War Thunder

An Intro to Potential Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) Aircraft: US Edition

warthunder 4 - An Intro to Potential Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) Aircraft: US Edition
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tl;dr These bitches got a missile that can find your radar SPAA using ass and eat you like a chicken nugget. And this shit is somehow older than the Tunguska and OTOMATIC.


Overview

With the addition of the Tunguska SPAA, we bring SAMs and more proper 1980s SPAA into the field. And the results were kinda as predicted, one of the most advanced SPAA vehicles ever produced might be a little bit overkill when it comes to shooting at 1950s and 1960s aircraft. The main caveat being that 1980s-2000s ATGM helos with an 8km range were a bit too much bullshit to deal with using the current SPAA options, albeit they were able to be countered using specific gun toting SPAA, tank guns, ATGMs, and fixed wing aircraft.

But Gaijin jumped the shark and gave one nation indisputable aerial superiority within 10km of one vehicle. Most aircraft spawns aren't even 10km away from the battlefield. No shit, this is a balance problem on the level of the AH-1Z and "TV Guided" AGM-12s. So what's the counter? Luckily a whole bunch of people died to bring us this solution, SEAD.


SEAD in a shellnut

Enemy has a radar station guiding anti air weapons. You don't like this radar station, so you and some buddies are armed with Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARMs) to take out these stations. You find a station actively using its radar, fire off a couple of missiles, and burn for home to avoid return fire. Chances are, the distances were never closer than 7km in real life, but the hit rates weren't particularly good for either side in real life.


US SEAD

The USN and USAF probably has the largest inventory of SEAD weapons and this makes sense given how much of a threat the various Soviet SAM stations were in the 60s and continue to be. So, while I do research for the other nations in game (combining USSR/PRC, GER/FRA/ITA, and UK/JP into their own posts), take this post to get a general idea of what could be to come.

The earliest SEAD was quite literally just looking for the radar station than attacking it conventionally using normal munitions. This was about as successful as one might expect, it wasn't. A better solution was invented, air launched ARMs meant to be targeted at these problematic radar stations. Enter the Wild Weasels in 1965, the mission name for SEAD missions conducted by USAF (primarily).


The Weapons

There are two missiles I expect to see in game, and one that probably shouldn't come to the game (yet).

AGM-45 Shrike (
AGM 45 Shrike - An Intro to Potential Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) Aircraft: US Edition
Wiki)

  • The most likely missile to be introduced if any are. Its got a relatively tame performance (15km range for the A variant, 40km for the B) and is the earliest ARM I was able to find that saw service. Its a pretty dumb missile honestly, you gotta get within the very narrow targeting range to even just launch it. If one is coming at you, turn off your radar, reposition, and you will probably live if you reacted early enough. It has the destructive power necessary to kill basically any radar using SPAA in the game. The caveat being that the missile behavior will need to be adjusted from IRL so that it proximity bursts as close to the target as possible since IRL it took a lot longer than 30 seconds to repair the damage it could cause. It has basically no purpose as an anti tank weapon as I cannot find evidence of an impact detonator (I could've missed it tho).

AGM-78 Standard (Wiki)

  • The second most likely missile to see in game, consider this an improvement of the AGM-45 in basically every way except for increased size and weight. This was often carried with AGM-45s since it was over 20x more expensive than an AGM-45 (hopefully not modeled in game lol). The main differences are a much larger payload, significantly larger range (90km), and the ability to continue tracking a target even after the radar was flipped off. This should probably be the upper range of what's in game, however I will also include its successor for no reason other than my own amusement.

AGM-88 HARM (Wiki)

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  • If the Shrike is "please die", and if the Standard is "I wasn't asking", the AGM-88 is "You should've listened". 150km range, better fuse for closer detonations, extreme speed (faster than most tier 7 tank weapons), and there is no way in the fresh hell you are hiding from this thing without dedicated Electronic Warfare equipment. Oh also it's a 1985 weapon (Tunguska is 1982). There is no way this thing should be in game till far more advanced SPAA exists to justify its existence. Only some of the aircraft I will mention could field this missile, and I won't even recommend adding two of the planes to the game.

The Warriors

The planes I want to discuss for Warthunder are ones that I find to be roughly on par with current aircraft in the game, sans this new ordnance. There is also a few added at the end for notables that I wouldn't add to the game, at least not yet.

A-4F Skyhawk (Wiki)

  • Probably the most likely candidate on account of being relatively inoffensive, the A-4 is a pretty humble light attack aircraft from the mid 50s. Think of it as a more powerful G.91, boasting 4 AIM-9s and similar flight characteristics, but more relevantly, being able to bring two AGM-45 Shrikes and two AGM-78 Standards into battle. Presumably you could use any combination of AGM-45s and AIM-9s but I could find no reference of ever carrying more than two AGM-78s. This aircraft could also fit into the UK air tree either as a premium or tree vehicle. Israeli export could be a US premium but I don't really see a reason for this.

A-7D/E Corsair II (Wiki)

  • Probably the most capable aircraft I would include the simple reason that this one has a gun in addition to its other armaments. Its a late 1970s subsonic attacker with an impressive flight performance sheet. Even without missiles its a fairly potent fighting aircraft. However it's still a ground striker at heart so don't expect a meta dominating force. It brings a relatively similar armament to the A-4F but with additional ordnance in case you really want to ruin someone's day. There is an oddity here, it isn't listed as fielding the AGM-78 but instead the massively superior AGM-88 (can still use AGM-45s). Much like the AH-1Z, gaijin can probably just BS that it could've carried these so that we don't get massive power creep in one update lol. Same with the rest of its smart ordnance.

A-6E Intruder (Wiki)

  • Briefly touching on this, I don't want it in the game. This is purely because it doesn't have any guns, only ordnance. But if we look past that it's a more niche A-7 that looks kinda chubby and cute. Oh also it has the ordnance capacity to end GF matches and RB games on its own. Glossing over that, the A-6B could work as an event vehicle and have the A-6E added to the main tree if the A-6B isn't a disaster.

F-16A/C Viper (Wiki)

  • No. Just, please don't. It could only field AGM-88s for SEAD and other than that it is like a T-2K except better in literally every possible way. Yes, it is about as old as the T-2K. Yes, it is even older than the Tunguska. Yes, it is easily one of my favorite planes of the modern era, but please for the love of all that is holy, Gaijin, please do not add this thing. Its like sending Leopard 2A5s against M60s. Could the M60 kill one? Yeah. Is it an even remotely balanced matchup? Hell the fuck no. It needs contemporaries for all nations first, and several game updates of tech development to have a place here.

Conclusion

Tunguska is unable to be countered with current ordnance options and planes (assuming equal competence in the cockpit and the SPAA), here are some ordnance options and planes that could be added to turn the tide here. There are some balanced ones that could be added, and some ones that shouldn't be added. I'll be looking into other nation's SEAD in the hopes of finding at least one plane and missile for every nation.

Source: Original link


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