The Su-33 to receive big update in DCS

Eagle Dynamics news for this week announced that the Su-33 Flanker, a carrier-borne derivative of the Su-27, will be receiving some big updates for owners of Flaming Cliffs. A new flight model as well as some new features, engine modes and revised carrier physics are all part of the update.

What is the ‘Professional Flight Model’?


DCS has multiple levels of flight and system modelling which can make things a bit confusing at times.

The Standard Flight Model (SFM) comes from Lock On: Modern Air Combat and represents an older way of doing flight modeling on PC flight sims. Its data driven and has scripted elements to it. For example, in the older versions of aircraft using the SFM you could perform a ‘cobra maneuver’ by button press.

Advanced Flight Model (AFM) goes with a more physics based model simulating actual forces on aircraft surfaces to achieve a realistic feeling of flight. Fewer or no scripted elements are a part of this flight model. Hydraulics and fuel system modeling comprise a AFM+ setup.

Finally, DCS started down the road of Professional Flight Model (PFM) a few years ago and have been slowly updating aircraft to support this level of detail. Realistic simulation of nearly all elements of aircraft including its construction (such as the individual elements of a landing gear system, its hydraulics, etc.), flight surfaces, wind tunnel testing, and other data are all fed into the system. I’m sure I’m not doing the complexity of this justice but nonetheless its a very high level of detail.

At the moment, aircraft like the F-15C and Su-27 have been upgraded to use the Professional Flight Model while other aircraft from the same Flaming Cliffs release are using the Advanced Flight Model and some including the MiG-29 and the Su-33 are still using the old Standard Flight Model.

Whats the big deal? Upgrading the Su-33 (and MiG-29) will bring those aircraft into a level of flight modelling detail that hasn’t previously been available. Their flight feeling should be one of more nuance and detail and there won’t be scripted stalls or other departures from normal flight – it’ll all be handled by the physics systems.

New Su-33 features


In addition to the Su-33 PFM update, we’re also seeing some new features for the aircraft.

Here are some highlights directly from the update:

  • The adaptations that make the Su-33 aircraft carrier-capable have been updated and improved to include the wing-fold mechanism, reinforced landing gear struts, and the inclusion of high-gain nose wheel steering for use on crowded carrier decks.
  • The physical mechanisms by which the arrestor hook engages the aircraft carrier arrestor wire has been greatly improved. Correct physics have been applied to the arrestor wire and its’ interaction with the aircraft.
  • The automatic collision avoidance system (“Uvod” mode) is now included and allows safe nap-of-the-earth flying.

There are many others so I encourage you to check out the full update for details. For carrier based aircraft fans, things are looking up in DCS with the Su-33 receiving upgrades and carrier interactions in general being updated. Of course the addition of the F/A-18C Hornet and Nimitz Carrier along with the Straight of Hormuz map will provide some interesting possibilities and potentially even some carrier duels in the future of the series.

Featured images and screenshots come from the DCS World Weekend News Update.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pixel Dust says:

    Don’t forget, each 3rd party vendor also has their own proprietary flight model, too, the mysterious EFM, which no two vendors share..

    It’s hard to know, in the virtual skies over DCSW, if you are seeing realistically comparable flight performance when you take any one aircraft up against your opponents, particularly in PvP.

    It is the single greatest flaw in DCSW; unless all aircraft use the same model (as in BoX), then you never know whether the relative virtual performance is accurate. For me, that is a critical aspect of a simulation.

    There is no way for a virtual pilot to know whether his “aircraft” is modeled correctly or not.

    So when your SU-33 flies against the MiG-29, it’s a virtual “crap-shoot” knowing whether you are seeing a realistic interaction, or an artificial one. It is simply unrealistic (which we all strive for) to expect an aircraft modeled using the PFM to interact correctly with one using the SFM.

    Couple that with the odd pairing of “system modeling” variations within a aircraft flight modeling type, and you have a real hodge-podge of aircraft software models.

    I suppose it matters little to anyone except the PvP pilot who regularly “loses” his virtual combats due to such flaws. It is why I have suspended purchases from DCSW until they get it sorted out.

    See this DCSW website for the latest tables showing which aircraft has which flight model, and which flight model varies with system models within its class:

    IL-2 series suffers from NONE of this. You can argue whether one or another BoX aircraft is modeled correctly, but you will never see such wide swings in basic modelling characteristics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I’ve been meaning to write something about this.

      The DCS module and third party system has some huge advantages in spreading out the workload and making it possible for us to get some aircraft that the DCS team hasn’t been able to focus on – the Mirage 2000, F-5 and Viggen were labours of love as much as they were commercial products. But they do come with that negative where there’s lot of disparity between the modules.

      There is not enough cohesion between the aircraft and the various systems and flight modeling going on. I’m hopeful in time that everything will be brought up to a more standardized standard but we haven’t heard either way I don’t think.

      IL-2, to its credit, has solidly kept everything under the same system and is even going so far as to update the entire global modeling to improve rudder/roll coupling for every single aircraft in the series. As I understand it, they could have done it the same way ED did and made distinctions between aircraft but they elected not to.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s