Third party DCS developer Heatblur has been busy working on a couple of aircraft over the last two years. One was the AJS-37 Viggen which was released in January. The other part of the Heatblur team has been busy with an aircraft that has a reputation all of its own: the F-14 Tomcat!
Tom Cruise starred in the 1986 Top Gun movie but the real star for many of us was the F-14. This huge fleet defense fighter was surprisingly agile while also incredible fast with a Mach 2 plus speed, variable geometry wings, AIM-54 missiles with incredible range and a powerful radar to match.
Heatblur is intending to let us relive many of those movie memories with access to the high-fidelity DCS level F-14A and F-14B.
Not just an aircraft
Because of the complexity and the need for both front and back seat (where the RIO or Radar Intercept Officer sat) the team is not just building an aircraft but an entire AI subset called “Jester AI.”
Jester AI will manage back seat operations in a realistic manner having the same advantages and drawbacks that a real RIO would have – or at least that’s the goal. The RIO will also be able to spot flares, aircraft, and incoming missiles but again with the aim of that spotting ability being no better (or hopefully no worse) than a regular human.
The F-14 needs that back seat officer to help manage the radar and other electronics while the pilot up front flies the plane. The two in combination are needed to lock weapons and fire missiles.
The F-14 is also largely an analog aircraft (especially in the versions being modeled) with an analog control scheme that helped mitigate some of the aircrafts nasty handling habits but not all of them. As many have described it, the F-14 is a pilots aircraft, one that has incredible capability and agility but also one that can get out of control in a hurry.
Heatblur is also busy making sure that the F-14 is carrier ready.
The model itself is still in progress so there is no texture maping on it yet but it already has that tough and menacing F-14 look about it.
Useful in upcoming scenarios
This is going to be an aircraft that will surely have some popularity in the flight sim scene and its yet another aircraft that will be fun to engage in operations in the upcoming Strait of Hormuz map. Potentially we could see F-14Bs operate from US Navy carriers while Iranian F-14As (Iran is the only nation still flying F-14s at present BTW) operate from land bases also potentially on the map.
This also complements the F/A-18 under development by Eagle Dynamics and Belsimtek. Suddenly there will be two flyable U.S. Navy carrier aircraft and DCS will no doubt be better for it.
Until then we have images on the Heatblur Facebook page and YouTube videos with far more details than I’ve got down here.