DCS Harrier-First Time Trying to Refuel in the Air

The only two things I find difficult with the Viggen are remembering the computer codes, and remember which deliveries use QFE and which use radar ranging.


Kneeboards all the way baby.


Well, what do you have the most difficulty with in the Harrier?

Obviously, more power margin = easier time. So, while the VREST VL page is likely quite an accurate gauge as to whether or not you can VL, a couple hundred extra pounds of cushion gives you a little slop. You can plan to use water or not depending on your weight. Just remember that you only have 90 seconds of flow with a full tank. You really don’t want to run out of water in the hover. Just sayin’.

Also, just know that the 20,500lb max weight limit for a VL is really only a broad guideline. It will vary engine to engine and vary greatly based on atmospheric conditions. The VREST page is the best estimate in game. I’d say that you should always make sure that the altimeter and particularly the temp are correct. I think they generally are in DCS.

The pattern is flown very similarly to the carrier pattern in any naval aircraft. Nozzles 60, 10-12 AOA. Just like at the carrier, trim really determines how well you can hold that. If you find yourself fast (or, more unusually, slow), just keep clicking in the trim until you get what you need and it stays there. Chuck’s Guide gives good numbers for the pattern, but, like the ship, the first half of the turn is pretty flat and mostly on instruments, with the second half switching to an inside/outside scan.

Try to get into the groove so that you are stabilized at 10-12 AOA and at the appropriate height of roughly 325ft with a steady rate of descent.

From there, you are only really descending down to 150ft until you are over stabilized terrain. That means the pad, the runway, the ship, etc. The point is to not melt and launch dirt, rocks, or asphalt up into your intakes. I don’t think DCS will care in any case, but 150ft will also give you a bit of perspective of the area around you until you have slowed down.

Obviously, timing the Hover Stop is the trick and, while there are numbers for it, you mostly just need to take a shot and correct for how it works out. One thing to remember is that, only with your nozzles at 82 (Hover Stop) AND your Depressed Attitude Symbol (“Witch’s Hat”) on the horizon, are your nozzles straight down.

That will probably require you to raise the nose a bit. If you don’t, you are angling the nozzles back and are actually impeding your deceleration!

If you are coming in too fast, you have two options. First, you can raise the nose slightly, which works for the same reason that I just mentioned, except in reverse. Second, you can lift the nozzles over the hover stop which allows you to pull them further back, all the way to the Braking Stop (as used to brake in rolling landings) if need be. This allows you to leave your nose steady but does require you to switch hands from the throttle to the nozzle lever, which can make some pilots a bit uncomfortable.

In either case, you will be diverting some of your thrust away from straight down (i.e. supporting the weight of your aircraft), which is another reason to have a little margin. Incidentally, coming down with a big rate of descent will also require extra power to stop you. So, there’s a couple of good arguments for not coming in hot with a big sink rate.

A rough indicator of how you are doing comes from the Power Margin Indicator (the “Hexagon”) in the HUD. There will be an R in the center if the engine is more quickly approaching its RPM limits and J if it is approaching the JPT limit.

In either case, as you pass through about 60 KIAS in the deceleration, you should see no more than 2 legs of whatever hexagon is there (if any). More than two legs and you may not have enough spare performance to stop, hover, or even go around (which obviously requires even more power than landing).

Another thing to remember is that this only works in a fairly level decel. Again, if you are dropping out of the sky, your power is back, which kinda invalidates this check.

I haven’t talked about the Wind Vane, which is there for a reason. Keep it centered to avoid “bad” things. It’s obviously a relative wind indicator, so it would be unlikely (and probably unfortunate) if the vane was somehow sticking way out to the side. So, don’t let it do that! At least until you are slower than 30 KIAS.

In any case, you can adjust your closure to arrive over the pad (abeam it is also acceptable for sites that are difficult to see over the nose…like the ship). Lower yourself at the appropriate point to 60ft for the hover. Once stabilized, reduce power just slightly to allow for a continuous rate of descent to the deck. Once you touchdown, pull the power smartly to idle. Failure to do so can set you up for what is known as a “power bounce”, where the aircraft bounces with little weight on the wheels and can roll or pitch into an unsafe attitude for your second touchdown (i.e. crash :wink:).

Hopefully, that helps a little. :salute:


Thanks heaps.

I am always too fast. Time to break out Chuck’s Guide, try to hit those numbers and practice I guess.

I will let you know how I go.


Good luck mate. You got this. Getting these things right in the DCS Harrier is such a headrush. Right on a par with getting gud with the Huey or blasting sabres with a MiG-15 imo.


Piece-o-cake, I got this…

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Trim, trim, trim. Harrier to 747 trim, like scotch, is always the right answer! :f14:


These are the cues I use:


Nice job. That’s a really nice, smooth join!

It’s difficult to say for certain, but you might be coming in just a little bit hot. Take up reels are like hi rise safety glass. Work good, last long time.

Still, might not want to routinely safety test it. :wink:

Those baskets are heavy. And if you’ve ever made a sine wave and had that sickening feeling watching it come back towards you (not me of course, heard it from a friend :joy:) you learn to treat the basket with a certain amount of…cordiality.

Somewhat on the same topic, I notice that you join directly into Pre-contact.

Typically you rarely visually join in trail, really in any joinup. Without relative motion, you can only judge closure by change in size, which is difficult. Plus, if you judge incorrectly, you can wind up wearing the Loadmaster’s xxx for a hat.

So, typically you join the tanker in Observation Position on one side or the other. This paradoxically allows you to join more quickly, since you can more easily determine closure.

I’m sure you’ve likely seen something like this.


Now that you’re joined and stabilized, you can cross under into Pre-Contact. You are comparatively close in now, rather than way behind the basket. That makes it easier to stabilize and ease in, vice approaching in trail from a distance, which tends to make you impatient and charge in for a stab.

Of course, this is all just for xxxxx and giggles. You did a great job getting her in and you aren’t going to snap off the probe in the sim.

If I did half the things I do in the sim in real life, I’d have lost my wings.

And probably be imprisoned! :laughing:

EDIT: Sorry, I assumed that the site would block my my colorful metaphors. Let me fix that!


Now that we have you warmed up :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I do OK (in my mind) with the intercept (of the tanker) using RADAR; gotten so I can SWAG it ‘by feel’, if you will, and don’t over-lather myself with the numbers too much. BUT…

I’d imagine this is trickier without a RADAR and even more so with reduced visual resolution in a sim? Any tips? In the Harrier I just try to head it off at the pass or, when head-on/high-aspect, offset right (turning left just feels better :slight_smile: ) to about “…there, that looks good” and turn in when the tanker is about 30-45 degrees (10:30 - 11:00)

Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets. If the tanker is in its track, you just need to stay out of its altitude and pick it up visually.

Then you are basically just doing BFM on them to get to the join!

A/A TACAN helps for range. I don’t know if that is generally listed and on in the sim, but it would be helpful!


If the mission designer is competent, he’ll put frequency and TACAN as well as the racetracks into the briefing and/or kneeboard :slight_smile:

I usually have it in the briefing or kneeboard when I build a mission, which reminds me I only have the frequency and TACAN for three of the tankers in the kneeboard for my Marianas turkey shoot mission, will have to change that :sweat_smile:


Depends on the mission creator - easy to forget; must type it in the briefing (or similar method).

PS: DEPLOYED puts these on the kneeboard programmatically and you can get it calling the ABCCC dude)

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My rejoins are way better these days, that video was long before I even had VR. Now I prefer doing a 45 rejoin (forgot the real term) when the tanker is in a turn and join on his wing. Then call in the “inbound” comms, and move into pre-contact once the basket is out, but:

This part I still have trouble with, basket and boom. Once I move from observation to pre-contact I always end up sucked.



This part is not uncommon, even in regular formation flying. I don’t know if it’s the geometry that causes just a little opening velocity (that pilots undercorrect for) or because it “feels” better to have all your problems out in front of you instead of out over your shoulder.

Personally, I think the limited FOV in the sim just makes it even more tempting to “put it all up front”! :slightly_smiling_face:

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I noticed something, maybe, related when VR first came out when I was flying formation: in 2D, even with Track IR; I had little/no spatial awareness? so tended to, like you say, keep it all in front. In VR with my head turned to 2, even 3, o’clock to stay in position works cus I can sense where “I” am. Or something like that…


I found the same with VR. A lot of the stuff that requires spatial awareness just suddenly clicked. So did more eyes-outside type flying.


Same! Coming from TrackIR, VR was an epiphany in terms of depth perception, simply amazing what a difference it makes.