DCS: F/A-18C first training video for Datalink

The power of a fourth gen fighter jet is becoming much clearer to me with the latest feature for the DCS: F/A-18C coming later this week. I am speaking of the Hornet’s Datalink features through the Link16 standard. The latest training video from Matt Wagner goes in-depth on just some of the features for Datalink and what it will do for our situational awareness in flight.

This is a gamechanger

I try not to do the hyperbole that often but I think ‘gamechanger’ is warranted in this case as Link16 and the Datalink system for the DCS: F/A-18C give us a lot of new features and possibilities. Being able to get IFF, target information, prioritizing threats, and being able to do that with a mix of sensors on my own aircraft and from other aircraft in theater (particularly from an AWACS) is an impressive feat.

The work on Datalink, the MIDS and SA pages, also starts the efforts to bring in more realistic IFF capabilities to the Hornet which will be expanded over time. Being able to get the IFF and type information of targets either by radio or through radar identification (by scanning the aircraft’s intake and fan structure) and then keeping those tagged takes a lot of guesswork out and provides an impressive advantage.

Jump into the 18-minute overview right now and see for yourself:

Sharing and donating data

What’s really interesting to me is the aircraft that can share data already. AI F-15s (but not the FC3 F-15 apparently), the E-2 and E-3 AWACS, other F/A-18Cs and in the future F-16C as well. Also mentioned, though currently crossed out, is the Link4 which is present on the F-14 in real life and I can only imagine is somewhere on the DCS: F-14 roadmap. The A-10C is also part of the network with Matt Wagner reporting the following:

A-10C can broadcast PPLI over L16 gateway.

Matt Wagner on YouTube

The Hornet will, once it gets this update, have an unprecedented level of situational awareness that other aircraft simply don’t have at the moment and that will give it some distinct advantages.

The Hornet’s Datalink will show off a lot of information gathered from a variety of sources.

At this point I don’t know how the DCS: F-14 will factor into the networked data but I’m already excited to see DCS: F/A-18C and DCS: F-14B teams working together – sharing data on targets and other information is impressive too.

I’m also very excited to learn that the SAM threat circles will be part of the early implementation so we’ll also have a more impressive idea of where SAM sites are and what range capabilities they have. This all goes towards making SAM avoidance easier and SEAD missions even more interesting.

Datalinks for all?

The Su-27 has its own Datalink capabilities and is one of the earliest aircraft in DCS World to support that kind of ability. But there’s a problem, my understanding is that this feature is not available in multiplayer. At least, it isn’t right now but Eagle Dynamics’ work developing the Link16/DL/SA feature for the Hornet now means that they have the multiplayer feature of this worked out and can now turn around and implement it for the Flanker.

This would help mitigate some of the advantages that the BLUEFOR team have in player-versus-player matches.

Bringing the Datalink capability to the DCS World toolkit also has future implications for modules such as the F-16C but also the JF-17 Thunder which, under development by Deka Ironworks, may have a simplified Datalink according to the developers (the real one being very classified).

Adding Datalink introduces a new kind of “arms race” in the DCS World competitive multiplayer community and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months and years.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. DIAMOND 4-1 | Honza says:

    Well, D/L on Su-27 works in MP without problem for almost year. On blue flag its especially usefull.


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      The subject came up again this morning on the DCS Facebook group and they are saying that it doesn’t work correctly.

      Apparently AWACS can feed the datalink in this case but not other Su-27s as it does in single player.

      I’m hoping we’ll see this fixed.


      1. Eviscerador says:

        Could be, but as it is now, the Su 27 and redfor have the upper hand in SA currently on MP. Just with the awacs info it is more than enough, considering that other planes don’t have that luxury.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        That’s a very good point too. The AWACS datalink is already a huge advantage. This definitely gets interesting with Link16 and even Link4.


      3. DIAMOND 4-1 | Honza says:

        I dont know about awacs but datalink on Su-27 can be used in connection with EWR’s deployed by helicopters into the field. Main problem of link 4/16 is, when AWACS gets shot down, you cant do anything, only other planes can feed your DL (link4 is limited in ammount of feeds + it wont communicate with E3, only E2C, F14’s and ships equiped with link4), and most of the players on MP are quite incompetent in using radar corectly. About Mp, datalink in F/A-18 wont change almost anything in multiplayer PVP scenario, one single plane can wipe out awacs for 6 hours and link16 wont work with EWR’s. ( blue flag scenario )

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how this may play out. One thing I’m confused about is if Link16 works jet to jet without AWACS. I thought it did.


      5. DIMAOND 4-1 | Honza says:

        Yes it does but i dont know exact number of feeds it can receive but F/A-18’s, F15E’s and F16’s can comunicate with each other (and other platforms with link 16, like rafale, EF2000, Jas39 … ) and A10’s are connected to this link via gateway (wont be in DCS atm), F14 can be connected to link 16 via gateway with some limitations but it wont be modelled here i think. Biggest limitation for PVP is need for AWACS for proper scan of area, radar of F/A-18 is able to detect fighter sized fighter at 70nm +- in high alt. Biggest problem for sharing between fighters (f/a18’s) is IFF, if F/A-18 wont have IFF this update, all contact withou feed from E-3/2 wont be identified aka same story as now.


      6. ShamrockOneFive says:

        That all sounds gamechanging to me. Having ownship as well as nearby fighters providing the picture gives a lot of extra info that you may not have on your own. IFF is part of the update, at least, this is what was shown in the video so with AWACS or individual aircraft interrogating (or doing type recognition using radar) is a massive step up.


  2. Blue 5 says:

    First step into a larger world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Launchpad says:

    How do you switch DDI? I can only control the right one


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      There’s a HOTAS control (I forget which one it is right now) that lets you select the appropriate DDI. Sensor select perhaps?


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