Strike Fighters 2 Series
Updated Mar 2012
copyright (c) 2002-2012 Third Wire Productions Inc.
This section provides a short introduction to the basic tasks required for successful combat mission. For a complete list of commands, see Default Key Commands at the end of this manual.
Finding your way around is fairly easy through the use of the game's Head-Up Display (HUD) overlay. This section assumes that all Gameplay options are set to Easy or Normal; for Hard settings, you may need to rely on bearings and cockpit instruments to find your next waypoint.
Your waypoints show up in the Planning Map before the mission. During flight, your next waypoint shows up either as a white triangle in your forward view, or as a white cone on the perimeter of your screen. Steer towards it to maneuver to the next waypoint. Note that you always have a preliminary waypoint just before the target area or rendezvous point, and just before landing.
You can select the next or previous waypoint to switch them in mid-mission. Be aware that violating the planned flight path can consume precious fuel.
Your next order of business is to find and lock onto a target. You can do this either by bringing a target into view or using your radar. For guided weapons that require a radar lock, you must acquire a target prior to firing weapons. Even your gunsight relies on your aircraft's targeting system to compensate for range and motion.
You can select any target you can see out of the front view. A selected target appears in square brackets on the HUD. If the target moves out of view, a cone appears to "point" you toward your current target.
If you have advanced Radar option enabled, and if your aircraft is equipped with a radar, you can also use the radar to search and track targets beyond visual range. More specifics of radar usages are covered in Using the Radar.
Using a Weapon
After you have something targeted, you're ready to fire your gun, missile, or rocket or ready to drop your bomb. Before you can do so, however, you must select a weapon.
Some weapons require a radar lock, and until it is achieved, you won't be able to fire the guided weapon. Some heat seeking missiles will sound an audible tone when locked on. You do not have to keep the target in view after launch to hit targets with heat seeking weapons.
For radar-guided weapons, you must wait to fire until you see a solid yellow diamond over the target in the HUD. Whenever you launch a radar-guided weapon, remember that you must keep the target within the cone of your radar's view to maintain the lock.
Weapons such as rockets and forward guns don't require a lock and can be fired whenever you want. Your gunsight is somewhat automated and can help you aim. Just place the red gun reticle over the target and fire at will. The system will automatically compensate for your target's range and help you "lead" the bullets into his path.
You may end the mission at any time by pressing ESC key. However, if you end the mission before your mission is accomplished, it will be recorded as a failed mission.
You may, of course, choose to continue to fly back to your home base and attempt landing.
Every successful mission starts with a good plan. Strike Fighters 2 offers a variety of entertaining mission types, including instant action, single missions, and full campaigns. But before you rush to suit up and get off the ground, you've got to properly equip your aircraft for the task at hand.
Your journey into the skies starts on the ground, beginning with the Main Screen. From there, you select a pilot (except for Instant Action) and a mission type. After you study the mission briefing, you can then memorize your waypoint route and outfit your bird with fuel, bombs, missiles and guns. Finally, you'll be ready to take on the best strategic maneuvers your foes have to offer.
The first thing you see when you start the game is the Main Screen. Here, you select what type of mission you want to fly. You can also view statistics for the current pilot or another pilot you've previously saved.
The Main Screen lists the following options. Click a button to access that screen.
Jump into the cockpit and quickly engage enemy targets in an Instant Action mission.
When you select Instant Action from the Main Screen, you immediately find yourself high in the air near enemy territory. In some cases, you may even find yourself doggedly evading a bandit who's on your tail. With an Instant Action mission, you don't get to choose your aircraft, enemies, or setting - it's a surprise each and every time you enter battle. You also don't have to deal with takeoffs and landings.
At the end of each Instant Mission - after winning, crashing, or dying - you see the Debrief Screen.
Create and fly randomly generated missions, or fly historical missions.
When you click Single Mission in the Main Screen, you're able to select a specific set some parameters for the mission. Another difference between a Single and Instant Mission is that the results of Single Missions are saved to your pilot's permanent record.
You have several options in the Single Mission Screen. The left side of the file folder shows two buttons, and the right side displays the parameters for the selected subscreen.
New Mission Parameters
Setting different mission parameters can drastically affect the difficulty of a mission. For instance, it's going to be harder to fly a reconnaissance mission when there is heavy enemy air activity, and if you want to up the ante for your pilot, try setting up heavy enemy air activity and heavy enemy air-defense activity.
You can alter the following options for a new Single Mission:
Participate in a full-length war and fly dynamic campaign missions.
The Campaign Screen allows you to start a new campaign mission series, or load an existing campaign that you've created. Once you begin a new campaign, you can't change the pilot you're using for that particular campaign. However, you can start a new campaign with a different pilot.
Two buttons appear on the left side of the screen. When you select one, the right-hand page changes to reflect your chosen option.
New Campaign Parameters
When you opt to create a new campaign, you can set the following options:
The Hangar Screen is your pre-flight area. From this area you can review the mission briefing, alter your aircraft's ordnance loadout, view and adjust your mission waypoints, and select a pilot for the mission. The main Hangar Screen page shows the mission briefing. Along with your squadron, callsign and aircraft information, it also displays the current date (in game time). Planned takeoff, target arrival and landing times for the mission appear as well in 24-hour military time.
The Hangar Screen contains six buttons, four of which activate subscreens.
In the Loadout Screen, you equip your aircraft with ordnance appropriate for the selected or assigned mission type, whether it's a Single Mission or the next mission in a Campaign game. (See Mission Types for information about different types of missions you can fly in the game.) You can view or configure your own aircraft, as well as that of your wingman and any other aircraft flying with you.
The functionality of this screen differs slightly depending on what type of mission you're flying and what branch of the military you choose. Single Missions allow you a little more flexibility than Campaign Missions, since your aircraft, callsign, squadron alignment and aircraft appearance are configurable. (These items are not editable for a Campaign mission.)
The top right side of the screen has a number of drop-down lists. The lower right side of the screen details the current aircraft weight (calculated by adding the fuel, ammunition and external weapon weights to the raw weight of the aircraft).
You can set the following options in the Loadout Screen for all aircraft involved in your flight. When you're finished with all of the loadouts, click EXIT to return to the Hangar Screen. When you re-enter the Loadout Screen, the settings for your aircraft display by default.
The Planning Map Screen shows an overhead view of the mission area, complete with color-coded icons that represent friendly and enemy units. You should use this screen to become familiar with the navigation layout of the mission, the enemy line, and the type and number of known foes.
The map shows the following elements of information for each mission. You can click-and-drag anywhere on the map to scroll in any direction.
The Pilot Roster screen lists the current game date, as well as the type of aircraft being flown and the names of all pilots involved in the current flight. Pertinent information about each pilot's experience, success and current condition also appears here.
You can click on any unassigned pilot to assign him to the mission, or click on already assigned pilot to unassign him.
Click EXIT to return to the Hangar Screen.
The following information displays for each pilot:
Anytime you complete a mission, die, or press ESC, the Debrief Screen appears. From here you can view your score for the mission, the length of the mission, the success/failure message and a Top 10 score list. You will also view any new medals you receive as a result of earning points for that mission.
You have several other options in this screen. From any other post-mission screen, you can click Debrief at any time to return to the mission summary.
View detailed pilot records containing a complete history and statistics for your pilot.
This screen shows a detailed record for the currently selected pilot.
The rank, score, ratings and missions that appear in the right-hand box reflect the pilot's accumulated scores.
The following stats appear for the selected pilot:
Adjust various game settings such as gameplay, graphics, sound and controls options.
You can change many of the game's options by setting them in the Options Screen. To access the options from anywhere in the game prior to flight, simply click the green aircraft icon in the upper left corner of the screen, and then click Options.
Note: You cannot reset options while you're airborne.
EXIT takes you back to whichever screen you were in prior to accessing the Options Screen.
The Gameplay subscreen lets you change difficulty settings that affect how hard or easy the game is to play.
The Graphics subscreen allows you to change options that affect video settings. In general, the fewer textures and less detail you specify, the better the game performance. Older, slower machines operate best at lower graphical settings. If you have a top-end system, you can leave everything on the highest setting and enjoy increased video quality.
Medium settings are generally recommended for machines that meet the minimum system requirements. However, if the video is jerky or slow, try disabling some of these settings or lowering the detail levels.
The Sound subscreen lets you change audio options for the game and any external speakers you have attached to your computer.
To adjust the volume slider bars, click on the desired part of the bar. You can also click-and-drag the slider left to reduce volume, or right to increase volume.
The Control subscreen lets you adjust your joystick's sensitivity and deadzone settings.
This section covers the basic forces that operate on your aircraft, gives an overview of the cockpit and its instruments, illustrates some basic combat maneuvers and how to use weapons, as well as providing details about all the aircraft found in the game.
Four forces operate on all aircraft: lift, gravity, thrust and drag. It is the combination of these forces that allows a plane to fly.
Lift keeps an aircraft airborne, and is mostly generated by airflow over and under the wings. A lot of factors are involved in how much lift is present at any given moment, including a plane's airspeed, the shape and position of its wings and their angle of attack. Gravity, on the other hand, is always constant and is the force counteracting lift, trying to pull an aircraft straight towards earth, no matter its orientation. The balance between these two determines whether an aircraft ascends or descends in level flight.
Thrust propels an aircraft forwards and is adjustable by throttle. In jets it is generated by turbojet engines and afterburners, if so equipped. It is counteracted by drag, the amount of friction a plane's shape must overcome when flying through the air. Thrust and drag are affected by a number of factors, including air density, variable at different altitudes.
Axes of Movement and Controls
Aircraft have three axes of movement: pitch, roll and yaw. Each has a corresponding flight control surface. Sufficient airflow over these control surfaces allows a pilot to "steer" a plane in an individual or a combination of axes.
Pitch is the angle of the nose of a plane relative to the ground and is controlled by an elevator or an all-moving horizontal stabilizer (found to be more effective as aircraft approached high subsonic and supersonic speeds). Elevators and moving tail surfaces are found at the rear of an aircraft and are controlled by pushing the flight control stick forward or pulling it backward. This is the quickest and most effective way to make your plane's nose point up or down.
Roll is a rotating movement on the longitudinal axis running through the center of a plane from front to back, also known as bank. When an aircraft banks, one wing rises or lowers relative to the other. Roll is operated by ailerons, found on the trailing edge of each wing. These are activated by pushing the flight stick from side to side. If you want to change your aspect from right side up to inverted - or any position in between - use the ailerons.
Yaw is movement of the nose on a horizontal plane, much like the steering of a car. Yaw is controlled by the rudder, a vertical airfoil found on the tail of a plane. It is operated by a set of pedals, which also control the nose wheel when on the ground. In aircraft with a high sweepback to the wings, the rudder can also be used to initiate roll when the wings are at a high angle of attack and ailerons prove ineffective.
Following Newton's First Law of Motion, which states that "an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion," objects also naturally resist a change of state to their motion (velocity); this resistance is called inertia. The more mass that an object has, the greater the effect of inertia. How this applies to aircraft is that they will tend to resist a change to their path of movement, despite the pilot moving the controls. That is, the vehicle's momentum will want to continue to carry it along its center of mass's original path. While an aircraft's orientation in space may change, its actual flight path may lag behind where the aircraft is pointing, and it can take a while for the plane to "catch up" to its new heading. The higher the velocity, and the greater the mass, the more evident this is. Unless you have chosen to use the Easy flight model, remember that an aircraft isn't like a train on rails that will instantaneously go exactly where it's pointed. You have to take into account its inertia. This is especially important if you are planning on making wild maneuvers with a full bomb load or at high speeds!
Angle of Attack
On the pitch axis, the difference between where the nose is pointed and where the plane is actually traveling (its velocity vector) is called the Angle of Attack (AoA). Often times even when the nose appears level with the horizon the aircraft may still be ascending or descending according to how much lift is being generated by the wings.
By increasing the angle of attack, both more lift (up to a point!) and more drag are generated. Unfortunately, this added drag will have a degenerative effect on speed, and this in turn decreases lift. The deceleration can be counteracted by applying more throttle if there is more power available and, when used on the vertical plane, thrust combined with lift can overcome the force of gravity. As you can imagine, it's all a delicate balancing act!
On the yaw axis, the difference between where the nose is pointing and where the plane is actually traveling is known as the slip angle. Having a high slip angle greatly increases drag, as airflow slams into the side of the aircraft rather than parting around it. In combat it can sometimes be useful to momentarily have a high slip angle to bring the nose to bear on a target.
Lift is generated by wings at an angle roughly perpendicular to where they attach to the aircraft, originating from its center of mass. The direction in which lift occurs is called the lift vector. In level flight this is straight up, away from the ground, and directly opposite to the force of gravity. By rotating on the roll axis, the lift vector no longer remains in precise opposition to gravity, and the balance between the two is disturbed. With less lift opposing gravity, the plane naturally loses altitude. In flight pilots often anticipate and counter this loss by pointing the nose slightly above the horizon when banking. The degree to which the lift vector varies from the direct opposite of the force of gravity is called the bank angle.
Stalls occur when there is not enough airflow over the wings to generate lift. The higher an aircraft's speed, the more lift it creates; conversely, the slower it travels, the less it generates. Eventually, it can slow down enough that lift no longer counteracts the force of gravity, and the plane will simply drop. This is known as a low speed stall and the velocity at which it happens will vary between designs of aircraft. The only way to recover from such a situation is to increase speed so that lift can once again be generated by the wings. A low speed stall close to the ground can be especially deadly, since there may not be enough time or altitude to recover.
Stalls can also occur at high speeds. Generally speaking, the greater a wing's angle of attack, the more lift it generates. There comes a point, however, where the angle of the wing is sufficiently steep that airflow over it becomes disrupted and so turbulent so that the wing can longer create lift, despite a high velocity. This is known as a high speed or an accelerated stall. Easing off back pressure on the stick, thereby decreasing the angle of attack of the wing, will allow proper airflow to once again resume and lift will be restored. High speed stalls most often happen during violent maneuvers.
Many of the fighter planes modeled in Strike Fighters 2 have a high sweepback to the wings. Sweepback was first utilized by the Germans during WWII with their revolutionary Me-262 jet fighter, and it was subsequently discovered to be vital for aircraft that would be traveling at high subsonic and supersonic speeds. Highly swept wings require a higher angle of attack to produce the same lift as straight wings, but this is a fair trade-off for the higher speeds they allow. They also don't share the same stall characteristics. As they reach higher and higher angles of attack, the rate at which lift increases actually declines; finally, lift itself actually decreases without the sharp break that happens with traditional wings. Furthermore, at particularly high angles of attack, the rolling effect produced by ailerons is significantly reduced and can actually create adverse yaw effects that can only barely be countered by the rudder. Therefore, in this particular situation, using the rudder and sideslipping creates more roll and proves more effective than using the ailerons, known as "dihedral effect."
Fighter sweeps are the most basic type of sortie for combat aircraft. They are an offensive mission by fighters to seek out and destroy enemy aircraft or targets of opportunity in a specified area. There are normally no assigned goals, except to exert influence over a region and to maintain air superiority.
Combat Air Patrol (CAP)
Combat Air Patrols involve flying within a dedicated area and remaining on the lookout for incoming enemy air threats. Aircraft are not allowed to stray too far from their assigned waypoints, and often have to loiter for long periods of time. Any hostile aircraft that enter the CAP area are to be destroyed before they can reach their targets.
Intercepts are defensive missions with the goal of engaging specific aerial threats that have been identified by friendly forces. Planes are vectored to close in on hostile aircraft, often heavily laden with bombs or Air-to- Ground ordnance, and are to prevent them from reaching their targets.
Escorts are fighters that have been tasked to stay close to and defend friendly aircraft from hostile air attacks. Escorted aircraft are often strike fighters or bombers, and escorts usually fly in close formation with them. The goal of an escort mission is not to destroy enemies, but to protect the assigned aircraft. Convincing enemy fighters to break off an attack is a key ingredient of a successful escort mission.
Strike missions involve attacking enemy surface targets either in close support of ground forces or to knock out defenses and other targets deep behind enemy lines. Specific Air-to-Ground ordnance suitable for the target is almost always required and is only to be jettisoned when directly attacked, likely preventing any possibility of mission success.
Close Air Support (CAS)
Close Air Support means to engage enemy ground units close to, and in support of, friendly ground forces from the air. CAS missions are often directed by Forward Air Controllers (FAC) and are closely integrated with friendly ground unit's own movement and fire. CAS can be both defensive or offensive, and great care is required as friendlies will be operating near targets.
Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD)
The targets of air defense suppression missions are enemy ground positions that pose a threat to friendly aircraft in a specific area. Threats may be Surface-to-Air missiles sites (SAMs) or AAA units. Knocking out these defenses is vital to allow friendly air forces to operate with impunity, and SEAD aircraft are often the first to arrive over a target area and the last to leave. They are usually the most demanding missions.
Sometimes referred to as Search and Destroy missions, the primary goal of Armed Reconnaissance is to find and attack targets of opportunity. Mission orders are not specific and any hostile forces within the assigned area should be considered legitimate targets, including all types of mobile equipment.
Much like Strike missions, Anti-Ship missions involve attacking and destroying ground targets - in this case, hostile watercraft. Enemy defenses on anti-ship missions can vary tremendously, depending on the nature of the target.
Reconnaissance missions are usually non-combative to discover and report on enemy positions. This information used for subsequent attacks or to prepare defenses.
All of the flyable aircraft modeled in Strike Fighters 2 share many of the same cockpit instruments. While they may differ slightly in appearance, they function in much the same way, as explained below. The following list is of the basic instruments used by the game, and most aircraft will actually have more than presented here.
1. Airspeed and Mach Number Indicator
2. True Airspeed Indicator
4. Radar Altimeter
5. Vertical Velocity Indicator (VVI)
6. Attitude Indicator
7. Attitude Director Indicator
8. Standby Attitude Indicator
9. Turn-and-Slip Indicator
10. Angle-of-Attack Indicator
11. Heading Indicator
12. Standby Compass
13. Radio Magnetic Indicator
14. Position and Homing Indicator (PHI)
15. Horizontal Situation Indicator (HIS)
16. Range Indicator
19. Internal Fuel Quantity Indicator
20. External Fuel Indicator
21. Total Fuel Quantity Indicator
22. Fuel Flow Indicator
24. Engine Nozzle Position Indicator
25. Exhaust Gas Temperature Gauge
26. Oil Pressure Gauge
27. Oil Quantity Indictor
28. Hydraulic Pressure Gauge
29. Caution Light
30. Fire Warning Light
31. Armament Control Panel
32. Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)
33. Radar Scope
Possibly the most complicated instrument in the cockpit, the radar can be used to detect enemy aircraft at long range before they can be spotted visually. There are four selectable modes of operation: Search, Boresight, Ground Map and Terrain Avoidance. Acquisition and Track modes are modes operated automatically by the radar system.
Not all aircraft in game have radar on board, and not all radar have the same capabilities. The F-4 radar has a maximum search range of 200 miles and a track range of 50 miles; The radar on Mirage III has maximum range of 27 miles; The A-4 radar has Ground Map and Terrain Avoidance modes only.
In Search mode the radar antenna sweeps the sky in front of the aircraft, displayed as a vertical line (B-sweep) tracing across the scope. The range can be set to 10, 25, 50, 100 or 200 miles in the F-4. Longer range settings also scan a greater arc vertically. Targets are displayed as a momentary blip on the B-sweep, and a bracketed acquisition bar can be manually cycled (by hitting the "Next/Previous radar target" keys) through all targets on the scope when the display range selected is within the radar's track range. The radar system can then be ordered to attempt to lock on (by hitting the "Acquire selected target" key) and track the target with the acquisition symbol, at which point the system will automatically transition to Acquisition mode.
Rather than sweeping, in Boresight mode the radar antenna is fixed on a reference line directly ahead of the aircraft. Any target within +/- 3 degrees of the CAGE gunsight circle is detected, and the radar will automatically go into Acquisition mode to attempt to lock on and track it.
Acquisition Mode is an transition mode between Search or Boresight modes and Track mode. A Range Gate Strobe will move from the bottom of the display toward the selected target symbol as the system attempts to lock on and track the target. If successful, the radar will then automatically transition to Track mode.
Once a target is being successfully tracked, Track mode will display angle and range tracking information and the system will automatically keep the antenna pointed towards the target. As long as the lock is maintained, a radar-guided missile can be fired at the target. A large Range Rate Circle will appear in the display with a small break in its perimeter, known as the Vc Gap . The orientation of this gap indicates the rate of closure to the target. When the gap is in the 12 o'clock position, this signals the distance to the target is constant. A clockwise rotation of the gap designates decreasing range, and a counterclockwise rotation an increase. The actual position of the Vc Gap indicates the following:
Ground Map Mode
In Ground Map mode, the radar will scan the terrain ahead with a PPI sweep, tracing an arc across the face of the scope. Significant terrain contours and any ground targets will be displayed.
Terrain Avoidance Mode
The simplest radar mode, Terrain Avoidance displays any obstacles that lie ahead parallel to the aircraft's current flight path with a clearance plane elevation fixed at 500 feet below. If an object appears in the scope, climbing until it disappears will avoid it.
F-14A carries the AWG-9 radar, the most powerful radar of its time. The radar was desgined specifically for fleet defense, and when used with the AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, it can engage up to 6 enemy bombers at once at range of almost 100 miles. There is no raw radar display in the pilot's cockpit, instead, there is TID (Tactical Information Display), which shows not only the target detected by the radar, but also all the targets detected by nearby airborne early warning aircraft.
There are three selectable modes available: Search (Range-While Scan, or RWS), Track-While-Scan (TWS), and Air Combat (Vertical Scan Lock-on, or VSL) modes. Single Target Track (STT) mode is entered by the radar system when a target track is established. All radar modes display the same top-down, birds-eye view of the battlespace in front of the aircraft, up to 400 miles display range.
TID target symbols:
Search mode has the widest search volume and fastest search time, but only shows minimum information regarding targets. Target can be designated using the "Next/Previous radar target" keys, and the "Acquire selected target" key can be used to transition to STT mode unless AIM-54 missile is currently selected, in which case the radar will switch to TWS mode instead.
Track-While-Scan (TWS) Mode
TWS mode displays additional information about the currently selected target and is used for engaging multiple targets simultaneously with the AIM-54 missiles. Radar in TWS mode scans slightly smaller volume than in Search mode, and radar elevation is automatically centered on the currently highlighted target. Different targets can be selected using the "Next/Previous radar target" keys. When the AIM-54 is selected, up to 6 targets may be designated using the "Acquire selected target" key. When the first target is designated, a number "1" appears next to the target. And each time a different target is designated (by hitting the "Next/Previous radar target" to go to next target and then hitting the "Acquire selected target" again), next number in sequence is assigned ("2", "3", "4", etc), up to the number of AIM-54 currently carried. When an AIM-54 is fired, it automatically aims to the next target (designated "1") and the sequence is cycled down by one (so "2" now becomes "1", "3" becomes "2", etc) for the next missile, allowing the pilot to fire all 6 missiles at 6 different targets at once. When other weapons are selected, the "Acquire selected target" key switches to STT mode instead.
Single Target Track (STT) Mode
STT mode displays the all the same information as the TWS and is used to guide the AIM-7 radar-guided missiles. While in this mode, the radar does not search for any new targets, but new targets can still show up on TID if detected by the airborne early warning aircraft.
Auto Acquisition Mode
Radar in Auto Acquisition mode scans straight ahead and vertically from 0 to 40 deg above the boresight line. It automatically locks on to the first target it encounters in its vertical search arc, and switches to STT mode.
F-15A carries the APG-63 radar, the most advanced radar of its time. The radar was the first US airborne radar to incorporate Programmable Signal Processor, and its capabilities are significantly enhanced over earlier generation radars, such as the one carried by F-4 Phantom.
There are three selectable modes available: Search, Track-While-Scan (TWS), and Air Combat (ACM) modes. Single Target Track (STT) mode is entered by the radar system when a target track is established.
Search mode has the widest search volume and fastest search time, but only shows minimum information regarding targets. The display shows top-down view displaying radar contacts' azimuth and range relative to the radar. Target can be designated using the "Next/Previous radar target" keys, and the "Acquire selected target" key can be used to transition to STT mode.
Track-While-Scan (TWS) Mode
TWS mode displays additional information about the currently designated target while still showing basic azimuth/range info on other targets. Radar in TWS mode scans slightly smaller volume than in Search mode, and radar elevation is automatically centered on the currently highlighted target. The display shows top-down view displaying radar contacts' azimuth and range relative to the radar, and target symbol may have a vector to show its movement direction. Different targets can be designated using the "Next/Previous radar target" keys, and the "Acquire selected target" key switches to STT mode.
Additional info may be displayed depending on the current air-to-air weapon type selected.
Radar target symbols while in TWS mode:
If Avionics Option is set to Hard, it takes the radar 3 hits before it can gather enough information needed to show target vector and friendly info on non-designated target.
Single Target Track (STT) Mode
STT mode displays the all the same information as the TWS about a single target, but does not display any other targets. Radar can be used to guide radar-guided missiles (AIM-7 Sparrow) from this mode. Shows top-down view displaying radar contacts' azimuth and range relative to the radar, and target symbol has a vector to show its direction. Additional info may be displayed depending on the current air-to-air weapon type selected.
Auto Acquisition Mode
Radar in Auto Acquisition mode only displays basic radar operation info, and does not display any target info. The radar scans straight ahead and vertically from 0 to 55 deg above the boresight line. It automatically locks on to the first target it encounters in its vertical search arc, and switches to STT mode.
Strike Fighters 2 includes a variety of Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground combat. This section covers the basic knowledge guiding air combat, a necessity for any successful pilot.
Rules of Thumb
There are a few basic rules of thumb that all fighter pilots live by in combat, especially when in gun range. Learn them well, as they may just save your virtual life! The first is "Lose sight, lose the fight." In simple terms, this means always keep your eye on enemy aircraft and constantly analyze their position and orientation relative to yours. The moment you lose sight of a bandit you can no longer tell how it is maneuvering or if it is threatening your aircraft. Make it your first priority to re-establish sight of it!
A second basic maxim of ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering) is "Speed is life!" This rule holds true for a couple of reasons, but an important one is that speed can easily be cashed in for altitude. Similarly, a high flying aircraft can dive to pick up speed and for this reason "Altitude is life!" is also a popular saying. This trade-off between altitude and speed is known as "energy." A fighter at a high speed and high altitude is almost untouchable (it has very high energy and therefore lots of options), a low flying fast aircraft or a lower speed fighter with altitude both have medium energy (each have a few different options) whereas a low flying, low speed aircraft that has used up all its "E" has next to no options. Needless to say, energy management and keeping your options open is critical in a dogfight.
A third basic tip is not to fly straight and level in combat. Keeping a constant course makes you easy prey and is very predictable. Also, learn to think in three dimensions: not only do aircraft move about on a horizontal plane, but they can also use the vertical one very effectively. By using vertical maneuvers, a pilot can easily turn the tables on an opponent that insists on making only flat turns.
Using the Lift Vector
As explained in the Flight Basics section, the lift vector is the direction in which lift is applied on an airframe. Lift as a force is not only used to counter gravity, but it can also be used in maneuvers. Since lift is effectively "pushing" your aircraft in a known and constant direction, you can use that force to your advantage. Rolling an aircraft so that your lift vector points towards your target will force you to accelerate towards it; subsequently increasing pitch by pulling back on the stick will then increase your turn rate toward it (subject to certain limits, see below). When following an enemy aircraft, keeping your lift vector on the same plane of motion as that of your foe can help you turn inside of it and set up a kill.
G force is the measurement of inertial loads, with 1G being the normal force of gravity. The higher an aircraft's velocity, the easier it is to increase G loading during maneuvers. G forces act on both pilots and aircraft, sometimes with negative consequences. Sustained high positive Gs send blood rushing out of a pilot's head, and can lead to increasingly grayed vision and eventually unconsciousness, known as "black out." Human beings are much less tolerant to negative Gs, which force blood into the head and can lead to a condition known as "red out" as vessels in the eye become engorged and vision is negatively affected. In order to recover from either black out or red out, G loads must be reduced to allow more normal blood flow to the brain and eyes. Aircraft can also be damaged if Gs are allowed to climb too high, even if only for a moment. As airspeed decreases the ability to initiate and hold G forces is reduced.
Turn Rate versus Turn Radius
Turn Radius is the size of a circle flown by an aircraft as measured from the center and decreases as velocity is reduced. While this is an important figure, the fighter that can turn the tightest isn't always at an advantage in a dogfight. Turn Rate - the speed with which the nose changes heading, measured in degrees per second - is even more significant. Since firing air-to-air weapons is generally done from the forward aspect of a fighter, the rate at which the nose can be brought to bear onto a target is critical. Thus, even though an aircraft may be creating a wider circle than its opponent, if it can travel around that circle more quickly, it is at an advantage. At any given velocity and G load, an aircraft has a specific turn radius and turn rate.
At high speeds turn rate is limited by the amount of G forces that can be sustained. As speed lowers and maximum Gs are maintained, turn rate increases. This seems ideal but, as mentioned above, as airspeed is reduced, so is the ability to hold Gs. The slowest speed at which maximum Gs can be applied is known as Corner Velocity and is the point at which an aircraft has the maximum instantaneous turn rate. Corner Velocity will vary between aircraft and is important to learn, as this is where a fighter will perform at its best. Unfortunately, most aircraft don't have enough thrust to maintain this velocity under maximum G loads and will find that their turn rate decays as their speed and hence Gs decrease. The maximum constant velocity that can be held with the highest steady G load is known as Sustained Corner Velocity and results in a steady rate of turn. One of the reasons energy management is critical is so that pilots can temporarily achieve corner velocities above the sustained rate and as close as possible to the instantaneous turn rate.
Named after Max Immelman, a German pilot during the dawn of aerial combat, WWI, this move involves pulling back on the stick and climbing through the vertical as part of a half loop. At the top of the loop, when the aircraft is inverted, the pilot rolls through 180 degrees to be right side up and facing the opposite direction from where the maneuver was started. The aircraft finishes at a higher altitude than it began, with a resultant loss in velocity. Useful for changing direction quickly, it can be dangerous when pursued closely since an opponent can easily achieve a firing solution when the plane is slow towards the top of the loop. Insufficient speed before entering an Immelman will result in a stall.
The Split-S can be considered the counterpart to the Immelman, since it is also a half loop. However, in this case the pilot rolls inverted before pulling back on the stick and then performs the half loop while descending. The end result is a 180-degree change in direction, a loss of altitude and a gain in airspeed. It is critical that it be performed with sufficient height to avoid flying into the ground. Mainly a defensive move, it can also be used if an opponent flies beneath you in the opposite direction. The half roll is executed before the loop since a pilot can withstand many more positive Gs than negative ones.
A break turn is used to quickly defeat a guns solution by a hostile aircraft that is rapidly closing from the rear aspect. It is executed by banking either right or left and pulling back on the stick rapidly so as to carve a tight turn and force an overshoot. It is imperative to turn into the attacker and not away from him, as the latter would give him an even easier shot. A break turn is best performed level with the horizon or lower to avoid a pop-up in altitude and loss of speed, thus unwittingly becoming an even easier target. Break turns are most effective when the pursuer has a significant speed advantage and therefore cannot pull as tight a turn.
High and Low Yo-Yo
A Yo-Yo, whether high or low, is a very effective offensive tactic against an opponent that insists on making flat turns. Its principle advantage is that by using the vertical plane an aggressor can create an offset path of pursuit and thus gain an angle on the enemy. The Yo-Yo is performed by rolling outside of the horizontal plane during a turn and pitching up or down, followed by an opposite roll back into the original turn. The end result is that you will have effectively "cut the corner" of the flat circle and will find yourself more squarely on your opponent's rear. The High Yo-Yo should be used when you have energy to spare and are above Corner Velocity, while the Low Yo-Yo should be used when you need to gain speed to reach your instantaneous turn rate.
The F-100 Super Sabre and F-4 Phantom II are equipped with a Lead Computing Optical Sight System (LCOSS). This gunsight can be operated in three modes: CAGE, A/A and A/G.
In CAGE mode the gunsight reticle is fixed along the radar boresight line of the aircraft. When selecting Air-to-Air missiles the LCOSS automatically goes into CAGE mode.
In A/A (Air-to-Air) mode and with the cannon selected, the gunsight is placed in lead computing mode with the reticle position governed by the sight gyro and radar range. By these means the sight effectively predicts where cannon fire will go, given your current G load and range to a selected target. Place the predictor sight onto the target and fire guns to hit it. If no air target is selected, the sight defaults to a range of 1,000 feet.
In A/G (Air-to-Ground) mode, the sight is manually depressible to 245 mil below the fuselage line.
In F-4 Phantom II, the LCOSS also has roll tabs and a range bar. The range bar moves from roughly the 1 o'clock position (delineating maximum range) to the 6 o'clock (showing minimum range) and reflects different distances according to the weapon selected.
Aerial combat during the Korean War and even into the early 1960s was still very much a visual affair. While bogeys could be plotted on airborne radar at quite a distance, fire control technologies that existed were quite primitive by today's standards and downright unreliable. Heat-seeking missiles had to be fired within very specific parameters, and cannon still proved very effective for in-close fighting. This lesson is evident by the case of the F-4 Phantom II, which began life without any onboard cannon and was overly reliant on missiles; it later had gun pods fitted, and finally had a 20mm Vulcan cannon installed in the nose by 1967.
On board fire control radars of the 1960s could only lock onto one enemy at a time, and radar-homing missiles had to "ride the beam" to their targets, not having their own independent guidance systems.
Missile technology evolved quickly, though, and Air-to-Air capabilities steadily increased throughout the decade.
Many aircraft can only be equipped with heat-seeking missiles and don't have the capability to fire radar-guided ones. Infrared (IR) missiles track the heat signature produced by a jet's exhaust. To be used successfully, they have to be fired from the rear aspect of the target; otherwise, they will not pick up a heat source properly. Early versions were sometimes fooled by other objects that radiate heat against the sky like the sun or clouds. Even the most modern heat-seeking missiles can still be fooled by flares.
When AIM-9 missiles are selected, you will hear a constant medium pitched tone known as a "growl." As the IR seeker head detects and locks onto a source, this pitch will change to a high tone. The sensor of a heat-seeking missile has a limited field of view, so in order to "get a tone," the target has to be roughly within your gunsight (it will have automatically switched to CAGE mode) and within range of the seeker head.
Early Sidewinder missiles could not be fired when pulling too many Gs. Likewise, a missile also has maneuverability limits, and if it is fired from too close a range or too high an aspect angle, it may not be able to turn sharply enough to engage the target. The best way to ensure your missile hits is to have a constant tone and to be following the target in pure pursuit without a high G load. The maneuverability and/or maximum range of Sidewinder missiles improves with each variant.
If your target is too close to use AIM-9 missiles, use your guns!
Radar-homing missiles (RHM) rely on information from a radar signature to find their way to a target. They operate at a much greater range than heat-seeking missiles and can be fired from any aspect, meaning you do not have to maneuver to the rear of a bandit. While in flight, they require radar information constantly provided by the aircraft from which they were launched. Unlike a heat-seeking missile, which is "fire and forget", their guidance depends on a radar lock being kept by your radar and the target being illuminated. At longer ranges this can be defeated by enemy radar jamming, and only one target can be illuminated at a time. Hostile aircraft can also employ chaff defensively to defeat radar locks.
For information on how to achieve a radar lock using your radar scope, view the Using the Radar section of this manual.
There are three types of air-to-ground guided missiles available in Strike Fighters 2: 1) Anti-radiation missile (ARM), such as AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM, 2) Electro-Optical (EO) weapons, including AGM-65 Maverick, and 3) Laser-guided bombs (LGB), such as GBU-10/12 Paveway I series bombs.
Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM)
Anti-radiation seeker head homes in on the emitted signal from enemy ground radar installation and is completely self-guided. To use these missiles, simply point the aircraft toward a known enemy radar, and fire. If the enemy radar is within the range, it'll automatically lock on and guide itself to the target.
Electro-Optical (EO) Guided Weapon
EO weapons are guided using small TV camera located on the nose of the weapon. Once EO-guided weapon is selected, the radarscope will display the image seen by the EO seeker of the selected weapon. To use EO-guided weapon, simply select the visual target (by hitting Select Ground Target key), and if the target is in seeker range and in seeker field-of-view, the weapon will automatically lock-on to the selected target. The radar display will show the weapon seeker tracking the target, and the Heads-Up-Display will display a symbol indicating where the target is located. Once fired, EO-guided weapons are "fire-and-forget", and the attacking aircraft may immediately switch target for next weapon without losing guidance.
Laser-Guided Bomb (LGB), No Designator
Laser-Guided weapons are guided toward reflection of laser dot "painted" on the target by a laser designator. If the aircraft is not carrying the laser designator, then it cannot select target on its own - it can only attack primary targets, which are always being designated by other laser designators (such as Special Forces on the ground). Since the target is being lased by other units, the attacking aircraft does not have to maintain target, and can immediately switch to another target to attack using other weapons.
Laser-Guided Bomb (LGB), with Designator (AVQ-23 Laser Designator Pod)
If the aircraft is carrying a laser designator (such as AVQ-23 Laser Designator Pod), the radarscope will display image similar to EO-guided weapon, and the target may be selected similarly using the Select Ground Target key. If the target is in designator range and in designator field-of-view, the display will show the designator tracking the target. Laser-guided weapons fired this way are not "fire-and-forget", and the target must remain designated until the weapon impact. Switching visual target while bomb is still in flight will cause the bomb to lose its target and miss.