A number of curious players have asked for more technical information regarding the air & missile defense system in game, such as information about what the individual messages mean on the chat display and how the system works under the hood. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but haven't found the time until recently.
About World in Conflict - Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense System (AIAMD)
The World in Conflict AIAMD is a multitasking weapons AI system that joins every Heavy SAM component units (known as 'nodes'), including sensors & command posts (radars, etc) and missile launchers into a single integrated domain, maximizing firepower against saturation air and missile attacks. Instead of one player individually engaging a given threat set, AIAMD networks your entire team's support elements into a netted architecture to engage multiple incoming threats.
The World in Conflict AIAMD is the most realistic simulation of air defense systems in the entire real-time strategy genre, with fidelity rivaling those of combat simulation titles such as Digital Combat Simulator and Falcon BMS.
Originally developed to counter cruise missile spams in multiplayer, the WiC AIAMD traces its lineage back to the Heavy SAM shooter scripts in 2010. Owing to this, the whole thing is largely a giant blob of linear evaluations and over 7,000 lines of monolithic code. Since World in Conflict MW Mod 4.7, we've slowly started to separate the monstrous blob of code into architecturally separated functions, with the goal of making the entire system more modular -- this will allow new battle elements and missile units to be added much easier in the future.
A fan-made video tutorial of the AIAMD in action is below:
The AIAMD consists of the following major code functions: Adjunct Processor (ADJP), Radar Data Processor (RDP), Engagement Control Processor (ECP) and Launch Sequencer (LSEQ).
Adjunct Processor (ADJP)
The Adjunct Processor is the primary scheduler that performs execution and governs every system unit elements in game (nodes). The ADJP performs administrative tasks, such as registering and admitting new units onto the network (called IFCnet) upon spawn, monitoring and requesting status from every node and providing interrupts and exceptions handling.
Human players can send system-wide abort signal to the ADJP by selecting battery units and Fire Control Radar and placing them into Hold-Fire (select units and press G key) for 2 seconds. Holding-fire for 2 seconds signals to the ADJP to initiate WPNS HOLD state. When entering weapons-hold, ADJP will issue abort signal (SIGABRT) to all running processes -- any missiles (birds) already fired and in the air will be given Command Destruct signal, detonating them in mid-air. Existing radar tracks will be gracefully maintained in memory for up to 10 seconds until at least one radar unit is returned out of hold-fire, or timed out and removed by watchdog.
Holding fire for more than 10 seconds will signal to ADJP to issue system-wide reload (SIGTERM) -- all tracks in memory will be erased and reset, every node in game will be re-registered as if a new match was started. Engagement performance data (percentage killed, # of missiles expanded, etc) and missile ammunition states however will be kept through system reloads until the match ends.
When encountering rare errors, ADJP gracefully handles exceptions to prevent Heavy SAM units from ceasing to work for the remainder of the match. If there is a math error while guiding a missile onto its target (quite rare, but happens sometimes; e.g. division by zero error), ADJP raises MDL.H-Loop exception and sends Command Destruct to the outgoing missile and resets engagement state for the target track, allowing it to be re-engaged. Code-defined Assert failures caused by an individual outgoing missile will terminate the errored missile (command destruct message) and unhandled exceptions (including wic.game unit exceptions) will trigger PROG HALT and issue system-wide reload of all units.
Radar Data Processor (RDP)
The RDP runs Track Initiation and Maintenance and Engagement Initiate processes. For track initiation, RDP function performs Volume Scan loop at every frame. Each individual radar unit (MPQ-65) derives its scan volume by drawing an area of scaled 22,500km^2 and cropping it to radar's boresight sectors (110 degrees). Target detection occurs when game is providing LOS vision (fog of war) against the target, and when the target falls inside radar's boresight sectors. When a new target is being added, an evaluation is performed to determine target type and crudely check for detection requirements. Although not modelled today, in the future, a library of radar cross sections (RCS) and radar range equations will be added to model detection of targets with varying RCS and electronic countermeasures (ECM). For simplicity sake and performance reasons, friendly air and missile units are completely ignored by the system and not even considered.
When a detected target is successfully recognized, a track file is initiated and the target is assigned with a track number. Any further updates to this target's behavior and position changes will be recorded onto its track data. Each radar in game can maintain up to 100 tracks.
The RDP uses the Track While Scan (TWS) principle. While the radar is searching for new targets within its assigned scan volume, Engagement Initiate process known as TWS_Loop() is also run on every track to continuously track target position and velocity changes. Target tracking requires the established track to be within +/-90 degrees boresight from MPQ-65 battery radars -- if the target is outside of boresight from all available battery radars, the track is dropped. This makes Patriot SAM in game a "sectored system" -- targets falling outside of 110 degrees radar tracking fan cannot be tracked successfully.
There are two ways to work around the sector limitations of Patriot in game: (1) you can select each battery squad and use force-fire (hold F key then left click on desired azimuth) to lock the radar into the desired azimuth. By having more than one Heavy SAM squad, you can assign each squad with different boresight azimuths, thereby allowing you to cover 220+ degrees; and (2) alternatively, you can spawn a NATO Fire Control Radar unit -- the NATO MFCR (MEADS) is a command post unit with 360-degrees rotating tracking radar, allowing all tracks to be maintained regardless of boresight limitations.
For tracking of targets via TWS (such as aircraft, etc), the track maintenance process uses Range Gating to update each track. At each radar return hit, the RDP applies target's velocity and predicts its position at the next tracking run. The target's predicted position is "blocked out" (gated) by range and azimuth from the radar. During the subsequent tracking run, the RDP only scans this predicted area (gated range and azimuth) to validate whether the target has walked into it. If so, tracking is marked with a successful HIT and a new range gate is calculated for next scan. If the target continues to successfully fall inside predicted range gates repeatedly, the track is passed onto Engagement Initiate to be considered for engagement. If the target is ejecting countermeasures and flying very unpredictably in a short period of time (within 2-3 seconds), target may not be detected inside the predicted range gate -- in this instance, a track MISS counter is updated and the target is continuously tracked until it falls back into range gate. If the target continuously evades radar's prediction in this manner, track is re-classified to Non-Cooperating Target (NCT) and ignored for engagement until it can be tracked successfully again.
A simple way to describe Range Gating routine would be Air-to-Air Strike tactical aid (A2A TA) in the vanilla unmodded World in Conflict. Try targeting a moving air player in middle of his flight by predicting his position 10 seconds ahead and laying down the A2A TA. If the air player walks into the circle successfully in 10 seconds, that's considered a HIT.
Engagement Control Processor (ECP)
ECP runs when system commences automatic engagement against one or more target tracks. When an automatic engagement begins, the RDP downlinks messages to the Launch Sequencer (LSEQ) to request missile launch against the track being engaged. Once a launch station fires its missile, the LSEQ reports back to ADJP with launch-success message and the track ID of the outbound missile (bird) that has been launched on track. ECP then takes over to govern the outgoing bird's flight from beginning to the end.
Once a bird is in the air, the ECP establishes a socket for the outbound missile to "ping" back to the radar on its position -- this is called Missile Down Link (MDL). The outbound bird is a FLINT missile unit which upon spawn, joins IFCnet and initializes inertial navigation system. The missile will begin flying toward the inertial navigation point that was fed to it by the launch station -- 1.5 seconds after a successful launch and when the missile has cleared some distance away from the launcher, the bird will report in via datalink to the ECP with its position and Time to Go (TGO) estimation. The ECP then commences Mid-Course Guidance against the engaged target track. If the bird is unable to establish an MDL connection to the ECP (because radars got killed by enemy HARMs etc), the missile will time out and self-destruct due to loss of the command data-link. In the event of a system abort (SIGABRT), ADJP will command ECP to uplink Command Destruct message over the MDL to all outbound birds receiving mid-course guidance updates. Birds receiving Command Destruct signal over MDL will immediately self-destruct in the air.
After establishment of the MDL data-link with outbound birds, the engagement process consists of Mid-Course Guidance and Terminal Guidance. Each outbound bird is equipped with an auto-pilot using inertial navigation system. The inertial nav point provides the bird with range-to-go and azimuth information toward the Predicted Intercept Point (PIP), better known as "the kill box" or "basket". The PIP is calculated and updated by the RDP as it continues to track the target -- as PIP changes over time, the ECP uplinks new updated PIP position data to the bird, causing the bird's inertial navigation system to adjust its course to the new updated target position. The missile sends return message back over MDL to confirm that it received an updated PIP, and also sends its own Time to Go (TGO) estimation toward the PIP basket. Once the missile arrives near the PIP, terminal guidance commences.
The terminal guidance method differs depending on the type of bird used, however the goal of the terminal guidance is to resolve ambiguity on target's exact position and move in for the final kill. Because TWS process used by radars is not accurate enough, terminal guidance requires a more powerful method of tracking to resolve the exact range and vector states of the target.
- For PAC-2/GEM-T missiles, upon arriving near the PIP basket, the ECP commands the bird to open up its seeker via MDL and commences Single Target Track (STT) by illuminating the target with ground radar at very high pulse repetition frequency (high PRF). The bird then begins "streaming" boresight errors (how much it is off from the target LOS) back to the ECP via downlink messages. The ECP then compares the missile's reported boresight errors and the target position to calculate an intercept solution using Proportional Navigation, and uplinks the new acceleration command back to the missile. The missile then steers to meet the new acceleration command and the whole process repeats in a loop until intercept. This loop is called Track-via-Missile (TVM) guidance -- it is a form of Semi-Active Radar Homing (SARH) and basic principle is similar to semi-active laser homing missiles in game (e.g. Hellfire and LGBU).
The ECP can "redirect" an outbound PAC-2/GEM-T bird near the basket onto another target by simply redirecting the illumination beam onto the next target. This allows the Patriot radars to "walk" outbound birds onto multiple targets in series. Because the SARH / TVM process only lasts between 2-3 seconds, this allows "time-shared illumination", allowing a single illuminator to support engagement of multiple targets by walking its beam from one target to another, separated by 2-3 second intervals.
- For PAC-3 missiles, upon arriving near the PIP basket, the missile opens up its active radar seeker and downlinks boresight errors (how far it's off the target) to ECP via MDL. The ECP replies back with exact boresight fix on the target track relative from the missile's own seeker, allowing each PAC-3 missile to individually identify the assigned target for it to make the kill (this provides target de-confliction when multiple PAC-3 missiles are in the PIP basket trying to find a target). Once the bird receives boresight confirmation from ECP, it drops the ground data-link by disconnecting from MDL and commences active radar terminal homing (gone "pitbull" in air force parlance).
Unlike SARH/TVM method above, the PAC-3 missile calculates its own intercept position in game by using its own radar seeker. Because the missile is entirely on its own at this stage, it can no longer be controlled by ground radars once it has gone terminal -- if a Command Destruct message is sent to a PAC-3 missile after it had gone terminal, it will not self-destruct, and will still go after its target uncommanded, or time out and self-destruct if no target is available. Moreover, if assigned target is not visible within missile's FOV, missile will try to search for any other targets visible within the seeker FOV. If a new target is seen, it will lock onto it and try to kill it.
During game development, there had been cases where airborne PAC-3 missile had uncommanded engagements of unexpected enemy targets (such as an R-77 air-to-air missile, or a BM-30 artillery rocket), that happened to be flying in the same PIP killbox as where PAC-3 was flying.
Launch Sequencer (LSEQ)
The Launch Sequencer (LSEQ) module manages every missile launcher (known as Launch Stations or LS) in the AIAMD network in game. The LSEQ also provides scheduling of launch orders as received from RDP.
The LSEQ polls every LS in game for ammunition states and missile type available in magazine. The ammunition state data is fed back to the ADJP which is then used by RDP to create an engagement plan. During Engagement Initiate process, the RDP uses ammunition state information to select which type of interceptor to use against the target -- the RDP will prefer to use PAC-3 missiles against ballistic missiles, while reserving PAC-2/GEM-T missiles for aircraft and cruise missiles, etc. The RDP also decides on engagement doctrine (SHOOT-LOOK-SHOOT, RIPPLE, SALVO, etc) and how many interceptors to fire onto the targeted track, based on the ammunition state reported by LSEQ.
When RDP commences engagement process and requests missile launches onto targeted tracks, LSEQ begins receiving launch orders. LSEQ then begins scheduling launch orders based on track priority as scored by the RDP. Launch sequencing is always scheduled in the following order of priority: (1) theater ballistic missiles; (2) rocket artillery and mortar; (3) cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions; and finally (3) aircraft. Launch orders are categorized and prioritized by their track classification -- in each track type, launch orders are further re-prioritized based on urgency. Tracks that need to be engaged soonest (because they are closest to breaching defended asset, or are Self Defense Threats targeting a Patriot battery) are prioritized to the front of the launch sequence queue.
When LSEQ runs, it polls and waits on every launch station (LS) that have the appropriate ammunition available to report in. LSEQ will use position of each LS and the kinematics (Time to Go) data provided by RDP on the target track to select the launcher with best possible kinematics and probability of success. The launch order is then assigned to the selected LS with the requested ripple or salvo size.
If the selected LS was unable to complete its fire mission (could not fire all missiles requested in the salvo size, because launcher got killed or ran out of ammo prematurely), LSEQ will then re-compute the next best available launcher and re-assign the fire mission to another LS.
The most important purpose of the LSEQ is to always provide high firepower to meet any attack size as requested by the mission parameter, so long as it has ammunition available to fire.
During a saturation missile attack raid, LSEQ launch request queue will be filled with more requests than there are number of launch stations available with ammo, or with the number of fire control resources (illuminators) available. If the system is running low on ammo to meet the mission parameters, instead of focusing on ripple fire on each target (firing 2 missiles per target, separated by 2-3.5 second apart), the LSEQ will prioritize firing 1 interceptor against as many number of target tracks it has in the queue.
The LSEQ always attempts to service the largest number of targets in a queue using the given set of ammunition resources available. Ripple and salvo firing of more than 1 missile per target will only occur when there is more ammunition available in excess of the launch request size.
If the salvo size exceeds the number of fire control resources available, LSEQ staggers missile launches to schedule the time-shared illumination. Because each LS has a minimum enforced rate of fire (the time it has to wait between each individual launches, to allow backblast to clear the launcher and to prevent overheating of mechanical structures), LSEQ uses Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) to sequence launch requests in a series of time slots.
Imagine having two LS, each with enforced wait time of 3 seconds between launches -- instead of firing both launchers at once and waiting 3 seconds on both of them, LSEQ will assign launches to both launchers, with each launch separated by a time slot of 1.5 seconds. This allows a missile to always be continuously launching out of both launchers every 1.5 seconds apart, while still meeting the 3 seconds wait time for each individual launcher. While first LS is dwelling and waiting for its 3-seconds hold time between launch, the second launcher is firing 1.5 sec later -- after another 1.5 sec time slot has elapsed, first launcher can fire again, and the process repeats.
By staggering missile launches in time slots using TDM, LSEQ enhances the ability for the ground radar to "walk" its illumination beam among different targets during terminal stage.
Understanding Status Messages in Chat
The ADJP will report back to the player with status of the AIAMD system via chat messages in the game. Although most messages here are self-explanatory, several players have asked for detailed explanation of each term and the telemetry data that is given. The Status Message typically looks like this:
SystemName MSL INVENTORY: GEM-T 33 PAC3/CRI: 32 TAMIR: 40 LS OPER: 16 LS STBY: 1 RELOAD: 54.1 sec 4 AIR, 1 NCT, 7 UNK [TLL: 7.1s], 1 CM/PGM[SDT], 0 RAM, 1 TBM [TOF: 13.1s TLL: 9.7s] TVM: [11.1% 1/9] ADJP: [SchedulerState] 14 tracks: [3 TWS, 1 TVM, MA 06, TGO 07]
The first line shows the overall system status, engagement performance and ammunition available. The first line will cycle between various states to show ammunition status on every possible interceptor available, as well as engagement performance (ratio of tracks killed vs. tracks engaged) and how many rounds have been expanded. "LS OPER" means launch stations in Operation State -- this is the number of LS that have at least 1 interceptor available in its ammo to fire. "LS STBY" means launch stations in Stand By state -- this indicates the number of LS that are out of ammo and reloading its magazine. "RELOAD" indicates the launcher with the shortest amount of reload time left to replenish its ammo.
"SystemName" in the first line will either state "Patriot WCC" or "AIAMD EOC." If it displays "Patriot WCC", it means the system is relying on classic sectored battery radars (MPQ-65) on each Patriot fire unit/Heavy SAM squad -- there is no 360 degree coverage and the coverage is defined by where each battery radar is facing (you can set the desired azimuth by using force-fire on the Heavy SAM squad).
If the SystemName displays "AIAMD EOC" it means the Patriot system is operating in Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) mode and 360 degrees tracking coverage is provided -- every launch station and radars are enrolled into the fire control network (IFCnet) as nodes to enable "sensors and shooters on the net" operation, disengaging the system from the old sectored model.
To operate in IBCS mode, you will need to spawn a NATO Fire Control Radar (MEADS) unit from the support panel -- enable the MEADS FCR's offensive special ability and force-fire it anywhere to commence 360-degree operation.
The second line shows the radar tracks and telemetry of the most pressing track in each category. Radar tracks are classified by the following types:
AIR: Aircraft deemed hostile NCT: Non-cooperating target (prevented from engagement but still tracking) UNK: Aircraft in unknown intention (system is identifying whether the target is hostile or can be ignored) CM/PGM: Cruise Missile/Precision Guided Munition RAM: Rocket-Artillery-Mortar TBM: Theater Ballistic Missile
On each track category, telemetry data is shown on the most highest priority track within the given category inside brackets. TLL means Time to Last Launch -- this is the amount of time (in seconds) available for us to engage the target before the target breaches a Defended Asset or the final line of defense. TLL is calculated by predicting the target's vector and calculating whether our missile will intercept the target in time before it breaches the "keep out" line for the defended asset. When the TLL goes negative, it means the target will have breached the defended asset by the time our missile arrives to kill it.
TOF means Time of Flight and TOF telemetry is displayed for both RAM and TBM targets. TOF is the estimated time until the ballistic target breaches the minimum "keep out" altitude where it could no longer be engaged. TLL is also calculated as described above, showing the amount of time we have to launch on the ballistic missile before we could no longer engage it.
When a target track is heading directly toward an AIAMD battery asset or otherwise threatening it (e.g. launching a cruise missile at you), the telemetry data will show red "SDT" flag inside the brackets. SDT means Self Defense Threat and the system will automatically prioritize SDT to be engaged first, ahead of other targets.
The third line displays overall system status. TVM means Track-via-Missile and inside its brackets, it indicates the number of tracks being illuminated for semi-active radar homing, over the number of illuminators available. Each MPQ-65 Patriot battery radar has 9 illumination channels available for TVM terminal guidance. In the above example, our TVM illuminators are 11.1% utilized, as we are illuminating 1 target currently, out of radar's 9 channels. The more radars you have, the more illumination channels you have.
Note that TVM is only applicable for the older PAC-2/GEM-T missiles, which require SARH guidance during terminal stage. For PAC-3 missiles, TVM is irrelevant -- those missiles have onboard active radar seekers and do not require SARH illumination from ground radars, so TVM capacity means nothing for PAC-3.
The next field displays the Adjunct Processor (ADJP) scheduler state -- it displays the most significantly running process at the given time. The ADJP SchedulerState is defined as follows:
MBI BOOT: Minimum boot image booting -- this is displayed when system is booting up in the background, creating data arrays and registering all nodes into the fire control network. You will typically see this message when system is starting for the first time, or has restarted due to period of inactivity or due to system error causing a restart.
RDP RUN: Radar Data Processor running -- indicates that RDP is volume scanning, tracking targets and making engagement decisions.
WPNS FREE: Weapons Free (rarely seen) -- briefly and rarely seen; this message is displayed typically when the RDP has given "Weapons Free" state to let others know that engagement is about to start, but the target is not yet within the missile's kinematics envelope to be fired upon yet. Launch stations have been issued with launch authority and will fire as soon as the target walks into missile's kinematics range. Because targets are typically engaged well inside missile's kinematics range, you will rarely see this message; however, you may briefly see WPNS FREE message when engaging targets such as medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), where launch authority is given before the ballistic missile has breached the PAC-3 commit altitude.
ENG HOOK: System has selected a specific track ("hooked track") to be engaged and Engagement Control Processor (ECP) is running on the target. Rarely displayed as track selection often happens very quickly.
ENG AUTO: Engagement Control Processor (ECP) is running and executing on full automatic mode against multiple targets. Indicator message blinks every second.
LSEQ WAIT: Waiting on Launch Sequencer (LSEQ) to schedule missile launches. Often happens when there are more targets than there are launch stations (LS) with ammunition to fire. If you are seeing this message for a long time, that means your defenses are saturated -- you will need more launchers to relieve saturation. You can purchase more PAC-3 launchers via airdrop from the Tactical Aid menu. If you are seeing this message only briefly, that's usually fine and no action is needed -- LSEQ will eventually adjust fire doctrine as long as there is still ammo available.
LSEQ BUSY: LSEQ could not accomplish priority fire mission because launchers are saturated. If you are seeing this message often, you've really run out of missiles -- buy more airdropped PAC-3 launchers from TA.
The last part of 3rd line shows the total # of tracks on the radar -- "# in TWS" means number of tracks currently being tracked for engagement process, "# in TVM" means number of tracks currently being illuminated by ground radars for PAC-2/GEM-T terminal guidance. "MA" means Missiles Away -- total number of birds that are currently flying in the air.
Finally "TGO" means Time to Go -- estimated time until intercept. Outbound missiles constantly calculate TGO using their inertial navigation and downlinks it back to the ECP. The ECP will display the most minimum, smallest TGO of all of the birds that are currently flying. Note that TGO is only updated during mid-course update -- it will stop updating once the missile has gone terminal and MDL data-link had been terminated.
Types of Missiles
The World in Conflict AIAMD utilizes the following missile types in game to defeat a wide array of airborne threats:
GEM-T (PAC-2): The classic Patriot missile -- uses semi-active radar homing (SARH) using TVM guidance:
Each Patriot Heavy SAM unit comes with 6 launchers each having 4x GEMT-2/PAC-2 missiles. GEM-T can engage both air breathing targets and ballistic missiles. Its defended footprint against ballistic missiles is limited and engagements can occur up to 15km altitude. GEM-T uses blast fragmentation warhead with proximity fuze to defeat the target -- because of this, the probability of kill against high speed ballistic missiles (such as MRBMs) is lower. Against short range battlefield ballistic missiles (such as Iranian Zelzal II in game) and air breathing targets such as aircraft and cruise missiles, GEM-T is highly effective and available at low, economical cost.
Once GEM-T commences terminal homing using TVM, it is extremely difficult to jam it with countermeasures -- because both the ground radar and the missile seeker are in the loop and tracking you simultaneously, enabling countermeasures to blind the ground radar does nothing, as missile seeker is still reporting what its seeker is seeing back to the radar. The key to defeat GEM-T from helicopter perspective is notching by flying very low, or drop countermeasures early before the missile has gone terminal, and fly out of the area.
PAC3/CRI: PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative missile (also known as ERINT):
This is the classic PAC-3 missile initially introduced in 2003, and upgraded in 2008-2011 periods. The PAC3/CRI uses kinetic "hit to kill" impact to destroy its target and has an active radar seeker -- because of the active radar seeker, PAC-3 missile does not need to be supported with SARH illuminators during terminal stage. PAC-3 missile allows high firepower against saturation attacks -- up to 16x PAC-3 missiles can be packed on a standard M902 launch station, quadrupling the amount of missiles from PAC-2/GEM-T. Due to the use of active radar seeker and eliminating the SARH requirement for terminal guidance, PAC-3's only firepower limitation in theory is the magazine depth (i.e. how many PAC-3 missiles you have vs. # of targets incoming).
Each Patriot Heavy SAM squad in game has two LS loaded with PAC3/CRI missiles. For game balancing reasons, each Patriot Heavy SAM squad in game is only loaded with half packs of PAC3 (2 canisters as opposed to 4), so each PAC3 LS in squad only has 8 missiles, as opposed to 16. However, if you spend 25 TA to purchase airdropped PAC-3 launcher from tactical aid, you'll receive a fully equipped launcher with 4 canisters, giving you 16 missiles each.
PAC3/MSE: PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE):
This is the latest upgrade to the Patriot system and started entering into limited service in 2016. Mass production of the PAC-3 MSE was started in 2017. The PAC-3 MSE effectively doubles the altitude and range of the classic PAC3/CRI missile. Utilizing the dual-pulse solid rocket motor, the PAC-3 MSE fires its second pulse during terminal stage as it maneuvers aggressively to make the kill. This gives MSE a much more increased maneuverability and energy to successfully intercept very high velocity ballistic missiles such as MRBMs (North Korean No Dong, etc) and maneuvering ballistic missiles (Iskander) in game.
To give you a perspective, against Iskander maneuvering SRBM in game, PAC3/CRI's effective range against Iskander is halved -- it can cover only about quarter of the map from the launch station; at any further distance, Iskander will aerodynamically defeat the interceptor through its evasive maneuvers. PAC-3/MSE however will cover nearly the entire game map against maneuvering Iskander and still has enough energy to match the evasive maneuvers and intercept.
The PAC3/CRI reaches up to 20km altitude in game against ballistic missiles, while PAC-2/GEM-T reaches up to 15km altitude. PAC-3/MSE can reach up to 32km altitude in game. The PAC-3 MSE missile can only be purchased via Tactical Aid using airdropped launcher -- there are only 12x PAC-3 MSE missiles per launcher, as opposed to 16x on PAC3/CRI.
PAC-3/MSE is useful to counter saturation missile raids from high velocity No Dong MRBM attacks coming from REDFOR team. PAC-3/CRI is useful to counter saturation missile raids from short range ballistic missiles such as Tochka, Iskander, etc. Additionally, if you want to cover the entire map distance with the minimum number of launch stations, PAC-3 MSE will cover the whole map (whereas PAC3/CRI will cover 2/3rd to 1/4th of the map depending on target's speed)
It is a good idea to mix both PAC3/CRI and PAC3/MSE launchers simultaneously in game -- this will provide a balanced mix of increasing defended footprint against ballistic missiles of all types, and increase firepower against saturation attacks (you'd see MSE's flying out to engage MRBMs up to 30km high, then follow on with PAC3/CRIs to catch any leakers or provide further layer of defense.
TAMIR: This is the interceptor for Iron Dome launcher in game:
Tamirs are only used by the AIAMD system to defeat Rocket-Artillery-Mortar (RAM) targets. The system will only expand Tamirs against incoming rocket artillery. If you are out of Iron Dome missiles, you can provide a second tier of defense using airdropped Phalanx C-RAM -- though Phalanx guns are easily defeated by saturation barrage. Coupling Iron Dome coverage with C-RAM will provide a very robust defense against rocket artillery. Note that both the Iron Dome and Phalanx C-RAM are completely useless (will not even fire) against ballistic missiles. Only the big boy missiles (e.g. PAC-2, PAC-3/CRI, PAC-3/MSE) can engage ballistic missiles.
THAAD: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense -- not yet implemented in game:
(will be introduced in future MW Mod 5.x release) When implemented, THAAD will only engage medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs, so only No Dong missile in the game), but at a whopping 150km altitude in the edge of the space. With the engagement zone covering from 40km to 150km altitude, THAAD and PAC-3 MSE working together can provide a true "SHOOT LOOK SHOOT" capability for ballistic missile defense, where only 1 interceptor can be fired against the target, and still have time to fire a second interceptor if the first intercept fails. To introduce THAAD, gameplay changes to MRBMs will also need to be made for balancing reasons.
IFPC: Indirect Fire Protection Capability -- not yet implemented in game:
(will be introduced in future MW Mod 5.x release) This is a mobile frontline FMTV truck with 15-cell multi-mission missile launcher (MMU) that players can deploy and bring with them anywhere on the map to provide frontline air defense coverage. The MMU cells will be loaded with a mixture of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile w/ active radar seeker (ESSM Block II/SLAMRAAM-ER) for defense against aircraft and cruise missiles, Tamir/Iron Dome missiles for counter-rocket artillery, and Longbow Hellfire missiles for anti-tank/ground targeting support via offensive special ability. The IFPC truck will have to "join" the AIAMD network by enabling Defensive Ability (just like on Patriot SAM launchers) -- once joined into the network, Patriot and MEADS radars in the AIAMD network will remote-control the IFPC trucks for air defense operations. The IFPC should provide a refreshing upgrade from Stinger SHORAD SAMs for armor & infantry players.
With the recent revival of World in Conflict (www.massgate.org) community, there is now once again a case for continued and renewed development for MW Mod. While infantry role has now become the best role to play in WiC MW Mod (largely due to the infantry's ability to call on fire support channels and being able to dance all around the map with high mobility), air and missile defense (IAMD) continues to remain one of the most critical show pieces for the mod since its inception. Therefore, air defense will continue to evolve in MW Mod along with frontline force units.
Although air defense system was originally made to automate engagement against saturation missile attacks, the future of AIAMD in MW Mod 5.x is to evolve the air defense into a fully netted architecture that can be influenced by frontline infantry and armor units. Instead of air & missile defense solely being support player's role in the game, the future of air & missile defense in MW Mod will be a "plug and fight" architecture where the support player provides the baseline infrastructure with heavy sensors and massive firepower (missile defense radars, Heavy SAM, etc), and infantry and armor will "plug in" their own systems to specify where to defend, allowing the entire AIAMD network to dynamically adjust coverage on the move for infantry and armor.