"Beam Manuever"

Member for

19 years 11 months

Posts: 79

I have looked and read at a lot about aircombat, I knew there were
tactics to help defeat a radar advantage one plane had over another.
Shortly after the Persian Gulf War I found out about the "beam
manuever". I have not found much else about this or other tactics
design to nullify the advantage of airborne radar.
I read that the beam manuever works because it fools the software that
supposed to eliminate ground or sea clutter. "If you are flying a F-14D
or F-15C and you are lower in altitude than the target aircraft, will
the beam manuever work or fail, since then is no need for filtration of
ground or sea clutter?"

Adrian

Original post

Member for

19 years 11 months

Posts: 885

RE: "Beam Manuever"

What you say is close, but not exactly right. The beam maneuvre is performed to break the lock of Pulse Doppler radars. Pulse Doppler was originally intended somewhat to clear ground clutter, but it has become one of the prime radar modes today.

How it works:

A pulse Doppler radar uses the Doppler effect to lock on targets. As most of you probably know, the Doppler effect exists when two aircraft head towards each other, because of their speed. This is used to track the aircraft. Doppler effect seizes to exist when the aircraft being tracked stops (which doesn't happen in real life), but also when the flight path of the tracked aircraft is perpendicular (90 degrees) to the flight path of the aircraft using the pulse Doppler radar. This is the beam maneuvre: quickly go to perpendicular flight paths, breaking the lock of Doppler radars. And then moving back towards the enemy. Theoretically one can defeat the beam maneuvre by using a non-Doppler mode. But it is usually too late to do this. After the beam maneuvre the aircraft will have to be locked on again, which takes time. By performing several beaming maneuvres, one can get closer to the enemy at each turn.

Best regards,

Ference.

Profile picture for user Snoopy

Member for

19 years 11 months

Posts: 143

RE: "Beam Manuever"

Ference has it there, pretty much, of course.

However Adrian, if you're interested in more, there's a good, easily-accessible (ie non-technical) explanation of the Beam Manoeuver in "No Escape Zone", the book written by the Royal Navy Sea Harrier pilot (Lt Nick Richardson?) who was shot down over the Balkans. He describes the theory behind the Beam Manoeuver, and adds an interesting first-hand description of how a pair of German pilots from JG 73 (?),the German MiG-29 Aggressor squadron, used the manoeuver, and some good tactical thinking, to defeat an RN Sea Harrier section during a training exercise.

Regards,

Snoopy

Member for

19 years 11 months

Posts: 885

RE: "Beam Manuever"

This beam maneuvre was extensively used by Iraqi mig-25s engaging F-15s during the opening moves of Desert Storm. A few got to close for comforts, although the F-15s prevailed.

The beam maneuvre was also used by Dutch F-16s when exercising against USN F-14s a while ago. The F-16s (from Leeuwarden IIRC) did pretty well using this technique. Can't remember the kill ratio of that exercise though. Anyone else???

The following is a description of that first engagement. One can easily recognize the beam maneuvre in it. Courtesy of the Aircombat site (http://www.webruler.com/aircombat/). Enjoy:

USAF F-15C 85-0101 (Capt R Tollini) and 85-0114 (Capt L Pitts), 58 TFS, 33 TFW vs Iraqi AF Mig-25, 19 January 1991, Iraq (Operation Desert Storm)

Captain Rick Tollini's four-ship got gas and started
to form up for the sweep, which was scheduled to take
them north up central Iraq in advance of an F-16
strike on Al Qaim, a gas and germ warfare center
northwest of Al Asad.

"As soon as we came off the tanker" said Captain Larry
Pitts, "AWACS started calling MIGs close to the
border."

The MIGs were in two groups. One was directly in front
of them. They were two MiG-25 Foxbats, perhaps fifty miles away at ten thousand feet, coming fast. The other
group was roughly the same distance away but
northeast, towards Baghdad- a pair of MiG-29s.

Tollini's "Citigo" flight shot north and started
searching with their radars. They got blips from both
groups at about forty miles. Since the Eagles had
already gotten confirmation of "bandit" status from
AWACS, and their cockpit indications were the same,
they prepared for relatively easy BVR shots- right to
the faces of the oncoming enemy planes. Being on the
eastern flank of the advancing four-ship, Pitts
thought he might get a shot at the one of the easterly
Fulcrums, but they suddenly turned back north. Either
they were race-tracking on a CAP or trying to "bait"
the Eagles. In any case they were "no longer threats"-
at least for the time being.

They turned their attention solely to the Foxbats,
which had now closed to around twenty miles. Both
groups were at ten thousand feet, still head on with
each other. Sorting and targeting, Tollini and Captain
Jon Kelk prepared to shoot when the Foxbats came into
range, Tollini actually locking one of them. Pitts and
Williams searched on their radars for other possible
bandits.

Suddenly the Foxbats turned ninety degrees and
executed a "beam" maneuver, heading west and
perpendicular to the Eagles line of flight. As it was
supposed to, the tactic banished the Foxbats from the
four Eagle's radars and broke Tollini's lock. Now the
Eagles were in trouble, because two MiGs were
presumably in range of shooting them and unseen -
until, luckily, at about five miles in front of them
and very low, approximately five hundred feet from the
desert floor- they picked up the radar blip of one of
the Foxbats rocketing in front of them, from west to
east at seven hundred knots.

It was another "beam" maneuver, said Pitts, but this
time it was being executed too close to the Eagles to
work. "Since I was on the east side, it was easiest
for me to engage him," he said. He radioed Tollini his
intention and dove after the MiG as it passed below.
As he did so, the MiG began a wide 270 degree arcing
turn beneath him, back south, west and eventually
north. The large oval and resultant loss of speed by
the MiG-25 enabled Pitts, who had visually acquired
the MiG as he'd converted on it, to cut across the
Iraqi's turn circle and rendezvous on his tail.
"I'm able to roll in a mile and a half behind him and
start shooting," he said.

The next sequence of events happened very fast.
Pitts was so close to the MiG's exhausts that his
first shot was a heat-seeking Sidewinder. But the
Iraqi decoyed it with flares.

Gaining on the Iraqi, he fired a Sparrow, but it
didn't explode. The Iraqi didn't try any evasive
maneuvers. He just kept running straight and level
north- still very low, his exhaust still beckoning.
Pitts shot another Sidewinder. The Iraqi decoyed it
with flares again. Pitts was getting frustrated. Any
closer and he'd be out of missile envelope and have to
go to guns.

He fired a fourth missile, another Sparrow.
Meanwhile , up above Tollini, now functioning as Pitts
wingman, had been watching and decided he'd better
jump in and help. He dove toward the fight and fired a
Sidewinder of his own at the fleeing Foxbat. But
before it got there, Pitts final Sparrow either went
up the Foxbats tailpipe or right near it, and
exploded, causing a small fireball. " It was like a
sparkler, " he said. Tollini's missile then impacted
the fireball. The MiG stayed relatively intact but
went down into clouds. Pitts saw the canopy come off
and the "explosion" as the pilot's ejection seat fired
out. But he didn't see a parachute because " I know
the second guy is still out these and I immediately
start looking for him."

Coming back up, pointing west, he spotted the second
Foxbat, It was coming east, about five miles in front
of them, going belly up as it tried to turn north in
front of them and run, Pitts speculated. Kelk and
Williams, low on fuel had already left. Tollini, who
had his radar on "auto guns" now, didn't visually see
the bandit until Pitts called him out, but the "auto
guns" setting would have automatically locked the
Iraqi anyway. First Tollini fired a Sidewinder. It was
decoyed with flares. Chasing in afterburner, he fired
a Sparrow. The radar missile hit, disintegrating the
MiG-25. These were the ninth and tenth Allied air to
air kills of the war.

From Wings of Fury by Robert K Wilcox

Sent by Patrick Bechet

Best regards,

Ference.