I’ve put a lot of DCS World flight hours into RAZBAM’s DCS: AV-8B Harrier. This VTOL/VSTOL ground attack jet fighter primarily operated by the USMC (and in other versions by the UK, Spain, Italy and others over its lifespan) is one of DCS’ more unique options and I took it out for some training and combat sorties that I wanted to share.
How did I get inspired to fly the Harrier? A few days ago some friends and I were talking about old action movies and my mind immediately turned to 1994 action-movie True Lies. Classic mid-90’s over the top action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and including a few excellent scenes featuring the AV-8B including this classic moment.
Power Plant strike mission
It’s been many months since I last flew the AV-8B so it was with a little reluctance that I found myself on Persian Gulf at War, one of the popular Hoggit servers, in the cockpit of the AV-8B.
Together with another AV-8B pilot, we took to the skies with a destination just 25 nm away from the forward base at Khasab – located on the tip of the Oman’s Musandam Peninsula and within direct view of the Strait of Hormuz.
The strike mission was a power station located in the mountains. For this mission my wingman was loaded with Mavericks while I brought MK82 and a mix of Hydra and Zuni rockets. I was out of date on precision weapons so I hoped to make dumb bombs and rockets work instead. That was the hope but it was quickly crushed.
Things went immediately wrong on contact with the enemy as some IGLA missiles were launch at me almost immediately. I was already flaring, anticipating some sort of defense, but the sheer volume overwhelmed both my flares and my defensive moves and I was hit.
At first the aircraft seemed controllable but a fiery glow followed by a system shut down confirmed that this Harrier was done for. Eject!
I wasn’t done yet as I got into a new Harrier, ran through the start-up and was back in the air in just minutes. No longer was this just a target but also a matter of revenge. In the meantime, my wingman had hit the targets with Maverick missiles and a pair of attack helicopters had arrived on station and were sniping the air defenses at longer ranges.
My second attack on the station was more of a success. A brace of MK82s hit the power plants taking out several buildings. Follow-up attacks on the antenna and light vehicles caused some more destruction while other friendly forces also continued to attack the target.
The result? A success and total destruction of the objective.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. We headed back to Khasab and were about to land when my wingman spotted a large Mi-26. Still armed with our self protection AIM-9 Sidewinders, we engaged. My wingman hit the Mi-26 first causing it to light on fire. But after a couple of minutes still flying it was clear that this would need more firepower so I rolled over and fired both of my AIM-9 Sidewinders at the helicopter. Still it continued!
My wingman then selected guns and gave the helicopter a burst of 25mm fire. It split in half and crashed but not before making the fiery plunge onto the taxiway at Khasab. Dramatic undersold how epic this moment was.
Precision strike training
The next day, I decided to get myself back onto the Hoggit Training server, check over the Chuck’s Guide on the AV-8B, and relearn some of the precision weapons. My focus? The very effective GBU-12, the new and flexible APKWS and the Litening II targeting pod.
After a few runs I was back into form and ready to take on some more targets.
SAM site attack
My third flight back in the Harrier involved what I thought would be an airborne interdiction against some light armored vehicles and ended up being an entirely different mission. Once again flying on PGAW and taking off from Khasab, I again headed south towards Fujairah. There were three targets being worked over by other ground attackers.
I closed into the area rapidly, however, as I approached it became clear that the attackers had destroyed most of the targets and that a new threat was emerging. Notice was posted of a new target in the area – an SA-6 SAM site under construction.
PGAW has these moments where new threats will materialize requiring quick reaction. If allowed to be completed, the SAM would be able to engage aircraft well behind the frontlines. It needed to be destroyed!
As I closed in, it was clear that low cloud would obscure the target area so I had to go to plan-B and get lower and instead of using the GBU-12s for the attack I would instead switch to the APWKS.
It’s worth mentioning at this moment that this combined payload is useful in this way as you can carry a considerable amount of precision weaponry while also being flexible with your employment.
I then made three passes on target firing APKWS HE rockets at the lightly skinned vehicles taking out a few on each run. Things became more interesting on the third run as the site suddenly came online and missiles began streaking out towards me and an nearby A-10.
Dodging the missiles and using the terrain as cover, I popped up to fire a APWKS at short range before turning and keeping my pod pointed at the target while the laser guided missile hit its next target. I repeated this dramatic move two more times before there was little left except for a lot of smoking vehicles. I had an A-10C pilot to thank as they were able to eliminate some of the targets as well.
Then, a hastily retreat north and back to home base.
AZBAM’s AV-8B is an aircraft that has had a prolonged and challenging development period. The Harrier came to DCS World when a lot of systems and functions were still being worked out and its gone through many iterations since it’s first release. It has improved tremendously over time and has become a very fun aircraft to fly.
This is a more mature module than it has been previously and I’m glad that I’ve started flying it again!