AV8B N/A Tips and tricks

I’ve noticed its slightly improved over the beta version (or at least feels that way). The hud symbology for the TGP is different i think also. I was able to use it much more consistently in 2.2, at least for spotting things. The laser is still buggy as mentioned. Some times i get it to work, sometimes not. Sometimes the GBUs try to fly back to me.

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Did they ever update the HUD issues or do we still need that workaround?

it got updated. However, if you run on low texture settings, i think it disappears all together. I think you need to be on at least medium or High or something.

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Ok cool, I haven’t touched it in a bit but I’m updating now.

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TPOD still glitchy, and my biggest “issue” is the TDC axis controls arent working yet. Its coming along nicely.

Things I’d like to see improved:

TPOD functioning
Engine sounds
Aforementioned TDC axis
DMT to sidewinder lock slave
Moving Map

Here’s kind of the general break down I use for how to make things explode with the Harrier.

I have a Cobra M5 joystick, so basically a throttle wheel, a POV hat, and the equivalent of 23 buttons over 3 shifted modes. I use the following:

Trigger 1 - Cannon/Sidewinder Trigger
Trigger 2 - Pickle butoon
Throttle - Throttle

Mode 1 VSTOL
4 way Hat Down - Nozzle Down
4 way Hat Up - Nozzle Up
Button X (no clue what it’s referred by the joystick) - Wheel brakes
Pinky Button - NWS steering

Mode 2 Non-VSTOL
4 way hat - trim
Button X - waypoint advance
Pinky Button - Undesignate

I use the keyboard (I get rid of all the LWIN, Rshift, etc. modifiers, just plain keys) for everything else. Off the top of my head:

TDC - ,./; and ’ for TDC down
Sensor Select - yuij and n for SSw down
Cage - C
Aim-9 - D and the only shifted combo I have LShift+D for expand AIM-9 mode (never needed it).

I find this works really well for me, as I hate using a hat switch to slew the TGP.

In reference to getting used to the idea of how the Harrier prosecutes targets being different then the A-10C:

I don’t think of SOI or SPI or anything else. They are workable terms, but I personally find they create ambiguity due to how the Harrier does things versus the Hawg. The words “sensor of interest” are perfectly fine, but in this context we have an understanding and expectation what a SOI is/does/is used that might not match the way the Harrier does things. I use the following general theory to fight the Harrier:

I personally bring up the DMT page on the right MFD and set up my laser codes (if applicable) as soon as I’m airborne and trimmed out for whatever I’m doing (climbing to the next point, level and cruising, whatever). I’m a big trim guy. From there I’ll set it to NITE mode. First off I can see the nav display as well as the time and distance to my waypoints (as I’ll be in A2G mode in a few seconds and loose that). Additionally I can still see what input mode I’m in (INS, TV, LST) which is critical here in a bit.

In the left MFD I’ll go to stores and then using the armament panel I’ll setup my weapons. I drop a lot of bombs in Auto, in fact it’s my favorite mode. Bombs are set for immediate fuzing unless I’ve got a reason otherwise. Rockeyes are based on time of fall, PRI is 1.2 seconds post drop to burst, and OP is 4 seconds post drop to burst. This is based on how high I’ll be working (rolling in from above 10K or so, you’re probably gonna want OP unless you really like to press your attacks in deep). I always try to drop bombs in pairs if possible, the Harrier is light and asymmetric loading will create a lot of roll. Rockets are light enough it doesn’t matter so I’ll shoot those single for Zuni’s as they’re accurate and will actually kill something (considering they hit like a 155mm artillery shell in real life that’s not a surprise). 2.75" rockets are always fired in pairs of pods at a minimum just to have a chance to kill something (DCS lack of blast and frag effects really nerfs them). Precision weapons, well that’s why I have trim mapped. Single drops and lots of trimming. I’ve learned to get two Mavericks off in short order just to avoid trimming, lol.

If I’m running Mavericks, I’ll make sure they’re selected and cooling as soon as I can. Nothing like twiddling your thumbs in a holding pattern while you wait for them to cool down.

Once I have my stores setup I usually have the left MFD setup as EW. If I’ve got a ways to travel I’ll pop back into NAV mode, but otherwise I’ll stay in A2G. The last nav point prior to expected contact is Fence In, and master arm is flipped, and ordinance selected.

Now onto the actual process of blowing things up, first up:

Locate - This can be the mark 1 eye ball, a smoke marker, a JTAC lasing, whatever. The DMT TV mode provides a 6x magnifier for day time operation, and works pretty well to be able to parse out targets if you have a general idea where to start to look. FLIR should give you a pretty big leg up, but unfortunately with the current FLIR implementation it’s not as big a help. For the LST if it’s not finding the laser, you probably need to change the code (remember weight on wheels resets it). The LST will detect the spot out past 13NM and pretty much anywhere in the HUD field of view (that’s just based on my experience).

Mark - I find this part critical, and it’s one I’ve seen a lot of folks seem to skip on youtube. If you located your target with the LST then you’re in luck, it’s already been marked. So why is marking so important? First off all the systems in the Harrier that help you drop ordinance are based on having a marked target to work with. Secondly the Harrier doesn’t have a TAD like the Hawg to help you keep your situational awareness up. Marking a target puts an icon on your HSI (or whatever the nav display is called, it escapes me at the moment), helping you to keep track of where you are in relation to your target. Lastly it REALLY helps you fly good ground attack profiles regardless of how you’re dropping (CIP or Auto), it gives you a direction and distance to your target point on the HUD for instance.

Can you fly a perfectly acceptable pop up attack without a marked target? Absolutely, but its way easier to have the info on your HUD, rather then frantically trying to locate your target, guesstimate range, and approach angle. I find it invaluable for re-attacks. Remember you may well be exiting the area at over 8 NM a minute, and having a marker on the nav display makes it a snap to be able to setup for another run. Additionally the HUD will display the marker, again dramatically simplifying the re-attack.

I use the INS marking method quite a bit, put the flight path marker on the target (or general area) and designate. If I have time and altitude I’ll probably switch to TV mode, flip the right MFD out of NITE, and use it to refine my mark point to exactly where I want it.

One thing to note the INS and TV marker don’t seem to have perfect stability, particularly on a re-acttack. Be prepared to have to adjust the marker in TV mode if you need that kind of precision.

Attack - People with way more qualifications then I have, have written plenty on this part. So this just what works for me.

Bombing in Auto mode works great IF you have a STATIC target on something flat. It works pretty dang well if your have a STATIC target on something that’s mildly inclined. You seeing the pattern? Currently the DMT doesn’t track moving targets, so if you’re prey is on the run, you’ll have to go CIP. The ARBS does a bunch of fancy math to figure out for any given pitch and speed when the best time to drop the bomb is based on target range. It can’t fix azimuth errors however. As such you can be at a vertical dive, toss bombing, or transitioning between the two, and so long as you’re lined up horizontally with the target the ARBS will do a pretty credible job of landing a bomb (in range practice, lobbing MK 81’s directly onto tanks using a 30 degree dive and then a hard pull till release is boringly doable).

For point targets and non-precision munitions (say killing a parked T-72 with a pair of MK 82’s) tactical situation permitting, I’ll roll in, put the flight path marker on the target (this can be in a very shallow dive at distance, but if find it works best around a 20-40 degree dive), ensure wings level, and then pull up until release. Putting the flight path marker on the target for a second (or usually the HUD symbol for the target as I can’t see it that far out), eliminates azimuth errors. I find this to be tremendously accurate, easy to fly, and it works in any weather/lighting so long as you have an accurate target mark. In one of my training missions the conditions are start time 0200, 2K foot solids clouds based at 5K, and it’s raining. It is plain crummy weather and flying. I use the JTAC to mark the targets while I stay under the clouds on approach, the LST to get my mark, and then I’ll immediately climb out of the cloud cover, getting out of small arms and light AA range (did I mention ZSU-23’s every where?). I can then execute the entire attack from a safe altitude, releasing before I break the cloud deck. Only having to descend (at a safe distance) to get a new LST mark.

I’ve used this technique even without a laser spot as well. Using the INS mark method and the DMT I’ve setup my target for a safe distance, then climbed out above the clouds and rolled in. At night you can use the FLIR and INS marking to setup your attack. With the DMT being less helpful in low light, you may have to press your attack through the cloud layer to verify you have the correct target though.

For Rockeyes, a couple things to pay attention to: First if you are toss/loft bombing, your impact pattern is probably going to be long of the target, so don’t do it until DCS get’s Rockeye’s working better. Secondly the start of your pattern is the calculated impact point for auto bombing, so set your mark a little short. Third setting your fuzing to burst to late and your bomb lawndarts, to early and you’ll be way short.

Rockets are simple, CIP delivery, wait for the range clock to start to wind, don’t run into the ground. A Zuni will one shot most armored vehicles, and even with the range clock just barely starting to wind down, it’ll hit dead on the pipper. If you pay attention you’ll even see the pipper move left and right to take into account the side of the aircraft the pod is on. Again don’t run into the ground. 2.75" rockets, are WAY less accurate, and really don’t do much damage. Fire a bunch of them, don’t worry too much about the pipper being spot on, the rockets not going there anyway (expect by pure luck). Also, don’t run into the ground.

If you’re not self lasing, you can drop a GBU however you like, CIP, AUTO, DSL even. All you’ve got to do is get in in the basket. I usually do AUTO, but I’ve played with rolling in and punching it off in CIP from way high, works like a champ too. With a JTAC your laser source is ground level’ish, so feel free to drop through the clouds, works like a charm.

Mavericks have been covered here pretty extensively, so I wont rehash them much. I’ll add that you can reasonably expect to get 2 off into a group or targets of vehicles on a single run with some practice. Three is doable but difficult, and leaves you with an asymmetric load to fly with. I’ve never even got close to 4 off, but I’m not saying it can’t be done. Mavericks are you’re stand off weapon, stay back. If all YOU can get that day is one per pass, then 1 per pass it is. That’s why trim exists. Resist the temptation to bore in trying to get one more off the rail. Shooting Mavericks in the Harrier feels a lot more like the A-10A, it can be a struggle to lock targets sometimes.

Gun runs, not gonna lie I miss the Hawg for this one. The GAU-12 is actually a pretty solid gun, that just unfortunately has to compete with the big boss the GAU-8 and the A-10 with PAC. Currently without the ability to modify the range clock settings, you get a little closer then you need to, and break off a little sooner then need be with the gun. However you are also usually rocketing in at between 450-550 knots instead of stately cruising in at 250 knots. So first off, don’t run into the ground. Second the plane will kick off to the left about half a pipper’s width after the first round is fired, so anticipate for this and aim right a hair. Lastly PAC doesn’t exist, so be prepared for your rounds to go all over the place if you can’t keep the pipper on target.

Re-Attack - Odds are you didn’t kill the entire tank company in one pass, so you have to re-attack. The Harrier is fast and climbs fast too, so setting up is a piece of cake. However don’t rush! If you need to spend an extra minute changing weapons or switching settings, take it! Unlike the A-10 you can easily be back at your IP in less then a minute. It sucks make a great second attack run, and half way in realize you didn’t set things up because you got in a hurry. Now if you need to take that extra minute, don’t just hurtle along at 480 knots TAS away from the target. That’s 8 NM you have to make up. Be smart and either learn how to fly a pattern and work the MFD’s or take things in 30 second chunks so you don’t get to far out of position.

Well this turned out way longer then I planned, but hopefully someone will find it of use.


Hi…i am a new user here. In my case as per my observation the contrast bug where the D camera was like using an NVG and not IR so the convoy vehicles were blending in with the terrain–not what you should see at night with an IR Mav.That may be a DCSW Mav issue and not the Harrier. The powering up thing does sound like the 8 though.

pcb assembly

So coming back to the Harrier again, does anyone has some tips and tricks on how not to break your engine? Especially when doing circuits with multiple takeoffs and landings, I frequently end up with a degraded engine that can no longer sustain a hover.


I am aware of this graphic but frankly am never going to remember all those values (or count the seconds while flying). Oh, I am approaching 90 seconds of using 116 RPM. I need to reduce power to 111 RPM, which I can then use for another 60 seconds before screwing my engine. Yeah, right :slight_smile:

Frankly I have a very hard time believing that a modern computerized aircraft like the AV-8B, equipped with a digital engine control system, requires the pilot to count seconds and manipulate his throttle in order to not break(*) his engine. There actually seems to be some automatic thrust limiting in place, as I have seen RPM/JPT adjusting without touching the throttle. But it doesn’t seem to prevent damage to the engine.

And can someone explain to me the Power Margin indicator on the HUD? It seems to be a very elaborate system of symbology but frankly I don’t understand what to take away from it, other the line extending from the hexagon is bad. But you wouldn’t need such a funky display just for that piece of information, so I expect there to be more to it.

Overall the whole engine management in the AV-8B seems rather delicate and fuzzy to me.

*The fact that the engine actually significantly degrades performance within one flight instead of simply lowering the hours to the next scheduled maintenance is another discussion.


My feelings exactly MBot. I doubt that power reductions would be automatic because, in a pinch, reductions should always be up to the pilot. But excedences wouldn’t likely result in same-day damage. They would result in log-book entries and, if egregious, a scheduled tear-down. Maybe Razbam felt that something needed to be done to discipline the player to stay within realistic performance parameters.

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For me it comes down to weight management. 15 seconds is a long time and the most important thing for me is to get out of water injection as soon as possible.

On first take off, h2o + max thrust - that is a given.

For landing however, and this is purely me… get rid of that weight. I dump fuel every single time to ensure that Water injection is not or very rarely used. Therefore engine is not pushed beyond mill power and no stress is given to engine.

For landing I aim for 2000 pounds of fuel on final to carrier and this works well with empty plane except for lightning and gun pod. You “SHOULD” achieve hover at that weight in MIL power only (without injection) especially if the carrier is moving.

Next take off will obviously require engine water injection depending on load out or carrier/runway landing. But my rule of thumb is to try to never push engines hard enough to use the water injection.

Again this is me, no official procedure, but I find it works.

Carrier take off…

Water injection on
nozzle 18 Degrees
mill throttle hold against brakes for run up.
Brakes off Full throttle - start counting.
Just before end of deck, nozzle 80-60 degrees depending on weight.
Gear up
Thrust back to mil as soon as possible (to turn off water injection as soon as possible).
water injection switch off.
flaps auto
slow nozzle adjustment as speed increases to reach 0 degrees on nozzle at 200 knots.

if taking off from runway, I sometimes don’t even use water injection as you have more performance that you actually need.

Runway take off…
water injection on only if you really need it.
Nozzle 18 degrees.
Flaps UP
Hold on brakes
Mill throttle (no Water injection)
If heavy, hold on ground until 120 knots
nozzle 60 degrees.
Flaps auto (the dumping of the flaps at speed causes you to jump off the tarmac - or just leave them preset to auto for take off)
Gear up
slow nozzle adjustment as speed increases to reach 0 degrees on nozzle at 200 knots.
water injection switch off

As for Fadec managed engines… Well yeah, I have no idea how it actually works in real life, but you would think it would manage itself.


Interesting discussion and good points Bogus. @MBot, I’m not sure where I read it, but a general rule of thumb at sea level is to not let it get over 680.

Edit: looking at the AIRCRAFT LIMITATIONS chart above, there is no reference to altitude. So, take it with a grain of salt. The 1.5 minute Normal lift at 780/765 does seem a plausible limitation based on my limited time in the sim. Will fly the chart until proven otherwise.

Does the AV-8B have FADEC? I always thought of it as much older than that, so that would be a late-life upgrade if it’s there at all, and then that begs the question of whether the 8B we got would have it or not. Even so, I’m not sure how smart it is when it comes to preventing the engine from going past its limits in certain regimes. If this was the F-22 or F-35, I’d say of course it does. A Harrier, though…

As for the engine thrust degrading, it sounds more like flying the Me-262 than a 1970s jet! It should degrade in response to abuse, not use. Now I grant that Harrier pilots spend more of their time “flying” their planes than pretty much any other military pilot does because so little is automated and so much needs to be done. Even so, it sounds like in a combat situation you’ll burn up your engine and make landing on the deck at the end iffy at best.

Well the DECS (DIgital Engine Control System) installed on the AV-8B is some form of FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), just with a slightly different terminology. Many FADEC functions are covered by the DECS. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that they are both very similar functionally speaking.

Edit: After further research:

The first FADEC in service was the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine developed for the Harrier II by Dowty and Smiths Industries Controls.


I would like to say that engines by it’s very design try and contain an extremely hot ongoing explosion within a very specific set of parameters whilst anticipating external changes. Now imagine having weird variable exhaust ducts and a relatively low intake air speed. It’s pretty much a helicopter without the advantages a helicopter turbine engine has!

One of the prime reasons for sending in an engine for maintenance is performance degradation, doesn’t matter who flies with it. There’s only so much torture these machines can withstand before they slowly break down from the inside out.

I am just sitting in my Harrier here and am running some tests, but frankly I have no idea what is happening.
Selecting nozzles down, water injection on and going full power:

00:00 RPM 116.8; JPT 765
00:54 JPT starts to increase
00:57 JPT reaches and holds 780, now RPM starts to decrease
01:15 as RPM reaches 108, it suddenly jumps to 114; JPT remains 780
01:30 RPM is steadily decreasing again for 15 seconds and then jumps to 108 again. This 15s cycle repeats for as long as there is water left
02:50 water runs out; RPM stabilizes at 107, JPT remains 780

Can anyone make any sens out of this?

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Here is a test trying to establish when damage occurs. We are airborne with nozzles forward at full throttle. This gives us 109 RPM at 710 JPT, which is the Maximum Thrust rating which we should be allowed to hold 15 minutes. So far so good.

Now as we are in combat we start to do some thrust vectoring. Setting nozzles down, we get 113.5 RPM at 760 JPT, which seems to be the Short Lift Dry rating which is allowed for 15 seconds. As far as I can tell, the engine starts to show certain signs of power loss after 2 minutes, so 1:45 over the time limit. Beware that without sufficient off time in between occasions, the effect seems to accumulating. Even though the aircraft limitations chart above does not indicate that pilot action is required to maintain this limit (Note 2), the DECS will not limit Short Lift Dry.

Now let’s try to reduce power to Normal Lift Dry while VIFFing. We immediately reduce thrust from full power 113.5 RPM to 111 RPM. We should be allowed to use this for 2.5 minutes. As far as I can tell, damage starts to occur at 4.5 minutes, so about 2 minutes over the limit (its hard to tell at lower settings when the engine actually starts to degrade because of remaining power margins).

That is a very limited data set, so it is difficult to draw any conclusions yet. But I will formulate the theory that damage starts to occur after about 2 cumulative minutes over any limit, even with very small RPM exceeding. Considering the number of limits in place as per the limitations chart, this seems to be quite easy to collect unnoticeably during a mission.

Edit: Actually, as soon as you exceed your allowed 15 minutes at Maximum Thrust, damage to the engine occurs instantly!

From what I can see:


Assuming your water injection is ON:

0:00 the control law in effect of the DECS seems to be the Normal Lift Wet limit (116 % RPM). The DECS will try to maintain the maximum RPM allowable as long as JPT (Jet Pipe Temperature) does not exceed 780 deg C, which is currently the case.

0:54: JPT starts to increase due to engine degradation (you’re basically firewalling the throttle). Increase in JPT can be the way Razbam interpreted the engine degradation effects. Once the JPT limit of 780 deg C is hit (Normal Lift Wet limit enforced by the JPTL, Jet Pipe Temperature Limiter), a loss of RPM would typically be caused a few minutes after since the RPM cannot be maintained if it creates a JPT exceedance.

0:57: JPT seems to be controlled by the JPTL once again. Your normal lift wet limit is 780 deg C is exceeded since it should be roughly 15 seconds allowed max. Since the JPTL is seeing an increase in JPT, the engine controller will try to offset it by reducing RPM.

1:15: The Normal Lift Wet limit appears to have a combined time limit of 1.5 min. I would assume that once that limit is exceeded, the control law will control the engine to the next lower limit, which is Maximum Thrust (109 % RPM). Since JPT is increasing, the JPTL should control the RPM to decrease to maintain the max allowable JPT limit of 710 deg C.

For the rest, I don’t know why it decreases and jumps back again. I would assume it has something to do with the current logic implemented by Razbam (combined time limit A of 15 sec for Short Lift Wet limit). Maybe it’s a mistake (counter that resets when it shouldn’t).

I know one thing, that when I’ve made continual passes on the range climbing out at full throttle without regarding JPT, the engine will degrade to the point that I can only make about 280 kts RTB. So, there is some sort of degradation going on if you don’t mind the temp.

Thank you for your analysis, but there are still things that don’t match up.

Why don’t I get Short Lift Wet first?

Since Normal Lift Wet has a limit of 1.5 minutes, why can’t it (116 RPM/780 JPT) be maintained after 57 seconds?

What I really don’t understand in the end is how such a computerized aircraft won’t provide you with an indication on how much time you have left in the current power regime. This aircraft is packed with displays, flooding the pilot with all kind of useful and pointless information, but somehow McDonnell Douglas didn’t bother to add a thing on the HUD that says “Hey, in 7 seconds you exceed the current rating. You don’t need to throttle down if you don’t want to but we will add it to the maintenance log”. The Power Margin indicator could have been such a thing, but it seems it is just a fancy RPM/JPT indicator, which there is already another one on the HUD and one on the front panel! I really don’t understand that piece, what is it good for? Is the RAZBAM implementation of the whole thing really correct?