jua
Joined: March 17th, 2005, 3:54 am

September 14th, 2018, 5:37 pm #11

That is not how I understand flares to work...wouldn't that mean it would be pointless to eject them once the missile was in the air? If so, then why bother with missile detection systems that automatically kick out flares?
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Josh

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Joined: September 8th, 2015, 8:26 am

September 14th, 2018, 5:50 pm #12

Well, when there's a real-for-real missile inbound, anything that has even an outside chance should be tried. Engines to idle and dropping flares becomes a more and more valid tactic the older the seeker is. But also understand that low-flying/attack aircraft drop flares preemptively as a proactive defense, as do dogfighting fighters. Many if not most attack aircraft are even capable of running a countermeasure program the pilot sets, eg. 2 flares every 5 seconds for the duration of the program, etc
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Joined: February 13th, 2014, 12:26 am

September 14th, 2018, 7:18 pm #13

Problem with launching flares before an IR-homing missile (or even IIR-homing) is launched...is that you have no idea that they're prepping the missile for launch.  The launch platform gets a notification from the missile when it's locked on ("tone"), but the seeker locks onto the target passively; the target has no idea that it's being targeted by an infrared seeker.

That kind of method might work with SARH homing, since the launch platform has to lock onto the target wiht an active radar signal (otherwise the SARH seeker isn't getting any reflected radar to home in on).  I think most missiles equipped with pulse-Doppler seekers (or at least more modern ones) are probably less likely to be spoofed by a cloud of tinfoil that rapidly slows down in comparison to the original target...but then again, there's only so much signal processing capability you can squeeze into a missile guidance system without driving up its cost, so chaff probably helps somewhat; OTOH, trying to use chaff to confuse the larger/more powerful radar mounted in the launch platform (almost certainly equipped with pulse-Doppler processing to weed out slow-moving/stationary targets, especially ones that suddenly appear out of nowhere) is probably less effective.

Either way, given the time it takes for most missiles to reach their target, unless you're talking about very-short range engagements there should still be plenty of time to use chaff & flares after a missile's launch
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Joined: March 5th, 2018, 2:38 pm

September 14th, 2018, 7:22 pm #14

The rationale for towed decoys against radar guidance - same speed as the aircraft.

I think they punch out flares on ground attack runs to spoof the MANPAD launch.


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Joined: September 8th, 2015, 8:26 am

September 14th, 2018, 7:40 pm #15

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Joined: March 1st, 2005, 3:53 pm

September 15th, 2018, 12:23 am #16

henshao.warships1discussionboards wrote: There are some good answers here: https://www.quora.com/Do-fighter-jets-i ... -get-close
Yes - and NONE of those claim that flares are specifically for before launch!

In fact the most authoritative response (from a combat veteran pilot) says they didn't launch flares until they were sure the missile was guiding toward them - well after missile launch!
John Chesire, Flew 197 combat missions in Southeast Asia.
Updated Dec 31, 2017 · Upvoted by Mac Jambo Sinclair, 20 years private pilot and Andy Duffell, ex-fast jet armourer · Author has 2.7k answers and 20.7m answer views
When I flew in harm’s way, if we popped chaff and flares as soon as we were locked on, we would run out of them rapidly and before they were needed. Although it would be a little different with AAMs, here is how we did it for SAMs.:
In heavily defended areas, we always jinked constantly - moving and maneuvering left and right, up and down every six seconds to remain a difficult target to track. Also our electronic countermeasures equipment (ECM) was set on automatic to fool the missile.
We could tell when we were painted with search radar (not a threat) and fire control radar (a threat). We could tell when the fire control radar was locked on to us and we could tell when the missile was actually launched as indicated by bright red flashing lights in the cockpit, a loud ‘deedle’ aural warning in our headsets, and a strobe indicating the relative position of the missile to our aircraft. However we would not yet dispense any chaff or flares until we were relatively certain the missile was coming for us.
Once the missile was launched and we acquired it visually (which was easy as it launched in a huge cloud of dust and smoke, and then left a bright smoke trail), we tried to determine if it was guiding on us. To do this we usually pulled up hard to see if the missile’s trajectory abruptly changed to match our movement. If it did, then it was obviously tracking on us and only then did we punch out chaff and flares. However if the missile did not react to our movement, it obviously had either broken lock and track or it was not coming for us but someone else, so we did not then expend any chaff and flares. We took a deep breath and continued on our way.
As for air-to-air missiles, I have never been shot at (that I know of) by one. However if I had, unlike surface to air missiles, I think I would immediately drop chaff and flares if locked on by an enemy aircraft radar and certainly as soon as a missile was fired.
Of course if working down low in MANPAD territory it might be advisable to pop some flares preemptively since there would likely be no warning or time to maneuver successfully against one.
Note the comments that for manpads only, he MIGHT launch preemptively. MIGHT. 

For A-A he would launch flares any time he was locked onto - because there would be no time to see if the missile was following their movements.

In other words, early flare launch was only for close-range defense.
There it is... the District of Columbia! You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
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Joined: September 8th, 2015, 8:26 am

September 15th, 2018, 4:48 am #17

Of course you don't drop flares preemptively against a RADAR-GUIDED SAM. C'mon.
As for air-to-air missiles, I have never been shot at (that I know of) by one. However if I had, unlike surface to air missiles, I think I would immediately drop chaff and flares if locked on by an enemy aircraft radar and certainly as soon as a missile was fired.

Of course if working down low in MANPAD territory it might be advisable to pop some flares preemptively since there would likely be no warning or time to maneuver successfully against one.
I’ll simply add that, in the close air support arena, we trained to pop chaff and flares preemptively whenever we rolled in on a target, all the way through the end of the pull-off.
And an excerpt from an actual fight:
Now 6,000ft behind the Foxbat, looking right up the tailpipes, Pitts re-selected AIM-9M, got a good tone and uncaged the missile's seeker head. Just as I was about to fire, he put out more flares that dragged the seeker head off before I could take the shot. I re-caged it back to the radar, got a good tone and shot, but he decoyed it with flares again. He was fighting pretty hard and I was thinking, "Man, am I going to have to gun this guy?" I selected another AIM-7 and shot, and this time the missile went right up his tailpipe and exploded. The guy bailed out and his ejection seat came right over my canopy. I thought it was going to hit me! Unfortunately, despite his ejection, Hussein Abdul Sattar was killed.
F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25: Iraq 1991
by Doug Dildy (Author), Tom Cooper (Author)
© 2016 Osprey Publishing Ltd.


The first warning that an IR missile is inbound is often when it explodes nearby. Missile approach warning systems are fallible. Flares are cheap. Pilots and jets are not.

Believe what you will.
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Joined: March 1st, 2005, 3:53 pm

September 16th, 2018, 4:31 am #18

And when you run out while you are still in enemy territory because you were automatically firing them no matter what, then you die.

All aircraft carry a limited number of flares/chaff - and they don't last near as long as you seem to think they do.
There it is... the District of Columbia! You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
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jua
Joined: March 17th, 2005, 3:54 am

September 17th, 2018, 1:57 pm #19

Alright, I guess we'll go with 'both'. Flares definitely can be launched at random intervals pre-emptively. Pretty sure just about any aircraft has a setting for this so that the pilot can focus on an attack run and count on some amount of decoys being in the air if a heat seeker is fired from the ground. I didn't think that meant they actually prevented the initial lock on at range but I guess they have that effect as well. That said, flares definitely are something that both pilots and automated systems kick out in large numbers when a missile is inbound.
Cheers,
Josh

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Josh@squidjigger.com
twitter: @squid_jigger
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Joined: December 25th, 2004, 12:37 pm

September 17th, 2018, 6:08 pm #20

When the flare is dropped the IR seeker will most likley see one hot source split into two, and it has to decide which one to follow.

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