A lot of questions get asked about the state of the DCS: F-16C and what you can do with it. I’ve been slowly putting the jet through its paces in its current state to see how much it can do and if at any point I’m left wanting for capability. Here’s a brief journal on my most recent flight.
North to Khasab
It’s true that the DCS: F-16C is relatively barebones right now. It’s got a long way to go until it’s anywhere close to being considered complete but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something with it. My most recent flights with it have been all about flying combat air patrols and that’s something that the jet excels at.
Logging in to the Persian Gulf at War server on a quiet evening, only about 11-12 players were on with a few flying fighters and others flying strike missions. A group of jets were heading north to Khasab, a port city on northern Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, and the site of the most recent battles between human and AI aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz.
I’ve now spent enough time with the F-16C to be able to do a cold and dark start without the autostart. The F-16C is one of the quickest jets to start and after a few flicks of some switches, a fast alignment of the INS system, and a loaded jet with Sidewinders and AMRAAMs, it was time to go.
Just one other jet was at the sprawling Al Dhafra Air Base this time. I ended up following the M-200C out and providing loose support as we fought our way north.
The livery for my jet is the brilliant USAF 64th Aggressors Have Glass V, AF 86-280 by PorcoRosso86.
Just south of station
Up north, the attackers were hoping for cover and a Hornet ahead of me was already getting into trouble. Still south of Khasab, the Hornet was in a two-vs-one situation with his first missile shots going astray and him now in a close in fight.
Closing fast but still at range the Hornet pilot was engaging but it looked like he was in trouble. I warned him of the bandit that appeared on his six, according to the datalink, and he was able to turn the tables. Ultimately the Hornet had downed two aircraft but was damaged and retreated south.
Meanwhile, the attackers further north were still in trouble as aircraft swarmed the area. Another bandit presented itself another 30nm north of where the Hornet was engaged with the two aircraft. With IFF confirming it hostile and the situation to the north becoming dire, I hit the burners on the F-16 and built speed rapidly. Closing to 16nm and traveling at Mach 1.05, I let loose with a single AIM-120C. It struck the target with debris raining down into the mountains. One bandit down!
Over Khasab and just to the east I was presented with another bandit. Once again, I locked the aircraft up and let loose with a AIM-120. Probable ID was a MiG-21bis which didn’t have the weapons range to be able to return the favour. The AIM-120 tracked and hit the target. Target splash!
Four more bandits were coming in with two groups to the north and two to the west. I decided to head north while the M-2000C went to the west. Meanwhile, other aircraft were recovering at Khasab and in dire need of cover.
Now north of Khasab an in enemy SAM range things got hairy. As I closed for a shot on the two bandits coming in, an enemy surface ship locked my F-16C up. The missile warning light flashed and I could see white smoke streaking up in the distance. I waited and closed range further with one of the bandits. Fox 3! Another AIM-120C out but no time to wait and see what the follow-up was as I rolled and turned 90 degrees away from the enemy ship that had let loose with another volley of missiles.
It wasn’t until I was low near Khasab again and into the rugged hills and mountains of the region that the lock was finally broken.
Turning around I once again closed the distance but was this time unable to fire as I was again engaged by the surface vessel.
By this point a Su-25 had appeared near Khasab and was inbound to the base. Risking being shot by a SAM I closed to visual range and engaged the Su-25 with an AIM-9X. It tracked and destroyed the Frogfoot with its pieces crashing down on one of the hillsides.
At this point I was low on fuel and it was time to land. Meanwhile, other fighters had dispatched the incoming aircraft and the strike team was at it again with a Su-25T using its excellent SEAD capabilities to target the ships and nearby SAM sites that were causing us so much trouble. It was past time to head to Khasab for a refuel and rearm.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with landing the F-16C as I frequently come in too fast and then have trouble bleeding the speed off. But this time, I performed my best landing yet! I am getting better at landing this jet!
After landing, the SAM battery located at Khasab began to engage targets with white streaks being sent out at regular intervals. A reminder of just how close to the frontline this base is. As I was refueling other aircraft were coming and going. A Mi-8 came in for a landing, a Su-25T departed, and a M-2000C busted his gear on landing but saved it at the end of the runway.
With the runway now clear and my jet fully fueled and rearmed I took the runway and departed straight out. And straight into trouble.
A enemy F-14 was bearing down on Khasab and locked me up within seconds of departing the airport. Low on speed and just getting my sensors online I had no chance. I hit the burner and tried to evade back into the hills but it was too late and a missile went straight into my F-16C destroying the entire aircraft.
I’ll get you next time!
DCS: F-16C in combat air
Although Eagle Dynamics has stated that they are working on some flight modeling features for this module, I feel like there’s more than enough here for anyone to dig into when flying this jet. I’ve written about it before and I’m writing about it again with the view that this is already a really fun aircraft to fly and get into combat.
Strike and ground attack options are limited but not inconsequential and a future flight journal series will cover my use of the F-16 in these kinds of scenarios – although we are on the eve of getting the AGM-65 and AGM-88 which will offer a significant leap forward.
If you’re looking to get into some fun air combat situations, there are few jets that I’ve found to be as fun and capable as the F-16. It has the speed and acceleration, the datalink providing top down overview, and weapons capability making it superb in all aspects. The sounds are great and the feel of flying the jet is superb. Unlike when it launched, it also has basic things like a damage model (aleit a basic one) and lighting so you don’t feel out of place during a night mission.
This DCS module has seen slow progress but it’s also already quite a bit of fun. I tend not to get to hung up if a few screens don’t have data on them yet so long as I can do what I need to do to help my team and you absolutely can in this jet and it’s about to get much more capable.