Situational Awareness: Padlock in USAF
and Flanker 2
lawndarted yourself using padlock in BFM? Who hasnt,
right??!! And whats to blame? Loss of situational awareness
(SA), plain and simple. It seems to me to be a good time to
take a brief look at some aspects of situational awareness
by pointing out some of the differences in padlock design.
In particular, I want to talk about attitude reference systems
and how they play a major part in how effective a padlock
view is to use.
For this article, Ill use two
of the latest sims out
Flanker 2 and Janes USAF.
Each has an effective padlock, but they are quite different
in function and implementation. The root of this difference
lies in how each sim models its attitude indicator system.
As you will see, a clear understanding of this design difference
is absolutely necessary if you are to effectively use the
padlock view. Well begin with a brief look at why we
have padlock views.
The Reason Why We Have Padlock Views
Everyone knows the forward view is
the primary view of any sim. Of all the cockpit views, its
the one most like what a real pilot sees from his cockpit
seat viewpoint. As long as we can keep our target within the
field of view of the front canopy, life is good. We chase
our target, and we gun him into little bits. This, too, is
good. But what if the target somehow manages to fly out of
the forward view? This is not good. What do we do now? In
the early years, we would selectively choose a different fixed
view, such as a side or rear view, to keep the target in sight.
Then some clever designer came up with the idea of slewable
views. Now we could use the hat switch on our flight stick
or a keyboard key to pan the cockpit view to one side or the
other. But in either case, we found that, while it was relatively
simple to maintain a tally on the target, once we started
to maneuver, we had better switch back to forward view or
risk the almost certain loss of awareness of our nose position
relative to the horizon. The operative word here is horizon
this will be made clear in a minute or
two. Of course, once we switch back to check our nose position,
we now no longer can see the target. Since keeping the target
in sight is strongly recommended, we found ourselves cycling
back and forth between the forward view and the other views
in a frantic attempt to get our nose to the target before
we inadvertently plowed ourselves into the dirt. Some people
got pretty good at it, but it was an ugly picture at best.
And then, like a white knight coming
to the rescue, along came the padlock view. In its simplest
form, the padlock is an automatic slewable view that contains
additional cues to help the pilot maintain his SA. The following
view illustrates one of the early padlock views.
The basic idea is that the padlock
view attempts to show what the pilot would see if he were
to turn his head to follow the target as it leaves the forward
view. One of the most obvious shortcomings of the padlock
concept is that there is a physical limit to our field of
vision from the cockpit
if the target goes behind our
wing or underneath our fuselage, we would lose sight of it
in real life, and many sims honor this in their padlock programming.
If the target is considered to have gone beyond the physical
limits of what a pilot could reasonably see, then the padlock
view reverts back to the forward view. Now the pilot is forced
to maneuver "in the blind" until he can get back
into padlock "lock on" parameters. These parameters
vary from sim to sim.
Another major factor in the design
of the padlock view is the question of visual acquisition
range. Many padlocks will not function unless the sim artificial
intelligence (AI) determines that the target is within the
visual range of the human eye.
But these factors of cockpit structure
limitations and target relative size also affected the fixed
and slewable views. So, what was it about the padlock view
that made it such a quantum leap forward? The inclusion of
some form of attitude or nose indication, thats what.
From the very beginning, most padlock designs have included
some cueing device to help the pilot maintain a sense of where
his nose was relative to the horizon. It was this additional
input of attitude information that set the padlock aside from
the other views. Back a few paragraphs, I said that the horizon
was going to be something to keep in mind, so lets do
that. Lets look at attitude reference systems.
Attitude Reference Systems
One way of defining SA may be to say
that it is knowing where your pointy end is going! We do that
mainly by looking out the window. When we do this, we see
some part of the aircraft structure that allows us to sense
our nose position, and we also see the ground/sky relationship
in the form of a horizon line. But what if we dont see
either? We know this can happen if we are looking out of the
canopy into the uninterrupted sky
there! No airplane part, no horizon line. We be in deep kimchi!
Fortunately, avionics designers many
moons ago came up with a solution
the attitude directional
indicator, or ADI, for short. We know this. The ADI is an
integral part of every sim. You see one, youve seen
Well, not quite. Heres where
we start to put some meat on the bones of this article. Remember,
we began by saying that we were going to use two sims in our
USAF and Flanker 2. The problem is
US and the Russians have a major difference of opinion when
it comes to designing attitude indication systems
when I say major, I mean major! Heres what I mean.
The US ADI Design
All ADIs have two major components
aircraft symbol and the horizon reference. All ADI designs
have one thing in common
one of these components moves
(in other words, responds to pilot control inputs), while
the other does not. The next figure shows an actual ADI from
an A-10. Please note the miniature aircraft symbol (looks
like an elongated "w". It is superimposed over the
horizon line that separates the light (sky) and dark (ground)
halves of the ADI ball.
In the US design, the aircraft symbol
is fixed and does not move. As the pilot views it, the ADI
aircrafts wings are always level with the cockpit.
The horizon reference is powered by
a gyro. This gyro attempts to keep the horizon reference synchronized
with the actual horizon. Modern ADIs are unaffected by any
maneuver that the aircraft undergoes, and will be a reliable
reference under all conditions.
In the US design then, the ADI horizon
moves as the aircraft nose position changes. The US pilot
looks at the miniature ADI aircraft in the foreground and
its relationship to the horizon in the background to determine
his attitude. If the US pilot begins a climb, he sees the
miniature aircraft in the foreground remain fixed, while the
horizon line in the background moves down in the ADI. If he
rolls his aircraft, he sees the horizon rotate around the
The Russian ADI Design
The Russian ADI design philosophy
is 180 degrees opposite the US technique. In the Russian system,
the horizon reference is fixed, while the miniature aircraft
reference is movable. I need to be clear on this matter. When
I say that the Russian horizon is fixed, I mean that the horizon
line stays level with the cockpit.
When the Russian pilot makes a control
input, he sees the miniature aircraft respond by moving on
the ADI. If he begins a climb, he sees the miniature aircraft
in the foreground rise above the horizon line which remains
fixed in the background. If he rolls his aircraft, he sees
the miniature aircraft rolling about the stationary horizon
Clearly, these two designs accomplish
the same purpose, but their frames of reference are completely
opposite each other. Its not a matter of one design
being better than the other
they are both equally effective.
OK!! So what is the point of this?
Very simple. Were talking about padlocks. Specifically,
we are talking about how to keep your SA while using the padlock
view. The plain and simple truth is that the USAF and Flanker
2 padlocks have an ADI reference imbedded in the view. And
you guessed it!! Each is faithful to its particular ADI design.
you want to fly their padlocks? Great!! But
you had better understand the difference in attitude indication
design or you may well end up back where we didnt want
in the dirt. Before we go on to the specific padlock
systems, lets take a moment or two to look at what we
want to see in a padlock view.
Desired Padlock Components
Padlock Lock-on. Most padlock designs are available
at the press of the appropriate key. Most will be functional
if the pilot locks his radar on the target. If the aircraft
does not have a radar, the pilot will normally have to designate
the target in some other fashion. In any case, having the
padlock ready to go without further keyboard activity is a
Visual Limits. In the interest of realism, many of
us do not want a padlock to function if the target has gone
out of sight, either as a function of excessive range or because
of line of sight blockage due to cockpit structure. The following
figures show a padlock that has retained its lock even though
the target has flown into the attackers deep six oclock.
The external view shows the same position as the padlock view.
Cues. Many padlocks include a cue to tell the pilot
where his nose is. In addition to this important bit of info,
the cue also helps orient the pilot to where he is looking
of a "I can see the nose is that-a-way, therefore I must
be looking this-a-way" technique.
Lift Lines. Many padlocks include symbology known as lift lines. Lift
lines are lines drawn on the canopy (typically arrows pointing
towards the nose) that are intended to cue the pilot to where
his nose is. The lines also have a relationship with the lift
.more on that in a moment. It may be silly for
me to say this
but just in case someone didnt know
lines do not move on your canopy. Think of them as painted
on the top and, in some cases, the sides of your canopy. The
idea is that when you are looking up and/or to the side and
no longer can see any cockpit structure, the lift line will
tell you what part of the canopy you are looking out of
the purpose of the arrow on this line is to indicate the direction
of your nose. Lastly, by definition, when you are looking
up through your top lift line, you are also looking along
your lift vector.
Most lift line designs include one
primary line down the top center of the canopy, and secondary
lines on the sides of the canopy.
It is important to note that these
lift lines move about the monitor screen as the padlock view
moves around the canopy. The range of movement of these lines
is about 360 degrees, meaning the lift line arrow could be
pointing up, down, or to either side as you view your monitor.
Regardless of their direction, the lift line arrows serve
the primary purpose of increasing your awareness of your nose
Most padlocks today do not have a
lift vector symbol. Instead what they have is a cue that attempts
to direct which way to roll to get the lift vector to overlay
the target. That cue is the center lift line. Using this cue
is a two step process.
First, the pilot uses the side (or
secondary) lift lines to identify that part of the canopy
that he is looking out of. Then, the pilot rolls towards the
target to bring the center lift line into view. Once the center
lift line is over the target, the pilot may begin adding back
stick to start his nose moving towards the target.
But we need to understand a very important
distinction. The center lift line is always your lift vector
if you are trying to turn directly towards the target, the
only time that will occur is when the center lift arrow is
superimposed over the target.
Heres another important point
to keep in mind. You must also align the lift line with the
targets plane of motion if you expect the lift line
to remain centered on the target as you pull back on the stick.
If you are not aligned, your pull will result in the lift
line moving off the target as you move out of the targets
plane of motion. To correct this, you must add aileron as
you pull. Thats the easy part. The hard part is knowing
which way to roll. The secret is in the lift line arrow. If
the arrow is pointing "up" in your monitor
( from the left side to the top over to the right side), then
roll to "pull" the lift line over to the
target. However, if the arrow is pointing towards the "down"
half of your monitor, then roll to pull the target to the lift line.
Those pilots that have gained the
necessary proficiency can derive other benefits from the lift
lines. Uppermost of these is the ability to use padlock to
fly out of plane BFM maneuvers relative to the target. Using
the center lift line, the pilot may then orient his lift vector
to fly a lead or lag pursuit course relative to the target.
This is exactly how BFM is flown in real life
rolls to point his lift vector either at the target or away
from the target depending on his turning room and closure
needs. The "High Six"technique is an example of
how a pilot can point his lift vector away from the target.
Reference. Most padlocks these days include some sort
of attitude reference, typically a mini-ADI representation.
The importance of this feature is readily apparent. Its
relatively easy to avoid flying into the dirt if you know
where the dirt is!
Parameters. Last, but not least, is the addition of
flight parameters to the padlock view. A simple altitude and
airspeed readout is all that is usually necessary.
not so fast!! I forgot one
Documentation. All of this is significantly compromised
if the sim manual doesnt cover the padlock view in detail.
As we have mentioned, not all padlocks are the same
by a long shot. It is a major error if sim producers make
the assumption that sim pilots understand a sims viewing
system. No two sims are alike. No two padlocks are alike (unless
made by the same company, for example, Janes IAF and
USAF). Too often these days, sim manuals are chock full of
nice-to-know info, and sorely lacking in need-to-know info.
Padlock interpretation and operation is way up on my list
of need-to-know info.
All right! Lets get back to
the issue at hand. Having laid down these desired components,
lets now go on now to the respective padlock views.
In the process, well add a comment or two as to how
each view measures up to these criteria.
Janes USAF Padlock
Janes padlock technique has
been around for a number of sims. The USAF design is similar
to the IAF padlock. The USAF padlock has some oddities. Please
read the following closely.
This is the basic padlock view.
The mini-HUD consists of KIAS airspeed
(left) and MSL altitude (right) readouts. Centered between
them is a miniature airplane symbol. Bracketing the airplane
is a horizon line with small legs on each end that point "down"
to help identify "up" and "down" relative
to the horizon.
A circle will surround the target.
This circle will always follow the movement of the target.
It will do so regardless of intervening cockpit structure
(this means the padlock, once engaged, will always stay on
the target regardless of aircraft attitude).
An arrow with a variable line functions
as a cueing device to aid the pilot in orienting his lift
vector relative to the target. Do not think of this arrow
as a lift line. Think of it as a directional indicator. If
the arrow is to one side or the other of the mini-HUD, then
roll towards the arrow until the line moves to the "straight
up" position as seen on your monitor. In this position,
your lift vector is now pointed at the target.
The length of the line corresponds
to the position of your lift vector to the target. As you
roll to orient the arrow line over the target, the arrow line
will lengthen as it nears the target. Once the target is pulled
to within approximately 45 degrees of the HUD, the line starts
to shorten until it disappears as the target enters the HUD
area. When the target is ahead of your 3/9 line, the arrow
will point in the direction you need to pull. If the target
moves behind your 3/9 line towards your six, then funny things
happen. The arrow line will become unstable and will settle
pointing back in the opposite direction, in other words towards
your nose. This is very confusing, and I found that I had
to completely disregard the arrow in this situation. Instead
I put my attention on the position of the target circle and
mini-HUD. I would then continue to turn until I had brought
the target back forward of my 3/9 line area where the arrow
line would once again reverse back to its "proper"
position. For me, the bottom line was to use the arrow line
only when I had the target forward of my 3/9 line.
Ill now discuss the USAF padlock
with reference to our desired components.
Lock-On. Easy to use. You must initially use the radar
to lock the target for the padlock to begin its function.
From then on, the padlock will retain its lock regardless
of whether the radar is locked on or not. When the radar is
locked, a square will bracket the target circle and will be
absent when the radar is not locked. The padlock will retain
its lock regardless of where the target is relative to your
aircraft. This will allow you to use the padlock symbology
while "looking" through the aircraft structure.
Visual Limits. Unrealistic. As far as I can determine,
there are no limits to padlock range once the initial lock
is achieved. I tried extending away from the target, and the
padlock retained its lock even when I flew well outside of
Cues. Since the USAF padlock, as it comes out of the
box, does not include canopy lift lines, the position of the
target with respect to visible cockpit structure will be your
best indication of nose position. The mini-HUD position stays
centered in the monitor and therefore has no relationship
to nose position. Remember, the pointing arrow is a roll cue
is not a cue to tell you which way your nose is.
Lift Lines. Inadequate. When the target is ahead of your 3/9 line, the
arrow line can be used as a lift line cueing device. Roll
to align the arrow line "straight up" with the target
circle and pull. This is a crude, "g for brains"
approach to BFM. Because of the difficulty in determining
the position of the lift vector, I do not think the USAF padlock
is of much help if you want to maneuver out of plane.
Reference. The mini-HUD airplane symbol and horizon
line make up an effective attitude reference. The top "leg"
of the miniature airplane always points "up" as
you sit in the cockpit.
The side legs of the miniature airplane
always point left and right. The airspeed and altitude numbers
are also fixed in their relationship to the cockpit. The mini-HUD
is always oriented to you as if you were looking straight
ahead at the instrument panel
in other words, the miniature
airplane and airspeed/altitude boxes have nothing to do with
your attitude to the horizon. To "see" your attitude,
you must use the relationship of the mini-HUD horizon line
to the miniature airplane. The horizon line will move relative
to the miniature airplane. However, there is a big "gotcha"
in this symbology. Disregard the horizon bar legs. As you
view the monitor, when the airplane is on top of the horizon
line, you are nose high
when it is below the line, you
are nose low. The legs only tell you if you are inverted or
they have nothing to do with whether you are
nose high or low.
You can use the mini-HUD as an attitude
indicator. Remember our discussion of the US ADI. The miniature
airplane is fixed in place while the horizon moves about it.
With a little practice, you can fly safely at low altitudes
by using the miniature airplane/horizon line reference. One
note of caution is warranted. The actual sky/ground horizon
line (not the mini-HUD) exhibits strange behavior at times
in padlock. This is particularly noticeable in a steep banked,
level turn. As you view the monitor, the horizon will at times
be "level" (horizontal) with the monitor, even though
you are in a steep bank. The only way to describe the effect
is to imagine that the aircraft is on its side in a steep
bank, but somehow the pilot is still sitting upright relative
to the horizon and is looking out the 3 or 9 oclock
position. This is a weird sensation. In this situation, the
horizon must be totally ignored, and the mini-HUD must be
the sole reference for aircraft attitude. This effect is so
disconcerting that I think it largely negates the value of
the USAF padlock. The next three figures show this clearly.
As the target flies from the pilots forward quarter
(approx 1:30 oclock position) past the 9 oclock
to his aft quarter (approx 4:30 oclock position), the
horizon does a complete 180-degree flip-flop. Needless to
say, this can bamboozle even the most experienced pilot!!
One final note regarding attitude
control in USAF. Have your HUD at the brightest possible color
choice. Realize that your choice will depend upon the color
of the background terrain. Lastly, roll response under g is
slow in USAF
therefore, for quickest roll response, unload
to one g or less before you begin the aileron input.
Parameters. Excellent. In addition to airspeed and
altitude, the padlock mini-HUD also includes armament remaining,
thrust setting, g load, and waypoint info.
Documentation. Extremely poor. I obtained all of the
above info through trial and error. None of the padlock functions
were explained or described in the manual.
Overall, I consider the USAF padlock
(as it comes out of the box) to be of marginal value as a
maneuvering tool. The opportunity for disorientation is too
great to risk its use when the target is behind your 3/9 line.
Thank the stars above that USAF has an excellent Player-To-Target
it will be what I use when I want to turn and burn
with the bad guys.
There is an add-on lift line file that improves your ability
to use the view. You may download it from http://www.wargamer.com/janeshangar/usaf/indexusafcontest.asp.
Find the file under "Plane Art".
This file adds arrow lines to the
canopy that may be used to orient the lift vector to the target.
The arrows point to the nose of the aircraft. To orient your
lift vector at the target, roll to place the center arrow
over the target. When you do this, you will notice that the
pointing arrow has moved into alignment with the lift line.
Flanker 2 Padlock
The Flanker 2 padlock is very similar
to the original Flanker view. The following describes the
basic padlock view. The target is highlighted by a crosshairs
symbol centered on middle of the target. This symbol remains
in the upright or "+" position regardless of target
The target itself is not centered
in the screen but moves about as a function of the pilots
as the nose of the aircraft moves further
away from the target, the target moves closer to the opposite
side of the monitor screen. For example, if the pilot pulls
his nose up above the target, the target will move "down"
on the screen, and, again, if the pilot turns away from the
target (or the target turns away from him), the target will
move towards the opposite side of the screen.
A mini-HUD is placed on the screen.
When a missile is selected as the armament, this mini-HUD
consists of airspeed and altitude parameters as well as a
horizon and miniature aircraft reference.
In a guns only configuration,
the horizon and aircraft symbology are absent.
The horizon line is a solid line with
the airspeed above the left side and the altitude above the
right. The miniature aircraft consists of two parts. The center
of the symbol is an upright crosshairs (similar to the symbol
bracketing the target). This symbol remains upright in the
monitor screen regardless of aircraft orientation. This symbol
represents the nose of the pilots aircraft, and as such
moves "up and down" relative to the fixed horizon
line to show the pilots pitch attitude relative to the
horizon. Attached to this symbol are three lines that may
be thought of as the rudder and left and right wings. The
wings have a small peg line underneath each wing to represent
the bottom of the aircraft. These wing and rudder lines rotate
about the crosshairs symbol as the aircraft changes its bank
angle. Therefore, the mini-HUD displays aircraft attitude
as the combination of two separate symbols. The crosshairs
position relative to the fixed horizon line shows your pitch
angle, and the wing/rudder line position relative to the fixed
horizon show your bank angle. Put the two together, and you
get the whole picture.
The mini-HUD moves about the screen
to show relative nose position. For example, a mini-HUD at
the lower left hand corner of the screen indicates that the
nose of the aircraft is down and to the left of the pilots
view. This situation means the pilot is looking up and right.
The mini-HUD flight data and crosshairs
orientation is always level with the monitor, in other words
to you, the pilot. As such, this mini-HUD general orientation
is of no value in determining aircraft attitude.
When visible (in missile mode), the
horizon line and aircraft symbol may be used as an ADI. Remember
our discussion of the Russian ADI methodology. The padlock
attitude reference functions the same as the cockpit ADI.
The horizon line is fixed in place, and the miniature aircraft
symbol moves about it as the aircraft is maneuvered. A digital
readout of pitch angle is included on the right side of the
The padlock view is only available
when the target is within predetermined visible range and
aspect limits. Maximum padlock range is approximately 12 km.
The aspect limits are derived from the Su-27 cockpit design
restrictions to visibility. The target may not be obstructed
by aircraft structure, and the target position must not get
further aft than your 8 or 4 oclock position as you
look out of your canopy. Using your wings as a reference,
this means you have a "blind" area of 60 degrees
either side of your six oclock. If the target flies
into this area, the padlock will break lock and return to
the forward view.
Now lets look at how the Flanker
2 padlock stacks up against our desired components.
Lock-On. The padlock view will only be available if
a sensor (IR or radar) is locked on to the target to begin
with. If the padlock is broken because the target exceeded
the range or visibility restrictions, then it will have to
be brought back into lock on parameters before the padlock
will again function.
Visual Limits. Excellent. If you allow the target to
exceed the maximum allowable range or aspect limits (about
12km and +/- 120 degrees off the nose), you will get a padlock
"break lock" in about 5 seconds. When this happens,
the padlock view will revert to the forward view. As a matter
of "realism," this is not well modeled. In real
life, if the target flies into the six oclock blind
area, the last thing the pilot does is to look forward to
the HUD area. Instead, the pilot usually will continue to
look to the area where the target was last at while he maneuvers
to bring the target back into view.
Cues. Adequate. The position of the mini-HUD is a useful
indicator of nose position, particularly when the target is
behind the 3/9 line. The mini-HUD can be disorienting when
the target moves towards your six o'clock. In this situation,
the mini-HUD often moves from side to side as if it cannot
make up its mind where to be. In times like this, a brief
period of g (back stick) is often all that is necessary to
move the target far enough away from the six oclock
to settle the mini-HUD down.
Another aspect of this padlocks
ability to display nose position arises when we look at a
target that is moving from our forward quarter (1 2
oclock) to our aft quarter (4 5 oclock).
In this situation, the padlock can "flip-flop" as
it attempts to settle down. The following views show this.
The first figure shows you in a hard right hand turn, level
with the horizon. The target is out of view at your high twelve.
The next set of views show the padlock flip-flopping the view
until in the fourth figure, the view stabilizes with you in
the proper aspect.
Lift Lines. As it comes out of the box, the Flanker 2 padlock view does
not have a lift line. The top leg of the mini-HUD miniature
airplane (the rudder) indicates the relationship of the lift
vector to the horizon, but it cannot be used as a reference
relative to the target. This means you cannot roll to aim
the rudder at the target as a means of positioning the lift
vector. In the padlock view, the rudder line and the target
are not interrelated. They are two separate pilot cues that
must be used in concert to solve the lift vector orientation
problem. The pilot does this by rolling his aircraft until
the mini-HUD moves to the center of the screen. In that position
(and only that position) is the pilots lift vector is
pointed at the target. As is the case in USAF with the arrow
line, the Flanker 2 mini-HUD position is only a directional
indicator of which way to roll to bring the mini-HUD to the
center or "straight up" position.
An important note of clarification
is needed here. The mini-HUD provides two types of info. First,
it is used to direct you on which way to roll to orient your
this is done by bringing the mini-HUD to
the center of the view. For this purpose of centering the
mini-HUD, you are not looking at your attitude relative to
the horizon. Specifically, you are not using the mini-HUDs
miniature airplane rudder to orient your direction of roll
you are only looking at the mini-HUDs position in the
monitor screen relative to the target. Secondly, the mini-HUD
is used as an ADI to keep yourself oriented relative to the
horizon. For this purpose, the mini-HUD is viewed without
respect to the target.
Reference. Good, but ya got to know what youre
looking at!! There was a reason why I discussed the differences
between US and Russian ADIs, and now the truth can be told!
In the F2 padlock, you must keep in mind that the horizon
line remains fixed in place while the miniature airplane moves
with respect to it as you maneuver above or below the horizon
line. Thats easy enough. But you must also remember
that the horizon line does not follow the actual horizon
the mini-HUD horizon line stays level with the monitor
it would appear if you were to look at the instrument panel
What is the significance of this?
Major...thats what. You must view the mini-HUD as a
"stand alone" attitude reference. Under no circumstances
should you attempt to fly the mini-HUD while also referring
to the background horizon. To do so invites disaster
is no correlation between the two.
The mini-HUD is an effective attitude
indicator. Because of the airspeed and altitude readout accompanying
the mini-ADI, you can safely fly at minimum altitude using
just this reference. In comparison to USAF, I think the Flanker
mini-HUD attitude indicator is much easier to use. The Flanker
movable aircraft is considerably larger than its USAF counterpart,
and its relationship to the fixed horizon line is easier to
The best advice for how to view the
attitude info available in the padlock view is to break the
whole view down into its individual parts. There are three
the background horizon, the mini-HUD, and
the target. Of these, the background is of least value. My
advice is to essentially ignore it. Instead, concentrate on
the relative positions of the target and mini-HUD on the screen.
This will clue you in to where your nose is. Next, you want
to crosscheck the mini-HUD flight parameters and nose position
to make sure you arent on a one way trip into the dirt.
Having done that, then you can move
on to the most important part of the padlock view
to get out of it!! You do that by getting the target on to
your lift line. Once there, you pull back on the stick to
bring the target to your nose. As mentioned before this is
a "g for brains" technique and is not good BFM.
But, if the turning room is adequate, it will "work".
Flanker 2 does not have an external
Player To Target view similar to USAF. You may get similar
results, however, by using the Air Combat view (F5) in conjunction
with the keypad 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys to view your aircraft
relative to the target. The external view is shown next with
its respective padlock view.
Lastly, as in USAF, select the most
visible HUD color depending on background terrain color. Your
choices are limited
Ive had the best luck with
the bright 'yellow" color for most situations.
parameters. Adequate in missile mode
in guns mode. The absence of the mini-HUD in guns mode is
a mystery to me. Some of the other info that other sim padlocks
provide would be nice
but not necessary. My workaround
for this is to fly in missile mode to be able to have the
entire mini-HUD for use. When I want to use the gun, all it
takes is a quick peck at the C key (or the programmed button
on my stick) to get me the gun display.
Documentation. Very poor. The manual says little about
how to get into padlock or how to use it. If you have the
original Flanker sim manual, you can find additional padlock
information in it.
As with USAF, there is an after market add-on file that places
lift lines on the canopy. These point towards the nose as
in other sim lift lines. Once again, please keep in mind that
these lines are better used as roll cues to help you orient
your lift vector rather than as an aid to identifying nose
A file is available for those with
3dfx video cards that may improve the graphics of this lift
line. Get this file from: http://www.papadoc.net
You can see the add-on lift line in
the following figure. You want to roll to place this lift
line over the target. In this situation, you would roll slightly
right. The accompanying external view makes this more evident.
So Whats the Point??
- Know what your attitude indication
system is telling you.
- Know how that attitude reference
system is portrayed in the padlock view.
- Know how the padlock view attempts
to show your attitude relative to the world, i.e. the background
- Know how the padlock view attempts
to show your attitude relative to the target, i.e. your
- Know your padlock system lock-on,
range, and visibility limitations.
- With all of this in mind, kill
One final note. Because of the
absence of any substantial info on these two padlock views,
most of my observations made in this article are just that
observations. I may have made mistakes. If so, please contact
me. Ill revise this text and repost it. My objective
is to give you the best info I can.
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