DCS: F/A-18 weapons, sensors, early access roll out

Eagle Dynamics is continuing to do small bug significant updates via their Facebook page on their DCS: F/A-18C Hornet module. Today we’re learning about some (but not all) of the sensors and weapon systems that the module will support. We’re also learning how Early Access will roll out and what will and will not be there initially.

The Hornet won’t be fully functional on early access

I think its safe to say that the Hornet module is still in its infancy in terms of the development stages required to make it a complete and whole module. To be fair, its a complex aircraft with multi-role capabilities and more than a dozen different sensors and weapon systems to support. Compare that to something more simple like the F-5 or even the Mirage 2000C and you start to understand why its taken so long to put together.

Hornet with new tanks

On early access only some of the systems will work and only some weapon systems will be integrated.

Here’s the official list for early access weapons:

  • Mk-82 series
  • Mk-83 series
  • Mk-84 series
  • Mk-77 Fire Bomb
  • CBU-99 and Mk-20 Cluster Bombs
  • BDU-33 Training Bomb
  • BDU-45 Training Bomb
  • 2.75 inch rockets
  • 5 inch rockets
  • 20mm cannon
  • AIM-9L/M and CATM Sidewinder
  • AIM-7F/M/P Sparrow

And the early access sensors:

  • A/A radar with RWS, STT, and ACM modes

Now compare that with the finalized list of weapons:

  • AGM-88C HARM
  • AGM-45A/B Shrike
  • AGM-84D Block 1C Harpoon
  • AGM-84E SLAM
  • AGM-84H SLAM-ER
  • AGM-65E Maverick
  • AGM-65F/G Maverick
  • AGM-154A JSOW
  • AGM-154C JSOW
  • Walleye I ER/DL
  • Walleye II ER/DL
  • GBU-10 Paveway II
  • GBU-12 Paveway II
  • GBU-16 Paveway II
  • GBU-24B/B Paveway III
  • GBU-38 JDAM
  • GBU-31 JDAM
  • GBU-32 JDAM
  • AIM-9X Sidewinder
  • AIM-120B/C AMRAAM
  • Mk-40 Destructor Sea Mine
  • Mk-63 Quickstrike Sea Mine

Decoys:

  • ADM-141 TALD
  • GEN-X

And sensors:

  • A/A radar with TWS, SCAN RAID, AZ/EL
  • A/G radar with MAP, EXP1, EXP2, EXP3, SEA, GMT, PVU, AGR, IRA, and TA
  • AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR Targeting Pod
  • Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)
  • Link-16
  • AWW-13 Datalink Pod

It’s no small wonder that more complex guided missile systems are going to take more development time. The same can be said of more complex sensors and datalink systems which probably require significant coding and tweaking to make them work like their real life counterparts.

The early part of the F/A-18’s access it will be limited to AIM-7 Sparrows for its medium range missile complement along with the more limited AIM-9L for its top level short range dogfight missile. Though neither of these are inadequate weapons, they are a step down from the eventual addition of the AIM-120B/C AMRAAM medium range missiles and the significant upgrade that the JHMCS and AIM-9X combination offer.

Hornet-cockpit

A mix of unguided bombs, rockets and cluster munitions round out the air-to-ground capabilities for now. The fancier standoff weapons come later, presumably when the air-to-ground radar capabilities are added.

Some folks are likely to be disappointed and really what they should be waiting for is the final release where everything is finished and ready. Hopefully bug free by then too. That could take a while so people who are anxious can get in early. The spin on this is that learning the Hornet will be an iterative process for all with early access letting you learn just a few systems at first and then as new systems are added you can learn how those work too.

Check out Eagle Dynamics Facebook page for details on this and more.

Speculation on early access release date?

With these details released today it seems to me that early access for this module may not be too far away. It doesn’t make too much sense for Eagle Dynamics to be talking about this, preparing expectations, and then not make this available relatively soon after. Does this mean that we’ll see the F/A-18C module enter into early access before the end of the year? I’m giving that a 50/50 chance but I could be wrong.g

What about DCS World 2.5? I think, though this may not be accurate, that DCS World 2.5 and F/A-18C might be linked. We’ve seen no images and no indications that this module has been inserted into DCS World 1.5 in any way. So its possible that this may also herald the beginning of the end of World 1.5 and finally seeing the merge for 2.5 coming into play.

We’ll see!

Image source: Eagle Dynamics Facebook page

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