4.8. Defensive BFM
The following discussion of defensive BFM is predicated on an understanding of offensive BFM. In defense, realizing the mistakes of the attacker gives the defender his best chance of role reversal or escape. To recognize the attacker's mistakes the defender must know offensive BFM concepts. The primary objective of defensive BFM is survival. Unfortunately, you are looking over your shoulder, often under high G-load to accomplish this. More than any other situation in flying, defensive BFM is a physical problem. It hurts to pull G's and look over your shoulder. The ramifications of being physically unprepared for the defensive BFM arena should be obvious. In the F-16, it can kill you. Physical conditioning and proper body positioning are a must!
4.8.1. Objectives During Defensive BFM
There is no magic maneuver you can use on defense which will automatically change you to an offensive position against a similar bandit. In order for you to go offensive or separate, he must make a mistake. Therefore, it is essential you maintain a tally so you can take advantage of his mistakes, assuming he makes any. Your maneuvering on defense must be weighed with keeping the tally. If the bandit doesn't make any mistakes, or makes fewer than you, the best you can hope for is to keep him from employing ordnance against you. As the engagement continues, this can become extremely frustrating and there is a tendency to give up. Your will to live must remain high. As long as the bandit isn't shooting, your defense is working. There are two basic objectives during defensive BFM:
· Survive the bandit's attack. Deny the bandit weapons employment opportunities. Defeat any weapons employed by the bandit.
· Separate or kill the bandit.
There are a few principles that are important if you intend to survive:
· First is the will to live. Whatever it's for it doesn't matter, but the instant you give up you die. Once this attitude has been established the fight may commence.
· A game plan is important, and a couple will be discussed later. However, if the game plan you decide on is not working, do something else.
· Keeping a tally is a must! Do whatever it takes not to lose the bandit once you have him in sight. BFM is a constant trade-off between energy and position. Only expend enough energy as required and no more. Airspeed is rate, and rate is critical in defeating ordnance and causing angular problems for the bandit. If you give up airspeed and don't get anything for it, you'll die. However if you try to conserve airspeed at the wrong time, youll offer the bandit a shot opportunity. Dont die with airspeed or altitude below you. Along the same line is nose position relative to the horizon. Don't get it buried or you become extremely predictable which makes the bandit's job a lot easier.
4.8.2. Bandit Outside the Turn Circle
The initial turn is critical, and sets the stage for the rest of the fight. It should be almost reactionary, but watching the bandit throughout is a must. At the "fight's on" call, a break turn needs to be initiated. This means roll to set your lift vector (on the bandit or slightly below the horizon), power in mil, pull smoothly to the limiter, and dispense flares. Lift vector position is very impo rtant. Lift vector on the bandit will prevent him from obtaining out of plane turning room. However, if the bandit stays level or climbs slightly, youll bleed airspeed quicker, and once below corner youll lose turn rate. Lift vector below the horizon will allow you to sustain a good turn rate longer, creating more angles on the bandit, but it may also give the bandit some vertical turning room high. Either is acceptable, but realize what your gaining/giving up with each, and know how it plays into your game plan. There are a number of ways to visualize your lift vector: the top of the canopy, the vertical stabilizer, or bandit's relative position on the horizon. This turn must be on the limiter! You must create as many angles as possible before the bandit gets to your turn circle. With this in mind, the need for a proper straining maneuver is paramount. Anticipate the G onset. Also, it is important to blend in the G quickly and smoothly, rather than a snap to 9 G's. A non-limiter turn makes the bandit's job easier. Flares need to be expended to decoy missiles in flight as well as missiles before they ever come off the rail. You must continue to expend flares as long as the bandit is in a position to shoot a missile. This varies considerably depending on the threat, but for the purpose of this discussion, assume the bandit has an off-boresight capability of 30°. During this break turn, assess what the bandit is doing and determine what your next move will be. What you will see for the first part of this break turn is the bandit tracking forward on your canopy. This is good!!
4.8.3. Bandit Options
What the bandit does will depend on his game plan, aircraft capabilities, and pilot abilities. This discussion will be limited to the bandit making some big out of plane maneuver, going to pure/lead pursuit, or making a bid for lag. If the bandit elects to make a big move out of plane (Figure 4.35), he is going for turning room and probably doesn't think he has a turn capability equal to yours. Don not allow huge amounts of vertical turning room. The missile threat will go away rather quickly, so your move should be to select full AB, put lift vector on him, and continue the pull on the limiter. Depending on the amount of vertical, he may not have ever entered your turn circle. In this case you should be able to pull him to the front of your canopy and pass him high aspect. This pass will most likely be low to high for you, and give you an opportunity to reverse on the bandit. Reversals will be discussed later.
Figure 4.35 Bandit Maneuvering Out-of-Plane
If the bandit elects to go pure or pull lead pursuit he may be trying to separate (Figure 4.36), he may not understand the concepts of BFM, or he may just be very aggressive. He is definitely trying to shoot you, be it with a missile or the gun. What you will see is constant forward movement on your canopy by the bandit. Also you will see his nose on or lots of belly and intake. Your actions should be to continue to dispense flares for the missile, and continue to pull on the limiter to generate as many angles as possible. The bandit also could be trying for a high a spect gun shot so be prepared to get out of plane at about 4000'- 5000'. This out of plane maneuver does not need to be excessive, about 15° will suffice. A couple of options are available. For a short period of time there is an overlap between the missile WEZ and the gun WEZ, so you may be defending against both at the same time. Once the missile has been min ranged select AB. Min range for the missile is affected greatly by aspect angle and Vc, and should occur at about 4500'. Watch the bandit!! If he repositions early you will have to revert to your defensive game plan. If the attack is pursued he is either preparing for a separation or setting himself up to give up 3/9. In this case you may elect to separate. Recheck full AB and unload to accelerate as fast as possible. Check to keep the bandit in sight, and continue to assess range and bandit intent. Your other option is to reverse on the bandit.
Figure 4.36 Separating Bandit
If the bandit makes an initial bid to lag (Figure 4.37), he probably has the intention of staying in this fight, and knows what he is doing. You will see forward LOS on your canopy initially, then as the bandit enters your turn circle he will stop then move aft. Also you will see the top or side of his aircraft, and his nose off of you. You have two options: either a check and extend defense, or a continuous turn defense.
Figure 4.37 Bandit Bid to Lag
4.8.4. Check and Extend Defense
The concept behind a check and extend defense is to get energy when his nose is off, and try to increase the range between you and the bandit. So whenever you turn it's on the limiter, and when you extend it's with both hands forward. Continue to turn on the limiter until the bandit starts to move aft on your canopy. With the bandit's nose off of you (which may happen before he enters your turn circle) select full AB. Your next action is to unload. You've just been at 9 G's so ensure you unload to less than 1 G and not to 2-3 G's. Rolling out of the bank as you extend will telegraph your intentions, so stay in the bank. Your nose should be slightly low, but not buried, and most importantly mai ntain sight of the bandit. What you are looking for is nose rate and nose position. At first you will see a lot of plan form which will decrease as the bandit tries to pull you to his nose (Figure 4.38). Ideally, you need to start back into your turn before his missiles are a threat. So when you assess that the length of his aircraft is about equal to the width, get back into a limiter turn. Turning now will allow you to start the turn in AB, if you wait a bit longer the turn will be a full fledge break again. When you turn may also be dictated by airspeed. If you are guaranteed to stay and fight, you should start you turn at about 450 kts to optimize turn performance. When you are within 30° of his nose, get back to mil power and expend flares. Now look for the same cues as before as to when you have the opportunity to extend again. Realize that the check and extend defense may allow the offender to salvage a poor TC entry.
Figure 4.38 Bandit Planform Views
This process continues until the bandit makes a mistake or you need to transition to a guns defense. The bandit's options are the same as previously discussed, and should be dealt with in the same manner. As this fight progresses, your opportunities to extend, and the length of your extensions will decrease depending on the bandit mistakes.
· Not breaking on the limiter.
· Lift vector control (too high and you bleed energy, too low results in getting your nose buried.
· Poor IRMD.
· Poor timing of extensions/turns.
· Poorly timed out of plane maneuvers.
· Failure to recognize bandit errors.
· Losing sight.
4.8.5. Continuous Turn Defense
This defense is much tougher to fly correctly than the check and extend, but gives you the best opportunity to survive in an air-to-air arena which involves radar missiles and all-aspect IR missiles. The basic principle is to maintain an energy state where your aircraft performs best, creating angles and forcing the bandit into making a mistake. As with the check and extend, initially you need to turn (Figure 4.39) on the limiter as long as the bandit moves forward on your canopy. When the bandit's nose is off get the power back into full AB, and assess your energy. Typically you'll be around 350 kts when the bandit enters your turn circle. Get your lift vector slightly below the horizon so God's G can help you maintain energy and continue your pull. Ease off of the limiter and hold 330-350 kts. 330 kts will optimize your turn rate and turn radius. Continue to monitor the bandit! His flight path should take him slightly outside yours, but not past your extended longitudinal axis. As long as he is not in a position to employ missiles you can keep it in AB, but as soon as the bandit rates his nose around you'll have to use IRMD. If the bandit bleeds all his energy in the first turn, and continues to pull maximum G, he may stagnate. You should feel pretty good at this point, but remember it is the bandit's decision to stay "stuck in lag" not yours, and if he wants/knows how to get out of it he can. Ho wever, if he is experienced, when he recognized that your game plan was a continuous turn he probably eased off his turn to preserve both energy and range. Eventually he will threaten you enough to force you out of AB, and rate his nose to threaten you with the gun. When this happens it's time to give up some of your airspeed and turn to create angles and closure problems. The bandit will have to reposition to maintain control, and as soon as he does plug in the AB, and ease off your turn to capture the rate that will not deplete any more airspeed. When the bandit threatens you again, repeat the process. If the bandit makes no mistakes you'll eventually have to transition to a guns defense. If he does he may overshoot to a scissors, stack, or even a reversal.
Figure 4.39 Continuous Turn Defense
· Lift vector control.
· Poor IRMD.
· Poor energy management.
· Failing to recognize bandit errors.
· Late transition to a guns defense.
Whether you elect to do a check and extend defense or a continuous turn defense the goal is to forcethe bandit to make an error that you may capitalize on. There are several keys to assessing the bandit's energy state. If the air is right to produce contrails, and the contrails are coming off the bandit's wing tips, his energy is high. If they are coming off of the fuselage, then the bandit's e nergy is low. The best indicator of the bandit's energy is nose rate. Couple this with bandit maneuvers and you're on you can capitalize his errors. If the bandit bids low to arc you across the circle; a small bid down by the bandit can easily be countered by matching him. This will not only take away his turning room, but will aid in keeping your energy up. If the bandit makes a large bid down to cut across the circle, chances are his energy is low. You could match this move also, but that may result in moving the entire fight to the bottom of the area and give the bandit a possible snap shot. If you know his energy is such that he does not have over the top air speed, and you do, use the vertical. This can be extremely risky, especially if you miss-judge his energy and he has range. Another option is to place your lift vector slightly above the bandit and pull on the limiter. This will keep you out of plane, increase angles, and possibly send this fight neutral or offensive for you. In most cases, your defense will be a combination of both the check and extend, and the continuous turn. Proper application of both will prolong your survival and give the bandit more opportunities to create an error for you to capitalize on.