F/A-18C

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The F/A-18C Hornet is a twin-engine, multi-role, carrier-capable combat jet airplane. It was designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop in the 1970s, and is the only jet in the US inventory to carry both the fighter and attack designation (the "F/A" part of the name). The Hornet is able to reach supersonic speeds, nearing around Mach 1.8 in optimal flight conditions. The Hornet modeled in DCS represents an "off-the-line" US Navy Lot 20 jet circa 2005, primarily based off the OFP-13C software suite. It is equipped with the F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engines (which is the more powerful engine that replaced the original F404-GE-400's). The F/A-18C/D served as the baseline for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the EA-18G Growler. The Hornet is capable of carrying a wide array of both precision and dumb bombs, A/G and A/A missiles, rockets, and is supplemented with a 20mm cannon mounted in the nose.

The Hornet entered service in 1978, and first saw combat in 1986 over the skies of Libya with numerous Hornets performing suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) strikes and conventional ground-attack missions. The Hornet again saw action during the Gulf War of 1991, as there were 106 in theater with the Navy, along with a further 84 US Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft that were shore-based. It was during the Gulf War that the Hornet was credited with its first air-to-air kills (both aircraft were MiG-21s, shot-down by AIM-9s and AIM-7s). Notably, the aircraft credited with the kills went on to resume their strike mission and dropped their 4 Mk-84s (2,000lb unguided bombs), living up to their multi-role moniker. The Hornet took its first combat losses in the Gulf War as well; in total 10 Hornets received battle damage, which included 3 losses (2 to ground fire, and one very likely to an Iraqi MiG-25). All told, Hornets flew a total of 4,551 sorties during the Gulf War.

Since the Gulf War, the Hornet has been a vital piece of the Navy/USMC inventory, and has seen action in every conflict or operation since then. While it is still in active service with the USMC (and will remain until the early 2030s), in April 2018 the US Navy retired the F/A-18C from combat roles, although the Blue Angels demonstration team will continue using it until 2021.

Contents

Weapons List


Implemented

Partially or fully implemented weapons of the Hornet:

Planned

Weapons not yet implemented into the Hornet:

  • AGM-45A/B Shrike anti-radiation missile
  • AGM-84E SLAM air-to-ground missile
  • AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER air-to-ground missile
  • GBU-24B/B Paveway III 2,000lbs laser-guided bomb
  • GBU-32 JDAM 1,000lbs GPS-guided bomb
  • AIM-7P Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile
  • Mk-40 Destructor Sea Mine
  • Mk-63 Quickstrike Sea Mine
  • Mk-77 Fire Bomb

HOTAS


The F/A-18C Hornet has a throttle and control stick system for thrust and flight control. Both have a suite of switches, termed a "hands on throttle and stick" (HOTAS) setup, to control various avionics functions that are combat-critical without having to take the hands off the throttle or stick.

This section will provide a summary of HOTAS functions. The relevant specific sections should be consulted for detailed information on HOTAS functionality with a given system.

Throttle

The Hornet's throttle is located on the left console and consists of two separate levers to control the left and right engines. An aft detent separates engines off and engines idle and a forward detent separates full military power and the afterburners. The off detent has no range, but the afterburning detent has proportional control.

The throttle has the following controls:

  • Exterior Lights Switch: 2-position switch. Aft turns off all external lights except the taxi/landing light. Forward allows for the lights to be controlled via the controls on the left console.
  • RAID/HARM Sequence/FLIR FOV Button: A multifunction button:
    • Toggles the radar RAID function.
    • Cycles AGM-88C HARM missile emitters in the SP and TOO modes.
    • Cycles field of view of the AGM-65F Maverick.
    • Cycles field of view and video type of the FLIR.
  • ATC Engage/Disengage: Toggles the automatic throttle control (ATC) function.
  • Radar Elevation Control: Wheel that controls the radar antenna elevation and FLIR zoom.
  • Throttle Designator Controller (TDC): A multifunction 4-way hat switch with a depress function. It is used for "slewing" on various formats such as a cursor or FLIR camera. It is "assigned" to a given format via the Sensor Control Switch.
  • Communications Switch: 4-way switch that selects the radio being transmitted on. Forward and aft select the MIDS A and MIDS B radios, while up and down select the COMM1 and COMM2 radios.
  • Cage/Uncage Button: A multifunction button:
    • Cages/uncages velocity vector in NAV.
    • Cages/uncages AGM-65F/E Maverick seeker.
    • Moves FLIR boresight.
    • Toggles caged and uncaged search for radar Wide Acquisition mode.
    • Commands AIM-9 Sidewinder seeker to slave to heat signature in standalone operation.
    • Toggles AIM-120 AMRAAM VISUAL launch mode when guided launch is available.
  • Speedbrake Switch: 3-way switch controlling the speedbrake. The aft position is momentary and the middle and forward positions are permanent.
  • Dispense Switch: 3-position switch controlling countermeasures. Both forward and aft positions are momentary.

Control Stick

The control stick is located in the center of the cockpit, mounted on the floor. Left and right proportionally command left/right roll to the flight control system (FCS). Forward and aft proportionally command down/up pitch to the FCS.

The stick has multiple switches as part of the HOTAS system:

  • Trim Switch: 4-way hat switch, with up and down controlling pitch trim and left and right controlling roll trim.
  • Sensor Control Switch: 4-way hat switch with a depress function, also known as the "castle switch" due to its shape.
    • Assigns TDC to HUD, left and right DDIs, and AMPCD.
    • Commands radar Automatic Acquisition mode.
    • Enters and radar Air Combat Maneuvering mode and selects individual ACM modes.
    • Commands the FLIR to point-track mode.
    • Performs IFF interrogations on trackfiles with the SA, RDR ATTK, and AZ/EL formats.
  • Weapons Release Button: Button for releasing/firing air-to-ground munitions, except the gun.
  • RECCE Event Mark Switch: Toggles blanking of the HMD. Named after reconnaissance (RECCE) equipment, which the DCS Hornet isn't equipped with.
  • Trigger: Fires A/A weapons and the A/G gun.
  • Weapon Select Switch: 3-way hat switch with a depress, for selection of air-to-air weapons.
  • NWS/Undesignate Button: Enables nosewheel steering (NWS) on the ground (and toggles high-gain mode) and has various other functions in the air, depending on the system.
  • Paddle Switch: Small lever that disengages the Automatic Flight Control System (the autopilot), overrides the G-force limiter (when held), and disengages nosewheel steering.

Flight Controls & Landing Gear


Flight Controls

The F/A-18C has multiple flight control surfaces for maneuvering the aircraft. It has a "fly-by-wire" (FBW) system, which, opposed to a traditional mechanical or "direct" control system, the inputs given by the cockpit controls are inputted to a computer which then decides what controls to move in order to accomplish the desired maneuver. This computerized system is called the Flight Control System (FCS). The FCS also moves surfaces as a function of the angle of attack to provide the best control.

The F/A-18's primary flight controls are:

  • Stabilators (STAB): Two "stabilators" (stabilizer + elevator) located at the tail move on a single axis independently of one another to control both pitch and roll of the aircraft.
  • Ailerons (AIL): Two normal ailerons located on the outer area of the wings to control roll of the aircraft. They also both droop down to add lift.
  • Rudders (RUD): Two twin, inward-tilted rudders which move on a normal left/right axis to control yaw and are also be pointed inward as a schedule of AOA ("toe-in").
  • Leading Edge Flaps (LEF): Normal slats located on the leading (front) edge of the wings to add lift.
  • Trailing Edge Flaps (LEF): Normal flaps located on the trailing (back) edge of the wings to add lift.

The control stick controls the stabilators, ailerons, and rudder and the rudder pedals control the rudder.

The FCS will limit the aircraft to a specific G-force no matter the control input. The G-limit is based on weight and will not exceed 7.5g. The G-limiter can be overridden as long as the paddle switch on the stick is held down, which will change the limit to 133% of the previous G-limit. This is designed as an emergency system and may be bad for the airframe and/or exceed pilot G tolerance.

Flaps System

The aircraft's flap system provides more lift (and as a byproduct, drag). The flaps switch has three positions:

  • AUTO: Without weight on wheels, LEFs and TEFs are moved depending on angle of attack. With weight on wheels, LEFs, TEFs, and aileron droop are set to 0°.
  • HALF: Above 250kt IAS, flaps act as when in AUTO. Below 250kt, LEFs and TEFs drop as a function of angle of attack. TEFs and aileron droop activate based on airspeed; maximum deflection is 30°. With weight on wheels, the LEFs are set to 12°. TEFs and aileron droop are set to 30°. With weight on wheels, rudders are set to 30°. Aileron droop is set to 0° when wings are unlocked.
  • FULL: Above 250kt, flaps act as when in AUTO. Below 250kt IAS, LEFs are scheduled as a function of AOA. TEFs and aileron droop activate based on airspeed; maximum is 45° TEF and 42° aileron droop. With weight on wheels, the LEFs are set to 12° and RUDs to 30°. The TEFs are set to 43° to 45° and aileron droop to 42°. Aileron droop is set to 0° when wings are unlocked.

In the left area of the forward panel there are three flap indicator lights. A green HALF light displays when the flaps move to HALF. A green FULL light displays when the flaps move to FULL. An amber FLAPS light displays when the flaps are not functioning properly in relation to the switch position or the switch is not in AUTO above 250kt.

Speedbrake

The speedbrake is a flap located on the top of the aircraft designed to provide drag to decelerate faster. It is activated via the speedbrake switch on the throttle. The three psotitions are:

  • Aft: Speedbrake will extend as long as it is held.
  • Center: Speedbrake will stay in place, unless the flaps are FULL, or the aircraft is pulling more than 6.0G or 28° angle of attack. When the speedbrake is closed and the switch is in this position, it may creep up above 400kt IAS.
  • Forward: The speedbrake retracts as long as it is in this position and will not creep up when fully retracted.

Located above the left DDI is a "SPD BRK" light. This light comes on whenever the speedbrake is not fully retracted.

Trim

The stabilator and ailerons are capable of being trimmed to make roll and pitch corrections. This is accomplished with the trim switch on the control stick. When the flaps are in AUTO, the stabilator is automatically trimmed so the aircraft pulls 1.0G when the control stick isn't moved, but manual trim will override this and the aircraft will then trim to maintain that G when the stick isn't moved. In HALF or FULL flaps, it will maintain an angle of attack which is changed via trim.

For a field takeoff, the stabilator are trimmed to +12°. The T/O trim button on the left console will trim the stabilators to +12° and place all other trim at 0°.

The rudders can also be trimmed via a knob on the left console that surrounds the T/O trim button.

FCS Format

Section WIP.

Wing Fold

Primarily for carrier operations to conserve space, the F/A-18's wings are capable of folding upward. This is accomplished via the wing fold lever on the right side of the cockpit. It has three positions which can only be alternated by pulling the lever out, which unlocks the wings.

  • FOLD: The wings fold.
  • HOLD: The wings are held in the present position.
  • SPREAD: The wings unfold.

The wings will not fold without weight on wheels.

Landing Gear

The F/A-18 has retractable landing gear with three arms, the nose gear, the left gear, and the right gear. The left and right gear have large suspension and are designed to take heavy impacts, upwards of approximately -600 feet per minute, due to the aggressive touchdowns of carrier recoveries. The gear is moved via the gear lever on the left side of the cockpit. In the up position, the gear will retract. In the down position, the gear will extend. The gear lever cannot be put up with weight on wheels. The gear will not retract with the arresting hook down or launch bar extended.

The gear lever's inability to be raised when there is weight on wheels can be overridden via the DOWN LOCK ORIDE button near the lever. The gear lever can be rotated to perform an emergency gear extension, which will depressurize the hydraulics in the gear and allow it to free fall into place.

Controlled by the toe brakes on the rudder pedals, the left and right landing gear have independent brakes. On the nosegear there is a light generally used for taxiing, takeoff, and landing, termed the TAXI/LDG light. It is turned on and off via the switch on the left side of the cockpit.

Nosewheel Steering

The nose gear features nosewheel steering (NWS) controlled by the rudder pedals. When in NWS LO (low), the default mode, the NWS can turn left/right 16°. When in high-gain NWS, termed NWS HI, the NWS can turn left/right 75°. NWS or NWS HI is indicated appropriately on the HUD. Nothing is indicated when NWS is disengaged.

With weight off wheels, it is disengaged. It automatically engages upon there being weight on wheels. NWS is disengaged manually via the paddle switch on the stick. NWS LO is engaged manually by momentarily pressing the NWS button on the stick. With the wing fold handle in the FOLD or HOLD positions, pressing the NWS button will toggle NWS HI. With the wing fold handle in the SPREAD position, NWS HI is activated as long as the NWS button is held. With the launch bar extended, NWS HI cannot be engaged; NWS LO is automatically disengaged but is engaged as long as the NWS button is held.

Launch Bar

On the front nosegear is a launch bar that attaches the airplane to a catapult from launches from an aircraft carrier. Its deployment is pilot-controllled, but it is connected to the catapult by the ground crew (DCS default binding is U).

It is controlled via the launch bar switch on the left upper console. When the switch in the RETRACT position, the launch bar will retract, but physically cannot do so when connected to the catapult. The switch will move to the RETRACT position automatically when there is weight off wheels. In the EXTEND position, the launch bar will extend if there is weight on wheels.

Above the left DDI is a green "L BAR" indication, which displays whenever the launch bar is down with weight on wheels. Near it is a red "L BAR" indication, which displays whenever the launch bar is down with weight off wheels. The red indication is a sign of a malfunction with the launch bar if it does not extinguish quite soon after the airplane is airborne.

Autopilot and Autothrottle


The F/A-18 has the ability to automate certain types of flight via its Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and Automatic Throttle Control (ATC). The AFCS, or simply the autopilot, controls the flight surfaces and the ATC controls the throttles.

AFCS

The Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), or just the "autopilot", controls the aircraft's flight controls to automate maneuvering. It is interfaced on the UFC via the A/P button.

The most basic mode of the AFCS is Control Stick Steering (CSS). CSS will attempt to maintain the pitch and roll of the aircraft without manual stick input. Roll input is dampened and pitch input is severely dampened. Forward or aft stick deflection beyond a certain point will disengage CSS. CSS is engaged manually by pressing the UFC ON/OFF button in the A/P menu and also engages with all other autopilot modes.

In the A/P menu, there are five main autopilot modes, toggled by pressing the option select button next to their window.

  • Attitude Hold (ATTH): maintains the current pitch attitude plus or minus 45° and the current bank angle plus or minus 70°.
  • Heading Select (HSEL): steers to the current heading selected by the heading select switch. The current heading can be viewed on the Horizontal Situation Indicator format.
  • Barometric Altitude Hold (BALT): maintains the current barometric altitude between 0 and 70,000ft.
  • Radar Altitude Hold (RALT): maintains the current radar altitude between 0 and 5,000ft.
  • Coupled Steering (CPL): Not yet implemented.

The AFCS is fully disengaged by pressing the paddle switch on the control stick.

ATC

The Automatic Throttle Control (ATC), or just "autothrottle", controls the physical throttles and thereby automates thrust control. It cannot control or move the throttles into the afterburner detent. ATC is toggled via the ATC engage/disengage button on the throttle. "ATC" will appear on the HUD when it is engaged. It can also be disengaged by manually moving the throttles or if it is unable to maintain the desired speed. When disengaged, "ATC" will flash and then disappear. It has two modes:

  • Cruise: When the flaps are in AUTO, activating the ATC will hold the current indicated airspeed.
  • Approach: Not yet implemented.

Digital Systems Overview


The F/A-18C Hornet is equipped with an expansive software suite with various pages, or "formats," showing different pieces of information and allowing for interfacing with its many systems and weapons - from waypoint navigation, to guided bombs, to air-to-air missiles.

The Hornet interacts with these systems via the two tri-color (green, red, and yellow) digital display indicators (DDIs) on the left and right of the cockpit, and the all-color Advanced Multipurpose Color Display (AMPCD) in the center. They all feature 5 multipurpose push buttons on all 4 sides to interact with the software. All formats can be displayed on all displays, except the RDR ATTK and FLIR formats cannot be shown on the AMPCD. A given format can only be on one display at once, with the exception of the HSI format, which can be on the AMPCD and the left or right DDI.

The Hornet's software is split into two menus, always accessed and toggled between via the third button on the bottom row of push buttons. The tactical or "TAC" menu displays weapons-related systems like the stores management system and the radar, while the support or "SUPT" page displays non-combat related items, like information about the flight controls and the engines. These read "[TAC]" and "[SUPT]" when on said menu. When in the air, below them is a timer counting up from the aircraft startup in the format MM:SS; with weight on wheels, it simply says "MENU" below.

On the left DDI, advisories and cautions are always displayed in the bottom left corner. The "ADV-" line displays advisories and cautions display in larger text. If the left DDI is off, they will display on the AMPCD. If the AMPCD is off, then they will be on the right DDI.

TDC Assignment

The throttle designator controller (TDC) switch on the throttle is used to slew on various formats, often in the form of a cursor. To do this, the TDC must be assigned to that display with the Sensor Control Switch. The commands are:

  • Up: TDC assigned to HUD (not available in A/A master mode)
  • Down: TDC assigned to AMPCD
  • Left: TDC assigned to left DDI
  • Right: TDC assigned to right DDI

To assign the TDC, the format on the display must allow for a TDC control. On the DDIs or AMPCD, a diamond with a dot in the center will display in the upper-right when the TDC is assigned to that display. When it is assigned to the HUD, a dot is placed in the center of the velocity vector.

Master Modes

Controlled via two buttons left of the left DDI, the F/A-18's avionics system always operates in one of three master modes: Navigation (NAV), Air-to-Ground (A/G), or Air-to-Air (A/A). These master modes tailor the aircraft toward a certain function according to their names.

The master mode is changed via the two mentioned A/A and A/G buttons; these command A/A and A/G master mode respectively. A/A is also entered when selecting an air-to-air weapon via the Weapon Select Switch. When neither A/G or A/A master mode is active, then the master mode is NAV. Both buttons have a light indicating either A/A or A/G master mode; NAV is indicated by having neither lights illuminated. Only NAV is available when the landing gear is down.

  • Navigation (NAV) - NAV does not allow for any weapon-related symbology on the HUD, but does allow for selection and programming of air-to-ground weapons. In NAV, weapon release is inhibited. NAV is the only master mode that shows the vertical velocity and bank angle indications on the HUD and allows for the velocity vector to be either caged or uncaged.
  • Air-to-Ground (A/G) - A/G allows for the release of air-to-ground weaponry. It shows the appropriate symbology for the selected air-to-ground weapon on the HUD. The velocity vector is always uncaged in A/G. When A/G is entered, the STORES format is automatically brought up on the left DDI.
  • Air-to-Air (A/A) - A/A allows for the selection and release of air-to-air weapons, and shows the relevant HUD symbology for the current air-to-air weapon. The velocity vector is always caged in A/A. When A/A is entered, the STORES format is automatically brought up on the left DDI and the RDR ATTK is on the right.

UFC

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The Up-Front Controller (UFC) is a keypad and miniature display interface used for entering information into various avionics systems; this ranges from coordinates for a GPS-guided bomb to a TACAN station frequency.

This section will provide a general overview of UFC operation as well as communication radio operation. The specific UFC options for various systems will be detailed in the relevant sections.

  1. Keypad - A keypad with numbers 0-9, clear, and enter keys. The number 2, 4, 6, and 8 double as a way of entering the four cardinal directions. The number 0 doubles as a way of entering the minus sign (-).
  2. Multifunction Display Windows and Pushbuttons - These small, narrow displays and their corresponding pushbuttons will generally include a value to manipulate; the window with said value is selected and then the information for that value is entered with the keypad. A colon is added to the option being manipulated.
  3. COMM1 Volume
  4. COMM2 Volume
  5. COMM1 Control Knob
  6. COMM2 Control Knob
  7. UFC Menu - autopilot (A/P), Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF), TACAN (TCN), instrument carrier landing system (ILS), datalink (D/L), transponder beacon (BCN; not yet implemented), and a multifunction ON/OFF button (depending on UFC menu selected).
  8. Transponder ident button (no use in DCS).
  9. ADF Selector - Selects either the COMM1 or COMM2 radio as the aircraft's automatic direction finder (ADF) source.
  10. Scratchpad - This display shows the values entered by the keypad.
  11. UFC Brightness - All the way left turns the UFC off.
  12. Not yet implemented.

Communication Radios

The F/A-18 has two standard communications radios, termed COMM1 and 2. Control of them is integrated with the upfront controller.

The radios are powered via the COMM1 and 2 volume knobs; the radio will be on when its knob is not all the way left. The knobs also control the volume of their respective radios. Audio from both radios is always received when they are on, but the communications switch on the throttle controls which one is transmitted on.

The COMM1 or COMM2 menu is accessed by pulling on the respective radio knob. This will bring up the preset and frequency on the scratchpad. A new frequency can be entered via the keypad. The display window above the knobs displays the current preset, which can be switched to via turning the knobs. Each radio has a separate set of 20 numbered presets, as well as a guard preset set to 243.000, the standard military guard frequency (G), manual frequency (M), maritime frequency (S), and cue frequency for the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (C).

The multifunction windows will display various options:

  • GRCV (Guard Receive): Toggles audio monitoring of the guard frequency.
  • SQCH (Squelch): Toggles radio squelch (removal of static).
  • AM/FM: Toggles between an AM and FM radio frequency. Option is only present when the frequency entered can be either AM or FM.
  • Cypher (CPHR): Not yet implemented.

Head-up Display

HUD NAV Master Mode Labels 1.png

The head-up display (HUD) is a projected display at the front of the cockpit that serves as the primary flight instrument. It also provides various indications for weapon delivery; this section will cover the HUD's indications in NAV master mode. Master mode/weapon specific indications on the HUD will be covered in the relevant section.

  1. Altitude - This is the aircraft altitude displayed in feet above sea level when the altitude source switch below the UFC is set to barometric or when it is set to radar and the airplane is unable to read the radar altitude. When the switch is set to radar, it displays radar altimeter altitude above the ground and an "R" is indicated after the value. When the switch is set to radar altitude but it is displaying barometric altitude, a "B" will flash after the number. Below the altitude indication, whenever the barometric pressure is changed via the knob on the standby altimeter or the aircraft is below 10,000 feet, at an airspeed less than 300 knots, and was previously above both values, the currently set barometric pressure (in inHg) is flashed for five seconds.
  2. Vertical Speed Indicator - Current vertical speed in feet per minute.
  3. Heading Tape - This indicates the current magnetic or true heading, based on the option in the HSI format. The arrow (magnetic heading) or "T" symbol (true heading) indicates the aircraft's heading. The heading tape is raised +1.2° from its position in NAV master mode when in A/G or A/A.
  4. Pitch Ladder - The solid line indicates the horizon. Dashed/numbered lines are degrees below the horizon and solid/numbered lines are degrees above the horizon. The lines curve in the direction of the horizon, and the curve becomes sharper as the degree steepens.
  5. Bank Angle - The triangle indicates current bank angle. The marks indicate in either direction 5°, 15°, 30°, and 45° angles of bank.
  6. Peak G This is the highest G-force the aircraft has achieved when the peak is at least 4.0G. Peak G is reset when the reject mode is set to REJ 1/2 and back to NORM.
  7. G Indicator
  8. Mach Number
  9. Angle of Attack - The current angle of attack in degrees.
  10. Indicated Airspeed - The current indicated airspeed in knots.
  11. Vertical Velocity Vector - This indicates the vertical velocity of the aircraft when the velocity vector is caged.
  12. Ghost / True Velocity Vector - This indicates the horizontal and vertical velocity of the aircraft.

Not shown is the "watermark" indicating the position of the nose, which is a "W" symbol shown whenever the velocity vector goes off the view of the HUD or the landing gear is down.

Additionally, when the gear is down, an "E" symbol (called the "E-bracket") is displayed as an indication of angle-of-attack when the velocity vector lines up with it. The top part of the E indicates 9.3° AOA; the middle indicates 8.1°, which is optimal for landing; and the bottom indicates 6.9°. When the AOA is between 9.3° and 6.9°, the normal HUD AOA indication disappears. Also, when the gear is down, the Mach, G-force, and peak G-force is removed.

Reject Modes

Via the HUD reject switch below the UFC, information may be 'rejected' (removed) from the HUD.

  • NORM: Nothing is rejected.
  • REJ 1: Removes outline around airspeed and altitude, Mach number, current G, peak G, and bank angle indication.
  • REJ 2: Removes heading tape.

Velocity Vector Caging

The velocity vector can either be "caged" or "uncaged", toggled in NAV via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle. In A/A, it is always caged, and in A/G, it is always uncaged.

In caged operation, two velocity vectors are shown: the vertical velocity vector, which is "caged" to the HUD center and only indicates the vertical velocity of the airplane, and the ghost velocity vector, which displays both the horizontal and vertical velocity. The ghost velocity vector is displayed as a segmented version of the vertical one.

In uncaged operation, a single true velocity vector is shown. This indicates the horizontal and vertical velocity of the aircraft (functioning identically to the ghost velocity vector when caged). The true velocity vector appears the same as the vertical velocity vector does in caged operation.

HUD Format

The HUD may be mirrored on any of the displays via the HUD format on the TAC menu.

Helmet Mounted Display

The F/A-18C Hornet is equipped with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System (JHMCS) as its helmet mounted display (HMD). It allows for HUD indications to be shown no matter where the head is looking and to perform some special functions, like pointing the AIM-9 missile off-boresight. It features the same symbology as the HUD, minus the velocity vector, pitch ladder, and bank angle indications. Additionally, replacing the heading arrow is a number indicating the heading of the aircraft, when the HMD is not pointed at the HUD. The heading tape itself shows the heading the HMD is looking at. A number above the heading tape shows the elevation in degrees above the horizon where the HMD is looking. Reject modes for the HUD do not mirror on the HMD.

The HMD is turned on by rotating the HMD knob to the right of the right DDI rightward. This knob also controls its brightness. The HMD can be blanked/unblanked by pressing the RECCE Event Marker button on the stick.

HMD Format

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When the HMD is on, the HMD format can be accessed on the SUPT menu. This allows for control of some HMD settings.

  1. Brightness - Sets HMD brightness, cycling between AUTO, DAY, and NIGHT. In AUTO, brightness will automatically be set for best visibility. In DAY, full brightness as selected by the HMD brightness knob is allowed. In NIGHT, half the brightness that would be set for DAY is set with the HMD brightness knob.
  2. Automatic Blanking - When this option is boxed, the HMD will automatically blank everything except the aiming cross when looking inside the cockpit or at the HUD.
  3. HMD Reject Modes - This cycles between NORM, REJ 1, and REJ 2 HMD reject modes. These are independent of the HUD reject settings.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Not yet implemented.
  6. Not yet implemented.
  7. Reject Setup Sublevel - Invokes the reject setup sublevel to allow for customization of the symbology displayed in each reject mode.










Navigation


The F/A-18C has an inertial navigation system (INS), assisted by the Global Positioning System (GPS), capable of storing arbitrary digital, GPS-coordinate based series of waypoints, navigating to both ground- and air-based tactical air navigation (TACAN) stations and non-directional beacons (NDB), using the instrument carrier landing system (ICLS), and the automatic carrier landing system (ACLS) (not yet implemented). Navigation is primarily done with the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) format and the HUD.

HSI Format

HSI Labels 1.png

The Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) format is the primary interface with the airplane's navigation systems. The HSI can be accessed from the SUPT menu. The basic function of the HSI is a moving map of the world with the airplane's position in a top-down display.

  1. Aircraft Heading Line
  2. Aircraft Ground Track Line
  3. Compass Rose The compass rose is comprised of headings in tens of degrees (24=240°) and dots indicating tens of degrees in between said numbers. Along the compass is a triangle indicating the bearing to the selected waypoint/tuned TACAN: the waypoint triangle has a circle inside and the TACAN triangle has a "T" inside. A line (waypoint) and oval (TACAN) indicates the reciprocal bearings.
  4. Aircraft Symbol - This indicates the position of the aircraft itself.
  5. Aircraft True Airspeed
  6. Aircraft Ground Speed
  7. Range Scale This is the radius of the display in nautical miles, except in DCTR mode, when it is the distance from the bottom to the top of the display. The options are 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160nm; in DCTR mode, these values are doubled.
  8. Not yet implemented.
  9. DATA Sublevel
  10. Waypoint / TACAN Data Block - This Block of jnflrmatkon displays in the upper right corner for the selected waypoint and in the upper left for the third TACAN. From top to bottom, it shows:
    1. bearing to and distance in nautical miles from the waypoint or TACAN. For a waypoint, this is horizontal range; for a TACAN, slant range (horizontal and vertical)
    2. present ETA to said waypoint going in a straight line in the format HH:MM:SS
    3. name of the waypoint/TACAN identifier
    4. when steered to, the calculated fuel remaining when arriving at the waypoint/TACAN
    5. distance in nautical miles left to begin a descent to the waypoint/TACAN, based on a 4° glideslope
  11. Waypoint Steering This option displays navigational cues for the presently selected waypoint on the HUD. It cannot be selected simultaneously with the TACAN steering option.
  12. Waypoint Selection - This is the currently selected waypoint with an arrow above and below to cycle through the waypoints in the selected sequence.
  13. Designates the currently selected waypoint as the Air-to-Ground Target (TGT)) point. It can be undesignated by pressing the "TGT" button on the HSI or the Undesignate button on the stick.
  14. Waypoint Sequence - Cycles the aircraft's three sequences of waypoints and toggles drawing a dashed courseline in-between them.
  15. Course and Heading Select - The selected course, in degrees, via the course select switch. A courseline will then be drawn through the current waypoint or TACAN the airplane is steering to (TCN/WYPT boxed); when this is done, a distance in nautical miles and "C" is displayed as a direct distance from the courseline. On the opposite side is the selected heading via the heading select switch, for use with the autopilot; the selected heading is displayed along the compass via two boxes. Holding either switch will allow the course/heading value to be entered via the UFC instead.
  16. Automatic Waypoint Sequencing - Toggles the auto waypoint function, which changes the current waypoint as the previous one is physically passed to the next one. Selecting this also activates the waypoint steering option.
  17. TIMEUFC - Brings up options on the UFC for time indications to display on the HUD and HSI. Selecting an option on the UFC will toggle its display. The last selection will display on the HUD, while on the HSI both ET or CD and ZTOD will display.
    1. SET: Allows for the IFEI date to be set via the UFC keypad.
    2. ET: Begins a count-up in MM:SS up to 59:59. Paused/unpaused via the ENT button on the UFC keypad.
    3. CD: Begins a countdown in MM:SS starting at 06:00 by default. Paused/unpaused via the ENT button on the UFC keypad. The default starting value of the countdown can be changed by selecting the CD option and then entering it via the keypad. The value cannot exceed 59:59.
    4. ZTOD: Displays the current zulu time (Universal Coordinated Time).
    5. LTOD: Sets the IFEI local time. Select "LTOD" and then enter the desired local time in 24 hour time in the format HH:MM:SS. This will change the minute and seconds for the zulu time as well. The LTOD cannot be displayed on the HUD and HSI like the ZTOD can.
  18. Not yet implemented.
  19. Not yet implemented.
  20. Not yet implemented.
  21. Mode
    1. MAP: toggles the chart overlay. This is only visible on the AMPCD.
    2. T UP: track up. The HSI will be oriented so that the aircraft's track (horizontal velocity across the ground) is always pointed up. However, technically the aircraft heading is always pointed directly up.
    3. N UP: north up. The HSI swill be oriented so that north is always up.
    4. DCTR: decenter. Places aircraft at the bottom of the HSI instead of the center and places the track up.
    5. SLEW: not yet implemented.
  22. Instrument Carrier Landing System - Displays localizer and glideslope indications for the instrument carrier landing system on the HUD.
  23. TACAN Steering - Displays navigational cues for the tuned TACAN on the HUD. It cannot be selected simultaneously with the waypoint steering option.
  24. Position Reference - Selects aircraft position reference: inertial navigation system (INS), relative to the selected TACAN (TCN), the air data computer (ADC), or Global Positioning System (GPS).
  25. Not yet implemented.

DATA Sublevel

The DATA sublevel of the HSI provides numerous navigation-related options. It is split into multiple tabs, selectable at the top. Selecting "HSI" will return to the main format.

A/C

AC HSI Labels 2.png

The A/C tab on the DATA sublevel displays information regarding the aircraft itself and the inertial navigation system.

  1. Terrain Awareness System - This toggles TAWS verbal annunciations.
  2. Warning Altitudes - Selects radar and barometric warning, or "soft," altitudes. Selecting either will allow for a value to be entered on the UFC. When either altitude is reached in a descent, "altitude, altitude" will sound.
  3. Not yet implemented.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Not yet implemented.
  6. Not yet implemented.
  7. Not yet implemented.
  8. Not yet implemented.
  9. Magnetic / True North Selection - Selects between magnetic north and true north as the heading source for the aircraft.
  10. Coordinates Formatting - Changes latitude/longitude coordinate presentation throughout the HSI format: DCML will display it as degrees/minutes and SEC will display it as degrees/minutes/seconds.
  11. Selected Position Source
  12. Aircraft Positional Information - Current aircraft latitude and longitude and the wind speed, wind direction direction, and magnetic variation where the aircraft is.
  13. GPS Information - GPS horizontal and vertical error and the Zulu time according to the GPS.













WYPT

WYPT HSI Labels 1.png

The WYPT tab allows for detailed information about waypoints to be viewed and edited.

  1. Not yet implemented.
  2. Not yet implemented.
  3. Not yet implemented.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Precise Coordinates - Toggles precise coordinate mode. When PRECISE is boxed, coordinates in the HSI format will show as 8 digits; otherwise, they will show as 6.
  6. Not yet implemented.
  7. SEQUFC - Brings up UFC options for the currently selected sequence:
    1. GSPD: enter the desired groundspeed in knots to be en route to the designated target waypoint (not to be confused with the waypoint designate/TGT function). This is used in conjunction with TOT. For waypoints in the sequence before it, the required ground speed will allow for the plane to be at this groundspeed en route to the target waypoint.
    2. TGT: Designate a waypoint number to be the target waypoint for the TOT function. It is important to note this operates entirely independently of the A/G Target.
    3. TOT: Designate a desired time on target in zulu time in the format HH:MM:SS. The HSI will then display a required groundspeed to reach the target at that time.
    4. INS: Insert waypoints to the currently selected sequence. To add one in between two current ones, enter the preceding waypoint and then the inbetween waypoint.
    5. DEL: Select a waypoint to delete from the sequence.
  8. A/A Waypoint - Designates the currently selected waypoint as the air-to-air waypoint or "bullseye". This is for communicating target locations and is used in other formats.
  9. Not yet implemented.
  10. Not yet implemented.
  11. UFC - Brings up UFC options for the currently selected waypoint:
    1. POSN: Enter desired waypoint location, first the latitude and then the longitude. This is entered in degrees/minutes/seconds or degrees/minutes, depending on the display setting in the A/C tab. Without precise coordinate mode, they are entered with all six digits at once. In the precise coordinate mode, the first four are entered, "ENTER" is pressed, and then the next four are entered.
    2. ELEV: Enter waypoint elevation. Option is given to enter in feet or meters.
    3. GRID: Not yet implemented.
    4. O/S: Not yet implemented.
  12. Waypoint position: north/east coordinates, Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) coordinates (not yet implemented), and the elevation in meters or feet (depending which it was entered as).
  13. Not yet implemented.
  14. Entered Time on Target (TOT)
  15. Entered Groundspeed to Target (GSPD)
  16. Waypoints in Sequence - The waypoints in the sequence, in order. A waypoint will be boxed if it is designated as the target for the TOT feature.

TCN

TCN HSI Labels 1.png

The TCN tab allows for information to be viewed about TACAN stations in the aircraft database.

  1. Not yet implemented.
  2. TACAN Database - Cycles TACANs in the database.
  3. TACAN Frequency - Frequency of the TACAN being viewed.
  4. TACAN Information - Latitude, longitude, and elevation of the TACAN, and magnetic variation at it.
  5. Not yet implemented.
  6. UFC - Allows for the coordinates/elevation/magvar to be manually edited on the UFC.

MDATA

Not yet implemented.

HUD Steering Indications

When TCN or WYPT is boxed on the HSI, the range in nautical miles to and waypoint name/TACAN identifier will be displayed on the HUD. For a waypoint, horizontal range is displayed, while slant (horizontal and vertical) range is displayed for a TACAN. Additionally, if no course is designated, a green bar is displayed on the heading tape, indicating the direct bearing to the waypoint or TACAN. When a course is designated, a visualization on the HUD of the course relative to the airplane is displayed, with an arrow indicating the present bearing from the course and two dots on either side of the velocity vector: the inner dot indicates 4° and the outer dot indicates 8°. The airplane is on course when the arrow is aligned with the center of the velocity vector.

Waypoints

The F/A-18C can store up to 59 arbitrarily defined, INS-based waypoints in up to 3 "sequences", which are essentially sets of waypoints that allow the waypoints to actually be seen. Waypoints are defined by a set of GPS coordinates and an elevation above (or below) sea level.

Waypoints are indicated by a circle with a dot in the middle.

Waypoints can be given their own 5-character name pre-flight (in the DCS mission editor), but cannot named in the aircraft. They are numbered sequentially from 0–59.

TACAN

Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) is a military radio navigation system. A TACAN beacon allows for an aircraft to determine its bearing and range from it, and using this information can navigate. TACANs may be ground-based or be broadcasted by an airplane. TACAN channels have two bands, X and Y, and range from 1-126. It should be noted the frequencies 68X/Y and 69X/Y interfere with the Link-16 data network the Hornet uses.

The F/A-18C has a TACAN transmitter and receiver. The TACAN antenna itself is powered on the UFC via the TCN option. The ON/OFF button will toggle the TACAN power and an "ON" will be indicated in the scratchpad. In the scratchpad is the current TACAN frequency tuned to, which can be inputted via the keypad.

The UFC also provides the following options:

  • T/R: Transmit and receive. Gets bearing and range from the TACAN.
  • RCV: Receive. Gets bearing from the TACAN.
  • A/A: Air-to-air TACAN mode.
  • X: Tunes the selected frequency on the X band.
  • Y: Tunes the selected frequency on the Y band.

On the HSI, the TACAN station appears as a triangle, with a dot in the middle when it is being steered to.

ADF

Very high omnidirectional range (VOR) stations send out radio emissions which can be used to determine bearing to said VOR. While the Hornet does not have VOR-capable navigation radios, it can determine bearing to a VOR (or TACAN) via its automatic direction finder (ADF).

In the F/A-18, they can be tuned on the COMM1 or COMM2 radios. To do so, the frequency of the station is simply tuned to that radio and then the ADF switch on the UFC is set from OFF to COMM1/2. This will then display a circle on the HSI format's compass, indicating bearing to the station.

ICLS

For night and low visibility operations, aircraft carriers have an instrument carrier landing system (ICLS) to allow for instrument approaches to the carrier. ICLS provides horizontal and vertical guidance. The F/A-18 is equipped with ICLS.

To activate the airplane's ICLS antenna, the ILS button is selected on the UFC and then ON/OFF is used to toggle power to the system. "ON" is displayed on the scratchpad when it is on. Also on the scratchpad is the current ICLS frequency, which can be inputted via the keypad.

When ILS is selected on the HSI, two bars, one horizontal and one vertical, appear near the velocity vector on the HUD. These indicate vertical and horizontal deviation from the optimal glideslope (3°) and course to the deck. When they are both aligned with the velocity vector (making a "+"), the aircraft is on course.

ACLS

Not yet implemented.

FPAS Format

FPAS Labels 1.png

The F/A-18C has the capability to calculate flight performance to advise the pilot of optimal speeds, altitudes, and other information. This information is accessed by the FPAS format on the SUPT menu.

  1. Climb Mode - When this option is selected, above the HUD airspeed indication will display the optimal speed in indicated knots to climb at.
  2. Home Waypoint - A waypoint can be selected as the "home" waypoint. When the FPAS calculates there will be 2,000lbs of fuel left when reaching the home waypoint if the plane were to turn toward it at that moment, then the "HOME FUEL" caution will display.
  3. Optimum Range and Endurance - This is the optimum barometric altitude and Mach number at said altitude to fly to travel as far as possible (range) or as long as possible (endurance). "TO 2,000LBS" displays the range in nautical miles left (range) and the time in HH:MM (endurance) until the aircraft will reach 2,000lbs of fuel. When below 2,500lbs, it will become "TO 0LBS".
  4. Current Range and Endurance The upper "TO 2,000LBS", at the current flight parameters, displays the range in nautical miles (range) and time in HH:MM (endurance) until the fuel reaches 2,000lbs. Below 2,500lbs, this becomes "TO 0LBS". Below is the "BEST MACH" and lower "TO 2,000LBS/0LBS" indications. This shows the best Mach number to fly at the current altitude to obtain the best range or endurance. The lower "TO 2,000/0LBS" indication displays the range/endurance information if the airplane flew at the "BEST MACH" speeds.
  5. WYPT/TCN Information "NAV TO" displays the TACAN station or waypoint being steered to. "TIME" is the time remaining to reach the waypoint when heading straight at it, in the format HH:MM:SS. "FUEL REMAIN" is the calculated fuel that will remain when reaching that waypoint. "LB/NM" is the current amount of pounds of fuel being burned per nautical mile (this is always showed).

Defensive Systems

The F/A-18C is equipped with various defensive systems: the ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS), for the release of chaff, flares, and decoys (the latter not yet implemented), the AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ), for jamming enemy radar (not yet implemented), and the AN/ALR-67 Radar Warning Reciever (RWR), for detection of enemy radar emitters and missile launches.

AN/ALR-67 RWR

The AN/ALR-67 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) provides the Hornet the ability to detect radars via the radio/microwave radiation they emit.

Cockpit Systems

Behind the control stick is a row of five pushbuttons to control the RWR. From right to left, the options are:

  1. Toggles power to the RWR.
  2. Limits the display to the 6 highest priority emitters.
  3. Not yet implemented.
  4. Offsets RWR emitters so the bearing is no longer accurate but they are spaced out so they can be read easier.
  5. Runs the RWR's built in test (BIT). In the event of a failure, it will display a red "FAIL".

There are also three knobs around these buttons. "AUDIO" is intentionally not functional. "DMR" controls the brightness of the pushbutton backlights. DIS TYPE sets the display priority for certain emitter types: airborne intercept (I), anti aircraft artillery (A), unknown (U), and friendly (F).

EW Format

RWR EW Format Labels 1.png

The electronic warfare (EW) format is the primary way of seeing the output of the RWR.

  1. AN/ALR-67 Status - "OFF" indicates no power and "RCV" means it is on and receiving.
  2. RWR Display It is a top-down display with ticks around it in half-hour clock directions (the top tick is always 12 o'clock). A representation of the aircraft is placed in the center. Emitters are displayed as NATO standard alphabetical and/or numerical identifiers for various emitter types. There are three 'bands' of the display:
    1. Along the outermost ring is the "non-lethal" band, which is emitters determined not to be lethal or critical.
    2. Along the outside of the next ring is the "lethal" band, which is emitters determined to be likely lethal threats.
    3. Along the inside of the next ring is the "critical" band, which is emitters determined to be likely critical threats.
  3. Display Settings - Displays the DIS TYPE knob setting and pushbutton display settings.
  4. HUD Emitters - Toggles HUD emitter indications.

Emitters will additionally have special symbology indicating their type:

  • Half-circle below: emitter is tracking
  • Triangle above: hostile aircraft
  • Half-circle above: friendly aircraft
  • Staple above: unknown aircraft
  • Triangle and rectangle without a bottom: surface to air missile (SAM)
  • Line above with two small lines pointing up: anti aircraft artillery (AAA)
  • Line below: sea-based

If an emitter is guiding a missile at the aircraft, they will flash. If they are also in the critical band, a line will stem out of them to their bearing.

HUD EW Indications

When selected on the EW format, a maximum of 6 emitters (the most prioritized) and their bearing will be displayed on the HUD in the same top-down format.

  • Non-lethal: Solid line
  • Lethal: Dashed line
  • Critical: Solid line

The lethal line is longer than the non-critical line and the critical line is longer than the lethal line. The HUD does not show emitter classification symbology except the half-circle underneath to indicates tracking and the line underneath to indicate a sea-based emitter.

The maximum number of emitters is reduced further when a certain A/A weapon is selected and the radar is in Single Target Track:

  • AIM-7: 2 emitters
  • AIM-9: 1 emitter
  • Gun: 3 emitters (when in GACQ or STT)

When in HUD REJ 1, an additional 2 emitters will be added (but still to a maximum of 6). In REJ 2, 6 emitters will always be shown.

Standby RWR Indicator

A standby RWR indicator in the standby instrument cluster under the right DDI is an analog RWR display. It displays the same as the EW format, except additional indications will show as a single letter for the DIS KNOB and pushbutton display settings. A "B" is displayed in the case of a failure and a "T" is displayed in the case of a thermal overheat of the RWR or countermeasures computer. Emitter category symbols are also not shown on this display.

RWR Annunciator Panel

Above the right DDI is a set of lights indicating what type of emitters is in the lethal or critical band: surface to air missile (SAM), anti aircraft artillery (AAA), airborne intercept (AI), and continuous wave radar (CW).

Audio Tones

Accompanying the RWR are various audio feedback tones:

  • Single Beep: A new ground- or sea-based emitter has been detected.
  • Double Beep: A new airborne emitter has been detected.
  • Repeating Beep: An emitter is tracking.
  • Faster Repeating Beep: An emitter is guiding a missile or is a missile.

On the left console audio panel, the RWR knob will control the volume of the RWR tones.

Emitter Identifiers

Type RWR ID
U Unknown
M Active radar-homing missile
S Search radar
T Air traffic control radar
3 SA-3 "Goa"
6 SA-6 "Gainful"
8 SA-8 "Gecko"
10 SA-10 "Grumble"
11 SA-11 "Gadfly"
11 F-111 Aardvark
12 SA-12 "Gladiator"
13 SA-13 "Gopher"
13 C-130 Hercules
14 F-14 Tomcat
15 F-15 Eagle
15 SA-15 "Gauntlet"
16 F-16 Fighting Falcon
17 C-17 Globemaster III
18 F/A-18 Hornet
19 MiG-19 "Farmer"
21 MiG-21 "Fishbed"
22 Tu-22 "Blinder"
23 MiG-23 "Flogger"
24 Su-24 "Fencer"
25 MiG-25 "Foxbat"
29 MiG-29 "Fulcrum"
29 Su-27 "Flanker"
29 Su-33 "Flanker-D"
30 Su-30 "Flanker-C"
31 MiG-31 "Foxhound"
34 Su-34 "Fullback"
39 Su-25M "Frogfoot"
40 Spruance-class destroyer
48 Nimitz-class carrier
49 Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate
50 A-50 "Mainstay"
52 B-52 Stratofortress
76 IL-76 "Candid"
78 IL-78 "Midas"
AN AN-26B "Curl"
AN AN-30M "Clank"
B1 B-1 Lancer
BE Tu-95 "Bear"
BE Tu-142 "Bear F/J"
BF Tu-22 "Backfire"
BJ Tu-160 "Blackjack"
E2 E-2 Hawkeye
E3 E-3 Sentry
F4 F-4 Phantom
F-5 F-5 Tiger
HX Ka-27 "Helix"
KC KC-135 Stratotanker
KJ KJ-2000 "Mainring"
M2 Mirage 2000
S3 S-3 Viking
SH SH-60 Seahawk
HK MIM-23 Hawk
PT MIM-104 Patriot

ALE-47 CMDS

The ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispense System (CMDS) controls the release of the F/A-18's chaff, flares, and decoys. It is configured via the Electronic Warfare (EW) format. For the ALE-47 to release any countermeasures, the master arm must be set to ARM.

Cockpit Controls

Located below the AMPCD is the dispenser switch, which controls power to the ALE-47. It has three positions:

  • OFF: The ALE-47 is off.
  • ON: The ALE-47 is powered on. It runs a built in test (BIT) before going to standby mode.
  • BYPASS: The ALE-47 is powered on and put into bypass mode, allowing for direct countermeasure control. In bypass mode, the dispense switch on the throttle will release a single chaff when pushed forward and a single flare when pushed aft.

Additionally there is the "ECM JETT" button, which will dispense all flares as quickly as possible in an emergency. This is not intended for actual use as a countermeasure dispense option, but to reduce the risk of fire when the aircraft is damaged.

On the left wall there is a red "DISP" button, which will release all countermeasures over time. It is slower than the ECM JETT button and can be effective as a countermeasure option.

ALE-47 EW Format Options

ALE47 EW Format Labels 1.png

The ALE-47 is primarily manipulated via the Electronic Warfare (EW) format. These options are only displayed when the ALE-47 option is boxed, except the mode option.

  1. ALE-47 Status - When the ALE-47 is off, this is crossed out and displays "OFF" below. When it is running its BIT, it will display "SF TEST" and then "PBIT GO" or "NO GO" depending on the result. When it is on and not running its BIT, it will display its mode: STBY, MAN and the current profile, S/A, or AUTO. When the ALE-47 is in bypass mode, a single line will run through the ALE-47 option. Boxing the ALE-47 option brings up all related options on the format.
  2. Chaff and Flare Count - Only displayed when the dispense switch is ON.
  3. Decoy Count - Only displayed when the dispense switch is ON.
  4. ARM Sublevel - Displays the ARM sublevel, allowing for the customization of the five countermeasure profiles. Allows for flare, chaff, O1, and O2 count, and number of times to repeat and interval in seconds to do so. Pressing the "SAVE" option is required.
  5. Step - Cycles the selected manual mode profile.
  6. Mode - Cycles the ALE-47 mode.

Modes

The ALE-47 has multiple modes of countermeasure dispensing:

  • STBY: Standby mode. The system is powered on but will dispense no countermeasures.
  • MAN: Manual profile mode. Dispenser switch on the throttle aft will activate the selected profile. Forward will activate profile 5.
  • S/A: Not yet implemented.
  • AUTO: Not yet implemented.

Saving ALE-47 Profiles

Countermeasure profiles can be configured and then saved so that they are default whenever starting the DCS F/A-18.

Editing Default Profiles

Please note that you can also edit your countermeasures outside of the game; normally if you close the game down you lose the editing to your countermeasure profiles that you have done in game. If you find you have a particular setup that you would like to keep (forever), rather than the default setup that comes in the F18, you can edit the .lua file and change the defaults to suit your preference. For example, we can tone down the amount of countermeasures used, so that we have more time we can use the countermeasure profile before you run out of flares / chaff (but it could make the profile overall less useful).

To edit a .lua file we are first going to need an adequate text editor; although you may be familiar with using notepad, I would instead recommend installing and using notepad++. The reason for using notepad++ is that the normal notepad does not respect the original file structure (so basically, newlines / enters as well as spacing) in some cases, and as such the file may become unusable if you try to edit and save the file this way. Notepad++ instead keeps the original file structure intact.

The file we wish to edit is the CMDS_ALE47.lua file; but before you start editing it please make a backup of it first. This file can be found in the path

(\Eagle Dynamics\DCS World OpenBeta ) \Mods\aircraft\FA-18C\Cockpit\Scripts\TEWS\device

Once you have made a backup file of the original .lua file, we can start editing it as we see fit. Please note that we do not want to edit anything besides the numbers, as editing anything else the file unusable. Technically, you should be able to rename the comments (ie the text following the double hyphens -- Default manual presets), but I would simply refrain from doing so and only edit the actual profile.

The profiles we are interested in (potentially) editing are manual profiles 1 through 6 (you could edit the auto presets as well, but I find it less useful). Please note that the following profiles can be accessed directly in the cockpit correspond to the following:

(manual) Program 1 is CMS aft (Countermeasures aft).
(manual) Program 5 is CMS forward (Countermeasures forward).
(manual) Program 6 is DISP button (Big Friendly Dispenser button on the left side of the cockpit).

Now onto the actual formatting of a countermeasure profile; note that they all function the same, but they all work for different profile. Let's take manual profile 1 as an example:

-- MAN 1
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1] = {}
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["chaff"] = 1
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["flare"] = 1
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["intv"]  = 1.0
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["cycle"] = 10

The ProgramNames.MAN_1 refers to the fact this is the first manual profile (ProgramNames.MAN_2 being the second manual profile, and ProgramNames.AUTO_1 being the first auto profile; though again we probably do not want to edit those).

The chaff and flare values refer to how much flare and chaff is dispensed, but this is the amount dispensed per cycle and not the total amount dispensed. For our example (manual profile 1) we have 1 flare and 1 chaff dispensed per cycle, but we have a total of 10 cycles (cycle = 10). This means that the profile runs for 10 cycles total, during each cycle dispensing 1 chaff and 1 flare (thus expending a grand total of 10 chaff and 10 flares). The interval (intv) value is the time delay in seconds between each cycle; as in our example profile it is set to 1 (1.0), we have a profile that runs for 10 seconds, each second expending a chaff and a flare.

Overall that seems rather wasteful to me, so lets come up with a more sensible and conservative profile (but perhaps less effective) so that we can enjoy our countermeasures a bit longer:

-- MAN 1
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1] = {}
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["chaff"] = 0
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["flare"] = 1
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["intv"]  = 0.8
programs[ProgramNames.MAN_1]["cycle"] = 5

As you may have noticed nearly all manual profiles expend both chaff and flare at the same time, which I absolutely hate: you are almost never in the situation where you are being engaged by both radar-guided missiles and infrared seeking missiles, so I prefer to split my countermeasure profiles accordingly. In my revised profile I run the profile for 4 seconds total: each cycle lasts 0.8 seconds, and during a cycle I only dispense a singular flare.

Saving Edited Profiles

Now, our last thing we have to realise is that although this profile is saved from deletion if we open and close our game (or hop into a brand new F-18), it will be deleted once DCS updates. However, we can save it from being deleted, by making it into a mod (modification)! To do this we will need yet another tool, called OVGME: this is a tool that many people who wish to mod their game use to, well, mod their game.

The installation of OVGME is largely self-guiding (but there will be tutorials for it), but the gist is that we end up with a profile folder and a mod folder for DCS. The profile tells OVGME which game we wish to mod, where to find this game and where the folder is that we are going to store our mods in. The mod folder is where we store our mods that we wish to use.

So if we wish to save our edited countermeasures profile, all we have to do is make a new mod for it! In the OVGME DCS mods folder you have made, we wish to recreate the folder structure pointing to our CMDS_ALE47.lua file. This has to be done with the DCS World (Openbeta) folder as our begin folder (or root); all these folders will be empty, except for the last folder, as in there we will place our edited CMDS_ALE47.lua file.

The first folder we will make in the DCS mod folder is the mod folder itself, so I recommend naming it something like "Nanne118's totally awesome countermeasure mod for the F18" or something equally easy to remember. Now all we do is replicate the folder structure until we get to the CMDS_ALE47.lua file location: we do not have to copy in every file, as OVGME is smart enough to only replace the actual files in the mod. Equally you do not want to just copy over the existing folder structure from the DCS World install location, as you will be copying over all the files as well. You could delete all the files, but that would be a whole lot more work.

The folder structure we want to make, with all empty folders, is:

\Mods\aircraft\FA-18C\Cockpit\Scripts\TEWS\device

In the device folder we then paste our modified CMDS_ALE47.lua folder, so that we can get OVGME to overwrite it. The only thing we then have to change is that we have to enable our mod within OVGME itself, so start up the OVMGE.EXE, click the mod, and enable the selected mod.

AN/ALQ-165 ASPJ

Not yet implemented.

Litening II Targeting Pod


The F/A-18 can carry the AN/AAQ-28 Litening II targeting pod. This pod consists of a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera (which also includes a digital charged coupled device camera) for target locating and observing, a Laser Target Designator/Ranger for firing a laser that both designates targets for laser-homing weapons and gathers ranging information for designating whatever the FLIR is pointed at as an air-to-ground TGT, and a Laser Spot Tracker (LST) which can search for and track a laser, allowing for the FLIR to be cued onto an offboard (ground or air-designated) laser from another unit and then designate a Target off said point; this allows for most effective buddy-lasing. The targeting pod can be used in both air-to-ground and air-to-air functions, but the LTD/R and LST are only used for A/G operation.

The targeting pod can be mounted on station 5 and is indicated in the Stores Management System as "FLIR". The targeting pod is interfaced with via the FLIR format, available on the TAC menu whenever the FLIR is powered. From the right console, the targeting pod components are controlled by three switches:

  • FLIR
    • ON: FLIR is powered and operating.
    • STBY: FLIR is powered but in standby. It cannot be used and video is not supplied to the FLIR format. On initial power up (when placed in STBY or ON), the FLIR format will read "NOT TIMED OUT" while the FLIR is initializing.
    • OFF: FLIR is off.
  • LTD/R
    • ARM: LTD/R is powered and armed (laser can be fired). The LTD/R cannot be set to ARM outside of the A/G master mode. When set to ARM, the LTD/R can be used and the appropriate options are displayed on the FLIR format.
    • SAFE: LTD/R is powered but cannot be fired. No options are presented on the FLIR format.
    • AFT: LTD/R is off.
  • LST/NFLIR
    • ON: LST is powered. This switch is so-named because of the additional functionality with the Navigation FLIR when instead using the ATFLIR targeting pod.
    • OFF: LST is off.

A/G FLIR Format

The A/G Forward-Looking Infrared Format is available on the TAC menu whenever the FLIR is powered and the aircraft is in the NAV or A/G master mode. It provides interfacing with all Litening II components for air-to-ground employment.

Universally this format consists of the following:

  • Ready or not ready status in the upper-left (crossed "RDY" or "RDY")
  • Indicated airspeed in the bottom left, with knots above and the Mach number below
  • Altitude (the same as displayed on the HUD) in feet in the bottom right
  • A declutter (DCLTR) option in the bottom right to hide the speed and altitude indications

FLIR and LTD/R

AG FLIR Labels.png

The FLIR is in its boresight position at 0° left/right and -5° down. At any time the FLIR can be reset to its boresight via the Cage/Uncage button.

The camera is pointed via the Throttle Designator Controller. The FLIR has two pointing modes: "Area Track" (ATRK) and "Point Track" (PTRK). These are toggled between via 'bumping' the Sensor Control Switch toward the FLIR format (left/right/down) with the TDC already assigned. In ATRK, the FLIR is space-stabilized to the coordinates the reticle was last placed on. In PTRK, the FLIR is space-stabilized to whatever physical thing the reticle was last placed on. In practical terms, this means PTRK will follow a moving target while ATRK will not.

The LTD/R is operated with the trigger. It can only be fired with the TRIG option selected. The LTD/R fires at wherever the FLIR reticle is pointed for as long as the trigger is depressed. The LTD/R also has a night vision infrared marker function, fired whenever the option is selected and the laser is.

Wherever the FLIR reticle is pointed, an A/G TGT can be designated at that location via TDC depress. The designation remains in place if the FLIR is pointed elsewhere. As with any TGT, the Undesignate button will remove this designation with TDC assigned to the FLIR, HUD, or any other designating format.

  1. Pointing Mode
  2. Zoom - FLIR zoom with level from 1 to 9 and arrows to decrease/increase it. With TDC assigned to the FLIR format, the Radar Elevation Control wheel can be used to control the zoom.
  3. Field of View - WIDE and NARROW FLIR field of view (FOV) options. The option displayed is the current one. This can also be switched by pressing the FLIR FOV button for less than 0.8 seconds when the MAV, MAVF, or HARM is not selected.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Video Mode - Toggles the FLIR between FLIR and digital charge coupled device (CCD) video. This option displays the currently selected mode. FLIR/CCD can be switched by pressing the FLIR FOV button for more than 0.8 seconds when the MAV, MAVF, or HARM is not selected.
  6. FLIR Polarity - In WHT hot, white (on the DDIs, green) objects are higher temperature objects. In BLK hot, black objects are higher temperature objects. This displays the current selected option and is only available in FLIR video mode.
  7. LTD/R Code and UFC - Current LTD/R laser code and UFC option. The UFC option will present the LTDC (LTD/R code) option and allow for the desired laser code to be entered that the LTD/R will fire.
  8. Not yet implemented.
  9. Manual Lasing - When the trigger (TRIG) option is boxed, the LTD/R can be fired manually via the trigger. Whenever this is boxed, the A/G gun cannot be selected and its option is removed from the STORES format.
  10. Infrared Marker - This also boxes the TRIG option. When the MARK option is boxed, an infrared marker (visible with night vision goggles) is fired in tandem with the laser. This allows for a visualization of the laser.
  11. FLIR Azimuth - Left/right position of the FLIR relative to the aircraft boresight in degrees.
  12. FLIR Elevation - Up/down position of the FLIR relative to the aircraft boresight in degrees, where a negative number is below the boresight.
  13. FLIR Reticle - The corners are removed in narrow FOV as an indication. The corners are removed and the four lines are lengthened when the FLIR is slaved to boresight via the Cage/Uncage button. When in PTRK, a square is added in the center.
  14. FLIR Position - A diamond indicating the FLIR position relative to the FLIR body. In this indication, when the diamond is over the FLIR reticle, it is pointed directly down relative to the physical targeting pod.
  15. LTD/R Status
    1. LTD/R: Laser is firing.
    2. L ARM: LTD/R is armed and can be fired.

LST

The Laser Spot Tracker (LST) is operated via the FLIR format's "LSS" (Laser Spot Search) option. When pressed, the FLIR image freezes and the LST searches for a laser source of the code set via the "UFC" option (and within, LST code [LSTC]); the laser code set is displayed above the LSS option. LSS is boxed during this process and can be cancelled by pressing it again. If/when the LST finds a laser, it slaves the FLIR to said laser and the LSS option becomes "LST". The FLIR reticle is drastically lengthened. The FLIR can be moved by unboxing "LST", which is also accomplished by returning the FLIR to boresight with the Cage/Uncage button.

A/A FLIR Format

Not yet implemented.

Air-to-Ground Radar


Not yet implemented.

Air-to-Air Radar


The F/A-18C Hornet is equipped with the AN/APG-73 Doppler radar. This section will cover its air-to-air capabilities. The Hornet's air-to-air radar can be interfaced via the Attack Radar (RDR ATTK) format and the Azimuth/Elevation (AZ/EL) format (the latter is not implemented at this time). Trackfiles can also be shown on the Situational Awareness (SA) format.

The radar itself is controlled by a knob on the right console. It has 4 positions:

  • OFF: The radar is powered off.
  • STBY: The radar is powered on but not scanning.
  • OPR: The radar is powered on and scanning, and will power off in the event of a failsafe being triggered.
  • PULL EMERG: The radar is powered on and scanning, and will not power off for any reason except physical failure.

When there is weight on wheels (WoW), the radar will not scan, regardless of knob position.

The AN/APG-73 is physically mounted in the nose of the aircraft. It is on an all-direction gimbal, meaning it can rotate left, right, up, and down. Whenever in a normal search mode, the radar stabilizes itself in pitch relative to the horizon; however, this is augmented based on the antenna elevation setting.

MSI Trackfiles

Multi-Sensor Integration (MSI) trackfiles, or just "trackfiles" or "tracks", are single aircraft with information assigned by the computer (such as speed, position, velocity, aircraft identification, and threat ranking). Trackfiles are presented across the avionics as HAFU symbols.

Trackfiles can be contributed to by the ownship radar, termed onboard tracks, or from datalink, termed offboard tracks. A trackfile may be only one or the other, or both. Onboard/offboard trackfiles are correlated and displayed as one, hence "Multi-Sensor Integration" (MSI).

Whenever the radar is operating in RWS, TWS, or STT, it creates a trackfile for each raw contact detected.

Over datalink, the aircraft may receive offboard trackfile information over the Link-16 network - either via the Fighter-to-Fighter (F/F), Surveillance (SURV), or Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) groups. F/F and SURV provides tracks generated from the radars of fighter and airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, while PPLI provides trackfile information on the friendly aircraft itself that is broadcasting.

L&S/DT2 Designation

Onboard trackfiles can be designated by the pilot to essentially define them as priority. There are two designations: the Launch & Steering target, or L&S, and the Secondary Designated Target, or DT2. These are essentially the "primary" and "secondary" targets, as assigned by the pilot (there cannot be a DT2 without an L&S). The L&S is pertinent to air-to-air weapons delivery - launch information is displayed and, depending on the radar mode and weapon, weapons can be guided onto the L&S.

The L&S and DT2 have target designators (TDs) superimposed on the HUD so that their position can be better visualized. A star (L&S) and diamond (DT2) is placed in the center of the trackfile's HAFU symbol.

Onboard trackfiles can be designated on the Attack Radar (RDR ATTK) format whenever the radar is operating in Range While Search with Latent Track While Scan enabled or Track While Scan, as these modes generate trackfiles. Single Target Track also designates its trackfile automatically as the L&S if it isn't already.

For a Launch & Steering or Secondary Designated Target trackfile to be designated, the desired one is placed under the TDC cursor:

  • when there is no L&S, TDC depress will designate a track as the L&S
  • when there is an L&S but no DT2, TDC depress over a track other than the L&S will designate it as the DT2
  • when there is an L&S and a DT2, TDC depress over the DT2 will replace the L&S
  • when there is an L&S and a DT2, TDC depress over a track other than the L&S or DT2 will replace the DT2

Note that TDC depress on the L&S will initiate Single Target Track.

Whenever the L&S trackfile is lost, the DT2 becomes the L&S.

The RESET option on the RDR ATTK format will remove the L&S and DT2 designations (except not the L&S in STT).

HAFU

HAFU.png

Hostile, Ambiguous, Friendly or Unknown (HAFU) is a symbology system used by the F/A-18 to represent trackfiles; specifically, to show its status as a friendly or hostile. It is usually what trackfiles are displayed as across the software.

There are four HAFU symbols:

  • Triangle: Hostile (red when colored)
  • Thick Staple: Ambiguous (yellow when colored)
  • Half-Circle: Friendly (green when colored)
  • Thin Staple: Unknown (yellow when colored)

All types except ambiguous can be manually assigned via the Situational Awareness format. Tracks will also be automatically identified as explained below.

A hostile HAFU will be assigned whenever:

  • A negative IFF response is returned, and
    • An NCTR print returns with an aircraft type that is on the hostile coalition; or
    • A SURV (surveillance, like an AWACS) source over datalink also marks it hostile; or
    • A F/F (fighter-fighter, like another F/A-18) source over datalink also marks it hostile.

An ambiguous HAFU will be assigned when the aircraft and a donor have conflicting identifications (friendly and hostile).

A friendly HAFU will be assigned whenever an IFF interrogation returns as friendly or the track itself is contributed to by the Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) system.

An unknown HAFU will be assigned by default until it is updated by meeting one of the requirements above.

Other symbols may also appear, normally in the center of HAFU symbols. In order of priority, these are:

  • A star, indicating that the track is the current Launch & Steering (L&S) target.
  • A diamond, indicating that the track is the current Secondary Designated Target (DT2).
  • A number, indicating the trackfile's 'rank' with respect to its ability to pose a threat (1 is most threatening), based off numerous factors regarding their position relative to the aircraft. This is only shown for non-friendly tracks that are onboard or have been manually given an identification via the SA format.
  • A large dot, indicating a surveillance (SURV) donor; note that this dot is technically part of the PPLI contribution rather than SURV.
  • A small dot, indicating either the ownship radar or fighter-fighter (F/F) donor's radar is contributing to the trackfile; this is not shown for PPLI tracks.
  • A large dot on the left side, indicating an F/F donor.

On the Attack Radar and Situational Awareness formats, which are displayed in a top-down manner, HAFU symbols feature a line indicating the trackfile's horizontal velocity.

HAFU symbols have two halves: the top, which regards the onboard identification/contribution, and the bottom, which regards the offboard (datalink) identification/contribution. The top of the HAFU will be as illustrated while the bottom portion will be upside-down; the symbols may differ, but the color will be based on the top portion except if it is an offboard-only track.

  • A track will have the top half occupied if contributed to by the onboard radar or manually assigned identification with the SA format.
  • A track will have the bottom half occupied if contributed to only or in part by an F/F source or if in part by SURV.
  • A track will have both the top and bottom half occupied and be smaller in size if contributed to only by SURV or in any way by PPLI. When a SURV-only trackfile is lost, it flashes for 6 seconds before disappearing.

The F/F-only symbology will be prioritized over the SURV-only symbology.

RDR ATTK Format

The Attack Radar (RDR ATTK) format is the primary way of manipulating the A/A radar. It can be accessed from the TAC menu, but not on the AMPCD. It is also brought up automatically on the right DDI whenever the A/A master mode is engaged.

The format provides a top-down view of the radar scope, termed the "tactical region" and indicated by the green outline around the format. The airplane itself is at the very bottom center. While the scan azimuth may be less, the tactical region itself displays 70° left and right of the aircraft. A separated part at the top displays contacts/tracks for which the aircraft has no range information, termed "dugout" zone. Depending on the mode and setting, the Attack Radar will display either raw contacts and/or trackfiles.

The tactical region is comprised of tick marks along the sides; the top and bottom ticks indicate 30° azimuth each (with the distance between the farthest left/right tick and the tactical region border being 10° to total 70° left and right of the aircraft). The left and right side ticks indicate 25% of the selected range scale (e.g. with 80nm, one tick is 20nm) except when 5nm or 10nm is selected, in which case they indicated 20% of the range scale.

The following are the common options available on the Attack Radar format regardless of the primary search mode of either RWS, TWS, or VS.

RDR ATTK Labels 1.png
  1. Search Mode - This indicates the current search mode of either RWS, TWS, or VS.
  2. Radar Operating Status and Frequency - The current radar status relative to the physical radar knob (top) and current radar frequency (bottom).
  3. Elevation Bar - The radar is capable of scanning in multiple elevations automatically below the manually designated elevation; this moves radar elevation automatically in "bars". The first number indicates how many bars it is set to and the number after indicates the bar it is currently on. The first bar is always where the elevation has been manually set. The available settings are 1, 2, 4, and 6.
  4. SIL Mode - Selecting this option stops the radar from searching and invokes the "SIL" sublevel, placing the radar in Silent (SIL) mode.
  5. Aircraft True Heading
  6. A/A Weapon Indication - The currently selected air-to-air weapon and total quantity (A/A master mode only).
  7. Maximum Range Scale - The current maximum range scale in nautical miles displayed and (below) buttons to decrease/increase it. This is only what is displayed; the radar will always scan as far as it can. The available options are 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160nm. The range scale is automatically adjusted to keep the L&S or DT2, whichever is farthest, on the screen within 40% and 90% of the previously manually selected range scale. The range scale is only automatically adjusted up, except in STT, which will adjust both up and down. Manual range scale adjustment is inhibited in STT.
  8. SET Function - Sets the bar, azimuth, PRF, range, and aging setting for the currently selected air-to-air weapon, to be defaulted to whenever that weapon is selected.
  9. RESET Function - Removes L&S and DT2 designations (except in STT).
  10. NCTR - When selected, performs a non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR) scan when a target is put in Single Target Track. NCTR detects the way the fanblades of the aircraft warp the radar waves, and from this "print" can determine its aircraft type. NCTR requires an angle of about 30° nose-on-nose or nose-on-tail. The NCTR result is displayed on the Situational Awareness format.
  11. Aircraft Altitude
  12. DATA Sublevel
  13. Not yet implemented.
  14. Scan Azimuth Setting - This is indicated in degrees total left and right (20° is 10° to the left and right). The options are 20°, 40°, 60°, 80°, and 140°.
  15. Mode Selection - This cycles the search mode through RWS, TWS, and VS.
  16. Aircraft Airspeed and Mach
  17. Radar Gain
  18. Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF) - The PRF is the number of pulses the radar makes within a certain amount of time. Cycles between medium (MED), high (HI), and interleaved (INTL). MED has less range but can see targets at all aspects better. HI provides higher detection range. INTL alternates between MED and HI each scan. When the range scale is set to 5nm, only MED is available.
  19. Not yet implemented.
  20. Antenna Elevation Current antenna elevation, allowing the radar to scan higher or lower in altitude. The antenna can be moved 60° up or down; the tick marks along the scale each indicate 10°. This is manipulated via the radar elevation control wheel on the throttle. Manual control is disabled in ACM modes and STT.
  21. B-Sweep - Vertical bar indicating where the radar is currently scanning.
  22. Aircraft Horizon Line and Vertical Velocity Vector
  23. Throttle Designator Controller (TDC) Cursor - The TDC cursor on this format has multiple functions. Above and below the cursor is displayed the maximum (above) and minimum (below) altitude, in thousands of feet, at which the radar can currently see (adding all elevation bars) at the location in space the TDC is placed; this is only shown when the cursor is within the tactical region.
  24. Minimum Range Scale - The lowest range the radar is currently displaying. This is normally 0.

Not shown is the surface (SURF) radar selection, shown in the NAV or A/G master modes, which switches to the surface radar mode.

Not shown are the A/A waypoint (bullseye) indications. When an A/A waypoint is designated (see HSI), it will appear as a diamond on the radar when selected on the HSI/SA format and a circle otherwise. A line coming out of it points to true north. In the upper left of the format, the true north bearing and range from the A/A waypoint to the TDC cursor will be displayed, and at the bottom center, the true north bearing and range from the bullseye to the aircraft.

Not shown is the velocity (Vc) and differential altitude indications. On the right side of the tactical region, the closing rate in knots with the L&S is displayed with an accompanying caret to visualize it. When in STT, the differential altitude with the L&S is also displayed in thousands of feet on the left side of the tactical region and the antenna elevation caret is re-purposed to serve as a visualization of the altitude difference.

DATA Sublevel

RDR ATTK Labels 5.png
  1. Latent Track While Scan - Toggles the Latent Track While Scan (LTWS) display mode for Range While Search (RWS).
  2. Multi-Sensor Integration - With MSI enabled, offboard trackfile information is displayed in modes where trackfiles are displayed. Otherwise, only onboard track information is displayed. MSI also displays the priority four RWR bearings within 140° in front of the aircraft at the top of the tactical region in the form of yellow triangles. MSI on the Attack Radar format is dependent on the settings in the Sensor sublevel of the Situational Awareness format.
  3. Color Option - Toggles colored elements of the RDR ATTK format.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Aging Setting - Radar raw contact and trackfile aging, in seconds. If the contact/track has not been scanned by the radar after this amount of time has passed, it will disappear/the radar will drop its contribution to the trackfile.
  6. Declutter Options
    1. DCLTR1 removes the horizon line and velocity vector.
    2. DCLTR2 removes DCLTR1 symbology as well as the L&S closing rate and, in Single Target Track, differential altitude and ground track.
  7. BRA Toggle - Toggles a bearing and range (BRA) indication (XXX°/YYY) from the aircraft to the TDC cursor. Bearing is in true degrees, due to the fact AWACS give target information relative to true north. The BRA is not displayed in STT.
  8. Not yet implemented.
  9. Not yet implemented.
  10. Not yet implemented.















SIL Sublevel

RDR ATTK Labels 2.png
  1. ACTIVE Function - This button commands the radar to complete a single scan and then stop again.
  2. Not yet implemented.
  3. SIL Mode Toggle - SIL is boxed when silent mode is activated. This will exit silent mode.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. Iron Cross - Cross indicating that the radar is not active. This cross will also display when there is weight on wheels or the radar is turned off via the knob, but the SIL sublevel is not invoked.

TDC Option Selection

The TDC cursor can be used outside the tactical region to select various options. The TDC cursor is hovered over the desired option and TDC depress is used the same way as an option select button would be on the DDI. For the azimuth, PRF, bar, and radar mode indications, hovering the TDC over them will display all available options instead of cycling through each.

Additionally, range can be adjusted up or down one increment by slewing the TDC outside the top or bottom of the tactical region and then back into the tactical region within 0.8 seconds.



















Search Modes

Range While Search (RWS)

RDR ATTK Labels - RWS.png
  1. Raw Contacts - In RWS, raw radar contacts or "hits" are shown as green rectangular bricks. Radar contacts display when the corresponding trackfile does not.
  2. Trackfiles - Trackfiles are shown as HAFU symbols. A trackfile is displayed in RWS when any one of these is true:
    1. The cursor is placed over its corresponding raw bricks
    2. It is designated as the L&S or DT2 trackfile
    3. There is an offboard element to the trackfile
  3. ERASE Function - The ERASE option removes all contacts from memory, thus dropping onboard contribution to all trackfiles.

The Range While Search (RWS) radar mode allows for detection of contacts in a large volume. RWS normally displays raw contacts in the form of rectangular "bricks", but it also generates up to 10 trackfiles which can be displayed as Hostile, Ambiguous, Friendly, or Unknown (HAFU) symbols via the Latent Track While Scan option; however, as RWS is designed to normally scan large areas, trackfile information is usually not sufficient for guiding air-to-air weapons and so weapons guidance (beyond Launch Acceptable Region cues on the RDR ATTK format) is not available in RWS.

The tactical region in RWS is presented as azimuth along the horizontal/X axis and range along the vertical/Y axis.

Latent Track While Scan (LTWS)

Latent Track While Scan (LTWS) is an RWS option allowing for raw contacts to be displayed as trackfiles with HAFU symbology and other information; with the Multi-sensor Integration (MSI) function, offboard trackfile information can also be shown in LTWS. It also allows for the designation of a Launch & Steering (L&S) and Secondary Designated Target (DT2) trackfile. It should be noted the LTWS option only changes the display; "under the hood," RWS always creates trackfiles regardless.

An onboard-only track is not displayed unless the TDC cursor is over the associated raw contact bricks (aka "target under cursor" or "TUC") or it is designated as the L&S or DT2. In these cases, the brick(s) will be replaced by a HAFU symbol representing the track. Note that since multiple raw radar contacts may be correlated to be a single aircraft and therefor one trackfile, a HAFU may replace multiple bricks.

Offboard-only tracks and tracks that are both onboard and offboard are always displayed as HAFUs and never show their corresponding raw contacts. Note that MSI must be enabled to display offboard trackfile information.

HAFU symbols in LTWS, whenever under the cursor or designated as the L&S or DT2, feature the track's Mach number on the left side and its altitude in thousands of feet on the right. A line also stems out to indicate a trackfile's horizontal velocity (this applies for all).

An IFF interrogation is automatically sent when a TUC is performed.

Tracks in LTWS also have Launch Acceptable Region information displayed. Note that weapons cannot, however, be launched and guided from RWS.

Track While Scan (TWS)

Not yet implemented.

Velocity Search (VS)

Not yet implemented.

Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) Modes

The radar's Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes are search modes designed to place a target in Single Target Track at close range by acquiring it visually.

ACM mode is entered by pressing the Sensor Control Switch up when the A/A master mode is engaged or by selecting the air-to-air gun via Weapon Select Switch aft; this places the Sensor Control Switch in "ACM condition." A boxed "ACM" indication and an option to return to search (RTS) is then displayed on the RDR ATTK page. The TDC is automatically assigned to the RDR ATTK page. For the HACQ, LHAQ, and WACQ modes, said mode is indicated on the HUD.

ACM mode can be exited via pressing the Undesignate button on the stick or via the RTS option on the RDR ATTK format; the radar returns to the last-entered search mode, except if the A/A gun is selected which will instead make the radar return to the Gun Acquisition ACM mode. If the radar is in STT, entering ACM will exit STT and exiting STT will exit STT and ACM mode; ACM mode remains engaged even when an STT is obtained.

Once in ACM mode (defaulting to BST/HACQ/LHAQ or GACQ), the following modes are available. All ACM modes place the first target detected in Single Target Track, but the ACM condition remains active.

  • Boresight Acquisition (BST): Sensor Control Switch up with HMD off. BST is a very small, circular scan on the aircraft nose which can be used whenever the nose can be brought onto a target. It scans in medium PRR, ±1.7° above and below the waterline, and 3.3° in azimuth, slaved to both pitch and roll. A small dashed circle on the HUD coincidental with the aircraft boresight indicates the Boresight Acquisition scan. It has a range of 10nm.
  • Helmet Acquisition (HACQ): Sensor Control Switch up with HMD on. Helmet Acquisition allows for the radar to be pointed wherever the head is looking, within its azimuth and elevation limits. When the HMD is looking at the HUD, it scans identically to Boresight Acquisition. When the HMD is pointed elsewhere, it maintains the scan shape but is slaved to the HMD center. When the radar scan limits are reached, the dashed circle will not move past the limits and will flash if the HMD moves farther than it can. HACQ has a range of 5nm.
  • Long Helmet Acquisition (LHAQ): Sensor Control Switch up for more than 0.8 seconds with HMD on. LHAQ functions identically to HACQ, except it has a range of 40nm.
  • Wide Acquisition (WACQ): Sensor Control Switch left. WACQ provides a wide, rectangular scan at 10nm range. It has two modes, toggled via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle.
    • Caged: Caged WACQ commands a 60° azimuth scan, +6° and -9° relative to the waterline, with medium PRF. Caged Wide Acquisition is slaved to the aircraft in pitch but is horizon-stabilized in roll. A representation of the rectangular-shaped scan is placed in the bottom-right corner of the HUD, which provides a visualization of the roll stabilization.
    • Uncaged: Not yet implemented.
  • Vertical Acquisition (VACQ): Sensor Control Switch down and, when HMD is on, only from WACQ. VACQ is a very narrow and tall scan pattern, ideal for acquiring targets in a turn. Vertical Acquisition commands a scan of approximately 6° azimuth, -13° and +46° in elevation, and medium PRF from the aircraft waterline, slaved to both pitch and roll. A dashed rectangle on the HUD indicates the scan area. VACQ has a range of 5nm.
  • Gun Acquisition (GACQ): GACQ is a special ACM mode entered whenever the A/A gun is selected and no other ACM mode or STT is commanded. Gun Acquisition is intended to acquire a target roughly within the HUD field of view while using the gun. GACQ commands a +6° and -14° scan from the aircraft waterline with medium PRF and 20° azimuth, slaved to pitch and roll. A dashed circle represents the scan shape on the HUD. Note that the radar is always in either ACM or STT when the gun is selected and so it cannot be commanded to return to search from GACQ.

Naturally, the Sensor Control Switch cannot be used for any other functions while in ACM condition.

Automatic Acquisition (AACQ)

Automatic Acquisition (AACQ) serves as a fast way of acquiring a track/contact into Single Target Track. It is entered by pressing the Sensor Control Switch right when the TDC is assigned to the RDR ATTK format, the A/A master mode is engaged, and the radar is not in an ACM mode. "AACQ" will be indicated on the RDR ATTK page and the HUD.

If the TDC cursor is not over a contact/track, AACQ will place the closest presently detected contact/track in an STT. If the TDC cursor is over a contact/track, it will place it in STT.

Single Target Track (STT)

Single Target Track (STT) mode is a traditional radar "lock" where the radar continuously scans a single target, resulting in a very high update rate; this makes it the primary method of providing guidance to air-to-air weapons.

STT maintains a trackfile for its target and automatically designates it as the L&S if it is not already. The radar is slaved to this trackfile; as such, manual antenna elevation control and scan azimuth setting is inhibited and the B-sweep follows the trackfile. Only the trackfile that is placed in STT as well as offboard trackfiles are visiblr; all onboard trackfiles are droppped. In STT, the RDR ATTK format is presented in azimuth along the horizontal axis and range along the vertical axis.

Single Target Track is obtained by:

  • depressing the TDC while the cursor is over the Launch & Steering trackfile or while over any raw contact when in a mode where trackfiles are not displayed (e.g. RWS without LTWS)
  • using Automatic Acquisition
  • using an Air Combat Maneuvering mode

It should be noted STT can only be initiated on an onboard trackfile.

STT is exited by pressing the Undesignate button. The radar is returned to the last-entered search mode, unless the A/A gun is selected, in which case it will return to the Gun Acquisition Air Combat Maneuvering mode.

RDR ATTK Labels 4.png
  1. Launch Acceptable Region
  2. HAFU Symbol - Target's HAFU, with its Mach number on the left and altitude in thousands of feet on the right.
  3. Allowable Steering Error (ASE) Circle
  4. Target Differential Altitude - The difference in altitude, in thousands of feet, between the aircraft and the target.
  5. Target Closing Rate - Closing rate (Vc) with the target (this is displayed for the L&S even outside STT).
  6. Target Ground Track - The target's ground track in degrees is displayed here.

Range scale is disabled in Single Target Track. The range will automatically change to keep the target centered to be vertically within 40%–90% of the tactical region.

MEM Function

The memory (MEM) function of the radar is used to re-acquire the trackfile in STT if it is lost unintentionally. If this happens, the radar initiates the MEM function where it uses the known information about the target to attempt to extrapolate its current position and re-acquire it in STT. The MEM function ceases when the radar cannot re-acquire the target.

When the MEM function is active, a "MEM" indication is displayed on the Attack Radar format and the L&S TD box becomes hashed.

AZ/EL Format

Not yet implemented in DCS.

L&S/DT2 HUD Indications

Whenever a Launch & Steering (L&S) target is designated, a target designator (TD) box will be superimposed over its position in space on the HUD/HMD in the form of a square for a friendly, unknown, or ambiguous designation or a diamond for a hostile designation (see HAFU). The L&S track's offboard datalink identification of hostile or friendly, if any, is indicated by the appropriate HAFU symbol (half circle or triangle) above the L&S TD box; PPLI does not apply. When the L&S TD box is not within the field of view of the HUD or HMD, it will flash and an arrow will point to it with a number indicating how many degrees off it is from the HUD or HMD center.

Whenever a Secondary Designated Target (DT2) is designated, a TD "X" is superimposed over it. When the DT2 TD X is outside the field of view of the HUD or HMD, it will flash.

The shapes are always stabilized to the physical HUD glass itself and the physical HMD, independent of the aircraft bank angle.

SA Format

The Situational Awareness (SA) format provides a top-down view of the area around the airplane. It displays trackfiles from all sources for the best possible situational awareness of airborne threats and allies. All trackfiles on the SA format are displayed as Hostile, Ambiguous, Friendly, or Unknown (HAFU) symbols.

The SA format additionally allows for offboard trackfile sources to be selectively filtered for all formats displaying tracks and provides the ability to manually classify the HAFU identification of trackfiles.

The page also shows some symbology and provides access to some functions identical to those found on the HSI format; this excludes non-waypoint steering options and cues, the north up display option, and the aircraft heading line.

SA Format 3.png
  1. TDC Cursor - This cursor is used for displaying information about certain trackfiles. It can also be used to perform an IFF interrogation. The number to the left and right displays the current Mach number (left) and altitude in thousands of feet (right) for the track currently under the cursor.
  2. TDC Bullseye - Bearing/range in nautical miles from the A/A waypoint (bullseye) to the TDC cursor position or STEP box.
  3. Trackfile Information - Information about the track currently under the cursor or STEP box. From top to bottom:
    1. the aircraft type, which is be based off of an NCTR print or PPLI information
    2. for PPLI donors, the first and last letter and number of their callsign and current fuel state in thousands of pounds; for non-PPLI donors, their ground speed in knots and ground track (velocity) in degrees is instead displayed.
    3. bearing and range (BRA) from the aircraft to the trackfile.
    4. if an A/A waypoint is designated, this is the bearing and range from the A/A waypoint or "bullseye" (BE) to the trackfile.
  4. Current Waypoint - The current waypoint selected and its number is displayed in this form on the SA format. If an A/A waypoint is designated, it will always be displayed regardless of the currently selected waypoint. The A/A waypoint will have an arrow pointing out of it toward north.
  5. Declutter Options
    1. REJ1: Removes compass rose, ground track diamond, and SAM range rings.
    2. REJ2: Removes REJ1 items and the waypoint/TGT data block.
    3. MREJ1: Hides all SAM indications.
    4. MREJ2: Not yet implemented.
  6. Not yet implemented.
  7. STEP Function - The "STEP" function replaces the TDC cursor with a rectangular box, always centered around a trackfile. Around the trackfile selected is its Mach number to the left and altitude in thousands of feet. The option "steps" the STEP box through all non-friendly trackfiles based on rank. If the TDC cursor is over a trackfile, the STEP box will first step to that track; otherwise, it will step to the L&S trackfile or, if none exists, the highest ranked track. Moving the TDC will bring back the cursor, which will appear where the STEP box was last.
  8. EXP Mode - The Expand (EXP) option expands the SA format about a trackfile with a 5nm range scale. The ownship aircraft indicator is repositioned relative to it. The current aircraft heading remains the source of orientation for the SA format. If the cursor or STEP box is not over a trackfile, EXP will expand on the L&S track. If either of the former happen, it will expand on the cursored-over/STEP box trackfile. If the cursor or STEP box is not over a track and no L&S exists, the EXP option is removed. EXP is boxed as long as Expand mode is active; pressing it again leaves EXP mode.
  9. Countermeasures - Current chaff, flare, decoy 1, and decoy 2 count. The number represents the physical count of each while the bar is a visual representation of the percentage left, with 100% defined as the amount loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, unless said amount is none. This will show regardless of the dispenser switch position, unlike on the EW format which requires the ALE-47 to be ON and not BYPASS.
  10. Pilot Identification (PLID) - This option displays whenever the TDC cursor is over a trackfile or the STEP box exists. PLID allows for manual hostile, friendly, or unknown status designation of a trackfile which is not PPLI.
  11. SENSR Sublevel

Not shown are SAM indications. In the aircraft's database, the location of SAMs, their type, and approximate effective range can be entered (this is not based on any aircraft sensor or live source); in DCS, this is based on SAMs that are not marked hidden in the Mission Editor. The SAM will be indicated by their emitter identifier with a dashed green circle indicating their general range.

SENSR Sublevel

The sensor (SENSR) sublevel controls what sensors contribute to the displays throughout the aircraft. Selecting "SA" returns to the main format.

SA SENSR Labels 1.png
  1. Not yet implemented.
  2. Not yet implemented.
  3. F/F Contribution - Toggles trackfile information being displayed from fighter-fighter (F/F) donors.
  4. PPLI Contribution - Toggles trackfile information being displayed from Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) donors.
  5. SURV Contribution - Toggles trackfile information being displayed from surveillance (SURV) donors.
  6. Unknown Trackfiles - Toggles display of unknown HAFU trackfiles.
  7. Friendly RWR Bearings - Toggles display of friendly air-to-air RWR bearings for the SA and RDR ATTK format.
    1. OFF: shows none.
    2. NO ID: shows friendly RWR bearings but without the emitter type in the triangle.
    3. RWR ID: shows friendly RWR bearings with both the triangle and emitter type. Note that only the priority four emitters are displayed, so friendly emitters will not always be displayed even with the option enabled.
  8. RWR Bearings - Toggles display of the four most priority air-to-air RWR bearings, shown in yellow as a triangle with the emitter identifier; an additional line is added to the top of the triangle for a lethal emitter and two lines for a critical. This effects the SA format itself and also the RDR ATTK with MSI enabled. This always displays hostiles and unknowns, but will also display friendly bearings based on the FRIEND setting. Unboxed will show no RWR bearings, "ALL" will will show all, "CRIT LETH" will show only critical and lethal bearings, and "CRIT" will only show critical bearings.
  9. Not yet implemented.
  10. Not yet implemented.
  11. FLIR Field of View - Displays where the FLIR is currently looking on the SA format in the form of a small green square, when the option is boxed. The option is crossed out when the FLIR is not set to ON.
  12. Not yet implemented.





Identification, Friend or Foe


Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) is a technology equipped on most military aircraft, including the F/A-18C Hornet, allowing for one aircraft to 'interrogate' the other, and for the other to reply with a positive response; no response is termed a negative response. Attempting an interrogation with the plane's own IFF not operational is not considered a negative response. Transmitting (interrogating) and receiving is done via an IFF-capable transponder with what is called Mode 4 transponder operation. "Identification, Friend or Foe" is technically a misnomer, as IFF does not actually identify foes: a negative response does not mean inherently hostile, but simply not affirmatively friendly.

The F/A-18's IFF system, to both send interrogations and respond to them, is powered on and off by pressing the IFF button on the UFC and then pressing the ON/OFF button. An "ON" indication is displayed on the scratchpad when IFF is on.

In the F/A-18, IFF interrogations may be made on three formats: Situational Awareness, Azimuth/Elevation, and Attack Radar. The target must be in the field of view of the IFF antenna; the limits are approximately 70° left or right, 60° up, and 30° down. On any format, a manual IFF interrogation is performed by depressing the Sensor Control Switch on the stick while the TDC cursor is over the desired track or raw contact (which will still have a track generated), while the radar is in Single Target Track, or while the SA STEP box is over the desired track. The trackfile's information, and thus its HAFU symbol will be updated according to the identification rules.

Datalink and MIDS


The F/A-18 has a "datalink" system for sharing and transmitting information with/from other aircraft on the network. This includes serving as a sensor for generating aircraft trackfiles. Datalink is transmitted over its Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) radios.

The Hornet primarily uses Link-16, a modern network for transmitting data between aircraft. However, it can also connect to the less advanced Link-4 network to share some information with aircraft using Link-4. Link-16 is made up of multiple network participation groups which are sub-areas of the network dedicated to a specific function, all transmitted through the MIDS system. The F/A-18 accesses the following groups:

  • Surveillance (SURV): SURV makes up trackfile information transmitted from airborne warning and control systems (AWACS).
  • Fighter-to-Fighter (F/F): F/F is technically two groups, Fighter-to-Fighter 1 and Fighter-to-Fighter 2, and is the trackfile information transmitted between fighter aircraft.
  • Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI): PPLI is position-related information shared among aircraft on the Link-16 network about a donor's own aircraft, e.g. position, callsign, and fuel state.
  • Voice (VOC): Two groups, VOC A and VOC B, allowing for typical voice communication over the secure MIDS radio.

The MIDS terminal can be activated via the ON/OFF button on the UFC from the datalink (D/L) menu. Other MIDS options are not simulated.

Air-to-Air Weapons


This section will cover the employment of air-to-air weaponry in the Hornet.

Air-to-air weapons are selected via the Weapon Select Switch on the stick. They cannot be fired without the master arm switch in the ARM position. The commands of the switch are:

  • Forward: AIM-7
  • Aft: Gun
  • Down: AIM-9
  • Right: AIM-120

This HOTAS function allows for rapid selection of an A/A weapon and automatic configuration of the aircraft for an engagement, as entering A/A master mode brings up the STORES and RDR ATTK formats.

Air-to-air weapons are fired via the trigger on the stick. With missiles, a single will fire with the trigger depressed. With the gun, it will fire while the trigger is depressed.

Air-to-Air Gun

The F/A-18C is equipped with the M61A2 6-barrel machine gun, mounted in its nose. This section will cover air-to-air employment of the gun.

The gun, in A/A employment, is a very short-range weapon. The Hornet avionics is able to provide radar-assisted firing cues for maximum accuracy. In the absence of a radar lock, a typical static aiming mechanism is provided.

Whenever the A/A gun is selected, the radar automatically enters Air Combat Maneuvering mode and commands Gun Acquisition (GACQ), except if the radar is in Single Target Track. As such, selecting the A/A gun will interrupt a normal search mode. With the gun selected, regular search modes cannot be selected but other ACM modes can. Commanding the radar to return to search reverts to Gun Acquisition.

Air-to-Air Gun STORES Format

AA Gun STORES Labels 1.png

When the A/A gun is selected, the STORES format will display a special format for it.

  1. Wingspan Setting - Current wingspan setting in feet for the unguided gun funnel. XXX means it has not been changed and defaults to 40ft.
  2. Bullet Count - Current bullet count loaded in the gun.
  3. Round Type Selection - The gun is only loaded with one type, MK-50 or PGU-28, so this selection is simply informing the computer what type is loaded.
  4. Rate of Fire Selection - Low (LO) is 4,000 rounds per minute and high (HI) is 6,000.
  5. Wingspan UFC - This button brings up the wingspan selection option on the UFC. This allows for the wingspan of the unguided funnel to be set, in feet, between 10 and 150.



















Unguided Mode

Radar Not Tracking HUD Labels 1.png

The unguided HUD display for the A/A gun displays whenever the radar is not in Single Target Track.

  1. Gun Funnel - Gun funnel, set to specified wingsan on the STORES format, and range indicators for firing. The top dot is calibrated to 1,000ft and the bottom is calibrated to 2,000ft. These are the points the gun rounds are calculated to land at those set distances when the gun is fired at that moment.
  2. Gun Boresight - Physical boresight of the gun.
  3. A/A Weapon Indication - "GUN" indicates the A/A gun is selected. It is crossed out when the master arm is set to safe or there is weight on wheels. Below is the current gun rounds loaded.

Not displayed is the firing evaluation display set (FEDS). These are dots on the HUD in SIM mode that represent the calculated position of real bullets fired.















Radar Guided Mode

Radar Tracking HUD Labels 1.png

The radar can assist in aiming the A/A gun when the target is in Single Target Track (STT). It provides the Gun Director, a "point and shoot" reticle for close range, and the Fluid Omni-Range/Rate Sight (FORESIGHT) for maximizing the effective range of the A/A gun (up to approximately 1.5 nautical miles).

  1. Gun Director
  2. Fluid Omni-Range/Rate Sight (FORESIGHT)
  3. Range and Closing Rate - Closing rate (Vc) in knots to the target (above) and range to the target (below). When the A/A gun is selected, the range is displayed in feet to the nearest hundred, instead of nautical miles, when below 1.0nm (starting at 6000ft).

Gun Director

The Gun Director is comprised of a circle indicating the range to the target and a reticle (dot) in the center.

  • The reticle indicates where a bullet, when fired at that instant, would land at the current range to the target. Based off target parameters, it also computes the required lead angle for the bullets to land on target. In other words, using the Gun Director simply involves placing the reticle on the physical target and firing; this should result in the bullets landing on target if it does not change its maneuvering.
  • The larger circle forming the Gun Director provides a visualization of the range to the target. An inner circle unwinds counterclockwise as range decreases and winds clockwise as range increases. The 12, 9, 6, and 3 o'clock positions indicate 12,000, 9,000, 6,000, and 3,000ft range to the target respectively. The inner circle has an inward-pointed tick indicating the current range. The outer circle features an outward-pointed tick that indicates the gun's maximum range (or Rmax).

FORESIGHT

FORESIGHT.png

The Fluid Omni-Range/Rate Sight, or "FORESIGHT," is one of two aiming methods of aiming the A/A gun in radar guided mode. The FORESIGHT is designed to provide assistance in aiming the gun at long ranges (up to about 1.5nm). The FORESIGHT assumes the target is on the same plane of motion as the aircraft - that is, heading approximately away or at it.

  1. 1G FORESIGHT Pipper - This is indicated by a "+". This is the lead angle required to land the bullets on a target on the same plane of motion and pulling 1.0G.
  2. Maneuver Potential Lines - Two lines indicating the target's potential to maneuver outside the aircraft's own plane of movement. The length of these lines, left and right, are the calculated distance the target would be able to maneuver outside the plane of movement if it were to roll 90 left or right and pull 9.0G, for the span of time it would take for a bullet fired at that moment to reach the distance to the target at that moment.
  3. 9G FORESIGHT Pipper - This is indicated by a "+" and always offset from the 1G pipper and indicates the lead angle required to land the bullets on a target on the same plane of motion pulling 9.0G. Accordingly, the imaginary lead angle indicator for a target on the same plane of motion pulling between 1.0G and 9.0G is somewhere between the 1G and 9G pippers.

BATR Cue

As long as the trigger is depressed, a "bullet at target range" (BATR) cue is displayed. This is a circle indicating where the last-fired bullet is calculated to end up at the current range to the target. In other words, if the BATR cue is over the physical target, the bullets will likely hit.

SHOOT Cue

A "SHOOT" cue is displayed above the Gun Director reticle when:

  • The master arm is set to ARM
  • Range is less than maximum range
  • The predicted bullet miss distance is less than 20ft



Air-to-Air Missiles

The F/A-18C can carry multiple types of air-to-air missiles: the AIM-9 Sidewinder with infrared guidance, the AIM-7 Sparrow with semi-active radar guidance, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM with active radar guidance.

Launch Acceptable Region

All air-to-air missiles have four range variables relative to their effectiveness; these are known as the Launch Acceptable Region (LAR) cues.

  • Raero: The maximum aerodynamic range is the maximum range the missile can be launched where it will have the aerodynamic ability to reach the target.
  • Rmax: The maximum range is the farthest range the missile can be launched where it will have enough energy to reach the target.
  • Rne: The no escape range is the range at which the missile will have enough energy to reach the target if it were to make a 180° turn.
  • Rmin: The minimum range is the closest range at which the missile would likely be able to hit the target.

Whenever an air-to-air missile is selected, LARs are indicated on the HUD for the Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile when the radar is operating in either Single Target Track (STT) or Track While Scan (TWS) and always on the RDR ATTK format for the L&S and the Secondary Designated Target (DT2).

SHOOT Cue

The "SHOOT cue" is an indication to the pilot that acceptable launch parameters have been met for the selected air-to-air missile. It is displayed above the L&S TD box and in the bottom center of the Attack Radar format.

For the AIM-9 and AIM-120, the SHOOT cue is displayed in both Single Target Track and Track While Scan modes, as these are optimal for AIM-9 seeker slaving and are the modes that the AIM-120 can receive post-launch guidance from. While the AIM-9 can be slaved to the L&S in Range While Search (RWS), no SHOOT cue is shown, to encourage the use of TWS or STT; the AIM-120 also cannot be guided at all from RWS.

For the AIM-7, the SHOOT cue is only displayed in Single Target Track (STT). This is because the radar cannot effectively guide the missile via pulse Doppler illumination outside of STT.

The SHOOT cue is displayed when:

  • The master arm is set to ARM
  • The steering dot is within the Allowable Steering Error (ASE) circle
  • Range equals Rmax or less

The SHOOT cue will flash when above parameters are met and the range is Rne or less.

HUD LAR Indications

HUD Range Cue Labels 1.png
  1. Maximum Aerodynamic Range (Raero) - When range is less than Raero, this is no longer displayed.
  2. Maximum Range (Rmax)
  3. No Escape Range (Rne)
  4. Allowable Steering Error (ASE) circle / Normalized In-Range Display (NIRD) - Placing the steering dot within this circle is what the plane considers to be an optimal launch (the ASE element). Around the circle is a thicker line with a small inward pointing line that winds counterclockwise as range decreases and clockwise as it increases; this visualizes the range from the target (the NIRD element). Only the NIRD element is displayed on the HMD. It is a "normalized" circle because the Rmax is always at the 6:00 o'clock position and Rmin at the 2:30 position; the rate of change and Rne change accordingly.
  5. Minimum Range (Rmin) - When below Rmin, an large X is displayed on the HUD.
  6. Steering Dot - The dot will flash when within 15° of the radar azimuth limit and when within 5° of the radar elevation limit. The steering dot is used with the ASE circle (see #4).
  7. Target Direction - The target's ground track is visually represented by this arrow. When it is pointed up, the target is moving directly away from the aircraft; when pointed down, the target is moving directly at it.
  8. Closure Rate - Target closure rate (Vc) in knots.
  9. Distance - Distance to the target in nautical miles.

RDR ATTK LAR Indications

On the Attack Radar format when there is no L&S designated and the cursor is over a trackfile, a vertical line coming through it serves as a LAR indication. When an L&S is designated, the LAR will show for the L&S and DT2 and no longer for any track under the cursor. Along the line are horizontal bars, indicating from top/farthest to bottom/closest Raero, Rmax, Rne, and Rmin; if the range is below Raero, it is not displayed. A fixed ASE circle is displayed for the L&S with a moving steering dot; see HUD LAR.

AIM-9 Sidewinder

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-medium range, infrared-guided air-to-air missile used by the F/A-18. It comes in three variants, the L ("Lima"), the M ("Mike"), and the latest X ("X-Ray"). The AIM-9L and M are quite similar, with the M having some upgrades like reduced smoke trail and better resistance against countermeasures.

The L and M variants can lock a target up to 67° off boresight. The X variant features 90° off boresight launch capability (termed "high off boresight" or "HOBS") and improved maneuverability. The X also features different and more descriptive audio tones.

All AIM-9 variants can be loaded single onto the wingtip stations (9 and 1) and single or double on the outboard wing stations (8 and 2). Thus, the Hornet may carry a maximum of 6 AIM-9s.

AIM-9 STORES Format

AIM-9 STORES Labels 1.png

The STORES format displays information about the AIM-9 when it is selected as the current A/A weapon.

  1. Selected Missile - A "SEL" over the individual AIM-9 indicates it is the one in sequence and will be the one to fire when the weapon is fired. Pressing down on the Weapon Select Switch will cycle through all AIM-9 stations. When selecting a station with dual AIM-9s, "SEL L" and "SEL R" will be displayed to indicate the left or right missile.
  2. Aircraft Wingform - A visual representation of all stores loaded on the aircraft.
  3. AIM-9 Indication - "9" indicates an AIM-9 and the letter after indicates the variant. The missile symbol below/above the text indicates what station the AIM-9 is loaded onto.

















Standalone Employment

AIM-9 HUD Labels 1.png
  1. A/A Weapon Indication - The "9" indicates the AIM-9 is selected. The proceeding letter indicates the type selected (L, M, X). This is crossed out when the master arm is set to safe or there is weight on wheels.
  2. A/A Weapon Quantity - The amount of AIM-9s currently onboard. If multiple types are loaded, it is the total number for all types.
  3. AIM-9 Seeker Indication - This circle shows where the seeker is currently pointing. On the HMD, the circle is shown significantly larger except when uncaged onto a target.

The AIM-9 can be employed by itself when there is no Launch & Steering trackfile designated. When the HMD is looking at the HUD (or is off), the AIM-9 seeker is slaved to the aircraft boresight. When the HMD is looking elsewhere, it is slaved to the center of the HMD.

Audio tones are provided to give information on what the seeker sees. When the seeker sees a target and can track it, it will track and engage that target when fired.

The seeker can also be commanded to "lock" onto a target, which will make the seeker always follow the target instead of the HUD/HMD. This is termed "uncaging" the seeker and is toggled via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle. Note uncaging is only for ease of use and not required for the seeker to be fired on and track a target. The seeker can only be uncaged when it currently sees a target.

Radar Slaved Employment

When the radar has a Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile designated, the AIM-9 seeker will be slaved to and uncage onto the line of sight to the L&S track; however, if there is no longer an L&S, the seeker will re-cage. Although the AIM-9 is not radar-guided in its tracking, Launch Acceptable Region indications are shown as with all A/A missiles so as to provide the pilot additional information.

Audio Tones

AIM-9L/M
  • Low Growl: Seeker is searching.
  • Loud Growl: Seeker sees an infrared contrasting target.
  • Steady Tone: Seeker is uncaged.
AIM-9X
  • Static: Seeker is searching.
  • Double Beep: Seeker has been moved past 27.5° off boresight while searching.
  • Repeating Beep: Seeker sees infrared contrast, but not enough to reliably track (i.e. the seeker is too far from the source).
  • Steady Tone: Seeker sees an infrared contrasting target.
  • Steady High Pitch Tone: Seeker is uncaged.
  • Steady Higher Pitch Tone: Seeker is uncaged and is more than 27.5° off boresight.

Seeker Cooling

For the AIM-9's infrared seeker to correctly function, it must be physically cooled in temperature. This is done by a coolant fluid in the missile, which lasts for 3 hours.

When the master arm is set to ARM, weight is off wheels, and the AIM-9 is selected, the coolant will automatically be released onto the seeker head. The coolant can be manually released by setting the IR coolant switch to the right of the right DDI to the normal (NORM) position, which will release it whenever there is not weight on wheels. The ORIDE position will manually release it even on the ground.

AIM-7 Sparrow

The AIM-7 Sparrow is a medium-long range semi active homing radar-guided air-to-air missile employed by the F/A-18C Hornet. 'Semi active' means that it requires the airplane's radar to lock on and reflect radar waves off the target using pulse-Doppler illumination (PDI), as it does not have its own independent radar, but rather a seekerhead that detects the PDI.

The AIM-7 has two variants, the L, the M, and the MH. The M is simply an upgraded version of the L with improvements like better electronic countermeasure resistance and low altitude performance. The MH has further improvements. The M and MH display identically in the aircraft software.

The AIM-7 may be loaded single on the body stations (6 and 4), the inboard wing stations (7 and 3), and the outboard wing stations (8 and 2). Thus, the Hornet can carry up to 6 AIM-7s.

AIM-7 STORES Format

AIM7 STORES Format.png

A special display on the STORES format is shown when the AIM-7 is selected.

  1. AIM-7 Indication - The "7" indicates an AIM-7 and the letter after indicates the variant. The missile symbol below shows which station the missile is loaded on. "SEL" indicates that station is selected and will fire next. Stations can be cycled by pressing forward on the Weapon Select Switch.
  2. Target Size - Allows for the selection of the size of the target (small, medium, large) for the best detonation of the missile.
  3. Flight Mode - Allows for selection of the flight mode. NORM commands direct flight to target. LOFT will loft the missile to a higher altitude and then come down onto the target. HELO optimizes the missile to hit a very slow-moving target like a helicopter. NORM and LOFT may be toggled with the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle.
  4. AIM-7 Test - Activates a test on the AIM-7 and crosses out the AIM-7 station indications. When the cross is removed, the AIM-7 has been successfully tested and is usable.
















FLOOD Employment

The AIM-7 requires the target to be painted by the radar with pulse Doppler illumination (PDI) in order to guide. The PDI is generally directed very accurately at the target via Single Target Track. However, as a backup, it can guide to a target not in STT via the FLOOD mode. This mode "floods" PDI in a 12° come in front of the aircraft and the Sparrow will attempt to engage whatever is illuminated. The radar does not search during FLOOD mode. Note that there is no indication as to whether or not the missile is tracking an illuminated target in FLOOD.

FLOOD mode is activated when:

  • the STT is lost after launch
  • the AIM-7 is launched without an L&S or the radar cannot put the non-STT L&S in STT automatically upon launch
  • the FLOOD option on the RDR ATTK format is activated while in STT with the AIM-7 selected and launched

FLOOD mode can be exited by pressing the Undesignate button.

A "FLOOD" indication will be displayed on the RDR ATTK format and on the HUD for 5 seconds, and then the straight line (SL) countdown will display on the HUD.

AIM7 Radar Not Tracking HUD Labels 1.png
  1. FLOOD Field of View - Circle indicating the view the radar will have when it enters FLOOD mode. Note this will also show on the HMD as an indication of FLOOD mode when looking away from the HUD, but the AIM-7 seeker is always pointed to boresight and a FLOOD launch cannot be made off boresight.
  2. A/A Weapon Indication - The "7" indicates the AIM-7 is selected and the letter after is the variant selected. This is crossed out when the missile cannot be fired; i.e. there is weight on wheels or the master arm is SAFE.
  3. Weapon Quantity - The amount of AIM-7s aboard.
  4. AIM-7 Launch Mode - The current launch mode of the AIM-7 (NORM, LOFT, HELO). No text is displayed to indicate NORM mode.














Guided Employment

The normal guided employment of the AIM-7 uses the radar to reflect pulse Doppler illumination (PDI) off of a target, which requires it to be in Single Target Track (STT) mode. When operating in STT with the AIM-7 selected, the radar will initiate PDI mode which is indicated in place of the PRF setting. When fired, the missile will guide onto the illuminated target, assuming it is launched within the maximum range of the seeker.

When a Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile exists but the radar is not in STT, the radar will attempt to acquire the L&S in STT when an AIM-7 is fired. Should this fail, FLOOD mode is initiated.

Three timers are are related to the AIM-7:

  • time of flight (TOF): TOF is shown before the missile is launched and is the estimated time the missile will take to hit the target if it is launched then.
  • time to go (TTG): the predicted time to impact after launch or the time to reaching its Raero, whichever is sooner.
  • straight line (SL): the predicted time for the missile to reach its Rmax.
AIM-7 Guided HUD Indications

When a target is locked, a time of flight (TOF)/time to go (TTG) is shown on the HUD in seconds.

When an L&S exists with the AIM-7 selected but is not in STT, "GO STT" is displayed below the L&S TD box as a prompt to initiate STT before launch.

AIM-7 Guided RDR ATTK Format
AIM7 RDR ATTK Format Labels 1.png

When the AIM-7 is selected and a target is in an STT, the following unique information is shown on the RDR ATTK format.

  1. Fly-out Symbol - Visualization of the missile after launch, termed the "fly-out symbol." This is calculated by the aircraft mission computer and is not based on information from the missile itself and so may be inaccurate. The fly-out symbol is always positioned horizontally in line with the target; it only indicates distance, not its exact place in space. Below is its TTG or "LOST" if the STT is lost.
  2. Next Missile TOF Time of flight (TOF) for the next missile that can be launched.
  3. Maximum Aspect Cue - This is a value between 0 and 18 indicating the amount of degrees (in tenths) the target would have to turn to likely defeat the missile; for example, if the number is 18, the target would have to turn 180° to defeat it.
  4. Seeker Maximum Range - A small circle which displays in LOFT mode or when the missile seeker's range is less than the range to the target and the target is between Rmax and Rmin. If fired outside of the seeker range, the missile may fail to lock onto the illuminated target once in range.















AIM-120 AMRAAM

The AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is an active radar homing air-to-air missile that the F/A-18C employs. 'Active radar homing' refers to the fact it has its own radar in the nose of the missile, meaning it can guide itself to a target without guidance from the airplane. However, the AIM-120 requires guidance post-launch from the airplane's own radar until a certain point in its travel to the target; the AMRAAM's own radar is limited in range to about 10nm and so cannot guide itself at long ranges

Inherently, the AMRAAM is a partially "fire and forget" missile - once it acquires the target with its own radar (going "active"), maintaining the target radar trackfile is no longer necessary.

The AIM-120 comes in two variants: the B and the C. The C has upgraded range and tracking capability, and also has slightly smaller aerodynamic surfaces. It can be loaded single or dual on the outboard wing stations (8 and 2) and the inboard wing stations (7 and 3) and single on the body stations (6 and 4). In total, up to 10 AIM-120s can be loaded on the F/A-18.

AIM-120 STORES Format

AIM120 STORES Format.png

A special STORES format is displayed when the AIM-120 is selected.

  1. AIM-120 Indication - The "A" indicates an AIM-120 AMRAAM and the letter after indicates the variant (B or C). The missile icon shows what station it is loaded on. "SEL" displayed when that station is selected; with dual mounted AMRAAMs, "L SEL" or "R SEL" is displayed instead to distinguish between the left or right missile. Stations can be cycled manually via Weapon Select Switch right.
  2. RCS Selection - Radar cross section (RCS) of the target. Selection of small, medium, and large for optimal missile homing.
  3. Target Size Selection - Size selection of the target for optimal missile detonation.
  4. Not yet implemented.

















VISUAL Employment

AIM120 VISUAL Labels 1.png

When the radar has no designated Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile in Single Target Track (STT) or Track While Scan (TWS), the AIM-120 is in "VISUAL" mode. When an STT/TWS L&S does exist, VISUAL mode can be manually toggled via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle.

In VISUAL mode, the AIM-120 relies entirely on its own radar. Upon launch, the missile will immediately begin searching and engage the first target it detects. Note that the AIM-120's radar has a maximum range of about 10nm.

  1. A/A Weapon Indication - "A" indicates that the AIM-120 is selected. The letter after indicates the type selected. If the master arm is set to safe or there is weight on wheels, this is crossed out as the missile cannot be fired.
  2. Weapon Quantity - Total number of AIM-120s on board.
  3. VISUAL Mode Indication - Displays when in VISUAL mode.
  4. VISUAL Field of View - Field of view of the AIM-120 seeker for VISUAL mode launch. Note this will also show on the HMD, but the missile cannot be launched off-boresight in VISUAL mode; this is just to indicate the missile is in VISUAL mode and the actual seeker FOV is only indicated on the HUD.

After firing in VISUAL mode, the straight line (SL) countdown will display.




Guided Employment

When fired, not in VISUAL mode, with a Launch & Steering trackfile designated, and the radar operating in either STT or TWS mode, the aircraft continues to update the AIM-120 with information on the target via a datalink. Essentially, the AIM-120 is being guided by the aircraft's own radar in this phase.

At a certain optimal point, or if the L&S is lost, the AMRAAM goes "active." At this stage, the missile acquires the target with its own onboard radar and guides to it; it no longer takes any information from the launching aircraft. Note that the missile's own radar has a maximum range of about 10nm and so if the L&S is lost, the missile may not be able to acquire the target when going active.

Three countdowns are associated with the AIM-120:

  • time to active (ACT): the time from launch to the time it will go active. It displays before and during launch until the missile goes active.
  • time to go (TTG): the predicted time to impact after the missile has gone active.
  • straight line (SL): the predicted time until the missile reaches Raero. This is displayed during a VISUAL launch or if the STT is lost after launch before the missile goes active.
AIM-120 Guided HUD Indications

When the aircraft has an L&S in STT/TWS, the ACT/TTG/SL countdowns are shown on the HUD in seconds. If the L&S is lost, a "LOST" indication will show for 5 seconds and then the SL countdown will show.

AIM-120 Guided RDR ATTK Format
AIM120 RDR ATTK Format Labels 1.png
  1. Fly-Out Symbol - Visualization of the missile after launch, termed the "fly-out symbol." This is calculated by the aircraft mission computer and is not based on information from the missile itself and so may be inaccurate. The fly-out symbol is always positioned horizontally in line with the target; it only indicates distance, not its exact place in space. Below the symbol is the ACT is seconds before activation, an "A" after activation, or "LOST" if the L&S is lost.
  2. Next Missile ACT - ACT for the next missile not launched.
  3. Maximum Aspect Cue - This is a value between 0 and 18 indicating the amount of degrees (in tenths) the target would have to turn to likely defeat the missile; for example, if the number is 18, the target would have to turn 180° to defeat it.





















Air-to-Ground Weapons


This section will cover the employment of air-to-ground weaponry in the Hornet.

Air-to-ground weapons are employed from the A/G master mode and selected via the A/G STORES format. They cannot be released without the master arm set to ARM and the master mode being A/G; however, selection and programming is still available from the NAV master mode, although HUD indications are not shown.

The A/G gun is fired via the trigger on the stick. All other air-to-ground munitions are fired/released via the air-to-ground weapon release button on the stick.

A/G STORES Format

AG STORES Labels 1.png

The STORES format, when accessed in the NAV or A/G master modes, allows for the selection of air-to-ground munitions via the airplane's Stores Management System (SMS), the element of its computer systems regarding weapons release and programming. The STORES format can be accessed via the TAC menu; it is also brought up automatically on the left DDI when the A/G master mode is entered.

  1. Aircraft Wingform - This is a visual representation of the aircraft looking from the rear, displaying what stores are loaded. This wingform displays both air-to-ground and air-to-air munitions in all master modes. Stations are numbered 1–9, from left to right. A diamond indicates a dual rack launcher. A number above the weapon type indicates the quantity. An "X" shape indicates an air-to-air missile.
  2. Gun Rounds Remaining
  3. Master Arm Indication - Indicates whether the master arm is set to SAFE, SAFE with SIM mode, or to ARM.
  4. Simulation (SIM) Mode - When the master arm is set to SAFE, the SIM option is present and may be boxed. Weapon release is inhibited, but the avionics "simulate" as if the master arm was set to ARM in various indications.
  5. Not yet implemented.
  6. Release Tone - This option transmits a tone over the COMM1 or COMM 2 when the weapons release button depressed. When the option reads "TONE", it is disabled. "TONE 1" or "TONE 2" will enable it for the COMM1 or COMM2 radio. This option is only available when the master arm is set to ARM.
  7. A/G Gun Selection - This selects the A/G gun.
  8. A/G Weapon Selection - This is a list of all weapon types loaded on the aircraft, of which only one can be selected at a time. This will bring up options for said weapon and allow for it to be employed. The specific station selected will be boxed. Its A/G Ready status is indicated below. A given A/G weapon remains selected until manually un-selected or if an A/A weapon is selected by entering the A/A master mode.

A/G Ready Status

Any given air-to-ground munition requires its "A/G Ready status" to be "true" to be released; whenever A/G Ready is true, the store can be released. Different weapons have different requirements for A/G Ready to become true.

The following indications appear under the selected weapon on the STORES format:

  • RDY: A/G Ready status is true.
  • RDY-D: A/G Ready status is true but weapon is degraded.
  • STBY: Weapon in standby, A/G Ready is false.
  • BIT: Weapon undergoing built in test (BIT), A/G Ready is false.
  • FAIL: Weapon BIT failed, A/G Ready is false.
  • No indication: A/G Ready is false.

The following are universal requirements for A/G Ready status to be true:

  • Weapon Selected - The weapon must be selected (boxed) on the STORES format.
  • Master Arm set to ARM - The master arm must be set to ARM.
  • Master Mode A/G - A/G Ready status requires the aircraft to be in A/G master mode. Note that weapons can still be selected and programmed in NAV.
A/G Ready Conditions
Weapon Conditions
Conventional/Laser-Guided Bombs
  • Laser code entered
  • Valid fuzing entered
AGM-65F Maverick
  • Alignment complete
  • Contrasting infrared target locked onto
AGM-65E Maverick
  • 30-second timer complete
  • Laser locked onto
GPS-Guided Bombs
  • Alignment complete (01/GOOD)
AGM-88C HARM
  • Self Protect: emitter selected
  • Target of Opportunity: emitter handed off to HARM
AGM-84D Harpoon
  • Alignment complete

Conditions are in addition to basic conditions listed above. Weapons that only require the basic A/G Ready criteria are not listed.

A/G TGT

For usage with various air-to-ground munitions, a single place in 3D space can be designated; this is called the A/G Target (TGT). It can be seen on the HMD (not yet implemented) and HUD as a diamond, with a circle in the center if the TDC is assigned to the HUD.

On the HUD, "TGT" and a horizontal distance in nautical miles from the target is always displayed when a TGT is designated. A diamond on the heading tape indicates bearing to the TGT. If it is off the field of view of the HUD, an arrow points to the TGT with a number indicating the degrees off it is, except if it is farther than 90°.

The TGT can be designated by various sensors like the targeting pod or the A/G radar, or can be coincided with a waypoint via the HSI/SA formats. Said sensors' own sections will cover their ability to designate a TGT.

The TGT is undesignated via the Undesignate button on the stick when the TDC is assigned to the HUD or any format that can create a TGT point.

Note that while it can exist, the TGT HUD indications cannot be seen in the A/A master mode.

Air-to-Ground Gun

The F/A-18C's M61A2 gun can be used as an air-to-ground weapon. It can be employed simultaneously with any other A/G munition, but when another A/G munition is selected, symbology will be more limited. When used alone, the gun operates in two modes: continuously computed impact point (CCIP) and manual (MAN).

Gun STORES Format

Gun STORES Labels 1.png

When the gun is selected (and not along with another A/G munition), these options will display on the STORES format.

  1. Mode Selection
  2. MAN Reticle Depression - Currently selected MAN reticle depression in milliradians (shown when MAN mode is selected).
  3. UFC - Brings up the UFC option to enter the MAN reticle depression in milliradians (shown when MAN mode is selected).
  4. Round Type Selection - The gun is only loaded with one type, MK-50 or PGU-28, so this selection is simply informing the computer what type is loaded.
  5. Rate of Fire Selection - Low (LO) is 4,000 rounds per minute and high (HI) is 6,000.

















CCIP Mode

Gun CCIP Hud Labels 1.png

Continuously computed impact point (CCIP) mode calculates where the gun rounds will impact on the ground.

  1. CCIP Reticle - When the IN RNG cue is displayed, the center dot indicates where the gun rounds will impact the ground. An inward-pointing line unwinds around the reticle when the reticle is pointing at maximum 23,000ft away from a point on the ground. From 23,000ft to 0ft, the line will unwind nearly twice as each tick mark indicates 1,000ft (and there are 12 marks); when less than 12,000ft range, the circle itself will begin unwinding with the line. An outward-pointing thick tick mark will indicate the maximum range for the "IN RNG" cue.
  2. IN RNG Cue - "IN RNG" indicates the gun is in range for effective employment and the center dot in the reticle accurately represents where the bullets will impact when fired at that moment.
  3. Pull Up Cue - When this cue is above the velocity vector, an "X" will flash on the HUD. When the cue is above the velocity vector, this indicates weapon release is likely unsafe (not being able to pull away from the ground, shrapnel, or bullet ricochet).
  4. Mode Indication
  5. Gun and Rounds Indication - Indicates the gun is selected and the current rounds remaining.













MAN Mode

Gun MAN HUD Labels 1.png

Manual (MAN) mode provides a constant reticle for aiming. By default, it is centered on the aircraft boresight, but may be depressed below in single milliradians ("mils").

  1. MAN Gun Reticle
  2. Pull-Up Cue - When this cue is above the velocity vector, an "X" will flash on the HUD. When the cue is above the velocity vector, this indicates weapon release is likely unsafe (not being able to pull away from the ground, shrapnel, or bullet ricochet).
  3. True Airspeed - The aircraft true airspeed in knots is displayed here for manual calculation.
  4. Mode and Reticle Indication - Indicates MAN mode and the reticle depression setting in mils.
  5. Gun and Rounds Indication - Indicates the gun is selected and rounds remaining.

Simultaneous Employment

When selected after another A/G munition is selected first, a "+" sign on the HUD is displayed to indicate the gun boresight and it can be fired, but no other gun-related symbology is shown. An exception applies to the AGM-65 Maverick, which will allow for full symbology of the last selected gun mode (MAN or CCIP) to be displayed with both the Maverick and gun selected. The gun cannot be selected simultaneously with the HARM, Harpoon, or JDAM/JSOW.











Rockets

The F/A-18 can carry air-to-ground rockets, which are small, unguided, momentarily-self propelled projectile explosive munitions launched from a pod of multiple. It can use the 5-inch Zuni Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket (FFAR) Mk. 71 and the 2.75-inch Hydra 70 Mk. 151 rockets. Both can be single or dual mounted on stations 8, 7, 3, and 2. The Zuni is launched from the LAU-10 pod with 4 per and the Hydra 70 is launched from the LAU-68 with 7 per or the LAU-61 with 19 per. The Zuni FFAR has a 10lbs warhead and is specialized in penetration. The Hydra 70 has an 8lbs warhead with fragmentation.

The rockets can also be set by the ground crew (via the DCS Mission Editor) to single or ripple. In single mode, a single rocket is released from the pod per shot. In ripple, all rockets are released from the pod per shot, except the Zuni rockets will release half.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
Hydra 70 on LAU-61 in Single
61S
Hydra 70 on LAU-61 in Ripple
61R
Hydra 70 on LAU-68 in Single
68S
Hydra 70 on LAU-68 in Ripple
68R
Zuni FFAR on LAU-10 in Single
10S
Zuni FFAR on LAU-10 in Ripple
10R

Rockets STORES Format

Rockets STORES Labels 1.png
  1. Mode - Selection of either CCIP or MAN.
  2. Firing Mode - Selection between single (SGL) and salvo (SAL). SGL fires one rocket from the currently selected pod. SAL fires one rocket from every pod of that pod type.
  3. Rocket Motor The rockets simulated in DCS only use the Mk. 66 motor.
  4. Weapon Step - When in SGL mode, steps through the stations/pods (including individual pods on dual mounted pods).
  5. UFC - Brings up UFC option to enter the MAN reticle depression in mils (only shown in MAN mode).
  6. MAN Depression - MAN reticle depression setting in mils (only shown in MAN mode).

















CCIP Mode

Rockets CCIP HUD Labels 1.png

Continuously computed impact point (CCIP) mode calculates where the rockets will impact on the ground.

  1. CCIP Reticle - When the IN RNG cue is displayed, the center dot indicates where the rockets will impact the ground. An inward-pointing line unwinds around the reticle when the reticle is pointing at maximum 23,000ft away from a point on the ground. From 23,000ft to 0ft, the line will unwind nearly twice as each tick mark indicates 1,000ft (and there are 12 marks); when less than 12,000ft range, the circle itself will begin unwinding with the line. An outward-pointing thick tick mark will indicate the maximum range for the "IN RNG" cue.
  2. IN RNG Cue - This cue indicates that the rockets are in range for effective employment and the center dot in the reticle accurately represents where they will impact when fired at that moment; in other words, the dot is at less than maximum range.
  3. Mode Indication
  4. Rocket Indication and Quantity - Indicates a rocket is selected and the current total quantity of all rocket types on board.

















MAN Mode

Rockets MAN HUD Labels 1.png

Manual (MAN) mode provides a constant reticle for aiming. By default, it is centered 2.5° below the aircraft boresight, but may be depressed below that in single milliradians ("mils").

  1. MAN Reticle
  2. Mode and Depression Indication - Indicates MAN mode and the depression setting in mils.
  3. Rocket and Quantity Indication - Indicates a rocket is selected and total rockets of all types on board remaining.
  4. True Airspeed - Current aircraft true airspeed, for manual calculation.
  5. Pull-Up Cue - When this cue is above the velocity vector, an "X" will flash on the HUD. When the cue is above the velocity vector, this indicates weapon release is likely unsafe (not being able to pull away from the ground, shrapnel, or bullet ricochet).

















Conventional and Laser-Guided Bombs

The F/A-18 is capable of carrying the Mark 80 series of general purpose bombs as well as the Paveway series of laser-guided bombs (LGBs), which are modified Mark 80 bombs fitted with laser-tracking seekers and flight controls. Additionally, it can use the CBU-99 Cluster Bomb.

The Mk-82 and -83, the CBU-99, and the GBU-12 can be mounted single or dual on stations 8, 7, 3, and 2, and the GBU-10 and -16 can be mounted single on those. The Mk-82 and CBU-99 can be mounted single or dual on station 5 the Mk-83 and -84 can be mounted single on station 5.

Conventional bombs, being unguided, rely entirely on the initial trajectory at release and have no way to guide themselves onto the target; as such, their accuracy is dependent on this. Laser-guided bombs benefit from an accurate initial trajectory but still guide to the target themselves; their margin of error is rated to be 3.6ft (1.1m).

The Hornet carries the following Mark 80 series unguided bombs:

  • Mk-82 (500lbs)
  • Mk-82 Snake Eye (500lbs w/ drag petals)
  • Mk-82 Retarded (500lbs w/ ballute)
  • Mk-83 (1,000lbs)
  • Mk-84 (2,000lbs)
  • Mk-20 Rockeye II (cluster bomb)
  • CBU-99 (cluster bomb)

The Mk-82, -83, and -84 standard variants are free-fall, unguided bomb units. The Mk-82 Snake Eye and Retarded are a high-drag versions for low-altitude employment, equipped with extendable drag flaps and a drag ballute respectively. The Mk-20 Rockeye and CBU-99 Cluster Bomb are cluster bombs, which release many small "bomblets" instead of acting as a single large bomb; both use the same anti-tank bomblets and simply use different dispensers inside (the CBU-199's is thermally protected).

The Hornet carries the following Paveway series guided bomb units (GBUs), which are laser-guided variants of the Mk-82, -83, and -84:

  • GBU-12 Paveway II (500lbs)
  • GBU-16 Paveway II (1,000lbs)
  • GBU-10 Paveway II (2,000lbs)
  • GBU-24 Paveway III (2,000lbs)

Laser-guided bombs use a laser-tracking seeker to lock onto a laser with a specific frequency. The laser may be fired from the airplane's own targeting pod, another aircraft, or a ground unit.

When selected (and in A/G master mode), the HUD displays the current mode of either CCIP, AUTO, FD, or MAN as an indication a conventional/laser-guided bomb is selected. No indication for the specific bomb type is provided on the HUD. This indication is crossed out when A/G Ready is false.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
Mk-82
82B
Mk-82 Snake Eye
82XT
Mk-82 Retarded
82YT
Mk-83
83B
Mk-84
84
Mk-20 Rockeye II
RE
CBU-99 Cluster Bomb
RET
GBU-12 Paveway II
82LG
GBU-16 Paveway II
83LG
GBU-10 Paveway II
84LG

Fuzing and Drag

There are various configurable fuze options for conventional and laser-guided bombs. A fuze is what instructs the bomb to actually explode. The mechanical fuze is the physical fuze on the bomb - Mark 80 series bombs employed by the Hornet only use nose fusing, and so a tail or nose and tail (N/T) fusing option will be a dud; LGBs do not use the mechanical fuzing option, so the proper setting is "off." The electronic fuze is the programmed fuzing of the bomb which activates as an effect of the mechanical fuze. Mark 80 series/LGBs can only use instantaneous (INST) or delay 1 (DLY1) electronic fuzing.

The CBU-99 Cluster Bomb and Mk-20 Rockeye II instead have variable timing (VT) and proximity (PRI) for mechanical fuzing. Variable timing releases the bomb at a specific height above the ground, while proximity fusing will release it when in close proximity to the ground. Neither use an electronic fuze.

Mk-82 Retarded and Mk-82 Snake Eye high-drag bombs, designed to be able to be launched from low altitude and travel slowly so the aircraft can get out of the fragmentation pattern that would prove dangerous in a normal bomb, have drag settings: RET (retarded) will deploy the ballute or drag petals upon release. Free fall (FF) disables this.

When the fuzing setting is invalid, a "DUD" cue is displayed on the HUD.

Bomb STORES Format

Bomb STORES Format Labels 1.png
  1. Mode Selection
  2. Fuze and Drag Selection - When the variable timing fuze is selected, then a height (HT) option is prompted as well which will allow for different altitudes above the ground to be selected for cluster bomb release.
  3. Program Settings
  4. Program Selection - Bombs store 5 programs for mode, mechanical/electronic fuzing, drag, release height, quantity, multiples, and interval. These programs are universal for all bombs of the selected type.
  5. UFC Options
    1. Multiple is the amount of bombs to be released simultaneously.
    2. Quantity is the amount of bombs to release total (e.g. if a multiple of 2 and a quantity of 4 is selected, then 2 bombs will release simultaneously and then another 2 in accordance with the selected interval).
    3. Interval is the spacing on the ground in feet between bomb salvos when in CCIP/AUTO/FD mode or the interval between releases in milliseconds when in MAN mode. The weapons release button must be held until all bombs are released.
    4. Reticle is only shown in MAN mode and is the depression in milliradians the reticle is from the default position.
  6. Weapon Step - Cycles through each bomb of the selected type, including individual bombs dual-mounted on a single station.

Not shown is the laser-guided bomb code indication and option. When an LGB is selected, a CODE option is displayed to input the laser code for the individual selected bomb on the UFC.







CCIP Mode

CCIP HUD Labels 1.png

Continuously computed impact point (CCIP) mode dynamically calculates the point where a bomb will impact when released. It is generally used with a dive bombing technique. The weapon release button will drop the bomb(s) at any point when pressed in CCIP mode.

  1. CCIP Impact Cross - When a bomb is released, it is calculated to impact at the point the cross is over at the moment of release. A line connects the cross to the velocity vector, which flashes each time an individual bomb is released. When the cross is outside the field of view of the HUD, a longer horizontal line is instead shown; the distance between this line and the bottom of the HUD's FOV is the distance between the bottom of the HUD's FOV and where the impact cross is in space.
  2. Pull-Up Cue - When this cue is above the velocity vector, an "X" will flash on the HUD. When the cue is above the velocity vector, this indicates weapon release is likely unsafe (not being able to pull away from the ground or shrapnel).















AUTO Mode

Bomb AUTO HUD Labels 1.png

Automatic (AUTO) bombing mode calculates the optimal moment to release a bomb to land on a target. The A/G TGT is the AUTO mode's target. AUTO mode, in addition to when programmed, is entered from CCIP when there is an A/G TGT designated.

AUTO mode does not allow for release at any point; the weapon release button will release the bombs only when the time to release (REL) timer is 0 and the aircraft heading is within 20° of the azimuth steering line. Optimal accuracy requires the bombs to be released at the same moment the REL timer reaches 0. As such, the normal AUTO bombing technique is to begin holding the weapon release button down at some point before 0 REL; this will automatically release the bombs at 0 REL.

  1. Azimuth Steering Line (ASL) - This is a virtual line for optimal alignment with the target. The velocity vector, when centered with this line, means the aircraft is in the optimal release condition.
  2. Release Cue - This horizontal line falls down from the top of the ASL starting at 9 seconds to release. The release cue will meet the velocity vector when the release timer is 0; in other words, the release cue is a visualization of the final seconds of the release countdown.
  3. Release (REL) / Time to Impact (TTI) - These are two timer values, in seconds. REL is the time at the current parameters until release. TTI is the calculated time until the last bomb released impacts the ground.

Undesignated Symbology

When an A/G TGT is not designated, AUTO mode displays special symbology that can be used to designate an A/G TGT via the HUD. The TGT, instead of a diamond, is a segmented diamond. This AUTO designated TGT can be used for any other weapon as a normal TGT, but cannot be undesignated except with the TDC assigned to the HUD.

In undesignated AUTO mode with the TDC assigned to the HUD, a pipper displays on the HUD with a dashed line connecting it to the velocity vector - this is called the "ball and chain." The pull up cue is still displayed. The pipper is placed 7.5° below the horizon, except if the velocity vector is more than 7.5° below the horizon it will be on the velocity vector. When the weapon release button or TDC depress is pressed, an A/G TGT will be designated at the location of the pipper at that moment. The TGT can then be slewed with the TDC when TDC is assigned to the HUD. Holding TDC depress will stabilize the TGT diamond to the physical HUD glass rather than the ground itself.

If a normal designated TGT exists in AUTO, TDC depress will make it segmented and allow for slewing.

FD Mode

Not yet implemented.

MAN Mode

Bomb MAN HUD Labels 1.png

Manual (MAN) mode simply provides a fixed pipper. It is designed as a backup mode; a precise delivery in MAN requires manual calculation.

  1. Manual Reticle - By default, the reticle is placed 2.5° below the aircraft boresight; however, via the UFC option on the STORES format, it can be depressed further below in milliradians.
  2. Aircraft True Airspeed
  3. MAN Indication - This indicates MAN mode and the depression setting.



















GPS-Guided Bombs

The F/A-18C is able to employ the Global Positioning System (GPS)-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs and the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs. JDAMs are modified general purpose bombs, equipped with a GPS and inertial navigation system (INS) for guidance as well as flight controls. The JSOW has the same guidance and is a bomb with wings to provide lift and maneuvering flight controls. As such, it has a significantly longer range than JDAMs.

The JDAMs/JSOWs have (at optimal INS alignment) a margin of error of approximately 16ft (5m). Independent programming of each individual bomb allows for simultaneous multi-target attacks.

They consist of the GBU-38, -32, and -31 JDAMs, whose base are the Mk-82, -83, and -84 respectively, as well as the GBU-31(V), which is a JDAM variant of the BLU-109 2,000lbs penetrating bomb. The JSOW consists of the AGM-154A and AGM-154C: the A variant is a cluster bomb while the C has a penetration warhead.

All JDAM and JSOW variants except the GBU-31 and -31(V) can be mounted single or dual on stations 2, 3, 7, and 8. The GBU-31/-31(V) can be mounted single on the same stations.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
GBU-38
J-82
GBU-32
J-83
GBU-31
J-84
GBU-31(V)
J-109
AGM-154A
JSA
AGM-154C
JSC

JDAM/JSOW STORES Format

JDAM STORES Format.png

When a variant of the JDAM/JSOW is selected on the STORES format, some options are provided for the bomb. Additionally, all bombs loaded of that variant will begin Inertial Navigation System (INS) alignment. This takes approximately 3 minutes to reach best alignment; the longer it aligns prior to release, the more accurate the bomb will be. Whenever the bomb is deselected in the STORES format, power is taken away and the alignment is reset.

  1. Mode Selection - This toggles between Pre-Planned (PP) and Target of Opportunity (TOO) programming modes.
  2. Electronic Fuze - INST will explode instantaneously upon impact while variable timing (VTI) will detonate based on proximity. The EFUZ setting is displayed to the bottom right. The fuze is set for all weapons of the specific type selected.
  3. JDAM/JSOW ERASE - This option wipes all PP mission data and freezes it, meaning it will no longer accept data entry. Selecting the option allows for the erase to be accepted or cancelled. Selecting accept will box the ERASE JDAM/JSOW momentarily and then irreversibly erase the PP data and essentially disable the weapon as it cannot be given PP data.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  5. JDAM/JSOW DSPLY
  6. Weapon Step - Steps between weapons of the selected weapon type that have been selected with the quantity (QTY) option in the JDAM/JSOW DSPLY format. This option is not available when only a single weapon or none is selected via the QTY option. This allows for separate programming of each station.
  7. Time to Maximum Range (TMR) - This is a countdown timer in seconds (up to 99 seconds) to the time the aircraft will reach IRLAR. When the IRLAR is reached, it displays IN RNG. When within the IZLAR, it displays IN ZONE. See HSI indications.
  8. Alignment Countdown - A 10 minute countdown timer which stops when the selected weapon type reaches full alignment (generally this is at approximately 7:30).
  9. Alignment Status - 10 is the least accurate and 01 is the most accurate. The practical accuracy is also provided which correlates with the number: UNST (unstable), MARG (marginal), and GOOD.

JDAM/JSOW DSPLY Format

JDAM JSOW DSPLY Format.png

The JDAM and JSOW display (JDAM/JSOW DSPLY) formats are where most JDAM/JSOW options are presented for the selected weapon type. The JDAM DSPLY and JSOW DSPLY can be accessed from an option on the STORES format when the JDAM/JSOW is selected and is also available on any display from the TAC menu whenever the JDAM/JSOW is selected in the STORES format.

The JDAM/JSOW DSPLY format shares some options and indications of the STORES format when a JDAM/JSOW type is selected. It also provides many additional options.

  1. Station Data - From top to bottom:
    1. Selected station
    2. Selected PP or TOO mission for the station
    3. Station weapon type.
  2. On Time - A count-up timer indicating how long the weapon has been powered.
  3. Release Type and Quantity - This is the selected release type and the amount of bombs that have been selected with the QTY option.
  4. MSN Sublevel
  5. Release Type - This allows for the selection of the MAN, AUTO LF, or FD release types.
  6. Not yet implemented.
  7. Quantity - This allows for multiple stations to be selected for release, but will still all have their separate PP/TOO missions applied. The weapons release button is held down until all selected bombs are released. This allows for multi-target attacks with a single release of all bombs.
  8. Not yet implemented.

PP MSN Sublevel

Section WIP.

TOO MSN Sublevel

Target of Opportunity (TOO) mode bases the target off of the A/G TGT, allowing for another sensor to designate the JDAM/JSOW's target (e.g. the targeting pod or a waypoint). Only one TGT can exist at once, but separate profiles exist per station for TOO where an offset from the TGT scan be set, meaning a unique target per weapon can essentially exist in TOO. The TOO profiles also store separate employment options. These are edited from the TOO mission sublevel.

JDAM TOO MSN Format.png
  1. TOO Missions - TOO mode allows for two missions to be defined per station, labeled TOO1 and TOO2. These have independent parameter settings unique to each station. The boxed profile is the one that will be executed by the station assigned on release; the boxing of TOO1 or TOO2 will be saved when stepping to another station. When no A/G TGT is designated, both TOO profiles are crossed out; a valid TGT designation is the only requirement for a TOO release.
  2. Not yet implemented.
  3. Not yet implemented.
  4. TOOUFC - Brings up UFC options for the terminal flight options for the selected TOO mission:
    1. HDG: True heading of the bomb before impact.
    2. ANG/HT: For JDAMs and the JSOW C-variant, the angle in degrees at which the bomb will impact. For the JSOW A-variant, this is the height (in feet or meters) of bomblet release.
    3. VEL: Velocity of the bomb in feet per minute before impact.
  5. Not yet implemented.
  6. Offset Release Point (ORP) - The ORP is the designated A/G TGT. This is the target point for the TOO mission except if offset parameters are defined.
  7. Offset (O/S) - Offset parameters, if any, which will be based on the ORP for the selected TOO mission.
  8. Terminal Parameters - Entered terminal parameters for the TOO mission.
  9. Return - Returns to the main JDAM/JSOW DSPLY format.







Release Types

The JDAMs/JSOWs have multiple release types which concern the method of releasing the munitions onto the target and are independent of the Pre-Planned/Target of Opportunity programming modes. A single depression of the weapons release button will release the currently stepped-to bomb; if the quantity option is used, all selected bombs will release as long as the button is held down.

Regardless of the release type, the following cues on the right side of the HUD are always displayed (when in A/G master mode):

  • Time to maximum range (TMR) timer in minutes and seconds (MM:SS); this is the time to IRLAR (see HSI indications). When within maximum range, it will display IN RNG. When in the IZLAR, it will display IN ZONE. IN RNG/ZONE will flash when the aircraft is about to leave the IZ/IRLAR.
  • Release mode.
  • Weapon type followed by TOO/PP.

When a Pre-Planned mission is programmed with a target, the same indications are displayed as when an A/G TGT is (range, diamond superimposed on the physical target, bearing arrow, and diamond on heading tape).

Below the velocity vector, two horizontal lines form the "pull-up cue". When the velocity vector is under the pull-up cue, the bomb is likely not to have sufficient time to arm itself if released.

MAN

Manual (MAN) mode allows for the bomb(s) to be released at any time. No specific HUD indications are provided for MAN mode.

AUTO LF

Not yet implemented.

FD

Not yet implemented.

HSI JDAM/JSOW Indications

Section WIP.

AGM-65 Maverick

The Hornet is capable of firing the short-range AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile. It uses two variants - the AGM-65E, which uses laser guidance, and the AGM-65F, which uses infrared guidance. Both have a range of approximately 12nm and have a 300lbs penetrating blast-fragmentation warhead.

The Maverick's seeker may lock onto a target that is farther away than the missile may physically reach. The calculated time until it can be launched is called the time to maximum range (TTMR). TTMR does not display more than 99 seconds. When the TTMR is up, the same indicating place will display "IN RNG". The TTMR/IN RNG indication requires the Maverick to be slaved to a designated TGT, as it cannot determine range alone.

The AGM-65 can be mounted single on stations 8, 7, 3, and 2.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
AGM-65E Maverick
MAV
AGM-65F Maverick
MAVF

AGM-65E

The AGM-65E uses a laser-tracking seeker to lock onto a laser of a specific frequency ("code"). It can be fired whenever it has successfully acquired a laser, either from its own airplane, another plane, or someone on the ground.

AGM-65E STORES Format

When selected on the STORES format, a "STEP" option is given to cycle the weapon stations the missiles are loaded onto and a "UFC" option, which brings up a UFC option to set the laser code - the first press will input it for all missiles, and further presses will cycle individual missiles to set separate codes if desired.

When first selected, the AGM-65E is given a 30-second test window and cannot be fired during this time. This timer can be viewed on the MAV format until it reaches 0.

MAV DSPLY Format

The Laser Maverick Display (MAV DSPLY) format is the primary means of operating the AGM-65E Maverick. It provides an indication of where the seeker is looking relative to the missile boresight. The MAV DSPLY format can be accessed by, when in the A/G master mode, selecting the AGM-65E in the STORES format again once it is already selected. Alternatively, whenever the AGM-65E is selected in the STORES format, it can be accessed on any display in the TAC menu. At the top of the MAV format is the currently loaded A/G munitions, just like the STORES page; MAV can be selected to go the STORES page.

When the missile is kept on boresight, it is "caged". When it is not, it is "uncaged". The seeker can be manually uncaged via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle and then will automatically search from side to side for a laser. If it acquires a laser, it will lock it. It can also be uncaged and then manually slewed by depressing the TDC while slewing it with the TDC. While TDC depress is held, the seeker is ground-stabilized to wherever it is. When TDC depress is released, it will attempt to lock onto a laser underneath it. If it cannot find one, it will resume automatic search. When an A/G TGT is designated, when uncaged it will slave to that TGT and attempt to lock onto a laser on said TGT and cannot be slewed as long as the TGT is designated.

MAV Labels 1.png
  1. Seeker Indication - An "X" indicating where the laser seeker is looking. This becomes a square if it is locked onto a laser. The dotted cross/circle indicates the boresight of the missile.
  2. -20° Indication - A horizontal line indicating 20° below gimbal. The Maverick seeker generally cannot lock beyond this and may not be able to maintain a lock if fired at this angle.
  3. Station and Status - Indicates the current station the missile is loaded on. Above is the A/G Ready status.
  4. STEP and UFC - Step and UFC option, as in the STORES format.
  5. Laser Codes - Station (left) and laser code for said station (right).
  6. Cage/Uncage and TTMR Indication - Indicates whether the missile is caged or uncaged. Above this is a TTMR/IN RNG indication when applicable.
  7. Fuzing Options - Instantaneous (INST) detonates the warhead immediately upon impact. Delay (DLY) 1 and 2 will detonate a set time after impact (with DLY2 longer than DLY1).

HUD Indications

On the HUD, an upside down triangle indicates where the laser seeker is looking. A crossed out "MAV" indication means the AGM-65E is selected but cannot be fired. "MAV LKD" indicates the missile is locked onto a laser (but may not be able to be fired, e.g. if the master arm is SAFE). If the Maverick is slaved to an A/G TGT, above this is a TTMR/IN RNG indication.









AGM-65F

The AGM-65F Maverick is fitted with an infrared seeker for acquiring a target with enough heat contrast to the background. It can be fired whenever locked onto a contrasting target.

AGM-65F STORES Format

The infrared Maverick, when selected on the STORES format, will provide a "STEP" option to cycle which specific Maverick will fire.

The AGM-65F requires its seeker to be cooled by releasing a fluant stored inside onto it for it to be able to see properly and cannot be operated until it is cooled. Upon first selection of it on the STORES format, cooling will be initiated. A timer counting down to operating status can be seen on the IMAV DSPLY format, which takes approximately 3 minutes.

IMAV DSPLY Format

The Infrared Maverick Display (IMAV DSPLY) format can be accessed by, when in the A/G master mode, selecting the AGM-65F in the STORES format again once it is already selected. Alternatively, whenever the AGM-65F is selected in the STORES format, it can be accessed on any display in the TAC menu. At the top of the IMAV format is the currently loaded A/G munitions, just like the STORES page; MAVF can be selected to go the STORES page.

The IMAV DSPLY format is the primary way of employing the infrared Maverick missile. It provides a video feed of the missile seeker once the seeker is cooled. The Maverick seeker is slewed by (with the TDC assigned to the IMAV DSPLY format) depressing the TDC while slewing it in any direction. When not slewed or locked but TDC depress is held down, the seeker will ground-stabilize to wherever the seeker is looking. TDC depress or the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle will "uncage" the seeker. When the seeker is caged, it will always point forward at its boresight. When uncaged, it will attempt to lock onto a contrasting target within the seeker center. If an A/G TGT is designated, the Maverick will be in slave mode, and when uncaged will be slaved to the A/G TGT and cannot be slewed as long as the A/G TGT exists. The Maverick cannot be uncaged when the master arm is set to SAFE.

IMAV Labels 1.png
  1. Seeker Center - There is a line pointing outward at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions when the Maverick is not locked but is spaced stabilized. The empty space in the center is the where the seeker will attempt to lock a target. The lines are not shown if the seeker is uncaged, not stabilized, and cannot find a target.
  2. Wide FOV Indication - Triangle in all 4 corners, indicating the seeker is in wide FOV mode.
  3. Cage/Uncage and TTMR - Indicates whether the seeker is caged or uncaged. Above is displayed, when applicable, TTMR/IN RNG.
  4. Station and Status - The station which the selected Maverick is on. Above is the A/G Ready status.
  5. Weapon Step - Weapon step function, as in the STORES format.
  6. Field of View Toggle - The seeker may be in "wide" FOV or "narrow" FOV. This can also be toggled via the FLIR FOV button on the throttle. FOV cannot be toggled when the Maverick is locked.
  7. Track Mode - In white track (WHT) mode, the lines will be green and the seeker will attempt to lock onto a hot target. In black track (BLK), the lines will be black and the seeker will attempt to lock onto a cold target.
  8. Ship Mode - This slightly enlarges the seeker center and optimizes it for locking onto and hitting a target on water.
  9. Fuzing options. Instantaneous (INST) detonates the warhead immediately upon impact. Delay (DLY) 1 and 2 will detonate a set time after impact (with DLY2 longer than DLY1).
  10. Seeker Position - The missile seeker position relative to its boresight. In this indication, the "X" is the seeker and the seeker center is the boresight. This is only shown when uncaged and the lines are visible.

Not shown is the slaved indication. This is a large "S" indication shown whenever the seeker is in A/G TGT slave mode.

HUD Indications

Whenever the AGM-65F is selected, the HUD will show "MAVF" and cross it out, except if it is in a condition to be fired. Above is a TTMR/IN RNG indication when applicable. An upside-down triangle indicates where the Maverick seeker is looking.

AGM-88C HARM

The AGM-88C High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) is an anti-radiation air-to-ground missile. Anti-radiation guidance homes in on radiowave emissions from a radar, allowing it to attack surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites. This mission type is often called suppression or destruction of enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD). Naturally, the HARM will not be able to guide accurately to impact if the radar source ceases emitting.

The AGM-88 can be mounted single on stations 8, 7, 2, and 3.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
AGM-88C HARM
HARM

HARM DSPLY Format

The HARM Display (HARM DSPLY) is the primary method of interfacing with the HARM. It can be accessed from the STORES format by selecting the HARM or in any master mode on the TAC menu whenever a HARM is loaded, even if not selected as the current weapon. The HARM is automatically selected as the current A/G weapon when the HARM DSPLY is selected from NAV or A/G master mode.

The HARM DSPLY format features the loaded A/G stores on the top, as with the STORES format; selecting "HARM" will deselect the missile and invoke the STORES format. A "STEP" option is also provided to step through each individual HARM loaded; the selected station is displayed on the format. On the left side, the desired HARM mode can be selected.

SP Mode

Self-Protect (SP) mode uses the radar warning receiver (RWR) to view and select emitters for the HARM to search for and then engage. This allows for 360° engagement; however, more kinetic energy is sacrificed to turn as the angle increases. Self-Protect is named as such because it is primarily designed for quick reaction to a threat.

SP HARM DSPLY Format

The HARM DSPLY format in Self-Protect mode provides a RESET option, which will select the highest-priority emitter.

SP RWR Indications

Self-Protect mode can be employed by any of the following RWR displays:

On these three RWR displays, whenever the HARM and SP mode is selected, a square is placed around the selected emitter; the highest priority emitter is selected automatically. The HARM Sequence button on the throttle is used to cycle them. Note that a maximum of 6 emitters are displayed on the HUD, but the HARM will always cycle all emitters.

Once an emitter is selected, the missile can be released via the weapons release button. It will either have already acquired the selected emitter or, if it is outside the seeker field of view when mounted on the aircraft, it will maneuver to the emitter and acquire it post-launch.

TOO Mode

Target of Opportunity (TOO) uses the HARM seeker itself to view and engage emitters. Up to 15 emitters can be displayed.

In TOO mode, the HARM DSPLY format provides a boresight view of the HARM seeker. Emitters are displayed with their standard NATO codes, except no emitter category symbols are displayed like on the radar warning receiver, except the line under to denote a sea-based emitter. Friendly emitters have their code prefixed with an "F".

The selected emitter is denoted by a box on the HARM DSPLY and a square target designator (TD) box is displayed on the HUD. The HARM automatically selects the highest priority emitter. Emitters are cycled via the HARM Sequence button on the throttle. The master arm must be set to ARM.

The desired emitter to attack is "handed off" to the selected HARM missile via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle (this toggles hand-off) with the TDC assigned to the format. "H-OFF" is indicated above the emitter on the HARM DSPLY and the HUD TD box and all other emitters are blanked from the display. Once handed off, the HARM may be fired via the weapons release button. As the hand-off is for a specific missile, it must be done again to fire sequential missiles at a single emitter.

TOO HARM DSPLY Format

HARM DSPLY TOO Format.png
  1. Format Field of View - "T" symbols on the four corners indicate the display limits of the format.
  2. Seeker Center - The "+" symbol indicates the center of the seeker.
  3. Emitters Outside FOV - An arrow on any of the four sides of the format indicates a seeker is detected in that direction but is presently outside the format display limits.
  4. Display Limit - Limits display to the 5 highest priority emitters.
  5. Emitter Categories Detected - Displays the emitter categories presently detected. A circle indicates an emitter of that category is in view. An up/left/right/down arrow indicates an emitter of that category is detected in said direction. Emitter category filters are also selectable. See the "class" filter option.
  6. Reset - Selects the highest priority emitter.
  7. Class Filter - Allows for only a specific class/category of emitters to be displayed.
HARM Emitter Classes
Class Description
ALL All classes
FRD Friendly emitters
HOS Hostile emitters
FN Friendly naval (sea-based) emitters
HM Hostile naval (sea-based) emitters
F1 Old friendly radar systems
F2 Modern friendly radar systems
H1 Old hostile radar systems
H2 Modern hostile radar systems
FAA Friendly anti-aircraft artillery
HAA Hostile anti-aircraft artillery
FS Friendly search radar
HS Hostile search radar
UKN Unknown class of emitter
PRI Emitter currently tracking the aircraft (priority)

PB Mode

Not yet implemented.

AGM-84D Harpoon

The AGM-84D Harpoon is a stand-off range active radar homing anti-ship missile. The missile can be given bearing or range and bearing information, which it will then use to search for and attack a seaborne target.

The Harpoon relies entirely on an inertial navigation system (INS), radar altimeter, and radar for guidance and so requires no post-launch support from the aircraft. It is equipped with a 500lbs high-explosive penetrator warhead and is effective up to approximately 70 nautical miles.

The AGM-84D can be mounted on stations 2, 3, 7, and 8.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
AGM-84D Harpoon
HPD

AGM-84D STORES Format

Harpoon STORES Labels - Common.png

The Harpoon missile is programmed from the STORES format. Upon being selected and powered by the SMS, the missile begins inertial alignment; a MM:SS timer counting down from 00:25 is displayed in the upper left. Once the timer reaches 0, it is removed and the Harpoon is aligned. Deselecting the Harpoon and selecting it will require it to be aligned again.

The following are the universal options present on the STORES format:

  1. Mode toggle between BOL and R/BL. An A/G TGT must exist to enter R/BL.
  2. Fly-out (FLT) altitude toggle between HIGH, MED, and LOW. This is the altitude the missile will fly at during the ingress/searching phase of flight. LOW is ~5,000ft, MED is ~15,000ft, and HIGH is ~35,000ft.
  3. Terminal (TERM) altitude toggle between SKIM and POP. This is the altitude the missile will fly at in the terminal phase of flight to ultimately impact the target. SKIM performs a very low-level approach all the way to impact. POP performs a high-G "pop-up" maneuver to impact the target from above.
  4. Cycles through 4 individual programs which include mode and all parameters. Each missile has its own independent set of 4 programs, allowing for multi-program successive launches.
  5. Current program and the parameters set for it. The parameters other than MODE, FLT, TERM, and HPTP are different in BOL and R/BL.
  6. Steps through and selects each loaded Harpoon station.
  7. Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) option. The HPTP is an optionally defined point to which the missile will fly before turning to the bearing specified (in either BOL or R/BL). Selecting this option makes the waypoint selected at that time the HPTP, which will be saved regardless of whether that waypoint remains selected. Deselecting the option removes the HPTP.
  8. IN ZONE/IN RNG/TTMR/out of zone cue.
    1. IN ZONE: displayed in BOL when no out of zone condition exists.
    2. IN RNG: displayed in RB/L mode when the aircraft is in range and no out of zone condition exists.
    3. TTMR: predicted time in seconds (to a maximum of 99) until the aircraft will reach maximum range in RB/L.
    4. Out of zone: one of various cues displayed in either BOL or RB/L if the aircraft meets one of these out of zone conditions:
      1. SRCH/DSTR: distance between BOL search point and destruct point is too small.
      2. DSTR RNG: BOL destruct range is greater than maximum range.
      3. INV TGT: R/BL TGT distance from aircraft is considered invalid (>172nm).
      4. ALT: aircraft altitude less than absolute minimum (generally 2,500ft above the ground).
      5. OFF AXIS: bearing to R/BL TGT, BOL search area, or HPTP is >90°.
      6. HPTP ANG: total angle at the HPTP is too large.
      7. A/C HPTP: aircraft is too close to the HPTP.
      8. TGT/HPTP: HPTP is too close to the R/BL TGT or BOL search area.

BOL Mode

Bearing-Only Launch (BOL) mode involves the missile being provided a bearing value relative to the aircraft or to an intermediate waypoint, which it will fly toward and attempt to detect a target with its radar within a defined search window. Alternatively, a Fixpoint (FXP) can be defined in BOL based on the bearing set at the time; the Harpoon's course will thus "pivot" around the FXP until launch, essentially defining a target point.

When launched in BOL mode, the Harpoon, at an altitude corresponding to the FLT option, travels either directly in the direction of the set bearing from the aircraft, directly to a Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) and then to the set bearing, or directly to the Fixpoint (FXP). At the defined search distance, the Harpoon will then initiate its search for a target. If it locates one, it will engage it based on the SKIM or POP terminal options. If it does not find a target before reaching the self-destruct point, it self-destructs.

BOL STORES Format

On the STORES format, two BOL-specific options are displayed:

  1. FXP: creates a Fixpoint (FXP) which is located halfway in distance between the search point and destruct point, based on the bearing value at that time. The course between the FXP and the aircraft then pivots around said FXP. If a HPTP exists (i.e. the option is boxed), the FXP option is removed and cannot be selected; conversely, selecting HPTP deselects FXP.
  2. UFC: brings up UFC options for programming BOL parameters.
    1. SRCH: the distance, in nautical miles, from launch to when the Harpoon will begin searching for a target. Valid value is between 0–105nm.
    2. DSTR: the distance, in nautical miles, the Harpoon will travel after launch before self-destructing if it does not find a target.
    3. BRG: the bearing, in degrees, the Harpoon will travel, if no Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) exists, at launch from the aircraft, or if a HPTP does exist, the bearing it will travel from the HPTP.

BOL HSI Indications

HPD HSI Indications - BOL 1.png

With the Harpoon missile selected and BOL mode active, the following indications are shown to visualize the Harpoon's path of travel.

  1. Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP), if one exists; the dot in the center is removed if the currently selected waypoint is not the HPTP waypoint. If an HPTP ANG condition exists, an "L" shape is drawn indicating the minimum required angle to remove the HPTP ANG condition.
  2. Line, shorter than the Rmax line, indicating where the Harpoon will begin its search.
  3. Line, larger than the search line, indicating the maximum range, or Rmax, of the Harpoon based on current flight parameters. This is only shown when Rmax is equal to less than the destruction range.
  4. "X" shape indicating the point at which the Harpoon will self-destruct.

It should be noted there is no HSI indication for the Fixpoint (FXP). A courseline is drawn:

  • if no HPTP or FXP exists, between the aircraft and the selected bearing
  • if a FXP exists, between the aircraft and through the FXP
  • if a HPTP exists, from the aircraft to the HPTP, and then another is drawn from the HPTP to the selected bearing.

If an OFF AXIS or HPTP ANG condition exists, the relevant courseline is dashed.

R/BL Mode

Range and Bearing Launch (R/BL) uses an A/G Target (TGT) designation to provide both range and bearing information to the Harpoon. This mode does not command the Harpoon to detonate on the TGT, but rather to begin searching for a suitable target near the TGT designation and then engage it. The altitude of the TGT designation is not relevant.

Upon launching the Harpoon in R/BL, it will travel, at an altitude corresponding to the FLT mode programmed, directly to, or first to a Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) and then directly to, the designated TGT point. The missile then begins searching a set programmed distance before the TGT. If it locates a target, it will engage it based on the SKIM or POP terminal modes.

R/BL STORES Format

One unique option is displayed on the STORES format for Range and Bearing Launch mode: "SEEK". This is the distance before the TGT point it will begin searching; a farther distance results in a larger search area:

  • SML: 5.4 nautical miles
  • MED: 10.8 nautical miles
  • LRG: 16.2 nautical miles

R/BL HSI Indications

The HSI format provides a courseline from the aircraft, if no Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) exists, directly to the TGT. If a HPTP exists, it leads directly to the HPTP, and then another line leads from the HPTP to the TGT.

If the aircraft is beyond the maximum range, then the line will still point from the aircraft to the TGT or HPTP, but will end at the maximum range point rather than end at the aircraft symbol.

If a HPTP ANG condition exists, the courseline to the HPTP is dashed and an "L" shape on the HPTP indicates the minimum acceptable angle. If an OFF AXIS condition exists, the appropriate courseline is dashed.

AGM-84D HUD Indications

With the HPD selected and the A/G master mode engaged, the HUD provides the following indications from top to bottom:

  • IN ZONE/IN RNG/TTMR/out of zone cue. This is identical to the indication shown on the STORES format.
  • "HPD" and the selected mode, e.g. "HPD BOL".

Resources


Manuals & Documents

Wags' Tutorial Videos

YouTube tutorial videos by Wags, the senior producer for DCS:

Other Tutorials