Topic outline

  • General

    Unguided on board, picture of kaltokri, GemeinfreiIn this course we will describe the basic weapon systems and their deployment. With this we build on the basic course and enable you to gain a first impression of the F/A-18C as a weapon platform.

    We have decided to split the topic of "weapon useage".  In this course we will only deal with unguided weapon systems.  These can be used without extensive knowledge of the aircraft's avionics systems. More complicated weapons such as laser-guided or precision-guided bombs as well as the AGM-65 Maverick or AGM-88 Harm, for example, will be covered in the Advanced Weapons course.

    We recommend that you take the Advanced flight courses first, because a pilot should first be able to fly his plane properly and master its systems before practising the use of weapons. However, we also know that many pilots are attracted by the thrill of experiencing a little "action" as soon as possible. We hope this course will whet your appetite for the F/A-18C so that you find the motivation to take the advanced flight courses.

  • The M61A2 Vulcan Cannon

    Luftkampf, picture from kaltokri, GemeinfreiThe M61 Vulcan was developed by General Electric (later General Dynamics) and became the standard armament for fixed-wing aircraft in the United States over a period of nearly 50 years. It is a six-barrel Gatling cannon of 20 mm caliber. It has been used in many different aircraft.

    The M61A2 is a lighter version with thinner barrels, which was developed for the F/A-18.

    Source: Wikipedia

  • Undirected Rockets

    Unguided missiles, image from kaltokri, in the public domainThe F/A-18C can be equipped with unguided rockets at weapon stations 2, 3, 7 and 8. You can choose between single or pair mounting. There is a choice of Zuni or Hydra rockets in containers of different sizes. Compared to Mavericks or guided bombs, unguided rockets are not very effective. But well-placed unguided rockets can do a lot of damage, and with the higher number of weapons carried, a good pilot can destroy many more targets than with Mavericks. This is especially true for unarmored or lightly armoured targets.

    But even an attack in which all the rockets are fired in a single salvo can be devastating.

    Every pilot should be trained in the use of unguided rockets.

    The CCIP mode supports the pilot in targeting the rockets by permanently determining the point of impact, taking various factors into account.

    The biggest disadvantage of unguided rockets is their short range. Therefore the pilot has to reduce the flight altitude considerably and brings himself into range of enemy air defence guns.

  • Unguided Bombing

    Unguided bombs, picture from kaltokri, GemeinfreiAt the weapon stations 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 different types of bombs can be attached.

    The best known unguided are the Mk 83 and the bigger brother the Mk 84.

    There is a manageable number of parameters that can be set in the SMS for unguided bombs. Therefore the preparation of the dropping is easy. But the execution of a precise bomb release is difficult and needs practice. In spite of the CCIP mode, you have to keep the aircraft on the right course with sure instinct to get a good hit.

    Naturally, laser or GPS guided bombs are much more accurate. But the preparation for dropping guided bombs requires prior knowledge of avionics, which we only teach in the advanced course. Therefore we postpone the treatment of guided bombs to the second weapons course.

    It can be frustrating to practice dropping unguided bombs. Here the motto is "Don't give up!" and practice again and again. Of course, you can also ask a tutor for help if it doesn't work out at all. But every pilot should be able to drop unguided bombs accurately!

  • AIM-9M Sidewinder

    AIM-9, image from kaltokri, GemeinfreiThe AIM-9 is an American short-range air-to-air missile with a heat seeker head. This means that the missile steers itself automatically in the direction of the targeted heat source. Therefore the AIM-9 is a so-called, fire-and-forget weapon. This means that the pursuer no longer needs to have his target actively engaged and can turn to another threat. However, there is no guarantee that the missile will hit its target. This is because the heat seeker can be deceived by defensive measures. Compared to other air-to-air missiles, the AIM-9 has the lowest manufacturing costs.

    The development of the AIM-9 was started in the late 1940s by the Navy. When the counterpart to the AIM-9 (the Air Force's AIM-4 Falcon) did not produce the desired results in the Vietnam War, it was replaced by the AIM-9. Since the first product version was delivered in 1956, various variants of this rocket have been developed. This is partly due to the fact that the US Navy and the US Air Force continued the development separately. The reasons for this were the rivalry between the two branches of the armed forces and the different requirement profiles.

    In DCS we can use the following variants with the F/A-18C: AIM-9L, 9M, 9P and 9X. These can be attached to weapon stations 1, 2, 8 and 9.

    Source: Wikipedia

  • Countermeasures

    Gegenmaßnahmen, Bild von kaltokri, GemeinfreiIf you are operating in enemy territory, there is of course the danger of being attacked. This is done either by gunfire or by missiles. The attack can be from the ground or from another aircraft.

    We will deal with the area of aerial combat in detail later on in more specialised courses, since the topic is quite extensive. In this course we want to give you the basic knowledge of how to fend off guided missiles with the help of simple countermeasures. Whether they were fired from the ground or from the air is unimportant.

    The main differnce between guided missiles their guidance method, either radar-guided or heat-seekin (IR).

    IR Missiles

    IR missiles look for your heat signature and steer themselves towards it. You have already used them yourself in this course (see section "Sidewinder"). However, they have a much smaller range than many of the radar guided missiles. Therefore they are cheaper to produce and do not need an active radar souce to be guided into the target. An approaching IR missile is not detected by the F/A-18C. That means you have to keep your eyes open to see the exhaust tail of the launched missile. To fend off an approaching IR missile, you can eject flares. These are magnesium balls that are ignited when the flare is expended. They display a distinct heat signature, which should distract the seeker head of the IR missile.

    Radar Guided Missiles

    Radar guided missiles are usually larger and have a longer range than IR missiles. These are missiles that can be fired at targets outside the visual range. However, the targets have to be detected and locked by radar. Both are the detection and lock can be detected by the systems of the F/A-18C and so the pilot has warning. To ward off missiles that are guided by radar, chaff is dropped. These are packets (skillets) of aluminum strips. They spread out and form small radar reflective clouds in the air. The reflected the radar beams cause confusion for the sensors of the opponent.

  • Graduation

    Bomb release, image of kaltokri, GemeinfreiIn this course you have dealt with the simpler weapon systems which can be used without advanced avionics system knowledge. These include:

    • Aircraft's Cannon,
    • Unguided Missiles,
    • Unguided Bombs,
    • AIM-9M Sidewinder.

    As the second big block you dealt with the different countermeasures.

    Naturally there are other outsatnding  weapons, such as laser-guided or GPS-guided bombs, radar-guided missiles or missiles for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) missions. These we will deal with in the Advanced Weapon course. But first you should visit the F/A-18C Advanced flight Course, because there you will learn some concepts that are a prerequisites for these advanced weapons.