[From the upcoming manual, posted here for general AI tips]
DCS “SEMI-USEFUL Wingman”: SUW
Helping your AI wingman help you.
NOTE: This is as of January 2023 - by the time you read this it may be better.
NOTE: Some of the following apply to the DCS “DEPLOYED” (working title) engine - a simulation within a simulation. However the techniques herein should work regardless; they help with DCS in general. Using all of the following (fuel usage stuff) I haven’t lost a wingman in months (AI: “Bingo Fuel…ejecting!”. Knock on wood.
Combat flying isn’t a Lone Wolf environment (the enemy probably wishes it was so) so a simulation of combat flying should pay attention to this area. But there are issues concerning your AI wingman - your ‘Bot’. The following are some tips when using DEPLOYED, or DCS in general, that have helped me with this. These pertain mostly to formation flying, fuel usage, and attacking something.
Turn into your wingman: If you are going to hold, or even when departing and waiting for ‘Bot’ to rejoin, keep him inside of your turn. In holding, if Bot is on your right, make right turns. They use a lot less gas if they remain on the inside of your turn. This makes sense but is overlooked. It can really help.
Go slow until he rejoins: Anytime you give a formation change to the AI, slow down. Like, for jets, 250Kts. No more than 300. They are not good at rejoining efficiently; if you toss out “2, go echelon right” the AI does strange things. The worst thing they do is fall back - way back - before moving to the directed position. This “fallback” is the problem. If you’re going fast they will use their burner to catch back up, spending a lot of fuel.
Don’t change formations if you don’t have to: Related to the last bullet. In the DEPLOYED engine they should start off in WEDGE (unless, during an edit, I missed this; default is TRAIL, which is annoying due to the issues noted herein).
Use the “DEPLOYED” engine: Shameless plug yes. However built in is the command “Fuel State Check” whereupon Bot, et.al., will reply with their fuel state in pounds. In addition they are now monitoring their own fuel states and will fess up and declare “Joker” and “Bingo” at a, usually, appropriate time. Pay attention to this.
Getting Your Attack-Trained Wingman to Attack something: This is a biggy. I’ve not solved it completely. It applies here because DEPLOYED is a ‘dynamic’ environment - the targets are not known in the mission editor because even I don’t know what the target is going to be until I hit “Fly”. I have made a suggestion (“Wish list”) that I feel will greatly help here but so far nothing.
- The process is still being tested but, for a FIXED and known position target (by the DEPLOYED tasking AI - think runway, building, bridge), either pre-planned or a “pop-up” target (all targets are ‘dynamically’ discovered and assigned), DEPLOYED has a command you must give them to either do a Dive Bomb attack or a Level Attack. I suggest the latter due to MANPAD issues.
- I have yet to resolve how to get them to attack an arbitrary, dynamically discovered MOVING target (convoy for instance) - i.e.; you, the human, can see the thing. In summary: if you are given a target by the DEPLOYED AI that is fixed in location your Bot will attack it, and only it (normally). But not a mobile one.
- There is a technique to help with the former bullet explained elsewhere (see: Cockpit Visual Recon Mode). Using this method you can make them aware of, say, that tank you just flew over, but when you command “Enage Ground Targets” Bot will often not obey your command. They will hit something, if it’s in their “ToDo List” but it is not consistent. Now, if that tank is the ONLY object around then the odds are high Bot will obey. But what if that tank is only one item in his list? What if he thinks that MRLS 50 miles away is more likely to win him an Air Medal?
Until update 2.8 you could call your Bot off the tanker. No more it seems. This messed up my personal “fuel plan”. Prior to 2.8 you could monitor them (“Fuel State Check”) and get him to stop taking unnecessary poundage with a “Rejoin” call. Doesn’t work any more. Boo. I include this here in the hopes somebody reads it and re-introduces the good behavior.
See: Cockpit Visual Recon Mode