Countermeasures and DCS

A DCS sim-ism question…is there a difference between letting the Bug’s systems punch out the chaff in pre-programed sequences and punching it out manually? I usually let the Bug do its sequence thing but have then run out of chaff pretty quickly.

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I don’t know about the F/A-18 specifically, but other planes in DCS (including my beloved A-10C) are known to be quite ‘generous’ with their countermeasures. That’s why I rarely use automatic dispensing.

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Well in the hog you get hundreds of 'em so no need to be stingy eh.


In the Ka-50 I always program the sequence myself as part of my take off process. In the A-10 I just change the default to a 2:1 mix and then leave it.

In the A-10C I usually put in three programs and activate them manually:

  • 1: drop 10 flares, 1 per second.
    That is my “running in” program to protect against possible MANPADS. Sometimes I double the amount of flares.
  • 2: drop 2 chaffs and 2 flares, wait half a second, then do it again.
    That’s my “Oh ■■■■ button” when there is a sudden launch warning.
  • 3: same as 1, but with chaff. I do that when someone locks at me, so I have chaffs in the air while I dive toward the ground to terrain mask.
    But then in the A-10 I don’t carry a lot of chaff usually. Radar SAMs mean: “stay out of there and call SEAD” and enemy fighters mean: “stay out of there or get low, and call the CAP”.

Edit: also I wish there were proper data cartridges in DCSW so I could program all that…

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Copy all. I guess my question is this: Are the radar/missile algorithms in DCS sophisticated / realistic enough that the preprogrammed chaff sequences actually perform better than just manually popping off a round or two?

Theoretically, in the RW, some ECM experts with 50lb brains, have figured out various sequences for pumping out chaff that gives you a better chance of decoying a missile. This the whole number of bursts, time between bursts in a sequence, number of sequences, time between sequences programs.

Also, there are maneuvers—like a zero-Doppler maneuver—that combined with pre-programmed chaff, are supposed to give you the best chance of defeating a missile.

Does DCS actually “consider” such things? Or is it more of, any chaff gives you a better chance?

Chaff and flare seem to be just dice rolls.

Maneuvering (beaming, notching, that kinda stuff) works, but doesn’t have to do with chaff.

Yes, the AD&D rules used (Actively Dodging in DCS) do seem to rely very heavily on probability rather than methods, weaknesses, and situations.


You can pre-program the A10C CMS programs, if you are willing to edit a .lua file.


Yeah I know, IIRC there even is a little program to do that.
But you can only set a few things unfortunately, not everything.

I’m guessing you’re wanting to set up weapon profiles via the cartridge, which is a lacking feature? I just wanted to point out that the cms can be pre-programmed, and I find that to be a nice quality of life improvement. Just figured out the fast alignment the other day and am loving that, too!

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Yeah basically the real cartridge would have

  • weapon profiles
  • settings for the HUD/MFCDs such as display Bullseye
  • radio frequencies
  • waypoints
  • CMS settings
  • …probably something more that I forgot
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It speaks highly of DCS that you would even ask this.

I think their excuse for not doing it would be “classified”. Forget about “hard as hell to program”. lol

edit: I think they are looking at their missile behavior, but man, they got so much on their plate. Ambitious as hell, which is good, but just not sure the resources are there. They’ve made some huge wins of late. Let’s hope those help make it all happen. They’ve gained at least a few customers of late…

Seems MAC is a play to get more. I wonder if they are looking at Ace Combat 7 and shitting their pants.


I think MAC is more trying to get in on War Thunder’s… Thunder. Ace Combat works in a certain way that I don’t think ED intends to compete with.

Now, ECM, countermeasures, missiles, what hits and what doesn’t – that gets complicated and complex real fast. For the AH-64 in ArmA we did it on a simple counter basis, in that x amount of countermeasures would steadily increase the missile deception chance. Simple and straightforward, because trying to go more complex for that kind of environment didn’t make much sense. Likewise, the ECM and disco ball were comparatively simple, in that either one increased the chances of fooling a missile. Only the ECM was a bit more proactive, generating false radar contacts to fool the enemy – though it also served as a big “I’m over here, shoot me now!” beacon.

Given that DCS’s EW model is simplistic – likely for a variety of reasons – the simple random chance makes sense from a computing power perspective as well as ease of code. I’m sure chaff is a bit more complex than chance alone, it’s probably coupled with other factors like radar return and whatnot, but in the end it’s still a simple numbers game. Changing the system to something else could be both difficult and hazardous, given the sensitive nature of the subject. I would like to see more expanded stuff in the EW spectrum that I think could work, such as EF-111s generating electronic noise that overwhelms radar systems in a certain radius, so that ECM can be pulled out of the realm of “self protection” and into “offensive use for punching into an enemy air defense network.” Further, having chaff generate false returns or appearing as noise on radars would make it a bit more useful as a weapon as well. I think the present system works well enough for flares to leave it as is.

I will say that I’ve had better luck setting my chaff and flares to dispense faster than 1 second, usually 2 bursts at 0.25 seconds gives me good results when combined with a proper defensive flying style. I will also use the hell out of them if I need to, as I believe unused flares and chaff bundles do no good for you when you’re dead.

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The lack of anything beyond noise jamming for ECM in most sims has always been a sore point for me.

Yeah, if you’re doing a Vietnam sim that’s fine, but for the 80s onward deception jamming became a thing. Then came the towed decoys.

If you listened to sim devs, they would have you believe that no one ever used ECM because it broadcasts your position to everyone while being useless against missiles launched BVR that are just not too far. In other words, the USAF bought EF-111s and the USN bought EA-6Bs and EA-18Gs…to not use them.

There is little point in accurately modeling how a radar or seeker works if you’re not going to accurately model how to counter them. Just replace everything with probability that takes little else into account and when ECM or CMs are deployed just decrease the pk on the fly.

The “classified” banner waving for giving us more than just noise sounds like an excuse out of Airplane!

“My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow, we’re bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 18:00 hours.”
“When will you be back?”
“I can’t tell you that. It’s classified.”


Frankly, I figured that “hard as hell to program” was the real reason. It would be hard as hell to program if you tried to actually program the electromagnetic physics, for lack of a better term.

What may not be as hard to program would be to simply compare the chaff program with the missile in some kind of look up table.

Example with completely made up numbers:

The user has programed his ECM gear with Chaff Prog 1: 2 bursts, 0.25 sec burst, repeated 3 times, 2 seconds between repetitions.

A 2, 0.25, 3, 2 is “recognized” by the sim when the user hits his chaff button.

The incoming missile is an AA-10C.

In a look-up-table, the following data is entered for an AA-10C:
2 to 4; 0.1 to 0.45; 3 to 5; 2 to 4 decreases the probability of a hit by 28.2%

If If above any of those values, probability of hit is decreased by 11.7%

it is below any of those values, or if Chaff is in manual, the probability of hit is decreased by 3.1%

Look-up-tables don’t take much CPU/memory time so it should be workable.

Currently, having Chaff in manual is the way to go since you evidently have the same probability of hit with a burst or two than you would have with a more “chaff-expensive” programed setting.

It does sound that way, and those of us “in the business” have been known to over-classify some things, but it really is not an excuse.

There are a lot of things about an aircraft, radar, missile, etc. that you cannot really hide. Its shape determines its aerodynamics which, along with other “can’t hide” variables like engine power, determines performance. It is just a lot of math. If another guy’s plane shines his radar on your plane, and your plane can record it (EA-6B, EF-18, etc.) then you can figure out how well that radar performs…again, a lot of math but from the “collection” perspective, it is easy.

Then there is Electronic Warfare (EW; ESM, ECM, ECCM, etc). You need the right receivers in the right place at the right time to “see” it and record it. We, (and “they”) do the best we can not to employ our EW capabilities where the other guy(s) are in that right place at the right time. In fact we take prudent steps to block the other guy’s “view” as it were.

If they do get a good “view”–through collecting signals or learning about it from some other source (like information gathered to develop a computer simulation) all it takes is bit of brain power to figure out what was recorded, what it means, and how to counter it.

That would be bad…for us…good for “them”…still… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Am I right in thinking chaff is neccessary for sophisticated Sam’s and flares for heatseekers

JediMaster nailed it, IMO. " Yes, the AD&D rules used (Actively Dodging in DCS) do seem to rely very heavily on probability rather than methods, weaknesses, and situations."

Without access to classified data on missiles countermeasure rejection capabilities, I think ED made some best guesses and built in a law of averages into the code.

That’s why taking the “how we do aero” approach to radar and ECM I think is not the right way to go.
By applying those methods, you naturally are getting into the very area that the real users apply to figuring out how they work and don’t. Bam–you’re in classified territory.

So, instead of doing that, why not expand the AD&D ruleset to version 3.0 or whatever and add in deception jamming and towed decoys and the like. Make some best guesses as to how effective they would be via a lookup table like you mentioned and then apply that. Ok, got it, realistic modeling can’t happen, so why exclude deception when you’re not even “properly” modeling noise? DCS would often have you think that HOJ efficacy is so good that it’s MORE dangerous to use ECM than not. Are there ANY recorded kills in history of an HOJ weapon?

From what I understand, the idea of deception jamming is not to hide but to redirect. The enemy still locks on and fires, but the weapons sail by outside of harmful range. As opposed to stealth, where the idea is to hide if you can, but when you can’t to at least not have a trackable target. You should be able to fudge the effects it would have without needing to worry about what’s inside the black box causing them.

Modders were able to add in things like towed decoys to Strike Fighters with very convincing results. Were they accurate? Of course not. But they FELT right. They let you use more realistic tactics on both the offensive and defensive sides that were more accurate than simply blasting noise till the other side burns through and makes it pointless.

Better to have smoke and mirrors making you think there’s a wizard on the stage than to just give up because someone might notice the man behind the curtain, and instead leave everyone with an empty stage.


Yep, the key word is much less “realistic” than “believable”.