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The F/A-18C Hornet is a twin-engine, multi-role, carrier-capable fighter aircraft. Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop in the 1970s, it is the only aircraft in the US inventory to carry both the fighter and attack designation (the "F/A" part of the name). The airframe is capable of sharp angles of attack, high G turns (peaking at 7.5G), and supersonic speeds, nearing around Mach 1.8 with afterburner in optimal flight conditions.

The F/A-18C modeled in DCS represents an U.S. Navy Lot 20 aircraft, circa mid 2000s. It is fitted with the F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engines, which are the more powerful engines that replaced the original F404-GE-400 model. Its equipment includes the APG-73 Radar, APX-111 Combined Interrogator/Transponder (CIT), ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting FLIR (ATFLIR), and Link 16 datalink networking capability through a Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) terminal.

The Hornet is designed to be equally capable in both the air-to-air (A/A) and air-to-ground (A/G) arenas. Its avionic system is optimized for efficient single-crew operation of its many subsystems. The F/A-18 carries a wide array of both precision and conventional "dumb" bombs, A/A and A/G missiles, A/G rockets, and is supplemented with an internal 20mm gun mounted in the nose for both A/A and A/G application. The F/A-18's modern avionic system is designed for highly efficient single-crew operation of these weapons and the aircraft subsystems. This includes a fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS), which largely reduces the pilot workload in actual flying.

The Hornet entered service in 1978, replacing the A-4, A-7, and F-4 aircraft. It first saw combat in 1986 over the skies of Libya with numerous Hornets performing suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) strikes and conventional A/G attack missions. It again saw action during the Gulf War of 1991, as there were 106 in theater with the U.S. Navy (USN) along with a further 84 U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft that were shore-based. It was during the Gulf War when the Hornet was credited with its first A/A kills: two Iraqi MiG-21s, shot down by AIM-9 and AIM-7 missiles. Notably, the two F/A-18s credited with the kills went on to resume their strike mission and dropped their four Mk-84s (2,000lbs 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 received battle damage, which included 3 losses (two to ground fire and one very likely to an Iraqi MiG-25). All told, Hornets flew a total of 4,551 sorties in the Gulf War.

Since the Gulf War, the Hornet has been a vital piece of the USN/USMC inventory and has seen action in every conflict or operation since then. While it is still in active service with the Marine Corps until the early 2030s, in 2018 the Navy retired the F/A-18C/D from combat roles and in 2021 ended its use as the Blue Angels demonstration squadron aircraft. The F/A-18C/D Hornet served as the baseline for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the E/A-18G Growler.


Weapons List

The F/A-18 can use the following air-to-air (A/A) and air-to-ground (A/G) weapons.

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 (which will only be met in practice in clean or near clean configurations). 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 only as an emergency system and may cause damage to 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.


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.


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.


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. The trim switch is repurposed in CSS to command roll and pitch. 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 and bank angle. ATTH only functions within plus or minus 45° pitch and 70° left or right bank.
  • 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.


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.

Avionic System Overview

The F/A-18C Hornet is equipped with an expansive avionic software suite. This is organized into various pages, termed "formats," which provide information and allow the pilot to control a wide range of sub-systems.

The pilot interacts with these systems via the Multipurpose Display Group. This consists of:

  • Head-Up Display (HUD) - A collimated single-color (green) display projected onto a glass at the top of the cockpit front panel. The HUD is the primary flight instrument and also provides cuing for weapon and sensor employment.
  • Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) - A monocular single-color display mounted on the helmet in front of the right eye. The HMD duplicates most HUD symbology for reference when the pilot is not looking through the HUD. The HMD provides the unique ability to cue weapons/sensors and display targets outside the HUD field of view.
  • Left/Right Digital Display Indicator (LDDI/RDDI) - Two tricolor (green, red, and yellow) multifunctional screens are situated on the left and right sides of the front panel. The DDIs provide interfacing with all avionic subsystems.
  • Advanced Multipurpose Color Display (AMPCD) - An all-color multifunctional screen situated at the bottom center of the cockpit. The AMPCD is usually used as a navigation display with either the HSI or the SA format.

Tactical / Support Menu

The software on the multipurpose displays (LDDI, RDDI, or AMPCD) is manipulated by 20 pushbuttons (PBs). 5 are situated on each side. The PBs are numbered clockwise, beginning with the left row, bottom-most PB and ending with the bottom row, left-most PB. Access to all areas of the software is done from the central Tactical (TAC) and Support (SUPT) menus.

DDI Labels 2.png
  1. [TAC]/[SUPT] Menu - The available formats are split into the Tactical [TAC] and Support [SUPT] menus. The current menu is indicated by this [TAC] or [SUPT] legend. On any format, the bottom center pushbutton (PB18) will always invoke the [TAC] menu as a universal "return to menu" button. Selecting PB18 on the [TAC] menu will invoke the [SUPT] menu and vice-versa.
  2. System Time - With weight off wheels, the system time value is displayed here for maintenance purposes. Otherwise, the word MENU is displayed.
  3. Cautions - System cautions are displayed here on the left DDI in large text. Cautions display until the condition that caused them to display no longer exists. Cautions "spill" over from the LDDI to the MPCD and then the RDDI (in order) if there is not enough space to display all cautions or if a display fails.
  4. Advisories - Advisories are displayed here on the left DDI in regular text, separated by commas. Advisories display until the condition causing them to display no longer exists. Advisories "spill over" from the LDDI to the MPCD and then the RDDI (in order) if there is not enough space to display all advisories. Advisories are also moved to the MPCD if the LDDI is off or failed, is displaying a weapon video format (e.g. Maverick missile format), or is displaying the BIT format. A new advisory is indicated by being spaced away from the ADV- line and any previously acknowledged advisories. To acknowledge a new advisory, the master caution switch is pressed twice. The advisory will then "stack" directly next to the ADV- line.

The [TAC] menu provides weapon- and sensor-related displays, such as the Stores Management Set (SMS), Radar, and FLIR formats. The [SUPT] menu provides navigation and technical interfaces, such as the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) and Flight Control System (FCS) formats.

Selecting a format that is already displayed on another display will replace the format on that display with the [TAC] menu. For example, if the STORES format is on the RDDI, selecting the STORES format on the LDDI will display the STORES format on the LDDI and display the [TAC] menu on the RDDI. An exception applies to the HSI format, which can be displayed on the AMPCD and either the left or right DDI simultaneously, but not on both DDIs.


In addition to interfacing with the avionics using the pushbuttons (PBs) on the DDIs and MPCD, the F/A-18's hands on throttle and stick (HOTAS) control setup allows the pilot to manipulate various important functions without taking the hands off the throttle or the control stick. There are also some functions only available through the HOTAS.

This section will describe general HOTAS usage. Consult the appropriate sections for detailed descriptions of individual HOTAS functions for specific systems.


  1. Exterior Lights Switch - This switch is a master off control for the exterior lights with the exception of the landing/taxi light. In the aft position, all exterior lights are turned off. In the forward position, all exterior lights respond to their associated knobs on the left console.
  2. RAID Switch - The RAID switch performs various functions. Normally, it commands the Radar in and out of RAID mode if already in TWS or STT; from TWS it commands SCAN RAID and from STT it commands STT RAID. When the TDC is assigned to the FLIR format, it cycles between wide (WFOV), medium (MFOV), and narrow (NAR) fields of view (FOVs). When the HARM missile is selected in the SMS, it cycles Self Protect (SP) or Target of Opportunity (TOO) mode targets. When the infrared Maverick is selected in the SMS, it switches between wide and narrow seeker FOVs.
  3. ATC Switch - The ATC switch toggles the automatic throttle control (ATC) or "autothrottle" function, which automatically moves the throttle levers to maintain a speed. With the flaps set to AUTO, it toggles cruise ATC mode. With the flaps set to HALF or FULL, it toggles powered approach ATC mode. Refer to Automatic Throttle Control for details on these modes.
  4. Throttle Designation Controller (TDC) - The TDC switch on the throttle is used for a wide variety of slewing functions, analogous to a computer mouse. The TDC must be assigned to a format on either the LDDI, RDDI, or MPCD to manipulate it using the Sensor Control switch ("Castle switch") on the stick. Refer to Control Stick. Once the TDC is assigned to a format, a diamond is displayed in the upper-right corner and it can then be used to manipulate that format. On the Radar/Attack format, for example, the TDC slews the cursor which is used for a variety of functions such as target selection and scan centering; on the FLIR format, it physically points the FLIR and performs designation.

    In A/G and NAV master mode, the TDC can also be assigned to the HUD/HMD. It can then be used to create and/or slew an A/G target designation. A dot appears in the center of the velocity vector when assigned to the HUD and in the center of the dynamic aiming cross when assigned to the HMD. The TDC is assigned to one or the other (not both), but the switching is automatic such that whenever the head is pointed away from the automatic blanking zone (i.e. not at the HUD or inside the cockpit), the TDC is assigned to the HMD. Otherwise (i.e. when looking at the HUD or inside the cockpit), it is assigned to the HUD. Note that the Sensor Control switch only has to be pressed forward once at which point the TDC will swap between the HUD/HMD automatically.
  5. Cage/Uncage Switch - The Cage/Uncage switch performs numerous functions. In NAV master mode, it toggles the velocity vector on the HUD between caged operation, where a centered velocity vector and a "true" velocity vector is displayed, and uncaged operation, where a single true velocity vector is displayed. When the AIM-9 missile is selected it commands the seeker to independently track. With the AMRAAM missile it toggles between Boresight Visual and Command Inertial Active launch modes. With the Sparrow missile it toggles between lofted and normal missile trajectories. With TDC assigned to the A/G FLIR format it toggles Laser Spot Tracker (LST) operation. With the HARM missile selected, in TOO mode it commands the selected target to be handed off to the HARM missile for launch and in SP mode it selects the highest priority emitter. With the Maverick missile selected it cages and uncages the seeker.
  6. Communications Switch - This four-way switch serves as a push to talk (PTT) button for all four voice radios the F/A-18 can communicate on. Forward and aft transmit on the COMM1 and COMM2 radios, while up and down transmit on the MIDS voice A and voice B radios.
  7. Countermeasures Switch - The Countermeasures switch controls the Countermeasure Dispense System (CMDS). Its function depends on the CMDS mode. Except in BYPASS, the forward position always commands countermeasure program 5. In BYPASS, the forward position releases one chaff bundle and the aft position releases one flare. In S/A (semi-auto), the aft position gives consent to dispense the automatically selected program. In AUTO, the aft position has no function. Note that in both S/A and AUTO the forward position releases program 5.

Control Stick

  1. Sensor Control Switch - The Sensor Control switch on the flight control stick, commonly termed the "Castle switch" due to its shape resembling a castle, is used for various functions. Primarily, the purpose of the Sensor Control switch is to assign the Throttle Designator Controller (TDC) switch to formats to define what is manipulated by the TDC. Once the TDC is assigned to a format, however, the Sensor Control switch can perform further functions with subsequent actuations toward that format. For example, with the TDC already assigned to the A/A Attack format, a subsequent bump toward the Attack format usually commands the Radar into track on the target under the cursor. Functions like this are detailed in the appropriate sections.

    The left, right, and aft switch positions assign the TDC to the LDDI, RDDI, and MPCD in all master modes. When the format on a given display cannot accept TDC assignment (e.g. Tactical Menu format or FPAS format) and the Sensor Control switch is pressed toward it, it automatically invokes a format on that display. On the LDDI, in A/A master mode only, the Sensor Control switch invokes the Az/El format. On the RDDI, the Sensor Control switch invokes the Radar/Attack format in the last A/A or A/G Radar mode selected. On the MPCD, it invokes the HSI format. With the TDC assigned to the HSI format or the SA format, on any display, the Sensor Control switch cycles the two formats.

    The forward position function is dependent on master mode:

    In NAV and A/G master mode, it assigns the TDC to the HUD/HMD. The actual TDC assignment between the HUD versus the HMD occurs automatically at all times and does not require subsequent Sensor Control switch activations. Refer to Throttle for details.

    In A/A master mode, the forward position of the Sensor Control switch enters the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) condition, from which the close-range, visual Radar acquisition modes can be selected. Upon first Castling forward, the Radar enters Helmet Acquisition mode. It can then be used to select the other ACM modes: Long Range Helmet Acq, Wide Acq, and Vertical Acq. Refer to Air Combat Maneuvering Modes. The Undesignate button will exit the ACM condition and return to normal "top level" Sensor Control switch functionality. Note that a special scenario occurs when the A/A Gun is selected, where the Radar is always in the ACM condition (i.e. it cannot be exited). As such, the Sensor Control switch is always configured for ACM functionality when the Gun is selected.

    The depress position is used as a modifier. Depressing the Castle switch and then pressing right commands an IFF interrogation on the target under the cursor.
  2. A/A Weapon Select Switch - The Weapon Select Switch is used to select the A/A missiles and the A/A Gun. Selecting any A/A weapon with the switch also automatically enters A/A master mode, initializes the A/A Radar/Attack format on the RDDI, and the Stores format on the LDDI. If the Gun is selected, it also enters the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) condition and commands the Radar into Gun Acquisition mode. Subsequent actuations in the same direction after a weapon is selected will step through the different stations of that weapon that are loaded.
  3. Trim Switch - The Trim Switch commands pitch and roll trim to the Flight Control System (FCS).
  4. Undesignate/NWS Button - The Undesignate button is used to undesignate the A/G target designation in the NAV or A/G master modes.

    In A/A master mode, it performs a designation function by stepping the Launch & Steering (L&S) target designation through all ranked trackfiles. If a Secondary Designated Target (DT2) has been designated also, the Undesignate button instead swaps the L&S and DT2 designations. If the Radar is in STT, Spotlight, SCAN RAID, ACM, or FLOOD, the Undesignate button exits those modes instead of affecting the L&S/DT2.

    When pressed twice within one second, the Undesignate toggles the FLIR Velocity Vector Slaved (VVSLV) pointing mode.

    With weight on wheels, it serves as the NWS button. If NWS is off, it activates NWS. With NWS on, it will command high gain NWS (NWS HI). When the wings are folded the high gain steering is a toggle, while when not folded the high gain steering is only engaged while the button is held down.
  5. Trigger - The trigger is used to fire all A/A weapons (missiles and Gun), the A/G Gun, and the Laser Target Designator/Ranger (LTD/R).
  6. A/G Weapon Release Button - The Weapon Release Button is used to release all A/G munitions other than the Gun.

Master Modes

The avionics has three mutually exclusive master modes: Navigation (NAV), Air-to-Ground (A/G), and Air-to-Air (A/A). Each master mode is tailored to that purpose with some functionality overlap. A general overview of the master modes is provided in this section.

NAV Master Mode

In NAV master mode, the HUD is tailored to navigation. No weapon cuing is displayed, the bank angle scale is displayed, and the velocity vector can be toggled between caged and uncaged operation. The FLIR operates in A/G mode while in NAV. A/G weapon selection and programming is available, but weapon release is not permitted. Note that the A/A weapons are exclusive to A/A master mode. All A/G and A/A Radar modes are available, with the exception of the A/A Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes. Additionally, the Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El) format is not available.

NAV master mode is indicated by neither the "A/A" nor "A/G" lights being illuminated on the Master Arm Panel. It is selected by deselecting either the A/G or A/A master mode. NAV is also the only master mode available when the gear is down with no weight on wheels; i.e. in the air with the gear down. NAV is automatically selected on the ground when the throttle levers are advanced past 27°. This is to force NAV master mode on takeoff.

A/G Master Mode

A/G master mode allows for the release of A/G munitions and for HUD cuing to be shown for A/G weapons. A/G master mode also allows for the weapon formats to be displayed for Maverick missile. A/G master mode is otherwise similar to NAV master mode since NAV still allows for A/G weapon programming, A/G FLIR operation, and A/G Radar operation. In A/G, however, A/A Radar operation is more limited in that MSI trackfiles are not processed. As such TWS mode and STT mode are not available, and RWS does not process any trackfiles.

A/G master mode is selected with the A/G button on the Master Arm Panel and is indicated by the "A/G" light. Upon selection the Stores and Radar formats are displayed on the left and right DDIs.

A/A Master Mode

The A/A master mode is tailored toward A/A combat. In A/A master mode, an A/A weapon is always selected and appropriate cuing is displayed on the HUD and Radar/Attack format. A/A master mode makes the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes available as well as the Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El) format. The A/G Radar modes are not available in A/A. The FLIR operates in A/A mode. A/G designation is not available. A/G weapons cannot be selected/programmed in A/A.

A/A master mode can be selected with the A/A button on the Master Arm Panel on which the "A/A" light is illuminated. The A/A master mode can also be selected using the Weapon Select switch on the stick. Upon entering A/A master mode the Stores and Radar/Attack formats are automatically displayed on the left and right DDIs. This mechanization makes it easy to rapidly configure for an A/A engagement via the HOTAS.


UFC Labels 1.png

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), BCN (not yet implemented), and a multifunction ON/OFF button which has different functionality based on the selected system.
  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: Indicates whether the selected frequency is in the AM or FM band.
  • Cypher (CPHR): Not yet implemented.

Head-up Display

HUD NAV Master Mode Labels 3.png

This section will only cover the primary flight instruments that are on the HUD in NAV master mode. The HUD also provides various navigation, sensor, and weapon cues that are detailed in the relevant sections.

  1. Altitude - This is the aircraft altitude displayed in feet either above sea level (MSL) or above ground level (AGL) dependent on the altitude source switch position (below the UFC) and the Radar altimeter receiving a valid readout. The Radar altimeter will always be considered invalid above 5,000 ft. 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.
    1. Altitude source set to barometric - barometric altitude is displayed
    2. Altitude source set to Radar, Radar altimeter readout is valid - Radar altitude is displayed and indicated by an R
    3. Altitude source set to Radar, Radar altimeter readout is invalid - barometric altitude is displayed and indicated by a flashing B
  2. Vertical Speed - 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 DATA sublevel. The heading caret indicates the current heading on the tape which is either an arrow (magnetic heading) or "T" symbol (true heading). The heading tape is raised +1.25° from its position in NAV master mode when in A/G or A/A.
  4. Horizon Line - Indicates the horizon.
  5. Pitch Ladder - Numbered lines indicate degrees above or below the horizon. Lines below are dashed while lines above are solid. As the angle increases, the lines curve sharper toward the horizon. The pitch ladder is centered on the solid velocity vector (whether caged or uncaged). When the velocity vector leaves the field of view of the HUD, the pitch ladder moves to center on the waterline.
  6. Bank Angle - The triangle indicates current bank angle to a maximum of 47°. When bank angle is greater than 47°, the triangle flashes. The marks indicate in either direction 5°, 15°, 30°, and 45° angles of bank.
  7. 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.
  8. G Indicator
  9. Mach Number
  10. Angle of Attack - The current angle of attack in degrees.
  11. Ghost / True Velocity Vector - When the velocity vector is uncaged, this segmented velocity vector symbol indicates the true horizontal and vertical velocity of the aircraft. When caged, it is blanked and the solid velocity vector indicates both horizontal/vertical velocity.
  12. Vertical Velocity Vector - When the velocity vector is uncaged, this solid velocity vector indicates only the vertical velocity of the aircraft and is vertically centered within the pitch latter. When the velocity vector is caged, the solid velocity vector indicates the true horizontal and vertical velocity of the aircraft.
  13. Indicated Airspeed - The current indicated airspeed in knots.
  14. Waterline - This W symbol is the point of reference for the aircraft pitch. In other words, it indicates the nose of the aircraft. The waterline is only displayed when the velocity vector is outside the field of view of the HUD or when the gear lever is down.

Gear Down HUD

When the landing gear is down/locked, NAV master mode is forced (when airborne). The following HUD changes occur:

  • Waterline is constantly displayed
  • Angle of attack bracket is displayed
  • Horizon line is elongated
  • Mach, G, and peak G are removed
  • Angle of attack is removed if velocity vector is within AOA bracket

AOA Bracket

The angle of attack (AOA) bracket is an "E"-shaped bracket displayed on the HUD when the gear is down. The bracket's position relative to the velocity vector indicates angle of attack. Three tick marks on the E shape indicate, from top to bottom, 6.9°, 8.1°, and 9.3° AOA, with 8.1 being optimal "on speed AOA" for landing.

Symbology 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 box around airspeed and altitude; removes 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. The ghost velocity vector only displays when it would be at least 2° from the caged velocity vector.

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 format is a repeater of the HUD symbology accessible from 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 integrates with various sensor and weapon systems. The HMD allows the pilot to see targeting symbology outside the field of view of the HUD, such as A/A and A/G targets, and cue various systems with the head, such as the Radar.

The HMD duplicates most symbology found on the HUD except symbology that would not be useful on a helmet display. As such, the velocity vector, pitch ladder, and bank angle indicator is not displayed. Furthermore, the heading tape represents where the HMD is centered instead of mirroring the HUD, which indicates the aircraft heading. The numeric heading of the aircraft can, however, be seen on the HMD directly below the heading tape. A number above the heading tape indicates the vertical angle of the HMD relative to the horizon.

The symbology reject switch only affects that HUD and not the HMD. HMD symbology can be rejected via the HMD format on the [SUPT] menu.

In NAV and A/G, TDC is assigned to the HUD.HMD via Sensor Control switch forward. When the HMD is pointed outside the automatic blanking zone, the TDC is assigned to the HMD and is indicated by a dot in the center of the Aiming Cross. When pointed inside (i.e. looking within the cockpit or at the HUD), the TDC is assigned to the HUD.

HMD power is controlled via the HMD brightness knob located right of the RDDI. The HMD is powered when the knob is anywhere but the leftmost rotation. The HMD can be blanked and unblanked by pressing the RECCE Event Marker button on the stick. The HMD remains powered when blanked and avionics systems do not revert to "HMD off" logic when blanked; for example, the AIM-9 will continue to cue to the HMD even when the symbology is blanked.

HMD Format

HMD Format Labels 1.png

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 Systems

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.

Navigation HUD (General)

HSI Format

HSI Labels 1.png

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

The HSI format can be invoked from the [SUPT] menu. It can also be invoked onto the AMPCD by pressing the Sensor Control switch aft. Furthermore, when the SA format is on any DDI or the MPCD, bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the SA with the TDC already assigned to it will swap the SA for the HSI format and vice-versa.

  1. Lubberline - The "lubberline" is a solid line that indicates the current aircraft heading.
  2. Ground Track Pointer - The diamond shape indicates the current aircraft ground track.
  3. Compass Rose - The compass rose is comprised of numbers and dots which indicate headings in ten degree increments. The numbers represent hundreds of degrees (e.g. 24=240°) Along the compass is a triangle indicating the bearing to the selected waypoint or tuned TACAN. These are differentiated by a circle inside the triangle for the waypoint and a "T" in the triangle for TACAN. A line (waypoint) and oval shape (TACAN) indicates the reciprocals of the triangles.
  4. Aircraft Symbol - This indicates the position of the aircraft itself. It is oriented toward the current heading.
  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 where 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 information displays in the upper right corner for the selected waypoint and in the upper left for the selected TACAN. From top to bottom, it shows:
    1. Bearing/Distance to Waypoint/TACAN (for waypoint, horizontal distance; for TACAN, slant range)
    2. Dynamic ETA to Waypoint/TACAN (HH:MM:SS)
    3. Waypoint Name/TACAN ID
    4. Fuel Remaining at Waypoint/TACAN (when selected as steer-to point)
    5. Recommended Top of Descent (in nautical miles; distance from the waypoint/TACAN to begin a descent based on a 4° glideslope)
  11. Waypoint Steering - This selects the current waypoint as the steer-to point and displays navigational cues for the presently selected waypoint on the HUD.
  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. Waypoint Designate - Designates the currently selected waypoint as the air-to-ground designation (TGT) point. This is termed a NAV designation. 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.
    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. This can be selected simultaneously with TACAN or WYPT steering.
  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.


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 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 designation.
    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 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.


Not yet implemented.

HUD Steering Modes

The HUD can operate in one of three steering modes:

  • Waypoint Steering - Steering cues are provided to the selected waypoint, markpoint, or offset.
  • TACAN Steering - Steering cues are provided to the selected TACAN station.
  • Target Steering - Steering cues are provided to the current A/G target designation.

Waypoint and TACAN steering are controlled via the WYPT and TCN options on the HSI format. Target steering is automatically entered whenever a designation exists and replaces the WYPT option on the HSI with a boxed TGT label.

HUD NAV Labels 1.png
  1. Distance to Steer Point - This is the distance in tenths of a nautical mile to the waypoint (or markpoint, etc), TACAN, or designation. After the distance is the type of steer-to point. For a waypoint, markpoint, or offset, a letter W, M, or O followed by its number is displayed. For a TACAN station, its three letter ID is displayed. For the A/G designation, TGT is displayed. The distance is slant range for a TACAN and distance over the ground for all others.
  2. Command Steering Cue - The command steering cue on the heading tape indicates the wind corrected heading toward the steer point. When steering to other than the designation, the command steering cue is a pipe symbol (as illustrated). When steering to the designation, the cue is a diamond.

HUD TOT Symbology

With a time on target (TOT) entered for a waypoint in the sequence via the SEQUFC option on the HSI DATA sublevel, an indication is provided under the airspeed window on the HUD to visualize the groundspeed required to meet the TOT specified.

HUD TOT indicator.jpg
  1. Target Speed Indicator - This line visually indicates the ground speed required to overfly the waypoint at the TOT specified.
  2. Required Groundspeed Cue - This caret indicates the current speed relative to the speed that would meet the TOT exactly (target speed). The symbol is aligned with the target speed indicator line to make time on target. When the caret is to the right of the line, the current speed is faster than the target speed; i.e. the aircraft will arrive earlier than the TOT. When the caret is to the left of the indicator, the current speed is lower than the target speed. The caret will only move when the groundspeed is ±30kts of the target speed.


The F/A-18C can store up to 60 arbitrarily defined INS-based waypoints in up to 3 sequences, which are series of waypoints. Waypoints are defined by a set of coordinates, displayed and enterable in both latitude/longitude and Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), 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. Waypoint 0 is reserved for the initial position of the aircraft on startup.


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.


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.


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.


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:

  • ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS) - Allows for the release of chaff, flares, and decoys to spoof enemy Radar- and infrared-based weapon tracking systems
  • AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ) - Jams enemy aircraft and weapon radars.
  • AN/ALR-67 Radar Warning Reciever (RWR) - Detects and identifies enemy Radar emitters and then displays bearing and identification information to the pilot. It can detect missiles and missile launches under certain circumstances.


The AN/ALR-67 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) provides the Hornet the ability to detect radars on both aircraft and active Radar homing missiles 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 Early Warning (EW) Format is the primary interface with the RWR.

  1. AN/ALR-67 Status - "OFF" indicates no power and "RCV" means it is on and receiving.
  2. RWR Display - The EW format provides 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 settings selected via the physical DIS TYPE knob and pushbuttons.
  4. HUD Emitter Bearings - Toggles HUD emitter indications. Emitters on the HMD must be toggled via the HMD Format instead.

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/HMD 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 indicate tracking and the line underneath to indicate a sea-based emitter.

The maximum number of emitters on the HUD is reduced further when both a certain A/A weapon is selected and the Radar is in Single Target Track. The HMD is unaffected.

  • 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 data 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 the emitter itself is a missile.

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

Emitter Identifiers

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 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


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 Early Warning (EW) Format.

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 Early Warning (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.


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:


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.


Section WIP.

Air-to-Ground Radar

The Hornet's AN/APG-73 Radar system provides the ability to paint a picture of the ground in various processing modes, make ground designations, and can also initiate a track (a traditional 'lock') on a surface hit. This section will cover the air-to-ground capabilities of the Radar. The A/G Radar is accessed via the Radar/Attack (RDR ATTK) in the NAV and A/G master modes with the SURF (Surface) option. Entering A/G master mode automatically brings up the Attack format in Surface (A/G) mode. A/G is the default mode when invoking the Attack format in NAV or A/G, although the A/A Radar can still be selected. In A/A master mode, the A/G Radar is unavailable.

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.


AG ATTK Labels 2.png

The A/G Attack format is the primary interface with the ground Radar.

The format contains various options and the Radar display itself, termed the "tactical region." The tactical region takes the actual, conical shape of the Radar scan without augmentation. It is set to a "ground-track up" orientation. The tactical region consists of three vertical lines each indicating 30° (120° total) and four range arcs each indicating 1/4 of the current maximum range.

An A/G Target can be created by depressing the TDC cursor over the desired location in the tactical region. A slewable azimuth line and a range arc is displayed as long as the TDC is depressed. The intersection of the arc and the line is where the designation will be created or moved upon releasing the TDC.

  1. Operating Mode - Current operating mode of the Radar. This option serves as a toggle through each mode.
  2. Radar Status - Current status of the Radar.
  3. Beam Width - Toggles the beam width between narrow (PENCIL) and wide (FAN). FAN will result in a broader/quicker scan but less defined image.
  4. Maximum Range - Current maximum range from the aircraft displayed.
  5. Range Scale - Sets the range scale. If an A/G TGT exists, the arrows are removed and the Radar automatically adjusts the scale to keep the TGT within 45%-93% (vertically) of the tactical region. The range scale can also be set by slewing the cursor in and out of the bottom or top center of the tactical region within 0.8 seconds.
  6. Minimum Range - Current minimum range (from the aircraft) displayed in the tactical region.
  7. Freeze - Freezes the current output image. The Radar continues to scan and will update when this option is unboxed.
  8. Reset - Resets the antenna elevation and gain to the optimal settings.
  9. Silent - Stops the Radar from scanning and invokes the SIL sublevel.
  10. Radar Channel - Not yet implemented.
  11. Azimuth - Sets current scan azimuth, cycling through 120°, 20°, 45°, and 90°.
  12. Air-to-Air Radar - Invokes the A/A Attack format.
  13. ECCM - Not yet implemented.
  14. TDC Cursor - TDC cursor used for making an A/G TGT designation, tracking, and setting EXP search areas.
  15. Velocity Vector / Horizon Line - Horizon line and caged velocity vector.
  16. Airspeed / Mach
  17. Aircraft Altitude - This altitude is presented the same as on the HUD, in line with barometric vs. Radar altimeter logic.
  18. Current Gain
  19. Antenna Elevation - The caret indication shows the elevation of the Radar antenna relative to the horizon, controlled with the Antenna Elevation Wheel on the throttle. The antenna can be moved 60° up or down; the tick marks along the scale each indicate 10°. The horizontal line indicates the optimal elevation given the current range scale and aircraft altitude. The antenna elevation is initialized at this optimal line when the A/G Attack format is entered.

Not shown is the A/G Target indication. This is an "+" symbol, aligned to the aircraft itself, that indicates the A/G Target location.

DATA Sublevel

AG ATTK DATA Labels 1.png
  1. Declutter - Removes airspeed/Mach, horizon line/velocity vector, and altitude indications.
  2. Gain - Sets the Radar gain.

SIL Sublevel

Section WIP.

Real-Beam Ground Map (MAP)

The Real-Beam Ground Map (MAP) mode provides a "raw" output of the environment as scanned by the Radar. It can display terrain out to 160nm, though the higher resolution Expand (EXP) function is only available to 40nm. MAP is a very low-resolution display, however a concentrated area can be enhanced in detail with the Expand (EXP) function.

Expand (EXP)

AG Radar EXP Labels 1.png
  1. EXP Options - Available in regular MAP mode and from any EXP mode, these options toggle the Expand modes.
  2. Angle-Off-Track - The angle left or right from the ground track to the center of the EXP scan.
  3. MAP Mode - This option, which otherwise toggles through the various A/G Radar modes, returns to regular MAP mode when already in EXP.
  4. Fast Scan - Boxing the FAST scan option doubles the Radar's rate of scan for a reduction of approximately half the scan quality.

There are three Expand (EXP) levels available in MAP mode to provide a refined scan of a particular area. These are termed Doppler Beam-Sharped (DBS) modes and can provide extremely improved resolution from normal MAP. All EXP modes have a maximum range (the farthest point displayed in the given EXP mode) of 40nm.

In EXP, an A/G Target designation can be made (or moved) by holding the TDC. This will display a slewable cross shape. Upon releasing the TDC, the Target designation will be made at the center of the cross and the EXP scan will move to center on the designation.

It should be noted that the A/G Radar requires objects to not be directly head-on with its ground track to create a Doppler shift and actually output an image. This effect is prevalent while in EXP. Areas without sufficient Doppler shift will be drawn blank.

When no A/G TGT exists, selecting any Expand mode from the main MAP format (or a preceding EXP level, e.g. EXP2 from EXP1) will display a "corral cursor", indicating the area the EXP mode will cover once entered. This corral can then be slewed by holding the TDC down and slewing. Releasing the TDC will enter that EXP mode. Selecting a mode higher than the current one (e.g. EXP1 from EXP2), the mode is immediately entered centered on the previous center.

When an A/G TGT exists, selecting any Expand mode immediately enters that mode centered on the TGT designation.

When the range to the center of the EXP2 or EXP3 scan is less than 3nm, the Radar automatically reverts to normal MAP mode.

  • EXP1 - EXP1 is also called "DBS Sector" and is the lowest resolution EXP. The azimuth in EXP1 is fixed to 45° and no range scale selection is available. If an A/G Target is designated, the EXP1 display is stabilized to the designation (ground track up). Otherwise, it snowplows as in the regular MAP mode.
  • EXP2 - EXP2 is a medium resolution mode with a fixed 12.6° azimuth. It is known as "DBS Patch". EXP2 is always stabilized to the center of its scan, regardless of whether an A/G Target exists.
  • EXP3 - EXP3 is considered a Synthetic Aperture Radar mode and is the highest possible resolution the Radar is capable of. It provides a fixed view of 1.2x1.2nm and is always stabilized to the center. Since EXP3 is based on a set size and EXP2 (and 1) are based on azimuth angle, EXP2 will actually provide a higher resolution display below a range of ~6nm.

Sea Surface Search (SEA)

Not yet implemented.

Ground Moving Target (GMT)

Not yet implemented.

Terrain Avoidance (TA)

Not yet implemented.

Air-to-Ground Ranging (AGR)

Air-to-Ground Ranging (AGR) is a function of the A/G Radar used to determine and display the range to either the A/G Target designation or Continuously Computed Impact Point (CCIP) weapons reticle for release calculation.

AGR is the primary method of ranging calculation for CCIP reticles, unless a tracking TGT designation exists from another sensor, in which case the reticle is driven by the TGT location and thereby by whatever sensor is providing the designation (e.g. FLIR track, Radar track). This is not applicable for conventional or laser guided bombs when a TGT is designated since only AUTO release is available.

AGR is commanded by pressing the Sensor Control Switch forward with or without the TDC already assigned to the HUD. AGR mode is indicated by an AGR legend on the HUD. AGR is exited by pressing the Undesignate button or assigning TDC to the Attack format. The Radar will return to the previous search mode.

The AGR look-point is one of the following:

  • TDC assigned to HUD - One of the following reticles, otherwise velocity vector
    • (Gun) CCIP reticle
    • (Rockets) CCIP reticle
    • (Conventional/LGBs) CCIP impact cross
  • TDC assigned to FLIR - FLIR reticle

Air-to-Air Radar

The F/A-18C Hornet is equipped with the AN/APG-73 pulse-Doppler Radar which provides multiple modes of operation for air-to-air (A/A) target detection, acquisition, and engagement. The Hornet's A/A avionics suite allows for efficient single crew manipulation of the Radar in both beyond visual range (BVR) battle and within visual range (WVR) dogfight environments.

The A/A systems integrate onboard Radar and offboard Datalink information to provide the pilot a sensor-fuzed Multi-Source Integration (MSI) picture. The MSI picture as well as the manipulation of the Radar as a sensor is provided on the primary three A/A formats:

  • Radar/Attack Format - The Attack format is a top-down, B-scope view of the attack region, which is the 140° area in front of the aircraft reachable by the Radar gimbal limits. The Attack format allows for manipulation of all Radar functions such as operating modes and scan settings. Furthermore, it is the only format that displays the raw returns of the Radar ("hits") instead of only MSI trackfiles. The Attack format also provides A/A weapon cuing, allowing the pilot to stay "heads down" in a beyond visual range engagement.
  • Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El) Format - The Az/El format provides a forward-looking boresight projection of MSI trackfiles. It covers the attack region in azimuth (±70°) and up to ±70° in elevation. Radar scan centering and acquisition is available from the Az/El format. The Az/El is also the primary interface for cuing the Combined Interrogator/Transponder (CIT) to do IFF interrogations. Furthermore, the FLIR can be pointed via the Az/El format and be slaved to any trackfile.
  • Situation Awareness (SA) Format - The SA format provides a top-down display of MSI trackfiles around the aircraft. In particular, this allows the pilot to see MSI Datalink trackfiles behind the aircraft the view of the Attack and Az/El formats. It doubles as a navigation display with many of the same options as the HSI format. The SA displays expanded trackfile information, though is not a direct interface with any Radar functions.

The Radar itself is controlled by a knob on the right console. This is the only Radar control not done through the avionic system. 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.

MSI Trackfiles

Multi-Source Integration (MSI) trackfiles, or just "trackfiles" or "tracks", are singular airborne targets with information associated to them by the computer, such as position, kinematics, and identification. MSI combines sensor data inputted by the onboard Radar and offboard Datalink to present one sensor-fused picture.

MSI trackfiles contributed to by the ownship Radar are termed Radar trackfiles. MSI tracks contributed to by Datalink (radars from other aircraft and units) are termed Datalink trackfiles. When a Radar and Datalink trackfile represent the same target, they are fused into a single trackfile, hence Multi-Source Integration (MSI).

A Radar trackfile is contrasted to a raw Radar "hit", which is a fixed position at which the Radar has observed a target. Multiple Radar hits recognized by the computer to really be the same aircraft in motion form Radar trackfiles.

The Radar maintains of 10 trackfiles when in RWS or TWS mode. The target in STT is also maintained as a trackfile. No trackfiles are maintained in the ACM modes or VS. The limit is coincident with the number of AMRAAM missiles the F/A-18 can carry, permitting simultaneous attack against up to 10 different targets.

A maximum of 16 Datalink trackfiles is supported. These may also be correlated to Radar trackfiles and appear as one. Datalink tracks are transmitted through the Link 16 network, specifically through either the Fighter-to-Fighter (F/F), Surveillance (SURV), or Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) network groups. F/F and SURV provide trackfile data from radars of other fighter and airborne warning and control system (AWACS)-type aircraft. SURV also includes some ground- and sea-based radars. The principle difference is that F/F sensors usually provide much higher refresh rates. PPLI transmits the broadcasting friendly aircraft itself as a trackfile.

MSI trackfiles are usually displayed as symbols called HAFUs on the Radar/Attack, Azimuth/Elevation, and Situation Awareness formats. A unique scenario occurs on the Attack format in that it also displays raw Radar hits and it may in, certain modes, even hide HAFUs associated with such hits even if a trackfile does exist for it. Regardless, on the Az/El and SA formats, all trackfiles are always displayed, with no raw hits.

The MSI trackfiles designated by the pilot as the Launch & Steering target or Secondary Designated Target are displayed on the HUD and HMD. Furthermore, a configurable array of A/A MSI tracks are always displayed on the HMD regardless of designation.

Trackfile Extrapolation

Based on last-known velocity and speed parameters, the Radar continuously extrapolates the trackfile's current position. This provides the pilot a reasonable representation of where the target may be in between Radar sweeps.

A larger scan volume results in individual trackfiles having lower update rates and so any maneuvering in between extrapolations is exacerbated the larger the scan volume is. For example, if a target makes a turn or significantly decelerates or accelerates, then the trackfile will appear to be going in its last known trend and then "jump" at the next refresh. A smaller scan volume makes these jumps less pronounced as there is less time for the target to maneuver between refreshes.

Note that raw Radar hits (green bricks) are not extrapolated. Rather, they remain fixed at a single position in space.

Trackfile Memory

Not yet implemented.

Trackfile Rank and Priority

Angle Only Trackfiles

Radar hits determined to have an invalid range are declared angle only trackfiles (AOTs). AOTs are displayed in the AOT zone or "dugout" area on the Attack format and outside the compass rose on the SA format. AOTs with a valid elevation angle are displayed normally on the Az/El format. If only azimuth is known, they are also displayed in the Az/El dugout. Angle only raw hit "bricks" will never be displayed.

An AOT is represented by a regular HAFU symbol without an aspect pointer. The center symbol is a letter A. A letter J to the left indicates that jamming is detected. An F to the right indicates the FLIR line of sight is correlated to that AOT.

When the Radar is in STT and the L&S is an angle only trackfile, a RDR AOT cue is displayed at the center of the Attack format. On the HUD the target designator box and, if applicable, the Allowable Steering Error (ASE) and steering dot are still displayed. However, there are no Normalized In-Range Display (NIRD) cues.

AOTs are Radar-only trackfiles as they inherently cannot be correlated to Datalink trackfiles without range from ownship. As such, AOTs are not transmitted as Datalink contributors.

Trackfile Designation

Any onboard Radar trackfile can be designated as a target by the pilot to provide attack cuing and define the target for A/A weapons.

The Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile is the primary pilot-designated target. The L&S designation is critical to the A/A weapon systems; refer to A/A Weapons for details. The L&S trackfile is indicated by a star in the middle of its HAFU symbol.

On the Attack, Az/El, and SA formats, the L&S target HAFU always has Mach and altitude numbers to the left and right. When an A/A missile is selected, a Launch Zone is also displayed on the Attack format to indicate the firing envelope against the L&S.

On the HUD and HMD, the line of sight to the L&S target is indicated by a target designator (TD) box, and its range and closure rate (Vc) are also displayed. Additional attack cuing is also present on the HUD/HMD when an A/A weapon is selected.

The L&S is incorporated into many functions detailed in the appropriate sections. For example, the L&S can be quickly acquired into STT by the Radar by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Attack format when no target is under the cursor (refer to Automatic Acquisition).

A Secondary Designated Target (DT2) can be designated once an L&S exists. It is indicated by a diamond in the center of its HAFU. Like the L&S, its Mach and altitude is displayed in addition to missile Launch Zones. A target designator "X" symbol is displayed on the HUD/HMD to indicate the line of sight to the DT2, but no additional HUD/HMD cuing is provided for the DT2 like there is for the L&S.

The main purpose of the DT2 is to be able to easily swap another trackfile of interest in as the L&S. Pressing the Undesignate button swaps the L&S and DT2 designations. However, this can be detrimental if more than two targets are desired for attack because the Undesignate button will no longer step the L&S designation through the trackfiles (refer to Designation via Undesignate Button). For this reason, designating a DT2 may not always be advantageous.

Designation via Cursor

The cursor on the Attack or Az/El format can be used to directly designate any Radar trackfile. Designation is done by placing the cursor over a HAFU and depressing the TDC. The designation applied behaves as follows:

When no L&S exists, the trackfile under the cursor will be designated as the L&S. Note that if the TDC is depressed when the cursor is over the L&S itself, the Radar acquires it into STT.

When an L&S already exists, designating any other trackfile will make that trackfile the DT2. This undesignates the old DT2 if one existed. Designating the DT2 itself will make the DT2 the L&S and undesignate the old L&S. The old L&S does not become the DT2.

Note that depressing the TDC with the cursor over a raw Radar hit symbol with no HAFU displayed will instead enter STT on that hit (refer to Manual Acquisition). This scenario will occur on the Attack format only in RWS with the LTWS option deselected or in VS. This can be confusing in RWS since a trackfile usually does exist for the hit, but with LTWS deselected a HAFU is typically not displayed for it and so the associated trackfile cannot be designated with the cursor.

Designation via Undesignate Button

The Undesignate button can be used to designate trackfiles whenever the TDC is assigned to the Attack or Az/El format. This is the quickest way of designating trackfiles since the cursor does not have to be moved to them. Note when in the Spotlight or SCAN RAID modes, the Undesignate button will instead exit those modes. However, it remains functional in the Expanded (EXP) TWS format.

When no L&S exists, the Undesignate button will designate the priority 1 trackfile as the L&S.

Once an L&S exists, but there is no DT2, the Undesignate button will step the L&S designation through each trackfile by rank when pressed in short intervals. If 4 seconds or more has elapsed since the last actuation, the rank 1 trackfile is designated as the L&S. If the rank 1 is the L&S, then the Undesignate button steps the L&S designation to the rank 2 track. This logic allows the pilot to quickly designate the highest threat trackfile when an L&S designation already exists without stepping through all lower threat trackfiles.

If a DT2 is also designated (which can only be done using the cursor), the Undesignate button instead swaps the L&S and DT2 designations. This function can be useful for a two target attack. However, it disables the ability to quickly step the L&S. To get back into an L&S and no DT2 scenario quickly, the DT2 can be designated with the cursor which will make it the L&S and remove the DT2 designation entirely.

Note that in RWS mode, on the Attack format, the Undesignate button will step the L&S designation through all trackfiles including those intentionally hidden due to the display logic for RWS. However, once a trackfile is designated it will be displayed if it was not already.

Designation via Acquisition

When a trackfile is acquired by the Radar into STT by any method, it is made the L&S if not already. This can happen in some scenarios, e.g. using Fast Acquisition. It can also happen when acquiring a target with an ACM mode, as no trackfile exists prior to acquisition; as such the L&S designation is applied simultaneously as the trackfile is created and the Radar enters STT from the ACM mode.


The L&S and DT2 are undesignated using the RSET pushbutton on the Attack or Az/El formats. The RSET option removes both L&S and DT2 designations, except when the Radar is in STT, the L&S cannot be undesignated. Note that the RSET option performs other functions as well, which are different depending on whether the Az/El or Attack format RSET option is used.

Additionally, note that the Undesignate button itself does not undesignate the L&S or DT2, but rather either designates the L&S or swaps the L&S/DT2; refer to Designation via Undesignate Button. There is no direct HOTAS command to undesignate a track, however the RSET option is selectable via the cursor.

If the L&S trackfile is deleted, the DT2 is designated as the L&S (and no trackfile will be the DT2). If the DT2 is deleted, it is not automatically replaced.

HAFU Symbology

HAFU Labels 3.png
L&S Labels 1.png
  1. Upper HAFU Shape - The top shape of the HAFU indicates the onboard identification element, either from automatic ID logic or manual Pilot ID (PLID). The upper HAFU is also displayed for a SURV or PPLI-only track. For a SURV-only trackfile, it is displayed 2/3 size. For a F/F-only trackfile, the upper half is entirely removed. The upper shape governs the color of the entire symbol (green, yellow, or red). F/F-only symbology is prioritized over SURV-only symbology. PPLI-only symbology is prioritized over both F/F and SURV.
  2. Lower HAFU Shape - The bottom, upside-down shape of the HAFU indicates the offboard (Datalink) identification of the trackfile and that there is offboard sensor contribution to the MSI trackfile.
  3. Vector Stem - This line indicates the trackfile's track over the ground. On the Attack format, this is relative to ownship due to the format being a warped B-scope projection. On the SA format, this is the "absolute" ground track. The stem is not displayed on the Azimuth/Elevation format due to its boresight presentation.
  4. Center Symbol - The symbol in the center of the HAFU provides various pieces of key information about the trackfile. A blank center with a 3/4 size HAFU indicates a SURV-only track. A minuscule dot in the center and the absence of the upper HAFU shape indicates an F/F-only trackfile.
    1. L&S Star - Indicates the track is the current Launch & Steering (L&S) target.
    2. DT2 Diamond - Indicates the track is the current Secondary Designated Target (DT2).
    3. Numeric Rank - All onboard trackfiles other than the L&S or DT2 are assigned a threat rank based on current flight parameters relative to the ownship (1 being the highest potential threat). The rank numeric also serves as an indication that the trackfile is contributed to by the onboard Radar, as rank is exclusive to onboard tracks and all onboard tracks will have a rank, except the L&S/DT2. The Radar maintains up to 8 ranked trackfiles, in addition to the L&S and DT2 if designated.
    4. Angle-Only "A" - A letter A is displayed in the center for an angle only trackfile (AOT).
    5. SURV Donor Dot - A large dot in the center indicates a Surveillance (SURV) donor, e.g. an AWACS.
    6. F/F Donor Dot - A large dot on the left side of the HAFU shape indicates an F/F donor (i.e. an aircraft contributing to F/F, not one detected by an F/F donor).
  5. Altitude - The trackfile's current barometric altitude is indicated here in thousands of feet (e.g. 12 = 12,000). The altitude readout is only displayed for the L&S and DT2, as well as any trackfile under the cursor. The altitude readout is blank for an angle-only trackfile (AOT).
  6. Mach Number - The trackfile's ground speed as a percentage of the speed of sound (Mach). The Mach number is only displayed for the L&S and DT2, as well as any trackfile under the cursor. The Mach number is replaced with a letter J when the Radar determines a target is jamming (meaning it will also be an angle-only track).

MSI trackfiles throughout the avionics are displayed as HAFU (Hostile, Ambiguous, Friendly, or Unknown) symbols. The shape of these symbols indicates the identification of a trackfile as classified by automated and/or manual means. Furthermore, the HAFU symbol separately indicates the identification status for the track set by participants in the Link 16 Datalink network, such as other fighters or AWACS aircraft. In addition to the main shape, other symbology is associated with HAFUs to display information about the trackfile.

Trackfile Classification

Trackfiles can be manually classified via the Pilot ID (PLID) function on the Situation Awareness (SA) format. PLID is unavailable for PPLI trackfiles. In addition, the following automatic classifications will occur according to the following conditions:

  • Hostile
    • A negative IFF response is returned, and either:
      • An NCTR print returns with an aircraft type that is on the hostile coalition; or
      • Its offboard/Datalink classification is hostile (SURV or F/F)
  • Ambiguous
    • A negative IFF response is returned
  • Friendly
    • A positive IFF response is returned; or
    • The trackfile is contributed to by the Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) Datalink net group
  • Unknown
    • Default classification until manually classified or above conditions are met


It is important pilots are aware that HAFU symbology only provides information based on the above logic. It is ultimately the pilot's responsibility to determine the identification of a target. Furthermore, no protections exist in the avionics to prohibit weapon release against non-hostile trackfiles.

IFF Interrogation

An IFF "pointed interrogation" can be sent to any onboard trackfile through any of the MSI formats (Attack, Az/El, or SA). This is done by placing the cursor over the trackfile's HAFU symbol and then depressing the Sensor Control switch. If the Radar is in STT, depressing the Sensor Control switch will command a pointed interrogation on the L&S, regardless of the cursor position. A pointed interrogation commands the Combined Interrogator/Transponder (CIT) to perform a single 22° scan centered on the selected trackfile. This will interrogate the selected trackfile and any others within this narrow scan width.

On the Azimuth/Elevation format, additional CIT settings can be configured to perform automatic pointed interrogations on the L&S trackfile or blanket and much wider "scan interrogations" centered on the L&S.

The result of an interrogation will be indicated by the MSI track's classification and HAFU symbol changing to friendly, ambiguous, or hostile.

A/A Radar/Attack Format

The Radar/Attack format (RDR ATTK) is the primary interface for the A/A Radar. It serves as both a display of raw Radar hits and correlated MSI trackfiles. The format can be invoked from the [TAC] menu. Furthermore, when the RDDI cannot accept TDC assignment and the Sensor Control switch is bumped right, the Attack format is invoked on the RDDI. This also occurs when entering A/A master mode.

The Radar/Attack format doubles as the A/G Radar format. The A/G Radar format is accessed from the A/A Radar/Attack format by pressing the SURF option at PB3, which is available in NAV or A/G master mode. In A/A master mode, this option is removed. On the A/G Radar format, PB3 has an AIR option to access the A/A format.

Tactical Region

RDR ATTK Tactical Region Labels 2.png
  1. Tactical Region - The Attack format provides a top-down view of targets. The area in which they are displayed is termed the "tactical region" which is formed by a green outline around the format. The Attack format covers a 140° region (±70°) which is termed the attack region and spans the Radar gimbal limits. The format is a B-scope projection, meaning that the vector stems on HAFU symbols for MSI trackfiles indicate their aspect to ownship as opposed to their absolute direction. Refer to the image below. The tactical region vertically represents a range scale between 5 and 120 miles which is adjustable by the pilot or via the ARSA function. Due to the small angle-only trackfile (AOT) zone at the top, the upper 6% of the total range scale is not actually represented.
  2. Scale Marks - The tactical region is comprised of scale marks along all sides to more easily determine target range and azimuth. The top/bottom tick marks are placed in 30° azimuth increments each. The farthest left/right ticks are separated 10° from the tactical region border. The left/right side tick marks are placed in distance increments equal to 25% of the selected range scale (e.g. at an 80nm scale, each tick is 20nm apart). When 5nm or 10nm is selected, the increment is 20% of the total 5/10nm.
  3. AOT Zone - A separate thin rectanglular area above the main tactical region is termed the angle-only trackfile (AOT) zone or "dugout". This is where angle-only trackfiles are displayed for which the Radar has only determined a valid angle and no range. The AOT zone occupies the top 6% of the overall tactical region.
  4. Range Scale Arrows - These arrows increase and decrease the maximum range scale. The available ranges are 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160nm. Note that when an L&S target is designated, Automatic Range Scale Adjustment will occur except when manually overridden.
  5. Maximum Range Scale - This value indicates the maximum range from ownship currently being displayed by the tactical region as set by the range scale arrows, except in certain cases like Expanded (EXP) mode or SCAN RAID. Note that the last 6% of the maximum range scale is not actually displayed due to the AOT zone taking up the top 6% of the tactical region. For example, if the maximum range scale is 20nm, the maximum range is actually 18.8nm (94% of 20).
  6. Minimum Range Scale - This value indicates the minimum range from ownship currently being displayed by the tactical region. This is almost always 0nm (i.e. ownship is at the bottom of the format), except when in the Expanded (EXP) TWS format or SCAN RAID/RAID modes.

Automatic Range Scale Adjustment (ARSA)

Automatic Range Scale Adjustment (ARSA) is a function of the Attack format which automatically adjusts the range scale so as to keep the pilot-designated Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile and the Secondary Designated Target (DT2) visible in the tactical region.

The range scale is automatically changed so that the L&S or DT2, whichever is farthest from ownship, is displayed between 40% and 90% of the range scale. In RWS or TWS, ARSA can only increment the range scale to accomplish this. In STT, ARSA can both increment and decrement the range scale.

ARSA is overridden and disabled if the pilot manually adjusts the range scale. The RSET option re-enables ARSA.

Raw Radar Hits

The actual returns of the Radar are termed raw "hits". A hit is contrasted with a Radar trackfile in that a hit represents a fixed position at which the Radar has detected a target. The position of a hit in space is frozen, whereas the position of a trackfile is extrapolated between detections. The Radar determines when two or more hits represent a moving target and correlates them into a single trackfile. Up to 10 Radar trackfiles and 64 raw hits can be processed.

A raw hit is represented by a green brick symbol on the Attack format, while a trackfile is represented as a HAFU symbol. Although trackfiles are displayed on the Attack, Azimuth/Elevation, and Situation Awareness formats, only the Attack format displays raw hits.

A hit is considered to be "associated" when it is correlated with a trackfile. An unassociated hit has not been correlated to a trackfile. This is also called an "unfiled target." Unassociated hits most commonly occur when the maximum number of Radar trackfiles (10) have been created.

In RWS mode, all associated hits are displayed along with only certain trackfiles. When a Radar trackfile is displayed in RWS, its HAFU is displayed ontop of the associated hits. In TWS, the same situation occurs but all trackfiles that exist are always displayed. TWS associated hits are also displayed at lower intensity. TWS also provides the ability to hide associated hits for a more decluttered view of trackfiles.

All unassociated hits are always displayed in all modes so as to prevent a situation where the Radar sees a target but no hit nor trackfile is displayed for it.

Right when a hit is created, it begins "aging". When a hit has completely aged out the brick is removed from the display. As a hit ages, the brick symbol starts to dim until disappearing. The time taken for a hit to age out is defined by the pilot via the option on the DATA sublevel (PB10). This can be as short as 2 seconds or as long as 32 seconds. An exception applies to associated hits in TWS mode which have a fixed age-out setting of 2 seconds.

A longer age-out time will result in a longer "history trail" effect when a single target is continuously re-detected by the Radar. Conversely, with a short age-out time it is possible for a hit to disappear before the next hit for that same target is created, if the time it takes for the Radar to revisit the target is longer than the age-out time.

Radar Scan Volume

  1. Elevation Caret - The elevation caret indicates the current vertical angle of the Radar antenna. In the RWS, TWS, and VS search modes the antenna elevation is stabilized to the horizon and so is the caret; i.e. the middle mark on the scale represents the horizon independent of ownship aircraft attitude. In STT or ACM, it indicates the actual vertical angle of the antenna relative to the aircraft body and is affected by pitch. The caret can deflect up to ±60°. Tick marks are placed in 10° increments for the first ±30°.
  2. B-Sweep Line - The B-sweep line indicates the current horizontal position of the Radar antenna. In the RWS, TWS, and VS search modes, this always indicates the horizontal position relative to the horizon, independent of ownship aircraft attitude. In ACM and STT, the B-sweep indicates the horizontal position relative to the aircraft body and is thus affected by roll.
  3. Elevation Bar Select - This option cycles through the available elevation bar settings of 1, 2, 4, and 6 bars. The first number indicates the selected bar setting and the second indicates the bar the scan frame is currently on. Note that in TWS, 1 bar is not available.
  4. Azimuth Width Select - This option cycles the azimuth width setting through 20°, 40°, 60°, 80°, and 140° widths. Note that in TWS the largest available width is limited by the elevation bar setting.
  5. PRF Select - This option cycles the Radar pulse repetition frequency (PRF) through medium (MED), high (HI), and interleaved (INTL). When INTL is selected, the actual current PRF of MED or HI is displayed below it. When the range scale is set to 5nm, only MED is available. In VS, only HI is available.
  6. Cursor - The Attack format cursor consists of two vertical lines and is slewed with the TDC. Among numerous other functions discussed in subsequent sections, the cursor indicates the vertical scan volume coverage. The maximum and minimum altitudes (MSL) covered by the current scan volume, at the cursor's current position, are indicated in thousands of feet above and below the cursor. These numbers are only displayed when the cursor is in the tactical region (and not in the AOT zone). The maximum/minimum values are 99/-99.
RDR ATTK Scan Volume Labels 2.png

The size of the volume of space which the Radar scans is defined by the scan azimuth width and the elevation bar setting. In the RWS, TWS, and VS modes, the scan elevation and azimuth are stabilized to the horizon, meaning changes to the aircraft's attitude such as rolling or pitching do not affect the orientation of the volume of space covered by the scan. In the ACM modes, these parameters are stabilized to the aircraft body and are thus affected by pitch and roll. In STT, this is inapplicable since the antenna is constantly slaved to a single target.

As described above, the scan azimuth width and elevation bar can be changed by the pilot on the Attack format in RWS, TWS, or VS. In ACM, these properties are fixed to the ACM mode used. In STT, the volume is not applicable since the antenna is slaved to a single target. In RWS, scan volume parameters (and other parameters) are saved to each A/A missile type, allowing for three setting presets in RWS. These presets can be changed; refer to the RWS SET Function.

The total azimuth width/elevation bar coverage is termed the scan volume. A complete set of horizontal sweeps at the set azimuth width for each elevation bar set is termed a single scan frame. A scan frame thus takes more time to complete with a larger scan volume (azimuth width/bar setting). Since the scan volume is defined by angles, the physical space covered is a cone shape and increases as range from ownship increases.

A larger scan volume will provide greater situational awareness as the Radar has the potential to detect more targets. However, a smaller scan volume allows the Radar to complete scan frames in a shorter amount of time, giving it a higher update rate on targets or better trackfile "quality." This is particularly important for AMRAAM missile guidance. The pilot must weigh these factors against the tactical situation.

Azimuth Width

The azimuth width of the scan is defined in degrees and set with the option at PB19 on the Attack format (refer to image above). The width can also be quickly set with a "cursor bump" feature; refer to Cursor Range/Azimuth Bumping. The setting is the total degrees covered about the scan center; for example, an 80° azimuth setting results in the antenna scanning ±40° about the scan center. In search, the azimuth scan center is normally defined as an absolute bearing from ownship, meaning it will be affected by turns.

The azimuth width is visualized on the Attack format by the movement of the B-sweep line (the current horizontal antenna position) and on the Azimuth/Elevation format by the Radar field of view box.

Azimuth Scan Centering

(Not yet implemented) The azimuth scan center can be adjusted on the Attack format in RWS, TWS, or VS using the cursor. With the cursor over empty space (not over a trackfile or raw hit) and inside the tactical region, depressing/releasing the TDC within 1 second sets the scan center at that location. The scan center is defined as an absolute bearing off the ownship and not a stabilized heading. This is contrasted with Spotlight which is space-stabilized. Spotlight is commanded by holding the TDC for more than 1 second.

If the commanded scan center would not permit the entire scan azimuth width to be utilized due to Radar gimbal limits, the actual center is adjusted to utilize the entire width selected. For example, with a 60° (±30°) azimuth, the scan center will not be set any closer than 30° from the left or right edge of the tactical region.

In TWS, automatic scan centering is available which has a different mechanization. However, the above applies in TWS when manual centering is selected. Refer to TWS Scan Centering Modes.

Scan centering can also be done in a very similar way from the Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El) format. Refer to Az/El Radar Functions.

Elevation Bar

The Radar antenna can be commanded to vertically scan a range of "bars" at PB6 on the Attack format (refer to image above). A single bar is equal to one complete horizontal sweep at a given elevation angle. A 1 bar setting simply fixes the elevation to one angle set by the pilot. Higher bar settings will automatically adjust the antenna elevation downwards after every sweep in order to increase the volume of space being scanned in the frame. At the end of each scan frame, the antenna returns up to the first bar (as opposed to going through each bar backwards); refer to the diagram below.

The spacing between bars is normally 1.2°. If a 5 mile range scale is set on the Attack format in RWS or VS, the spacing is set to 4.2°. If 2 bars is selected in TWS, the spacing is 2.0°.

The height of the current scan volume accounting for the bar setting is visualized on the Attack format by the cursor, which displays altitude coverage at a given range, and on the Azimuth/Elevation format by the Radar field of view box. The current bar being scanned is indicated at PB6 on the Attack format.

Elevation Centering

In RWS, TWS, or VS, the elevation angle can be adjusted using Antenna Elevation Wheel on the throttle. In a multiple bar scan, the entire volume (all bars) is adjusted uniformly. The current elevation of the antenna is indicated on the Attack format by the elevation caret.

In TWS with AUTO or BIAS scan centering selected, the elevation angle is automatically controlled and cannot be changed. Refer to TWS Scan Centering Modes.

The elevation angle can also be adjusted in a different manner using the cursor on the Azimuth/Elevation format. Refer to Az/El Radar Functions.

FA18 2BAR.png
FA18 4BAR.png
FA18 6BAR.png

Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF)

The pulse repetition frequency (PRF) is the number of times per second the Radar actually transmits a pulse. More frequent pulses result in greater detection range, but less frequent pulses result in better overall detection of targets with low closure rate.

The three pilot-selectable PRFs (PB1, refer to image above) are medium (MED), high (HI), and interleaved (INTL). However, only MED is available when the Attack format range scale is set to 5nm in RWS/VS and only HI is available whenever in VS. A pulse Doppler illumination (PDI) mode is also available for guiding the AIM-7 Sparrow missile when it is selected. Refer to Pulse Doppler Illumination.

In summary, MED is typically used at closer range or whenever a target has a relatively low closure rate. HI is typically used at farther range. The INTL option alternates between HI and MED, which takes advantage of the characteristics of both.

With INTL selected the PRF is interleaved by alternating HI/MED every other bar and then alternating which bar gets HI or MED every other frame, so that all parts of the scan volume are ultimately seen with both HI and MED PRF. For example, with a 4 bar setting, one frame would alternate HI-MED-HI-MED, then the next frame would alternate MED-HI-MED-HI, and repeat.

Common Top-Level Format

The following are the "top-level" Attack format options which are common regardless of the selected search mode (RWS, TWS, or VS).

RDR ATTK Common Labels 1.png
  1. Radar Status/Channel - The Radar status (top) and channel being transmitted on (bottom) is indicated here.
  2. Radar Mode - The current search mode of RWS, TWS, or VS is indicated here. Pressing this option will cycle modes. When in STT or any ACM mode, RTS is indicated above the mode to instead indicate the mode which will be commanded upon Return to Search (RTS), rather than indicating the current mode.
  3. Radar Channel - Not yet implemented.
  4. DATA Sublevel - Invokes the DATA sublevel.
  5. NCTR - When boxed, commands a Non-Cooperative Target Recognition print when in STT. The Radar attempts to determine the target aircraft type by its jet engine modulation (JEM) signature.
  6. RSET - The RSET option commands the following functions to essentially reset the Attack format display and modes. RSET is boxed for 2 seconds after being pressed, indicating it was selected.
    1. Removes the Launch & Steering (L&S) and Secondary Designated Target (DT2) designations from any trackfiles. However, in STT, the L&S cannot be removed.
    2. Re-enables Automatic Range Scale Adjustment (ARSA).
    3. Deselects the HITS option in TWS.
    4. Removes the scan center bias in TWS (changes from BIAS to AUTO mode).
    5. Exits the Expanded (EXP) TWS format.
    6. Exits the STT RAID and TWS SCAN RAID modes.
  7. SIL - Commands the Radar into Silent mode. SIL is boxed when in Silent mode.
  8. Selected Weapon - When an A/A weapon is selected, its type and quantity is indicated here just as on the HUD. The option is crossed out when firing interlocks are not met.
  9. Radar Gain - The Radar gain (sensitivity) is indicated here. No manual gain control is available.
  10. Ownship Speed - Ownship aircraft speed in both indicated knots (IAS) and Mach number is shown here, as on the HUD.
  11. Ownship Altitude - Ownship aircraft altitude is indicated here in either barometric or Radar altitude, mirroring the HUD.
  12. Ownship Heading - Current ownship heading is indicated here in degrees magnetic or true, depending on the aircraft-wide setting through the HSI format.
  13. Horizon Line and Velocity Vector - This horizon line and velocity vector mirrors the HUD, except the velocity vector does not indicate sideways velocity (i.e. is always caged ). The indication behaves such that the velocity vector is kept in one spot on the format and the horizon line orients itself relative to it. The horizon line is display-limited at ±6°. When limited, the horizon line flashes. The horizon line and velocity vector are removed when DCLTR1 or DCLTR2 is selected.
  14. Cursor - Two vertical lines form the Attack format cursor, which is slewed with the TDC. When the cursor is in the tactical region (and not the AOT zone), the maximum/minimum altitude covered by the current scan volume at the current cursor position is indicated in thousands of feet above and below the cursor. The cursor is used for many functions, including:
    1. Selecting options in lieu of pushbutton
    2. Bumping the range scale and scan azimuth width
    3. Designating trackfiles
    4. Acquiring trackfiles and raw hits into STT
    5. Scan centering
    6. Slewing the scan volume in Spotlight mode

A/A Waypoint and Bearing/Range Cues

The following symbology is provided on the Attack format for referencing bearing/range (BRA) from ownship and the A/A waypoint, if defined via the HSI DATA sublevel. Referencing the position of targets to a common A/A waypoint (universally termed a "bullseye") or the ownship aircraft position is often important in tactical communications in the A/A environment.

  1. A/A Waypoint Symbol - When an A/A waypoint ("bullseye") is defined, its position is indicated within the tactical region by a circle symbol. If the A/A waypoint is also the selected steer-to waypoint, it is instead displayed as a diamond. In either case, an arrow points from the symbol to the north direction. A dot is placed in the center of the symbol when the TDC is assigned to the Attack format.
  2. A/A Waypoint to Aircraft BRA - This indicates the bearing and range from the A/A waypoint to the ownship aircraft. This cue is not displayed when no A/A waypoint has been defined through the HSI format.
  3. A/A Waypoint to Cursor BRA - This indicates the bearing and range from the A/A waypoint ("bullseye") to the cursor. This cue is not displayed when no A/A waypoint has been defined through the HSI format. When the A/A waypoint is not located within the tactical region, its normal symbol (circle/diamond symbol) is displayed to the left of this bearing/range indicator.
  4. Aircraft to Cursor BRA - Bearing and range (BRA) from ownship to the cursor is indicated here. This number is often important in communicating relative target positions. The display of this BRA can be toggled on the DATA sublevel.
RDR ATTK BRA Labels 1.png

Launch & Steering Target Cues

Regardless of whether in TWS, RWS, or STT, the following common cues are displayed on the Attack format when a trackfile is designated as the Launch & Steering (L&S) target. Not depicted in this section is missile attack symbology for the L&S (and other trackfiles) which includes launch regions and steering guidance. Refer to Attack Format Launch Acceptable Region Indications.

  1. L&S Trackfile - The L&S trackfile is always indicated by a typical HAFU symbol with a star symbol in the center to indicate that it is the L&S. Additionally, its Mach and altitude (in thousands of feet) are always displayed to the left and right of the HAFU.
  2. L&S Heading - The heading in degrees (technically the track over the ground) for the L&S trackfile is displayed here in the top left corner.
  3. Differential Altitude - The altitude difference in thousands of feet between ownship and the L&S trackfile is indicated next to the normal elevation caret. A negative value indicates the L&S is below ownship and a positive value indicates it is above. The differential altitude is blanked when DCLTR2 is selected.
  4. Range Caret - A range caret appears on the right side of the tactical region when an L&S is designated. The range caret will always be parallel to the L&S since it simply indicates its range.
  5. Closure Rate - The closure rate in knots (Vc) with the L&S is indicated next to the range caret. A negative value indicates increasing distance and vice-versa. The closure rate is blanked when DCLTR2 is selected.
RDR ATTK LnS Common Cues.png

DATA Sublevel

  1. Latent Track While Scan - Toggles Latent Track While Scan (LTWS) display mode when in Range While Search (RWS). This option is only applicable to RWS but can be toggled in the common DATA sublevel from any mode. LTWS changes the behavior for displaying trackfiles when placing the cursor over a raw hit. Refer to RWS.
  2. Multi-Source Integration - The MSI option toggles the display of Datalink trackfiles on the Attack format when in RWS mode. This option is only applicable to RWS but can be toggled in the common DATA sublevel from any mode. MSI will cause trackfiles with Datalink contribution to always be displayed. Refer to RWS.
  3. Color Option - Toggles all colored (red/yellow) elements of the Attack format.
  4. One-Look RAID - Not yet implemented.
  5. Aging Setting - The age-out time setting, in seconds, for raw hits is set here. Refer to Raw Radar Hits.
  6. Declutter Options - The declutter option removes certain symbology from the display. The label cycles through no declutter (DCLTR unboxed), declutter level 1 (DCLTR1 boxed), and declutter level 2 (DCLTR2 boxed). DCLTR2 is selected on initial power-up.
    1. DCLTR1 - removes horizon line and velocity vector.
    2. DCLTR2 - removes DCLTR1 symbology as well as L&S ground track, closure rate, and differential altitude numbers.
  7. BRA Toggle - Toggles the aircraft-TDC BRA indication in the bottom left of the format.
  8. Not yet implemented.
  9. Not yet implemented.
  10. Not yet implemented.
  11. RWR ATTK - If MSI is selected, this toggles display of RWR hits at the top of the Attack format. The priority four airborne RWR nails within 140° in front are displayed, indicated by yellow triangles identical to those on the SA format.
RDR ATTK Format - DATA.png

SIL Sublevel

  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.
RDR ATTK Labels 2.png

Cursor Option Selection

Not yet implemented.

Search Modes

Three primary modes are available for search. Each has its own purpose. In summary:

  • Range While Search - RWS mode permits an unrestricted scan volume and is primarily intended for target surveillance. The RWS display provides a mostly decluttered view of raw Radar returns (hits), but still does maintain Radar trackfiles which can be displayed as HAFU symbols. However, RWS does not have the optimizations of TWS for target engagement.
  • Track While Scan - TWS ('twiz') mode generates trackfiles and provides a display of all HAFU symbols. TWS is intended to support target engagement when full Single Target Track is not desired. The TWS scan volume is artificially limited so as to enforce a scan frame time of 3 seconds or less, resulting in a high refresh rate on targets. Furthermore, automatic scan centering capability is provided to lessen the pilot workload in maintaining designated targets within the scan.
  • Velocity Search (VS) - Not yet implemented.

Range While Search (RWS)

IMPORTANT NOTE - The following section describes intended behavior in RWS mode. It does not 100% represent, as of April 2021, all the behavior in DCS which is incorrect and has been reported.

RDR ATTK Labels - RWS.png
  1. Raw Radar Hits - In RWS, all raw Radar hits are displayed as green "brick" symbols. All targets detected by the Radar have their raw hits displayed in RWS, regardless of whether their associated MSI trackfile HAFU symbol is.
  2. MSI Trackfiles - MSI trackfiles in RWS are represented as HAFU symbols. Trackfiles being displayed that are beyond the selected range scale are pegged to the top of the tactical region. To provide a more decluttered view of raw hits, the Attack format in RWS only displays certain trackfiles based on the following logic. Some of this logic is dependent on whether the LTWS or MSI option is boxed on the DATA sublevel.
    1. The designated L&S or DT2 trackfile will always be displayed.
    2. Any trackfile under AMRAAM attack will always be displayed.
    3. If MSI is boxed on the DATA sublevel, any trackfile with MSI Datalink contribution will always be displayed. Refer to the MSI Option.
    4. If LTWS is boxed on the DATA sublevel, any given trackfile which is not otherwise displayed is displayed while the cursor is placed over its associated raw hits. Refer to LTWS Mechanization.
  3. ERASE Function - The ERASE option erases all current raw hit symbols from the display. This does not erase any trackfiles.
  4. SET Function - Selecting the SET function will save the current azimuth, bar, PRF, range scale, and aging setting to the currently selected A/A weapon. Refer to the SET Function.

The Range While Search (RWS) mode allows for target detection in the largest possible scan volume. RWS predominantly displays to the pilot raw Radar hits in the form of rectangular "brick" symbols, but it also generates up to 10 trackfiles "under the hood," which can be displayed as Hostile, Ambiguous, Friendly, or Unknown (HAFU) symbols in some scenarios. RWS is contrasted with TWS in that both generate trackfiles, but most are intentionally hidden in RWS to declutter the display. AMRAAM guidance is possible in RWS, but it does not provide the same attack-optimized scan functions as in TWS.

When a trackfile is designated by the pilot as the Launch & Steering target (L&S) or Secondary Designated Target (DT2), it is always displayed (as a HAFU), along with corresponding missile Launch Zones if in A/A master mode. If a trackfile other than the L&S/DT2 is under AMRAAM attack, then it is also displayed.

Logic also exists to display all MSI trackfiles with Datalink contribution. This is regardless of whether they are also seen by the Radar. This is because there would be no other indication of non-Radar tracks on the Attack format in RWS. Radar-only tracks remain hidden, but their position is still indicated by their corresponding raw hits. This logic can be toggled; refer to MSI Option.

Finally, the pilot is able to temporarily view any desired trackfile by placing the cursor over the associated raw hits. This displays the trackfile only while the cursor is over it. This is termed the Latent TWS function and can be disabled to view raw hits better; refer to LTWS Mechanization.

The decluttered view of mostly only raw hits and the ability to have an unrestricted scan volume are the main advantages of RWS over TWS. As such, RWS is primarily intended for target surveillance until engagement, at which point the pilot normally transitions to TWS and/or STT.

Latent TWS (LTWS) Mechanization

In RWS, most trackfiles are intentionally hidden on the Attack format in favor of displaying a decluttered view of raw Radar hits. The Latent TWS (LTWS) function of RWS allows the pilot to display the HAFU for any given trackfile of interest that is associated with a raw hit. LTWS is toggled on the DATA sublevel and is by default selected.

When LTWS is selected, the HAFU for a trackfile is displayed when the cursor is placed over any raw hits associated with that trackfile. Mach and altitude in thousands of feet are displayed to the left and right of the HAFU. A Launch Zone is also usually displayed if an A/A missile is selected. The LTWS mechanization thus provides the pilot the ability to "preview" the trackfile associated with any raw hit. If desired, the trackfile under the cursor can then be designated by depressing the TDC (refer to Trackfile Designation) and/or be acquired into STT, usually by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Attack format (Fast Acquisition).

When LTWS is not selected, placing the cursor over a raw hit instead simply displays the hit's altitude in thousands of feet to the right of the cursor. No HAFU is displayed with LTWS deselected even if a trackfile does exist. If desired, when LTWS is not selected a raw hit can be directly acquired into STT when the cursor is placed over it.

Note that regardless of whether LTWS is selected, placing the cursor over a raw hit not associated with any trackfile displays the altitude to the right of the cursor, as is the behavior for all hits when LTWS is not selected. This situation can occur when the 10 Radar trackfile limit is exceeded or for one-off uncorrelated hits.

MSI Option

The MSI option is a toggle on the DATA sublevel and by default is selected. The MSI option allows the pilot to have better situational awareness by displaying Datalink trackfile information directly on the Attack format. This logic is necessitated by the unique mechanic of RWS where MSI trackfiles are processed for all targets, but most are intentionally hidden so that raw Radar hits can be seen without clutter.

When MSI is selected, any trackfile with Datalink contribution, regardless of whether it has Radar contribution, has its HAFU always displayed. The result is a display of only raw hits for Radar-only trackfiles (unless designated or cursored over with LTWS selected), both raw hits and HAFUs for Radar+Datalink trackfiles, and only HAFUs for Datalink-only trackfiles.

When MSI is not selected, the only HAFUs displayed are trackfiles (Radar-only or Radar+Datalink) which are designated, under AMRAAM attack, or under the cursor with LTWS selected. Without MSI selected, Datalink-only trackfiles cannot be displayed on the RWS Attack format.

Note that the MSI option only controls whether most MSI trackfiles are hidden or not on the Attack format to provide a more decluttered view of raw hits. The selection has no actual impact in any way on trackfile processing. All MSI trackfiles, even in RWS and regardless of the MSI option status, are always presented on the Azimuth/Elevation and Situation Awareness formats.

SET Function

Section WIP.

Track While Scan (TWS)

IMPORTANT NOTE - The following section describes intended behavior in TWS mode. It does not 100% represent, as of March 2021, all the behavior in DCS which is incorrect and has been reported.

TWS Labels 1.png
  1. MSI Trackfiles - In TWS, all MSI trackfiles are presented on the Attack format as HAFU symbols. This is regardless of whether they have Radar contribution.
  2. Raw Hits - Raw hits associated with existing trackfiles are displayed on the TWS Attack format if the HITS option is boxed. They are displayed at lower intensity at a fixed 2 second age-out time. Hit that are unassociated are displayed at regular intensity at the age-out time set by the pilot.
  3. Scan Centering Mode - This option toggles the MAN and AUTO scan centering modes. The AUTO or MAN legend is boxed as appropriate. If the AUTO scan center has been biased, the word AUTO is replaced with BIAS. Refer to TWS Scan Centering Modes.
  4. SCAN RAID - The RAID option toggles the SCAN RAID mode. The RAID switch on the throttle can also be used. The RAID option is boxed when the Radar is in SCAN RAID.
  5. Raw Hits Display - The HITS option toggles the display of raw Radar hits which are associated with trackfiles. Refer to Raw Hits Display.
  6. Expand - Toggles the Expanded (EXP) TWS format.

Track While Scan (TWS) mode is used to cover a relatively concentrated volume of space for multi-target tracking and engagement. TWS is optimized for AMRAAM missile employment with a restricted scan volume and automatic scan centering functionality.

In contrast to RWS which displays primarily only raw Radar hits and intentionally hides most trackfiles, TWS always displays all MSI trackfiles as HAFU symbols. This is the most obvious difference from RWS which intentionally hides most Radar-only trackfiles. In TWS, raw hits can either be displayed or removed for a more clear view of trackfiles.

Upon TWS entry, normally manual (MAN) scan centering is default selected. In MAN the scan center is positioned with the cursor manually, just as in RWS and VS. However, if TWS is entered from STT, automatic (AUTO) scan centering is default selected which automatically maintains the L&S and DT2 trackfiles. In either case, the pilot can switch between AUTO and MAN centering modes at PB13. Refer to TWS Scan Centering Modes.

Normally, the previous scan volume parameters (azimuth/bar) are retained when entering TWS. However, they will be be changed automatically if the bar/azimuth combination is larger than TWS permits. Refer to TWS Scan Volume Restrictions.

Raw Hits Display (HITS)

The HITS option in TWS mode allows the pilot to select whether to display raw hit symbols (bricks) for trackfiles. Although it causes additional clutter, it may be useful to see the raw hits to let the pilot know when a trackfile has actually been re-observed by the Radar and so also anticipate if it is going to go into memory.

When the HITS option is selected (boxed), raw hits which are associated with a trackfile are displayed at lower intensity underneath their corresponding HAFUs. These raw hits have a fixed age-out setting of 2 seconds, ignoring the pilot-selected setting on the DATA sublevel. This results in a display of HAFUs with one or two raw hits trailing behind them.

When the HITS option is not selected, associated raw hits are not displayed. This provides a more decluttered view of HAFU symbols.

Regardless of the HITS option, TWS always displays raw hits which are not associated with a trackfile, termed "unfiled targets." These hits use the normal age-out setting on the DATA sublevel. These unassociated raw hits cannot be removed since no HAFU exists to otherwise represent these targets.

Scan Volume Restriction
TWS Scan Limits
2B 4B 6B

In TWS, the elevation bar and azimuth width setting is artificially limited. This forces the TWS scan frame time to be 3 seconds or less, resulting in a relatively high refresh rate for all trackfiles. This optimizes it for target engagement.

The scan volume limit is governed by the current elevation bar setting. The pilot can change the bar setting at any time, except TWS does not permit 1 bar. A maximum azimuth width is associated with each bar setting (2, 4, and 6). A taller bar setting enforced a narrower maximum azimuth width, while a shorter bar setting permits a wider width. Scan volume limits are in accordance with the table to the right.

If TWS is selected from RWS or VS with a larger scan volume than TWS permits, the bar setting is kept and the azimuth width will be decreased to the maximum azimuth allowed for that bar setting. If the azimuth width is already at or less than the maximum, that setting is kept.

Since a 1 bar setting in TWS is not permitted, if TWS is selected with 1 bar it will be changed to 2 bars.

Scan Centering Modes

TWS provides automatic scan centering functionality to keep track of targets automatically. Regular manual centering is also available as in RWS and VS.

Manual Centering

Manual scan centering (MAN) is initially selected when entering TWS from RWS or VS. In TWS, MAN scan centering can be selected via the AUTO/MAN toggle at PB13. MAN is boxed when selected.

Manual scan centering functions the same as regular scan centering in RWS and VS. With the cursor over empty space, depressing and releasing the TDC with the cursor over empty space will set the scan center at the cursor's azimuth at that time.

Automatic Centering

Automatic scan centering (AUTO) is selected with the AUTO/MAN toggle at PB13. AUTO is boxed when selected. TWS is also initialized to AUTO when entered from STT.

When in AUTO, the scan center and antenna elevation are adjusted automatically so as to maintain the designated Launch & Steering (L&S) and Secondary Designated Target (DT2) trackfiles. The pilot cannot adjust the elevation.

(Not yet implemented) In AUTO, when the TDC is depressed/released with the cursor over empty space, the scan center is biased to the cursor's bearing at that time. The boxed AUTO legend is replaced with BIAS. The scan center is placed at or as close to this bearing as possible while ensuring the L&S and DT2 targets are kept in the scan. In other words, BIAS centering allows the scan center to be manually defined while also forcing the Radar to maintain the L&S and DT2. The scan bias is removed by selecting the RSET option (returning to regular AUTO) or by cycling to MAN and back to AUTO.

Expanded (EXP) TWS Format

The Expanded (EXP) format is provided in TWS to zoom-in on trackfiles that may be too close together to be clearly differentiated otherwise. However, the EXP function does not modify any actual Radar scan parameters.

In the Expanded format, the tactical region is zoomed in and centered on the L&S trackfile. From the L&S, it represents ±10° in azimuth and ±5 miles in range. The EXP display therefore covers a 20° x 10nm total area. Manual range scale adjustment is not available and the arrows are removed. If the L&S designation is changed, the EXP display is re-centered on the new L&S.

Boxing (selecting) the EXP option at PB20 enters EXP. EXP is exited by unboxing the EXP option or by pressing the RSET option (PB24). EXP is unavailable and so is automatically exited if no L&S exists or if the L&S falls within 5nm. In either of these cases, the EXP option is removed. Note that the Undesignate button does not deselect EXP; rather, it remains available for cycling the L&S designation or swapping the L&S and DT2.

In EXP, the B-sweep line still moves and is scaled relative to the regular 140° region and not the 20° EXP region. This allows the pilot to remain aware of the Radar antenna azimuth with respect to gimbal limits.

All trackfiles within the EXP region are displayed accurately at their positions. Any trackfiles falling outside of its coverage are pegged to the edges of the tactical region at their relative bearings to the L&S.


SCAN RAID is a sub-mode of TWS that provides a high update rate scan on the L&S trackfile and a zoomed in Attack format.

SCAN RAID is entered by selecting the RAID option at PB9 or pressing the RAID switch on the throttle. SCAN RAID can be exited in the same way, or by selecting the Return to Search (RTS) option at PB5, selecting the RSET option at PB14, or by pressing the Undesignate button on the control stick.

In SCAN RAID, the Radar does a 22° and 3 bar scan centered on the L&S target. This provides a fast update rate on the L&S and surrounding Radar trackfiles. SCAN RAID is contrasted with STT RAID in that it always remains in search, whereas STT RAID alternates between full track and a search pattern.

The Attack format is expanded in SCAN RAJD in the same way as when the EXP function is selected, resulting in a 20° x 10nm display. The B-sweep is frozen on the azimuth of the L&S target based on the 140° scale to provide situational awareness as to where the L&S is with regard to gimbal limits. The azimuth width, EXP, range scale arrows, scan centering mode, and HITS options are removed from the Attack format.

Other trackfiles can continue to be designated in SCAN RAID. If the L&S designation is changed then the SCAN RAID scan and display is re-centered on that trackfile. Note however that only the cursor can be used as the Undesignate button is used to exit SCAN RAID rather than step the L&S designation.

AMRAAM datalink is supported in SCAN RAID. An AIM-7 shot will result in automatic acquisition into STT, as with any launch outside STT.

Velocity Search (VS)

Not yet implemented.

Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) Modes

The Radar Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes are close-range, visual acquisition modes that allow the pilot to acquire targets into Single Target Track (STT) visually by referencing only the HUD or HMD. The ACM modes combine search and acquisition; each has a set scan volume and acquires the first target detected. The ACM modes also have a range gate so that the Radar only acquires targets likely desired for acquisition (i.e. relatively close range).

The ACM modes are only available in A/A master mode. Mode selection is done through the Sensor Control switch. It is first placed in the "ACM condition," repurposing it for ACM mode selection and disables all other "top-level" functions (e.g. assigning the TDC to formats). The ACM condition is commanded at any point in A/A master mode by pressing the Sensor Control switch forward. The ACM condition is exited by commanding Return to Search via HOTAS or pushbutton, except when the Gun is selected in which case it cannot be exited. Note that when STT is entered through an ACM mode, the ACM condition remains active.

A/A Gun selection (Weapon Select switch aft) also commands the ACM condition. When the Gun is selected, the ACM condition cannot be exited. Regular search modes are unavailable; with the Gun selected the Radar is only ever in either an ACM mode or STT.

The ACM condition is indicated on the Attack format by a boxed ACM legend and an option to command Return to Search (RTS), except in Gun Acquisition which has no RTS available. The TDC is automatically assigned to the Attack format. Radar trackfiles are deleted and Datalink trackfiles are blanked from the Attack format.

Once in ACM condition (defaulting to BST/HACQ/LHAQ or GACQ), the following modes are available for selection using the Sensor Control switch.

  • Boresight Acquisition (BST) - Forward (HMD off)
Boresight is a small circular scan centered on the aircraft waterline. BST is designed to be used when the nose can be brought onto the target. BST scans in medium PRF, ±1.7° above and below the waterline, and 3.3° in azimuth, slaved to both pitch and roll, which results in a ~3° circle. A small dashed circle on the HUD coincidental with the aircraft boresight indicates the Boresight Acquisition scan. The range gate in Boresight is 10nm.
  • Helmet Acquisition (HACQ) - Forward (HMD on)
Helmet Acquisition slaves the Radar to a narrow scan centered on the HMD aiming cross so that the pilot can cue the Radar by moving the head. When the HMD is looking within the cockpit, Helmet Acq functions identically to Boresight Acq. When the HMD is pointed outside, the same ~3° circle scan is maintained and slaved to the HMD aiming cross. The circle will always indicate the true lookpoint of the Radar and so when the HMD is pointed beyond the Radar gimbal limits, the Helmet Acq circle flashes and no longer follows the center of the HMD. HACQ has a 5nm range gate.
  • Long Helmet Acquisition (LHAQ) - Forward (hold >0.8 seconds, HMD on)
LHAQ functions identically to HACQ except the range gate is extended to 40nm.
  • Wide Acquisition (WACQ) - Left
    WACQ provides a wide and relatively short rectangular scan with a 10nm range gate. 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 Acq 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 served as a visualization of the roll stabilization.
    • Uncaged: Not yet implemented.
  • Vertical Acquisition (VACQ) - Aft (when HMD on only from WACQ)
VACQ provides a tall and narrow scan pattern, ideal for acquiring targets in a turn. Vertical Acq commands a 6° azimuth and -13°/+46° elevation scan with medium PRF, slaved to both pitch and roll. Two dashed lines on the HUD indicate the pattern, though the actual VACQ limits are beyond the HUD field of view. VACQ has a 5nm range gate.
Note that with the HMD on, VACQ can only be selected from WACQ and not HACQ/LHAQ. This is because with the AIM-9X missile selected, Sensor Control switch aft commands the AIM-9 Uplook Reticle mode. Even with the AIM-9 not selected, VACQ cannot be selected from HACQ/LHAQ to alleviate confusion and prevent the pilot from accidentally attempting to select VACQ from HACQ/LHAQ when the AIM-9X is selected.
  • Gun Acquisition (GACQ) - Initial Gun selection or Undesignate button with Gun selected
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.

ACM Return to Search

Return to Search (RTS) from ACM is commanded by pressing the Undesignate button or the RTS label on the Attack format. RTS also occurs when exiting A/A master mode. The mode RTS will return to is indicated at the RTS label (e.g. RTS RWS).

When the Gun is not selected, the RTS mode will always be the search mode from which ACM was entered (either RWS, TWS, or VS).

If the Gun is selected, the RTS will return to Gun Acquisition if in an ACM mode other than Gun Acq. If in Gun Acq itself, no RTS is available and the RTS label on the Attack format is removed. When the Gun is selected it is impossible to access regular search modes (RWS/TWS/VS).

When a Single Target Track is acquired from ACM, if the Gun is not selected the RTS mode will be the ACM mode from which STT was obtained. If the Gun is selected, the RTS mode will be Gun Acq.

Automatic Acquisition (AACQ)

Automatic Acquisition (AACQ) serves as a fast way of acquiring a trackfile or hit into Single Target Track. It is commanded by pressing the Sensor Control switch toward the Attack format with the TDC already assigned to it. The Radar must not be in an ACM mode. While active, an AACQ legend is displayed in the upper-left border of the tactical region and on the HUD. This legend is generally transient since AACQ is only active for a split moment when acquiring a track.

AACQ will execute a different function based on the following priority:

  • Fast Acquisition - If the cursor is over any MSI trackfile (HAFU) or raw hit (brick), AACQ acquires it into STT. This method of acquisition is usually preferred over depressing the TDC since it is more consistent. The TDC depress method may require between one and three presses to initiate STT depending on whether the trackfile is already designated as the L&S, DT2, or neither.
  • L&S Acquisition - If a Launch & Steering trackfile exists and the cursor is not over a trackfile, AACQ acquires the L&S.
  • Priority Acquisition - If no L&S exists and the cursor is not over a trackfile, AACQ commands STT on the #1 ranked trackfile in RWS/TWS or the fastest hit in VS.

Single Target Track (STT)

Single Target Track (STT) mode slaves the Radar antenna to a single target in what is termed "full track"; that is, the Radar is solely dedicated to tracking a single target with an essentially instantaneous update rate. This makes STT the primary and most ideal method of guiding air-to-air weapons. STT is what would be considered a traditional Radar "lock."

The STT target is maintained as an MSI trackfile and is automatically designated as the Launch & Steering (L&S) track if not already prior to acquisition.

The STT Attack format is largely similar to RWS and TWS with the same cuing for the L&S target. Scan volume controls are inhibited (e.g. scan center and antenna elevation) and the elevation bar/azimuth width options are removed. The B-sweep will be pinned to the L&S azimuth. The elevation caret represents the actual elevation relative to boresight instead of the horizon as it is in search.

Upon entering STT, all Radar trackfiles are deleted except the acquired target. MSI Datalink trackfiles are still visible.

Entering STT on a trackfile or raw hit is called 'acquisition.' Acquisition can be accomplished in multiple ways. The follow methods are available through the Attack format:

  • Manual Acquisition - The TDC is depressed while the cursor is over the L&S trackfile. Note that depressing the TDC over any other trackfile instead performs a designation function and does not acquire it. In RWS without LTWS selected or VS, Manual Acq is performed when the TDC is depressed over any raw hit (brick) symbol. It is important to note in RWS with LTWS selected, cursoring over a raw hit associated with a trackfile displays the trackfile and depressing the TDC first performs L&S/DT2 designation and not acquisition.
  • Automatic Acquisition - Automatic Acquisition (AACQ) performs one of a few possible acquisition functions by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Attack format. This includes the Fast Acquisition function, which immediately acquires the track/hit under the cursor. Fast Acq is typically preferred over Manual Acq as it will acquire any trackfile under the cursor even if it has not been made the L&S, providing a more consistent mechanization than Manual Acq which may require multiple TDC presses if the desired trackfile is not already the L&S.
  • Air Combat Maneuvering Modes - The Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes provide close-range visual acquisition methods using the HUD and HMD, where a physically-seen target is placed within the ACM scan pattern represented on the HUD or HMD and is automatically acquired.

It should be noted acquisition can only be initiated on a Radar (onboard) trackfile. Acquisition is also similarly possible through the Azimuth/Elevation format and is detailed in that section.

From STT, the Radar is commanded to Return to Search (RTS) using the Undesignate button or by pressing the RTS pushbutton.

RDR ATTK Format - STT.png
  1. L&S Trackfile - L&S target HAFU symbol. Additionally displayed is the acceleration vector cue, which is a line perpendicular to the aspect stem. The acceleration vector cue indicates acceleration of at least 3.0G in a different direction than previous. This cue is only displayed in STT.
  2. Allowable Steering Error (ASE) Circle
  3. Antenna Elevation / Differential Altitude - The caret that normally displays the current antenna elevation relative to the horizon instead displays it relative to the aircraft boresight in STT; i.e. it represents the true physical elevation of the antenna. The antenna elevation is always pointed toward the target in STT. A number by the caret indicates the difference in altitude, in thousands of feet, between the aircraft and the target.
  4. L&S Range & Closure Rate - The range to the L&S relative to the tactical region scale is indicated by this caret. A number indicates the closure rate (Vc) with the L&S. This is displayed in any mode when an L&S exists.
  5. L&S Ground Track - The target's ground track in degrees is displayed here. This is displayed in any mode when an L&S exists.
  6. Return to Search - Commands Return to Search (RTS). Displayed below is the mode that the Radar will return to upon RTS. This is typically the mode from which STT was obtained (e.g. RWS or HACQ). The Undesignate button also commands RTS.
  7. TWS Option - Commands the Radar to exit STT and enter Track While Scan (TWS) with AUTO scan centering selected. When an AIM-7 Sparrow is in flight, this option is replaced with a FLOOD mode option. This option is removed if the Gun is selected.

Range scale control is disabled and it performs Automatic Range Scale Adjustment (ARSA). In STT, ARSA automatically adjusts the scale to keep the target centered to be vertically within 40%–90% of the tactical region. ARSA exists outside of STT as well, but aside from when in STT will only increase the range to accomplish this.

STT MEM Function

The Memory (MEM) function of the Radar is used to re-acquire the trackfile in STT if it is lost uncommanded. If this occurs, the MEM function is initiated. The current position of the trackfile is extrapolated based on last-known parameters as it would be in RWS/TWS. If the Radar locates the trackfile again, it will re-acquire it into STT. The MEM function ceases when the Radar cannot re-locate the target.

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

STT Return to Search

In STT, Return to Search (RTS) is commanded by either pressing the Undesignate button on the stick or selecting the RTS pushbutton. RTS also indirectly occurs when selecting the TWS pushbutton, which commands TWS, or when selecting an ACM mode with the Sensor Control switch. Selecting the Gun while in STT, however, keeps the Radar in STT and does not command Gun Acquisition as it otherwise would.

The mode the Radar will return to when RTS is commanded is indicated under the RTS option on the Attack format. When the Gun is not selected, the RTS mode is the mode used to enter STT. For example, if STT was entered from Track While Scan, RTS will return to TWS. If STT was entered from Wide Acquisition ACM mode, RTS will command Wide Acq. If RTS from STT will command an ACM mode, a subsequent RTS command will return to the mode from which ACM was entered (RWS, TWS, VS).

When the Gun is selected, Return to Search (RTS) will always command the Radar to Gun Acquisition.

An indirect RTS is commanded when the L&S track is lost in STT and the Radar fails to reacquire the track after the MEM function is attempted.

Azimuth/Elevation (Az/El) Format

AzEl Format Common Options 1.png
  1. Vertical Crosshair - A solid vertical line is displayed at the center of the Az/El format to indicate 0° left/right azimuth relative to the horizon. Tick marks along the line indicate elevation scale in variable increments based on the elevation scale display setting. At 140°, ticks are in 30° increments; at 60°, 15° increments; and at 30°, no ticks are displayed.
  2. Horizontal Crosshair - A solid horizontal line is displayed centered on the format to indicate 0° up/down elevation relative to the horizon. Tick marks along the line indicate azimuth scale in 30° increments.
  3. TDC Cursor - The Az/El cursor consists of two horizontal bars and is used for trackfile designation and acquisition and selection of pushbutton options outside the tactical region. The cursor becomes a cross when the TDC is held down to perform scan centering functions which are described for the specific IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevels. When the TDC is assigned to the Az/El format, the cursor is initialized over the STORES DSPLY/FLIR DSPLY pushbutton label. When TDC assignment is removed from the Az/El, the cursor is removed.
  4. Priority Sensor - The priority sensor is indicated here, which is either IFF/RDR (interrogator and Radar) or the FLIR. Pressing this pushbutton will cycle the priority sensor. The priority sensor can also be cycled by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Az/El format with the cursor outside the tactical region and the TDC already assigned to it.
  5. Sensor Status - When IFF/RDR is the priority sensor, the CIT operating status is indicated here (INT when actively interrogating and RDY otherwise). If the CIT is not on, the Radar status is displayed identical to the Attack format. When the FLIR is the priority sensor, the FLIR operating status is indicated here.
  6. Elevation Scale - The vertical angle covered by the Az/El format can be changed with the elevation scale option. The degrees displayed above and below the horizon are indicated at the upper and bottom right corners of the tactical region. Pressing the EL SCALE pushbutton cycles between 30° (±15°), 60° (±30°), and 140° (±70°) settings. The horizontal angle covered is always 140° except in the Expanded Az/El display.
  7. Sensor FOV Toggle - This option toggles display of the Radar and FLIR field of view indicators (described for the specific sublevels). When the option is unboxed, the FOVs are blanked.
  8. Aircraft Heading - The current ownship heading is displayed here in magnetic or true based on the setting in the HSI DATA sublevel.
  9. Expand - Toggles the Az/El Expanded (EXP) view.

The Azimuth/Elevation (AZ/EL) format provides a boresight view of MSI trackfiles and the Radar scan pattern. It also allows for the pilot to center the Radar scan, cue the FLIR to trackfiles, and manipulate the Combined/Interrogator Transponder (CIT) for IFF. It is available on the [TAC] menu in the A/A master mode exclusively. Alternatively, bumping the Sensor Control switch left (in A/A) when the LDDI cannot accept TDC assignment will invoke the Az/El on the LDDI.

Per the name, the Az/El format provides a Radar scope, termed the tactical region, that is presented in azimuth on the horizontal axis and elevation on the vertical axis; i.e. as if looking out from the nose of the aircraft. As such, range can only be determined by numeric indications on the Az/El. The tactical region is stabilized to the horizon, meaning a trackfile at the same altitude as ownship will appear in the vertical center of the Az/El regardless of ownship pitch angle. All MSI trackfiles are displayed as HAFU symbols on the Az/El format and there is no raw Radar information displayed.

A thin, rectangular separated portion of the tactical region exists at the top termed the "dugout". Trackfiles without range information (angle-only tracks) are displayed here.

Horizontally, the tactical region represents 140° total (70° left and right of the aircraft). Vertically, the elevation scale is configurable to a maximum of 140° (70° above and below).

Cursor Option Selection

The FOV, EL SCALE, FLIR DSPLY, STORES DSPLY, and EXP options on the Az/El format can be HOTAS-selected by placing the cursor over the label and depressing the TDC.

When the TDC is assigned to the Az/El format, the cursor is initialized over the STORES DSPLY (IFF/RDR sublevel) or FLIR DSPLSY (FLIR sublevel) option. Since bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Az/El with the cursor outside the tactical region will swap between IFF/RDR and FLIR as priority sensors, this will also toggle between the STORES and FLIR DSPLY options. This provides the pilot a fast way of invoking the A/A STORES and A/A FLIR formats via the HOTAS.

Az/El RDR/IFF Sublevel

AzEl IFF RDR Sublevel Labels 4.png
  1. Interrogation Mode - Not yet implemented.
  2. Information Display Filter - Not yet implemented.
  3. CIT Range - CIT returns from scan interrogations can be range-restricted using this option. The up/down arrows cycle through 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 100 nautical mile options.
  4. IFF Declutter - Not yet implemented.
  5. RSET - The RSET option clears out the DT2 designation, resets the L&S designation to the priority #1 MSI trackfile in TWS or entirely clears the L&S designation in RWS, and exits the Az/El Expanded (EXP) mode. Note that the Az/El RSET option does not perform any of the other reset functions pertinent only to the Attack format, however the RSET option on both the Attack and Az/El formats perform the same L&S/DT2 resetting.
  6. CIT Azimuth - This option cycles through azimuth widths for CIT scan interrogations (centered on the Radar scan azimuth). Available options are 20°, 40°, 80°, and 140°.
  7. AUTO INT - When boxed, this commands an automatic scan interrogation by the CIT every 10 seconds. If L+S INT is boxed and an L&S track exists, the L+S INT functionality is instead commanded.
  8. L+S INT - When boxed, this commands an automatic pointed interrogation by the CIT centered on the L&S track every 10 seconds.
  9. Stores Display - This option invokes the Stores format from the IFF/RDR sublevel. When the TDC is assigned to the Az/El format, the cursor initializes over this option. Since it is selectable via the cursor, this provides a quick way of selecting the A/A Stores format via HOTAS.
  10. Radar Mode - With IFF/RDR selected as the priority sensor, this line displays the current mode of the Radar. This includes search modes, specific ACM modes, and STT.
  11. Scan Center Position - When IFF/RDR is the priority sensor, these two numbers indicate the position of the commanded Radar scan center relative to boresight.
  12. Radar FOV - This yellow box indicates the field of view (FOV) of the Radar. This FOV accounts for the entire scan volume (azimuth/bar setting) and is not the instantaneous Radar FOV. The only instantaneous Radar scan indications are the B-sweep line and elevation caret on the Attack format. The Radar FOV box is displayed on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevels, but at a lower intensity on the FLIR sublevel. Additionally, the Radar FOV is blanked in STT or ACM.
  13. CIT FOV - The field of view (FOV) of the CIT is indicated by these two parallel lines. The CIT FOV is only displayed when actively interrogating as a cue to the pilot it is occurring. When a 140° CIT scan interrogation width is selected, the scan width lines will display a slightly smaller width not technically representative of the true 140° scan. This is done so that the lines are still visible, since the Az/El tactical region itself is also 140°. Note that the FOV toggle option only affects the Radar and FLIR FOVs and not the CIT. The CIT FOV appears on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevels.
  14. Scan Centering Cross - The scan centering cross is displayed in place of the regular cursor while the TDC is depressed and for 2 seconds after the TDC is released. With IFF/RDR selected as the priority center, the cross indicates where the Radar scan volume will be centered upon TDC release. Two numbers are displayed to the left which indicate the altitude coverage of the Radar at the current cross position accounting for the entire scan frame. As the Az/El does not have a range axis, the range reference used for these altitude values is equal to half the range scale selected on the Attack format.
  15. Trackfile Information - These three lines indicate the closing velocity in knots (Vc), range in nautical miles, and heading for the the trackfile under the cursor or the L&S if there is no track under the cursor. This is the only indication of range to targets on the Az/El inherently because of its boresight presentation. If no track is under the cursor and there is no L&S, these lines are blanked. Note that the heading is technically the trackfile's course over the ground and not the nose heading. This is displayed on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevels.
  16. MSI Donor Information - This line of data is shown for the trackfile under the cursor or, if none, the L&S if it exists. If there is no L&S and no track under the cursor, it is blanked. The left portion reads L16 if there is a Link 16 Datalink contribution to the trackfile (SURV or F/F) and shows its HAFU shape. The right portion reads the aircraft type from NCTR or PPLI data. This is displayed on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevel.
  17. PPLI Callsign - If a PPLI contribution exists for the track under the cursor or, if none, the L&S if one exists, its abbreviated callsign is displayed here. If there is no L&S nor a trackfile under the cursor, or that trackfile is not PPLI, then this field is blanked. This is displayed on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevel.
  18. IFF Reply Information - The modes on which a positive IFF reply has been received are displayed here for the track under the cursor or, if none, the L&S trackfile if it exists. A P indicates a PPLI contribution and a number 1, 2, 3, or 4 indicates the respective IFF mode. This is displayed on both the IFF/RDR and FLIR sublevel.

Az/El Radar Functions

Radar parameters such as search mode or the scan volume cannot be changed from the Az/El format and must be done through the Attack format. The primary Radar function done from the Az/El is positioning the scan center. Due to its boresight presentation, the vertical scan coverage of the Radar can be visualized on the Az/El format. It provides the pilot the ability to center the scan in both azimuth as well as elevation via the cursor as a more intuitive alternative to using the Antenna Elevation wheel and Attack format elevation caret. The Radar can also be commanded into Single Target Track (STT) from the Az/El. Furthermore, universal MSI L&S/DT2 trackfile desigination is available using the cursor or Undesignate button.

  • Scan Centering - Radar scan centering on the Az/El format is mechanized as follows. When the TDC is depressed, the slewable scan centering cross replaces the cursor. When the TDC is released, the scan is centered on the azimuth and elevation of the cross and the regular cursor symbol returns 2 seconds after the TDC is released. The scan center will always force the entirety of the azimuth and bar/elevation coverage to be utilized. For example, if a 60° azimuth is selected and the cursor is released 10° from the edge of the tactical region, the scan center will actually be set to 30° from the edge so as to use the entirety of the azimuth selected.
  • Acquisition - Acquisition into STT is done on the Az/El by depressing the TDC with the cursor over the L&S track or by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Az/El with the cursor over any trackfile. Note that full Automatic Acquisition functionality can only be done by bumping toward the Attack format and the Az/El essentially only has the Fast Acquisition part of Automatic Acquisition. Return to Search (RTS) from STT is commanded by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the Az/El or universally with the Undesignate button.

Az/El Interrogator Functions

The Combat Interrogator/Transponder (CIT) can be cued on the Az/El format to perform IFF interrogations.

  • Pointed Interrogation - A pointed interrogation is a 22° interrogation centered on a selected MSI trackfile.
    • A manual pointed interrogation can be done on any trackfile on the Az/El as well as Attack or Situation Awareness formats by cursoring over the HAFU symbol and depressing the Sensor Control switch.
    • A pointed interrogation will be automatically done every 10 seconds centered on the L&S trackfile when the L+S INT option is boxed on the Az/El format.
  • Scan Interrogation - A scan interrogation is a variable width interrogation which is centered on the L&S trackfile or the aircraft boresight if none exists. The width of a scan interrogation is defined by the CIT scan azimuth pushbutton setting set on the Az/El format. Scan interrogations can only be done automatically. A scan interrogation is performed every 10 seconds when the AUTO INT option is boxed on the Az/El format. If the L+S INT option is also boxed and an L&S exists, auto scan interrogations will not be performed in favor of auto pointed interrogations on the L&S.

Az/El FLIR Sublevel

Not yet implemented.

Situation Awareness (SA) Format

The Situation Awareness (SA) format provides a top-down view of MSI trackfiles around the aircraft. In particular, it displays the rear hemisphere of the aircraft which is not available on the Attack or Azimuth/Elevation formats. The SA also provides most navigation functions and indications found on the top-level HSI format, excluding the lubberline, TACAN steering, ICLS steering, and north up display mode.

The SA format can be invoked from the [TAC] menu. Alternatively, the HSI format can be swapped with the SA format (and vice-versa) by bumping the Sensor Control switch toward the HSI when the TDC is already assigned to it. Since the HSI can be invoked at anytime on the MPCD via Sensor Control switch aft, the SA can be as well by simply bumping twice aft.

The SA format is primarily an informational display and so actual manipulation of Radar functions like scan centering or acquisition into STT is unavailable and must be done from the Attack or Azimuth/Elevation formats.

The SA format additionally allows for Multi-Source Integration (MSI) sources to be selectively filtered for all MSI displays (RDR ATTK, AZ/EL) and provides the ability to manually classify trackfiles as friendly, unknown, or hostile.

SA Format 3.png
  1. TDC Cursor - This cursor is used for displaying information about certain trackfiles. It can also be used to select a track for 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. Aircraft Type (from NCTR print or PPLI)
    2. (PPLI) Abbreviated Callsign and Number / Fuel State (thousands of lbs)
      (non-PPLI) Ground Speed / Ground Track
    3. Aircraft-to-Trackfile Bearing and Range (BRA)
    4. A/A Waypoint (Bullseye)-to-Trackfile Bearing and Range (BE)
  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 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 at the last location of the STEP box.
  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 EXP 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 is available 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 approximate effective range.

SENSR Sublevel

The Sensor (SENSR) sublevel controls what Multi-Source Integration (MSI) sources are displayed throughout the avionics. 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 MSI trackfile information being displayed from Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) donors.
  5. SURV Contribution - Toggles MSI trackfile information being displayed from surveillance (SURV) donors.
  6. Unknown Trackfiles - Toggles display of trackfiles with an unknown identification status.
  7. Friendly RWR Bearings - Toggles display of friendly emitters for the priority four RWR bearings around the SA compass rose and at the top of the Attack and Az/El tactical regions.
    1. OFF: friendly RWRs will not be displayed.
    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.
  8. RWR Bearings - Toggles display of the four most priority air-to-air RWR emitters, 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.
    1. Unboxed: shows no emitters
    2. ALL: shows all emitters
    3. CRIT LETH: shows only critical and lethal bearings
    4. CRIT: shows only 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 powered.
  12. Not yet implemented.

L&S/DT2 HUD Indications

HUD AA TD Boxes 1.png

The following indications are available on the HUD and HMD for the Launch & Steering (L&S) and Secondary Designated Target (DT2) trackfiles, if designated. Note that additional weapon/attack cues are provided when an A/A weapon is selected and are detailed in the appropriate sections.

  1. L&S Target Designator Box - The line of sight to the Launch & Steering trackfile (L&S) is indicated by the target designator (TD) box. The TD box is a square shape if the onboard classification for the L&S is not hostile or a diamond shape reminiscent of the triangle HAFU symbol for a hostile if the L&S has onboard hostile classification. If the TD box is outside the HUD or HMD field of view, it will flash and a target locator line is displayed (see below).
  2. L&S Offboard Classification - If the classification for the L&S is either friendly or hostile (i.e. not unknown) for both onboard and offboard elements, the offboard classification of friendly or hostile is indicated here via the appropriate HAFU symbol (half circle or triangle). This provides the pilot a heads-up indication that the onboard/offboard classifications are either in direct agreement or in direct conflict.
  3. L&S Closure Rate - The closure rate (Vc) in knots with the L&S is displayed here.
  4. L&S Range - The range to the L&S in nautical miles is displayed here.
  5. DT2 Target Designator X - The line of site to the Secondary Designated Target (DT2) trackfile is indicated by an "X" shape. If the DT2 is outside the HUD/HMD field of view, the X will flash, however there is no target locator line pointer as there is for the L&S.

Not shown is the L&S target locator line (TLL). When the L&S TD box is outside the HUD/HMD field of view (and thus flashing), the TLL is displayed. The TLL is an arrow that points from the HUD/HMD center to the L&S. By the TLL, a number indicates how many degrees away the L&S is from the HUD or HMD center. In NAV master mode, a TLL can also exist for the air-to-ground target designation. Only the L&S TLL will display if both exist.

Note that when a FLIR Point Track target exists, the symbology is augmented dependent on whether that target is correlated as the L&S, DT2, or neither. See A/A FLIR HUD Indications.

MSI HMD Indications

The HMD superimposes designators for up to 7 Datalink trackfiles other than the A/A L&S or DT2 within a defined range. A trackfile designated as the L&S/DT2 will always display the box/diamond or X symbol.

The trackfiles displayed can be either A/A Multi-Source Integration (MSI) trackfiles and/or A/G target trackfiles.

The following trackfiles are displayed. The 7 track limit is sorted by range from ownship. The priority of each category and the maximum distance from ownship displayed can be defined in the MIDS sublevel on the HMD format, where the bottom position is highest priority and the top is lowest.

If members, donors, and/or the closest friendly exist, 4 slots will be reserved regardless of the priority settings. The TUC'd track and others will then fit into the remaining 3 slots based on priority. This is to prevent the pilot from completely excluding friendlies.

  • Closest Friendly - Closest trackfile to the L&S (in A/A or NAV master mode) or A/G designation (in A/G master mode) that is classified as friendly and has has an offboard Datalink element. No closest friendly is displayed if there is no L&S (A/A and NAV) or A/G designation (A/G). Note that the closest friendly must still be within the maximum defined range from ownship to display.
  • Members - PPLI ownship flight members.
  • TUC'd Track - The trackfile under the cursor (TUC) on the SA format (regular cursor or STEP box). This indication cannot be affected by the Az/El or Attack format cursors. It also ignores the range from ownship limit set on the HMD format.
  • Donors - Trackfiles contributing to the Fighter-to-Fighter (F/F) net group.
  • Others - Trackfiles contributed to by an F/F or SURV donor.

Identification, Friend or Foe

The Combined Interrogator Transponder (CIT) is equipped in the F/A-18. The CIT provides multi-mode transponding and interrogation which enables Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) capability.

IFF is a technology equipped on most military aircraft which allows aircraft to send interrogation challenges and responses to them. If a response is valid for the challenge, it is termed a positive response and considered a positive friendly identification. If no response or an invalid response to the challenge is received, it is termed a negative response and the aircraft is considered to be neither positively hostile nor positively friendly. This makes the term "Identification, Friend or Foe" technically a misnomer since it can only positively ID a friendly and not a hostile.

The IFF menu select button on the UFC invokes the UFC Combined Interrogator Transponder menu and powers the CIT. Successive presses toggles between air interrogator (indicated by AI in the scratchpad) and transponder (indicated by XP) codes and modes of operation. When colonized, that mode is active for interrogation/transponding. The last-selected mode's code can be changed using the UFC scratch pad. The entire CIT can be powered off via the ON OFF button and will be indicated by the lack of XP nor AI in the scratch pad window.

Actually performing interrogations is detailed under MSI trackfiles (see IFF interrogation). The result of an interrogation affects trackfile classification.


The F/A-18 participates in the Link 16 Datalink system for broadcasting and receiving information to and from other participants on the network. The network allows for other friendly aircraft to participate to MSI trackfiles and so adding to the overall tactical picture. The F/A-18 communicates with Link 16 using its integrated Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) radios.

The Hornet participates in the following Link 16 net groups:

  • Surveillance (SURV) - The SURV net group consists of trackfile information transmitted from airborne warning and control system (AWACS)-type aircraft and from ground-based radars.
  • Fighter-to-Fighter (F/F) - Other fighter-type aircraft transmit trackfiles generated from their own network through the F/F group.
  • Precise Participant Location and Identification (PPLI) - PPLI is comprised of "self-information" - that is, aircraft transmit their own position and information to others on the net. This includes position, altitude, callsign, and fuel state.
  • Voice (VOC) - Link 16 can facilitate encrypted voice communications between participants. The two sub-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.

  • Forward - AIM-7 Sparrow
  • Aft - Gun
  • Down - AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • Right - AIM-120 AMRAAM

Actuating the Weapon Select switch simultaneously makes the selection and enters A/A master mode. This allows for rapid configuration for an A/A engagement. The Attack and Stores formats are automatically invoked upon entering A/A master mode. When the Gun is selected and the Radar is not already in Single Target Track, the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) condition and Gun Acquisition (GACQ) mode is also automatically initialized.

If A/A master mode is instead entered by using the A/A button on the Master Arm Panel, the AIM-9 is selected.

All A/A weapons are fired with the trigger on the stick. The Gun will fire continuously while the trigger is held down. For missiles, the trigger will fire one missile for each press.

All weapons have the basic firing interlock conditions of all gear up and locked and the master arm switch set to ARM. When these conditions are met, the selected A/A weapon can be released. There is no mode for any weapon that requires a target to be "locked" or acquired as a prerequisite to firing the weapon, however the weapon is typically put in a non-preferred backup mode when a Radar Launch & Steering target does not exist.

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 application is a very short-range weapon used in "knife fight" dogfight scenarios. The avionics provide Radar-assisted firing cues as well as a backup aiming mechanism in the absence of a Radar track.

The assumption made by the avionics is that when the pilot selects the Gun, a close-range engagement is anticipated or in progress. As such, unlike any other A/A weapon, unless already in Single Target Track (STT), Gun selection (Weapon Select Switch aft) automatically commands the Radar into Air Combat Maneuvering mode and selects Gun Acquisition (GACQ), an ACM pattern specific to the Gun. If the Radar is already in STT, Gun selection will still command the ACM condition, however the Radar remains in STT. With the Gun is selected, there is no way to access RWS, TWS, or VS; however, all ACM patterns are available using the Sensor Control switch. Commanding Return to Search from anything but Gun Acq will revert to Gun Acq. In Gun Acq, there is no RTS available.

Air-to-Air Gun STORES Format

AA Gun STORES Labels 1.png

When the A/A gun is selected, the STORES format will display the following.

  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 between 10 and 150 feet.

Unguided Mode

Gun Funnel Labels 2.png

The unguided "gun funnel" HUD display is shown whenever the Radar is not in Single Target Track.

  1. Gun Boresight - The physical Gun boresight angle. This doubles as the 0ft range indication for the gun funnel, which starts slightly below boresight at 500ft.
  2. Gun Funnel - The gun funnel is an aiming reticle that provides cues for fixed ranges. It consists of 7 segments with parallel lines. The "joints" that connect them each indicate a fixed range. From the top to bottom of the funnel, the ranges are 500ft, 750ft, 1,000ft, 1,250ft, 1,500ft, 2,000ft, and 3,000ft. The distance between joints/parallel segments can be set to the expected target wingspan on the STORES format.
  3. 1,000ft Pipper - This pipper is placed in between the 1,000ft-indicator joints.
  4. 2,000ft Pipper - This pipper is placed in between the 2,000ft-indicator joints.
  5. Gun Acquisition Field of View - The field of view of the Radar Gun Acquisition (GACQ) mode is indicated by this dashed circle. The Radar is initialized to GACQ when the Gun is selected and the Radar is not already in Single Target Track (STT). Other Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) modes can be selected from GACQ.
  6. A/A Weapon Indication - GUN indicates the A/A gun is selected. The legend is "X'd out" when the master arm is SAFE and/or the gear is down.
  7. Round Count - This numeric indicates the number of rounds left in the gun. If no rounds are detected, the round count reads XXX.

Gun funnel use involves strafing the target between the beginning and end of the funnel, or farther below it at ranges greater than 3,000ft. The pilot must manually correct for any target acceleration or maneuvering since the funnel does not correct for any target parameters.

Radar Guided Mode

Radar Tracking HUD Labels 1.png

A Radar-driven HUD aiming display is provided for the Gun when the Radar is in Single Target Track (STT). It consists of the Gun Director, a "point and shoot" reticle for close range, and the Fluid Omni-Range/Rate Sight (FORESIGHT) for "long" range employment of the Gun (up to ~1.5nm).

  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), as is typical whenever an L&S exists. However, unique to when the Gun is selected, the range is displayed in feet to the nearest hundred when within 1.0nm.

Gun Director

Gun Director Labels 1.png

The Gun Director is comprised of a linear circle indicating range to the target and an aiming reticle in the center. The Gun Director accounts for target acceleration and computes the required lead-angle for aiming. As such, employing the Gun Director simply involves putting the pipper on the target and then firing when within maximum range (when the IN LAR/SHOOT cue appears). This will likely result in the bullets landing on target if it does not maneuver. The main Gun Director circle provides a linear visualization of target range between 12,000ft and 0ft.

  1. Pipper
  2. Current Range - The current range to the STT L&S target is indicated by the inward-pointing tick and an associated thinner circle which winds/unwinds with it inside the main circle. Counterclockwise movement indicates reducing range and vice-versa.
  3. Gun Maximum Range - The dynamic maximum range (Rmax) of the Gun is indicated by this outward-pointing tick. The Rmax cue is also indicated on the Normalized In Range Display when an A/A missile is selected within 2.0nm range.
  4. 12 o'clock Position - The 12 o'clock position indicates either 12,000ft or 0ft range. The current range tick will be fixed to the 12 o'clock position at ranges greater than 12,000 ft.
  5. 9 o'clock Position - The 9 o'clock position always indicates 9,000ft range.
  6. 6 o'clock Position - The 6 o'clock position always indicates 6,000ft range.
  7. 3 o'clock Position - The 3 o'clock position always indicates 3,000ft range.

A square occlusion zone exists around the Gun Director reticle. When the the target is within 3,000ft range, the Gun Director occludes the L&S TD box for unobstructed view of the physical target. Outside 3,000ft, the TD box is drawn under the reticle.


An IN LAR or SHOOT cue is displayed above the Gun Director reticle when the below conditions are all met. If the target has an onboard hostile classification, the cue says SHOOT; otherwise, it says IN LAR (Launch Acceptable Region).

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

The appearance of the cue accounts for a 0.5 second pilot reaction delay. Additionally, the cue will not disappear until predicted miss distance is greater than 30ft (or master arm/maximum range requirement is no longer met).



The Fluid Omni-Range/Rate Sight ("FORESIGHT") is one of two Radar-guided aiming methods for the Gun. The FORESIGHT is designed to provide assistance in aiming the gun at long range up to ~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.

FORESIGHT technique usually involves placing the target at the 1.0G pipper, firing, and then strafing toward the 9.0G pipper and/or side-to-side, as needed.

  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 target at the distance it is at that moment.
  3. 9G FORESIGHT Pipper - This is indicated by a "+" and is always offset from the 1G pipper. It indicates the lead angle required to land the bullets on a target on the same plane of motion pulling 9.0G. As such, the imaginary lead angle indicator for a target on the same plane of motion pulling between 1.1G and 8.9G is somewhere between the 1G and 9G pippers.


As long as the trigger is depressed, the Bullet at Target Range (BATR) cue is displayed. This is a small 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.

Air-to-Air Missiles

The F/A-18C can carry three A/A missile types:

  • AIM-9 Sidewinder - The Sidewinder is an infrared-guided, short-range missile. Since it uses infrared guidance, the AIM-9 does not require support of the Radar for engagement. However, the Radar will provide launch envelope information when a Launch & Steering target does exist. The AIM-9, particularly the AIM-9X variant, is highly maneuverable and can be launched at high off boresight (HOBS) angles.
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM - The AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range A/A Missile) is medium range missile that uses a combination of Radar-supported Datalink guidance and its own independent Radar seeker. The AMRAAM receives midcourse Datalink updates from the ownship Radar until an optimal point at which it goes "Active" and acquires the target using its own Radar. The AMRAAM also has a backup "Visual" mode that allows for it to be launched without ownship Radar support.
  • AIM-7 Sparrow - The Sparrow is a medium range semi-active homing missile that uses a seeker which homes in on pulse Doppler illumination (PDI) guidance provided by the ownship Radar. Painting the target with PDI requires a full Single Target Track (STT) on the target from launch to impact.

Launch Acceptable Region

All air-to-air missiles have four common range variables which are part of their Launch Acceptable Region (LAR) relative to the target.

  • Raero: The maximum aerodynamic range is the maximum theoretical range of the missile flying in a straight-line, i.e. against a non-maneuvering target. As such, this value provides an indication of the absolute maximum range at which the missile could potentially land on target.
  • Rmax: The maximum range is the farthest range at which the missile can maneuver to connect with the target if the target were to continue flying in its current path without maneuvering. Since Rmax does not account for the target's potential to maneuver, the missile is still likely defeatable at Rmax. Essentially, it does account for the missile's ability to maneuver to the target at its present flight path but does not account for any potential changes in the flight path.
  • Rne: The no escape range is the range at which the missile can likely still connect with the target if it were to turn 180° directly away from the missile. The ranges at which the missile is predicted to connect accounting for a 10°–170° target aspect change exist between Rmax and Rne. The maximum aspect change is indicated by the Maximum Aspect Cue on the Attack format. A launch within Rne is the most optimal scenario as it accounts for the worst-case, most defensive potentia maneuvering of the target.
  • Rmin: The minimum range indicates the closest range at which the missile should be launched. This may be due to the missile being unable to turn sharply enough onto the target, the warhead not having sufficient time before impact to arm, and/or a risk of debris from impact. When below Rmin, a large "breakaway X" symbol is flashed on the HUD and Attack format.

Whenever a missile is selected, LARs are indicated on the HUD for the Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile. The Attack format provides LARs for the L&S as well as the Secondary Designated Target (DT2). When an L&S has not been designated, a LAR can be displayed for any trackfile on the Attack format by cursoring over it.


The word IN LAR or SHOOT is displayed above the L&S TD box and at the bottom center of the Attack format as a cue to the pilot the selected weapon is within optimal firing conditions. If the L&S has onboard hostile classification it reads SHOOT and otherwise it reads IN LAR.

The IN LAR/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
  • (AIM-120) Launched in Command Inertial Active mode
  • (AIM-9) Seeker LOS coincident is with L&S

The IN LAR/SHOOT cue flashes to indicate when the range is within Rne. Note that when the L&S TD box is outside the HUD or HMD field of view, it flashes. However, if it is outside the FOV and meets solid IN LAR/SHOOT conditions, the accompanying cue will remain solid above the flashing TD box unless the range is within Rne.

The cue is inhibited when the range is below Rmin or weapon/gun round count is 0.

HUD LAR Indications

HUD LAR Labels 1.png

When an A/A missile is selected, the HUD provides a Normalized In Range Display (NIRD) and Allowable Steering Error (ASE) circle for the current L&S trackfile. The NIRD is a "normalized" circular display that indicates range to the L&S, where Rmax is always at the 6:00 o'clock position and Rmin is always at 2:30. The rate of change of the L&S indicator and position of the Rne caret changes accordingly. In other words, the NIRD circle circumference does not equate to a constant distance.

  1. Allowable Steering Error Circle / Steering Dot - The Allowable Steering Error (ASE) circle is fixed to the aircraft waterline and is coincident with the NIRD circle. The aircraft is maneuvered such that the steering dot is within ASE circle. This results in the optimal lead-angle for conservation of missile energy. The steering dot flashes when within 5° of the Radar elevation limit or 15° of the azimuth limit.
  2. Target Aspect Pointer - This arrow indicates the L&S target's ground track angle relative to ownship. For example, if ownship is northbound, the 7-8 o'clock position would indicate the L&S is southwestbound.
  3. L&S Range - The range to the L&S is indicated by this inward-pointed tick accompanied by a thin inner-circle. The L&S tick unwinds counter-clockwise as range decreases and clockwise as range increases. Since the NIRD is a normalized display, the rate of change for the L&S tick varies.
  4. Maximum Aerodynamic Range (Raero) - The diamond symbol indicates Raero. It is only displayed when range is greater than Raero.
  5. Maximum Range (Rmax) - Rmax is indicated by the 6:00 o'clock positioned triangle caret. The NIRD is normalized around the position of the Rmax caret such that it is always at the 6:00 o'clock position.
  6. No Escape Range (Rne) - Rne is indicated by the normalized 2:30 o'clock position triangle caret.
  7. Minimum Range (Rmin) - Rmin is indicated dynamically by this carry, which will always be between Rne and zero range.
  8. Zero Range - 0 range is indicated constantly at the 12:00 o'clock position.

Not shown is the A/A Gun Rmax cue. When range is less than 2.0nm with any A/A missile selected, an outward-pointing tick mark indicates the maximum range of the Gun to cue the pilot as to whether the Gun could be employed without having to select it.

RDR ATTK LAR Indications

RDR ATTK LAR Labels 2.png

When an A/A missile is selected, launch zones are displayed on the Attack format in a vertical scale from ownship to designated trackfiles. A launch zone consists of a vertical line drawn from Rmax to Rmin, aligned with the trackfile in azimuth. Short perpendicular horizontal lines indicate Rmax at the top, Rne in between, and Rmin at the bottom.

A launch zone is constantly displayed for the currently designated L&S and DT2 targets. If there is no L&S, a launch zone is displayed for any trackfile while its HAFU is under the cursor.

  1. Trackfile - The target trackfile HAFU symbol which the launch zone is being displayed for.
  2. Maximum Range (Rmax)
  3. No Escape Range (Rne)
  4. Minimum Range (Rmin)
  5. Maximum Aspect Cue - The Maximum Aspect Cue indicates the maximum number of degrees (in tenths) the target could turn at launch for the missile to still be predicted to connect. This means it is a representation of shot quality. The cue will always indicate 0 (0°) outside of Rmax and 18 (180°) within Rne, since by definition Rne accounts for the target turning directly away.
  6. Allowable Steering Error Circle / Steering Dot - A steering dot and Allowable Steering Error (ASE) circle is displayed on the Attack format, as on the HUD. The ASE circle is fixed to the center of the Attack format and the steering dot moves relative to it. This provides the pilot a "heads down" way of maneuvering onto the target.

AIM-9 Sidewinder

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-medium range, infrared-guided air-to-air missile used by the F/A-18. Three variants are available: the L ("Lima"), the M ("Mike"), and the latest X ("X-Ray"). The AIM-9L and M are mostly similar; the M has slight upgrades to include a reduced smoke trail and better countermeasure resistance. The AIM-9X is the latest version of the missile and has further upgrades to countermeasure resistance, maneuverability, seeker gimbal limits, and audio cues.

The L and M variants are able to rotate up to 67° off boresight. The X variant has 90° high off boresight (HOBS) launch capability. The AIM-9 can be used as its own sensor or be slaved to the Radar L&S track, which will provide the pilot launch envelope information. AIM-9 targeting is integrated with the helmet mounted display (HMD) to cue the seekerhead outside the HUD field of view.

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 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 - The SEL text indicates the currently selected AIM-9 missile. When two AIM-9s are loaded onto a single station, a SEL L or SEL R indication is provided to specify left or right. The selected missile can be cycled by pressing the Weapon Select Switch once the AIM-9 weapon has already been selected.
  2. Aircraft Wingform - A visual representation of all stores loaded on the aircraft. This displays both A/A and A/G stores.
  3. AIM-9 Indication - 9L, 9M, or 9X indicates the AIM-9 and the variant. The missile symbol below/above the text indicates what station the AIM-9 is loaded onto.

Standalone Mode

AIM-9 HUD Labels 1.png
  1. A/A Weapon Indication - This legend reads 9M, 9L, or 9X to indicate the AIM-9 and that type is selected. The text is crossed out when the master arm is set to SAFE.
  2. A/A Weapon Quantity - This indicates the number of AIM-9 missiles of the type selected (e.g. AIM-9X) onboard.
  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 without Radar assistance when there is no Launch & Steering trackfile designated. When the seeker is "caged", it is slaved to the aircraft boresight on the HUD. When the HMD is not looking at the HUD, it will slave to the aiming cross of the HMD. The seeker circle on the HMD will flash at the edge of the HMD field of view when it is being cued beyond gimbal limits.

The seeker can 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. 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 detects a target as indicated by the appropriate audio tone.

Whether caged or uncaged, when the seeker detects a contrasting target and is fired, the missile will guide onto that target.

Radar Slaved Mode

When the Radar has a Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile designated, the AIM-9 seeker will be slaved to the line of sight (LOS) to the L&S. Although the AIM-9 does not take any actual guidance from the Radar, Launch Acceptable Region indications are displayed to provide the pilot guidance on when to fire reference the missile launch envelopes. For the IN LAR/SHOOT cue and steering dot to display, the seeker LOS must be detected to be coincident with the LOS to the L&S within 1.5° if the LOS to the L&S is 20° or less. When the LOS to the L&S is greater than 20°, the seeker must be coincident within 3°.

When an L&S exists, the AIM-9 seeker can be caged with the Cage/Uncage button. The seeker will not uncage to any target that is not coincident with the LOS to the L&S, however it can still be fired on a target other than the L&S when caged as in standalone operation.

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 (scratchy): Seeker is searching.
    • Double Beep: Seeker has been moved past 27.5° off boresight while searching.
    • Repeating Beep (bap-bap): Seeker detects infrared contrast, but is not sufficient for a reliable track (i.e. the seeker is out of range or the contrast is not fully within its instantaneous field of view).
    • Steady Tone: Seeker sees an infrared contrasting target.
    • Steady, High Pitch Tone: Seeker is uncaged/tracking a target.
    • 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. The AIM-7 uses a seeker which homes onto pulse-Doppler illumination (PDI) reflected off the target by the ownship aircraft's Radar. The AIM-7 requires the Radar to be tracking the target in STT from launch to impact and so is considered to have 'semi-active' guidance.

The AIM-7 has three 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.


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. Trajectory Mode - Allows for selection of the launch trajectory 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 either:

  • the STT is lost after launch
  • the AIM-7 is launched without an L&S
  • the Radar was not previously in STT and the L&S was unsuccessfully acquired into STT
  • the FLOOD option on the Attack format is activated (must be in STT with an AIM-7 in flight)

FLOOD mode can be exited by pressing the Undesignate button.

When entered, a FLOOD indication flashes on the HUD and Attack formats for 5 seconds, and then is replaced by the Straight Line (SL) countdown 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. In other words, only the circle on the HUD itself is an accurate indication.
  2. A/A Weapon Indication - This indicates the AIM-7 is selected and which variant by displaying either 7M or 7P. This is crossed out when the master arm is SAFE.
  3. Weapon Quantity - The amount of AIM-7s aboard of the variant currently selected.
  4. AIM-7 Launch Mode - The current launch mode of the AIM-7. A blank space indicates NORM. Otherwise, a LOFT or HELO legend is displayed.

Guided Employment

The normal guided employment of the AIM-7 uses the Radar to reflect Pulse Doppler Illumination (PDI) off of the target. This requires Single Target Track (STT) on the target.

The Radar initiates full PDI on the target upon AIM-7 launch. This is indicated on the Attack format by PDI in place of the normal pulse-repetition frequency indication. PDI can be manually commanded by selecting the PRF with the AIM-7 selected, which replaces it with a boxed PDI legend. Automatically initiated PDI will be turned off 30 seconds after the predicted time of impact.

When the AIM-7 is fired, the missile will guide onto the PDI shined onto the target assuming it is within the seeker maximum range. The Radar must provide PDI on the target until impact.

In the event the target is lost in STT and cannot be reacquired, the Radar is automatically commanded to FLOOD mode to salvage the shot.

Note that the IN LAR/SHOOT cue is displayed for the Launch & Steering (L&S) target in TWS/RWS in addition to STT. Launch from STT is recommended. However, if the AIM-7 is fired outside STT the Radar automatically acquires the L&S trackfile into STT. If acquisition fails, FLOOD mode is commanded.

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.

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 time to go, 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 at any time 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 will not be able to acquire the PDI and may fail to acquire it once it does get within range.


The AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is an active Radar homing air-to-air missile. The AMRAAM is guided by receiving midcourse Datalink commands to maneuver to the target and then, at an optimal point, acquires the target independently with its own Radar. This type of guidance allows for multiple AMRAAMs to be supported against multiple targets at once. The AMRAAM can also be employed in a backup mode using only its own Radar.

Inherently, the AMRAAM is a partially "fire and forget" missile in that once it acquires the target with its own Radar (termed the "Active" phase), maintaining the target Radar trackfile is no longer necessary; i.e. the ownship Radar does not need to track the target all the way to missile impact, if not desired.

The F/A-18 can carry the AIM-120B and C variants. 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 fuselage 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 AIM-120 AMRAAM is identified in the SMS as AC or AB, depending on the variant. The missile icon indicates the station the missile is loaded on. SEL displayed when that station is selected. L SEL or R SEL distinguishes the selected missile on stations with dual launchers. AMRAAM missiles can be cycled manually by successively pressing the Weapon Select switch right.
  2. Target RCS Selection - The known target Radar cross section (RCS) can be selected here for best chance of acquisition by the missile's onboard Radar.
  3. Target Size Selection - The known target aircraft size can be selected here for optimal fuzing/warhead detonation.
  4. Not yet implemented.

Boresight Visual Mode

Boresight Visual mode is a backup employment method which commands the AMRAAM to go active immediately on launch—that is, to acquire and engage the first target detected. Boresight Visual launch mode is forced when no Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile exists. If desired, it can be manually toggled via the Cage/Uncage button on the throttle when an L&S does exist. In Boresight Visual, the L&S target designator box is still displayed if one exists. However, there is no NIRD/ASE symbology or IN LAR/SHOOT cue. Regardless, the missile entirely ignores the L&S in a Boresight launch.

In Boresight Visual, the AIM-120 relies entirely on its own Radar. This is nicknamed a "mad dog" launch. Once fired, the missile enters search and will engage the first target detected, typically within the forward hemisphere as the seeker is fixed to boresight when on the rail. Note that the AIM-120's Radar seeker has a maximum range of ~10nm.

AIM-120 Visual HUD Indications
AIM120 VISUAL Labels 1.png
  1. A/A Weapon Indication - AB or AC is indicated here to denote the AIM-120 is selected and the variant (B or C). When A/A firing interlocks are not met, the indication is crossed out.
  2. Weapon Quantity - Total number of AIM-120s of the variant currently selected on board.
  3. Visual Mode Indication - The VISUAL legend denotes the AMRAAM is in Visual mode. The absence of this indication would indicate CIA (Datalink guided) mode.
  4. Seeker Field of View - The AMRAAM Radar seeker field of view (while on the aircraft) is indicated by this dashed circle. The circle is mirrored on the HMD, but only serves as an obvious indication of Visual mode. The circle on the HUD is the only accurate reference for the seeker FOV in Visual as the seeker is oriented to boresight on the launcher and cannot move.

After firing in Visual mode, the Straight Line countdown will display on the HUD for the last missile launched.


Boresight Visual launch mode is non-discriminate. There is no cue to the pilot to indicate what target, if any, the missile has acquired in a Boresight Visual launch. Furthermore, the missile is not guaranteed to only acquire targets within the field of view circle. Therefore, it is not recommended to use Boresight Visual when friendly aircraft are within or near the field of view of the seeker.

Command Inertial Active Mode

The primary method of AMRAAM employment is the Datalink-guided Command Inertial Active (CIA) mode. CIA is available whenever an L&S exists. CIA and Visual mode can be toggled with the Cage/Uncage button.

The AMRAAM CIA target is always the trackfile which was designated as the Launch & Steering (L&S) target at the moment of launch. It is important to note that after launch the AMRAAM will guide onto the same trackfile even if it is no longer the L&S (or DT2), as long as the trackfile itself is maintained. This allows for simultaneous attack on multiple tracks if desired.

Upon firing in CIA mode, the aircraft begins periodically transmitting post-launch Datalink signals to the missile to guide it to intercept. AMRAAM Datalink is supported in the Radar RWS, TWS, and STT modes, however the frequency of these updates is contingent on the update rate of the target trackfile. As such, a smaller scan frame will yield higher quality guidance. STT is the most optimal, followed by TWS with its artificial scan volume limitations. Post-launch Datalink continues until the missile enters the "Active phase" at an optimal point automatically. A Time to Active (TTA) cue is provided to the pilot as explained below. If the target trackfile is lost prior to this point, the missile goes Active prematurely.

Note that at close range it is possible for the missile to transition immediately to the Active phase upon launch. The pre-launch Time to Active cue reads 0 if this is the case.

Once the AMRAAM goes Active, it acquires and guides to the target with its own onboard Radar until impact. It no longer requires any support from the aircraft to connect with the target. Note that the missile's onboard Radar has a maximum range of approximately 10nm and so if the target trackfile is lost prior to the planned automatic point to go Active (0 TTA), the missile may not be able to acquire the target. Additionally, the farther from the target the missile goes Active, the higher the chance it may erroneously acquire a different target. However, a successful shot is still possible even with a premature Active phase, but it is less likely.

Three time of flight (TOF) values are associated with the AIM-120. It is important to note that TOF cuing is calculated at launch, which may result is under- or over-estimations of the actual time of flight.

  • Time to Active (TTA/ACT) - The time between launch and the point the missile will automatically go active. On the HUD it is indicated by the suffix ACT and on the Attack format, below the fly-out triangle cue, by TTA.
  • Time to Go (TTG) - The predicted time to impact. This is displayed once the missile is in the active phase. It is indicated by the suffix TTG on the HUD.
  • Straight Line (SL) - The predicted straight-line flight time left in the missile. This is displayed on the HUD in a Boresight Visual launch, if the L&S is lost after launch before the missile goes Active, if launched outside of Rmax, or if the L&S moves outside Rmax post-launch. The Straight Line value is indicated by an SL suffix. Except in a Visual launch, the SL value will be preceded by the flashing LOST cue for 5 seconds.
AIM-120 CIA HUD Indications

Typical Launch Acceptable Region (LAR) indications are provided on the HUD for the L&S trackfile when in Command Inertial Active, consisting of the Normalized In Range Display (NIRD) and target designator box, range, and closure rate for the current L&S target.

The Time to Active (denoted by ACT), Time to Go (TTG), and Straight Line (SL) countdowns in seconds are shown on the HUD. The Time to Active cue is displayed for the last launched missile currently in flight against the L&S track if one exists. Otherwise, it provides a dynamic indication of the Time to Active for a potential launch against the current L&S. A 0ACT cue indicates the missile will go Active immediately on launch. The TTG cue is not shown until the missile is actually in flight.

AIM120 RDR ATTK Format Labels 2.png

The Attack format provides the pilot information on the status of all AMRAAM missiles in flight on all trackfiles.

  1. Fly-Out Cue - The missile fly-out triangle provides a visualization of the predicted time to impact and indicates which trackfiles currently have an AMRAAM in flight against them. The fly-out cue is horizontally aligned with the target HAFU symbol. When a Launch Acceptable Region (LAR) is currently displayed for the target trackfile (i.e. it is the L&S or DT2), the fly-out cue moves vertically toward it as a function of the predicted missile flight time remaining, as calculated at launch and is not based on any live missile data. If no LAR is being displayed for the target trackfile (i.e. L&S designation was removed after launch), the fly-out cue is displayed horizontally aligned with the HAFU but is pegged to the bottom of the tactical region to declutter the display. Below the fly-out cue is either the TTA countdown in seconds before the active phase, an A cue to indicate the missile has gone Active, or a LOST cue if the missile is kinematically unable to connect.
  2. Next Missile TTA - This number is the TTA value for the currently selected missile if launched at the current moment. There is no suffix to this value as it always applies to the next "hypothetically launched" missile and never a missile currently in flight. This is contrasted with the value under the fly-out cue which is always associated with a missile in flight.
  3. Maximum Aspect Cue - This is a value between 0 and 18 indicating the amount of degrees (multiplied by 10) the target would have to turn to likely defeat the missile. For example, a maximum aspect cue of 18 predicts 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 released only from the A/G master mode and are selected and programmed via the A/G STORES format, as well as dedicated formats for certain weapons. A/G master mode is required for the release of A/G munitions and the display of associated HUD symbology. However, selection and programming of weapons on the STORES format is still available from NAV master mode.

The Hornet's air-to-ground weapon suite uses a combination of DDI inputs and the HOTAS. As a general principle, weapon setup/programming requires use of DDI pushbuttons. Once a weapon has been programmed, engagement and release can be accomplished using the HOTAS.

The A/G gun is fired via the trigger on the stick. All other A/G munitions are released via the Weapon Release Button or "pickle button" on the stick.


AG STORES Labels 1.png

The A/G Stores format provides for selection of A/G munitions via the Stores Management Set (SMS), the computer sub-system responsible for weapons release and programming. The A/G Stores format can be accessed from the [TAC] menu in NAV or A/G master mode. In A/A, the A/A Stores format is instead displayed. Furthermore, entering A/G master mode will automatically invoke the Stores format on the LDDI.

The Stores format is the primary method of programming A/G munitions. Some munitions have additional dedicated formats.

  1. Aircraft Wingform - The wingform is a visual representation of the aircraft stations in a rear-to-front perspective; i.e. the left wing on the wingform is the left wing. The A/G Stores format shows all A/G and A/A weapons on the wingform. The aircraft's 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 loaded on that station. An "X" shape indicates an A/A missile. When a weapon type is selected at the top, each munition of that type's A/G Ready status is indicated underneath. The specific weapon of that type currently selected for release is boxed.
  2. Gun Rounds Remaining - The number of rounds left in the Gun is constantly indicated here. XXX is displayed when no rounds are detected.
  3. Master Arm Status - This indicates the master arm status as identified by the SMS of SAFE, ARM, or SIM. ARM status does not inherently indicate the weapon is in an A/G Ready condition and therefore is not inherently releaseable.
  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 COMM2 when pressing the Weapon Release Button. Pressing the option cycles through TONE (disabled), TONE1 (COMM1), and TONE2 (COMM2). This option is only available when the master arm is set to ARM.
  7. A/G Gun Selection - Selects the A/G Gun. When A/G Ready is true, RDY is indicated to the left. A/G Ready false is simply indicated by the absence of the RDY indication.
  8. A/G Weapon Selection - All weapon types loaded on the aircraft are displayed for selection at pushbuttons 6–10. Only one can be selected at a time. The selected weapon is boxed. When a weapon is selected, options and indications specific to that munition are displayed. If the A/G Ready status is false for the selected station, the indication is X'd out. When the Ready status is true (station releaseable), the X is removed and RDY displayed below. An A/G weapon remains selected until manually deselected or indirectly if an A/A weapon is selected by entering the A/A master mode.

A/G Ready Status

Any given A/G munition requires its "A/G Ready status" to be "true" to be released. A/G Ready is the SMS firing interlock logic requiring certain conditions to be met in order for a weapon to be released. Some weapons may have specific criteria.

The avionics provide intuitive indications to advise the pilot when a weapon is or is not in a condition to be fired. Universally, an "X" through the weapon indication on the HUD, Stores format, or dedicated weapon formats indicates a false ready condition. The absence of an "X" indicates that the weapon can be released (a true ready condition).

The following indications appear under the stations of the selected weapon on the STORES format wingform.

  • RDY - A/G Ready status is true.
  • RDY-D - A/G Ready status is true, but weapon is degraded.
  • STBY - A/G Ready is false. All Ready conditions met, except the weapon is not the selected station. Weapon will be Ready once selected.
  • BIT: A/G Ready is false. Weapon is undergoing built in test (BIT).
  • FAIL: A/G Ready is false. Weapon BIT failed.

The following are universal requirements for A/G Ready status to be true. Specific weapons may have further requirements.

  • Landing gear up - All gear must be up and locked.
  • Weapon selected - The weapon must be selected (boxed) on the Stores format. Furthermore, for a specific station to meet release conditions, it must be the selected station of that weapon.
  • Master arm set to ARM - The master arm switch must be in the ARM position.
  • Master mode set to A/G - The aircraft must be in A/G master mode. Note that weapons can still be selected and programmed in NAV.
A/G Ready Conditions
Weapon Conditions
Laser-Guided Bombs
  • Laser code set
GPS-Guided Weapons
  • TOO or PP mission is valid
AGM-65F Maverick
  • Alignment complete
  • Seeker uncaged and locked onto target
AGM-65E Maverick
  • 30-second warmup complete
  • Seeker uncaged and locked onto laser
  • (SP) Emitter selected
  • (TOO) Emitter handed off to HARM
AGM-84D Harpoon
  • Alignment complete
  • Program complete

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

A/G Designation

The A/G designation or target (TGT) is the universal term for a single point in 3D space which most weapon systems will use for targeting. It is universally indicated by a diamond symbol on the HSI and SA formats and its position is superimposed on the HUD/HMD in as a diamond in A/G and NAV master mode, with a circle in the center whenever the TDC is assigned to the HUD/HMD. The diamond is segmented whenever the designation is no-action slewable, i.e. without depressing the TDC, such as in the FLIR Stabilized Pointing Mode or manipulating the designation via the HUD. When the diamond is outside field of view of the HUD or HMD, it flashes at the edge of the FOV and a target locator line (TLL) arrow points toward it. The number of degrees off it is is displayed below the TLL. If an A/A Radar Launch & Steering (L&S) trackfile is designated, the TLL to the L&S overrides the TLL to the A/G designation. If the designation is greater than 90° off the HUD center, the HUD diamond and TLL are blanked.

The target designation can be created and manipulated by multiple sources. Regardless of the source, all sensors are automatically cued to the current designation. The ability to manipulate the designation by a given sensor is covered in depth in the appropriate sections.

When a sensor is in full track on the designation, a cue is provided on the HUD (e.g. RDR or FLIR).

  • HUD - When no designation exists, depressing the TDC when it is assigned to the HUD will create a slewable designation at -7.5° below the horizon or at the angle of the velocity vector if steeper. If the gun or rocket CCIP or MAN reticles are displayed, the designation is made at their line of sight instead. When a solid diamond designation already exists, depressing the TDC will segment it and allow for HUD slewing. If a segmented designation already exists, it can always be slewed via the HUD.
  • HMD - When no designation exists, the Designation Reticle is displayed in place of the HMD Aiming Cross. This consists of a small dot surrounded by a dashed circle. Depressing the TDC when it is assigned to the HMD will create a slewable designation (segmented diamond) at the Designation Reticle line of sight. When a designation exists, the normal Aiming Cross is displayed and the designation can be slewed if no-action slewable (segmented). If a solid diamond designation exists, depressing the TDC will make it segmented and no-action slewable.
  • NAV - A "NAV designation" can be created off the currentLy selected waypoint, markpoint, or offset by selecting the Waypoint Designate (WPDSG) option on the HSI or SA formats. This creates a solid diamond designation.
  • FLIR - A no-action slewable (segmented) designation can be created with the FLIR via TDC depress. A tracking designation (solid diamond) can be maintained as well in the Area Track and Point Track modes, as well as by the Laser Spot Tracker (LST).
  • Radar - The A/G Radar can create a NAV-stabilized designation (solid) in most Radar search modes such as MAP. A tracking designation can also be maintained by the Radar when in full track.

The designation is universally removed with the Undesignate button on the stick in NAV or A/G master mode.

Air-to-Ground Gun

The F/A-18C's M61A2 gun can be used as an air-to-ground weapon. The A/G gun provides computer-assisted aiming for precise employment, and can also be selected simultaneously with most other A/G munitions but with limited aiming symbology.

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.


Gun CCIP Hud Labels 1.png

Continuously Computed Impact Point (CCIP) mode uses either the Radar or the current A/G Target designation to provide a live calculation of where the gun rounds will impact on the ground.

When no tracking A/G designstion exists, the gun will use the Air-to-Ground Ranging (AGR) mode of the Radar for CCIP calculation, which is commanded via Sensor Control switch forward and indicated by an AGR HUD legend. If AGR is unavailable, then Radar altitude or barometric altitude (in priority order) will be used for the calculation.

When a tracking designation exists, the gun will use the designated location for calculation, which may come from the Radar in track mode, the FLIR, etc. A tracking designation is indicated clearly by a contributing sensor legend on the HUD, e.g. FLIR.

  1. CCIP Reticle - The dot in the center of the reticle indicates where the gun rounds will impact the ground, assuming within maximm range. 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). At less than 12,000ft range, the circle itself will begin unwinding with the line. An outward-pointing tick mark indicates the gun maximum range.
  2. IN RNG Cue - The IN RNG cue indicates the gun is within maximum range for effective employment; that is, the center dot in the reticle accurately represents where the bullets will impact when fired.
  3. Pull-Up Cue - The pull up cue indicates a safe weapon release flight condition. When the cue is above the velocity vector, the breakaway "X" flashes on the HUD. When the cue is above the velocity vector, attack is unsafe due to bullet ricochet or shrapnel from impact.
  4. Mode Indication - In CCIP, CCIP is indicated here. This is "X'd" out when A/G Ready is false for the gun.
  5. Gun and Rounds Indication - The GUN legend indicates the gun is selected in the SMS. The number indicates rounds remaining.


A tracking A/G TGT designation should be removed before employing the gun in CCIP if the desired target is not coincident with the TGT designation so that an inaccurate location is not used for CCIP calculation.

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). MAN is a backup mode and requires pilot calculations for accurate employment.

  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 - MAN indicates Manual mode and the number indicates the programmed reticle depression setting in milliradians.
  5. Gun and Rounds Indication - The GUN legend indicates the gun is selected in the SMS. The number indicates 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.


The F/A-18 can carry air-to-ground rockets, which are small, unguided, momentarily-self propelled projectile explosive munitions launched from a pod carrying 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 a single pod, except the Zuni rockets will release half of the rockets in one pod.

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

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).


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 ii of laser-guided bombs (LGBs), which are modified Mark 80 bombs fitted with laser-tracking seekers and flight controls. The F/A-18 also carries the GBU-24 Paveway III LGB which has a separate avionics interface covered in a different section. 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 purely dependent on pilot release maneuvering. Laser-guided bombs benefit from an accurate initial trajectory, but ultimately rely their flight control surfaces to maneuver the bomb precisely on target. LGB 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 variants are 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 II 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)

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 Laser Target Designator/Ranger (LTD/R), another aircraft ("buddy lazing"), or a ground unit.

When selected (and in A/G master mode), the HUD displays the current mode (CCIP, AUTO, FD, or MAN) as an indication that a conventional/laser-guided bomb is selected. There is no indication of the actual bomb type on the HUD. The mode on the HUD is X'd out when A/G Ready is false.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation
Mk-82 Snake Eye
Mk-82 Retarded
Mk-20 Rockeye II
CBU-99 Cluster Bomb
GBU-12 Paveway II
GBU-16 Paveway II
GBU-10 Paveway II

Fuzing and Drag

There are several configurable fuze options for conventional and laser-guided bombs. Certain bombs are equipped with mechanical and/or electrical fuzes. Mark 80 series bombs employed by the Hornet only use nose fusing for mechanical and so a tail or nose and tail (N/T) fusing option will be a dud. LGBs do not use a mechanical fuze. Mark 80 series/LGBs can only use instantaneous (INST) or delay 1 (DLY1) electronic fuzing options.

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 either the fuzing setting is invalid or it is calculated that a release in the present flight condition would not allow enough time for the fuze to arm (i.e. the bomb won't explode on impact), 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, a height (HT) selection is provided which defines the altitude above ground for the cluster bomb to release its clusters.
  3. Program Settings
  4. Program Selection - The SMS stores 5 programs for a given bomb variant which saves mechanical/electronic fuzing, drag, cluster release height, and salvo quantity, multiple, and interval.
  5. UFC Options
    1. Multiple - amount of bombs to be released simultaneously.
    2. Quantity - 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 - 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 - 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. The first digit of laser code LGB is always 1, the second between 5 and 7, and the third/fourth between 1 and 8.

Common Bomb HUD Indications

Conventional General Labels 1.png
  1. Release Mode - The selected mode of CCIP, AUTO, FD, or MAN is indicated here.
  2. DUD Cue - The DUD cue is displayed either when the fuzing configuration will never permit the bomb to explode (fuze off or otherwise invalid for the bomb) or when, under current flight conditions, the bomb would not have sufficient time to arm before impacting the ground if released at that time.
  3. Pull-Up Cue - The Pull-Up Cue essentially provides a visualization of the DUD cue. Its maximum deflection is 3° below the velocity vector. At maximum deflection, the bomb will have a time of fall equal to the minimum time required to arm prior to impact + 10 additional seconds.
  4. Breakaway X - The Breakaway "X" symbol displays whenever the velocity vector is below the horizon and the bomb will not arm in time prior to impact (i.e. DUD cue is displayed and velocity vector is aligned with or below the Pull-Up Cue). The Breakaway X is mirrored on the Attack format.


Conventional CCIP 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, though straight-and-level release is also possible particularly with retarded bombs. The weapon release button will drop the bomb(s) at any point when pressed in CCIP mode, assuming A/G Ready release conditions are met.

  1. Delayed Impact Line (DIL) - The DIL is a line that connects the velocity vector to the CCIP Impact Cross. The DIL may be offset left or right based on wind correction for the CCIP Impact Cross. When the weapon release button is pressed, the DIL will flash once when an individual bomb is successfully released.
  2. CCIP Impact Cross - The CCIP Impact Cross indicates where the bomb will impact upon depression of the Weapon Release Button. In the event multiple bombs are programmed to be released in one press, this will be where the first bomb in sequence will impact.
    1. CCIP Reflected Cue - Certain flight conditions may result in the CCIP Impact Cross being below the field of view of the HUD. When this occurs and the velocity vector is at or below the horizon, a horizontal line longer than the CCIP Impact Cross is displayed instead of the cross. The distance between this line and the bottom end of the DIL is equal to the distance between the bottom end of the DIL and where the imaginary CCIP Impact Cross is below the field of view of the HUD.


Bomb AUTO HUD Labels 1.png

Automatic (AUTO) bombing mode calculates the optimal moment to release a bomb to land on a target. The current A/G designation 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 determines the point of release automatically. The Weapon Release button is used as a release consent and so the pilot holds it down prior to the automated time of release. The munitions are automatically released at the dynamically calculated optimal moment based on current flight parameters.

  1. Azimuth Steering Line (ASL) - This vertical line indicates the optimal alignment in azimuth with the target. Typically this is coincident with the actual azimuth to the designation, but may by left or right for wind correction. The aircraft is flown such that the velocity vector is centered on the ASL. Release will only occur if the aircraft heading is within 20° left or right of the ASL.
  2. Release Cue - This horizontal line travels down from the top of the Azimuth Steering Line to the velocity vector as a function of the current Time to Release (REL). The Release Cue is visible starting at 4 REL. The Release Cue meets the velocity vector at 0 REL. The pilot holds down the Weapon Release button prior to this instant. When the Release Cue meets the velocity vector (Time to Release thus 0), the munitions are automatically released assuming A/G Ready is true.
  3. Time to Release (REL) / Time to Impact (TTI) - Two timer values are displayed here in seconds. The Time to Release (REL) is shown pre-release and indicates the time until release under current flight parameters. REL is only shown when the aircraft is within 20° left/right of the ASL. heading. The Time to Impact (TTI) is shown post-release and is the time until the last bomb released predicted to impact the ground.


AUTO mode does not account for a change in pitch prior to launch (i.e. pulling up during release). Particularly when using conventional bombs, which rely purely on their ballistic trajectory defined at release, it is important to be at near 1.0G flight at the moment of release to preclude under or overshooting the target.

AUTO Designation Reticle

When AUTO is selected and no A/G designation exists, the AUTO Designation Reticle is displayed on the HUD when the TDC is assigned to it.

The AUTO Designation Reticle consists of a pipper with a dashed line connecting it to the velocity vector. It is also called the "ball and chain" due to its resemblance. The pull-up cue is still displayed. The pipper is placed 7.5° below the horizon or at the elevation of the velocity vector, whichever is steeper. except if the velocity vector is more than 7.5° below the horizon it will be on the velocity vector.

An A/G designation will be made at the location of the reticle pipper upon depressing the TDC. Pressing the Weapon Release button will also perform a designation; this functionality exists so as to allow the pilot to designate a target and then perform an AUTO release with a single press (and hold) of the Weapon Release button.

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, the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs, and the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) cruise missiles. 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. The SLAM is a rocket-propelled cruise missile.

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. The SLAM consists of the AGM-84E.

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


JDAM STORES Format.png

When a variant of the JDAM/JSOW is selected on the STORES format, various options are provided for the bomb. Additionally, all GPS-guided bomb variants loaded will begin Inertial Navigation System (INS) transfer alignment. This process uses the aircraft's own INS system to transfer alignment quality to the weapons. This takes approximately 3 minutes to reach best alignment; the longer it aligns prior to release, the more accurate the bomb will be. If the bomb is specifically deselected in the STORES format, power is taken away from that specific variant and the alignment is reset. However, if a different A/G weapon is selected or A/A master mode is entered, without deselecting the GPS weapon itself, it will remain powered.

  1. Mode Selection - This toggles between the Pre-Planned (PP) and Target of Opportunity (TOO) targeting modes. This setting is unique to each station.
  2. Electronic Fuze - INST will explode instantaneously upon impact while variable timing (VTI) will detonate based on proximity. The fuze is set for all weapons of the specific type selected.
  3. JDAM/JSOW ERASE - This option erases the weapon and prevents further data entry, disabling it. Initial selection prompts an accept/cancel option. Selecting accept will box the ERASE JDAM/JSOW text momentarily and perform the erase function.
  4. Not yet implemented.
  6. Station Step - Steps between weapons of the selected weapon type. This allows for each station to be programmed individually. When the quantity (QTY) function in the JDAM/JSOW DSPLY Format is used, only those selected stations will be cycled. This option is not available when only a single station is selected via QTY or only one is loaded.
  7. TMR / IN RNG / IN ZONE - 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. One of three words is paired with the number: UNST (unstable), MARG (marginal), and GOOD.



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 mirrors some options on the STORES Format. It also provides many additional options:

  1. Station Data
    1. Selected station
    2. Selected PP or TOO mission for station
    3. Weapon type
  2. On Time - A count-up timer indicating how long the weapon has been continuously powered on.
  3. Release Type and Quantity - This is the selected release type and the amount of bombs that have been selected for a QTY release.
  4. MSN Sublevel
  5. Release Type - This allows for the selection of the MAN, AUTO LOFT, 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 Weapon 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 uses the current A/G designation (TGT) point for the weapon's target coordinates. TOO allows for any of the aircraft's sensors to provide a target, such as the FLIR, A/G Radar, or a navigation waypoint/markpoint/OAP.

Two TOO profiles or "missions" exist per station which can store separate employment options and target coordinates. When a TOO mission is selected, it pulls from the current A/G designation coordinates and will continuously update as the designation does. However, undesignation of the TGT will not wipe the TOO mission's coordinates, allowing for them to be saved which permits a multi-target attack with multiple weapons in TOO.


When configuring for a multi-target TOO attack, it is important to undesignate the Target after saving the coordinates to each station's TOO profile. Otherwise, when automatically cycled during release each station will replace previously stored coordinates with that active Target's coordinates. As such, to perform (for example) a 2-target attack, the process should be (in order): designate → undesignate → step to next station → designate → undesignate → release.


When using a NAV (waypoint) designation with TOO mode, it is important to select PRECISE coordinates on the HSI DATA sublevel for maximum weapon accuracy.

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 parameters settings unique to each station. The selected (boxed) mission is the one whose parameters will be used by the weapon on release. The selected mission is independent for each station. Latitude, longitude, and altitude must exist for a TOO mission to be valid. Otherwise, an "X" is drawn through that mission.
  2. Not yet implemented.
  3. Not yet implemented.
  4. TOO UFC - Displays UFC options to program the terminal parameters for the selected profile.
    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 A/G designation. 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.


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


Not yet implemented.


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

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

AGM-65 HUD Indications

MAV HUD Labels 1.png
  1. Seeker Triangle - The current line of sight (LOS) to the Maverick seeker is indicated by an inverted triangle. When in Slaved mode, the triangle will be coincident with the TGT diamond (as illustrated).
  2. Selected Weapon Indication - The selected weapon, either MAV or MAVF, is indicated here. When not all A/G Ready interlocks for release have been met, this indication is crossed out.
  3. Laser Seeker Locked Cue - For the AGM-65E, when the seeker has acquired a laser signal, the LKD indication is displayed. Otherwise, it is blanked.
  4. TTMR/IN RNG Indication - When an A/G Target exists (which the Maverick seeker will be slaved to), a time to maximum range (TTMR) timer in seconds is displayed here (to a maximum of 99 seconds). Once the TTMR reaches 0, IN RNG is displayed.


The AGM-65E uses a laser-tracking seeker to lock onto laser energy of a specific frequency (laser code). The missile can be fired once it acquires a laser. The E-variant Maverick can be guided from the ownship Laser Target Designator/Ranger (LTD/R) or by friendly "buddy lazing" in the form of another aircraft or a ground unit.


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 Maverick format until it reaches 0.

AGM-65E MAV Format

The laser Maverick format provides a control interface with the missile seeker. The Maverick format can be accessed via the MAV DSPLY option on the [TAC] menu whenever the laser Maverick is selected on the Stores format. Alternatively, in A/G master mode the MAV acronym at the top of the Stores format will invoke it once it is already selected (boxed). The top of the format mirrors the Stores format. Selecting the MAV acronym on the Maverick format deselects the weapon and invokes the Stores format.

The Maverick seeker is either "caged" or "uncaged" at any point, which is toggled via the Cage/Uncage button or by depressing (holding) the TDC.

  • Caged - The Maverick seeker is slaved to the aircraft boresight. It may detect and track laser energy, but will not scan off the boresight. The missile cannot be fired when caged.
  • Uncaged
    • No A/G TGT Designated - The seeker will automatically search for laser energy in a 10x10° square shape around either the boresight or the manually defined scan center by slewing the TDC while it is held depressed. When a signal is detected, the seeker will automatically lock on.
    • A/G TGT Designated - The seeker will slave to the TGT designation. It will automatically lock onto a laser when detected in its field of view, but will slave directly to the TGT and will not move in a scanning pattern.

Once the seeker is uncaged and a laser signal is locked onto, the HUD displays a LKD legend and Maverick release will be permitted as long as all other A/G Ready interlocks have been met.

Automatic lasing capability exists with the Laser Target Designator/Ranger (LTD/R). When the LTD/R is armed and the master arm is set to ARM, holding the Weapon Release button will simultaneously fire the laser, uncage the seeker, and command lock-on at the A/G designation. The missile is then automatically fired if lock-on is successful. The laser will continue firing until predicted time to impact + 10 seconds.

MAV Labels 1.png
  1. Seeker Indication - When the seeker has not locked onto a laser, its line of sight is indicated by an X symbol. When the seeker is caged to boresight but detects a laser signal, the X flashes. When uncaged and locked onto a laser signal, the X becomes a solid square.
  2. -20° Indication - This horizontal line indicates 20° below gimbal boresight. The indication exists because the seeker generally cannot maintain a lock beyond this angle. Even if locked at launch, the missile may fail to remain locked onto the laser after coming off the rail.
  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, identical to the one on the HUD.
  7. Electrical Fuzing Options - Instantaneous (INST) detonates the warhead immediately upon impact. Delay (DLY) 1 and 2 will detonate a set time after impact (with DLY2 being longer than DLY1).


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.


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.

AGM-65F MAV Format

The infrared Maverick format provides a seeker video feed that allows the pilot to move the seeker onto a target. The IR Maverick format is accessible in A/G master mode from the [TAC] menu via the IMAV DSPLY option whenever the weapon is boxed in the Stores format. Alternatively, while in A/G, it can be invoked by pressing the MAVF option on the STORES format after it is already boxed. The top of the format mirrors the STORES format. Selecting MAVF on the IR Maverick format returns to the Stores format and deselects the Maverick.

The Maverick seeker is operated as follows:

  • Caged - The seeker is slaved to boresight. Video feed is available, however the seeker cannot be slewed or lock-on.
  • Uncaged - Uncaged operation is toggled via the Cage/Uncage button. The seeker also uncages when the TDC is depressed.
    • No A/G Designation - The seeker can be manually slewed using the TDC while it is held depressed. Depressing the TDC commands uncage if not already, ground-stabilizes seeker, and makes it responsive to slew action. Upon releasing the TDC, seeker lock-on is commanded within the tracking gate and it no longer responds to slewing. If a sufficiently contrasting target is not recognized, the seeker ground-stabilizes at the spot of commanded lock-on and the crosshairs are blanked. If lock-on is successful, the seeker centers onto the target and release is permitted assuming other interlocks are met.
    • A/G Designation - The seeker is slaved to the line of sight to the A/G target designation. The seeker is automatically commanded to lock-on at the designation. If successful, the seeker centers onto it and release is permitted assuming other interlocks are met. If not, the missile remains slaved to the designation with the MAVF acronym X'd out. When unsuccessful even once within seeker range, either the designation must be refined or be undesignated and manual seeker operation must be used.
IMAV Labels 1.png
  1. Seeker Crosshair - The four seeker crosshair lines converge on the center, which is where the seeker will attempt to acquire a contrasting target when lock-on is commanded. When the seeker is uncaged, not locked, and ground stabilized without the TDC depressed, the crosshairs are blanked.
  2. Wide FOV Indication - Four triangles are displayed in a square shape as a visual cue the seeker is in wide field of view.
  3. Cage/Uncage and TTMR - Indicates whether the seeker is caged or uncaged. Above this is a TTMR/IN RNG indication when applicable, identical to the one on the HUD.
  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 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 is indicated by this "+" symbol. In this indication, seeker center acts as the boresight and the + symbol is positioned relative to it to indicate where the seeker is relative to boresight. The seeker position symbol is blanked whenever the crosshairs are blanked.


The AGM-88C High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) is an anti-radiation air-to-ground missile. The missile's Radar-homing sensors guide it onto radiowave emissions from a Radar and are designed to attack surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites. As such, the HARM can serve in both suppression and destruction of enemy air defense (SEAD/DEAD) missions. The missile is equipped with a 150lbs warhead.

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

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designation

HARM Format

The HARM format (HARM DSPLY) is the primary interface with the HARM in TOO and PB modes. Selecting the HARM on the STORES format will invoke the HARM format. In any master mode, it can also be invoked from the [TAC] menu whenever a HARM is loaded, even if not selected in the SMS as the current weapon.

SP Mode

Self-Protect (SP) mode uses the AN/ALR-67 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.

In SP mode, an RWR emitter is selected and then missile release will be permitted, assuming regular A/G Ready firing interlocks are met. SP launch does not guarantee the missile has acquired the selected emitter prior or at launch as it may be outside of its field of view (FOV). The missile will guide using GPS and the RWR information until acquiring the Radar itself. If the missile fails to acquire the target before impacting the ground, it will self-destruct.


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 any RWR display, when the HARM is selected in SP mode, a square indicates the selected emitter. The highest priority emitter is initially selected by default. The HARM Sequence button on the throttle cycles through all emitters. Note that though a maximum of 6 emitters are displayed on the HUD, the HARM will cycle through all emitters.

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 format provides a boresight view of the HARM seeker. The format represents a 60° circle. Emitters are displayed with their standard NATO codes. A line under denotes a sea-based emitter. Friendly emitters have their code prefixed with an "F".

The selected emitter is denoted by a box on the HARM format and a square target designator (TD) box is displayed on the HUD to indicate its line of sight. The HARM automatically selects the highest priority emitter. Emitters are cycled via the HARM Sequence button on the throttle.

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 format and the HUD TD box, and all other emitters are blanked from the display. Once handed off, the HARM can be fired assuming standard interlock conditions are met. As the hand-off is for a specific missile, it must be done again to fire sequential missiles at a single emitter.


  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 the left or right side of the format indicates a seeker is detected by the HARM outside the field of view displayed by the HARM format (±30°).
  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 and cancels emitter hand-off.
  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


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 - Toggles between BOL and R/BL. An A/G TGT must exist to enter R/BL.
  2. Fly-out (FLT) Altitude - toggles 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 - toggles 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. Program Selection - 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 - 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. Station Step - Cycles through and selects each loaded Harpoon station.
  7. Harpoon Turnpoint (HPTP) - 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.


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 the A/G designation (TGT) 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.


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 designation (TGT). If a HPTP exists, it leads directly to the HPTP, and then another line leads from the HPTP to the TGT designation.

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".

AGM-62 ER/DL Walleye II

The AGM-62 ER/DL Walleye II (Extended Range/Datalink) is a television (TV)-guided command guidance/Datalink-capable glide bomb. It has four fins for maneuvering, powered by a turbine at the back. The Walleye has a 2,000lbs warhead and has a ~20nm range.

The Walleye can be paired with the AWW-13 Data Link Pod to receive a live feed of the missile seeker after it is released and also to provide post-launch control if desired. Additionally, the pod allows for the bomb to be released without a valid lock on a TV-contrasting target.

The AGM-62 can be mounted on stations 8 and 2.

SMS Designations
Type SMS Designations
AGM-62 ER/DL Walleye II
AWW-13 Data Link Pod

AGM-62 STORES Format

A 'STEP' option is provided on the STORES format for the AGM-62 to cycle through available stations. No other options are provided.


WEDL DSPLY Labels 1.png
  1. Selected Station and A/G Ready - The selected station is displayed here. When A/G Ready is true, 'RDY' is displayed above.
  2. Fuze - Toggles between instantaneous upon impact or delayed fuzing options.
  3. STEP - The STEP option is provided identical to the one on the STORES format.
  4. Cage Indication - Indicates whether the seeker is caged or uncaged, toggled via the Cage/Uncage button.
  5. Caging Retention and Boresight (CRAB) - Pressing and holding this option cages the seeker.
  6. Crosshairs - Aiming crosshairs are provided part of the raw video feed. The center of the crosshairs is where the seeker will attempt to lock a contrasting target.
  7. MAP - The Missile Axis Position square indicates the position of the seekerhead relative to the missile boresight. This allows for a visualization of where the seeker is looking relative to the aircraft boresight when the bomb is on the aircraft.

The Walleye Display (WEDL DSPLY) allows for standalone employment of the Walleye bomb. It is accessed by selecting the Walleye on the STORES format again after already selecting it. A/G master mode is required.

The Walleye Display format provides a feed from the missile seeker (when it is on the aircraft) for targeting. The Walleye is operated by "uncaging" the seeker with the Cage/Uncage button, i.e. allowing for it to be moved off boresight, and then slewing it by depressing the TDC while slewing. As long as the TDC is depressed, the seeker is space-stabilized. When the center of the seeker is brought onto a television-contrasting target and TDC depress is released, the seeker will stabilize onto that contrasting target and guide to that target if release. The Walleye, when not operated from the AWW-13 pod, requires a contrasting target to be acquired for A/G Ready to be true (i.e. for the bomb to be released).

DL13 Walleye Format

Section WIP.

Formation References

Parade Formation

A typical 2-ship parade formation is flown on a 45 degree bearing line, with 4' of wingtip clearance. The references used are:

  1. LERX Navigation Light
  2. Wingtip Formation Light
  3. Engine Nozzles
Reference Points

Parade formation is achieved by superimposing the LERX Navigation Light under the Wingtip Formation light in order to fly the bearing line and step down. Distance is cross-checked by ensuring the engine nozzles are straight i.e. the wingman's head is directly in-line with the end of the nozzles.

Parade Top Down
Correct Position with References
Correct Position (Clean)

Reference pictures are provided below showing position errors.

Too Far
Too Close

Cruise Formation

Cruise formation is a looser formation that allows the wingman to administrate while remaining within the section for deconfliction and navigation. It is defined by a cone roughly 70 degrees either side of lead, with 10' of nose-tail clearance. The outer limit and general position is defined when lead's head is inline with the trailing edge of the sidewinder rail.

Cruise Top Down
Cruise Position with References
Cruise Position (Clean)


Manuals & Documents

Wags' Tutorial Videos

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

Other Tutorials