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Air To Air Missile Range Performance  
User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4977 times:

Does anyone have the range performance charts or data for the various A2A missiles, depending on the altitude and speed delta to their targets?

AIM-120D
Meteor
MICA
R-27
R-77

Etc...

Mostly interested in long range, BVR missile range performance when fired from well bellow a target (30,000 feet or more, and from above the target (30,000 feet or more).

In all the talk about aircraft performance an radars, ultimately, no aircraft can successfully engage in a BVR until the target is within range of the missiles.

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 867 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4903 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Thread starter):
Does anyone have the range performance charts or data for the various A2A missiles, depending on the altitude and speed delta to their targets?

You won't find that information on the internet Tommy, it is undoubtedly classified. It would be a significant input into tactics to defeats the respective missiles.

As for how a missile performs, here are some things that you would like to know to understand performance.
1. Motor burn time. Forget what you see in the movies, they don't follow you around hills or through canyons.. Missiles typically burn for a short part of their flight time and then essentially glide the rest of the way which gives them, especially in long range engagements, one good turn before they lose too much energy.
2. What type of guidance the missile uses. This affects both the range and trajectory of the missile. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_guidance
3. The size of the missile. The smaller the missile the less resistance it has. Conversely a bigger missile may gain some lift from its body and therefore improve it's range so it becomes a trade-off. The size of the fins also impacts range. Larger fins slow the missile down more but probably give it better manoeuvrability so again a trade-off.
4. Launch platform characteristics. The speed of the launch platform will make a difference but probably not as much as most people think. The altitude also plays a role, the thin air higher up would give less resistance. Again a trade-off though as less resistance means less for the fins to use to turn the missile.

This link provides a bit of information of different AAMs. http://www.x-plane.org/home/urf/aviation/text/missiles/aam.html It is difficult to read but probably as good as you're going to get. As far as how accurate it is, for the older stuff probably pretty good but for the newer stuff, who knows......

Quoting tommytoyz (Thread starter):
Mostly interested in long range, BVR missile range performance when fired from well bellow a target (30,000 feet or more, and from above the target (30,000 feet or more).

You will note the images in the above link don't calculate this scenario, probably for the fact it is very very unlikely to occur in real life.

Quoting tommytoyz (Thread starter):
In all the talk about aircraft performance an radars, ultimately, no aircraft can successfully engage in a BVR until the target is within range of the missiles.

Of course not but the range to a target is not a constant. There are different ranges for nose or tail aspects and what happens if you fire a weapon on an approaching target and he turns around? Too many scenarios to consider. Then factor in each pilot knows the performance of his missiles and probably has an idea of what his adversary can do and therefore attempts to maximise his strengths, minimise his weaknesses and force the other guy into a areas he doesn’t want to be.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4783 times:

Quoting Ozair (Reply 1):
Of course not but the range to a target is not a constant. There are different ranges for nose or tail aspects and what happens if you fire a weapon on an approaching target and he turns around? Too many scenarios to consider.

Yes, too many variables to do in your head and fire valuable missiles, I assume the fire control computers calculate this in real time for the pilots?

Quoting Ozair (Reply 1):
probably for the fact it is very very unlikely to occur in real life.

Well, with the older planes today, I agree. But in the near future, from 2020 on with the newer planes, I think quite possible.


User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4765 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 2):
Yes, too many variables to do in your head and fire valuable missiles, I assume the fire control computers calculate this in real time for the pilots?

For the most part yes. However, many Eastern bloc fighters, especially the earlier generation 4th gen fighters do not have that capability; the cockpit instead has a large clock. When the pilot decides to launch a missile, they have to consider their shot range and the type of missile they are shooting and estimate how long it will take to impact before firing. They have to calculate mentally the time required for the missile to reach its target so their radar can illuminate it for the duration. They fire and watch until they know when they can turn away.

That procedure is a real disadvantage if they're flying against someone who shot a missile at them at about the same time, and has extensive automation with their avionics. I believe the Russians have worked on that front, improving the automation of their avionics and fire control system, but it isn't at the level that's really comparable to the West right now.

There was article in Code One Magazine from a while back where a F-16 pilot went up against and in the German MiG-29's and explained the differences between both aircraft.


User currently offlinemoo From Falkland Islands, joined May 2007, 4003 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4724 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 3):
There was article in Code One Magazine from a while back where a F-16 pilot went up against and in the German MiG-29's and explained the differences between both aircraft.

There was also the case of when the unified Germany investigated its arsenal left over from East Germany, it was discovered that the R-73 AA-11 Archer missile was superior to the western AIM-9 type at the time, prompting some concern and a new development push.


User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 867 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 4700 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 2):
Well, with the older planes today, I agree. But in the near future, from 2020 on with the newer planes, I think quite possible.

It is possible now. Look at the F-15, Su-27 and MiG-31. All can fly as high as you need to, all have large internal fuel loads, all can with burner fly as fast as you propose and all have large look down shoot down radars in their nose. But operational service for the F-15 and the Su-27 has shown that they don't.

So is the only difference supercruise?


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4507 times:

Quoting Ozair (Reply 5):
So is the only difference supercruise?

That is one important aspect. The F-15, as fast as it is, can only reach and maintain Mach 1.1 for the fastest version, depending on the engine, without afterburner. However, the F-22 is in a totally different ball park at probably MACH 1.6 or so without afterburner. That's just the speed.

Altitude wise the F-22 also operates at much higher altitudes around 65,000 and perhaps higher.

Combine the two and you're looking at a big difference. Even if the F-22 were cruising at Mach 0.8 it could quickly accelerate to a much faster speed to give the missiles the needed range, if the computer were to tell the pilot that the plane needs to be at x speed from before launching from that altitude to reach the proposed target. Don't know if the computers calculate it that way and tell the pilot in that way.

Kind of reminds me of my brother when we went diving once. I asked him where is your dive computer and he pointed to the rings etched around his watch to keep track of how much time he spent at each depth. I laughed and he quickly admitted they were pretty useless. Possible - sure. But why? I digress.....

[Edited 2013-04-15 12:33:41]

User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4489 times:

Quoting moo (Reply 4):
There was also the case of when the unified Germany investigated its arsenal left over from East Germany, it was discovered that the R-73 AA-11 Archer missile was superior to the western AIM-9 type at the time, prompting some concern and a new development push.

However, it wasn't long before tactics were developed to negate the AA-11 missile while a Western peer was developed.


User currently offlinemoo From Falkland Islands, joined May 2007, 4003 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4477 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 7):

Yup, but it took direct knowledge of the oppositions missile to kick start both a tactical change and a technological one.


User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 867 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4460 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 6):
Don't know if the computers calculate it that way and tell the pilot in that way.

Agree, it would be based on a current set of variables such as altitude, speed, atmospheric conditions etc. Pilot experience would make the decision to increase the airframe speed/altitude and change the kinematics of the missile.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 6):
The F-15, as fast as it is, can only reach and maintain Mach 1.1 for the fastest version, depending on the engine, without afterburner. However, the F-22 is in a totally different ball park at probably MACH 1.6 or so without afterburner. That's just the speed.

With it's massive tanker fleet the US could sustain a small force of F-15s flying the profiles you propose. All they would need is the time to get to altitude and then minimal burner to maintain the speeds you talk about (probably with a light A2A load). We haven't seen them do this operationally though.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 6):

Altitude wise the F-22 also operates at much higher altitudes around 65,000 and perhaps higher.

I don't know about higher but Wiki lists the max altitudes for the F-22, F-15, Su-27 and MiG-31 between 60-65,000ft.


User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4413 times:

Quoting moo (Reply 8):
Yup, but it took direct knowledge of the oppositions missile to kick start both a tactical change and a technological one.

Which we would have gotten access to anyways, as the US would find some way of buying the entire system, or getting their hands on the entire aircraft with weapons.

However, the US and other NATO militaries were working on an AIM-9 replacement back in the late 1970's, early 1980's. The USAF and USN were already working on AIM-82 and AGILE, before the US, UK and Germany hammered out an agreement where the US would lead development on an AIM-7 replacement (to become AMRAAM) and the British and the Germans would lead development on a AIM-9 replacement (ASRAAM). There was disagreement on the philosophy of ASRAAM (the British favoured extended range and speed, while the Germans wanted better maneuverability), and thus the Germans dropped out, in favour of developing IRIS-T. The Americans, observing the disagreement between the British and Germans decided they could not wait for the two to decide their differences and moved towards development of AIM-9X.


User currently offlinemoo From Falkland Islands, joined May 2007, 4003 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 4275 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 10):
Which we would have gotten access to anyways, as the US would find some way of buying the entire system, or getting their hands on the entire aircraft with weapons.

Thats great and sounds plausible, except it was in service for 9 years before the difference in performance was discovered, and that only happened when the Germany's reunited...

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 10):
However, the US and other NATO militaries were working on an AIM-9 replacement back in the late 1970's, early 1980's. The USAF and USN were already working on AIM-82 and AGILE, before the US, UK and Germany hammered out an agreement where the US would lead development on an AIM-7 replacement (to become AMRAAM) and the British and the Germans would lead development on a AIM-9 replacement (ASRAAM). There was disagreement on the philosophy of ASRAAM (the British favoured extended range and speed, while the Germans wanted better maneuverability), and thus the Germans dropped out, in favour of developing IRIS-T. The Americans, observing the disagreement between the British and Germans decided they could not wait for the two to decide their differences and moved towards development of AIM-9X.

And none of that is really relevant, as the AIM-9X spec was only drafted in 1991, after the AA-11's superiority was discovered.


User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 4182 times:

Quoting moo (Reply 11):
Thats great and sounds plausible, except it was in service for 9 years before the difference in performance was discovered, and that only happened when the Germany's reunited...

I will note that the Americans are very capable of getting their hands on various Soviet systems one way or another for testing and examination. It was only a matter of time.

Quoting moo (Reply 11):
And none of that is really relevant, as the AIM-9X spec was only drafted in 1991, after the AA-11's superiority was discovered.

It is relevant because a AIM-9 replacement was already in the works since the late 1970's. AGILE was the closest to being actually fielded with prototypes built and tested; it was noted to be more maneuverable than the Sidewinder, and had off-boresight capabilities.


User currently offlinetrex8 From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 4786 posts, RR: 14
Reply 13, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4031 times:
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ROCAF did a test firing of a Mica in the 90s and news reports target was hit at 67km.I remember this only because I was surprised at the time.
there is a wiki article on the Mirage 2000 about this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dassault_Mirage_2000 and a report in Taiwan Ai rPower though they may be quoting each other http://www.taiwanairpower.org/af/mirage.html


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (1 year 6 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4018 times:

Quoting trex8 (Reply 13):
target was hit at 67km

What is important to know is at what altitude and speed both the target and the launch plane were at, when launched. I assume the range of any one missile can vary by a factor of 3 or more depending on these variables. To add another important variable, the shooter must consider the direction both a flying relative to each other, to endure the range is sufficient.

I can only assume that a fire control computer calculates the variables and displays to the pilot, if the target is within range or not. Experience would tell him to turn towards the target or to speed up or climb, to increase the range.


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