by Richard Sheffield
Your internal cannon is a formidable weapon. When properly used, it can reach out and hit the enemy at extreme ranges.
Head-On Gun Attack
Situation: You're approaching enemy aircraft head-on.
Line up with the enemy straight ahead at the same altitude(1).
Start firing when the enemy is approximately 1½ radar screen divisions away. The target will fly to meet the gun shells. If you wait until the enemy aircraft is within normal gun range, you'll fly past before you get a good shot (2).
A head-on attack presents a bad missile angle for your opponent. If you make the enemy pilot waste one of his four missiles during the head-on pass, so much the better. Be prepared to jink though.
Fire while the enemy aircraft is still out of range in a head-on cannon attack.
Firing a Short-Range Missile at a Target Behind You
Thanks to the game programmers, your F-15 missiles can track and attack targets behind you. Learn to use this special capability.
Situation: There's an enemy aircraft behind you, flying at roughly the same speed. You can't outmaneuver it. Your opponent isn't closer than a half mile or farther away than two miles.
Maneuver: Fire a short-range missile; then break away hard from the attacker.
It's possible to fire a missile at an enemy aircraft behind you.
If air-to-air combat can be described as an art, then air-to-ground bombing is more a science. Get the proper angle and proper altitude, put the pipper (sight) on the target, and hit the bomb release. Bombing in F-15 Strike Eagle is much simpler than bombing with the real thing. Actual bombing runs are very precise with dive angle, airspeed, and altitude all predetermined by the type of ordnance you're dropping. If you're a little too fast, your load will land long; too slow and you'll come up short.
With F-15 Strike Eagle, however, you can bomb at any speed or dive angle and at altitudes up to approximately 3000 feet. You can drop bombs with your wings at any angle, even while flying inverted (this is a real test of your inverted flying skills). As long as you put the pipper on the target triangle, you'll score a hit.
There are two basic techniques you can attempt on a bombing run. Whichever you choose, start your run at 100-percent power. Rapid maneuvering to avoid surface-to-air missiles or enemy fighters can use precious energy. When you're delivering bombs at 2000 feet, you can't afford to let your energy level get low. A stall at low altitude can mean the end of your mission.
During any bomb run, keep an eye out for enemy fighters. Should one appear while you're on your approach, immediately arm and fire a medium-range missile. This will keep the enemy fighter busy and let you complete your run.
You can drop more than one bomb load on a target during a single bomb run to increase your point total. All must be dropped before the target is destroyed, however, to count as hits.
The standard bomb delivery technique is dive bombing. A dive bombing checklist should read like this:
Check that you're at 100-percent power.
Go to 4000 feet (1).
Line up on the NAV indicator on the screen (assuming you've already positioned the NAV cursor over the target). Place the NAV indicator as close as possible to the center of your screen to reduce last-minute maneuvering.
When the blue target-designator triangle appears, arm your bombs.
Make any last-minute course adjustments and begin a 30-degree dive. The horizon should be level and on the third indicator line (2).
When the bomb sight is well within the target area, release the bombs (3).
Pull out of your dive (4).
Pinpoint dive bombing is a skill you'll need to practice.
The second method for delivering bombs, frequently used in high-threat situations, is the low-level or pop-up approach. If there are no enemy fighters around, approaching the target at approximately 1000 feet may give you some protection from radar-guided SAMs. The missiles should pass right over you. Flying at this altitude takes constant attention, though, since turbulence will constantly buffet your aircraft. A pop-up bombing checklist should read like this:
Check that you're at 100-percent power.
Place the NAV cursor over your target. Line up on the NAV indicator on the screen.
Set your radar to medium-range scale.
Descend to 1000 feet and arm your bombs (1).
When the target appears on radar, immediately climb to 2000 feet (2).
When you reach 2000 feet, or the blue target indicator appears on the head-up display, start a 30- or 40-degree dive (whatever it takes to place the pipper in the triangle) and release the bombs (3).
At this point, you can return to the 1000-feet level to attack another target, or light the afterburners and head for home or the safety of high altitude (4).
Use this pop-up bombing technique when you want to fly in under the ememy rodar.
High-Altitude Dive Bombing
If you're coming up on a target you want to bomb at high altitude, you don't have to pass it by. Such a target can be hit by following these guidelines:
Cut power to 55 percent.
Line up the target directly in front of you.
Set the radar to the shortest range.
When the target appears on the radar, activate the bomb sight and start a steep dive.
Keep track of your progress by watching the radar screen. Adjust your dive if necessary to prevent passing the target.
The target triangle should appear on the ground as you pass 10,000 feet. If it doesn't appear, you've probably passed over the target.
Drop the bombs and/or pull up at 3500 feet. If at any time during your dive you lose control, extend the speedbrake to stabilize the aircraft.