Flight Journal: Back to the Harrier!

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.

Inspiration

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 I was out of date on precision weapons so I hoped to make dumb bombs and rockets work instead.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.

Harrier fun

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!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. CanadaOne says:

    Beauty! Sounds like good fun, Going to have a little Harrier time today. It would be hard to pick my favourite three DCS modules without mentioning the Harrier. Would like to see them double up on the inner APKWS pods (2×7 per pylon), but maybe I’m just being greedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That sounds greedy 🙂

      Was a double rack APKWS even possible?

      Like

      1. CanadaOne says:

        They have triples on the A-10. I figure the Harrier could handle the weight, but what the hell do I know. But it would be fun. Beaucoup de boom.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Gasman says:

    Great article. I’m going to have to dust off my Harrier as it’s probably been years since I flew it. Now that I have VR recovery should be very very engaging!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. schurem says:

    One thing that’s slightly annoying about the amount of post-release work done on the harrier is the fact that some of the content (training missions, etc) are out of date. I wanted to brush up on TPOD operations this morning, and large parts of the instructions did not match the machine anymore.

    It is one helluva ride tho. Beautiful work by RazBam.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Oh yes, the training missions are now once again horribly out of date and needing revision. I recommend Chuck’s Guide to get you through!

      Like

  4. Gretsch_Man says:

    I also went back to this module just recently. It’s quite a fun plane to fly indeed, beautifully implemented by RAZBAM. Only minor annoyance are some of the systems, especially the TPOD, been a bit awkward to use (especially when compared to the Hornet). A2A refueling can also be a bit frustrating in this little bird.

    Really looking forward to fly the Harrier over the skies of the South Atlantic map.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      The targeting pod and many of the precision weapons are an exercise in frustration to be sure. I’ve been learning about how the history of the AV-8B has lead to a mishmash of systems and that’s why its so awkward to use compared to the F/A-18 or F-16.

      Which does make it all the more fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. schurem says:

    Heh imagine my frustration and bewilderment when I found out the gun on the harrier needs the engine RPM above 70% to operate. Because of course!

    But these warts and niggles only make the machine more interesting in my book. As long as it’s properly explained, it only makes for interesting texture imo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It’s a quirky aircraft!

      Like

  6. Robert Haynes says:

    I’ve got to say, one drawback to VR is that I can’t grab awesome screenshots in the moment. Everything comes out looking weird. So I have all these awesome experiences, and no way to share them. The replay function in DCS is so terrible it’s really not worth using either.

    This looks awesome. Once I finish my F18 kick, I should hop back in the harrier again.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to ShamrockOneFive Cancel reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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