2019 Drive 05/31/2019Can you lend a hand? GET STARTED TODAY
Well, Heatblur finally released the F-14B into Early Access. If you aren't familiar with DCS, you may like to know that you need to run the module in the DCS World OpenBeta, rather than the full-up version. I hadn't touched OpenBeta and only played DCS every now and again in the past, so I was glad to find that out. I'm quite impressed with the module to say the least. The Jester AI is easy as pie to interact with, making long-range engagements very straightforward. I did three sorties tonight, after a control shakeout (DCS likes to assign axes to everything!) and basic familiarization flight. The first mission I forgot to set the time to 1200 and left it on "Random". So, a pitch-black fight against a MiG-21 it was! I have the tags on, still, in part because the monitor can slip out of my glasses field of view with TrackIR, and I can at least see a little red blob against the terrain, so that helped, but it does feel like cheating and I'll be shutting it off at some point. I was able to down the Fishbed and get back to base.
This is fine! No problem at all...
Second fight was in Nevada doing long-range stuff to check out Phoenix. The final fight was the included "MiG-28" fight, which was a 4v2 which sees you take a catapult shot and bring the plane back to land. Because we had an E-2 in the area, we got a vector for the bandits, ROE was splash anything that went feet-wet. I still haven't figured out how to direct the wingman, so he was effectively along for the ride. At about 25NM, TWS-A selected, I loosed both AIM-54Cs at a MiG-28 a piece, both missiles tracked and splashed their targets. Next bandit I got with my second Sparrow missile. The final guy got a shot off at my wingman, but his missile took dash-2's flares. Both AIM-9 shots I took were trashed and I had to finish him off with the gun. Plenty of gas left, but now I know I've gotta put it down on the boat, and man am I glad I went straight home, because I think it took me about 10 tries to get back on deck, and that last try, let me tell you - one of those famous "we land NOW, GOD-DAMMIT!" one-wires where I just barely missed a ramp strike. Wasn't pretty and I know I damaged the plane because little holes appeared on the port-side of the nose of the model to signify that the section had taken a beating. Funny enough, in combat, I only put 6.8g on the plane!
Cat on the 'Cat
No kill like a GUNS kill!
I think it would come as the understatement of the century to say I was anticipating this module, but I will also say that until Heatblur did their official announcement video, I had zero confidence it would ever get done. The DCS community has been burned plenty of times in the past, and HB had run into problems and setbacks of their own while in development. My mindset became: once it's on my hard drive, then I'll believe it. As videos began to roll in, however, it became more like a kid on Christmas "oh man, I can't wait." Well, now I have it, and I can share some first impressions.
The model is friggin' fantastic. The level of detail on it is stunning both externally and in the cockpit. The rivet-counters will have a tough time on this one; the models are based on laser-scanned F-14s sitting in museums, and years worth of research. The sounds are also amazing, to include a lot of clickyness to the various buttons and switches in the cockpit. The view out of the cockpit is very good, as one would expect out of a bubble canopy, but not as good in the forward quarter as an airplane without the "jail bars" splitting the windscreen. That said, with TrackIR or VR, you can simply move your head a little, or lean forward or back to keep tally.
You can see clear through the tails from the front seat. In this case, I just started flying through a cloud, so it's a little blurry.
The Jester AI, like I mentioned earlier, is very intuitive and easy to interact with. Even without reading the manual on how to interact, I figured it out in the first combat flight I took. The single biggest thing that will take time to learn is the flight model and handling characteristics. The F-14 is truly a stick and rudder plane, and the F-14s in Strike Fighters 2 don't even come close to simulating the adverse elements of the F-14's handling, especially wing rock and control reversal. I wouldn't consider myself a contender online at the moment, and the fact that I was able to take out the AI aircraft in a gunfight at this stage is simply because they are AI. If you hop in expecting the plane to hold your hand like the F/A-18C module, you're in for a ride. It has no g-limiter, no alpha limiter, beta (yaw) limiter, etc. It's you talking directly to the control surfaces and them doing whatever the hell you tell them to, be it to your advantage or detriment. "Need to get out of the way of that missile and put the stick in your lap? Fine! 10g ain't the worst I've been through! Boot full of rudder? I'm not stopping you! Canopy jettison followed by...oh, you son of a..."
In terms of overall maneuverability (sustained/instantaneous "g", roll rate, etc.) the airplane feels good. If I didn't jack it up and start rocking the wings, I was able to turn perfectly fine and loaded as much as 9.8g on the plane in one of my fights without complaint. A major saving grace against the F-5s when I got the plane out of shape is the fact that the B adds energy quick, and I was able to stabilize the plane and quickly curl inside their turns to go from defensive, to neutral, to offensive reliably and repeatedly. I actually had to get one of them off of my dead six o'clock (he shot a missile while there, but it took my flares) and was able to reverse the situation in a manner of seconds. The F110's power also gives the plane a lot of options, such as pushing the fight vertical, or un-f*cking your carrier approach when you jack it up and almost put yourself into the back of the boat for the fourth time. AoA and airspeed are very important to pay attention to, and the rudders will make or break you in a dogfight or at slow speeds. I still haven't felt out the slow speed regime intentionally yet. I have run the plane out of airspeed during some hamfisted dogfighting moments, but honestly, it recovers itself pretty quickly, and it maintains a degree of controllability even below 100KIAS, such that I was able to point the nose where I wanted with the rudders as the plane flopped over and began regaining speed. It also allows you to go to full flaps for slow-speed flight/fighting without needing to pull the aux flap circuit breaker (of the few things not [yet] modeled, one is the circuit breakers). As I build confidence, I'll start looking to test my skills against MiG-29s, Su-27s, etc., and eventually get into multiplayer, but right now, I'm still learning the thing.
Overall, it's a really amazing module. Every video I've seen talking about this module says that Heatblur set a new bar for aircraft in DCS. I agree. The plane is spectacular. You'll need to put in the time to learn it, but man, is it rewarding to fly. At some point in the future, the F-14A will be released, and the package already comes with a carrier and A-6, so its steeper asking price of $79.99 gets you more than just a single jet. In my opinion, it's well worth the asking price.
I'm sure that'll buff out...
DCS World Lunar New Year Sale
Save 50% off on most DCS World products until 14 February 2019! The DCS: F/A-18C Hornet and DCS: Persian Gulf Map are available for 25% off. Take advantage of this great opportunity from here.
Exceptions include recently released and pre-order titles: DCS: Christen Eagle II by Magnitude 3 LLC, DCS: F-14 Tomcat by Heatblur Simulations, and the A-10C Enemy Within 3.0 Campaign by Baltic Dragon.
DCS World Open Beta Update
This weeks Open Beta update changelog can be found here.
Updates to the recently released DCS: Christen Eagle II and MiG-21bis by Magnitude 3 LLC Updates to the C-101EB and C-101CC by AvioDev Hornet updates like corrected LAU-61 rocket weight, AIM-7 guidance without radar lock, and updated BRA and A/A Waypoint color and BRA selection Updates to several campaigns
The Enemy Within 3.0 Campaign by Baltic Dragon
This week Baltic Dragon’s latest A-10C campaign was released that can be purchased here.
The Enemy Within 3.0 is a complete remake of the critically-acclaimed The Enemy Within campaign for the A-10C Warthog. This story-driven campaign puts you in cockpit of the Warthog as part of a small, 6-ship US detachment sent to Georgia. Your mission is to help contain a growing threat from a terrorist organization calling itself the "Caucasus Liberation Army" (CLA). As the story unfolds, you will be faced with a variety of challenges, including close air support, precision strikes, combat search and rescue, anti-ship strikes, and even air to air combat.
Striving to be as realistic as possible, the units featured in the campaign are based on their real-life counterparts. It also uses a sophisticated radio control system, meaning that you must tune your on-board radios to the correct frequency to hear the more than 2000 custom voice overs available throughout 21 missions.Compared to the original campaign, version 3.0 offers following great additions and changes:
20 out of 21 missions have been rewritten from scratch. This includes the course of action, dialogues, briefings and background information More than 2/3 of the missions take place in different locations than the original ones, and most feature different challenges and enemies to provide a completely new experience, 3 entirely new missions that are designed to complement and extend the storyline The 8 pilot and 3 commander characters featured throughout the campaign have almost 4x more custom voice overs (over 2100) Additional documents and custom kneeboard pages are available for each sortie
DCS: F/A-18C Hornet Update
Our Hornet team continues their hard work on the cockpit systems, sensors and weapons of the F/A-18C. The current focus is on:
Target of Opportunity (TOO) and Pre-Briefed (PB) HARM modes. Once complete, we will start work on the Litening II targeting pod for the Hornet; the ATFLIR will come at a later point in early access. Note that US Marine Corps Hornet’s operate the Litening II pod. However, this is not a simple copy and paste from the A-10C Litening II pod; this is still a significant amount of work, but it will allow us to bring a Hornet TGP into the game faster than the ATFLIR A huge amount of work is ongoing with the data link (D/L). This is probably the most complex system for the Hornet given the network sharing and new code that needs to be created. We are making good progress, and it will be a “game changer”. This will also address a new system of IFF in which locking an aircraft is no longer required to IFF interrogate it. The Hornet can operate on a D/L network and receive and correlate data from other Link-16 equipped aircraft (F/F) and surveillance aircraft like E-2 and E-3 AWACS (SURV) In additional to cleaning up the DUD and fuze logic / pull-up cue and break X for HD bombs, progress has been quite rapid on JDAM and JSOW. Like D/L, this is also a rather complex task that will take time. Like HARM, these GPS-guided weapons have both TOO and pre-planned modes with many attack options Work is ongoing on the Latent Track While Scan (LTWS) and Track While Scan (TWS) air-to-air radar modes. This will in turn tie into the D/L We expect to see several of these items available this month.
New DCS World Features
Available now in the Open Beta and coming soon, are two new features for DCS World:
Wake Turbulence. Just like the wake behind a ship, an aircraft also produces a turbulence wake behind it, with the strongest forces coming off the wingtips as vortices. DCS World will now be modeling these as an option and will add a new level of realism and challenge when flying formations, aerial refueling, and air-to-air combat. Battle Damage Assessment. Displayed along the left side of the screen when a target is damaged or destroyed by the player, these notifications appear. A red notification indicates a destroyed target and a yellow notification with a percentage indicates a damaged target. When in the cockpit, it can often be difficult to know if a target was hit and damaged. This optional feature is provided to remove that mystery.
DCS: MiG-19P Farmer Update
The MiG-19P was originally planned for a release in January, but after an extensive review of the MiG-19, we and RAZBAM have decided to postpone its release until a few items are resolved. These include some needed improvements to the flight model and documentation. It’s RAZBAM’s desire to release the MiG-19P in a finished state so it will need just a little more time in the oven to meet this expectation.
The Eagle Dynamics Team