I have a question regarding the aim54 missile, specifically the data link part.
A little bit of background: if any I usually take 2 phoenix missiles and climb/accelerate at the start to do the bvr part first and then fight with the sparrows/sidewinders.
Now my workflow would be :
climb to about 7-8km height
get as fast as possible, ideally over mach 1.2.
Go into tws hdn increase scale to 93km
manually move the cursor thing over one of the circles
approach until ~38km
activate aim54 seeker head, wait for double red circle, fire first rocket
manually move cursor to (ideally nearby) next target, same procedure, fire second rocket
Now i would keep the “cursor lock in tws” on the second dot and slowly crank away until I’m about 22-23km away, then go completely cold (by that time the missile should be in the 19km window and active)
I fear that in the moment that I switch over to target # two I am “breaking the tws soft lock” on the first target and therefore not providing any data link to missile # 1 (which isnt active at that point yet)? Therefore: Would I have to let the cursor stay on the dot (“tws soft lock”) of the first target until the first missile got active and only then can I switch over to target #2? Or is it enough for the “dot” of the first target to just stay on my tws screen?
Finally, sometimes the tws lock or target lock (two red circles) of the aim54 seem to bug out a bit, apparently this is due to the camera in front of the f14b and the joint functionality with the radar. Does this have any impact on the datalink? Or is there a workaround for this issue?
If anyone could tell me if I’m doing it correctly or what I should do to utilize the aim54cs to their full potential, that would be super helpful!
As far as I know, the data link is active as long as the target is on your radar. I dont the the lock doing its little gaijin moment will affect it as it doesnt affect sarh aams. I dont play the f14 a lot but I recall the aim54s continuing to track after I launched other aim54s.
I’ve really been trying to get a definitive answer on this, but in all ressources I could find it’s usually worded in very general terms. I have no clue where to get an “official” answer on how this works exactly.
So the F-14 radar in tws is just informational. Its not giving a hard lock so as long as you see the target on radar it will continuously supply data to the missile of where an object should be until the Aim-54 self guidance takes over. I have taken 6 Aim-54’s up and got 6 kills they were all fired with in seconds of each other with the enemy being between 19 miles to 27 miles out. Most of the time its one or two, occasionally 3 and 4 but i have only gotten all 6 kills once.
Keeping tws lock on them isnt really necessary though from my flights. You can climb up to altitude and gain speed, shoot all 6 and turn back to base to avoid any f-14’s on the other side from hitting you with their Aim-54. Once you fly a heading back to base for a few seconds you can turn back around head back into the if have your aim-9l’s equipped with the 14 b. I tend to get more kills when flying straight a bit more after shooting the aim-54s than turning around right after the last one was fired.
The radar does seem to get bugged sometimes where it wont lock onto a target or just “dances” all over the screen. I found cycling the radar modes seems to help a bit when that happens.
This is correct, so long as the TWS blip remains on your radar, the datalink is working. Unfortunately, the radar gimbal is slewed to your target selecting tile, so when you pick another target the radar doesn’t try to keep tracking/updating the initial target.
Are we sure about this though? Because even if the datalink is lost, inertial guidance can make it seem like it is. The question here is if multiple targets are launched against, will the datalink (not INS) track the targets accurately? And unfortunately I haven’t been able to test this yet, curious if anyone else has.
The way to do it would be to have two friends approach from long range, soft-lock them in TWS fire and then maintain a TWS track that keeps both of them on radar until the missile goes pitbull.
What I have tested is that if you drop the lock completely shortly after launch, the missile will guide itself towards the approximate location of the target and self activate its radar when possible to guide in the rest of the way. If the target diverts its course significantly after the lock is broken and before the missile pitbulls, the missile will go ‘stupid’.
I finally managed to test this. Will try to get my footage uploaded soon but my results were as follows:
You can only transmit datalink information to a single Phoenix, and that will be to the target you are currently soft-locking in TWS. Any other missiles you fire will be tracking purely via inertial guidance and will lock onto the first target they see. Ripple firing AIM-54s can work but will be much less effective.
In the video above you can see the results of my test. It starts out with me against two targets roughly co-altitude at 25 miles being tracked via TWS.
I launch one missile at each of them using the TWS ‘soft-lock’. After the missiles have been fired I immediately break the soft-lock but maintain the TWS track of both targets. Then I have the two targets turn away in opposite directions.
If the datalink worked as we thought it did, the missiles would continue to track their new headings, however instead we see the missiles are not tracking and instead are going towards the targets’ last known location via inertial guidance.
At 39 seconds I purposefully re-acquire a soft-lock on the left target and immediately you can see the left-most missile acquire the datalink and begin to track the target again, and if this had been done shortly earlier it would’ve hit the target also.
So the point here is that you can ripple fire your Phoenix missiles, however you will only keep an accurate track on the one you are currently soft-locking in TWS mode. All other missiles will be self-guiding on inertial guidance and will switch on their radars when they are close enough. If the targets change course before they engage their onboard radar, the missile will miss.
I don’t have the F-14B/AIM-54C to test that, but I don’t think it would work still, besides that is a lot of work for something that is supposed to happen automatically and while you’re expected to dodge enemy BVR missiles.
Also to add on to my previous response, it seems like only the last missile in a ripple fire even communicates with the host aircraft’s datalink. Meaning if you fired 4 missiles, only the last of those 4 would be getting datalink updates, so switching between targets in TWS soft-locks would just tell the last missile to constantly change trajectories.
Yeah, I’ve been trying the “Fire missiles and switch soft locks” variant with the aim54cs and I came to a similar conclusion. Shame really, I always thought trying to judge whether you should give the missile more data link or go cold and avoid enemy fire was an interesting dynamic.
I guess the “meta approach” would be to fire one missile from further out, keep it in tws soft lock until missile goes active and only then shoot the second one…
Yeah that seems to be the only way, too bad everyone hugs the ground most of the time (especially in the middle of matches) rendering all radar missiles basically useless from high altitude.
If I take the F-14 out on a big map, I’ll take two AIM-54s out, and immediately fire them off near the start of the game and usually just let inertial guidance take them to where they need to go. Its hit or miss.
And honestly after thinking about it, I’m not sure that I want TWS to be able to lock and track several missile targets at once. Especially when AIM-120 AMRAAMs come to the game (probably very soon) it will be incredibly lethal. Realistic sure, but probably not balanced or fun.