Back at the start of the year, Eagle Dynamics teased us that they had a milestone aircraft in development behind the scenes and that they had considered unveiling it for their 2020 cinematic but decided against doing that. When Eurofighter showed up yesterday morning I thought maybe this was what they were talking about but it clearly is not. So… what is it and are we any closer to guessing? Speculation time!
None of the usual hints
Eagle Dynamics often teases us with hints of what their next aircraft might be. We’ve seen Matt Wagner often look over at something parked on the tarmac in an almost obvious if non verbal (and occasionally verbal) way of teasing us that they are working on something new during a training mission for something else. This time around we haven’t seen those teases or if we have they haven’t been noticed yet.
A milestone aircraft implies that whatever they are building, it will be a big deal for Eagle Dynamics, for us as fans, and should mark a definitive point in development of DCS World perhaps combining technologies and features together that they have been perfecting for a while.
Given the popularity of modules such as F/A-18C and F-16C I would guess that this milestone is also intended to sell in numbers and appeal to a wide variety of interested Eagle Dynamics fans. There may also be an intended plan to combine a new aircraft with some other module in the way that DCS: Supercarrier and DCS: F/A-18C combine together.
We are no closer
Without any additional hints or teases it’s difficult to make any accurate guesses. There are three aircraft that come up frequently in community discussions that may yet steer the ship.
The first is the F-4 Phantom. The community was very much awaiting the F-4 Phantom and there has been disappointment when it was announced that Belsimtek was being rolled back into Eagle Dynamics and that their team was being repurposed to focus on the F/A-18 and F-16.
The F-4 Phantom has a strong legacy as a fighter jet serving notably in Vietnam although that is only part of the story. The F-4 saw service with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force with the last of these frontline users retiring their F-4’s in 1996. The RAF also flew F-4 Phantoms and retired theirs in 1992. Israel retired their F-4’s in 2003, Germany in 2013 and Greece in 2017 among many others. Japan and Iran still operate the F-4 in various configurations today.
The second is the Tornado and specifically the ground attack IDS variant. The ‘Tonka’ as its affectionately known, has just been retired from the RAF’s service though it still serves Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Adept at low altitude precision strike, the Tornado would be an interesting addition to the series and one that many would love to see. The ADV variant saw much more limited use and while I think a few would love to see that version too… I doubt it would be a focus and it doesn’t strike me as a ‘milestone’ type.
Finally, there are two on my list and that have been brought up by the community that I can’t help but group together. Eagle Dynamics’s legacy is with the Flanker. DCS World traces a lineage of sim titles and products going back all the way to Flanker and so a milestone product could be a return to the Su-27 Flanker or some Flanker derivative.
Over the years we’ve heard different reasons why the company would not be doing a high fidelity model of the Su-27. From requests denied by the Russian MoD to it not being likely profitable enough given the time and resources to put it together. Still, the Flanker holds a special place in many flight simmers hearts and the Su-27 has both capability and mystique to it that I think would sell copies.
Although just about any Flanker variant would do, a two seat Su-30 with multi-role capabilities would be more of a match for the modern 4th gen jets that we’ve seen being added to the opposing air forces of DCS World. Although the latest versions of the Su-30 are very likely off limits, early versions are more related to the 1995 era Flankers and so there’s likely to be a wide enough range of dates of use and modifications that Eagle Dynamics might be able to pull off an earlier version without running afoul of any issues with secrecy.
Another possibility is a revamped F-15C Eagle. Although RAZBAM is progressing well on the F-15E, the F-15C is a different aircraft with a different role that is albeit more limited than what we’ve seen come from Eagle Dynamics recently (given the spate of multi-role types with weapons lists that go on for pages). Still, a large number of people in the community have said that they’d love to see an upgraded F-15C Eagle. Perhaps one representative of the early 2000’s would be more in line with what has currently been coming to the series.
Or maybe its something different
Plenty of people have suggested that maybe its a helicopter that they are working on. Over the years we’ve heard people ask about and Eagle Dynamics talk about doing various versions of the AH-1 Cobra/Super Cobra attack helicopter. It would certainly fit with the marine theme that the company has been following over the last few years.
Another is the AH-64 Apache which is highly desired in helicopter circles. With the experience being gained on the Mi-24P, an Apache would be a great next jump for the series and I can see it happening eventually.
It could also be something bigger like a bomber. A modern jet bomber would be a milestone project on a scale that we haven’t seen. While DCS World’s maps aren’t especially ideal for simulating long distance bomber operations, it could still be shoehorned in and I know there would be interest from at least some of the DCS World community.
I feel like many of these are longer shot chances… but you never know.
Any thoughts out there in the community? Have you heard of something new? Let’s discuss in the comments!