4.9. High Aspect BFM
The assumption in high aspect BFM is both fighters have tally and have turned to point at each other.
4.9.1. Objectives During High Aspect BFM
· Determine your advantage.
· Exploit that advantage into a positional advantage.
· Use offensive BFM to achieve a kill.
· Separate before becoming disadvantaged.
· If unable to separate, perform your best 1 v 1 defensive BFM.
4.9.2. Options At The Pass
Your decision to stay and fight or to separate will be based on many considerations: fuel, ordnance, energy, mission, etc. If your decision is to separate, then the initial pass is usually the best opportunity for a separation. If your decision is to stay and fight, then attempt to gain turning room laterally and vertically prior to the pass. If the bandit allows you to gain turning room prior to the pass, lead turn him to gain a position of advantage. It the bandit does not allow you turning room at the pass, your options are: extend, vertical up, vertical down, pitch, slice, or lateral turn.
You may extend straight through in order to gain turning room and/or energy. This will force a wider fight which will allow the use of all-aspect ordnance. If the bandit is capable of a high turn rate, it will be difficult for you to gain sufficient turning room prior to the bandit threatening you. However, if your energy is low at the initial pass you may have no option but to extend.
126.96.36.199. Vertical Up
If you pull straight up at the pass your turn rate will be lower and turn radius will be larger during the first half of the loop. As you maneuver in the vertical, you will become slower, more predictable, and be more exposed to the look-up missile threat. As a general rule, unless the bandit does not have the ability to maneuver in the vertical, going up at the initial pass is not advisable.
188.8.131.52. Vertical Down
If you pull straight down at the pass, your turn rate will be higher and turn radius, dependent upon airspeed, may be smaller. If you are at corner plateau velocity, a limiter split-S will be the quickest way to turn 180°. The disadvantages of the split-S are that the maneuver is physically demanding, and the tally is extremely difficult to maintain. Additionally, if you are above corner plateau velocity your turn radius can become very large.
If you use a pitch at the pass, the effect on your turn rate and turn radius will be similar to the vertical up, but to a smaller degree. The adva ntages/disadvantages of a pitch are the same as the vertical up; however, a pitch may be used to control excessive airspeed and slow to corner plateau velocity prior to performing a follow-on maneuver such as a lead turn or slice.
If you use a slice at the pass, the effect on your turn rate and turn radius will be similar to the vertical down, but to a smaller degree. Controlling airspeed to minimize turn radius is very important. A slice at the pass is a good compromise to gain some benefits of radial G and still maintain tally. A 425 KCAS max AB slice, with approximately 10° nose low, will allow a 7 - 8 G sustained turn for the first 90° of turn. After that, modulate G to control nose position and airspeed.
184.108.40.206. Level Turn
Generally, a level turn does not take advantage of radial G and is inefficient BFM. However, turning level offers the best opportunity for maintaining tally and will help bleed off excessive airspeed (above 500 KCAS) until a transition to a slightly nose low attitude is desired.
4.9.3. One Circle Fight
A fight can be forced one circle by you or the bandit. A one circle fight will be a closer fight and deny all-aspect missile employment. Against a bandit where you have a turn rate and turn radius advantage (F -4) a one circle fight will allow you to recognize a quick positional advantage (Figure 4.42). At the pass, turn in a nose low slice away from the bandit to kick him across your tail. You must control your airspeed prior to the pass to avoid getting above corner plateau velocity and increasing you turn radius. With your turn rate and radius advantage you will recognize a positional advantage after 180° of turn. After the first 180 ° - 210° of single circle turn, you must choose one of two immediate actions: (1) extend for energy prior to turning toward the bandit or (2) reverse the turn direction immediately and start a lead turn inside the bandit's turn circle. As you roll out of an initial right turn, the bandit will be at 12:30 to 1:30 with a right to left LOS rate. Your airspeed should be 300 + 25KCAS if a maximum G turn was accomplished. The next several seconds can be used to unload for energy if airspeed is low or begin a lead turn inside the bandit's turn circle. The turn should begin prior to the pass, but with a constant airspeed pull. Maintain over the top potential. If the bandit remains level, two to four passes may be required to align fuselages enough for a shot. If he recognizes his energy advantage, he may attempt to exploit the vertical. If the bandit zooms, immediately evaluate your energy in light of the aggressiveness of his maneuver. If his energy is significantly greater, you may want to extend momentarily before pursuing in the vertical. From this point, high to low lead turns as the bandit comes down the back side of his loop will result in fuselage alignment. From this position of advantage you can employ offensive BFM to develop a shot opportunity.
Figure 4.42 One CircleTurn Rate/Radius Advantage
Against a bandit where you have a sustained turn rate advantage, you may or may not achieve a positional advantage after the initial turn. If the bandit uses his instantaneous turn capability, you may meet him at high aspect at the next pass (Figure 4.43). In this case, you will have an energy advantage at the second pass. The key to this fight is patience. If he continues to turn hard, his turn rate will decrease. However, the bandit's turn radius will also be smaller which may allow him to turn inside your turn circle. On subsequent passes, you will realize a positional advantage if you continue to lead turn the bandit. Exercise care to not grossly lead turn out in front of the bandit. A low energy bandit will have a smaller turn radius, but will not be able to follow you into the vertical. If the bandit does not use his instantaneous turn rate capability you will have similar energy but a positional advantage after the first turn. This fight will be similar to the discussion in paragraph (1); however, patience is still the key since the bandit has a good instantaneous turn rate capability.
Figure 4.43 One CircleTurn Rate Advantage
Advantages to a One Circle Fight:
· Allows a quick positional advantage against a poor turning bandit.
· Unpredictable move at the pass.
· Keeps you inside the bandit's all aspect missile minimum range.
Disadvantages to a One Circle Fight:
· Forcing a one circle fight gives up the lateral turning room between you and the bandit.
· Requires a very hard, energy depleting turn to be effective.
· Normally doesnt allow F-16 AIM-9 front aspect employment (inside minimum range).
4.9.4. Two Circle Fight
If both fighters attempt to lead turn, then a two circle fight will result. A two circle fight will be a wider fight and may allow fleeting all-aspect missile shot opportunities. Against a bandit where you have a significant turn rate and turn radius advantage, a two circle fight should allow you to achieve a positional advantage after the first turn (Figure 4.44). At the pass attempt to have 425 - 475 KCAS, select max AB and turn using a nose low slice to increase your turn rate advantage. You must control your airspeed to keep from increasing your turn radius but ensure you maintain a good sustained turn rate (350 - 400 KCAS is a good airspeed range). This first turn may provide an all-aspect missile opportunity. Patience is important. Concentrate on lead turning the bandit at every pass. As you begin to recognize a positional advantage it is important to maintain over-the-top airspeed until the bandit has lost over-the-top capability. If the bandit goes pure vertical, ensure you have sufficient airspeed (within 100 KCAS of his airspeed is highly desired) then go up and look for a low to high lead turn.
Figure 4.44 Two CircleTurn Rate/Radius Advantage
Against a bandit where you have a sustained turn rate advantage, you may or may not achieve a positional advantage after the initial turn. If the bandit turns hard, you should pass high aspect again (Figure 4.45). At the initial pass, begin a nose low slice to increase your turn rate as described above. Upon roll out, prior to the second pass, a fleeting front aspect AIM -9 opportunity may occur. Nose position vs energy maintainability will dictate the airspeed for both fighters at the pass. If the bandit expends all his energy to point at you, the next pass will be high aspect but you will have an energy advantage. On subsequent passes, an energy advantage and positional advantage will result from lead turning and energy management. As you recognize an offensive position, you must control your airspeed. The bandit will be slow and may transition to a one circle fight on the second pass due to this low energy state. Additionally, be aware that the bandit's turn radius will be small due to his slow airspeed. When you see the bandit's nose on the inside of your turn, but not pointing at you, he is low on energy. You now have exclusive use of the vertical. You can transition to the pure vertical and drive to the bandit's six o'clock.
Figure 4.45 Two CircleSustained Turn Rate Advantage. (Energy advantage at this pass)
4.9.5. High Aspect BFM Game Plan
There may not be a single best way to fight any individual bandit and fighter pilots will always be required to make decisions in the air based on the situation. But it is important to have a sound game plan that will work in most situations before you get to the initial pass. The F -16 has an outstanding instantaneous and sustained turn capability. Additionally, the F -16's hands-on avionics and small size give it an advantage in a visual fight. To put the game plan together approaching the merge, attempt to gain turning room laterally and below the bandit. As you enter the bandit's turn circle you will begin to see rapid movement aft on your canopy. Begin a low-to-high lead turn. If the bandit turns into you this will force a two circle fight. This also means you are turning in the shortest direction to maintain tally. At the pass, overbank to get your nose below the horizon to take advantage of radial G. Use a maximum G pull until low corner plateau velocity (350 - 400 KCAS is a good window). Analyze the bandit's energy by evaluating his nose rate and movement across the horizon and transition to a sustained turn rate pull. Set up the next pass to be the low man. At the bandit's turn circle, when you begin to re cognize definition on his aircraft (approximately 3000'), begin a low-to-high lead turn, overbanking to use radial G, if possible. Do not lose tally or go belly-up. Continue this plan until you achieve a position of advantage. Take shots of opportunity but never give up all your energy for one shot unless it guarantees a kill. It is also important to maintain over-the-top airspeed until the bandit has given up his over -the- top capability. Even with equal performing aircraft, if you lead turn and use radial G to your advantage, you will gain a positional advantage. When you have the positional advantage, transition to offensive BFM and kill the bandit. Off-boresight capabilities must be taken into consideration (Figure 4.46). Even today's technology allows air-to-air missile employment without being in pure pursuit. As technology improves (increased off-boresight missile capability and/or improved ACM modes and helmet-mounted sights), an adversary may be a threat well before achieving pure pursuit.