A very basic explanation of ELINT, Missiles, and general EWAR principles that may help you better understand what the game is telling you.
The SEARCH Radar panel’s basic operation should be familiar to most people: a line goes around a circle and makes a beep when it sees something. But what is it seeing and how is it seeing it?
As the device spins, a strong radio wave is emitted, and what it sees is those radio waves bouncing back from the target. The range is determined by the time differential. The fact that a radar involves sending out a signal will come in handy later.
When an object is detected, it appears as a horizontal line perpendicular to the direction it is moving away from you. The strength of the return is represented by this. This is a little hazy. In the real world, this is the proportion of sent radiation that is returned, which can be useful for determining the size of the detected object; however, because some things are more mirror-like than others, a small panel box truck may have a larger return than, say, a rounded passenger airliner.
Is this taken into account by HighFleet? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it doesn’t. For the time being, it is safe to assume that a ‘wider line means more or larger objects.’
Because it takes quite some time for the radar apparatus to spin, you can switch to ‘sector mode’ and have it quickly oscillate across a certain 60-degree region, providing you with constant intel about a contact.
There is also a toggle to switch between air and ground mode.
Finally, there are the ‘one’ and ‘infinity’ buttons. When the infinity button is pressed, the radar is always on. Pressing it will turn off the system. Pressing ‘1’ will finish the current cycle and then turn off the system. If the system is turned off, pulse it through one cycle. In the following section, we’ll go over why you want to manage this.
You’ve also got a TRACKING radar. Instead of a special panel, this is simply the point at which red icons appear on your map in real-time. You now have enough resolution to determine their exact velocity and heading.
Elint is an abbreviation for “Electronic Intelligence.” Which covers a dizzying array of practical fields, but only one for our purposes: the detection of enemy radars.
Remember how we talked about how a radar works? Consider shining a flashlight around and looking for anything reflective. You may have to get pretty close, but anyone you point it at can see a light, even if you can’t see the shine of their metal belt buckle.
Here’s where your ELINT panel comes in handy. When a strong enough source of radio waves to be RADAR is detected, the panel will begin to light up. The outside string of circle lamps indicates the relative direction of the signal source. SIGNAL STRENGTH is indicated by the smaller lamps that fill up. This can loosely translate to the range, but not always. A strong radar far away and a weak radar close by may both produce the same return.
Consider that more lamps indicate that the enemy is more certain of your location.
Consider that you are not the only person in the world who owns this device. As a result, the continuous operation of your own RADAR may be activating enemy detectors! Because you are essentially spinning a flashlight over your head, it is important to be disciplined about when and why you use it. If you know your adversary is hunting, you want to be able to see them, but electronic detection is a two-way street!
To avoid enemy interception, you can pulse your radar and then change course. To avoid exposing your main fleet, use strike groups with their own radars, among other tactics. However, just like in stealth games, only turn on your ‘flashlight’ when necessary and when you’re comfortable being seen.
Tactical Missiles (the kind you fire from the map screen) come in a variety of flavors, but only two types of guidance. The majority of missiles are a hybrid of ARH and SARH. This is referred to as “Active Radar Homing” and “Semi-Active Radar Homing.”
If an enemy is within your tracking radar’s range, that is, they are now a real-time red marker on your map, any missile you fire at them will be in SARH mode. The missile is ‘watching’ the return from your ship’s own radar, using its stronger energy and displacement to precisely triangulate the enemy’s speed and direction in order to intercept it. As a result, it will be extremely accurate.
Missiles will default to ARH mode if you do not have tracking resolution on the enemy. They will activate their own, smaller onboard radar and use it to get a closer look at the enemy. This means you can fire at enemies you know the location of but can’t ‘see,’ but your weapons won’t be as accurate as they could be without the help of your ship’s radar.
The other type, which appears on missiles with a designation ending in P, is ‘ARM,’ which stands for “Anti-Radiation Missile.” Instead of using radar to detect the enemy, these missiles simply point to the strongest source of radio waves and dive at it. Essentially, they SEEK OUT enemy radar. This is yet another reason to turn off your own radar! When there is no radiation to seek, the missile will simply drift away or even turn on another enemy target. (In the absence of any other radiation source, it is possible that your own missiles will seek you out! This could be a bug, but consider turning off your radar before firing.)
Jamming is frequently misunderstood as a ‘stealth’ ability due to its use in other games, but this could not be further from the truth. Consider it like this:
In our previous analogy of radar as a flashlight, the enemy can see you if they can see your light. Their weapons will track the reflection of their lights. You can turn off your light if you don’t want them to find you, but what can you do if they have already found you?
Because their weapons systems are looking for a reflection of their ‘light source,’ you can turn on the brightest light you have. Any missiles heading your way can now only see light no matter where they look. They will miss if there is no way to differentiate targets!
But there are two issues. To confuse enemy missiles, you essentially set off a flashbang that never stops as long as your jammer is turned on. This cannot be missed by the enemy’s ELINT. A jammer in action broadcasts your location to EVERYONE. However, it will also prevent them from getting a good read on you using any of their actual RADAR. The Jammer’s purpose is to confuse people who already know where you are, not to conceal you!
The other issue is our previous section’s friend, the ARM. He is not dazzled by the jammer. The jammer, on the other hand, is the biggest bullseye he’s ever seen. If your adversary launches an AR missile at you, an active jammer will attract it like a magnet! This can be used to protect more valuable ships as a last resort, but we should ideally turn off our RADAR and not try to jam ARMs.