ACM Maneuvering Tactics
This is a 1v2 scenario with 1 hornet closing on a 2-ship formation at 10nm with 160°L aspect. An F-14 RIO writes on the engagement:
The easiest thing to do would be to shoot them with the AIM-120 and go home (after all, a kill is a kill), but I'll assume that you want engaged maneuvering tips. Let's take this one aspect at a time:
You never want to get between a lead and his wingman at the merge.
That is a good rule, but the important thing is to not fly straight down the middle between them. If you fly close aboard one of the bandits but happen to be between them that is not too bad. The thing you want to do is too take away all their room to turn on you. In 1v1 this is easy, 1v2 it is impossible to take all the turning room away from both bandits, so you have to pick one. In this kind of merge, you will be neutral to the guy you are close aboard with, but defensive with regard to his wingman--so you have to turn against his wingman, you cannot turn away from him. If you do, you will show him your tail (which he will shoot off <g>).
My philosophy when engaged in 1v2 is:
So in your case, at 10 nm with left aspect, I would take as much of a cut to the right as possible (2) while keeping the bandits on radar (40-60 degrees). This will drive their formation more into a lead-trail than a combat spread, and will reduce your defensive position with regard to the wing (trail) bandit. Merge close aboard with the lead bandit (left to left if you can in this case) and put the wing on your nose (4). Watch which way the lead bandit turns (probably across your tail) because this will tell you where he will come from when he comes back into your fight with the wingman. Merge close aboard with the wing (left-to-left again) and turn left across his tail (5).
What happens next depends on what the lead did. If he goofed off and didn't come around after you, you have time to go one turn with the wingman. However, more than likely he turned across your tail in pursuit of you. So he will be offensive on you before the wing bandit is. Look for the lead aircraft out the top of your windscreen after you have completed just over 180 degrees of turn. He may not be very close and you should be able to get a shot off at him. If you can't shoot him, don't turn your tail to him, merge with him and come hard left. The wing bandit will be slightly offensive on you but remember, you are in a two circle fight and the jet with the best turn rate wins. What often happens in cases like this is what we call a "daisy-chain," where the three jets are chasing each other nose-to-tail around the circle. Once again, the best turn *rate* not radius wins. Keep your rate up and take them out one after the other.
Notice this F-14 Driver always pushed the left to left pass with each bandit. This is also known as "highway style". This brings up some rules of thumb that should always be followed:
a) Keep the bandits ahead of your 3/9 line
or b) keep the bandits to one side of the aircraft. This allows you to keep the bandits from sandwiching your aircraft and getting you caught in a "cross fire".
If you are forced defensive, you will probably lose the fight. Going defensive means one bandit dogs you while the other pulls out of Rmin and sets up a missile shot. Your only hope is to be able to get a quick kill on one of the bandits and then set up for BFM on the other. You will need to be aware of the where-abouts of both bandits all the time. Make sure you make good use of the RWR indicator on the HUD. At this close range, both bogies should have their RADAR active trying to get a lock on you. You should also beware if the bogie in front of you pulls into a dive to starts to drive straight. You are probably being set up for a drag and bag. The bogie in front of you is stringing you along so that his partner can get a good shot at you.
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