BVR tactics

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Learning objectives

  1. Loft missiles
  2. Use TWS to lock multiple targets
  3. Know how to crank
  4. Home on Jam techniques
  5. When to Chuck your Spears doc.

Learning files

BVR techniques

BVR techniques differ each in each engagement according to your capabilities, the targets capabilities and secondary factors like known SAM locations.

If you are able to out range the enemy fighter with your BVR missiles(with for example AIM-120B/C against the Russian AA-10) you can spend more time guiding your missile to the target, whereas in engagements with equal capabilities(for example AIM-120C against AA-12) you need to start your defensive turn as soon as you can get your missile off the rail.

When engaging a target it is favorable if you are at high altitude and high speed prior to the engagement as your missiles will be able to travel further while you will have a lot of altitude you can convert into energy when doing your defensive turn(see BFM).

BVR FCR symbology.png

In the image above you can see the typical FCR symbology when engaging a hostile aircraft. On the right of the display you can see a triangle, which indicates the current range of the bogey in relation to the different kill brackets you can see below.

The same symbology is also available in the HUD:

The target is outside of missile range

As you close distance to the target the triangle will move down on your HUD/FCR, when it reaches the first large bracket it will be within maximum range of your missile.

The target is now in maximum missile range

At this point the missile could theoretically hit our target, but only if the target keeps flying at the same altitude, bearing and speed. Against a fighter such a shot will most likely not hit, engaging larger aircraft like bombers, tankers or AWACS might yield a kill.

The target is at the edge of the high pK bracket. Take the shot!

In this last picture the target triangle has moved down the large bracket towards the box at the bottom, this is the high pK(probability of kill) box. While he is still outside of our pK box we can safely take the first shot and discourage our target from turning in to us and firing a missile of his own. If we wait a little longer and close more distance he will be within our high pK box, at which point the target will not be able to evade your missile by simply turning away and kicking the afterburner. The only thing that can save him now is defensive manoeuvres coupled with lots of chaff.

Basic procedure in a BVR engagement

  1. Approach at high speed and altitude
  2. Get as close as possible to the high pK box, keep the max range of the enemy aircraft in mind
  3. Loft your missile by pulling up at a 20° angle while being in full afterburner
  4. FIRE!!
  5. Turn left or right and put the target on your beam(3/9 o'clock) while keeping the target within your radar gimbal
  6. Guide your missile until it either goes active itself(AIM-120C), it hits the target(AIM-7) or you have to turn defensive to evade enemy missile.

Scuby from the 31st VFS has created a few BVR instructional videos on YouTube you can watch to familiarize yourself with some advanced BVR tactics. In his case he is up against a opponent with similar capabilities so you can see him turning defensive earlier than you would have to against a less capable opponent.

1. RAYGUN Calls - Definition

"RAYGUN (Position/Heading/Altitude):

Indicating a radar lock-on to unknown aircraft. A request for a “BUDDY SPIKE” reply from friendly aircraft meeting these parameters. " (Multiservice tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, 25)

A RAYGUN call contains the following information to be communicated from the targeted over comms.

  • Bullseye - A call about position in relation to the bullseye first giving the bearing from the bullseye to the target then the range
  • Angels: A call telling altitude; angels 1 is a 1000ft so angels 7, for example, would be 7000ft
  • Climbing/Descending: additional information that can be added, simply is the target climbing or descending.

a. Fighter locking an unknown target up

  • If unable to IFF with normal means make the RAYGUN call.
  • Make the RAYGUN call clearly and concisely over the tactical frequency (ususally UHF 6).
  • Wait about~5-8 seconds for a response, if none materializes make the call again and wait another ~5-8 seconds.
  • Don't shoot purely on a RAYGUN call.
    • Think:
      • Are there any friendlies near there?
      • Should I IFF via another means before shooting?
      • How reliable is the raygun call? Did the responding flight confirm they are the ones being locked up or was it simply a generic buddy spike?
      • Can I safely wait to get a visual IFF or will it result in my death or another flights death?
  • Make sure to call your missile launch on a RAYGUN target - Ex: "FOX 1, BULLSEYE one-nine-eight, fifty, nineteen thuousand, climbing".

b. Friendly being locked up

  • Am I the target of the RAYGUN call?
    • Check RWR (is there a radar locking me up and is it a friendly radar signature?).
    • Check own Bullseye (is the called bullseye my own?).
    • Check Angels (is that my angels?).
    • Respond to the call if necessary.
  • Don't rely solely on the RWR the locking radar may be in a RWR blind zone.
  • Make sure that at a minimum to respond with your angels and confirm your position.
  • You may be locked up by a friendly other than the one making the RAYGUN call if you don’t confirm you position. If you make the friendly think he is locking up a friendly instead of a bandit it may escape and kill a friendly down the road.


First example - you are a #2 in a flight scanning the sky when you pick up a contact appear near a friendly flight.

  1. You are a #2 in a flight scanning the sky when you pick up a contact appear near a friendly flight. Call out the contact to your flight lead.
  2. "RAYGUN RAYGUN, BULLSEYE one-seven-eight, twenty, angels 14, climbing."
  3. Wait for response:

Response A) Someone responds with: "BUDDY SPIKE, BULLSEYE one-seven-six, twenty, angels 14, climbing".

Response B) No response

Scenario A end game:

  • In this situation you have locked up a friendly and you should break the lock immediately! Then respond with your callsign and “BUDDY LOCK”.

Scenario B end game

  • Make a second call after ~5-8 seconds.
  • If still no response tell your flight lead who can then contact the flight near the likely hostile to confirm if the unknown contact is hostile and if so coordinate the defense of both flights.