The purpose of the Air-to-Air (A/A) chapter is to review the basic training spectrum of the F-16 in aerial combat. This training consists of a series of mission elements and types that use a building block approach to reach the required level of proficiency. The areas include preparation, system/fence checks, aircraft handling characteristics (AHC), basic fighter maneuvers (BFM), air combat maneuvers (ACM), intercepts, and gun employment. Aerial combat is by far the most difficult aspect of flight for the fighter pilot to understand and master. The arena is very dynamic, and the skills used must be learned over time. Personal desire and discipline will determine how quickly the individual masters the required skills. To reach the end objective of achieving a first look, first kill capability, you will train in an environment which begins with the basics of a close-in engagement and then progress to beginning the engagement beyond visual range (BVR). Your training will emphasize not only offensive skills, but high-aspect and defensive skills as well. Furthermore, your training will transition from 1 v 1 maneuvering to operating as a team to provide mutual support as elements and flights.
This is arguably the most important aspect of each and every mission. Spend some time thinking about what your about to do, and prepare adequately for that mission. The following is a list of important steps within this process: · Contact the flight lead early and get an idea of the scenario and his game plan. He will have some tasks for you to accomplish prior to the briefing. These tasks are likely to include weather, threat, mission planning, or ordinance briefings.
· G-Tolerance, and loss of consciousness are persistent problems. A regular exercise program is your best preparation, and combined with a proper G straining maneuver the high G loads of aerial combat can be managed effectively. It is also important to get a good body/neck warm up prior to getting in the cockpit. For more on this subject refer to chapters 2 and 9 of this manual.
· Knowing your aircraft is vital to the success of the mission. The Dash-1 is a good place to start, but for further information refer to avionics manuals, and the Dash-34. Preflight the aircraft and armament in accordance with the Dash-1 and Dash-34 checklists. If the canopy is dirty, have the crew chief clean it. Dirt, oil, and bugs can hamper your vision, especially if the sun hits them at various angles. It is an arena where equations and theories are dynamic, and where experience and understanding of basic fighter maneuvers are the keys to success. The skills used in aerial combat are learned over time and the interest, desire, and personal discipline of a pilot are important factors in speeding up this learning process.
4.3. Aircraft Handling Characteristics (AHC)
Before a fighter pilot can employ the F-16 to its optimum use, he must understand his limits within the F-16's capabilities and the F-16's limits within its flight envelope. To develop a sense of aircraft performance and potential, without constant reference to flight instruments, one needs to fly the aircraft in a series of maneuvers that explores the aircraft's flight envelope and reinforces the pilot's awareness of aircraft performance. Exercises and maneuvers that expose the pilot to various parameters within the F-16's flight envelope are: the horn awareness and recovery training series (HARTS), aerobatics, and advanced handling maneuvers. Refer to Chapter 9 for a detailed description of aircraft handling maneuvers.
4.4. Weapon Systems Check
Before entering the combat arena, know the status and capability of your weapon systems. The following technique should serve as a good starting point for developing your own weapon systems check. It should be accomplished with minimum use of time and fuel, so strive for an efficient and easily remembered sequence. One purpose of the weapons systems check is for you to practice and verify the proper operation of the switchology required to get to various modes you will use on your specific mission. Use the check to ensure the REO/MFDs are set up as desired, and to practice selecting the appropriate modes quickly. Practice in selecting ACM and the desired scan pattern will also make the action second nature during engagements. This is also a good time to review HUD and radar symbology. As you complete the weapons systems check, ensure proper avionics and weapons operations. Early detection of any malfunctions or limitations which could limit mission effectiveness will help you adjust your game plan prior to entering combat. Position yourself between 1500' and 4000' aft of lead and spend as little time as possible at dead six, avoid lead's jet wash throughout the weapons check. Once established in that position maintain at least as much airspeed as lead. Use geometry and power to control closure. Ensure the AIM-9 is cooled. With the master arm in simulate, put the target in an ACM scan pattern, and select DGFT/MSL OVRD on the throttle. Verify proper HUD symbology. And then:
· Obtain an ACM lock.
· Verify HUD/SMS/MFD symbology.
· Check TD box tracks target.
· Select BP/SPOT/SLAV.
· Set missile tone volume. Set it fairly high. The tone volume is proportional to the strength of the heat source. A maximum range shot is a lot further away than a weapon system check shot.
· Step through and uncage all missile seeker heads and check tones for self-track capability. Verify HUD symbology.
· Break lockradar returns to search and missile remains in the self track mode.
· Depress the Z axis on the cursor enable switch and verify the AIM-9 goes to BORE (if normal setting is SLAVE).
· Recage the seeker head and confirm it returns to the missile boresight position.
· Relock, using an alternate ACM mode (BORE, 10 X 40/10 X 60, SACM).
· Break lock and relock using the third ACM mode. Place weapons select switch to outboard position (DGFT):
· Verify the radar maintains a lock on.
· Place missile diamond over target and obtain a missile tone rise.
· Ensure wingspan is properly set and confirm range with lock-on information.
· S-turn through the target to verify dogfight gun symbology is programming properly.
· Break the radar lock.
· Check target locator line for proper indications and review your canopy code.
· Complete visual range calibration and return to tactical formation or change lead positions, as briefed.
CAUTION: Do not practice pickling missiles during the weapons check. When carrying live missiles, the above check should be modified to conform to squadron standards.
Be alert for pop-up targets on the radar en route to the area and lock-on to a couple both for practice and to check the system. The radar warning receiver (RWR) should be on and checked for volume and azimuth while flying as target for the wingman's weapon systems check.
4.5. Fence Check
In actual combat, most of the items in the fence check should be done prior to or right after takeoffa few at FEBA crossing. For peacetime training this will vary based on training areas/restrictions; portions of the check will be accomplished in/approaching the area or not at all. Going left to right around the cockpit (items unique to the F-16C have an *):
· Tank inertingas briefed.
· TACANas briefed.
· Lightsas desired.
· COMM/MSL/RWR volumeas desired.
· ECM controlsas briefed.
· DATA OPTHOM.
· Select desired steerpoint.
· MODE SELdepress (if you want the carets on the HUD).
· HUDintensity as desired.
· Drift Cutoutas desired
· ATT/FPMas desired.
· Contrast/Intensityas desired.
· VAH/VVIas desired.
· Primary/manual reticleset as desired.
· RALT/ALOWas required.
· Master armSIM (ARM for combat or as briefed).
· RWRon, set as desired.
· Range scaleas briefed.
· Radar level/channel/subsetas briefed.
· Modeas briefed.
· AZ SCANas briefed.
· TGT HST3 or as desired.
· NB/WBas briefed.
· Aq Symbolat briefed range.
· EL BAR/EL STROBEas briefed for altitude coverage.
· *Master modesverify programmed.
· SEL JETTtanks (rack) selected.
· NOTE: If tanks are loaded in an actual combat situation, select SEL JETT for your tanks and enter the combat arena with master arm ON to enable immediate jettisoning.
· Chaff/flaresas required.
· Secure voiceas briefed.
· Publications and all loose items stowed/strapped down.
· VTRas briefed.
· IFFmodes/squawks as briefed.
· SMSas briefed.