Soviet/Russian Offensive(Counter Air) Intercept Tactics
Offensive Intercepts, or "Counter Air" missions are designed to take the battle to the enemy and to destroy his fighter assets inorder to gain air dominace over him and establish Air Superiority over the Battlefield.
To fully understand the proper tactics to employ, you must have a complete understanding of the threats.
Counter Air Intercepts can be divided into four sections:
1) High Performance Long Range Air Superiority Threats(Such as the F-14, F-15, SU-27 & SU-30)
2) High Performance Multirole Threats(Such as the F-16,F/A-18, & MIG-29)
3) Stealth Threats(Such as the F-22 or new MIG 1.44 Fighters)
4) Older Short Range Limited Day Fighters(Such as the MIG 19 & 21 and the F-5E)
In the previous two chapters the theme has been first to understand your IADS supporting assets and then to use them to help accomplish your Defensive Intercept mission. However in Offensive operations you will mainly be operating within the Enemies IADS network with perhaps guidance help from an Airborne AEW platform(such as AWACS or Mainstay) but mainly having to rely on Emissions Control(EMCOM)to aid in depriving the enemy of a fix on your location and your flight element for target aquisition and engagement. Your understanding of how IADS works will help you survive while operating against it. In this realm the threats are as follows:
Dedicated Air Superiority Aircraft are the biggest threat in this combat situation.
These aircraft are capable of firing air to air ordnance from all
ranges. They can fire Long-Range Active Radar Homing(ARH) Beyound Visual Range(BVR) missles(Such as AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-120 AMRAAM, & AA-12 AMRAAMSKI) and Medium-Range Semi Active Radar Homing(SARH) missles(Such as the AA-9 Amos, AIM-7 Sparrow & AA-10C Alamo), and then disengage before you can intercept them. This is something
the limited Day Fighter cannot do.
Multirole lightweights such as the F-16 can also engage you from longer ranges but are usually limited by radar ranges and their dedication to ground attack missions.
While the Day only Fighters, unlike the Air Superiority aircraft, must manoeuvre in close to place
their missles in the section of the highest Pk (Probability of Kill). This means
that the Standoff Air Superiority Fighters are a bigger threat, while Enemy Penetrating Aircraft should
always be monitored but are not a threat until they are within the WEZ of their short range weapon systems.
Low Observable(Stealth) Fighter Aircraft are the Deadliest threat. This nearly undetectable Fighter can engage and destroy your flight before you can aquire them. With the other
threats, you can manoeuvre to defeat them with missiles or gun solutions due to the ability to track them with either AEW or your AI Radar. The Stealth threat has already bypassed this system and has a distinct advantage until located. Its use of Low Probability Intercept(LPI) Radars mean that the Stealth Fighter can employ its ordnance against you without your warning system preceiving the threat. Once located the Stealth Fighter is still an usually deadly opponent with the highest technology close range off bore weapons(such as helmet sighted all aspect over the shoulder launchable Infra Red(IR) missles) and flight manoeuver augmentations such as vectored thrust and supercruise. Also the geometry in relation from the enemy threat identification to your aircraft location(usually close in and nose off due to their radar defeating assets) makes the intercept solutions much tougher for the Low-Observable Threat. Only their limited numbers work to your advantage, as few of these aircraft yet exist.
Once within the Enemies airspace, targets of opportunity will present themselves. The question here is of target prioritization. What targets should be engaged and at what time can mean the difference between accomplishing your mission and spending the rest of your days as a POW! Obviously the destruction of any of the enemies aircraft assets will hurt his ability to sustain a war winning effort. But if you have in turn missed out on an opportunity to destroy a high value target(such as an enemy AWACS) because you have expended your ordnance on older low value fighters that were of limited use anyway will not gain you the desired results of air dominance. Specific briefed targets should always take precedence over targets of opportunity unless said target is a very high value enemy asset that would otherwise be difficult to engage and destroy.
A typical scenario of how this works.
You are leading a flight of Two SU-30 Flankers in welded wing formation in a Counter Air sweep of enemy airspace beyound the FLOT. You are in EMCOM. Mainstay AEW alerts you that enemy aircraft are detected inbound but have not yet reached the engagement
zone of your BVR weapons(In this case the AA-10C Alamo Radar Missle). The AEW controller guides you to a low level intercept. Your altitude drops as you fly into the mountains to help hide your location from the approaching flight. The Mainstay informs you the inbounds are F-15 Interceptors guided by their own AWACS aircraft sent to intercept you. The enemy AWACS has lost your flight in the terrain and orders the F-15s to do a lookdown radar search to locate your flight. At the same time the Mainstay vectors you to a flanking attack position outside of the F-15s Radar coverage and orders you to "pop up" and energize your radars to aquire the Eagles.
You immediately get a lock on the Lead F-15 and order your wingman to fire on the trailing bandit. Of two Alamo missles fired, yours hits the F-15 lead and destroys it while the second Eagle evades. The tactics have now swithed as your Mainstay loses the F-15 amongst the mountians and you become the hunter in a lookdown search.
The enemy fighter is detected at your 2:00 low, heading out at subsonic speed just outside BVR range. Here the temptation to chase the bandit is high to gain the second kill. But your situational awareness is the key to a victory here. Why is the bandit not evading at full power? Why in this direction instead of beaming you? The answer to that question comes as your RWR lights up with a SAM missle indication as the enemy fighter had been attempting to "drag" you into the engagement WEZ of his IADS SAM sytems. You now call for your wingman to break as you evade the SAM, and you pass the required
information (speed, altitude, heading, location) of the F-15 to your Mainstay controller who inturn vectors a returning strike flight to an engagement of opportunity on this target. Thus all the available assets have been used to accomplish the mission and deny the enemy the further use of two high value Interceptors(an example of AEW Controlled Synchronisation between dedicated counter air and other available anti air assets, like a returning strike flight with SARH missles, in the area).