Hoggit’s Persian Gulf at War server is a PvE (player vs environment or player versus AI) driven experience with a requirement for SRS and some challenging tactical scenarios for DCS pilots to face off against. After several training flights with the DCS: F-16 I decided to put my newfound knowledge to the test and take the jet up on a CAP mission. It was a superb experience and an example of DCS World at it’s best!
“Maple 5-1, runway 13L for departure”
Hoggit’s Persian Gulf at War server is meant to be a little bit more serious than their Georgia at War experience. While GAW has SRS available and is well used, it is not a requirement which is very much the case for Persian Gulf at War. You can’t take an aircraft without being logged in (and at least listening) to SRS. That does up the requirements a bit but it also encourages more people to get involved on comms and that’s where you can have some great and immersive experiences.
With most of my DCS flying time focused on the Hornet and WWII content recently, I wanted to mix it up and so one of the aircraft I’ve been working on is the F-16 again. The systems are finally starting to click for me and while I don’t have any proficiency in ground attack (the module is still somewhat limited there), I am prepared for fighting the jet in an air-to-air role. Fortunately, that’s just what the team needed.
The server had just reset and radio call-out’s for taxi and takeoff were flying left and right. I’d given myself a callsign of “Maple 5-1” (a recommended practice for DCS World multiplayer is to put a flight callsign ahead of your personal callsign to make it easy for a GCI) and was using that to taxi to Al-Dhafra’s runway 13L.
“Vector 240, flight of two, type Su-27, angels 24”
After takeoff I did a check-in on the usual general combat frequency, 253.000 and was immediately informed that “GCI was sunrise” which means that we have a human GCI or /ground control intercept’ – essentially a person that has the top down overview of what AWACs and other assets are providing a picture of. I moved COMM 2 over to 134.000 and checked in with the GCI.
Indicating that I was ready for tasking, the GCI vectored me 240 towards a flight of four Su-27’s out over the Gulf near the island of Siri. I was teamed up with a two-ship flight of Hornets also on the same mission.
By the time we got there, the flight of Su-27’s had moved on but a new pair of Su-25’s were heading towards friendly ground targets and we were in position to intercept but with one caveat. We were close to range of a hostile Frigate with ample air-to-air capability. GCI instructed me to turn south to avoid the Frigate at first before sending me on a bit of a ‘wild weasel’ to assess the range of the ship’s weapons.
Before too long I was flying defensively and out of the zone of the missiles – but we had critical data now. Those Su-25’s didn’t stay in cover for too long either and once out of the Frigate’s range I immediately put an AIM-120 in their direction. One Su-25 splashed!
The second Su-25 was show down by the Hornet’s and then things went wrong.
A pair of MiG-31’s appeared on the scope and were heading our way. With greater altitude, longer range radar, and powerful missiles we were in a bit of trouble. One of the Hornet’s was shot down and the second Hornet and I rallied to engage the bandits. Then just a few kilometers ahead of me the second Hornet was shot down too with a large puff of smoke.
It was time to get out of there… but I was too late.
“Maple 5-1, checking in 134, ready for tasking”
Determined to have a better second flight, I once again set out from Al Dhafra AB and checked in on 134.000 with the GCI. The situation had gotten even more interesting and there were large numbers of aircraft coming in from the north. Most friendly aircraft were on strike missions so it was up to just a couple of us to get the CAP job done.
Standard loadout for me in these situations is two fuel tanks, two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, and four AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles. The F-16 is cleared and is even recommended to fly with the AIM-120’s on the outboard pylons (opposite of what the F/A-18C can do).
After takeoff, GCI vectored me north towards ‘Bullseye’ which is an imaginary and agreed on point that all Allied aircraft can use as a reference and as a rally point if need be.
Ahead of me was a mess of green and red dots on the datalink. DCS: F-16C has Link16 datalink capability and has had it from day one. It’s a feature (in DCS World) that was developed for the F/A-18C and the F-16 immediately benefitted. It provides an unprecedented overview of what’s happening around you. Everything the AWAC’s and other Link16 broadcasting jets can see, you can also see on the HSD (Horizontal Situation Display). That’s a great advantage to have and it helps make decisions on how to approach the combat scenarios you’re often faced with.
Continuing to head north towards the bullseye, I picked up a bandit along the coast and radio’ed GCI about my target lock and track. GCI advised me to hold fire as another fighter had already engaged. Sure enough, 20 seconds later, that target was shot down. Good teamwork!
Two new juicy targets were on the HSD and heading straight past me – a pair of IL-76 transports trying to capture one of our airbases (that’s how it works on Persian Gulf at War). With the escorting fighters now shot down, it was up to me to splash the transports.
An AIM-120 fired at the lead transport hit squarely on but despite the damage, the aircraft continued to fly. It was time to go in for a closer short. Switching to guns, a couple of short bursts finished off the transport. The second transport was shot down by a friendly fighter also in the area. Another great team success!
I was then vectored onto a new target. An Su-25 low over the water. With the Su-25 now at 10 nm, I decided that this would be a sidewinder or guns kill.
Now further north than before and approaching the Khasab area I picked up more aircraft on the HSD. A series of unsuccessful engagements and then finally a success when a MiG got into AIM-9X range. With fuel beginning to look a little low and my time running out, I decided I needed to head for home.
Recently I’ve struggled a bit with getting the landing right in the F-16 so I was a bit worried about this. My first approach was absolutely rock solid, however, an AJS-37 who was not broadcasting on comms took the runway and forced me to break off at the last moment.
Coming around for a second approach I had an even better angle and speed and managed to touch down, maintain my aerobraking, and then finally take one of the taxiways off to the apron from where I had started from.
As with other flight journal sessions, the most satisfying thing about doing this in DCS World is the complexity of the operations and the ability to then carry them out and survive the whole ordeal. It’s not just one skill but several strung together that tests your ability to fly, engage in combat, work as a team, and then bring it all back.
The SRS radio simulation experience together with an experienced GCI that I was all too happy to work with made for a great and immersive experience. Even though I was flying solo, I was still with a team and coordinating as part of the whole effort. There were other single and multi-ship packages out there doing their own thing and together with a GCI we were able to make it happen in a coordinated way.
When the GCI signed off on my way home, someone called in and said “Now what do we do?” and another replied “Cry ourselves to sleep.” Although taken in jest, that speaks to the value that this kind of teamwork can have on the whole experience. Last night was an example of what DCS World can be when it’s working at its best.