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WSO Hand Controller Sticks

For WSO's of the F-15E there is much more to HOTAS than just functions attached to the throttle and stick switches. The WSO has two more sticks placed on the right and left instrument panel, which house another multitude of functions not for driving the jet but for handling its sensor and weapon systems. These two sticks represent the main working place for the WSO.
The sticks have to be grasped for a prolonged period of time on both sides, hence the huge wrist rests around the bases of them. It is interesting that the HOTAS functions on the left and right sticks are practically identical, the same switches trigger the same functions regardless from which side (left or right) they were triggered. The only difference is the switch placed on the outside of the stick head: on the left stick this is called the CMD dispense switch, while on the right stick this is called the interrogate switch. Due to the similarity of the switches' functions, we discuss them together in the following.
1l
1r
2
3
- CMD Dispense Switch
- Interrogate Switch
- Coolie Switch
Castle Switch
4
5
6
7
- TDC Switch
- Mode Reject Switch
- Trigger Switch
- Laser Fire Button
The functions of these switches and buttons are the following:
1l - CMD Dispense Switch: This is a 2-way switch. When tipped forward it engages CMD manual 1 program (dropping chaff), while tipped aft in engages CMD manual 2 program (semiautomatic countermeasure dispense).
1r - Interrogate Switch: This is a 2-way switch. When tipped forward it performs an IFF interrogate, while tipped aft it activates EWWS and NCTR.
2 - Coolie Switch: This is a 4-way switch. The switch on the left controller stick commands the MPCD and MPD which are on the left (that is MPCD #4 and MPD #5), the switch on the right controller stick commands the MPD and MPCD which are on the right (that is MPD #6 and MPCD #7). When tipped forward it scrolls the left/right MPD, when tipped aft it scrolls the left/right MPCD. When tipped left it puts the left MPCD/right MPD in command, when tipped right it puts the left MPD/right MPCD in command. Tipping the switch left or right while keeping the Master Caution button pressed moves the cautions on the caution display.
3 - Castle Switch: This is a 5-way switch: it can be tipped in 4 directions and can be pressed down as well. The functions invoked by switch tipping and pressing depend on which 'mode' the aircraft is currently in. The following options are possible:
  • When targeting FLIR, HRM or RBM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch aft performs a target designation, tipping the switch left performs a sensor cue, tipping the switch right performs a system update, while pressing the switch selects the next sequence point. Tipping the switch forward switches to map, however it is not possible if the targeting FLIR is viewed.
  • When in BCN mode, tipping the switch forward switches to map, tipping the switch aft performs a target designation, while pressing the switch selects the next sequence point.
  • When in SET mode, tipping the switch aft performs a target designation, tipping the switch left performs a sensor cue, tipping the switch right performs a system update, while pressing the switch performs a sequence point update.
  • When TSD is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch forward performs a radar cue, tipping the switch aft performs a FLIR cue, while pressing the switch selects the next sequence point.
  • When in A/A radar mode, tipping the switch forward puts the radar in MRM search mode, tipping the switch aft puts the radar in SRM search mode, tipping the switch left undesignates the target, tipping the switch right rejects current missile, while pressing the switch performs a quick step.
  • When in A/G guided weapon mode, tipping the switch forward switches to boresight view.
4 - TDC Switch: This is a 5-way switch: it can be tipped in 4 directions and can be pressed down as well. Pressing the switch down has an effect only when HRM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD - then it expands the map. Tipping the switch in the 4 directions can have different effects, depending on the 'mode' the aircraft is currently in. Note that the switch senses the force it is tipped to a direction - the stonger it is tipped, the faster the cursor moves. Here are the options:
  • When targeting FLIR or A/G guided weapon is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch controls LOS.
  • When HRM or RBM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch controls the cursor.
  • When in A/A radar mode, tipping the switch controls the acquisition symbol.
  • When TSD is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch controls the range/bearing line.
5 - Mode Reject Switch: This is a 3-way switch: it can be tipped forward and aft and can be pressed down as well. Functions invoked by tipping and pressing may differ, depending on which is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD. Here are the options:
  • When targeting FLIR is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch forward alternates between narrow and wide FOV, tipping the switch aft returns to cue, while pressing the switch down undesignates target or performs an MN reset (if cursor action is MN update).
  • When HRM or RBM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch forward sets a smaller window or range (or a smaller PPI range if the trigger switch is held at its first detent at the same time). Tipping the switch aft sets a larger window or range (or a larger PPI range if the trigger switch is held at its first detent at the same time), or alternates between pattern steering line enable/disable when cursor function is target. Pressing the switch down performs a mode reject or undesignate or MN reset (if cursor action is MN update).
  • When in A/A radar mode, tipping the switch forward sets high data rate TWS or RAM mode, tipping the switch aft sets normal TWS mode, while pressing the switch performs a mode reject.
  • When TSD is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch forward results in a smaller cue footprint, tipping the switch aft results in a larger cue footprint, while pressing the switch down returns to P.P.
  • When A/G guided weapon is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, tipping the switch forward alternates between narrow and wide FOV, tipping the switch aft returns to cue, while pressing the switch down performs a missile reject.
6 - Trigger Switch: This switch has two detents. The functions of pressing the switch to these detents vary depending on the 'mode' the aircraft is currently in. Here are the options:
  • When targeting FLIR is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pressing the switch to its first detent and releasing it turns the FLIR's track mode on and off. Pressing the switch to the second detent performs a designation cue update.
  • When a HRM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pressing the switch to its first detent enables expand or enables PPI range change. Pressing the switch to the second detent performs a designation cue update.
  • When in A/A radar mode, pressing the switch to its first detent enables radar elevation slewing. Pressing the switch to its second detent it performs a target designation.
  • When in RBM or BCN mode, pressing the switch to its first detent enables radar elevation slewing or enables PPI range change. Pressing the switch to its second detent it performs a designation cue update.
  • When TSD is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pressing the switch to its first detent and releasing it turns track mode on and off. Pressing the switch to the second detent enters cue command mode.
  • When A/G guided weapon is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pressing the switch to its first detent enables slewing. Pressing the switch to its first detent and releasing it enters track command mode.
7 - Laser Fire Button This is a simple push button the functions of which vary depending on the 'mode' the aircraft is currently in. Here are the options:
  • When targeting FLIR is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pushing the button fires the laser or stops firing it.
  • When HRM or RBM is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pushing the button freezes or unfreezes the map.
  • When A/G guided weapon is viewed on the active MPD/MPCD, pushing the button cages or uncages the seekerhead of the weapon.

Reference Photos

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Text © 2007 Szabolcs Serflek
Illustration © 2007 US Air Force / Szabolcs Serflek