This page is dedicated to the aggregation of various miscellaneous tips and tricks for survivability and tactical superiority in the context of VTOL VR.
Radar Missile Evasion
Radars work by sending out pulses of radio waves and detecting if the radio waves reflect back to the radar source.
- Soft lock: When a radar is tracking a target, such as through Track-While-Scan (TWS) functionality.
- Hard lock: When a radar locks directly onto a target, such that the target's RWR would pick up the lock and warn the pilot.
- Notching: Flying perpendicular to a radar cone to zero out radial velocity, making the radar filter you out with the terrain and breaking a lock.
- Spike: When a hostile aircraft's radar locks onto your own aircraft.
- Mudspike: When a hostile ground radar locks onto your aircraft.
- Booster Stage/Phase: The initial stage of a rocket or missile's activation where the rocket booster is propelling the missile forward. Missiles will continue to glide with their fins after their booster stages complete.
- Smoke trail: The trail of smoke a missile leaves behind during its booster phase. Can be used to visually spot an incoming missile.
- Chaff: A tightly packed bundle of metallic threads that can act as a countermeasure against radar locks.
- Vertical Launch System (VLS): A tube cell system on most naval ships that can launch Surface-to-Air Missiles at hostile air targets and Surface-to-Surface Missiles at hostile naval targets.
- Pitbull: When an active radar-guided missile gets close enough to its target and switches to its internal radar projector for guidance, establishing a lock on the target and no longer relying on datalink updates from the firing aircraft.
- RCS: In the context of radar mechanics, an acronym for Radar Cross-Section. Refers to the amount of surface area on your aircraft facing a radar.
- If you've launched a missile at an enemy, and suspect a missile launch (e.g. you see a smoke trail), force it to waste its energy. Make broad turns from left to right to make the missile turn, causing it to waste kinetic energy by maneuvering and ultimately slow down. A slower missile is less effective at reaching your aircraft. This technique is called Cranking, and you should begin this immediately after launching one of your own missiles.
- You can also opt to hold your heading to the 3 or 9 o'clock of the missile and use your afterburners to force the missile to keep turning in one direction; this technique is called Beaming. This should be done if you have not launched a missile yourself.
- Outmaneuver their missiles. When the missile comes close, roll left or right and pull back on the flight stick as hard as you can. Pulling G may allow you to evade the missile kinematically. This is best done when the missile is low on energy, especially if it's past its booster stage (it no longer generates a smoke trail).
- Use your chaff. When employed adequately, it can confuse radars to break a lock or make other maneuvers easier later on. Chaff should be used when notching a missile or radar to create a cluttered background. (See the section on Countermeasures below for more info.)
- Though not a recommended method to use, AIRS-T missiles are capable of locking onto and intercepting incoming radar guided or IR missiles. This technique is nicknamed Active Defense. The Head-Track mode for IR missiles is extremely useful in this case.
There are also more specific tips available for dealing with radar-guided missiles coming from different sources as well.
Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs)
This refers to radar-guided missiles launched from hostile aircraft. As a reference, air-launched RGMs will usually come at you from above and tend to be faster due to not having to fight against gravity or deal with drag as much.
- Against radar sources locking you from above, there's a maneuver you can employ that can allow you to "slip out" of a hard lock, even against missiles that are still well within their booster phases. This technique is called Notching. To do this, identify the source of the hard lock on your RWR and turn so that the radar cone is facing you at your 3 or 9 o'clock angle. If you are below the radar, then the hostile radar will confuse you with the terrain and filter you out, breaking lock instantly. This technique can even be used to break lock against multiple hostile radar sources in short order if they are within a similar angle relative to your aircraft. This technique tends to pair well with Beaming.
Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs)
- When you get mudspiked, dive down low immediately. This segues into three different evasion techniques:
- The simplest way to deal with incoming SAMs is to put some terrain between you and the incoming radar source. Blocking a radar's line of sight is an easy way to get out of a lock. This technique is called Terrain Masking. This works against any radar source, including the missiles themselves (after going pitbull).
- While diving down, the missile will actively dive down as well to try to meet up with you at the calculated intercept point. This can be actively exploited to cause the missile to collide with the ground. The technique itself is referred to as Driving. While diving down, activate your afterburner to descend as quickly as possible. If done correctly, the missile's trajectory will place it on a crash course straight with the ground. Make sure to pull up in time to keep yourself from crashing as well!
- Missiles tend to have a harder time propelling themselves forward when at low altitudes, as the air density creates considerable drag for them to fight. This can be exploited to decrease an engine's propulsion efficiency with a technique called Dragging. In short, the closer to sea level a missile is, the less energy it can gain. This makes it slower and allows other maneuvers to be more successful.
Knowing how to use your countermeasures effectively is key to defeating missiles. Each playable fighter will have two different types of countermeasures at its disposal: Chaff and Flares.
- Chaff comes in the form of small canisters packed with metal threads that disperse behind an aircraft on deployment. The main purpose of chaff is to confuse hostile radars; if employed correctly, it can be used to reduce the accuracy of incoming radar-guided missiles or even break their lock on you entirely. Chaff is most effective when the defending aircraft is flying perpendicular to (at a 90 degree angle relative to) a hostile locking radar. It is a very useful tool when notching a hostile radar (see above) as it can further clutter the background behind a fighter, making it easier to confuse radars into losing their lock on your fighter. Furthermore, in lieu of a terrain background (when a radar source is locking you from below your aircraft), you can make liberal use of chaff to create an impromptu backdrop in the sky itself, which can also help notch your aircraft out of a radar lock. Be aware that chaff is of little use outside of the context of notching, and should be deployed only very sparingly outside of such contexts.
- Flares are the most widely recognized countermeasure and are used specifically for fooling Fox-2 [heat-seeking] missiles into losing lock on your aircraft, for they are incredibly hot, and burn at over 2000° Farenheit. If a hostile aircraft fires a Fox-2 at your own, then you should turn away from the incoming missile(s); cut your throttle to reduce your heat signature, if you are flying with your afterburners, cut them immediately; and deploy a burst of flares before the missile gets too close. As long as you maintain a degree of situational awareness in the sky, heat-seeking missiles are generally easy to beat. Flares have no effect against radar-guided missiles and should be disarmed when heat-seeking missiles are not an immediate threat in the area.
Each countermeasure can be armed and disarmed via controls in your cockpit. Know what sorts of threats you will be going up against and don't deploy both types of countermeasures at the same time to conserve them.
The CMS page of the MFCD allows the pilot to set the deployment speed and method of countermeasures. It alleviates workload on a pilot, allowing them to simply hold the CMS button of the throttle to automatically deploy chaff and flares at set intervals.
Lofting Lofting is a technique used to increase a missile's overall effective range. This is especially useful in BVR combat (with AIM-120s), where range is important. In order to loft a missile...
- Fly with afterburner. Exceed Mach 1 if possible. Higher speed gives your missile more energy, giving it a higher maximum speed before the motor burns out.
- Angle your aircraft's nose up to ~10 degrees. AIM-120s follow a ballistic trajectory when launched, but turning immediately after launch wastes energy. Pitching up before launching the missile maximizes its energy state by reducing the turn required.
This can also be helpful where AGMs are concerned, especially when working with Anti-Radiation Missiles.
- The Fan-made F/A-26B Manual - The bulk of the information here is based primarily off of sections in this fan-made resource, courtesy of VTOL VR users Freedomplaza and Quantify. It is designed mainly with the F/A-26B in mind, but contains loads of good information on various topics in VTOL VR, including missile evasion and even carrier landings.