by Richard Sheffield
HARMs and Harpoons
Both HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and Harpoon missiles are excellent for accomplishing specific missions: blasting radar and ships. The problem with these missiles is that you're limited to one missile in each weapons bay.
To earn a high score, you'll need to hit extra ground targets, but carrying one missile in each bay limits that ability. A good solution is to carry the multipurpose Maverick missile. The Maverick has a better range than the HARM and is just as effective. It does have a shorter range than the Harpoon, but you can safely get within Maverick range of most ships with little problem. The main benefit of the Maverick is you can carry two missiles in each bay. This allows you an extra missile for those important extra ground targets.
Weapons Are Internal
Remember that all the weapons carried by the F-19 are carried internally. When you activate these weapons and open the bay doors, you increase drag and reduce lift. Get into the habit of increasing the throttle just before you activate your weapons. Doing so will prevent finding out the hard way you're losing altitude.
This applies to dogfighting as well as to air-to-ground situations. If you're trying to out-turn a MiG, you're better off closing the bay doors until you're close to firing position. By doing so you'll increase the turning performance of your aircraft and reduce the chances of stalling. You can use the air-to-air tracking mode to keep track of the enemy while keeping the doors shut; use the Switch Tracking Mode key to activate it.
The enemy will often take shots with SAMs and AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) that don't have a chance of hitting you; they're just trying to trick you into using your ECM (Electronic CounterMeasures) systems and giving away your location. When you're entering or leaving an area with a good stealth profile, go to the 12-mile radar screen if fired upon. Many times the missile won't even come within 12 miles of you, and if it does, its lock may be too weak to hit you. Wait until the last second before using ECM, and use jammers only briefly. This will minimize your exposure.
A common problem for beginning players is lining up the jet for runway landings. Most give up too soon. They come in low on fuel and have trouble getting properly lined up. When they give up and try to go around again, they run out of fuel.
You don't have to start your landing at the very end of the runway. The runways are very long and wide, so you can be way out of line as you go over the start of the strip and still have time to straighten up and land on the last third of the runway. You'll be flying very slowly, so you have more time than you think. You'll be surprised at how fast the aircraft stops rolling after touchdown once you've cut the engines and put on the brakes.
In fact, I don't recommend trying to land at the beginning of the strip; it's very hard to judge when you're over the runway and it's easy to land too short, thereby ruining an otherwise good mission. Give yourself lots of room and set your plane down gently. You have plenty of time.
Enemy AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) planes can cause a lot of problems in the North Cape and Central Europe scenarios. They can see you, but you can't see them. If you've been spotted but you can't see anything on your radar, you've probably been seen by an AWACS. The AWACS plane and its escorts will circle at a specific altitude, which changes from game to game. As a rule, however, they can generally be found in the high 20s or high 30s.
It's possible to fly under AWACS coverage, but you must be very stealthy. AWACS radar, like any other radar, can be fooled if you fly low and slow enough.
A good way to take them out is to follow the "Operation Dreamland" flight plan described in Tom Clancy's book, Red Storm Rising. In this scenario, the F-19 pilot zips in under the AWACS coverage by staying low, and then once he's almost directly under the 11-76 he guns the engines and heads straight up to fire a missile shot. If you get an air-to-air mission where you must attack an 11-76, give it a try!