The AIRS-T is a Advanced Short-Range heat-seeking Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) developed mainly as an alternative to the aging AIM-9 Sidewinder. It boasts a number of improvements over the AIM-9; it boasts significantly stronger CM resistance (ability to better discern between flare countermeasures and an actual aircraft), acceleration speed, maneuverability, and overall effective range. It is generally superior in all regards to the AIM-9 and is a better option to utilize if cost and availability aren't immediate issues.
*In comparison to the AIM-9.
Just like with the AIM-9, the AIRS-T has a small variety of different targeting modes that can be configured through a fighter's weapon management MFCD page:
- Caged - The missile's targeting reticle points forward at all times, much like the AIM-120 AMRAAM's own.
- Uncaged - The targeting reticle circles around the HUD and snaps to the first prominent heat signature it detects.
- Vertical Scan - Similar to Uncaged; instead of circling the center of the HUD, the reticle bobs up and down along the center vertically, snapping to the first heat signature it detects. Useful for dogfights.
- Head-Track - Requires the HMCS to be active. The missile's reticle points in the direction the player is looking in, allowing the missile to effectively target enemies at the rear flanks of the deploying aircraft.
It should be noted that the AIRS-T can be mounted to the outer hard points of the F/A-26B in sets of up to 3 each, giving the pilot up to 6 missiles across only 2 hard points. The AIRS-T can additionally be mounted on other hard points as well, allowing for the setup of a lightweight air-to-air payload if budget is an issue.
The AIRS-T is a short range infrared missile, used in dog-fighting and pop-up attacks when radar-guided missiles are no longer practical. When the missile is selected, it will emit a low tone when not targeting a heat signature. Once it identifies a heat signature, its tone will increase; a stronger tone designates a more reliable lock. A predicted intercept point will also be displayed on the HUD, leading the target aircraft when you have obtained a strong lock. The missile has much higher maneuverability than other missiles like the AIM-120, letting it maneuver more sharply to hit its target. The AIRS-T is more expensive than the AIM-9, but a better option in all regards. While the missile can fire and track at extreme angles, aligning your aircraft closer to the predicted impact point and closing range will always improve results.
Though it's not the missile's main function (and therefore not recommended to utilize), the AIRS-T is capable of targeting and intercepting incoming Surface-to-Air Missiles. This technique is most effective if the SAM is still in its booster stage, when its heat signature is most prominent.
Warning: Please take care when firing any IR missile in close proximity to friendly units. The IR missiles will reliably track whichever heat source is targeted, but if a friendly aircraft passes in front of the missile, especially if their heat signature is stronger, the missile's seeker could become confused and target them instead. Stick to your Cannons if you are dogfighting near allies.