Air-to-air threat guide

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Learning objectives

  1. Know what the major air-to-air threats are

Learning files


Early generation fighters

Early Generation Aircraft such are normally equipped with early IR Short-range ordnance and/or limited ground attack ordnance. Their overall missile performance is poor, but can still find their mark if given the chance. They will typically use loose formations and baiting tactics to drag aircraft down to their altitude, or drag them towards other threats and additional aircraft so they can attack en-masse.

Most dangerous: In turn fights at low altitudes.
Least dangerious: At medium (15nm) to long (25nm) range, high up, where you can see them.
Best method of engagement: Long/Medium range missile engagement with AMRAAMs.
Examples: Mig-19, Mig-21, J-7

Mid generation fighters

Mid Generation Aircraft are equipped with more capable IR Short-range missiles. On top of this they will also now have access to radar guided medium range missiles, IR guided medium range missiles and, on some aircraft, long range (30nm) radar guided missiles. Their missile capabilities will still be sub-par compared to AMRAAMs, but these aircraft can become a threat much sooner than their early generation counterparts. Some also boast excellent thrust and maneuvering capabilities at medium to low altitude.

Most dangerous: At medium (15nm) to close (-4nm) range.
Least dangerious: At long range under ECM.
Best method of engagement: Long range missile engagement with AMRAAMs.
Examples: Mig-23, Mig-25, Mig-29A, J-8

Late generation fighters

Late Generation Aircraft will be able to access a much more advanced array of IR and radar missiles in both long (30+nm), medium (15nm) and short range (-4nm) brackets. The R-27ER (AA-10C Alamo) and R-77 (AA-12 Adder) can even outrange the AMRAAM. Some of these weapons will also possess Home on Jam (HoJ) capabilities, allowing them to track your aircraft's ECM radiation if left on.

Certain aircraft in this category have very high levels of maneuverability, and can outperform you even in a close-in fight. If you find yourself outnumbered by these aircraft, or in a non-advantageous position against them, call for help and run away before they can close in.

Most dangerous: At all engagement ranges, but especially at optimal AMRAAM range where you should have fired back at Rmax and turned away, but didn't, giving them time to fire first.
Least dangerous: 30+ miles away on your six at GATE.
Best method of engagement: 2 on 1 with max range shots and ECM control to deny them the first shot but prevent a HoJ return shot.
Examples: Mig-29S, Mig-31, Su-27/J-11, Su-30