During air-combat missions over Vietnam, Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) became more and more lethal. Stan Arthur, then a lieutenant commander flying in A-4 Skyhawk squadrons, describes the challenge:
You always wanted to see the SAM. So the first thing was if anyone saw the SAM, make sure that you got it broadcast so that people knew where the right place to look was. Because the sooner you could see it, the more opportunity you had to evade it. Basically what you tried to do is get the SAM “nose-on” if you could, because if you lost trail of it behind you, you didn’t know when to make a hard right.
You would try to get it in your front quarter view so that you had it on either side of your nose. Basically, you would watch it until you thought you had to make a move. Then you had to make a dramatic move, and usually it was down, rather than up and away. If you went up, you’d let off too much airspeed, so you needed as much energy because the SAMs could pull more Gs than you could. But they were going a lot faster, and so even though they could “out G” you, they couldn’t always out turn you.