While cruising north toward the strike area I take a minute to scan the theater around me to see what is going on. F4 is unique in that other fragged missions that are part of the ATO are actually THERE, they aren’t “simulated missions”, rather they are living and breathing missions mingling with your own sim experience. This ROK F-4 looks to be on a serious CAP mission, bristling with Sparrows and Sidewinders.
Turning back to my own mission I pull up the A2G mode to assure my weapons are ready for delivery. I assure that the GBU-24 is selected and decide to release my weapons as singles in case I miss on the first pass.
I also assure my A2G radar is in STP mode (steerpoint) which automatically slaves the center of the ground radar to the selected steerpoint. This will make finding the target area very simple since selection of the strike steerpoint will settle the cursors directly over the known target location.
I also turn my laser designator to the ARM position so that it will automatically fire as my LGB falls toward the target. Failure to set this switch will result in an errant bomb with no guidance. The SP3 manual has an excellent LGB tutorial that will help new F4 users get acquainted with the art of dropping precision guided munitions. Just below the laser ARM switch is the Master ARM switch which I also move up into the ARM position. In prior F4 installs the master ARM switch was always in the default ON position, I’m happy to see that in FF3 it defaults to the OFF position upon entry into the cockpit.
With the laser in ARM I switch the right MFD to the TGP (targeting pod) to verify that I have both an aiming picture and an illuminated “L” at the bottom telling me that the laser is ready to function. It is also a good idea to check and make sure the pylon you wish to release a weapon from is highlighted, in this case pylon #3. I don’t know exactly how it happens (I suspect exiting A2G mode to A2A mode a couple of times), but I have gone over a target and realized at bomb release that I didn’t have a weapon selected leading to a “dry run” to allow the ground gunners to get another shot at me.
With the addition of the Korea 2006 campaign the threat warning receiver is broadcasting all kinds of new symbols. In this case I’ve been alerted to the presence of a MiG-31 spike. Maybe the J-11 isn’t at the top of the food chain any longer?