The day is here and the DCS: F-16C is now up on the Eagle Dynamics e-Store for pre-order. To note the occasion we have tons of new screenshots, a new promotional video from Matt Wagner, the latest information, and a big question: Should you pre-order? Let’s check out all of the latest info!
Introducing the Viper
Let’s start with the excellent video from Matt Wagner showing off the new F-16C for DCS and with a stealth introduction of the DCS: Syria map being seen for the first time in video form.
Though the F-16 carries the official name of ‘Fighting Falcon,’ its pilots more often refer to it as the ‘Viper.’ The F-16 started life as a visual range dogfighter meant to provide the ‘low’ part of the ‘high-low mix’ shared with the F-15 Eagle. Years of upgrades and new systems have turned the F-16 into a capable air defense fighter with air defense, SEAD/DEAD, reconnaissance, and just about every other role you can imagine being performed by a 4th generation jet fighter.
The F-16C is very much like the F/A-18C Hornet with both being born out of the light-fighter project and both maturing with added complexity and capability. Just like the Hornet, the Viper offers a ton of different roles and that makes it interesting from a gameplay perspective.
I already fully appreciate the value of being able to load up a Hornet in a multiplayer server like Georgia-at-War, ask what’s needed and then select the payload that best achieves the mission.
The exact loadout for the F-16C has been in flux in recent days since the pre-order announcement, however, things seem to have stabilized for now and Eagle Dynamics has relented on pressure to include the triple-rack Maverick configuration that is rarely used but that the F-16 is capable of carrying. More on that but first let’s go over the features:
- Professional Flight Model (PFM) and authentic fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS).
- The most realistic model of the F-16C imaginable, down to each bolt and flake of paint, animated controls surfaces, lights, damage model, and landing gear.
- Detailed simulation of the Viper’s many sub-systems like engines, fuel, electrical, hydraulic, radios, lighting, emergency, and many, many more. Although features like “auto start” are available, the sense of accomplishment cannot be overstated while learning to operate this state-of-the-art machine.
- Dozens of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and sensors. From simple rockets to high-tech GPS and laser-guided bombs, experience what only F-16C pilots have experienced ‘til now.
- A highly realistic and exhaustively researched cockpit that is mouse interactive with 6-degrees of freedom. Interact with the cockpit by pressing buttons and moving switches. You will feel like part of the aircraft with our Advanced Systems Modeling (ASM).
- Authentic F-16C sounds.
- Virtual Reality support. Take advantage of the latest VR technologies to immerse yourself in the simulation. Other than the G’s, you will feel like you are there!
- Multiple liveries for the United States Air Force and Air National Guard, Air Force, Turkey, Greece, Israel, and others.
In many ways the feature list here shouldn’t be surprising as it reads similarly to that for the DCS: F/A-18C Hornet. From the PFM governed by a simulated fly-by-wire control system to the extreme detail that the systems will be modeled to all the way to the multi-national liveries you see very much a tried and true playbook for DCS module design.
The latest update on systems that will be developed for the jet look like this:
Core systems of the F-16C include:
- F-110-GE-129 turbofan engine
- AN/APG-68(V)5 multi-mode radar
- AN/ALR-56M Radar Warning Receiver
- AN/ALQ-131/184 ECM pods
- CCIP (Common Configuration Implementation Program) update
- ALE-47 countermeasure system
Phase 1 Early Access Release:
- Color Multifunction Display (CMFD) symbology, Horizontal Situation Display (HSD) format, and Head-up Display (HUD) symbology
- Digitally TACAN and Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI)
- RWS, SAM, TWS and ACM A/A radar modes
- BDU-33, BDU-50LD/HD, Mk-82LDGP, Mk-82AIR, Mk-84LDGP, CBU-87 CEM, and CBU-97 SFW unguided bombs
- 2.75” rockets LAU-68 and LAU-131
- Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)
- AIM-9L/M/P/X Sidewinder
- AIM-120B/C AMRAAM
- M61A1 20mm cannon
First skin will be the 55th FS at Shaw AFB.
Phase 2 Product Sustainment:
- Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS)
- Link 16 Data Link
- A/G radar modes
- AGM-65D/G/H/K Maverick
- AGM-88C HARM
- AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS)
- AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod
- GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-24A/B laser-guided bombs
- BRU-57/A Smart Rack
- CBU-103 CEM and CBU-105 SFW Inertially Aided Munitions (IAM)
- GBU-31/A and GBU-38/B JDAM
- AGM-154A and AGM-154B JSOW
- Integration of the JHMCS with the HARM Targeting System (HTS), Link 16, and AIFF
- ALE-50 towed decoy
As I’ve written about previously, the F-16C will come out similarly to the Hornet with basic features on early access and more advanced features being added later. In theory this should be a quicker development cycle as plenty of hard, behind the scenes, core engine work has been done. Still, I expect the F-16C to take more than a year to finish.
One weapon, the AGM-158/A JASSM and the Sniper XR targeting pod seem to have been casualties of the revised systems list while we’ve gained the LITENING targeting pod (well known in DCS circles) instead.
We did, however, gain a seldom used but tested triple rack feature for the Mavericks with Matt Wagner saying they will allow it after having a discussion with the team. While the configuration isn’t typically used in practice, in a full conflict situation its possible that it would be and DCS World often simulates those kinds of scenarios.
Flown by 26 countries around the world, the F-16 for DCS has plenty of world wide appeal and so including liveries from nations that fly it are surely just as exciting as it was for me to put an RCAF skin on the F/A-18C for the first time. I’m also hopeful to see some of the more exotic Aggressor and aerobatic schemes included as the F-16 has been painted in some truly incredible ways.
The big question: Should you pre-order?
And now comes that big question where I ask and then try and answer if pre-ordering is something you should do with this DCS World module. Every time a major module announcement comes out there’s a period of hand wringing and plenty of points for and against the practice of the pre-order.
The F-16C for DCS World has had a bit of a rough start when it comes to publicity with the launch of official information on the module coinciding with plenty of turbulent news. The undocumented changing of the systems list made things worse. That said, we’ve been down this road before and the Hornet had a few systems change during development too.
With a developer that has a long track record as Eagle Dynamics I feel safe that a pre-order is going to, at the very least, be fulfilled at the end with essentially everything expected for the aircraft. I pre-ordered the Hornet and haven’t regretted it at all even through some of the early days with limited systems access. While the jet may not be done development, I’ve already put tons of hours into flying it and having fun with it.
At the end of the day I think the F-16C is a safe pre-order but there’s a certain level of expectations that you must set for yourself. Eagle Dynamics will deliver an F-16, I’m certain of that, but there’s always the possibility that one or two systems on the list won’t make the final cut. I’m frankly fine with that but some aren’t.
If you’re ok with a small amount of risk during development, a 20% savings on the price of the module is completely worth it. If you’re not comfortable with that, however, I’d suggest holding off and wait and see how the modules development goes and wait for a sale midway through development.
As for me… that pre-order is going in as soon as I can! Can’t wait to fly the Viper!
If you’re ready to make the leap, head on over to the DCS World e-Store and pre-order for $63.99 USD.
Screenshots a plenty!
Let’s end off with all of the visual goodness that Eagle Dynamics unleashed on us today with a spectacular looking cockpit and our first looks at the F-16C fully textured and realized in the DCS World engine.