DCS: Capabilities Gap?

So, I was playing around with the Su-33 last night and I got to thinking that since we’re going to have an F-14, an F-15E, an A-6E KA-6D future carrier aircraft, coupled with what we already have in the bug, Harrier, M2k, etc., and before long it would seem that there’s not going to be a whole lot of modern Russian or non-US designs in DCS. There’s supposedly a MiG-23MLA in the pipe, but by and large most of the aircraft available to the Russian side of the house are either going to be older designs like the Farmer and Fishbed, with anything more recent being vastly simplified in comparison.

I know that the simplified modules tend to be better income earners, but I have to wonder if it only takes 1-2 minutes to fire up a Su-33 and get it going vs 10-12 minutes for a bug, whether or not we’re seeing a capabilities gap plus or minus for either side. I know I can fly the Su-33 vastly easier in an aerial engagement than the bug simply because of how much things are simplified and how lighter the workload is in comparison, coupled with the simplified radar and IRST of the Su-33 that gives it a massive advantage. In the PvP arena, is this going to force people into using simplified aircraft to be competitive, or can we expect changes to the overall systems so simplified aircraft aren’t essentially cheats?

I might be thinking on this too hard, but the way I’ve seen some people play online makes me wonder just how realistic it would be to run around on the deck, not use radar, and rely entirely on IR systems to fight. I can’t deny that it works well in the environment, but it seems odd in comparison to my experience in old IL2 where the goal was to get as fast as possible and as high as possible for maximum advantage. Perhaps it’s just more of a case of poor scenario design instead of a capabilities gap?



On Planes

There are two prevailing theories on why modern eastern aircraft are not made for DCS.
Theory #1 is based upon a comment made by Chizh a number of months back that stated that Russian aircraft don’t sell well with western audiences.

theory #2 is that ED are concerned about the anti-espionage laws put in place in Russia after the 2012 democracy protests, and increasingly strengthened in climate of xenophobia fostered in response to the Crimea/Donbass sanctions.

For one, both, neither reasons, ED doesn’t seem to think a Eastern DCS module is viable.

On Fidelity

If you were to place an FC3 model aircraft, and a DCS level aircraft, in a level fight. I’d expect the DCS level aircraft to beat the FC3 aircraft 8 times out of 10. The FC3 aircraft has a gentler learning curve, but a lower capability ceiling. Wait until we get our fully armed and operational APG-73, and compare it to the -63 on the eagle, and you will understand.

On Tactics

Tactics are a tricky subject. In my opinion the low level chicanery (I derisively refer to it has the “Hill Fight”, I think the actual term is AMBUSH CAP, or VISCAP) is prevalent because of a combination of mission design and lack of confidence one’s equipment. Until recently, DCS A/A MP consisted primarily of Air Quake. Strikers didn’t really exist, and the Hawg and Havok mafia didn’t want their good time ruined by occasionally getting shot down. A/A was shunted off to the side, and existed primarily for the gratification of itself. Fighters were played to kill fighters. Without the need to control airspace, defend objectives, or achieve air superiority, the meta transitioned into whatever could reliably get kills.

On the Red side, there is an extreme fear of the F-15, TWS, and the AMRAAM. To be fair, it’s a potent combination, but it is not invincible. Multiple Flankers working in coordination can and do beat Eagles using SARH missiles, but it requires an understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each aircraft, coordination, and a plan. Most random players don’t get past the first part, if at all. Instead of learning how to fight for the high ground, players moved to the low ground. They aimed to orient the fight in close where the Flanker has a relative advantage, where terrain negates the ranged advantage of missiles, and the geography tends to break up fights into short, violent encounters where luck as much as skill determines who wins. Blue goes wherever Red goes, because they want the kills.

This is less prevalent on servers like Blueflag or DDCS. Having objectives that must be defended means that you need to control airspace, and you simply cannot effectively cover wide swaths of territory at 5000 AGL.


Definitely scenario design but I’m thinking the capabilities gap will be the other way around:
(10x on a Hornet) AIM-120

F-14 AWG-9 AIM-54 death from afar

Also, complexity helps in some ways. Having the bullseye on your radar screen in M-2000 makes knowing your position a lot easier

Part of this will be solved by doing an Iran vs the West scenario in the Straits, possibly putting Russia on Iran’s side.
Su-25, (27,33?), MiG-29 and F-5E and MiG-21 and F-4E and F-14A
F/A-18C and M-2000C (UAE or FR) and AV-8B and A-10C (optional A-6E, A-4E, F-14)

Looks a lot more balanced.
I say we stop thinking Russia vs West, and instead focus on Iran’s, and add China in creative ways after Deka Ironworks finishes their JF-17

EDIT: sniped by @near_blind who has a much better understanding of the workings of air combat and the DCS community and multiplayer environment. All hail Blue Flag et suis!
Still, I like the idea of Iran as an adversary. Historically reasonable, and pretty much all of its Air Force is covered by DCS modules (especially once we get the F-4)

EDIT2: I should buy the Persian Gulf


This brings up the first time I tried the Su-33 online, where I ended up flying against a group of bugs that didn’t seem to use strength of numbers to fight me. They fired missiles from extended range which resulted in me taking evasive, but it did something else: it drew them into my side’s AAA umbrella, and since I had the gas I could basically keep doing this until we were well within range of a number of systems. This forced them onto the defensive and while I didn’t explicitly get kills per se, I didn’t get shot down by them at all. Further, since they came one by one and due to the fact I had been at altitude rather than low level, I had plenty of room to maneuver while they had to waste gas to climb to my level as well as the fact they didn’t take a lot of gas to begin with.

Ironically enough, I hadn’t intended to pursue air combat with them, as my intent was instead to ferry the Su-33 across the map since the Su-33s had all started on the west side of Crimea and all the action was over the Caucasus. I had loaded light with as much gas as I could stuff on the jet just to make the trip.

This is in contrast to how I use the bug, which is primarily as a light strike aircraft with self protection capabilities – like a faster Harrier, with just as much reliance on tanking assets. I only really feel comfortable with the bug in the WVR zone as I feel the BVR capabilities are too lacking in comparison to most Russian aircraft.

I’ve noticed that there usually aren’t tanking assets available in most multiplayer missions which tends to throw me for a loop, as it’s something I use a lot in my own single missions, not to mention AWACS. I’ve used the bug’s RWR and radar as a pseudo-AWACS in such times, but that’s typically when a Flanker or Fulcrum is playing the NOE game and thus isn’t really effective.


> Perhaps it’s just more of a case of poor scenario design instead of a capabilities gap

Well gone are the developer days where one could see the dream of a holistic Red vs Blue side war game.

Now its more about an air craft collectors game as described on ED webpage - Digital Combat Simulator World

Microprose Falcon 4.0 was the closest it ever got to since then nothing has ever gotten close.

However the community has made it even harder over the years by requesting and demanding that we should get more systems and avionics that is stated many times as “Military Classified Data”, even wanting to use current world tactics. Its just an all out NO! That was never part of the agreement or ever going to happen between the reality of military aircraft data for civilian PC flight simulation. Its just absurd and delusional to even think that we would have on our PC’s all that is in reality military air power defending real world borders.

Now 9/11 changed everything and made things worse again then adding community hunger for more makes a bad situation worse when developers have to weigh up what will actually happen in comparison to the requests demanded by community.

Air combat games were always just games to fill in a desire something that people have forgotten and lost sight of unfortunately in the want for more, that has ruined everything.

I have tried in past to steer the desire for wanting more to creating better immersive environments (GAME-PLAY DESIGN).

I mean people want real missile data and computed solutions for realism, nope, that again was not part of the agreement.

Its just a game!

Now some material has been generously provided and developers have gone the full extent to put into so much for all to be happy only for those to post and run a video with analytical tests describing how inefficient a missile is for example.

I laugh because its like digging your own grave, the community is mainly at fault here in “THE WANT FOR MORE”!

It was always going to be a negative result right from the very idea of wanting more realism, so now we are getting less and less.

I’m hoping as current military tech power pushes forward into 6 - 7 gen + future, that we will have access to older declassified material that can be released for a game / sim level for home entertainment, but that’s another 20 years from all that I have read, if ever.

My desire is a global map design and theaters with high-end modern graphics engine as far as systems modeling flight modeling is concerned its not going to get any better in fact since the 80’s we have more than what we would have ever dreamed of.

Lets get back to the basic reality and enjoy a game as long as hey I can startup an aircraft fly an interdiction mission fire a missile score a kill, drop a bomb on a target, fly back to base with my buddies online should be the bottom line to build again PC flight sims and a mature flight sim community.

Lets face it, these are not the real deal flight simulators that cost over $50K in licensing costs that are kept private and classified for real world pilots in training, FACT! :roll_eyes:

I think you’re being a bit unfair to those who have requested more and more realism over the years. Over time, sims have matured and gotten more complex as well as more realistic. Consider Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Aces Over the Pacific/Europe, Air Warrior I/II/III, MS Combat Flight Simulator, Jane’s WW2 Fighters, IL-2 Sturmovik, Cliffs of Dover, to the current IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad: each one successively added upon existing technology to get to the point where we are today, from graphics, to complexity, to realism. The same can be said for many modern aircraft simulators, as they followed a similar curve.

Even with current technology, I don’t believe we can get 100% realism – not even 90% – but I do believe every effort should be made to try to get there. However, if the data isn’t there or available, is a “best guess” really the way to go about it, especially if you have good data for one side and nil for another? Are we supposed to believe that the R-77 is capable of never missing, never being spoofed, and always hits exactly the target intended? Or that the AIM-9X is an absolutely perfect missile, unmatched completely in a WVR engagement? Because if we simply guess or balance, we’re not really making a sim, but a game. Yes, it comes down to semantics of language when comparing the two (hence why I really don’t get too wound up about a lot of idiosyncrasies unless they’re things like bugs), but the fact is that a sim strives to build a game that is based on realism, not Boeing and Sukhoi sales brochures.

To use my example, should we expect that the Flanker and Fulcrum IRST systems are really that effective in all conditions at all times of day against all kinds of targets? Should we instead base them on a different set of parameters, as a total guess work, because it seems like they might be working too well? Or maybe they need an enhancement to work better? With no data to back it up one way or another, how do you tell your customer base that “sorry, IRST is currently realistic” when they complain it works too well or poor?

Further, I should remind you that even if data is declassified and available (as we discussed in the Heatblur F-14 thread, even though a lot of data is declassed, it’s still subject to ITAR regs – FWIW there’s also things like “unclassified, FOUO”), there still exists legal hurdles like copyrights.

To my original question, what I’m getting at is are we turning into a pure PvE sim, and if so, are we OK with that? Are we prepared to have a PvP scenario where BLUFOR has a significant technological edge over OPFOR? From the view of a scenario designer, both can be mitigated (more resources/lives/aircraft for OPFOR), but that begs the question as to why that’s not being done already? Further, do we have the player base to support that? Everybody wants the F-14, hardly anyone wants the Su-22, and the AI Su-22s aren’t going to do too well against even the most basic F-14 crew.


I would gladly pay for a full-fidelity Eastern fighter from the mid-nineties. Most of my DCS time is spent in the two high-fidelity eastern helicopters. I love how the cockpit logic is totally different than western designs. Learning them readjusts your brain a bit like learning a language. I just love it. That doesn’t address the question of balance. I haven’t been online since the bug came out so I should keep my trap shut. But if past serves as an indicator, the best servers will adapt and maintain some sense of order.

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To remain hopeful its been discussed multiple times that the A.i engine will get fixed with improved features and a dynamic campaign engine will be implemented at some stage. As to when well ED-DCS is a small team so it will be a long time for those that want to enjoy SP and MP missions, and the focus is to remain developing realistic systems modeling being a sandbox, ah not forgetting developing further C.A. and the ATC system thats why in the post your sim pit thread here at Mudspike I replied I’m in no hurry to go out spend huge money on a home pit and PC build I’m playing the waiting game for awhile longer… they have also said they will develop new tools for artists and community modding so will see how the near future unfolds over the next say 5 years. If all the above is addressed then most of the concerns and issues pointed out will be attended to if not at least understood and put into further planning and developing the sim.

Especially when reading threads like this - DCS: Roadmap (unofficial - NO DISCUSSION HERE) - Page 131 - DCS World 2.8 - ED Forums

In other words the development of the DCS sim is ongoing more and more being added :smirk:

I won’t speak for him…but if I know Wags, I’m sure he would love to do a full Su-27 and MiG-29 clickable cockpit, all the bells and whistles sim.


Well, just to get it in the sim, i’ll take an f-111 with a red star.

But just like @smokinhole, i like flying red on blue flag, i only have eastern helicopters and i would gladly pay for a full fidelity eastern aircraft. Su33 to su25t.

There is something quirky with eastern aircraft that i love.



I’d try to use all that as a rallying call for a Su-17/22M4 but I have a nagging suspicion that most of you wouldn’t go for that. Plus, it’s a mud mover and @near_blind wouldn’t like that. :grin:

Oh I’d love me a fitter. It’s a fun jet it seems. Like a supersonic Su-25. The red jet I’d most like to see myself is the MiG-27 tho. Fast, versatile and with lots of interesting idiosyncracies.

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Fitter-K has a better capacity for weaponry and the M4 has more PGM options, but a Flogger-D would be easier lead on from the projected MLA.

However, I’d really like to see at least a MiG-29A-12 done to the same level as the F/A-18C, even if they’re not nearly equivalent as projected. Question is, even though it’s an export type, would we have any chance of getting it or the data for it? I’d think that the Fulcrum is fairly well known in the west and data is abound, but if Russia says “no” then where does that leave us?

How about something like a MiG-25? Yes, not the greatest ever, but it’s a similar aircraft and generation as the F-14. I don’t think it is in active service anymore, but I don’t know the specifics on it.

FWIW the Fitter is still considered classified by the Russian gov’t, last I checked. Entirely due to it being a tac nuke bomber after the Frogfoot took over the close air support role.

Yea…not really sure why ED would think that eastern aircraft wouldn’t sell. Granted I don’t necessarily think they would sell as good as the Hornet or a Viper, but I do think they would sell. Now I will admit that I am undeniably biased towards US aircraft, especially USMC aircraft, but even I would be more than willing to buy high fidelity versions of the Su-25, Su-17/22, and MiG-29. Honestly I think it’s rather sad that we don’t have those aircraft and other eastern aircraft already in DCS, or at least planned/ in development. On the bright side, at least Razbam seems to think there is a market for eastern aircraft. Hopefully they can/will continue down that path in the future.

My thought is that most PvP servers (and the number of users who use these servers tends to be on the smallish side) will probably enforce limits on which aircraft can be used in those servers as well as tightly controlled parameters on the difficulty settings (i.e., no Air Quake shenanigans).

I think it’s interesting that DCS’ position is that Western aircraft sell better than Russian/Warsaw Pact examples. I’m not certain how reliable that is given that DCS is a Russian-based company and probably enjoys a rather larger fanbase in the Motherland than in the West. This may or may not be true; most of DCS’ modules are Western aircraft. I don’t know how much of their concerns about espionage is a factor because literally every continent has air forces equipped with Russian hardware. It’s not like the capabilities of these aircraft is a big secret, except for perhaps the newest models. I’d like an Su-30, but I’m not likely to see one if that’s the case.

Other sites used to host a lot of content consisting of Russian designs for Strike Fighters 2, and I’m sure they still do, but let’s be honest about the limitations of that sim. DCS could put together study-level versions of the Su-27 and MiG-29 and I’m sure they probably would do well. Given the Russian penchant for secrecy (even when its useless), I can see where the Russian government probably isn’t going to let this happen.

I am 99% sure that MiG-29 will sell equaly good as Hornet or Viper, just my 2bitcents

My gut feeling is the claim that eastern aircraft don’t sell well is the classic Russian tactic of deflection in the face of an unpleasant reality. It’s easier for a company that, I’m assuming, relies on good standing with the government for it’s commercial work to deflect blame onto nameless foreigners than criticize an overzealous law intended to intimidate western facing subsets of society.


Solutions like this work best when you are aiming at a fixed length scenario with a known player count. Otherwise you have to deal with an unknown number of players entering and exiting and random lengths of time. To them balancing systems such as that can seem opaque and overly penalizing for mistakes that may have not been theirs, or may not have even occurred when they were on the server. At the end of the day, if your plan doesn’t allow the random player to fly an aircraft they want to fly, your server is not going to be popular.

You can get away with that with single missions, or if you run an event where these systems are clearly communicated and understood by all interested parties, but for everything else it’s much easier to balance around restricted weapons and a relatively even coalition structure. Even higher concept scenarios like Blue flag operate off this principal: there are systems in place to incentivize using less capable aircraft, but they are linked to individual performance and side agnostic.

No. The coming “technical superiority” of blue is both overstated, and easily controlled via payload restrictions. Even if that weren’t the case, extremely arbitrary coalitions to create coalition parity are nothing new to the DCS multiplayer community, and they aren’t going anywhere soon.


I think it’s worth remembering that cultural differences play a big part in this as well. In Russia, they revere the Sturmoviks, not the fighters. Everything is around the land battle and air power is subservient to that. Thus, for a Russian audience, anything that moves mud is going to be a lot more popular than a dedicated air combat machine, even one with secondary ground attack capabilities. I believe that’s partly why the Su-25T is the free aircraft included in DCS world, as well as being the original Flaming Cliffs addon aircraft.

This is my take as well, coupled with a few other factors like what they could do that would be popular with all audiences. For example, I’m one of the few that would shell out for a Su-25K done to A-10C fidelity levels, but I can’t speak for everyone else. In eastern Europe and Russia, I suspect such a module would sell very well. Elsewhere, not so much – at least not the level of attention that the F-16 announcement got.

That begs the question of how well things would work with, say, MiG-19s on the red side. Could we get away with having AI generated assets in non-player craft running missions as required, with drop-in-drop-out player slots serving mostly to break stalemates? And in doing so, what missions are the MiG-19s going to perform when the blue side is fielding modern equipment? The Flogger is probably a better choice here, but I doubt we’ll see that one anytime soon and it still presents a capabilities gap when compared to blue aircraft like the F-14.

My preference has always been for PvE, so it’s difficult for me to think outside of those terms. Perhaps a better system for scenario design would be to start at the strategic level and work downwards from that, splitting missions from being a large continuous scenario to a smaller level of tactical goals to change the successive strategic picture and thus future mission paths. :thinking:

This presents an interesting question (to me): what would happen if a mission restricted weapons to purely SARH missiles and IR SRMs? I’ve noticed the R-27T and ET are very popular weapons due to their fire and forget properties as well as their range, so without them would the “Hill Battle” change or simply become a closer-in battle? Same for the AMRAAM, which seems to be practically the only air missile employed by blue aircraft. Through my own experiences, older weapons like the AIM-7 and AIM-9M are not necessarily terrible weapons, but their engagement envelopes are much more restricted for hit probabilities. This could be more influenced by a strategic picture in that limited numbers of weapons are available and fewer would remain depending on logistic factors.