Ordnance in the Modern Air Power game series is divided into 5 categories: Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground, Surface-to-Air, Surface-to-Surface, and miscellaneous ordnance such as external fuel tanks and ECM pods. Associated with each category is a means to fire, drop, or otherwise activate that ordnance. This section covers all of the standard ways this takes place in the game. The section on Specialized Features covers external fuel tanks, ECM effects, and chaff pods.
Firing Air-to-Air Missiles
Aircraft are typically equipped with a certain number of Air-to-Air missiles which enables them to engage enemy aircraft at a distance. These Air-to-Air missiles have important attributes (Any in-game code for the ordnance is given in parentheses):
- Infrared Tracking – These missiles home in on the heat of the engines of enemy aircraft. They typically have a shorter range than other missiles and sometimes require that the firing aircraft be within a certain angle of the enemy aircraft engine exhaust. Infrared Tracking is the default tracking for Air-to-Air missiles.
- Semi-Active Tracking (*S) – These missiles use a radar tracking signal generated by the firing aircraft. Because of this, once fired they require that the firing aircraft continue to track the target so that they can continue to home on the reflected radar signal.
- Active-Radar Tracking (*A) – These missiles have their own tracking radar. Once the missile is fired, the firing aircraft is free to maneuver with no danger of the missile losing tracking on the target aircraft.
- Radar-Homing Tracking (*R) - These missiles can be fired at an enemy flight that has the firing flight in its radar fan but if the enemy flight turns away, then the missile losses its tracking.
- Laser (E) – This represents laser weapons which fire at enemy Surface-to-Surface missiles. They do not require tracking, only that the target is within the weapon envelop before firing. They cannot be used against enemy aircraft and they cannot be fired through clouds.
Associated with each missile is its range and tracking angle. These define a wedge-shaped region that the target aircraft must be within in order to fire the missile at the target. This wedge-shaped region is displayed on the map for the selected aircraft and active ordnance as a red wedge. If the missile uses Semi-Active tracking, then the firing aircraft must keep the target aircraft within this wedge or else the missile will lose tracking and fail to hit the target.
In the case of some missiles, it may also be necessary for the firing aircraft to be fire within a certain angle of the target aircraft rear direction (i.e., the 6 o’clock direction from the target aircraft). This angle is called the Aspect Angle in the Database Dialog. If a missile has a 180 degree Aspect Angle, then it can fire from any angle. If the Aspect Angle is less than 180 degrees, then the firing aircraft cannot fire on the target when it is not within that angle of the target’s rear direction.
In this example, the target flight is flying directly towards the selected flight and because of the Aspect Angle, the selected aircraft cannot fire on the target.
Now the target has turned and is flying away from the selected flight. At this point, the target is within the Aspect Angle of the ordnance and the selected flight can fire.
Aircraft typically have a Dogfight value defined in the Aircraft Database. This determines the maneuvering lethality of the aircraft when engaged at very short distance with enemy flights. In the case of aircraft without an intrinsic Dogfight value, they may carry an external cannon pod which then provides them with this ability. To engage an enemy flight in a dogfight, you must issue an Intercept command to your flight with the enemy flight as the target of the intercept. When your flight catches up with the enemy flight, a dogfight will automatically result. If the enemy flight has a Dogfight value, then it is also used against your flight, so losses can occur to both flights based on their Dogfight value.
SAMs are automatically fired at enemy aircraft subject to the limitations given below.
- The SAM site must have active radar. To toggle between active and inactive status, you can double-tap on the SAM site on the map. Note that having an active radar makes the SAM site vulnerable to Anti-Radiation Missiles fired by enemy aircraft.
- The target flight must be within the range of the SAM site, displayed using a red circle on the map. The effective range of the site is modified by the Stealth value of the flight (see Specialized Features).
- Unless the ordnance being fired has Optical Tracking, the target flight must not be concealed by Jamming or by Chaff (see Specialized Features). If Optical Tracking is used to fire the SAM, then the target must be visible to the site.
- For the duration of the flight of the SAM, the SAM site must continue to have an active radar, or the SAM must have an optical tracking feature.
- At the time the SAM is fired and for the duration of its flight, no friendly flight can enter the SAM Exclusion Angle defined below.
When the shot is resolved, if the SAM site does not have a track on the target, either because it is using Semi-Active Tracking and cannot see the target on its radar, or because it is using Optical Tracking and the target is not visible, then the hit probability is 10% of nominal.
SAM Exclusion Angle
The value of the SAM Exclusion Angle is defined in Parameter Data. If it is nonzero, then it can prevent SAM’s from being fired at enemy flights depending on the presence of friendly flights due to possible fratricide. The SAM Exclusion Angle defines a wedge-shaped area on either side of enemy flights. When a friendly flight enters that area, the SAM flight is terminated. This effect reflects the reluctance of SAM crews on firing missiles that potentially could jump track and hit friendly flights.
Firing at SAM Sites using Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARM)
SAM sites can be fired at by flights with Anti-Radiation (Radar-Homing Air-to-Surface) missiles (Game code R). If the SAM site radar becomes inactive or is destroyed during the flight of the missile, the missile continues to fly towards the target. However, if the missile strikes the target while the SAM site’s radar is inactive, the hit probability of the missile is 10% of nominal. When an Anti-Radiation missile has a successful hit, the SAM site loses its radar for the duration of the scenario.
Attacking Ground Targets
There are 5 categories of ground targets: formal targets, missile sites, AAA sites, air bases, and radar sites. Each of these may be attacked using ordnance such as missiles, bombs, cluster bombs, napalm, etc. This ordnance has the following attributes (Any in-game code for the ordnance is given in parentheses):
- Bombs – This ordnance has a range of 0 indicating that the ordnance is dropped when the attacking flight is directly overhead.
- Manual Tracking (*O) – These missiles or bombs are guided to the target by the crew of the attacking aircraft. They must be released within visual range of the target and the attacking aircraft must remain in the visual range of the target until the ordnance hits.
- Electro-Optical Tracking (*P) – This ordnance has a camera that allows it to lock-onto the target image and then to guide itself to the target after release. This ordnance must be released within visual range of the target, but once released, the attacking aircraft is free to maneuver.
- Radar Homing Tracking (*R) – This ordnance can be fired at an active-radar SAM site, a radar site, an air base that has radar, a AAA site that uses radar, or at a Target or missile site having AAA that uses radar.
- Visual Tracking (*V) – An example would be rockets, which are fired at a distance, but have no tracking and so are unguided once fired. This ordnance must be fired or dropped within visual range of the target.
- GPS Guidance (*G) – This ordnance is not affected by weather and visibility limitations as ordnance guided visually would have. However, it can be disrupted by GPS jammers associated with the target.
- Land and Water Mines (L and W) – This ordnance can only be dropped on Location targets of the corresponding type. The resolution of this ordnance follows the standard resolution calculation, but represents a denial of the location rather than actual attrition.
- Runway Penetrating (N) – This ordnance when used against Air Bases causes 10 times the normal damage it would cause given its explosive rating.
- Penetrating (T) – This ordnance has effect against Hard Targets whereas non-penetrating ordnance has very little effect against them.
- Submunition (M) – This ordnance can be used effectively against Area Targets while standard ordinance has little effect.
- Retarded (D) – This ordnance has retarding fins that allows it to be dropped from low altitudes without endangering the aircraft dropping it.
- Launched Bomb (B) - This ordnance is a bomb that can launched at a distance from the target as opposed to a standard bomb that is dropped while overflying the target.
- Cruise Missile (C) – This ordnance is a low-flying missile.
- Nuclear (K) – This ordnance is a nuclear weapon whose use in a scenario may be restricted by a Nuclear Hold
To attack a ground target, ensure that the ordnance to be dropped is selected as the active ordnance. For Bombs, issue an Attack order for the flight with the ground target as the destination. The flight will automatically drop its ordnance on the ground target once it is overhead. For other ordnance, you can fire the ordnance at the target once the requirements for firing the ordnance have been satisfied.
You can verify an Attack order has been issued by looking for a red box drawn on the target icon. If you don’t see this red box, then there is some reason the flight cannot attack the target. The order given will then cause the flight to simply fly to the location and orbit.
Hard and Area Targets
When a target has a red border as shown in this image, then it indicates that the target is Hard. Ordnance that is not Penetrating has a greatly reduced effectiveness against a Hard target.
When a target has a green border as shown in this image, then it indicates that the target is an Area target. This means that the target is dispersed and ordnance that is not Submunition type has a reduced effectiveness against it.
Ordnance may have attributes that determine valid targets for the ordnance:
- Anti-Ballistic (^B) - An Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapon which can be fired at ballistic Surface-to-Surface missiles.
- Naval Only (^N) – The weapon can only be fired against naval targets.
- Fixed Only (^F) - The weapon can only be fired against fixed, non-moving targets.
- ASW Capable (^U) - The weapon can be fired against underwater submarines.
- Can Fire High (^H) – Allows the weapon to be fired at high-flying aircraft.
- Low Altitude (^L) - The weapon is a low-altitude SAM that can only reach low flying aircraft.
Certain targets may have GPS jammers which disrupts attacks against them using ordnance with GPS guidance. The presence of GPS jammers can be seen on map using the Status Values command. GPS jammers can be destroyed using attacks from non-GPS guidance ordnance.
Strafing and Cannon
Some aircraft have an ability to strafe enemy ground targets. A flight with the ability to strafe will have the words Can Strafe highlighted in the Flight Information Area. When a flight has this ability, then it can attack ground targets even if it is not carrying ordnance that would normally be used to attack ground targets such as bombs. To strafe a ground target, you issue an Attack order for the flight as you would normally. When the flight reaches the ground target, the strafing will automatically occur. Note that when a flight carries air-to-ground ordnance, then this is expended in any attack first before the flight is eligible to perform a strafing attack.
In addition, depending on the database configuration, a flight may be limited in the number of cannon rounds that it can use for dogfighting. When this is the case, the number of remaining cannon shots that it carries is shown in parentheses in the area where strafing is displayed. When this value goes to zero, then the flight cannot attack enemy flights in dogfights and must return to a base for rearming to restore its cannon rounds.
A flight is called AAA Vulnerable under the following conditions:
- A flight that is Flying Low (but not NOE), is AAA Vulnerable.
- A flight of Helicopters is always AAA Vulnerable.
- A flight of aircraft that have a Low Ceiling is AAA Vulnerable.
Attacks by AAA defenses occur automatically under the following conditions:
- When a flight attacks a ground target that has AAA defenses, then there is an automatic AAA attack against that flight by those defenses.
- When a flight attacks any ground target, all AAA sites that can fire on the flight generate a AAA attack against the flight.
- When a flight that is AAA Vulnerable enters the maximum range of AAA defenses, then AAA attacks against the flight occur spontaneously at intervals.
In addition, for spontaneous AAA attacks to occur, the AAA location must be able to see the flight, either visually, or in the case of radar-directed AAA, by radar. The radar range of radar-directed AAA is modified by the Stealth value of the aircraft.
Certain ground targets have the possibility that an attack on them may incur collateral damage. This is shown in the Status Values as COL = which indicates that the target has the possibility of collateral damage. The value following indicates the victory point penalty that will be used when an attack on the target fails to fall within the boundaries of the target.
When a target with potential collateral damage is attacked, then any strikes which fail to strike the target, or any strikes which produce damage in excess of the target size, will result in negative victory points for the attacking side using the factor specified. To avoid collateral damage, an attack with more precise munitions or munitions of less explosive effect must be selected.
When an attack against a target produces collateral damage, then the message will show the word COLLATERAL.
Certain ordnance is flagged as having Optical Tracking. This requires that the firing entity be able to visually see the target before firing and must also maintain visual contact with the target for the duration of the track of the ordnance. Optical Tracking can apply to certain SAM’s and can also apply to certain Air-to-Ground missiles.
Certain targets are identified as Location targets. These can be targeted using Mine ordnance, but cannot be attacked in any other way.
Certain weapons are classified as being Anti-Ballistic. These are generally either missiles which can be fired from surface or airborne platforms to intercept the ballistic missile or weapons such as an airborne laser.
To fire at a ballistic missile, the target must be a surface-to-surface missile fired by the enemy, it must be within range of the weapon firing, and if the weapon firing is a missile itself, it must have a speed which exceeds that of the incoming ballistic missile.
Certain weapons are classified as nuclear weapons. Their use may be restricted in a scenario through three Rules of Engagement:
- A given side may be restricted from the use of nuclear weapons through a Nuclear Hold.
- If a side has a Nuclear Hold, that hold may be released if the other side first uses nuclear weapons through a Nuclear Release Trigger.
- A Nuclear Hold can also be released through a Nuclear Release Timer which is set when the scenario starts and when it expires, the specified side is released.
All of these cases are displayed by the Rules of Engagement Dialog that appears at the beginning of a scenario whenever a Rule of Engagement applies to that scenario.
When a location is struck by a nuclear weapon, there will be a residual radiation effect that will deter operations at the site. This is indicated on the Main Chart by a mushroom cloud. These radiation effects remain for the duration of the scenario.
A missile site that has nuclear or chemical weapons is shown with a red circle behind its icon. Likewise, when such a site fires a nuclear or chemical weapon, that shot is shown as a red dot as opposed to a standard black dot on the Main Chart.
If a scenario has a prevailing wind, then after a nuclear strike, a radiation plume will develop downwind from the strike location. If any flight which is low flying (helicopters, low ceiling aircraft, or standard aircraft flying low) flies through the radiation plume, it becomes contaminated and will automatically return to base. Such a flight cannot take off for the remainder of the scenario.
In addition, a nuclear detonation has the possibility of causing EMP effects at locations near the detonation site. This is based on the EMP Range Parameter Data value. Based on a nuclear explosive power of E and an EMP Range value of R, then the distance in statute miles of locations that will be affected by the EMP of the blast is given by:
Distance = sqrt (E * R / 10^6)
For example, if the EMP Range value is 1, then
- If the blast is 20,000 kilotons (= 40*10^6 explosive power), the size of the first atomic bombs, then the EMP effects will occur out to about 6 miles from the blast.
- If the blast is 300,000 kilotons (= 600*10^6 explosive power), then the EMP effects will occur out to about 24 miles from the blast.
- Finally, if the blast is 50 megatons (= 100*10^9 explosive power), the size of the Tsar bomb, then the EMP effects will occur out to about 320 miles from the blast.
See the section on Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons for a description of EMP effects. The EMP effect RF Upset will occur out to the range given by this calculation. At 1/10th of that range, RF Damage will occur.
A weapon can be designated as a Chemical weapon. A missile site that has such a weapon is shown with a red circle and a shot fired by such a site is shown as a red dot, the same as nuclear weapons.
A location which has been struck by a Chemical weapon will be displayed with a greenish cloud icon over it and will suffer persistent disruptive effects for the remainder of the scenario.