Air to air missile guidance
Infrared guidance (IR)
Mechanism: Infrared missiles home in on sources of heat using super-cooled seekers. It was one of the first missile guidance systems that was created and remains a staple of air to air combat into the modern day. Examples of IR missiles in CMANO are the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AA-8 Aphid, AA-11 Archer, AIM-132 ASRAAM, and AA-10 Alamo B/D.
Pros: * Fire and forget: once the missile leaves the rail the pilot does not need to guide it and can focus on defensive flying. * (Usually) small and agile: most modern IR missiles are very agile making them ideal for engaging maneuvering targets. * Immune to ECM: since IR missiles do not rely on radar they are immune to ECM and DECM systems.
Cons: * (Usually) Short range: most IR missiles have a relatively short range although there are some exceptions. * Friendly-fire risk: since IR missiles are autonomous they can lock onto neutral or allied aircraft. * Susceptible to flares: most combat aircraft carry flares which can be effective at distracting IR missiles
IR missiles are a secondary weapon in most situations due to their limited range. The standard winchester doctrine does not count IR missiles as a main weapon system with the notable exceptions of the AA-10 Alamo B and AA-10 Alamo D which are the two longest range IR missiles in the game as they use targeting information from their launch aircraft's radar until they get near their target. As such the player should make sure to change this setting if they want to use their IR missiles. Otherwise manual targeting is the best way to get an aircraft to use these weapons.
Semi-active radar homing (SARH)
Mechanism: Semi-active radar missiles have a passive radar seeker in their nose that relies on the target being illuminated by the launch platform's radar. SARH missiles were the standard during the cold war but have begun to fall out of style as more modern missiles ave entered service. Examples of SARH missiles in CMANO are the AIM-7 Sparrow, AA-10 Alamo A/C, AA-9 Amos, and AA-7 Apex.
Pros: * Target discerning: since the missile will only track the illuminated target it is unlikely to hit allies or neutrals. * Longer range: SARH missiles often have ranges in excess of 50 nautical miles.
Cons: * Susceptible to jamming: SARH missiles are easily jammed by modern ECM and DECM systems. * Guide to target: the pilot of the launch aircraft must keep a radar lock on their target until impact. * Radar horizon: SARH missiles can only be fired at targets within the radar horizon.
SARH missiles are still effective in modern scenarios however they truly shine in cold war era missions where they are the best systems available. due to the requirement of maintaining a radar lock on the target SARH missiles are best fired at a longer range so that the missile has enough time to reach the target before the launch aircraft needs to maneuver.
Active radar homing
Mechanism: Active radar missiles have a small radar in their nose that, as the name implies, sends out active radar pulses and follows the reflections from the target. Active radar missiles have largely replaced older semi-active systems in modern air forces. Examples of modern active radar missiles are the AIM-120 AMRAAM, Meteor, AA-12 Adder, AA-13 Arrow, and PL-12.
Pros: * Fire and forget: once the missile leaves the rail the pilot does not need to guide it and can focus on defensive flying. * Long range: modern radar guided missiles have very long ranges * Accuracy: active radar missiles are generally the most accurate missiles in service.
Cons: * Susceptible to jamming: although they are less susceptible than SARH missiles they are still vulnerable to ECM and DECM.
The flexibility afforded by active radar missiles allows the player to be more creative with their launches. It is possible to fire without ever turning on the launch aircraft's radar if a secondary aircraft provides target information for example. Active radar missiles should be your primary air to air missile in modern scenarios and the advantage they give in late cold war scenarios is impossible to ignore.
Mechanism: Anti-radiation missiles home in on a radar signal emanating from the target allowing them to be fired without the launch aircraft ever turning on its radar. This system is not commonly used for air to air missiles with the only examples in CMANO being the AA-10 Alamo E and F.
Pros: * Stealth launch: able to be fired without revealing the launcher's location * Anti-AWACS & OECM: due to their homing in on radar signals they are perfect for taking out AWACS and OECM aircraft.
Cons: * Very uncommon: few missiles and launch vehicles making these a very niche weapon. * *
Pros: * * *
Cons: * * *
Pros: * * *
Cons: * * *