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Low-Level Flight Tutorial for WoX (February 2010)

Low Level Flying Tutorial for the ThirdWire


SF1/WOX/SF2 Series

If youve flown the ThirdWire series for a bit, theres a plethora of aircraft available to use for
your flying pleasure. One of the more practical ways, depending on the map, is to use terrain to your
advantage.

Why?
First question in your mind is why should I go low level when I got assets protecting me?
Given the cycling of friendly aircraft, and if it cycles a support mission, you may be left on your own.
This is where you come in. Low-Level flying is perhaps more dangerous than a furball (depending on the
engagement) and therefore understanding some tips on how to survive in the modern battlefield,
regardless of the time period selected.

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Low-Level Flight Tutorial for WoX (February 2010)

Initial Target
For those new to the ThirdWire sims, the game engine is setup for one target only. So in the
random cycle you can fly hundreds of miles to blow up a Jeep, or an ammo bunker. Regardless, youre
going to have to fly to blow it up. Things to remember when dealing with the TW setup, is that generally
you get a close-up view of the target. Different key commands allow you to see the target and what
direction you are coming at it. The TW sims also have a general setup. For the Single Mission mode, the
target waypoint is always number 5. It makes it easy to remember, and in the case of a random mission,
okay. You can edit your waypoints slightly, but you can never reduce or add. That is a fault of the game
engine, but we all have survived for years with it. If you want less or more, I highly suggest creating your
own through the various mission editors that are available at Combatace.com, or from Check-Six
websites.

Navigation
Navigation at high speeds while low level flying is at best chancy, depending on the airframe.
Your key piece of knowledge is the Horizontal Situation Indicator, or HSI. For low level attacks, it is the
most crucial part of your aircraft, as most of the time you wont have time to use the in-game map to
orient yourself to the target area. The HSI varies, but has some common traits. The first trait is a simple
arrow pointing to the next selected waypoint. Often times the pregenerated routes are lacking, so to
avoid confusion sometimes, and a personal preference, I normally select Waypoint 5, which for
pregenerated missions, always your objective waypoint. I sometimes set my HSI to Waypoint 4, which is
your Initial Point (IP) because sometimes its a good reference just in case of you need to approach the
objective or you just want to be different. Unfortunately the lack of a good Mission Editor doesnt allow
you to design your own routes. However, there is the Kreelin Mission Designer, and Le Missioneur
which allows you to create your own missions. Sometimes its good to become familiar with those to
explore your own possibilities.

Horizontal Situation Indicator on the Mirage Factory F/A-18A, FastCargos F/A-18E/F/G

However, some aircraft simply do not have an HSI, so your best bet is to press M real quickly,
and realize where youre at. Sometimes I even do it with aircraft with an HSI, as theyre sometimes
inconveniently placed, or a top down look of the terrain around you is also good to look at.

Velocity Vector
On most contemporary aircraft, there is what is known as the Velocity Vector or a simple
circle with lines on the HUD. This, combined with the AOA indicator, and pitot probe, shows where your
nose is pointing at the given time. Western HUDs VV always move. Russian/Soviet VVs are all static.
Why this is so for each side Im not sure, but it is a guide for you to follow when doing low level terrain
following.

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Low-Level Flight Tutorial for WoX (February 2010)

Typical Velocity Vector

Using the Velocity Vector is pretty simple. In a mountainous environment the Velocity Vector is
pretty much used to ensure you dont plow into a side of one.

In the picture above, Im putting my Velocity Vector above the ridgeline. If I do not put any
input into the joystick, I will fly in that path as long as my fuel holds out. A lot of this requires practice to
get a feel of what you should do. Sometimes dragging the VV is the only way to get an idea of
where your aircraft will end up at that particular moment.

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Low-Level Flight Tutorial for WoX (February 2010)
Shown here is typical Russian HUD symbology. LOMAC had it more extensive, but this is the
basic design thats used in all Russian aircraft. Unlike the Western version, the velocity vector is fixed,
and the bank angles are shown as well. Using this for low-level flight requires a lot of thinking and
estimating in order to be successful in not putting yourself on the side of a mountain. At lower speeds
due to turning, and other reasons, you may have to do this:

Put the bottom scale on the top of the ridge, and hold the stick until you are clear. Its by far the
best technique, and a good start for beginning virtual pilots.

Speed
Speed is crucial in this environment, as you need to keep it up as much as possible in order to
not crash into a side of a valley, or mountain. As a rule of thumb, I generally keep the throttle near full
military power (full power without afterburning). Since the ThirdWire series doesnt have a cruise
control function, it is best to leave it there. Reason being for the straight parts of any mountain range,
you will gain speed, while the twists and turns youll make will bleed off speed, the set throttle will
enable you to build up speed and maintain energy when you level off, relatively. Note the disadvantage
is you will overshoot your target, due to the location and angle of your attack geometry. At that point
you should just adjust your flight and speed accordingly.
Basically however, the gist is that you have to figure out what works for you, i.e. a faster setting
versus a lower setting is also depending on what you are capable of as a virtual strike pilot. If you have
really honed reflexes, then go faster, and slower if you are slower. Its best to get comfortable with
what aircraft really fits you and your style. Me, I always fly birds that can drop bombs, and have good
maneuverability, so the Hornet Series, as well as the Flanker series tend to be my preferred aircraft. I
deviate to not get too comfortable with an aircraft, but overall select what works for you.

Aircraft with No HUD or limited Symbology


As we can see, the modern HUD gives todays pilot the needed information in order to make a
successful flight. However, there are older aircraft without a HUD built-in, requiring the pilot to use
his/her judgement when flying, especially at low level. For this example well use the F-111A for this
part of the tutorial. First off, you will notice that there is a gunsight only for the HUD. No speed
information is shown, and nothing else, except for the gunsight:

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So thus we have a dilemma what do we do? First off, since this was a reconnaissance mission,
we load up a couple bombs, therefore allowing us to see the gunsight to the air-to-ground mode. This
allows us to perform a low level ingress to the target. Key thing to remember the bottom of your
gunsight is your horizon line, and your fixed velocity vector. The rest my friends is just skill in keeping
the plane from not plowing into the ground.

And to avoid that, I put the bottom above this ridge, and like the Russian aircraft, I let inertia do
its thing, therefore allowing me to clear the ridgeline. You can try it in air-to-air mode, but I strongly
recommend you use the Pig in this mode. But the basic gist of this is to find something that works.
Many aircraft are different, and therefore too broad of an area to cover in one document. This is only
to get the ball rolling in you getting familiar with your own aircraft.

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On the T-38 however things get a little different, as unlike the F-111 above, I have this:

As you can see, while I dont have much to use to ensure I dont plow into the ground, I used the
bottom edge of the mirrors as my horizon

Weapons Use

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This is perhaps the most important part of the whole tutorial. Now that youve gotten to the
target, now its time to destroy it. Generally, unguided bombs or any ordnance that does not have
guidance requires the most use of training to use. Engagement times are shorter, and require more
finite lining up and timing to be successful. Guided missiles such as the Maverick series, and
equivalents, are preferred, if they are available for the time period. Guided bombs also fall under this
category, as most often they need some time to acquire the target and engage them. It must be noted
for guided weapons that they require pretty specific parameters when using them. Again, practice is
needed in order for you to successfully engage the target. However, it should be noted that you also
need to bring along any necessary pods that the weapon system require, especially for laser guided
weapons, unless the aircraft specifically has one mounted internally. GPS weapons, such as the JDAM,
JSOW, KAB-500S, obviously do not need one. Again you have to time your drop right in order to be
successful.
It should be noted for self defense missiles, usually short range air-to-air missiles are preferable
over radar guided AAMs. Reason being it takes less time for them to lock on a target than trying to
maneuver and lock a target with a radar homer. Engagement ranges are much shorter, making them
preferable to longer ranged air to air missiles. The later models, such as the AIM-9X, the Darter, and the
R-73 (AA-11 Archer) are excellent for this environment, them being designed for the close quarters
combat and hence, great for tight terrain. Generally though your loadout is always dependent on where
you are going, how youre getting there, and what you have to blow up, and how far you have to go.
This is of course depending on how many pylons available and what you are limited. The more modern
aircraft have more thrust, more capability, hence a higher survivable rate, on average. However it is
possible to take an A-4 and get to the target, which then boils down to skill and efficient use of terrain.
Iron Bombs
The staple of any air force, the iron bomb is inexpensive and commonly used. Using this at low
level depends on the aircraft use. Modern aircraft have a simple pipper and a bomb fall line, which
shows the bomb drop at a given height. If youre highly skilled at dropping iron bombs then its easy.
For those who are inexperienced, using these takes practice and familiarity with your aircraft. With
those aircraft that does not have a bomb fall line, carpet bombing is your only option.
Laser guided Bombs
More advanced and more accurate, LGBs (Paveway, KAB-series and others) are the precision
warriors weapon of choice. More LGBs are dropped in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the technology while

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Low-Level Flight Tutorial for WoX (February 2010)
more expensive, is relatively cheap, as it requires a laser source in order to be guided. Accuracy when
employed right is right on target. No carpet bombing, nothing, just drop and guide. However, in tight
environments, your skill also ensures that proper engagement happens. While it is argued that LGBs are
easier to use, and not as skill intensive as putting a 500lb bomb on a target, there are considerations.
Angles and your speed, and most of all timing, are concerns. If your angle is wrong the bomb will hit the
side of a mountain, you dont drop it at the right time, and it will either lose lock and impact short, or
overfly the target. In reality these are less useful due to the fact you may fly over the mountain and
break lock, and it will go ballistic, i.e. go wherever it lands. In game terms however, you can go out of
the gimbal limits of your targeting pod and still hit the target. This brings up the issue of gimbal limits.
WOX allows for a wide variety of capabilities with targeting pods, whether pod mounted or mounted
internally. This is also depending on the year it is used, but overall they have the same capabilities.
Electro-optical guided bombs
The category of EOGBs is fairly simple, it uses a bomb mounted camera to lock onto a target.
Basic symbology is a set of lines, and the target is boxed with the center of the box, the target being
engaged. This can range from the GBU-15, Walleye, to the massive 1500kg KAB-1500. Either way its a
true fire and forget weapon and quite effective when accurate. Again it requires some practice to get
them to engage targets and requires some practice.
Guided Missiles
In use by a wide variety of militaries, the air-to-ground missile is a missile that is guided either by
IIR (Imaging Infrared), TV, or laser-guided. Current missiles in use are the massive Kh-29TE/L
(optical/laser) Kedge series by Russian Air Forces, and the AGM-65 series used primarily by United
States and NATO forces. They are widely used, and in the current era of precision engagements, they
are almost as commonly used as guided bombs. Using these is depending on the missile being used.
The shorter ranged Mavericks, through personal use, are preferable to the massive Kh-29T/L versions.
GPS guided weapons
Becoming more prevalent with the advent of Global Positioning systems, the JDAM, KAB-250S,
JSOW, are current GPS guided weapons in use today. It quite simply has a receiver built into the bomb
fins, which guide it to the target. Generally in most cases the JDAM is quite the accurate weapon,
especially the 500lb GBU-38. I only rarely miss with that, and you can be quite liberal in your tactics
when employing this weapon. The JSOW is a glide bomb, so you can fly real high, and let it go, and more
than likely (depending on terrain) hit its target. The only caveat is that it does take awhile for it to reach
the target, depending on the distance from when you drop it. And of course terrain might get in the
way as well. Like LGBs however, their unerring accuracy doesnt mean you wont miss. Generally
employ this for static targets, as its not designed for moving ones.
The key to using the weapons you have at your disposal is first governed of course by your
target, how far away it is, and what threats you are to be expecting. The more modern aircraft have
more pylons, more capability. Older aircraft, as the design philosophy back then was, more specific
roles, such as one aircraft only did strike missions, and one aircraft did air-to-air. Today, aircraft are
expected to fulfill a wider variety of roles, within one airframe, hence jacks of all trades, but masters of
none. With wingtip pylons, or in the case of the SEPECAT Jaguar, overwing pylons, to the sub pylons on
the Tornado, Tomcat, Corsair II, and the Crusader. Mission specific aircraft had the required pylons just
to do that job only, with little adaptation for thing such as self-defense missiles in order to protect itself,
where it required air-to-air only aircraft escorting the strike aircraft.

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So balancing your load depends also of course with the carrying capacity of the aircraft you are
using. Everything takes up weight, and eats up your performance. A heavily laden A-6 performs more
nimbly when its dropped all of its bombs. Even today the same rule applies. So carrying a large bomb
versus a bomb that can effectively destroy the target is preferable since it doesnt restrict the
performance of the aircraft, and you can still get the bomb or missile on target. Hence the use of more
smart bombs in modern inventories, as 12 Mk.82s isnt required to destroy a building, one or two is
needed nowadays.

Tactics
Air-To-Air: Offensive
Generally the only time you go on the offense in this environment is either sneaking up on a
target, such as an AWACS, or other airborne aerial asset, which can include other fighters. Your skill
determines this, as well as weapon capability, when performing this role. The only issue is that Red
Crown is not always available, and emanating radar attracts the target to you, thereby defeating the
whole purpose of a sneak attack. If, however you do have enemy aircraft visible on the map, then
generally its skill in sneaking up on them, and weapon capability. Older AAMs require a rear-aspect
shot, while newer AAMs (infrared) are all aspect. If you can get into the cherished no escape zone, i.e.
the distance to where flares or other countermeasures are useless as well as defensive maneuvering
against your missiles will not work. Be advised if you are at a lower level and your target is higher, your
engagement range is significantly shorter, due to the missile requiring more energy to escape gravity,
which the energy is wasted on maneuvering, so your shot has to count generally.
However, you can also use this to your advantage while performing a strike mission. If Red
Crown gives you a bogie warning, it may be good to perhaps perform a sneak attack on enemy fighters.

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Such as this strike against a power generator located in Sochi. Prior to this engagement, I had
fired on two Su-30s/Su-27PUs that were going to assist the fighter above. Since Im keeping my radar
off, and have only Sidewinders left, I chose to quickly engage this lone fighter (in this case a MIG-31
Foxhound). The Foxhound was itself beginning or in the process of landing finals. He had been in a prior
engagement with my escort flight, downing several friendly planes, so a little revenge was on my plate.
Since no more scripted enemy flights were in the area, and I knew I could drop bombs on the target and
leave, I chose to engage. Again, use the AWACS information, rather than your radar. The AI would
have detected it and would have chose to engage me. Plus the AAA and other nastiness waiting at Sochi
airfield would have ruined my day, so I wasnt in the mood to hang around. Then again, the game could
have sortied other enemy fighters on top of me, and with (by then) two Sidewinders, I wasnt in the
mood nor condition to get into a furball.
Anyways, I get behind the aircraft and down him, Winchester (term for no ordnance) air-to-air,
and still a target to drop a bomb on. In this case I got lucky, as if I wasnt, and he had a wingman, I
would have been Foxhound meat.
The point to this is you have to make a judgement call at the situation in whether to engage, or
disengage. I had a good feeling I would escape unscathed and had enough ordnance to reduce him as a
possible threat for that mission.
Taking the Shot
Now that we have an idea, lets expand on it by actual firing procedures that we can take to
engage a BVR or WVR threat. Well, the first issue is how many threats are you facing? And what kind of
weapons do I have in the first place? Generally it all depends on of course, the aircraft youre flying.
The Eurofighter Typhoon allows four AIM-120 missiles, or the older Sky Flash/Sparrow series to be
mounted under the fuselage. The good thing about this is that it doesnt affect your pylon capability too
much, meaning that you can carry four and still have room for tanks, as well as whatever ordnance
you intend on carrying for your mission. It typically has six pylons dedicated for various A2G and of
course A2A loads. But since were on a strike mission, well say that two are for tanks, two are for LGBs,
and for scenarios sake, ALARM anti-radiation missiles. Since were carrying LGBs, the center hardpoint
carries a Litening III targeting pod. The good thing is that the aircraft also has two dedicated pylons for
WVR missiles, AIM-132 ASRAAMs. Good to go? Thought so, this load is a good load for a good
penetration strike against a target, and allows for significant defense and offensive weaponry in the A2A
arena. The only problem is that what is the computer going to throw at you? and do you have an escort
flight helping you out? If you have an escort then it may be wise to prioritize your missiles against
threats that are in direct threat of you only. This is varied by a variety of factors. One is where is your
target in relation to you?
Another consideration is what is the relation of the enemy flight in relation to the target? This
helps you prioritize your own decision making skills. Should you push on to the target? Should you
ignore the target and shoot at the aircraft? First, aspect is the key here. If you are in the hills of
Germany, you have to consider a few points. The first point is that make sure you can acquire and lock
onto the target. Know your range capabilities of your weapon system. Weapon kinematics (how the
missile flies, and engages the target) is reduced due to you firing from a low altitude to a typical high
altitude interception flight tasked out to shoot you down. If you have a long range weapon, are you
going to waste it on a Fresco or you going to save it for maybe an Su-35? The choice is obvious as more
than likely the Fresco has at the minimum the R-13, or as we in the West call it, the Atoll. The Atoll is an
older copy of the AIM-9B, and still finds it on pylons of aircraft, even today. However, the Atoll is easily
defeated through heavy use of jinking, and liberal use of flares. The old Aphid can also be defeated, but
if you get attacked by multiple MiG-23s, more than likely theyll slip a shot in if the fire a lot of them.

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If you choose to hold on to your missiles, monitor the air battle cautiously, especially if you
choose to press for the target. If Red Crown calls out aircraft and you have a few seconds, take it to see
where the players are. Ensure you know what you are locked up on. Some MFDs do not show aspect of
the aircraft, and due to game coding, you dont know if youre locked up on friendlies or enemy. Take a
few seconds and figure it out. Sometimes that last check saves a friendly fire kill. IRMs are the worst
when dealing with a furball. In any case if youre not involved, do not get directly involved with it if
tactically possible. IRMs do not differentiate between friendly and enemy heat sources so hold on to
them when you know you have a clear shot instead of taking the shot and dealing with a friendly fire
incident. Maneuver smartly and take the shot. Radar guided missiles are easy simply because you can
simply break the lock and sort your targets to where youre firing at the enemy.
Understanding how your A2A MFD works is the key to surviving. Since the AI likes to put a lot of
aircraft in the air, particularly enemy, figuring it out on a custom mission is preferable to learning the
ropes in the heat of battle.
This also applies to BVR shots, particularly if you want to snipe at the enemy fighter. Active
radar homers (R-77, AMRAAMs) are preferable over SARH, or Sparrows/Sky Flash/R-27 series missiles.
Essentially you acquire a radar lock, fire, and hide behind cover of the mountain. If the missile requires
mid-course corrections, try and support the launch as best as you tactically can. You can still get a kill if
it requires it, but your pk (probability of a kill) increases if you support it. If it doesnt, let it fly and see
what happens.

Air-To-Air: Defensive
Touched briefly, this is when youre making your run and you get jumped by enemy fighters.
It can be anything from audio to Red Crown, or you happened to look at the map and what do you
know? Youre about to get shot down. Be aware that Red Crown doesnt always give you information
regarding enemy flights, so paying attention to your surroundings as best as possible is the idea. At this
point your decision is either to engage, or to run. Running is a good option depending on the terrain,
and whether or not if its your ingress, or egress. If its your ingress, your main role is to get him out of
your sky now. Thing is what happens if you have to drop your ordnance, it constitutes a mission kill,
i.e. the enemy prevented you from accomplishing your mission. If he shoots you down, well thats
pretty obvious. My suggestion is to practice flying your aircraft at heavy loads. Therefore youll be
accustomed how it handles and how to get the most out of your defensive skills. If it means taking it on
the Range map and engaging your target and then maneuvering, fine, itll help you on a real combat
map, where youll have all the enemies firing at you and you to figure out what to do. Engagements
should be quick, and sharp. Dont hang around in any case, as you have to get to the target, and then
back to home base. If its your egress, Id still get out of Dodge and live to fight another day.
A non-weapon tactic is to hit the mountains. Generally you are more intelligent than the AI,
simply because you can think quicker and faster than the best ThirdWire has to offer. Fly into every
nook and cranny and youll get lucky to the point that youll fly the enemy aircraft into the wall of a
mountain, and hopefully not you! One key thing to remember is that once you hit the friendly border,
you have a saving grace, as usually the enemy aircraft fly BARCAP, or Barrier Combat Air Patrol, which is
defensive in nature, which is designed to prevent you from getting in, or at the least, get out. Doesnt
mean they wont take a shot if they cant, as they will surely engage whenever possible. Fly to friendly
SAM sites to lure him in, in hopes theyll be shot down. Depending on the quality however, this may be
a lost cause. Either way, heading for home is always good, unless you got a ton of AAMs, and you got
the fuel to burn. Me? I head home to fly another day. Strike pilots dont need to be flashy, they need to
get the job done.

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Tips for doing this is akin to the Offensive mission. Know your weapon capabilities and what you
have on your rails. If you dont have any idea, then maybe you should have paid attention to the
Loadout screen before you took off. In any case, know your weapons as best as possible. If you are
flying in heavy mountainous terrain, all aspect IRMs are preferable (to me anyways) than long range
IRMs. The newer generation (R-73 and variants, and AIM-9X, U-Darter) are much easier to engage
threats. The older series, of course requires more maneuvering into the kill slot for a successful kill.
With the newer generation of IRMs, you can generally point and have a higher chance of hitting. As in
the case of a strike mission in the American Northwest terrain. I had an Su-35 coming at me 90 degrees
off to my right, I selected an AIM-9X, oriented my nose at him (as per the tactical map) and fired one,
getting a kill, while I was ejecting flares and diving behind a mountain in case he had a follow on shot for
me. Thankfully I shot him down, and made my way to my assigned target.

Getting There
Of course, getting to the target is the key to the whole point of the tutorial. If you cant get
there is no real point in flying right?

Mountains
Mountain flying requires energy, timing, and reaction, good reactions. Flying mountains,
depending on the terrain can be easy to being extremely difficult. However it is all depending on your
skill as a virtual pilot. Once you get the hang of the basic steps listed above with each aircraft, then its
all cake from there. What is important is that maintaining your speed and energy is required, especially
when carrying heavy loads and you have to get them to the target. Using afterburner for short instances
also keeps your momentum up, but like anywhere else, it burns a lot of fuel fast, so think wisely. Try
and stick to the valleys as much as possible, and only climb mountains if you absolutely must.
Additonally, you have to think ahead when performing mountain traversing. Using your
overhead map lets you see ahead of your route, and allow you to make faster decisions. Sometimes
though, you have to commit to where you are going, with little choice, depending on how youre feeling.
But the main thing is trying to remain out of hostile radars (both ground and airborne) as much as
technically possible. Radar Cross Section (RCS) values play a part in WOX, so use that to your advantage,
especially if your aircraft is a radar magnet. This is where using terrain masking is very important.
Turning is also very important when flying in mountains, as along with the above, for you have
to plan ahead your turn, which requires you to bank in flight. You want to start banking before your
turn, so all you have to do is pull on the stick and youre through the chokepoint. If its hard at first,
practice your turns at a medium speed, then as you get more comfortable, at faster speeds. The end
result is that you should be able to fly at full (or near) military power and turn and burn like the pros.
Its not difficult, it just enhances your reactions and gets you out of a chokepoint a lot faster. And if
youre getting chased by an enemy fighter in the mountains, you can try and drive him into the side as
you head for home.

Terrain Masking
Terrain Masking is important for flatter land. In the miltary we call it Inter-Visibility lines or
the natural terrain creates a blind spot. We cant do anything about it, but this is where you use it to
your advantage to be safe. Basically, you use a hill to allow you to get to where you need to go, to block
hostile radars, and SAMs from firing on you, or at the minimum obtaining lock. The only thing is to look
around, and look where youre going. If however, youre on a flat desert plain Well fly as low as
possible in order to prevent the missiles from firing at you. If you have a jammer, then turn it on and try
to make it to the objective. Theres not much gaurantee at this point, but if you have it, Id suggest you
use it.

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As you can see above, Im using the small hill as cover from the airfield SAMs. I dont have to fly
excessively low to evade threats, but enough to get by without being engaged.

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In The Middle Of Things


Another point to make is that when you are flying in hills, the best thing is to fly in-between hills
in order to stay as low as possible. Your whole intent is like Terrain Masking, to keep the terrain
blocking the enemy from detecting you as much as possible.

Ridge Rollover
Basically an aerobatic maneuver designed for crossing over ridges quickly, and somewhat
efficiently. What you do is find a valley that you know either by flying the map, or through the overhead
map, and vaulting over a ridgeline. This works out two ways. First off, if youre about to take a
missile, or one is on the way, then it may be a good choice to do it ASAP. Timing and speed is everything
so its not a 100% gauranteed tactic. You may be shot down on the up portion of the maneuver, so
realistically you have a 50/50 chance of making it. You simply pull up on the nose, and roll your aircraft
over the ridge. Only be careful of whats on the other side!

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It should be stressed that you know your aircrafts limitations before attempting this maneuver,
as stress on the airframe is modelled to an extent. Also common sense should apply. Make sure you
have a good enough speed (which you should already!) and enough energy to accomplish this
maneuver. Remember youll only go as fast as youre loaded down. So dont be expecting to take a B52 and get away with doing this.
Mountain Climbing
Another easy tactic that is akin to the above is mountain climbing. This is a way to climb a
mountain and still maintain some modicum of low-level flight. This requires a near vertical climb
(afterburner may have to be used depending on aircraft, load, etc.). The only disadvantage is of course,
you may end up in the threat envelope of enemy aircraft, SAMs, AAA.

As you can see here, Im going up a near vertical face in order to continue on my mission.

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In this case, my travels end up putting me in the threat envelope of the SAM/AAA sites just
above me, to the North. As an attack puke, I had to end up moving South-East to avoid this threat.

Getting Home
Now of course, weve dropped the bomb, weve stopped X Enemy in his nefarious plans in
ruining your day. Now its time to get home, drink a few beers and celebrate another poke at Mister
Enemy. Enough joking around and now its time to get to business. Youve dropped the bomb but now
you need to get out of there, depending on the situation. I say that because now you may have several
choices, bomb some more, or if a lot of Red Air is flying around, you may have other ideas, such as the
one above about the beer. The best thing about the maps is that its usually North or South, or East or
West for your friendly home direction. This allows you to point your aircraft in the direction of your
home border, and of course gives you something to look forward to.
When Im pulling gs, I usually orient my aircraft in the general direction towards friendly lines. I
call this my Escape Clause as my aircraft is safely pointed in the right direction. Even if it may be a bad
drop, or if I miss with my weapon initially, then things start to get interesting. The reason I do this is
because if I do not miss, Im heading away at the fastest speed as possible. Youre first instinct once you
are successful, depending on the tactical situation, is to run. If youve burned your AAMs getting in,
there may be no sense in trying to mix it up. The adage dont bring a knife to a gunfight is my rule of
thumb. If Im Winchester air-to-air, I start putting my head between my feathers and beat feet. If I have
a few left, Ill still head out of there. Also by this time you may not have enough fuel to make it back, so
fuel conservation is on my mind at all times. If you have an escort flight, let them handle it, to a degree.
As youre leaving, monitor the tactical situation, as your escorts may get shot down to enemy fire
(aircraft, SAMs, Jimmy Hoffa, etc.) and now youre on your own. Generally never as a rule of thumb get
involved with AI furballs. You may be trying to help, but you may lock onto a friendly fighter and shoot
him down. Since whenever Ive had the rare opportunity to experience friendly fire on the virtual level, I
immediately hit Esc and often reflew the mission, and watch myself and my trigger finger. Try to divert
at best as possible as well. Take a shot if you know deep down you locked onto an enemy.

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Using radar to cue IRMs (AIM-9X, Super Hornet HUD)


Depending on the aircraft, cue your IRMs with the radar instead of letting it fly and hoping an
enemy fighter will die. IRMs do not discriminate so be extra careful. Again lock the enemy fighter and
take care of business. In addition if you have additional A2G weaponry, try and use some along the
route, if need be. I routinely carry Mavericks as much as possible. Its perhaps one of the greatest
missiles invented in real life, and in the game. If you have the means to, I suggest you do the same, or a
Hellfire. Additionally, if you are trying to help your buddies out during a mission on the ingress, when
they call SAM Launch, SAM Launch! press R and you can target it, but be careful where its targeted,
and dont let it distract from your own mission objective if you can help it.

Threats

Naturally the world of WOX wouldnt be complete with SAMs and AAA. Dealing with either is
easy, depending on your target, and where you are. Deep in a valley is a bad place to be with a SAM as

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maneuvering gets pretty difficult. AAA is also a threat, with the amount that can be downloaded to add
to the experience. Overall. AAA can be a real threat if you dont pay attention. Theres the infamous
ZSU-23-4 Shilka that is prevalent with former Warsaw Pact countries, and a good adversary. On the
higher end of this spectrum, the 2S6 (shown above) is a culmination of a gun/missile system and how
effective it is.
Surface to Air Missiles are prevalent in WOX series, with the stock ones very general, such as the
SA-3, and SA-2. A lot of the other SAM/AA systems are made by third party for download, and its highly
recommended you download them to add to your experience (Paskos is a good choice, as well as
various AAA additions), as most of the information comes from them.
The only defensive way to detect, and engage these are of course through the use of the Radar
Warning Receiver. This is represented by the NATO/Western type:

Reading and understanding this type is easy. The center of it is of course your own aircraft. The
detected radar threat is shown around this bubble that circles your aircraft, with the top being your
front, and bottom, your rear of your aircraft. Its represented by a light green dot. Unfortunately
distance isnt shown, so you have to estimate just how far it is. The good thing it shows something is out
there. Radars, whether air or ground, are represented by the solid dot. When an enemy system is
locked on to you, it will flash and give an audible warning. Techniques to stop this is to put a piece of
terrain between you and the emitter. The game has optically guided AAA and SAMs, as well as IR so
obviously, it wont detect them.

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Shown here is the Russian Bereza RWR. It is more descriptive as far as angles. The WOX version
however, isnt as advanced as the real thing, or doesnt illustrate the true capabilities of the system.
Like the NATO/Western version, it shows the direction to 90 degrees of the aircraft, while the bottom
two dots represent the rear two aspects of the aircraft.
There are things to consider in interpreting what you see on the RWR. For this example I was
running a low level recon mission to Dien Bien Phu. As you can see I was at low level:

Checking the map and RWR, there were no SAMs/AAA around. However I was getting this:

This pretty much indicated that there were hostile aircraft, as if you are deep in a valley,
knowing that there isnt a ground threat. And when you try to block the contact, but it disappears,
and reappears, you have an enemy fighter on your tail. In this case, I had to prepare for aerial combat.

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Note of course not all aircraft have a radar, so youll either find out by Red Crown, or a warning from
your WSO or backseater.
Electronic Counter-Measures
The counter to all this of course, ECM. Either pod mounted, or in more modern aircraft,
internally mounted. The Flanker series still has external pods, while later model Fulcrums have either
podded or internal ECM. Using pods obviously takes up necessary pylon space, and of course
effectiveness is based on the whim of the person doing the ini editing and skill. Overall its a great
handy tool (as in real life). From what Ive noticed its also based on the strength of the opposing radar.
Sometimes turning on the jammer works, or shuts down the radar from locking on or at the best, firing a
missile at you. However, it must be noted that ECM is not the end-all, be all system. Only by the
modder it is effective, or due to the type of pod used, it can be really ineffective.
Maneuvering
Often times youll get shot at by a SAM. First thing is to jink, and drop countermeasures. Of
course the type of threat dictates what you should do. When you jink when dealing with SAMs, is to try
and put some terrain between the launcher and you. The intent is youll guide the missile into the
piece of terrain. Another trick is to use the notch technique in order to evade SAMs, but depending on
how far it is, this may not work. If you are too close, it has a better chance. At range it may have
enough energy to sustain the turn and shoot you down. Countermeasures, either flares or chaff, are a
good thing to employ in conjunction with this maneuver to help fool the incoming missile. Generally
you shouldnt hang around, and hopefully thats not your target area! AAA in some cases is easier to
confuse, as whether its optically guided, like the ZPU-23-2, or radar guided like the ZSU-23-4 Shilka, it
depends on you flying a straight path in order for their bullets to intersect with your aircraft. By heavy
jinking you reduce the chance of getting shot up. This of course is not guaranteed, but its the best
course of action you can take when engaged by these systems.
An additional tip to help you in this is to configure your joystick to where the countermeasure
buttons are easily accessible. I had for a long time not really had my countermeasures mapped on my
stick, but after realizing that I was only killing myself virtually, I had to re-think how I configured things.
Once re-configured, my survival rate has gone up, and therefore if you have to, take the time to setup
your defensive suite.

Weather
Weather of course, can affect your flight plan when making an attack. If there are heavy clouds
in a mountainous environment, then it means you have to stay as low as possible in order to reach the
target. However, this may force you to fly a higher profile, which increases your risk of getting shot
down of course, either by enemy aircraft, or by radar guided SAMs. It also requires your mastery of
skills but with older aircraft bombing a target with iron bombs isnt going to hit the target. However, a
modern aircraft with a JDAM, can still fly high and engage the target without ever seeing the target, the
pilot only needs to get the bomb within launch parameters and release. Typically heavy clouds is not
the preferred method of course, because if you do go higher in the mountains, you run the risk (as I
have!) of flying into the side of a mountain.

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As this picture shows, while there are heavy clouds, its broken enough to allow flight without
too much hassle. In this case taking the high road is the preferable option until I can find a break in
the clouds and continue at low level. However, if you are flying this in say, the AmericaNW terrain, then
serious flying issues may crop up, such as flying into the side of a mountain. The Black Sea terrain by
pfunkmusik is nominally cloudy most of the time as the above picture (not as much, pictured above is
the VietnamSEA terrain). And also remember that even in level terrain you may have to fly through
Soup:

Even in this terrain, its possible to get lost when trying to attack a target. That is why using your
HSI is most important, or quickly using the overhead map to orient you. Additionally if you think this is
bad, try it in the mountains. In this case try to stay as low as possible, as soon as you reach the bottom
of the cloud deck, youre going into the side of a mountain. This is where knowledge of the terrain
youre flying is most important!

Practical Scenario

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This is a scenario that encapsulates some of the lessons above. This was a strike against an
ammo bunker located at Yuma OAAB. General profile flown for the course of the mission was lo-lo-hi.
My loadout was 2 AIM-9Xs, two AGM-65Es, two GBU-31s, three 480-gallon tanks, and an ATFLIR pod.
My intent was to hit the bunker with the JDAMs, and use the Mavericks for AAA/SAMs. I took off and
headed E, then SE. Overall flying low level in friendly territory is just something I do so when I hit the
border, Im already warmed up for the run into enemy territory. Prior to hitting the border, I get an
update from Red Crown on bogies moving SE:

This turned out to be two MIG-23s and three MIG-29s:

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An odd mix of threats, but nonetheless, with only two AIM-9X Sidewinders as my only air-to-air
defense, I had to play it safe, so I had to cut down the speed, and still remain low level.

I tend to fly at 68%, but had to chop the throttle at 43% to slow down. Occasionally I had to use
the spoilers to keep my speed down more. The intent was of course, not be detected, by anything. So
far the area was clear of SAMs, but any higher and I would have been spotted and fired at. And of
course the enemy AI talks and the MIGs would have turned on me in an instant. I had the back door of
the friendly border, but I had to move on to the target.

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As you can see so far my gambit has paid off as they still havent detected me. As normal
operating procedures, my radar has been kept off. I still havent cycled the range just in case if I had to
make a BVR shot, but since I didnt have any BVR missiles, it would have been a waste of time.

By this time it was open ground, with a mesa off to my SE. Still trying to stay out of radar
detection by the enemy aircraft, I nudge towards my target. After this picture however, things got busy.
The great Brother Russia still talks and the fighters listen. I launch my two AGM-65Es in order to hit the
target, and then get out of there. I had the two MIG-29s attack me first, so I launched both AIM-9Xs. I
know I shot down two aircraft, but probably was a MIG-23 and a MIG-29. By this time Ive dodged a few

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AAMs, zero chaff, and zero flares, so I was doing okay until I got winged by the ZSU-23-4s or -2s. I
pickled off my two JDAMs, as the two Mavericks didnt hit the Ammo Bunker, and I then started heading
West, towards the US/Global Sedition border, to safety. Game logic has nominally a BARCAP running
and when theyre out for me, theyve pulled out all stops. New aggressiveness by AI from the October
Patch.

By this time, my JDAMs hit home, and mission successful. At this point in the game, I can Esc
and get home and survive. However, well delay that for a bit. Continuing West, I skim the mountains
with a MIG-29 in hot pursuit. The intent is to fly low below the minimum height for the AAMs it has a
full load of. I continue at high speed, into a valley. By this time either the MIG-29 is running out of fuel
(I was using burner, so it must have done the same) and decided to turn off.

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This is the time you have drop tanks, for that burst of fuel that youll burn up if you dont equip
yourself with them. At the minimum one is necessary, but sometimes more than one is needed. By this
time Im still skimming the mountains. Now a MIG-31 has taken up the chase, relieving the MIG-29 that
was pursuing me, and I start to keep heading west to safety. Then after a few minutes, I start making
the push North, and eventually Northwest, glancing at the overhead map to friendly lines. So I start
running the valleys, dodging mountains in the hope of driving the Foxhound into them. However hes
staying high, his radar still following me, him still following, trying to get a missile lock. Staying low still
keeps him from firing, and he was fully armed, save for a couple missiles. But he had more than enough
to shoot at me and his buddies however, still were staying away.

However, he still hasnt fired, but doesnt mean he was letting up. He followed me until I hit the
border and then he turned around. Thats the good thing about the enemy AI, they dont cross the
border unless its scripted. Even though damaged, I still managed to make it home.

Another example is this bridge strike in the VietnamSEA map. Overall the scenario is much like
the one above, however the main differences is that I had an escort and Intercept flight:

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However, since I was flying solo I really had no option other than to evade as best as possible
the air battle that was raging overhead. I did have self defense missiles with me, but only at a last
resort, depending on how the air battle worked out. Luckily it did work out and I was able to strike the
bridge and return to base.
This is also a good defensive strategy, depending on your mindset. Personally Im not the
greatest in BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvering) but I can hold my own when the chips are down. If its not
my mission to engage and intercept, then I wont do it, unless I have to, as mentioned above. Either
way, Im too heavy for effective maneuvering, and just right at the target, so Ill worry about relieving
my aircraft of heavy ordnance before I get into a knife fight. Also, with friendly and enemy aircraft
mixed together, I run the risk of shooting down a friendly aircraft.

Strike Fighters 2
Not much has changed significantly from Strike Fighters 1, WoX to change anything above.
However there are a few changes which are significant.
Vector RWR

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The Vector RWR is used on aircraft in the Strike Fighters 2 engine on aircraft built prior to 1978.
Its similar to the systems to what we are used to today. However, the main difference, the Vector RWR
does just that, show a line pointing towards the enemy radar system. The higher signal strength of the
emitter, the longer the line is towards the threat emitter. The line also flashes, indicating which
direction the threat is locking on to you.

TEWS
The Threat Warning System is a more advanced form of threat detection gear, in the ability to
give a more accurate bearing and also display the type of radar that is illuminating the aircraft. For
example, the above image shows two enemy SAMs, an SA-10 and an SA-2. Since the SA-10 is closer, the
game assigned the diamond around it to show its a higher threat. The SA-2 however is out there, and
therefore waiting for me. When the SA-10 locks on me, the inside of the diamond will show a pulsing
circle.

One of the other benefits of the TEWS system in SF2 is that it shows the proximity better of the
threatening system relative to the aircraft. Here a ZSU-23-4 is off to my 7 oclock and rapidly
diminishing due to my use of an internal jammer. Behind me is an escort flight of F/A-18Fs, as well as a
Tunguska off to my 2 oclock. Such information is much better to decipher than the earlier system used
in SF1/WoX.

Updating your TEWS

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Unfortunately, updating the TEWS is all on you, the pilot for your aircraft. While a TEWS
database can be setup, it also requires you to update as necessary. One thing I recommend
(and do myself), is setup a simple text file with all the current TEWS database radars you have
available. Therefore you can simply copy and paste it on the particular file. Unfortunately you
have to have a _RWR.lst for each aircraft, you cannot have one master TEWS .lst and use that
for all of your aircraft. Therefore when you takeoff, it alleviates the U syndrome, and you
know what youre facing when you get painted by a radar.
Threading the Needle
The main benefit of course of the TEWS system, is that you can figure out whats out
there, and how to avoid it.

In this picture, I am faced with an SA-3, a few Calliopes (a what if from a story series I
read), and two SA-17s during a strike mission in Afghanistan. Thankfully, the real world
Afghanistan is nowhere this serious, but in any case, this is a good way to figure out what to
avoid. Since the game engine is highlighting a Calliope that is west of me (or NW if you want to
be technical), Im going to head more to the SW, as low as I can so I can avoid that, and the SA3. I also have to be aware of the Calliope to my South, as well as the two SA-17s. This thinking
on the fly has made the SF2 series much better. Sure many complain about the complexity, but
the more you can wargame your options as you fly, the more thinking youre doing, and that is
always good.
Thanks to:
Spectre_USA (Editing, taking a second look)
Combatace.com, for providing a lot of the good mods I used for the tutorial.
Addons Used
F-111A from Dave
Wings Over Israel
Wings Over Vietnam map

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F/A-18F
Mirage Factory MiG-29 for SF1/WoX
Gabilons 2S6 Tunguska
Strike Fighters 2: Europe
JAS39C for SF2
Anatolian Terrain beta
Black Sea map by pfunkmusik
Wrenchs SoCal terrain
Desert Storm Mod F-15E
Inskys MiG-31
Desert Storm Mod Tornado IDS
FastCargos T-38
Mirage Factorys F/A-18A Hornet
AOCBravo2003s Community Weapons Pack
331Killerbees Ordnance Pack for SF2
Strike Fighters 2: Europe
Questions? Comments?
Email me at flanker56@hotmail.com, or contact EricJ at http://www.combatace.com
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/flanker562
Copyright 2009, Fresh Productions.