fras444
Topic Author
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:49 am

Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of Air to Air combat

Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:17 am

After playing fighter jet games such as Strike fighter and being in a ground attack aircraft on a ground attack mission, its always fun either locking on to a Mig long rang with a AIM7 while on the way to bomb a bridge or even entering in a dog fight with a A7 after bombing a tank and shooting down a couple of Migs.... It got me thinking... Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of air to air combat in the real world and the reality....
Realistically in a real world perspective... Did... could.... or were.... pilots ever allowed...now or in the past during the many various air conflicts throughout the world in many different theaters.. Ever go out of their way to seekingly go out and shoot down a couple of fighter jets?? Particularity air combat capable aircraft such as F15E or the F4 on ground missions... Aircraft that are basically based on a air combat design/multi-roled aircraft.. These aircraft usually more often than not, not only being loaded with sidewinders as a form of defense but also long range missiles as part of their sock standard ground attack armament.
For example... The F4s on their way to a ground attack sortie in Vietnam, many photos of them loaded with their standard AIM-7s and sidewinder combos or... the reason why I mentioned F15E, same again... Many photos of them being loaded with AIM-7/120s four sidewinder mix.. Did, could or were ground attack fighter pilots ever encouraged or allowed to lock on to a air target on their way to a bombing sortie or... Once they had bombed a bridge or a striffed a tank brigade... help out the guys on interception mission and shoot down a couple of fighters that were in the immediate area? An F15 casually locking on and firing off a AIM120 while en-route to destroy a tank with a full load of maverick or LGB doesn't sound like G pulling tactics..... Basically can a multi-roled aircraft loaded with both air to ground and air to air weapons, performing a ground sortie to then enter into a air to air combat en-route or after? If not... What was the point in being loaded with... well at the very least.. weighed down with four long range offensive missiles such as the AIM7s or the AIM120s??
What about "pure" ground attack aircraft such as the A10, Su25 or the A7, loaded with sidewinders. What is the prognostic being locked on or pulled into a dog fight with say a Mig 21 etc? What was the reality in that sort of situation? Was or is there much dog fighting training today that is included as part of training for a ground attack fighter jet pilot? What do instructors teach in that regards...?? A A7 in a heavily congested sky's over Vietnam for example, were there any situations where they got pulled up into a dogfight (there seems to be no records of A7's shooting down a mig) but did it happen or... A A7 pilot after dropping its sortie, casually coming across a unaware Mig 17 or a cocky pilot, deciding to have some fun with his sidewinders??? Just not worth the risk or was it strictly against protocol with a very severe punishment for a pilot willingly entering a dog fight or like mentioned above... A F15E pilot willingly engaging and firing of a AIM120 at a Mig 25 while on a ground attack mission....
Be great and very interesting to hear some stories or some great insight information from past ground attack fighter pilots about air to air combat training or practicing it in real life... Or from an expert in Ground attack fighter jets in regards to ground attack jets being used in the air to air role while on a ground attack run...
 
starrion
Posts: 994
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2003 1:19 pm

Re: Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of Air to Air combat

Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:53 pm

Knowledge Replaces Fear
 
Ozair
Posts: 1811
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

Re: Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of Air to Air combat

Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:30 pm

fras444 wrote:
....
Realistically in a real world perspective... Did... could.... or were.... pilots ever allowed...now or in the past during the many various air conflicts throughout the world in many different theaters.. Ever go out of their way to seekingly go out and shoot down a couple of fighter jets?? Particularity air combat capable aircraft such as F15E or the F4 on ground missions... Aircraft that are basically based on a air combat design/multi-roled aircraft.. These aircraft usually more often than not, not only being loaded with sidewinders as a form of defense but also long range missiles as part of their sock standard ground attack armament.

So the best example is probably two F/A-18s during GW1 which, while on a strike mission, engaged and destroyed two Iraqi fighters.

USN F/A-18s vs. IRAF MiG-21s Two F/A-18s from VFA-81 shot down two Iraqi MiG-21s, one with an AIM-7 Sparrow missile and one with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, in a brief dogfight with their bombs still latched on.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_a ... .931991.29

The reality of aircraft today is that airframes are built multi-role and are designed to be able to fly and fight with their A2G weapons on board. There is often a performance penalty though, from drag and from reduced G capability, so getting into a WVR engagement where you have to manoeuvre is probably not be the best idea.

Western Air Forces train their aircrew to conduct self escort strike missions. So the airframes are often equipped with a mix of A2G and A2A weapons. If we look at the F/A-18, a typical configuration might be 2 AIM-120, 2 AIM-9, 2 GBU-32, 2 fuel tanks and 1 targeting pod.

The following website, http://www.f-15e.info/joomla/weapons/lo ... qi-freedom shows how the F-15E was loaded during Iraqi Freedom. The F-15E is a special case given it is a big aircraft with great payload range but you get the idea that every mission flew with at least some A2A weaponry to provide self defence.

fras444 wrote:
For example... The F4s on their way to a ground attack sortie in Vietnam, many photos of them loaded with their standard AIM-7s and sidewinder combos or... the reason why I mentioned F15E, same again... Many photos of them being loaded with AIM-7/120s four sidewinder mix.. Did, could or were ground attack fighter pilots ever encouraged or allowed to lock on to a air target on their way to a bombing sortie or... Once they had bombed a bridge or a striffed a tank brigade... help out the guys on interception mission and shoot down a couple of fighters that were in the immediate area? An F15 casually locking on and firing off a AIM120 while en-route to destroy a tank with a full load of maverick or LGB doesn't sound like G pulling tactics..... Basically can a multi-roled aircraft loaded with both air to ground and air to air weapons, performing a ground sortie to then enter into a air to air combat en-route or after? If not... What was the point in being loaded with... well at the very least.. weighed down with four long range offensive missiles such as the AIM7s or the AIM120s??

The reality is there are targets of opportunity and then there are defined mission objectives. In a large western air campaign (where there is an A2A threat) there is an Air Tasking Order issued that clearly states the mission objectives and loadouts of the respective aircraft. The ATO will also include air to air refuelling and other mission necessary arrangements such as EW support. A strike mission would have the autonomy to engage targets of opportunity or that threaten them into or out of the target area. What they won’t do in most circumstances is hang around looking for air targets after they drop their A2G weapons. The missions are planned tight enough and often aligned with each other to ensure that strike missions attack during windows of opportunity when support assets are available to assist, perhaps specific radar sites have been taken down or when dedicated fighter support is available. The exception to this might be a combat search and rescue when all available aircraft are called in to support a downed aircraft and recovery of the aircrew.
 
smithbs
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Re: Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of Air to Air combat

Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:28 pm

You'll find that your scenario has been rare. Usually a strike package will consist of many parts, each concentrating on their role. During ODS, there were F-15Cs responsible for air superiority while the F-4s, F-111s, F-16s and whatever else went in to strike their targets. In that case, Coalition air superiority was so high in quality and quantity that each could concentrate on their role and generally not be too bothered except by AAA, SAMs and weather (the latter being the most significant source of disruption).

You'll probably find that in most cases, the pilot, aircraft and mission are so concentrated on their original task that there isn't much leeway for getting sidetracked. And if they do, often they won't get back to what their original mission was and instead abort. If you had a strike mission, your aircraft load, fuel load, mission support and strike package are all geared to you putting down your payload at a very specific time and method. To get pulled into something else screws all that up - most likely you'll dump bombs and expend too much of your precious fuel. Then you'll be out of position and have to RTB.

Also, going into an aerial fight means you need to put every advantage at your disposal, and so that means speed, altitude, position, time and munitions need to be optimized so you can enter the fight and live to tell about it. Strike package flight plans usually don't put the aircraft in that kind of position.
 
RetiredWeasel
Posts: 517
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:16 pm

Re: Ground attack aircraft entering the realm of Air to Air combat

Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:55 pm

Both the two above posters have said it quite well. The ATO specifies your air to ground mission and if it get's aborted because of enemy air engagements, then the enemy has been more effective than you. However if on egress a bandit happens to pop up within range and fuel won't be a problem, then an engagement may get approved. But realistically, fuel is always a problem and air-to-air combat sucks out the tanks fast.

In Vietnam, many F-4s and other aircraft didn't carry air to air ordinance because their tasking was south of the DMZ. ie. CAS, trail interdiction or similar. The Migs never came south. On the other hand, there were many interdiction missions north of the DMZ where the fighters had to jettison their bombs due to MIG encounters and defend themselves and a few (very few) actually got Mig kills. Realistically though, most dropped their bombs and got the hell out of Dodge and still requested immediate vectors to a tanker.

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