Commander’s Update Briefing: BVR Combat

As you might expect, beyond-visual-range, or BVR, combat is the term used to describe aerial engagements when neither aircraft is able to detect the other with the naked eye. Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE, examines what’s required to ‘reach out and touch’ an enemy aircraft.

Flying over the Gulf of Mexico, 1st Lt Charles Schuck fires an AIM-7 Sparrow mediumrange air-to-air missile from a 71st Fighter Squadron F-15C. The Eagle was supporting a Combat Archer air-to-air weapons system evaluation programme mission at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. USAF/Master Sgt Michael Ammons

In a previous article I discussed the finer arts of dogfighting, a situation in which two or more aircraft engage in visual combat – see Fighter agility, August, p84-86. Usually this state of affairs arrives either because the aircraft haven’t seen each other earlier or the rules of engagement have necessitated a visual identification. Of course, dogfighting was borne of an era when aircraft were only able to engage each other in combat using relatively short-range guns or cannon, normally in fixed installations.

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