DCS: UH-1H Huey - offense tactics

dcs

#21

If you are serious about learning proper Huey tactics and willing to put in some effort (which it looks like you both are), do get in touch and something can probably be arranged. Sign up on the forums I linked for starters and write a short introduction in the relevant section, you will then be supported


#22

I linked this thread to some of the gunship guys and one of them is very interested in @Bearhedge 's discoveries. He asked me to show you this thread:
btw, maybe you can also add this thread to that URL? I’m not registered there, but maybe some of the guys can guide me to the right direction or like to discuss this mission:
https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=215688
hoping some of you would be able to help him.


#23

I shall! Thanks for the link, really appreciate it. Definitely serious to learn and happy to put effort in, within the time constraints life places on me.

Well, these next screenies are going to appear awfully flippant now…but ah well. Apart from this business, I’ll be a serious pilot, promise!

An aggressive slicing turn starting from circa 2000 ft AGL works quite well. 60 degree bank turn, followed by 40 degree dive. I tried to launch rockets at 750 feet altitude, circa 1100 ft slant range.

I took no hits / 1-2 non-destructive hits on the couple of test runs I did and the tanks are blowing up quite reliably. It really is more of a DCS damage model thing as much as anything, as I suspect this would be a bad plan in real life…but it is fun to experiment. :slight_smile:


#24

Quite separate to (hopefully) learning proper procedures soon, my quest to deploy the Huey as an attack helicopter in DCS continues.

I’ve obviously started the process with basic 1-on-1 tactical scenarios. I know where the enemy is, it is daylight with no wind etc. It allows me to assess the enemy triggers and behaviour relatively accurately, especially with the help of TacView.

Things inevitably get a bit ‘game-y’, as DCS ground forces are evidently fearless robots with a sixth sense. It breaks immersion a bit to analyse things this way – but that’s how things are and that’s the enemy we face on the ground. The AI behaviour has been discussed plenty on other forums/topics but I’ll recap some of the ‘features’ that are especially highlighted when you’re at close range.


A close up screenshot of a tank crewman I took

These factors play a massive part in what tactics work and what don’t in DCS and have basically nothing to do with real life. Some of the things I’ve discovered:

  • The ground units seem to always know you are there, even if they have no line of sight. The concepts of ‘sneaking’ or ‘surprise’ don’t exist – if you’re there, the enemy knows and acts accordingly.

  • The enemy has no fear – shock and awe doesn’t work. There’s some behaviours triggered by explosions (convoys running off the road etc.) but mostly the units stand their ground and fire at you with the same accuracy even if they are surrounded by rocket explosions. They also see through the explosion clouds - unlike you.

  • Area effect damage (or the lack of) – discussed to death elsewhere but basically you need direct hits, especially with the Huey’s weapons.

  • Very accurate AA gunnery from non-dedicated AA units – again, just a fact of life in DCS but definitely shapes the environment / tactics. In the army I practiced firing the NSV 12.7mm AAHMG with a reflector sight against drones and based on that experience to call the DCS gunners accurate is an understatement.

  • Very simplified behaviour and set trigger ‘bubbles’ for engagement – if you’re inside the bubble, they will fire at you – there’s no waiting until they see the whites of your eyes or staying quiet because they want to stay hidden (there might be a ‘return fire’ option in the mission design ROE, unsure – but especially in MP it’s usually always set to ‘fire at will’).

  • No ‘partial damage’ or hatch down / hatch up behaviour for armour. In real life, even if a tank or IFV didn’t completely blow up because of a shower of minigun 7.62mm fire, I wouldn’t give any life insurance to the poor bugger manning the HMG. Those things aren’t remotely controlled in a T-72, you have to have a squishy meatbag out of the hatch to get rounds downrange.

Obviously it would be nice if things were different and at some point CA2 will come around and the F111 will be out too and it’ll all be great – but in the meantime I’m just going to take the above factors as ‘reality’ and test / design my tactics quite clinically for the DCS environment.


#25

I suggest trying to add some friendly AI to your scenario, either UH-1s or AI gunships, and then seeing how the results play out. DCS’s vehicle AI isn’t complex enough to take into account your scenario, but it’s actually quite similar to other games like ArmA. “Laser accurate” seems to be a thing for a lot of folks unfamiliar with firearms and we see this all over the game industry.

Small arms and HMGs are quite effective against helicopters and that’s why weapons like TOW and HELLFIRE were developed. The deck is stacked against you in so many ways that you’re better off changing the scenario rather than trying to adapt yourself to it.


#26

Yeah, you are probably right about the deck stacking - I had a look at the aircraft losses of Vietnam war: USA rotary-wing losses in Vietnam: 5,195+ :grimacing: That’s a big number.

Not all those are combat-related of course…but the ‘Low Level Hell’ antics certainly weren’t risk-free.


#27

Also the damage modeling when referring to actual “armor” (as in MBT’s, AFV’s etc) isn’t that far off with the weapons available. I’ll see if I can find the reference, but if I recall correctly the USAF expected a MK-82 to be a mobility kill at best without a direct hit on an MBT. That’s a LOT of blast damage compared to even a 5" aerial rocket. So requiring actual direct hits with a rocket to do damage, doesn’t seem to out of line particularly with HEAT rockets (they have little blast effect comparatively anyway). Now soft targets, don’t even get me started.


#28

As I recall, most of the helicopter combat losses were due to simple weapons like the ZPU-4.

Use of helicopters in an offensive capacity was still pretty new at the time, not to mention military strategy as a whole (to say nothing of the politics).

Second suggestion: Try using soft targets and infantry in place of armor, or if armor is present, task some attack helicopters with their destruction and use the UH-1s to engage the soft targets. I bet the results will be very different.


#29

I will - and to clarify, my go’s at the tank weren’t to try to prove the tactical viability of the Huey against tanks (which obviously isn’t there), I’m just testing the limits and the mechanics. :slight_smile:


#30

Sure, part of the fun is figuring out ways to make it work! Throwing some more complexity into the scenario can change everything.


#31

Brother!


#32

Not much more to add from RW former Army dude, I didn’t fly “guns” so my info is more on defensive tactics that have already been discussed, really not alot the UH-1 has to offer in the ASE department. I’m back in DCS 2.5 with the Hornet, but have rolled the Huey out of the hangar a few times to get back into it.


#33

A few more tests done.

BMP-3. At a quick glance, appears to be a beast with lots of teeth but not masses of armour.

100mm main gun capable of ATGMs - so I assume 60 kts is a minimum safe speed to engage. The scary piece of kit is the 30 mm autocannon. It has a coax 7.62mm as well, but frankly if the 30mm is pointed at me with a chance to hit, I have bigger issues than the pea shooter. No turret AA HMG, though, so that’s nice.


30mm 2A72 autocannon firing at Huey flying at 2000ft travelling at 80kts, 1.8 miles away.

First I tried the same banking / diving turn that sort of works for the MBTs in terms of getting in rockets range.

Not a good plan. The BMP’s gun elevation is more than 30 degrees, so a 30-degree dive makes you an easy target for the 30mm, and that is terrifying. The BMP was toast, but so was I. Interestingly, the 30mm rounds actually hit and destroyed a few of the rockets in the air.

The crew firing miniguns worked better. The door gunner opened up at 5,200 feet slant range at 2,000 ft altitude and I concentrated on avoiding the gun bursts. The autocannon is a lot easier to avoid than say a Shilka, so you don’t need to jink heaps - just a bit of up and down, left and right does the trick at that range.

It took 1,034 7.62mm hits in 32 seconds to take the IFV down.

An interesting observation - the BMP uses smoke launchers and bolts off when fired at. It didn’t save his skin…but looked quite cool.


#34

One of the things I’ve always wished for and hope ED actually implements in the future is crewman who actually call out threats as they see them. I’ve found that trying to concentrate and fly the helicopter while also trying to swivel one’s head to look for threats is almost impossible in the modern environment DCS simulates. Even with the Huey, my best defense is Nap of the Earth and using those wonderful tree lines and hills. Going any higher without the help of crewman’s eyes and no RWR in the Huey means death coming shortly. Excellent thread by the way, keep it coming.


#35

Hear, hear. Especially with 3 crew members! It would be a realistic SA improvement. You could have probability of “gunner was playing angry birds, didn’t notice incoming SAM” built if needed so they’re not unrealistically observant.

The most important ones would be tracers (direction, heavy / small arms, close / far) and missiles fired nearby. Enemy fighters well within visual range should get a notice too…and while we are at it, it would make sense if the gunners / co-pilot piped up to verbally acknowledge enemy units that they would engage anyway (ROE setting allowing).

Anyway – as of right now, all we have is silent crewmembers and hopes and dreams. :slight_smile:

In terms of the NOE flying, that’s definitely the safest approach overall – especially in the MP environment.

Some rambling thoughts to date

Just a quick disclaimer / clarification - there’s no question about if employing the UH-1H Huey in an offensive capacity in the modern DCS theatre is stupidly dangerous. As noted, regardless of the tactics employed, the deck is stacked against you. Ultimately gravity alone is plenty dangerous for a flying hydraulic leak from the 1960’s and avoiding places where tracers fly would undoubtedly be smart…alas, that’s not what heroes are made of, so I’m pushing on. (I guess what I’m trying to say – take this odyssey as similar to a MiG-21 jockey pushing for F-15 kills online, even if he gets killed a lot more than he kills)

In terms of my plan for the testing, I’ve started at the simplest level – 1-on-1 scenarios, test the behaviour of the ground threat classes (infantry, APCs, IFVs, MBTs etc.) and test what works and what doesn’t. There will be units that are basically unbeatable (Shilka comes to mind) and there will be units that are relatively easy kills with the right tactics.

I’m hoping to have a few key metrics and observations about the common units noted down over time: things like the ~1800 ft AGL max vertical engagement trigger for the MBTs and the max airborne target speed of ~50kts for ATGMs.

I’ve already learned about the damage model (hitpoints). For example – you can literally empty all of the miniguns on a friendly T-55 (100% hit rate) and it doesn’t blow up, however, importantly, that’s not because the rounds bounce off (as would happen in real life) but because it simply absorbs that much damage (hitpoints). I’ve finished off T-55’s with a relatively short minigun burst after a mediocre rocket run left the tank alive.

Obviously, things in actual scenarios are a lot harder…it’s not 1-on-1, you don’t know how many units are out there and threat detection with eyeballs alone is a huge challenge. The threat environment will also dictate the tactics available: even if 2000ft AGL altitude is the best for attack geometry, that altitude will be denied if air-to-air and radar-SAM threats exist, for example.

One of the hardest things about offense in the Huey is that you only have the cockpit zoom to play with. You have to make a decision to engage or avoid before you are close enough to easily visually confirm the type of threat.

In the absence of advanced optics, we have to look at what other information we do have available. In the case of AA, assuming you see the initial burst (a big assumption), with a bit of testing, it should be possible to narrow down the possible culprit. Colour of tracers, frequency of bursts, accuracy and opening distance will narrow down the options, together with your altitude.

Another challenge is that while you can see the distance numbers in the testing environment (TacView, labels on), in a no-labels MP environment you don’t have the same luxury. Cockpit references and visual cues have to be used to gauge distance…so a lot of that will come down to practice.

Anyway, this was just random thoughts…I’ll keep testing the various ground units’ behaviour for now and see where that takes me.


#36

RPG man - potentially more dangerous than you thought

So this fellow is an interesting one. No guided missiles, just a good old rocket propelled grenade. A primitive weapon, but proven to be dangerous, for example in recent times in Afghanistan.

The RPG soldier hangs around, standing up with the RPG on his shoulder until an enemy target presents itself.

He then springs to action and purposefully runs around for a few meters, looking for a good firing position I guess:

After a few meters he drops on one knee and assumes firing position towards the direction of the threat - but importantly, he doesn’t adjust or turn around once he is on one knee:

If you’re still in the same direction from him as you where when he dropped on one knee (say, hovering or moving slowly towards him), bad things are about to come your way - and there is little warning.

Here the round is in the air about to hit and you only get a little flash of the rocket motor:

A reasonably big puff of smoke does reveal the location of the shooter after the shot is away but unless he missed, this information does you no good as you will already have shuffled off this mortal coil and are too busy explaining away your sins to old St Pete at the Gate. The RPG is a one-shot killer for the Huey.

So, the RPG man doesn’t give away his position with tracer fire and doesn’t seem to take his shot until you are close, which makes him potentially a lot more dangerous than a lot of the small arms / 7.62mm MG-equipped threats such as the older APCs. I assume the ‘return fire’ ROE option doesn’t really help either, as chances are the first shot will hit.

The good news is that he is quite slow to react. His inability to face another direction without repositioning once he has dropped on his knee makes him quite easy to avoid if you keep moving…and he does get hosed down easily on ‘free fire’ ROE by the gunners.

Edit - Looks like the RPG engages at around 1500 ft slant range and engagement maximum altitude 225 ft AGL…so quite low.

Once he acquires a target, he doesn’t waste time though, if the first shot misses, the second one is off 10 seconds later. I also got hit a few times doing 60+ kts between 1000-1500 ft range, so speed alone doesn’t provide safety.


What the little puff looks like at 1500 ft distance. If you’re still alive when you see it, it means he missed and that it is time to yank away hard, as the next one is less than 10 seconds away.


#37

No flying done the last few days, but I did re-read a bit of my Kindle copy of Guts n’ Gunships by Mark Garrison. The following was quite interesting - being the target for HMG fire sounds like a bad time:

I was assigned as an aircraft commander and fire team lead with a minigun ship to be my wingman. Our mission was specific. We were to cover heavy metal, fixed winged aircraft into and out of a SSP runway at Ben Het, when they were receiving heavy fire.

When we got there, all hell had broken loose on the ground. The fixed wing supply ships were unable to land on the runway. They were airdropping supplies by sliding them from the back cargo bay. The cargo packs had parachutes attached to slow the descent and speed of the supply drops. As soon as the supplies were dropped, the aircraft made full flap STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) departures in an attempt to avoid enemy small arms fire, and the supply planes were under constant fire.

For some mystifying reason, the first aircraft that we escorted into the runway, received no observable enemy fire. We broke right and came back around ready to pick up another one with a full load of armament and fuel. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all, I thought.

Wrong! Just as I was making my 180-degree turn, what appeared to be flaming footballs hurdled past the nose of my aircraft. I immediately glanced down and saw that the AAA fire was apparently coming from a ****** T-72 Russian tank. Tanks! There are no ******* tanks in this war. Especially not Russian tanks. What the **** is going on here? Knowing that I only had a few seconds to act, I dropped the nose of my aircraft, placed the rocket selector switch on salvo, and hit the trigger. The first two pairs walked their way up to the tank, and the rest of the 16 pairs were apparently direct hits. I watched the soldier manning the turret immediately disintegrate and the tank rolled to a stop. It must be remembered that I had no anti armament ordnance on board, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have stopped it with plain vanilla HE rockets. One of those incendiary rounds striking our aircraft’s fuel cell would have lit us up like a napalm bomb.

The other note I’ve taken from the book is that at least the ‘Crocodiles’ (the author’s guns unit) used the following combat loadout:

  • Lead ship “The Hog” - the big rocket pods (38 rockets), mostly 10-pound warheads with as many 17-pounders as weight would allow, M60’s on doors
  • Wingman “The minigun ship” - small rocket pods and the flex miniguns, M60’s on doors

The lead ship would attack first and have their break covered by the wingman. Obviously in real life this would keep the enemy’s head down.

These loadouts are made for a slightly different Huey to the one we have, of course - at least in this book only the slicks are H-models and the guns were C-models with a less powerful turbine, so they were well underpowered in comparison to what we have (1,100 shp vs 1,400 shp).


#38

The Swooping Sheepdog of Death

Back to the more gamey features…I played around with infantry a bit.

The AK’s get pointed in your general direction up to about 1000ft AGL…and open fire at slant range of circa 1100ft. You have to be one serious marksman to be standing up and firing accurate bursts out to 300m at an aerial target…but nevermind.

The fun thing here is that the AK infantry does the same running around / repositioning routine as the RPG lad. So of course I had to start playing around that mechanic.

I swooped in from over 1000 ft AGL in a fast-descending spiral. Instead of opening fire, the soldiers start running around, repositioning again and again to keep up with the spiral. Not a single shot is fired.

Here we see the Russian jogging team in action:

Well, it was too juicy. Nobody was firing at me, I could have been at it all day in a nice low right-hand circle (better to do it clockwise as you don’t risk running out of tail rotor authority).

I was running the sheepdog routine and told my door gunner to let rip and that was the end of that infantry team (11 soldiers).

Oh yes, the other thing I figured out is that ramming is a workable tactic against infanty. Just because you’re out of ammo doesn’t mean you can’t kill that sucker!

So that was mostly for amusement…but knowing about the tight clockwise circle and the repositioning mechanic can actually be quite handy if you find yourself in a knife fight with small arms. Of course, by that time a number of things have already gone wrong as you should be going in for a strafe and extending…but still.


#39

A quick test to confirm infantry can accurately shoot through WP smokescreen. A bit dissappointing - looks like smoke rockets don’t provide safety, even from the old Mk1 eyeball.


#40

Night time and infantry

A quick test at midnight showed that infantry does not react to nearby helicopters, even at point blank range. Same goes for the AI door gunners - no light, no brrt.

What is quite cool though, is that a bit of testing proved that both door gunners and infantry start reacting correctly under the artificial light of parachute illumination rockets. As soon as the illumination descends close enough to make a difference, the fireworks start.