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Viper pilots don't seem to have any means of targeting Cylon raiders. In this artist's rendition we see four main components:

  • The top sweeper, which is probably a short-distance radar
  • Center screen, main instrument panel
  • Two side-screens for auxilliary systems

Viper cockpit - artist's rendition

The top sweeper is positioned in a fabulously bad position for ergonomics. Moreover there is no HUD and the pilots don't seem to wear any helmet-mounted displays.

su27 HUD

This is the HUD of a Su-27 going guns on its target. It seems weird that even the earliest fighter biplanes had some way of lining up the shot so the low-tech explanation doesn't fit. But we know that the pilots don't (always) eye-ball their targets because they can be heard saying I can't get a lock! quite often.

In the spinoff Caprica I remember the Viper simulation didn't have any recognisable targeting systems either (but I could be wrong). So, how do the Vipers know where to shoot?

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  • How canon/accurate is that artist rendition? – phantom42 Jun 4 '14 at 17:13
  • @phantom42 I've seen vipers with components not present in the rendition but as far as the main screens go, I think it's accurate. I'm watching some episodes now to capture some good screenshots. – rath Jun 4 '14 at 17:16
  • The "lock" could be for missiles. – Xantec Jun 4 '14 at 17:27
  • I don't recall the Vipers carrying any missiles ever in the show... didn't that task fall to the Raptors? – eidylon Jun 4 '14 at 17:30
  • I think I've seen them fire missiles but it was only once. – rath Jun 4 '14 at 17:37
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I think, to be honest, you're reading too much into the phrase, "I can't get a lock". Most of the time, Vipers are shooting simple projectiles. While their instruments may help them to aim, there really isn't any "lock" involved in the way there would be with missiles.

In the end, these details were deliberately omitted by the writers because they didn't really matter. The story is not about the mechanics of dogfighting in space. It's about the people in the cockpits.

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