Ground-to-air defense

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Learning objectives

  1. Defend against SAMs
  2. Defend against AAA

Learning files

AAA defense

Most dangerous: If you enter the systems engagement range. SPAAGs are exponentially more dangerous the closer you are to them.
Best method of engagement: Stand-off attacks with ATGMs or lofting/high-altitude attacks with bombs. Anti-Radiation missiles can be employed against Fire Cans, but are unlikely to hit a SPAAG.

SAM defense

  1. Break turn to put missile on beam, preferably nose down, dump chaff. (If you have a jammer, this technique alone will often break locks on systems like the SA-2 in my experience)
  2. Visually acquire missile
  3. Once on beam, out of plane turns while maintaining beam until threat is defeated (Pete Bonnani calls for a vertical yo-yo to force missile to change point of aim and use energy)
  4. If you cannot defeat the threat, execute a max-g turn into the missile.

Now, point 4 is pretty complicated:

  1. You have to be as close to 450 knots as you can get, you need to be at least between 370-450 knots (corner airspeed), and yank on the stick as hard as you can. If you're not hitting 9 Gs in your final break turn, you're not working hard enough.
  2. You have to practice on SAMs in order to find the right time to make a break turn. When I'm watching an SA-2 launch, I take note of the time when the booster stops (i.e. you see no more contrail but the missile is still coming), and that's when I start thinking about my break turn and am constantly tracking the missile. If all you're seeing is missile nose, you waited too long. If you break too early, the missile will not need to use much energy to correct and get back on target, and you'll have used up a lot of yours.
  3. To keep the turn on at corner speed, you will likely need to apply afterburner - prepare for it and know if you'll need it (i.e. flat or rising turn you will definitely need it, possibly in a descending turn)
  4. If you see missile getting close and you haven't hit emergency jettison you should. No point in having your bombs and fuel if you're dead. You cannot execute a 9G turn in Condition 3 without inducing a FLCS fault, however that can still be flyable. Full honesty moment - I often give the max-g turn a go with full stores in the hope of continuing mission - it's a fair gamble, and I'd rather gamble with dying than have to RTB because I have munitions to hit my target.
  5. A missile needs between 4-5 times the G of its target to make the turn against its lead pursuit and close with you, i.e. 36-45 Gs when you're pulling 9. For this reason, a proper maximum-g turn that does not allow the missile to close to effective range will defeat it every time. SAMs simply don't have that much energy in the terminal phase, if you execute properly you are far superior to them.

For highly lethal systems, you need to have a better plan - Nap of the Earth flight (NOE), or avoidance. If something like an SA-10 launches on you, you're going to have limited effect even with these tactics.


There is no warning when an IR SAM is fired, except for looking for and seeing the launch. The SA-13 will show up on the RWR because it has a ranging radar, but you will still not get a launch warning. Defeat the missile by breaking into or away from it and using flares. The best way to avoid them is by staying high (usually above 10000ft AGL).

Most dangerous: Just below 10-15,000ft.
Best method of engagement: Mavericks or cluster bombs from outside engagement range of system.

Radar SAMs

Common to all radar SAMs except the SA-10 is that they will very clearly (and loudly) announce that they’ve launched a missile at you. It is important to look for the missile launch, however, as you have no other indication of where the missile itself is, and seeing it is vital to avoid being hit by it. Use ECM to degrade the range at which a SAM can be launched at you, but if one is launched, use chaff to try to break the radar lock. Unlike in real life, in BMS missiles cannot reacquire a target once the lock is lost.

Most dangerous (mobile systems): Low-medium altitude. Very short engagement and missile flight times.
Most dangerous (air defence battalions): Medium-high altitude where you cannot easily use terrain masking to break or avoid locks.
Best method of engagement (mobile systems): Mavericks or cluster/guided bombs from outside/above engagement range.
Best method of engagement (air defence battalions): Anti-Radiation missile attack on FCR with follow up cluster-munition attacks on launchers.
Best method of engagement (against SA-10): NOE terrain masking with lofted HARMs or guided bombs from behind terrain.
Best method of engagement (against SA-11/17): Staggered HARM launches (so multiple HARMs don’t target the same launch vehicle), lofting guided bombs from high altitude or from behind terrain.

SA-8 Gecko

The SA-8 is a regimental and battalion level air defense asset which is extremely common in the Syrian (as well as Russian) ground forces. The SA-8 is one of the most effective SHORAD (short range air defense) systems. It should be respected just like the SA-11, but the main difference is that it's max effective range is only about 7 miles, and will more likely fire on you at 5 miles, It's minimum engagement envelope is about 600 feet, meaning it is possible to do a NOE attack on them. Like the SA-11, each vehicle has an integrated FCR.

They are arguably more dangerous than the SA-11 due to the mere fact of their number in modern equipped Russian-style armies: there will be dozens present in a large scale offensive.

Defense Procedures (in order of effectiveness):

  1. Avoid weapon envelope and do stand-off attacks with HARMs and AGM-65
  2. Terrain mask, it's a command guided missile that will break lock if you obstruct line of sight to the radar emitter
  3. Mask + pop-up lofting attack with CBUs
  4. NOE approach and pop-up attack
  5. Emergency jettison, cat 1, 8-9 g break turn and a lot of chaff


SA-10's are deadly. If one spikes you and then turns off, assume it has fired at you. If it turns on again, it is likely terminally guiding its missile in on you. Destroy this sucker fast and get out of Dodge!

SA-11 Gadfly

The SA-11 is basically an SA-6, except each vehicle has an integrated FCR (it's that green rectangle on the left side of the vehicle above), and the missile is more maneuverable. This is to say it is one of the deadliest SAMs you will encounter in BMS.

The missile maneuvers at mach 2.64, has a max engagement envelope of 45,000 feet, with a minimum envelope of about 100 feet. The max range is about 10 miles, and max effective range is about 7 miles.

Because each vehicle is it's own radar, you will need to destroy every vehicle in a battalion for effective SEAD.

These are mobile units which will often be encountered as a pop-up threat, making SEAD extremely dangerous. The SA-11 is a brigade air defense asset .

Defense Procedures (in order of effectiveness):

  1. Avoid weapon envelope and do stand-off attacks with HARMs and AGM-65
  2. Terrain mask, it's a semi-active missile that will break lock if you obstruct line of sight to the radar emitter
  3. Mask + pop-up lofting attack with CBUs
  4. Emergency jettison, cat 1, 9-10 g break turn and a lot of chaff

Practicing SAM defense

Without a jammer:

  • SA-2 will engage around 12 NM range (at ~20,000 feet, might fire sooner if you're lower - I didn't spend time to test that)
  • SA-6 will engage around 11 NM range (same as above)

These two are right near the systems' max range, which makes sense - they shoot as fast as they can lock you up. At this point, if you don't have a jammer the best bet is probably a fast split-S and run the other direction. If you're quick and keep your wits about you, it should be fairly easy to simply outrun the missile.

With jammer turned on:

  • SA-2 will engage around 4 NM (same as above)
  • SA-6 will engage around 4 NM (same as above)

So for missions with popup SAMs, it's a good idea to have your jammer at hand - you might not want to blare it, but definitely be ready to pop it on when a SAM comes up. It will give you time to maneuver, take a HARM shot or simply run away without having to immediately worry about missiles coming at you. By far the most common SAM I've encountered in my flights with UOAF and my own personal campaign is the SA-2 - learn it, love it, figure out how to beat it.

If you want to set up a practice SAM defense TE, this is how you can do it:

  1. Open Tactical Engagement tab
  2. Hit TE Builder in Bottom Left
  3. Right Click anywhere on the map (over land, since that where SAMs go), and hit "Add Flight" (2nd option)
  4. Choose Aircraft: Any F-16 will do here I believe, but I always choose block 52
  5. The rest of the options don't really matter, except the very last one titled Start At - you want to start At Target or Ingress, unless you really want to fly the whole mission. Starting at either of these will allow you to simply fly against the SAM without having to fly much distance
  6. Click OK in the bottom right when you are finished
  7. Now go to the top left corner, you will see an American Flag - click on it (it will change to a DPRK flag)
  8. Now, zoom in near where you right clicked earlier, and right click again
  9. This time, you need to click "Add Battalion" (4th option)
  10. For Equipment, choose DPRK or Soviet
  11. For Unit Type, choose Air Defense - SA-2 (or any other SA system you want to practice against)
  12. Click OK again

Now you have an F-16 flight headed towards a SAM system of your choice. On the map you should see an F-16 along the flight path, as well as a red NATO Air Defense unit symbol. If you see both, you've done it right. If not, repeat the part for whichever unit you don't have.

Finally, you want to adjust the distance from your jet's starting point to the target. I try to start ~30 miles from the target, because that way I have time to generally get situated in the cockpit before I have to think about engaging.

The easiest way to adjust your distance is by changing the clock time in the top right.

  1. Click on the minutes (the center 2 digits), they should turn yellow.
  2. Now use the arrows on the right side of the numbers to turn back time (left arrow) until you like the spacing between your plane and the SAM.
  3. Now, go hit "SAVE" in the top center, save it as whatever you like.

In order to load it, just go back to the TE tab, hit "SAVED" and find the name for your TE. The rest is as usual.

This method can be used to pit any air unit against any ground unit, and you can add multiple air or ground units by just right clicking, adding flight/battalion, selecting the unit you want and hitting OK. I personally like to fly against groups of SAMs that are co-located or at least within 5 NM of each other to see how they will react, and to practice evading multiple missiles from multiple sites simultaneously. This is the most challenging and realistic practice, so I definitely suggest adding more than one SAM once you feel more confident. It's also the same for pitting air vs air, when you switch to DPRK just add a flight instead of a battalion, so if you want to practice against some MiGs or SUs you can easily do that as well.