News on DCS: F/A-18C Hornet’s targeting pod, ground radar, more!

A new DCS: F/A-18C Hornet mini-update is out and while its not a long one it does give us a clear picture of what’s coming up next. There’s some big new features coming and each one of them is integral towards seeing the F/A-18C Hornet finished.

Targeting pod delayed

With the JSOW, JDAM, and various guided weapons now available on the DCS: F/A-18C Hornet we are now looking forwards to the AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod. As excited as everyone is for it, Eagle Dynamics is not quite ready to release it into open beta as they had hoped to do by late June.

After talking with the team today, the Litening targeting pod will need a bit more time in the oven before we can release it. Given how integral this feature will be for the product, we want to further flesh it out before releasing into an open beta. We do apologize for this delay. Please note that all dates and time projections are best estimates at the time and can change. I mention this a bit here:

Matt Wagner

As is my usual thoughts on this, I’d rather have a functional targeting pod that works all the time than a broken one that cause crashes or works inconsistently. As anxious as I and everyone else is I still think that the best case scenario is always to wait a bit longer. If a delay is required to bring it up to the level that it needs to be – fine with me.

Radar, Harpoon, datalink and other features

New features are in development in parallel to the targeting pod. Here’s the latest on what Matt Wagner was able to tell us about:

SA page:

  • STEP
  • EXP

Weapon systems:

  • AGM-84 Harpoon
  • Dynamic launch zones for JDAM and JSOW


It’s been awful long time since we’ve heard anything from Eagle Dynamics about their new air-to-ground radar technology. We now have some new information:

As noted, before, initial implementation of the air-to-ground radar rendering technology is now being used to create the Real Beam (RB) mode for the radar. Once RB mode is done, we can then use that as the foundation for other modes like SEA, EXP, GMTI, etc.

Matt Wagner

The team is also working on Track While Scan radar mode.

Though its not something that everyone is talking about, the AGM-84 will add yet another capability that has so far been limited to just one or two aircraft and that’s a dedicated anti-ship missile. Harpoon provides some unique capabilities that most jets just don’t have and in scenarios featuring anti-ship operations – it should prove to be invaluable!

PLID training video

Matt Wagner also put out a new training video for the SA page using something called Pilot Identification (PLID). PLID lets you manually identify targets on the datalink as friendly, enemy, or unknown. There’s some unique circumstances where IFF isn’t yet satisfied but where you’re certain that the target is hostile. This feature will likely be part of the next open beta.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Eviscerador says:

    Well, that sounds good! But there is something that confuses me: they said they were implementing the Litening pod because it was already developed for the A10C, and it was used in real operations by the USMC and other F18 users like Spain.

    Even with a properly developed pod they are taking months to release it in the open beta.

    I wonder when will we have the ATFLIR which is the main TGP used by the Hornet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blue 5 says:

    Litening is more common and would be of use for other aircraft. ATFLIR is largely Hornet-only


    1. Eviscerador says:

      Yeah, I’m aware of that. Most likely the Viper will also use it if they can’t get enough SniperXL pod information, the Harrier already uses it as it does the A10C.

      But the Hornet was supposed to include the ATFLIR as a feature and the Litening II was just a workaround for having a proper working TGP as soon as possible.

      I just hope they don’t make the workaround as the main feature…


      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Not sure what the answer is here but it’s a good question. It’s possible that the integration into the Hornet is still all-new and therefore time consuming. It’s also possible that ED is working on these changes in tandem with a more large scale imaging upgrade (they want to be able to do realistically simulated heat signatures rather than the method they use now which as I understand is just painted textures). That makes less sense to me but it could still be reason enough that it’s taking a while.

        Reading between the lines it does sound like the Litening as represented is getting an upgrade and that will probably, in the long run, benefit the A-10C, F-16C, AV-8B and the F/A-18C.

        At the same time… I know how anxious everyone is to get a targeting pod. Any targeting pod.

        I still think ATFLIR is coming. Just further down the line than we had hoped.


    2. harryvoyager says:

      The Litening Pod is also a Rafael product operating under Israeli technology laws rather than the US based ATFLIR. It may well be they’ve run into issues getting enough information to model the Hornet’s main FLIR, but are able to get the stuff to do a solid job of the Litening.

      Since Rafael is based out of Isreal, and in competition with US based vendors, I could even see them viewing this as an advertising opportunity and being much more willing and able to assist in the development process than a US defence contractor would be able to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Blue 5 says:

    Sure – was more an economies of scale view.

    I doubt they will get enough Sniper or late-model Litening data for those but you never know.


  4. Blue 5 says:

    Litening I is relatively old. Rafael and others are not noted for releasing technical data in any depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Blue 5 says:

    Also, note all DCS modules are old tech. They will not cover anything newer than a few years for understandable reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s