Spotting and Identification
Spotting and identification rules in the game determine what you can see, how much you know about it, and what actions you can take relative to it. Spotting and identification will depend on sensors, ranges, and other effects such as altitude.
There are different types of spotting relative to a given flight that are possible:
- Is Visible – The flight is within the range of visibility of one of your flights or one of your ground locations. In this case, you can identify the type and number of aircraft in the flight.
- On Radar – The flight has been picked up on radar, either ground-based or airborne. Without additional information, the location of the flight is known, but you do not know what type or how many aircraft are in the flight.
- On RWR – Certain aircraft carry Radar Warning Receivers (RWR). When these aircraft are being tracked by an aircraft with tracking radar, then the RWR spots the location of the tracking aircraft.
- ELINT– The flight has been picked up using Electronic Intelligence. When combined with a radar sighting, then you are able to identify the type of aircraft in the flight, but not how many aircraft are in the flight.
Bogeys vs. Bandits
There are three different ways that enemy flights and ships can be identified based on the spotting.
When a enemy flight is first spotted, depending on the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) capability of the side doing the spotting, an unknown flight may only be identified as a bogey and shown using a grey color. In this case, it is not possible to fire on the flight.
Based on the IFF capability of the side doing the spotting, it may be possible to subsequently identify the flight as a bandit and indicated with the appropriate color, red or blue, for that side. At this point, it is possible to fire on the flight subject to any Rules of Engagement.
Finally, if a visual identification is made of the enemy flight or if ELINT can be used to identify the flight, then it is known as to type of aircraft.
An enemy surface ship will be shown using a ship icon, either gray or red depending on the level of identification.
An enemy submarine is shown using a slightly different icon ship to distinguish it from a surface ship.
Note that OTH and VHF radar is never able to provide IFF classification.
Most Targets in the game are known at all times since they represent fixed targets at known locations. Other Targets are designated as Unknown and in that case, spotting rules will apply:
- Is Visible – The Target is within the range of visibility of one of your flights. In this case, you can identify the location and type of Target.
- On Radar – The Target has been picked up using Airborne Ground Radar. Without additional information, the location of the Target is known, but not its type.
- ELINT – The Target has been picked up using ELINT. When combined with a radar sighting, the type of Target is known.
Unknown Submarine targets are a special case. These represent underwater submarines and are only spotted when they have been detected using the secondary sensor of aircraft with the ASW attribute and the aircraft is currently Flying Low.
Spotting SAM Sites
By default, the locations of SAM and other missile sites are not known with Fog-of-War. There are situations that determine if a site is spotted.
- Is Visible – The site is within the range of visibility of one of your flights. In this case, you will be able to spot the site regardless of other considerations.
- On RWR – Certain aircraft carry Radar Warning Receivers (RWR). When a SAM site is active, then this receiver will allow the aircraft to spot the site. If the SAM site is not-active, then it cannot be picked up using RWR.
Spotting AAA Sites
By default, AAA sites are unknown under Fog-of-War. If they fire, then their location becomes known and stays known for the duration of the scenario.
Spotting Other Ground Locations
Air bases are known locations and always spotted. Ground radar sites can be known by default or unknown depending on the scenario and site. If a radar site is unknown, then it can be detected using aircraft with ELINT capability (see Specialized Features).
It is possible for a map to have elevations which block line-of-sight between low altitudes. To view these map elevations, you select the Map Elevations option of the View Menu. The elevations are shown as gray shaded areas on the map. When a flight is Flying Low, then a map elevation will block its detection from enemy radar sites that are on the other side of the elevation.
Certain scenarios will begin with weather conditions shown by clouds. These represent low-altitude clouds and areas of reduced surface visibility. They will have an impact on the ability to spot certain aircraft and ground locations.
- When a ground location is under cloud cover, it can't visually see aircraft but can still see them with radar.
- When a ground location is under cloud cover, it can't be attacked except by aircraft with bombing radar or with ordnance that uses GPS guidance.
- Recon cannot be conducted against a ground target under cloud cover.
Low ceiling aircraft, helicopters, and other aircraft that are flying low are considered to be low enough that they fly through clouds, instead of above them as an aircraft at normal cruise altitude would.
- When aircraft fly though clouds, they have no ability to see the ground or other aircraft. They can detect other aircraft with radar but not visually or using IR.
- Aircraft flying through clouds cannot fire or be fired upon by IR Homing air-to-air missiles or missiles fired visually from the ground.
Depending on the visibility, conditions in a scenario are considered to be at night. This is shown in the upper-left hand corner of the Main Chart. The visibility value that determines night is Parameter Data and by default is 1 statue mile. When night conditions exist, then it is not possible to make a bombing strike against a ground target unless the attacking aircraft has FLIR, bombing radar, or the ordnance has GPS guidance.
C3 Limitations and Fratricide
If the C3 Failure Parameter Data value for a given side is nonzero, then it is possible that manned flights associated with that side are vulnerable to C3 Failures. A C3 Failure can potentially occur whenever a manned flight is outside the range of airborne surveillance or ground-based radar. Airborne surveillance radar is radar that has 360 degree coverage such as AWACS. Ground-based radar in this case includes both radar sites and air bases and any other surface entity such as a ship that has 360 degree radar coverage, but not missile sites.
The C3 Failure Parameter Data Value determines the average number of minutes that a flight has to be outside of friendly radar before a C3 Failure occurs. When a C3 Failure occurs relative to a flight, then that flight is shown using the gray triangle symbol and it becomes uncontrollable to the owning side. If the flight has existing orders, it will follow those orders. However, if it does not have orders, or once it has fulfilled any existing orders, then it will automatically return to base.
A flight is also subject to a C3 Failure when it is fired upon. This causes a one-time C3 Failure check to the flight based on the C3 Failure Parameter Data value.
Once the flight returns within range of airborne surveillance or ground-based radar, then it will return to normal status and can be controlled as before. However, until that happens, the flight is considered unidentified to the owning side. Under these conditions, it is possible that friendly flights may fire on the unidentified flight and that the unidentified flight may fire on friendly flights. This won't occur if the flights are from the same squadron, but can otherwise and is most likely if the flights are from different high-level organizations (such as different services or different nations). An unidentified flight can also be fired upon by a friendly SAM site.