ACEVAL/AIMVAL

ACEVAL/AIMVAL

The United States Department of Defense chartered two back to back Joint Test & Evaluations that ran from 1974-78 at Nellis AFB. both the US Air Force and Navy participated contributing a team of F-15 Eagle and F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft using the local F-5E Aggressor aircraft as the Red Force.

Air Combat Evaluation JT&E

ACEVAL looked at whether tactics of high performance US aircraft against simpler threat type aircraft equipped with all aspect IR missiles.

Air Intercept Missile Evaluation JT&E

AIMVAL examined 5 missile concepts under consideration as replacements for the AIM-9L Sidewinder. AIMVAL findings were that the new missile seekers were no better than the AIM-9L resulting in termination of the Navy Agile off-boresight/thrust vector control Short Range Air-to-Air Missile program was under development and actual seeker hardware was utilized in AIMVAL.

Implications

ACEVAL/AIMVAL resulted in development of AMRAAM, but did not recommend development of a high off boresight SRM instead opting for a European led effort to develop ASRAAM. However, the Soviet Union did develop such a missile and fielded the AA-11 Archer (R-73) by 1985 taking the lead in SRM technology and performance for the first time since Sidewinder entered service and causing a variety of countries to develop SRM programs such as Python-4, ASRAAM, MICA IR, AIM-9X and IRIS-T to counter it and giving rise to supposition that they benefited more from ACEVAL/AIMVAL than did their western counterparts.

Additionally, part of the evaluation was to determine if the technology of the day had progressed to such a point that SA (Situational Awareness - a pilot's knowledge of the threat and his ability to fly and fight the aircraft) was no longer a factor. The natural expectation was that in the BVR (Beyond Visual Range - long range air to air missiles such as the AIM-7 Sparrow) trials at least, hardware advantages would drive engagement outcomes. Actual test results, however, proved otherwise. As in both historical combat experience and AIMVAL/ACEVAL, situation awareness proved to be "the single most important factor affecting engagement outcomes." For both sides, being aware of adversary weapons envelopes and keeping outside them to avoid being "shot," while trying to maneuver adversaries into their own weapons envelopes, proved as important and dominant as it had been in ACEVAL.

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