How new long range missiles change aerial combat and maybe annule the concept of dogfighting

Even when the first jet fighters emerged in late WW2 and onward the tactics remained the same like with piston-engined fighters. The main idea was to use speed and especialy agility to get behind opponents fighter and use maschineguns or automatic cannons to destroy it, which was known as dog-fightnig, the concept which is not surrpassed even today. The main reason for this was the lack of ranged weapons in that period.



How Cold War went by and technology advanced air-to-air missiles emerged, and they were divided into two groups, short range and long range. The first ones were guided by using infra red optics to track the oponents heat signature, the long range ones were guided by radar. During the 70-ties era of long range aerial combat flourished, with the main example of AIM-54 Phoenix, used by US Navy F-14 Tomcat. Phoenix was radar guided and it had a range of up to 200 km. It achieved a lot of success against Lybian MiG-23s during the Gulf of Sidra incident and was effectively used by Iranian F-14 Tomcats against Iraqi Air Force during the Iran-Iraq War.


IRIAF F-14 Tomcat and its AIM-54 Phoenix

However the advances in electronic warfare and electronic countermeasures made long-range radar guided missiles almost useless. Using radar-jamming pods, the aircraft could successfuly avoid radar guided missiles, and the era of dogfighting emerged once again and dominated the design of fourth-generation jet fighters and their weapons.



All of that is about to change with the introduction of MBDA Meteor, which is allready in service with French, British, Spanish, Indian, Qatari, Egyptian, Italian, Saudi, German and Swedish airforces.The difference between Meteor and previous long range missiles is that its much more advanced and much more jamm-proof using a secure data link and the developers of MBDA say there is no escape from it. The missile has a range of 320km.

Meteor fitted to a Gripen (MBDA)

Meteor fitted to a Gripen (MBDA)


Meteor is not the only long range missile in the phase of introduction, others which are to be mentioned are Russian Novator K-100 and R-37M missiles. The very possible scenario is that the dogfighting will be replaced by stealth and using beyond-visual-range missiles before the enemy even knows you’re there. The Meteor is allready proposed to be installed on US F-35 Lightning II fifth generation stealth fighter. Long range missiles in combination with advanced radar and stealth technology could be the dominant aspects of the future of fighter aircraft designs, instead of agility, which was crucial in the dogfighting concept. With the introduction of J-20, chinese stealth fighter, besides the allready existing US F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II , and the delivery of first russian Sukhoi PAK-FA scheduled for 2018, which is planned to have K-77M missiles with the range of up to 200 km, this¬† is not a futuristic concept, but more and more a present reality.


R-37M and K-100 missiles