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Guide to Dogfighting and Dodging Missiles at 10.3


Guide to Dogfighting and Dodging Missiles at 10.3


In this guide I hope to inform players as to the ways to avoid getting killed by the first missile that an enemy launches at them. I believe that dodging 20G and 30G missiles is possible, and hope to share my knowledge with the player base to help out those who might be frustrated with top tier or simply want to improve their skills. However, let me get a few disclaimers out of the way first.

1: This is a guide based primarily on my own experience, and I do not claim to be the end-all be all expert. If you believe I have missed something or am wrong, please feel free to address that.

2: This guide is also not some sort of cheat code to get out of any situation. To enact many of the strategies described below one needs to be in a specific window of performance and choose the best option for the situation.

3: Though I will not be discussing it in any great detail, there is a responsibility on the player to have enough situational awareness (SA) to track enemy players and anticipate missile launches. This is the most difficult part to master and the easiest to mess up.


Even if everything is done ‘perfectly’, it does not guarantee survival. However, I do believe that if you use these tips and tricks you will have much greater odds of coming through alive. Let’s get into it.


Part 1: Don’t get shot at.

This will be brief, though not as stupid as the title may seem. It is of course in your best interests not to have a missile shot at you. So – as they say in real estate – location, location, location. If you sidestep the initial rush so no one is behind you, you’re not going to get shot at with a missile. If there is a plane targeting you, going nose-to-nose will prevent him from locking you up as we don’t have all-aspect yet. Whatever you do, make it hard for anyone to get a lock in the first place.


Part 2: Speed and Trickery.

Speed is life. Let me repeat this again: Speed will keep you alive. I’m not merely repeating this to be pedantic; speed is the most vital aspect to enact the strategies I am about to discuss. I will even be so bold as to say that you will be very lucky to survive a single missile in top tier if you fall below 0.85 Mach (M). Ideally, you want to be hovering on the cusp of 1.00 M if you suspect a missile will be coming after you. What will this Mach number do for you? Plenty. Allow me to expound.


1)      Out-running the missile:


This is the easiest method to defeat a missile, though it is likely the least common situation to find yourself in. When you are traveling at 1.00 M + on the deck, it could be in your best interests to put your tail right on the nose of the enemy player. This seems counter-intuitive particularly as I just talked about going nose-to-nose so they cannot get a lock. If I hang my massive afterburner right in front of his missile’s seeker is not that an easy shot for him?

Well, yes. But easy shot does not mean easy kill. Running away in this fashion will allow you to enact the strategies below. Too often has someone broken left or right – not only slowing themselves down but giving the missile less distance to travel. You are slower, and the missile is faster and can pull more G’s. That often gets people killed. Instead, why not run away and make the missile do all the work to catch you?

Assuming equal energy states (at around 1.00 M), and that you are below 1000 m altitude, you are out of the missiles range at 3-4 km of distance (missile dependent, of course). At that range you can travel in a straight line and the missile simply can not catch you. The motor will burn out and it will waggle its way towards you before falling away into the ground.


“Ahh, yes,” I can hear players saying. “But isn’t that situation uncommon?”


Yes, it is. I simply want people to be aware that that is a possibility and prepare them for the next move in this 1200 kph game of chess. First and foremost, bleed the energy of the missile by making it come to you.


Okay. You’re on the deck and have turned tail to the incoming launch. But what if you can’t simply outrun the missile?


I wasn’t fast enough and started from 0.85 M.

They launched from 2.0 km away.

It was a 3.5 km launch and I am traveling 1.00 M but it was a Matra R550 Magic / Matra R530E.


Well then, things are a bit dicier. But never fear, there is a phase 2 in this plan.


2)      Dodging the missile:


Remember how at the start our focus was staying fast and low and making the missile come to us? Well, if the missile is catching us never fear. We still want to bleed the energy of the missile enough to where even if it catches us we can out-maneuver it. “Ahh, but aren’t these 20 and 30G missiles?” Yes – but missiles are highly dependent on speed to achieve those levels of G. If the motor is still burning and propelling it at twice the speed of sound – then yes, it will pull 20 and 30G’s to pursue you. But as soon as that rocket motor cuts out the missile starts hemorrhaging speed, particularly if it needs to turn.

The slower its airspeed, the less G it can pull. Eventually there will be a tipping point and you can dodge the missile like it is an AIM-9B – breaking right or left and it will just sail by unable to pull lead. Once again, you have survived to fight a little longer.


“Again,” says the player. “This doesn’t seem to be a situation I run across too often”


Well, you’d likely be right. Once again I would simply like to make you aware of the possibility, as it is the next step in avoiding the missile. These previous two steps are the best case scenario however. What about the worst case?


They launched from within 1.5 km.

They dove from altitude and caught me.

It was a damn Mirage.


Whatever the exact situation, the thought has been some variation of Oh lord I am 100% certain this missile is going to hit me. Well, now we move on to phase 3.


3)      Show the missile a little trick you learned:


This step is something of a last-ditch effort. In essence the ‘trick’ is this simple – when the missile is around 0.5-0.7 km away from you, do a barrel roll. No trolling. A simple maneuver like a barrel roll will defeat a 20-30 G missile. As you might expect however, despite the simplicity of the maneuver itself there are a myriad of caveats to performing this maneuver successfully.


1. You need to be traveling at MINIMUM 0.90 – 0.95 M. Slower than that and it is highly unlikely to work. I have successfully dodged a missile at 0.88 with this trick, but only once. Optimal speed for this maneuver is 1.00 -1.10 M.


2. You need to be at low altitude. The thicker air not only bleeds the missiles of energy faster, it allows you to pull harder. Below 1000 m is optimal. As altitude rises your odds diminish, and above 3000 m it is very unlikely to be successful.


3. The missile should be directly on your tail for best results. The more offset the missile is – whether that be coming from your side or from above – the less likely this trick is to work. Preemptively put the enemy on your direct six or maneuver so the missile is on your direct 6 prior to the trick.


4. The barrel roll needs to be initiated roughly in the 0.5 – 0.7 km range. Too early and you bleed too much speed and the missile hits you. Too late and the missile hits you.


5. The effectiveness of this trick is missile and aircraft dependent. I will discuss this below.


This is difficult to describe through text and may be difficult to visualize simply through the rules, so I will provide a scenario to help with that visualization.


You have taken a gun run at an enemy and are traveling at around 0.90 M at 2000 m. You notice an F-4EJ turn to position himself on your tail roughly 1.5 km back – and you know an AIM-9J is inevitable. Instead of breaking into him, an almost certain death sentence, you lower the nose slightly and accelerate away from him.


The AIM-9J is launched – and though you are now doing around 1.00 M the missile is rapidly closing in. You watch as the diamond highlighted white trail gets closer – and as the missile closes to within 1 km you jam full aileron and elevator. The missile attempts to follow your full tilt barrel roll and fails – sailing by your jet not quite close enough to proxy fuse.


Now, this trick is dependent on you being in the correct envelope. You must tick all the boxes and get the timing right. This envelope for dodging missiles can be wider or narrower based on the aircraft you are flying and the missile that is being fired at you. Now, this is delving somewhat into the realm of opinion. You may disagree with my listings and assertions, and feel free too, but I feel I can back this up with plenty of personal anecdotes.


Missiles (Easiest to Hardest):

R-60: This missile is the easiest to fool with this trick. You can be slower and at higher altitude and still find success. This trick will also work from within 1 km distance. You can be the most confident in juking this missile.


AIM-9J: While still able to be fooled, it requires more precision on your part. You need to be faster, lower, and more precise with your timing for this to work. Mistakes are punished more harshly than the R-60. This trick will likely not work if the enemy is within 1 km.


R550: This requires you to be farther away from the launch and already traveling fast to have a hope of being successful. I have defeated R550’s from within 1.5 km before, but this is very much a roll of the dice. You will not always find success, even if the maneuver is performed perfectly. 2 km of distance and a speed of 1.00 M on launch is needed, and even then your skill will be tested.


Again, this is anecdotal. You may find you dodge these missiles from closer ranges, or you may still be hit from farther away. This is simply a very general guide to what to expect from the different missiles.


Aircraft (Best to worst):

F-104S: With exceptional acceleration and top speed (well over 1.10 M) on the deck, this aircraft already sets you up for success. The F-104’s in general also do not lock up at high speed, allowing for authoritative rolls at those high speeds – and it has indestructible combat flaps should you want extra oomph. It is more than possible to out-run aircraft while dodging their missiles.


F-104G: Very similar properties to the F-104S with its pull at speed and immortal flaps. Though not at fast or as good at accelerating as the S, it is still more than capable.


MiG 21 SMT/MF: This aircraft shares many of the same properties that make the F-104’s so successful. Great acceleration, good top speed, and good maneuvering authority at high speed. I would rank it even with the F-104G except that I have occasionally taken off a wingtip in this maneuver. It is not common, but it does add a little more risk.


F-4 E/EJ: This aircraft does have good speed and acceleration, but there is a flaw: the F-4 starts to experience control stiffening as it climbs above 1.1 Mach and in general does not has as good of an initial pull as even the F-104. While possible to dodge missiles with this trick, and I have done it, I have much less confidence in my ability to do it consistently in this aircraft. (Edit: When matched against R-60's, this aircraft is more than capable of dodging them. This may have more to do with the R-60's than the air frame, but would require more testing.)


I have not tried this with the F-104J as I do not have it, although I imagine it would be very similar to the F-104G.

I have not tried this with the FGR.2, FG. Mk1, or the F-4C. However, I imagine that they would perform worse than the F-4 E/EJ.

I have not tried this with the J35D or Mirage IIIC. I imagine they could, but as for optimal speeds or if they would bleed too much energy to dodge a follow up missile I am not sure.


Again, these are opinion and based on my experiences. You may order them differently based on your experience, but I believe I can back this up with personal anecdote. If you disagree or have information on the aircraft I have not attempted this with please feel free to share.


I have successfully used this trick many a time and have even bled more than one enemy aircraft of all 4 missiles in the same game. This skill is one that will likely take some experimentation and time to build up and gain confidence in. Because of all the different aircraft, speeds, missiles, angles, and timing required this is more art than science but I hope it can be put to good use by others. Again though, this is more of a last-ditch effort than something that should be relied upon


Conjecture: I hope to offer a brief explanation on why this works. This is pure speculation on my part – if someone knows better than I please share.

What I believe happens is that at speed, with a large closure rate between the missile and plane, the missile needs to be very accurate to hit the target and needs to pull enough lead. As you barrel roll, the missile struggles to pull enough lead in the rapidly changing directions and the seeker head is overloaded. This is an extraordinarily basic and uninvolved explanation and may not even be completely right. However, the important part is that it works regardless of the explanation.


This concludes this general section of dodging missiles. This series of steps is not the only way to dodge missiles; however, it is the most consistent and crucially is the least likely to leave you at a low energy state and vulnerable to being picked off.


Part 3: The Danger of Vertical Maneuvering and Altitude.

The danger that altitude presents should not be underestimated. As altitude increases missiles become more deadly. The lower drag from thinner air at altitude means that missiles maintain speed better, travel greater distances, and are deadly for longer. Inversely because of that thinner air aircraft cannot turn as hard to dodge incoming missiles. This means that the higher altitude you are at the more likely you are to be killed if someone launches a missile at you. Even at altitudes as low as 4000 – 5000 m the priority should be on staying roughly nose-to-nose with enemies or well out of missile range. At 7000 – 10000 m a missile that is launched within 5-6 km is a guaranteed kill. Staying low (below 3000 m) gives you a chance to dodge a missile. Above that you are relying on your skill in positioning your aircraft to avoid being killed. This should be regarded as a danger zone and strategy should be adjusted accordingly.


This plays into the danger of vertical maneuvers. For one, speed is life – and vertical maneuvers cause the harshest bleeding of speed. Secondly, because of the incredible zoom climb potential of 10.3 jets it is quite easy to push up into 3000 – 4000 m territory. As noted above, this is a danger zone. These two factors already put you at a greater risk. Finally, if a missile is launched – even if at distance – you have crippled your ability to avoid and outrun it. Continuing to pull up is a death sentence, so you need to point your jet towards the ground. This involves pulling G’s – which bleeds more speed – and you will continue to bleed speed from traveling upwards and pulling G until your nose is once again downhill and you have unloaded G from the jet. This is a valuable couple of seconds where you are bleeding speed and not accelerating will likely spell your end. You are slow, out of position, and at an altitude that works better for the missile than you.


Accordingly, vertical maneuvers should generally be restricted to when the player is confident that they are far enough removed from the action that no one is going to lob a missile in their direction. Then it becomes a good way to quickly turn back into the action while preserving energy. While in danger of being shot maneuvers should generally be in the horizontal plane or slightly downhill to gain energy. Even better, fly in a straight line at high speed and low altitude.


Part 4: Don’t be afraid of using the clouds.

There is nothing more annoying than when you are on the tail of an enemy but before you can get a lock they dip into a bank of clouds. Currently, missiles cannot lock while an enemy is shrouded by clouds. Planning around this is important on offense but can also be a life saver and provide options for you on defense.


Diving through a cloud layer at high altitude can save you from almost certain death. As well, a low cloud ceiling can be used to allow you to reverse direction with someone on your six. Simply pull up aggressively into the clouds and perform a Half – Cuban. You may not have shaken them off your tail, but you have now reversed your direction without them being able to launch a missile at you. Be creative with using them to maneuver freely without the fear of a 30G missile flying into your tailpipe.


Just because clouds can be your friend doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wary of them. Because of proxy spotting, hovering near the base of a cloud layer is dangerous as you have little warning if someone pops out on your tail. Maintaining a healthy boundary of altitude below a cloud layer allows you greater reaction time should someone try that very trick.


Part 5: The Danger of Relying on Flares.

Flares can be a lifesaver that gets you out of a tricky situation. They are limited to the later F-4 models, but launching rockets will give you a similar effect. I have used the S-5K rocket pods on the Su-7B to great effect. When deciding whether to bring rockets as pseudo-flares or leave them in the hanger, be aware that you are sacrificing performance and potentially getting rid of offensive weapons. For example, I wouldn’t bring the SNEB’s on the Mirage IIIC because it sacrifices far too much performance. I also wouldn’t bring them on the MiG-21 SMT/MF because the S-5K rockets replace a slot that could be occupied by a R-60 and they hurt performance. On something like the MiG-19S or Su-7B however the small performance sacrifice is well worth it.


Whether one is using flares proper or some form of rockets it is important to be aware of their downsides. First, let me explain their optimal usage so we can more clearly see their weaknesses.

When the missile is launched killing your afterburner is an important first step so that the flares burn brighter than your engine. If you leave the afterburner engaged the flares will be much less effective. Secondly, deploy a group of flares to provide that alternative heat source while breaking in any direction. Once the missile is avoided re-engage the afterburners and power away. For even greater effect, throw out some pre-flares before the missile is even launched to confuse the seeker head and make acquisition more difficult.


The first problem is with the effectiveness of flares themselves. In the patch that introduced them simply killing the afterburner and throwing out a single pair of flares was enough to spin any missile off into oblivion. As of the more recent patches however flares have become less effective and reliable. Now it requires the afterburner to be out, 10-20 flares, and a hard break in any direction to achieve the same effect. This is because the seeker head seems to be more resistant to the flares. Not only this but missiles have a nasty habit of becoming confused briefly before re-acquiring you proper and finishing the job.


Because of this you bleed a lot of speed to make these missiles miss. Inevitably this leads to the enemy catching up and either ramming an R-60 violently up your rear from 0.4 km away or hosing you down with 400 rounds of 20mm Vulcan. The flares do work but leave you more and more vulnerable the more missiles are launched at you. It is still important to use the tactics mentioned above and use the flares to cover vulnerable gaps or to recover from a mistake that should kill you otherwise – such as getting caught slow, in a turn, or at altitude. Maintaining speed is still your primary defense. 


That said, being used as a go-to for something like the FGR.2 is more than fine. That aircraft has little to no hope of out turning anything, but has the raw power and acceleration to overcome the energy it bleeds off while maneuvering.


Part 6: Committing to a Knife Fight.


The time may come when you decide to finally have a proper dogfight with an enemy jet. If you are to do this, let me offer this piece of advice: Drag them far away from their friendlies before beginning. A high-g dogfight is exciting, but will leave your aircraft low and slow with not great odds of avoiding a gun run from an enemy wingman – and no chance of dodging a missile. So if you are to engage in that ‘knife fight in a telephone booth’ make sure that there are no enemies nearby to capitalize off of your vulnerable state.


Now that you are isolated and able to maneuver freely you need to know your aircraft. If you are flying something like an F-104 or F-4 make sure to keep your energy up so that you can disengage safely if need be. Regardless of the aircraft you are flying, once you drop below a certain speed you are committed to this fight. Getting spit out in front of the enemy is a certain death sentence by gun or by missile. Even trying to disengage when you are too slow is certain death if they have a missile handy – as you will never gain enough speed to out-run or out-turn the rocket coming your way. Know your aircraft, know your enemy’s aircraft, and be confident in your skills – because once you are committed there is no turning back.


Conclusion / Summation:


These are the principles in short:


Position yourself to avoid being shot at.

Maintain a high energy state.

If shot at, bleed the missile’s energy by forcing it to come to you instead of going to it.

Use clouds and flares to their greatest advantage.  

Avoid high-G dogfights like the plague. 


Once again I will emphasize what I said at the beginning. It is the duty of the pilot to maintain sufficient situational awareness to see and even predict missile shots. This is BY FAR the hardest to master and the easiest to make a mistake in. Learn to quickly judge enemy positions, energy states, and where they are headed. Frequently check your six. Learn to fly defensively while looking backwards. Situational awareness will make or break your experience in top tier.

I do not claim to be an end all be all authority – if you wish to add something you believe I have missed or correct something you believe I have gotten wrong please feel free to do so. I hope this helps people to improve their skills and enjoy top tier as I have.

Edited by RnG_leTourneau
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  • 1 month later...

Hello RnG_leTourneau,


find this guide very helpful that's why i decided to pin this guide for other players. Well done for making this guide! :good:


Thank you and have a nice day/night!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 24/08/2020 at 14:38, RAAFLightningII@psn said:

I'm just about to research the Phantom FGR.2, any tips for dodging R550 Magics? 


Cut afterburner and turn as hard as possible until the missile passes by your plane 

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Here’s a few tips that can make life a little easier.


1. Bind throttle down and release flare to scroll wheel down. In this case, when you spotted a missile coming at you, you can turn off your afterburner and release flare simultaneously. 


2. Turn on periodically release flare if someone decide to stay on you and trying to fire a second missile at you. Periodically releasing flares will give your enemy a hard time to achieve a lock on you while you defensive fly. 


3. Know your opponent. Knowing what you and your opponent can and cannot do can give you a significant tactical advantage. The best way to achieve this is to fly all the top tier jets available. However, not everyone have the spare time to do so. Utilizing the WT wiki and watch videos about those jets that you don’t have and might potentially face can also help you learn about your opponents.


4. Learn from your mistakes. If someone shot you down, don’t get mad and think what you did wrong. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.


Note that tip 2 mostly apply on the F-4E since it’s maneuverable and able to reverse most opponents in a defensive situation. Other Phantoms kind turn like bricks.

Edited by the_big_iron

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  • 9 months later...

1. This may sound stupid, but when activating flares, evasive maneuvers!  I can't count the number of times players will fire off a few flares and continue on their straight line path. I know types of maneuvering were discussed in the Original Post, but to many players, it appears both launching flares and dodging missiles are two separate things. 


2. My rule of thumb is there is always a jet watching you. Doesn't matter if you are climbing, hitting the deck, or scouting around the map, you are being watched. Never fly in a way that makes yourself an easy kill. Always be looking and making yourself an awkward lock for the enemy. That doesn't mean flailing about and bleeding speed, just be aware of your surroundings and don't let anyone sneak up on you.

Edited by Soviet_Commando
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  • 4 months later...

Dear veterans, I'm very experienced but not once managed to dodge a R60-m coming from upfront or the side with my Hawker Hunter or Lightning. It seems to just be completely unbalanced and broken BS.

So I would rly appreciate anyone who would give me 15min of his or her time and teach me how the hell I can dodge a R60-m since those BS missiles 30G missiles paired with constantly beign uptiered ruin any fun this game could offer.

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