Air Combat Maneuvering
speed, if you attempt to pull more g, the aircraft will buffet and stall at the aerodynamic limit; the turn
radius will increase and turn rate will decrease. Above this speed, with increased available g, the
structural limits can be exceeded, resulting in overstressing the aircraft. Also above this speed at the
maximum allowable g, the turn radius increases and the turn rate decreases at the structural limit.
Remember, the Vn diagrams show only instantaneous turn performance.
A good fighter pilot knows the above concepts but will never consciously dwell on them in the cockpit.
However, he will know his cornering speed and optimum AOAs cold. Cornering speed for the T-45C is
300 knots. The optimum AOAs for specific aspects of performance are as follows:
Energy sustaining turn
(Instantaneous turn rate)
(Optimum energy addition)
PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS EXERCISE
Because you will be demanding maximum performance from your aircraft during ACM, you need to fly the
aircraft under high performance conditions to learn and feel what happens when you push the envelope
before you are in a real ACM exercise. The result is the performance characteristics exercise, which
demonstrates timed turns, timed accelerations, and zero-airspeed departures using optimum AOAs. You
will practice the exercise on your first ACM hop, independent of the other aircraft. During the timed
portions of the exercise, the instructor will brief you and record the times. To initiate the exercise, the
section separates and climbs to approximately 15,000 ft MSL. Once at altitude, establish the briefed
airspeed in level flight.
For timed turns, fly at 300 knots on a cardinal heading. Execute an energy sustaining turn (13-14 units) at
MRT for 180 degrees, maintaining 300 knots. The instructor will record the time. Then reestablish the
cardinal heading and execute a hard turn (17 units) at MRT for 180 degrees of turn. To maintain 300
knots, you will have to place the nose of the aircraft below the horizon. Again the instructor will record the
time. Climb back to your start altitude and reestablish the cardinal heading. Execute a maximum
performance break turn (19-21 units) at MRT for 180 degrees, while attempting to maintain 300 knots.
Once again, place the nose below the horizon in order to maintain 300 knots. Compare the differences in
the time it took for each turn.
For timed accelerations, establish 250 knots in level flight. Upon direction from the instructor, go to MRT
and accelerate in level flight to 300 knots. Then reestablish 250 knots and as you go to MRT, unload the
aircraft to 5-10 units to arrive at 300 knots. Again compare the time difference.
Execute zero-airspeed departures the same as during the out-of-control flight syllabus.
Even though the ACM environment dictates that you make constant decisions and reevaluations based on
an evolving engagement, you must develop a game plan. Because each engagement is unique, the
game plan will change based on what you anticipate and what the bogey actually does. Plan, predict, and
react, but remember that there are no free moves in ACMevery maneuver involves a tradeoff, as in
trading airspeed for altitude.
In the three-dimensional ACM environment, certain aircraft gain advantages over others when employing
a particular plane or dimensionfor example, an aircraft preferring the vertical plane usually has a high
thrust-to-weight ratio. Know your aircraft and use whichever plane or dimension benefits you in gaining an
advantage. Make the bogey fight your fight.
T-45C Revision 1