The latest updates on the DCS: F/A-18C have been focused on the JDAM munitions and a recent video update from Matt Wagner cover some of the latest changes including some base functionality updates for DCS World. Let’s also recap what’s coming up next for the Hornet and talk about the frequency of updates.
Work continues on the Hornet’s various weapons and systems with the JDAM GBU-38, GBU-31, and GBU-32 bombs. The Hornet supports targets of opportunity (TOO) and pre-planned (PP) mode for the bombs. The key for these weapons is precise coordinates so that the bombs are targeting the exact position that you want to hit with the GPS guided weapon.
Unlike a laser guided bomb where painting the target is essential, the JDAM doesn’t need external support from a laser but rather relies on the GPS coordinates provided by satellite to track to target.
Coordinates can now be displayed to one-hundredth of a second in the mission editor (using left alt-Y to cycle coordinate types) and from there you can use that to enter detailed coordinates into the Hornet’s UFC which also now accepts targets down to that level of precision.
Matt Wagner takes us through all of these updates in his latest video series walking us through the abilities of the Hornet and talking about these latest changes to the Hornet. If you’re a Hornet driver and want to get the latest scoop on how these systems are now working, check this video out!
Updates still in the pipe
We’re now a full year past when the DCS: F/A-18C Hornet was unleashed into DCS World and it has grown in capability considerably since then. If you’ll recall, when the Hornet first launched, we had the AIM-9L, AIM-7 variants, and a variety of unguided bombs. There was no advanced IFF, no datalink, and no precision guided munitions.
A year later and the Hornet has picked up a lot of different systems and it’s had an influence on DCS World bringing in the technology for raindrops, over wing and leading edge vapour trails, as well as spurring on development of more robust technologies that support air defense suppression, carrier ops and systems like datalink.
A lot of the Hornet’s potential is already realized yet it still has a way to go. Some of the things that the Hornet is influencing such as integrated air defenses, an updated FLIR rendering system, and air-to-ground radar are not quite here yet.
Last week, Matt Wagner gave us the latest update on the things that the team is focused on:
The big items (in no particular order) that we are working on for the Hornet include:Matt Wagner, DCS World Forums
– Cleaning up the JDAM and adding new features to the JDAM
– Adding the JSOW (already in internal test)
– Add full simulation of GPS and INS alignment and navigation systems
– PRECISE waypoint input mode
– Correcting HARM guidance
– MIDS for LTWS and TWS
– Litening II targeting pod
Regarding PB mode for HARM, we decided to push this back for two reasons: 1- based on client feedback, the targeting pod is much more in demand, and 2- we first want to complete the new waypoint database system that will allow creating of PB points.
The next Hornet update is planned for May 8th.
From that list, we can now check off the following features which were added in the patch on Wednesday:
Emergency braking system corrected.
Fixed JDAM QTY related crash.
GBU-38 corrected maximum range
HARM flight profile for SP and TOO modes adjusted to remove loft.
That leaves the team with some pretty big ticket items and that leads me to the last segment of this post.
Are updates coming fast enough?
Every time a DCS: F/A-18C Hornet update comes out I see the comment that the Hornet has been out for a while and “it should be finished by now.” While everyone is certainly free to express their thoughts, concerns, and comments on these things I’m honestly having difficulty understanding their viewpoint.
Although Hornet updates are now coming once a month, a lot of the reason that was given for that revolves around the need for the team to work on some big features that need more than a couple of weeks of development to build, test, and release to beta and then public after that. Sometimes in software development, having a fast cadence causes more problems than not and big features require significant development time to complete.
In a lot of cases, the Hornet is pushing to the edges of DCS World modeling meaning the team has to build not only the system for the Hornet but also the logic for DCS World itself. This is a good thing from a future development side of the coin but also a bit slow for some tastes.
I’ll end with what Matt Wagner wrote in the latest update on what their focus is on:
Note: much of the Hornet effort this past period has been focusd[sic] on the Litening targeting pod, AGM-154 JSOW, JDAM and JSOW dynamic launch zone and lofting, full simulation of the INS and GPS navigation system, precise waypoint input option, MIDS for LTWS, and correcting the logic for HARM guidance.
I think it’s clear that development on the Hornet has not slowed but rather the team is tackling some of the biggest items in development since the early days of release of the module.
The Hornet will be better for it once all of the features that we’ve talked about are developed and implemented but then again… it’s already packing more capabilities than most other modules. I can’t complain as long as development keeps up.