit depending upon range to target) solves one of the problems that IASGATG mentions in the white paper. Unknown as to whether they have reworked their flight/guidance model to take the new missile stuff into account or not.

Im sure NB can elucidate further


That’s all true, but that’s not a maintenance issue. If it exceeds the shelf life you don’t use it anymore. You can’t fix an expired rocket motor. You can run diagnostics on the actual electronics, and maybe basic maintenance there, but once the motor goes your only option is manufacturing a replacement. The issue with the Phoenix is it was a niche weapon, expensive to build, without the bulk to reduce costs through volume, and with a limited run.

  1. For reasons we won’t go into specifics, the general “I’ma notch hurr durr” tactic would not work as well as this guy thinks it would. Again, this depends on how close HB gets. It’ll be a fun adventure to see.
  2. The hill fight only works if you let them hill fight you.

That’s absolutely true. The Phoenix works best on a timeline. It doesn’t work well without room to accelerate, it’s generally a poor choice fired down low, and it has a negative effect on your maneuverability. It is by no means a panacea.


Hence why I said above:

In other words, I don’t anticipate most F-14 crews in DCS to be this invincible unstoppable force, especially against a red opponent that has plenty of veterans and dedicated crews of their own.

I remember when IL2FB hit the shelves and the P-47 was the next big thing for a lot of USAAF fans. They promptly got their butts kicked by hardened 109/190 pilots who had taken a beating and learned their lessons from the Yak-3/9 and La-5/7 crowd. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over this because the new P-47 fans had refused to properly learn their aircraft. I foresee a similar impact in DCS when the F-14 arrives and everyone suddenly finds out that they’re not Maverick, but instead SubFinder and WormFood.


Me! That’s gonna be me! Lol


Nooo, not gonna be you; just hop in the back seat and when your pilot inevitably gets you killed, you call him WormFood or SubFinder!


If you had seen the complete mess of flying the scooter I made earlier you would definitely agree with me lol…


If we’re going by that standard, then I wanna be known as “ScooterDestroyer” from now on!