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Group size and detection


Palex80
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One major challenge with modern Harpoon Classic is detection.

 

In the older versions of Harpoon you were able to spot the enemy at ranges of 200 miles and more, when they were coming at you.

Most of you probably recall those NACV scenarios, where you were defending Northern UK and were facing volleys of Su27s/Su24s from Iceland and Norway. The E3s were able to spot those formations at long range, giving you ample time to vector in your F15s/Tornadoes.

 

In the current versions detection is really challenging. Most of the times I pick up aircraft at ranges less than 100 miles, some times only after they have fired upon me and this despite the fact that multiple units are scanning the areas (both AEW assets and friendly fighter aircraft). Cruise missiles are even harder to detect. Tomahawks are visible only in ranges of less than 15 miles, not to mention ACLMs which are practically invisible until the hit you.

 

I understand that the radar cross section of modern aircraft & missiles has become significantly smaller than in the past, but radars have also improved.

 

Do you think that Harpoon is a bit too "strict" on that isuue?

And one final question: How does the size of the an aircraft group alter the chance of the group being picked up?

Is a group of 4 F22s "more stealthy" in the game than a group of 8 F22s? Does this apply to missiles volleys as well (a 20 Tomahawk missile volley being more visible than a 4 Tomahawk missile voley?)

 

Thanx, Alex

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In the current versions detection is really challenging. Most of the times I pick up aircraft at ranges less than 100 miles, some times only after they have fired upon me and this despite the fact that multiple units are scanning the areas (both AEW assets and friendly fighter aircraft). Cruise missiles are even harder to detect. Tomahawks are visible only in ranges of less than 15 miles, not to mention ACLMs which are practically invisible until the hit you. I understand that the radar cross section of modern aircraft & missiles has become significantly smaller than in the past, but radars have also improved. Do you think that Harpoon is a bit too "strict" on that isuue?

No, because HCE does not model other variables like terrain. If we had hills, valleys, trees, buildings and other clutter, low flying cruise missiles would be harder to detect.

 

And one final question: How does the size of the an aircraft group alter the chance of the group being picked up? Is a group of 4 F22s "more stealthy" in the game than a group of 8 F22s? Does this apply to missiles volleys as well (a 20 Tomahawk missile volley being more visible than a 4 Tomahawk missile voley?)

Yes, larger groups of aircraft are easier to detect. I don't quite recall, but I don't think missile groups are treated the same? Tony can check for that.

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And one final question: How does the size of the an aircraft group alter the chance of the group being picked up? Is a group of 4 F22s "more stealthy" in the game than a group of 8 F22s? Does this apply to missiles volleys as well (a 20 Tomahawk missile volley being more visible than a 4 Tomahawk missile voley?)

Yes, larger groups of aircraft are easier to detect. I don't quite recall, but I don't think missile groups are treated the same? Tony can check for that.

 

In terms of HC Radar:

Aircraft and Missiles are the same, here's the gist of it.

A unit can represent one ship.

A unit can represent one base/installation.

A unit can represent 1-255 aircraft of the same type and loadout.

A unit can represent 1-255 missiles of the same type.

 

Increasing the number of aircraft in a single unit, say from 2 x F-15C Intercept to 8 x F-15C Intercept does not make them easier to detect. Analogously increases from 2 x RGM-109E to 128 x RGM-109E does not make them easier to detect.

 

However, putting 2 x F-15C Intercept and 2 x F-15C Intercept II into a group will result in two units meaning detection will be tried against each unit, so the group as a whole is easier to detect than 4 x F-15C Intercept as a single unit.

 

If we had some rules writers in the house they could write rules for me to plug in to remedy the inequity.

 

If that wasn't clear enough, please re-phrase and I'll answer again.

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In terms of HC Radar:

Aircraft and Missiles are the same, here's the gist of it.

A unit can represent one ship.

A unit can represent one base/installation.

A unit can represent 1-255 aircraft of the same type and loadout.

A unit can represent 1-255 missiles of the same type.

 

Increasing the number of aircraft in a single unit, say from 2 x F-15C Intercept to 8 x F-15C Intercept does not make them easier to detect. Analogously increases from 2 x RGM-109E to 128 x RGM-109E does not make them easier to detect.

 

However, putting 2 x F-15C Intercept and 2 x F-15C Intercept II into a group will result in two units meaning detection will be tried against each unit, so the group as a whole is easier to detect than 4 x F-15C Intercept as a single unit.

 

If we had some rules writers in the house they could write rules for me to plug in to remedy the inequity.

 

If that wasn't clear enough, please re-phrase and I'll answer again.

That's plenty clear. Doesn't jive me with my memory of what we have discussed before in terms of the rules, but I'm old and subject to memory loss. <_<

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Thank you for this clarification.

 

Perhaps these setting are adaptable?

 

1. Increasing the number of missiles/aircraft would increase the chance of detection. Doubling the number of aircraft shouldn't double your chances of detecting them, but some added "bonus" would be IMHO logical. A 60 aircraft raid shouldn't go as unnoticed as a 2-aircraft patrol. The same applied to missiles. Large missile barrages should be easier to detect than single missiles. This actually makes sense in the case of AAMs. The radar emissions of 1x AMRAAM are less than those of 16x AMRAAMS, increasing the threat detection chances for the attacked.

 

2. Maybe it shouldn't be the loadout of aircraft that would increase the chances of detection (2 F15s Intercept I + 2 F15s Intercept II), but rather the size/type of the aircraft?

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1. Increasing the number of missiles/aircraft would increase the chance of detection. Doubling the number of aircraft shouldn't double your chances of detecting them, but some added "bonus" would be IMHO logical. A 60 aircraft raid shouldn't go as unnoticed as a 2-aircraft patrol. The same applied to missiles. Large missile barrages should be easier to detect than single missiles. This actually makes sense in the case of AAMs. The radar emissions of 1x AMRAAM are less than those of 16x AMRAAMS, increasing the threat detection chances for the attacked.

That is a decent discussion opener, I will need concrete rules with specific equations and numbers to actually implement.

 

2. Maybe it shouldn't be the loadout of aircraft that would increase the chances of detection (2 F15s Intercept I + 2 F15s Intercept II), but rather the size/type of the aircraft?

My example was assuming the "all other things being equal" concept suggested by F-15s all around. The radar reflectivity is governed by the RCS value in the database.
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In keeping with the Harpoon strong point of realism, I'd guess its gets a bit hard to 'guess' a rule. EG the formation in which the planes fly will give different radar profiles.

I guess some of our database gurus (gurie?) can have a stab.
Also how frequent would a group comprising a very large number of planes be used in reality, if not really then maybe a high detection probability would be good to deter this in game play? This might also mean that AI would have to get some update tuition on building strikes.

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Also how frequent would a group comprising a very large number of planes be used in reality, if not really then maybe a high detection probability would be good to deter this in game play? This might also mean that AI would have to get some update tuition on building strikes.

 

Well you can always program big strikes to happen, right?

In the original Harpoon Battlesets large aircraft strikes were quite common. You probably recall those 20+ Backfire strikes coming down from the Kola or the Su24/Su27 strikes out of Norway/Iceland.

 

In modern days you may also see large paratrooper drops performed by a dozen or so C17s (it happened during the Iraq invasion 2003).

 

Anyways, the principle is basically simle: More aircraft should mean more a higher chance of detection.

 

I guess a 20% added chance of detection per aircraft added sounds reasonable?

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Unless we are referring to close knit formations of aircraft, then there is really no good reason to raise the detection level of a group of aircraft.

 

And I assume we are also referring to detection by radar. Those details are important.

 

And since we cannot manipulate how a group of aircraft organize their formation, e.g. formation types, sub groups, varying altitudes, staggered groups, etc., I am not in favour of adjusting the values.

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I'm sorry, but I don't think I understand your points CV32.

 

Do you mean that a formation of 2 aircraft should be as hard to detect as a formation of 20 aircraft?

I don't think that should be the case.

Harpoon treats all formations of aircraft of the same type and loadout as tight formations. Same altitude, same bearing, same speed, same turn rates, etc...

Thus the resulting radar cross section of 20 aircraft flying in close formation is going to be bigger than that of 2 aircraft.

 

It doesn't have to be radar only, it can very well be visual detection or ESM-detection.

20 aircraft are easier to see (more vapor trails/reflections for instance) and will generate more electronic "noise" than 2 aircraft.

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I'm sorry, but I don't think I understand your points CV32. Do you mean that a formation of 2 aircraft should be as hard to detect as a formation of 20 aircraft?

As far as radar detection is concerned, yes, that's exactly what I am saying.

 

I don't think that should be the case. Harpoon treats all formations of aircraft of the same type and loadout as tight formations. Same altitude, same bearing, same speed, same turn rates, etc... Thus the resulting radar cross section of 20 aircraft flying in close formation is going to be bigger than that of 2 aircraft.

Only because we are forced by the simplicity of the model. I don't think we ought to volunteer to be further constrained by the model and, in so doing, hamper or simplify gameplay even further.

 

The size of the group does not automatically make radar detection easier. It depends on the wavelength and resolution of the radar, the RCS and aspect of the target, and yes, even the type of group formation, etc.

 

By assigning higher detection values to groups of aircraft, especially the same aircraft types, we would be making clumsy assumptions.

 

For example, how we do know that the group formation is a ladder or stack, and not a potentially less detectable trail formation?

 

(Assigning higher detection values to groups of different aircraft types, as in the current model, is a reasonable compromise because presumably the group is composed of aircraft of different roles and missions, e.g. fighters escorting strikers, etc).

 

It doesn't have to be radar only, it can very well be visual detection or ESM-detection. 20 aircraft are easier to see (more vapor trails/reflections for instance) and will generate more electronic "noise" than 2 aircraft.

 

I agree that other methods of detection (visual, acoustic, etc) call for different analyses, but again, its not as simple or as hard and fast a rule as you may think.

 

ESM (depending on capability or generation, something that again, we don't model) doesn't necessarily pick up a large group of emitters more easily because there are more emitters. They are usually detected more easily because they appear on multiple bearings. An older ESM set, however, might only pick up a emission on a single bearing and have no idea that there are actually multiple emitters approaching on that bearing in a trail formation.

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I'm loving the discussion! At this point I find both extremes similarly far-fetched (four aircraft being 4 times as detectable and 4 aircraft being only as detectable as one). Further discussion may suggest there is a compromise along the continuum, whether it is worth implementing as Brad raises, is also a valid question.

 

At first blush I don't think implementing a qty-based equation for radar would take much programming effort.

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I'm loving the discussion! At this point I find both extremes similarly far-fetched (four aircraft being 4 times as detectable and 4 aircraft being only as detectable as one). Further discussion may suggest there is a compromise along the continuum, whether it is worth implementing as Brad raises, is also a valid question. At first blush I don't think implementing a qty-based equation for radar would take much programming effort.

 

What is far fetched?

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What is far fetched?

The concept that it is entirely fair that 64 x F-15 in one unit are assumed to be aligned to every potentially detecting radar in a way that makes them no more visible than a single F-15 (i.e. a single detect chance at the base F-15 RCS) yet 64 x F-15 each with a different loadout would have 64 detection runs against them.

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