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Dev team replies to community feedback on the Sky Guardians update

The War Thunder development team reacts on the hottest topics of discussion of the upcoming Sky Guardians update.

Pantsir-S1 and other SAM vehicles

We noticed the concerns of the players about a possible imbalance due to the introduction of the Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile system into the game and will try to answer some questions about its operational modes details.

The introduction of the Pantsir-S1 was planned due to the fact that the 2S6/2S6M1 Tunguska SPAAG is significantly inferior to the competition in terms of the combination of missile plus radar efficiency and has some of the worst statistics among all top tier SPAAGs in the game.

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Some players also believe that instead of introducing Pantsir-S1, it was worth introducing the TOR-M1 or TOR-M2 systems. However, according to the game statistics, TOR-M1 is also one of the efficiency outsiders in terms of efficiency and simply can’t help to solve the issue of the late Soviet anti-aircraft lineup. The TOR-M2, both in terms of the number of missiles and, according to our research, in terms of the manoeuvrability of missiles, outmatches the Pantsir-S1 at most distances. Its missiles equipped with dual-mode solid-propellant rocket engines maintain cruising speed for a long period of time and provide an overload tolerance of up to 35G. At the same time, the Pantsir’s 95Ya6 missile moves by inertia for most of its trajectory. At a distance of 8 km the missile is inferior to the 9M331 missile of the TOR-M1 in terms of G-tolerance, and at extreme distances the 95Ya6 overload drops to a poor 5G, which may provide sure kill of only non-maneuvering targets such as UAVs.

The speed characteristics and flight time at distances up to 10 km of the 95Ya6 missile are generally identical to the VT-1 missile, with significantly less available overload tolerance.

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Players are also concerned about the possibility of the azimuth radar to operate in some radar modes at high elevation angles which certainly is an undeniable advantage. But the TOR-M1 radar, which is already present in the game, has an elevation coverage up to 64 degrees! In addition, we are conducting additional research on the capabilities of the radars of other anti-aircraft systems presented in the game, and if additional information is found, we will specify their capabilities in the game.

We were puzzled by players' concerns about the Pantsir’s tracking radar, operating in the microwave range, which is currently unable to be detected by the radiation warning systems. However, as practice shows, the telethermal search and track devices are the most effective tracking system in the top ranks, and the majority of SAM vehicles in the game are already capable of stealthy locking on target. In addition, the microwave target tracking radar of the TOR-M1 does not statistically provide any superiority over competitors in the game.

Also, we are monitoring concerns about the possibility of countering SAM SPAAG with such long-range missiles, but we believe that the transfer of missiles to the adjusted SACLOS physics will solve the problem, limiting the ability to hit high-speed targets at a high heading parameter or altitude. In addition, anti-aircraft guided missiles with semi-automatic command to line of sight are very sensitive to manoeuvre, and a minor trajectory change at high speed may be enough for any aircraft for an anti-missile manoeuvre.

Pantsir-S1 kill zones:

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vertical

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horizontal (target altitude 100 m)

F-16AJ: outfit and armament

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The F-16AJ project was designed for export to Japan after the completion of the F-16 testing program. The prototypes of the aircraft did not have a complete set of radio equipment, such as radar, and had to have AIM-7 missiles not only on underwing pylons, but also on landing gear doors and wingtips that is illustrated by photographs of aircraft during testing. However, in subsequent series of the F-16, including production modifications, it was decided to abandon the hardpoints on the landing gear doors. Obviously, designers had reasons for this, that is why we limit the F-16AJ to have 2x AIM-7 missiles on standard underwing pylons. The game also has technical limitations for the implementation of such hardpoints, for example, in the case of a landing gear breakdown, the detachment of the doors with the AIM-7 missiles installed would cause the loss of weapons. Or the reverse situation, when it would be impossible to destroy the landing gear with the missiles installed.

As for radar, radar warning system and AGM-65 missiles, this equipment corresponds to the program described in the project's promo papers. The export versions of the F-16 were standardly equipped with these systems and weapons, so we see no reason not to equip the Japanese project accordingly. In addition, we assume that without the necessary equipment, especially such as radar, the fighter would not meet the requirements of its time and would not have sufficient combat characteristics. Thus, the F-16AJ in the game looks like the Japanese F-16 would most likely have looked if it had been put into service - the aircraft would most likely have minimal differences from other export modifications of this series.

Yak-141: outfit and armament

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Despite the fact that the Yak-141 did not reach mass production and was not put into service, flight prototypes already achieved high performance characteristics during tests - the aircraft even set several records. However, the available flight models did not carry military weapons, but only their mock-ups. Some of the sensors, including the radar, according to our information, were replaced during testing with such mock-ups, IRST was also not installed on the prototypes. The game, however, requires a combat aircraft with a complete set of on-board equipment and weapons, so we implemented them in the form in which the aircraft would most likely be put into service. For the game model, we installed a radar that was planned and existed at that time, as well as the IRST, standard for Soviet fighters. The Yak-141 is also equipped with countermeasures containers that are installed similar to other Soviet aircraft layout. We understand that in some ways this is a “paper” aircraft, however, all of its avionics actually existed and worked, as well as weapons. Regarding the R-73 missiles, their software implementation is still in progress, so it’s too early to talk about its introduction to the game, but in the future it may well appear in the Yak-141, same as the R-77 missiles, which were also designed as the main armament of this aircraft.

Ariete AMV and WAR and PSO armour kits

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In the Sky Guardians update, the Ariete AMV main battle tank will appear in the game in the PT1 modification, featuring improved mobility and chassis durability. The tank has a more powerful engine compared to the basic versions. Based on player feedback, the model will be improved by the addition of smoke grenades. Also, the CL3142 APFSDS, which will replace the DM33, will be retained as the ammunition option, along with the DM53 round. The Ariete AMV version with PSO and WAR armour kits will be implemented later as a separate vehicle in order to form an effective top tier vehicle setup.

Anti-radiation missiles (ARM) as a countermeasure against SAM

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We have already commented on the ARM issue in the recent Q&A. This is a rather complex type of weapon and, in our opinion, rather overrated in the eyes of our players. Given the high level of weapon realism in the game, these weapons may not give the desired balance effect with in-game SAMs for several reasons. Firstly, the vast majority of ARMs are designed to destroy "big” anti-aircraft missile systems, such as the Soviet S-75 and S-300, or American Patriot and Hawk - these are considered as the main threat to tactical aviation due to their long range. Actually, therefore, the frequency ranges of the ARM seekers coincide with the frequency ranges of such anti-air systems, while the game short-range SAMs may operate in the frequency ranges out of the ARM radar coverage abilities. Secondly, the guidance accuracy of the anti-radiation missiles might be sufficient to destroy larger air defence systems with tall antennas, but it is completely insufficient to destroy mobile SAM, especially considering that the warhead of many ARMs is equipped with a proximity fuse, and target destruction is achieved due to the fragmentation killzone.

However, we still consider the ARM systems interesting as the gameplay and balancing option, so the further research of this type of weapon is still in our plans. If we discover new data on the ARM operating modes, they might be added to the game, same as other radio warfare means, such as the ESM pods and jammers.

Global increase of the respawn points cost of the SAM SPAAGs

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Indeed, we consider such a rise for long-range SAM systems, but the decision to be made after receiving first data of their efficiency analysis.

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