Equipment decision stress and questions about Hornet prep

Does anyone here have issues flying a certain DCS aircraft enough to really feel proficient in said aircraft, before being tugged away by something equally as sexy? Case in point, I’ve been trying to spend most of my time in the F-15C lately hoping that the familiarity with some of the systems and procedures would cut down on the F/A-18 learning curve. Then last night, I somehow corrupted my TM Warthog profile for the F-15C. Not wanting to spend a few hours recreating the darn thing (and realizing that I need to rethink my backup strategy), I decided to try on the Mirage 2000 for size. Wow, is that a horny little beast. Calming down, I realize that there are a bunch of new systems and processes to learn, not to mention a French labeled pit. And about that HOTAS profile, yes, get cracking on a new one. Anyone feel like they need a 30 hour day?

Back to Hornet prep, many think that the Eagle is the most arcade of DCS offerings and won’t bother with it’s non clickable pit. True. Perhaps the A-10C with its more developed RWR and CAS protocols really might not be too far from the A in F/A-18. Or does one pursue the new little hottie on the block, Miss Mirage?


Honestly, I think the best prep might be to fly the F/A-18 Hornet in Falcon BMS. Especially if you want to do something like magnum calls (doing SEAD). That stuff is not as easy to do as the Su-25T may lead you to believe. HAS-RUK mode (Harm As Sensor - Range UnKnown) is fairly easy to comprehend but anything more advanced than that is going to require time in the manual and practice.

Note that the Avionics readouts ( MFD display info etcetera) are the same as the F-16 in Falcon BMS. So the preperation won’t be perfect. The A-10 has a HOTAS with a SOI-SPI system. The F-16 has a similair SOI-SPI system and the exact same stick (except the lever, that the TM Warthog HOTAS also has, is not present in the A-10 but it is in the F-16 where it suspends the autopilot) However the meaning of the keypresses is totally different in the F-16 from the A-10. The F/A-18 has a completely different stick and throttle (wich is probably why some people where hoping for Hornet hardware during the thrustmaster event) so I doubt even preparing in the A-10 would be doing you that much good.

Despite the differences between the F-16 and F/A-18 avionics, both fighters where born out of the LWF program. So I expect some similarities, atleast more than with the aircraft you intend to train with. It would also be an oppertunity to practice on the air-to-ground radar. It’s not going to provide a perfect Call of Duty/Battlefield style overview of the battlefield. There’s some skill involved in detecting targets in between the false-returns from buildings, bridges and powerlines. You also need to manipulate the radar in order for it to detect either stationary or moving targets. I don’t know the exact differences between how the AN/APG-66 (F-16) and the AN/APG-65 (F/A-18) works. But if I look at the work in progress screenshot of the DCS F/A-18 radar I think it’s safe to say for me that things are working pretty similair. Note how the bridge and the powerlines parallel to the river really pop out. The actual vehicles seem almost camouflaged and blended in with the buildings at the nearby city while they are standing in the open on the runway.

spending some time with the radar in BMS would surely be beneficial when getting to work on the F/A-18 in DCS. If you don’t want to fly the F/A-18 in BMS and want to preserve the virgin feeling for when you get in ED’s version, feel free to learn the real star of the show in BMS instead, the F-16! It’s a lot of fun to fly, like the A-10 it’s actually not very hard to fly at all. FBW makes things great. Just that the options are endless and that makes it complicated.

As for the F-15. I wouldn’t say it’s an arcade module. Flying and fighting is pretty good, but I don’t think you can expect to transfer over any systems knowledge. Only pure BFM and ACM info. As for the Mirage, cool aircraft, I love it, but again I don’t think there’s gonna be much info you can transfer over.

I know there’s hornet stuff you can buy for the otherwise civilian flight sims but I don’t how good they are, and I doubt they could match the combat featured in DCS or BMS.

just my 0.02, hope it was helpful :smiley:

1 Like

I would say I’ve never been proficient in any DCS module. I think the greatest proficiency I ever reached was with the Ka-50 maybe four or five years ago. The Ka-50 was, and remains, my favorite DCS module. I just love the complexity of the startup, the ABRIS, the targeting, and the fun of flying it. Even at my most proficient though, I only knew very basics of ABRIS use (you could write a book about that thing’s functionality) and only the basics of data-linking. There are guys that can use that helmet sight, snap to a target, lock, fire in seconds. I was always way more methodical because I was never great at “playing the piano” of the HOTAS so to speak.

The next nearest module in terms of proficiency was probably the A-10C - but again, I think I only knew about 25% of what it could do. What I find somewhat amusing is that there are people out there that can score 50 kills in a mission, but that might not be able to shoot an ILS to minimums. That is an interesting facet of simming that you don’t get the luxury of in the real world (and I’ve never flown a combat aircraft…so I can only imagine the stress levels and task saturation involved).

What is equally amazing is trying to flip between sims. I don’t know how people can be proficient in both Falcon 4 (BMS) and DCS. I just find that amazing. At my best, I might be able to handle two sims…and that would have been something like EECH (which I was quite good at back in the day) and Longbow 2 (a much more low fidelity sim than what we see with DCS offerings).

But to your question - I have no idea what is the best “prep” for the F/A-18 - although I’d suggest maybe the best prep isn’t in DCS at all…but perhaps an FSX offering. I don’t know if there is a comparable module to what DCS is going to be modeling (C model right?)…because I think the best F/A-18 for FSX is the Super Hornet by VRS. So I’m not sure how much switchology is similar between those models. But you can do pretty cool stuff with the VRS Hornet in FSX (particularly with TacPack) - but it will never be a DCS type environment. But for navigating MFDs, learning procedures, etc…I think that might be a good way to go.

I love this kind of topic by the way! :smiley:


1 Like

This is a huge problem for me.

And not just other DCS modules, but other sims and games as well: Rise of Flight, Kerbal Space Program, Arma 3, Star Wars Battlefront, etc. All of these steal time away from me.

For DCS, campaigns really help me focus on one airframe for an extended amount of time, usually enough to feel confident in flying it, although my proficiency with the systems really depends on the missions in the campaign. Baltic Dragon’s M2K campaign, for example, will walk you through every single button, switch, dial, gauge, and knob inside that aircraft, as well as push you to the limits in terms of handling the aircraft.

But yes, it is really difficult to just pick one aircraft and stick with it. Takes a lot of discipline and a longer vision of where you want to go, what you want to accomplish.

For example, you mention “Hornet prep”. Getting used to HOTAS interaction with MFDs is really important, which is where the A-10C might be useful, but there’s no air-to-air radar in the Hawg. The F-15C carries that big ol- APG-63, as well as a lot of delta energy for aerial combat, if you’re looking to train up on that aspect. Parade formations are probably best first learned in the A-10C, due to the easy handling, but a zippy aircraft like the M2K or F-15C is probably better for tactical formation flying. Then you need to strap on a Su-33 to get carrier landings and drogue refueling practice in…

In short, you’re not going to find any one existing DCS module is a good stand in for the Hornet. I’d recommend reading up on the F/A-18C’s HOTAS and whatever you can glean on its operational manual. You can start designing the mapping for functions from the F/A-18C HOTAS to your own with drawing tools, or Excel or Powerpoint, or something, to get a head start on that.

1 Like

VRS Superbug is without a doubt the way to go if you’re trying to prepare for the Hornet. Obviously the E/Fs are different than the C/Ds, but disregarding the UFC and the engine/fuel display, my understanding is the Cockpits are very similar. Depending on the block of C we get, the MFDs, their pages, the TGP, and the radar should be the same or similar to the Block I E VRS has simulated.

In DCS? There isn’t really a clear answer, and to be honest I’d wager there isn’t one. The F-15C is another MD aircraft, and superficially the radar display is similar to the one in the Hornet, but it’s function is extremely simplified and missing a number of modes, user features, and well, I could go on for this for a while. The A-10 has MFDs, and that’s about where the similarities end. You could use it to become comfortable with the idea of using and managing MFDs and a TGP during ground attack aircraft, as well as becoming familiar with moving mud. However the way the A-10 and the Hornet display info via their MFDs is functionally similar, but visually very different. There is no real 1 to 1 transfer there. Likewise moving mud in the A-10 is much, much different in something as fast as the F/A-18. With the Hornet you’ll have a number of delivery options and techniques that simply aren’t available in the Hawg.

The Mirage is a fine jet, but it’s weapons and avionics are extremely different.

You could use the Su-33 to practice tanking and carrier landings (cue inarticulate yelling with regards to the lack of a FLOLS), but again the weapons and avionics are extremely different.

All of these aircraft also fight different than the Hornet. The F-15 is a big, powerful energy fighter. The Mirage is a delta. The Flankers are giant maneuverable monstrosities. The Hornet is a slightly under-powered, almost straight winged, angle fighter. It hemorrhages speed, but in doing so it has excellent nose authority at stupidly low speeds. It was relayed to me the self avowed Hornet fight doctrine is “I point my nose at you until you die”. Dicking around in the VRS Superbug has resulted in dogfights where both participants were at 80 knots, and still in control of the jet and angling for position. Coming from the F-15 it is unnatural.


Those are great replies guys and went in directions that I had not thought of. Looks like the Superbug has been released for P3D, and probably worth owning on it’s own, if only to study the E model.

BMS, yes have it installed and patched. Runs fine, looks amazing, and the YT mission videos are certainly compelling.

However, in the short term that decision might be moot, given the dearth of recent F/A-18 information on the ED forums found when I went to confirm C model. :frowning: The Tomcat with its allied naval ops are undoubtedly much closer at hand, albeit with limited mission capability compared to the Hornet.

I think what I’ve decided to do is work through the DLC Red Flag campaign for the F-15C, which should keep me thoroughly involved, regardless of what some identify as the “arcade” nature of that module. I’m sure that there is enough work becoming familiar with the NTTR and then completing Red Flag to make one feel like they don’t need more on their plate. If all goes well, then repeat Red Flag in the A-10C. Then we will see where we are with the Tomcat and illusive Hornet.

BTW, solved my Warthog TARGET corrupted file issue. Turns out that you cannot program KP_period and must use USB code (99) for that keystroke, or remap the command.

Cheers all.

Forgot to ask, how similar would the A-10C RWR function be compared to that in the F-15C and F/A-18? Seems like that would be a somewhat universally applied display and needed proficiency.

You’re sort of right. ED is now largely focussing on completing Normandy 1944 and the Spitfire Mk.IX. Leatherneck is now highly focussing on the SAAB AJS-37 Viggen. So both are probably some time out although I hope they complete both of them this year.

Hope you enjoy the superbug!

The VRS bug is probably the best option. Obviously there are differences between the C and E but 90%+ is the same. Unfortunately it’s hurt by the lack of stuff to do with it in FSX/P3D.

My opinion is the BMS F-18 isn’t worth the time unless you really want carrier ops. As mentioned above, the systems are the same as the F-16 and simple stuff like starting the aircraft is modeled incorrectly. Plus the software, with respect to menus, displays, etc., is completely different between the two jets. I don’t know if they implemented ACM modes of the radar but that’s another big difference.

RWR is conceptually the same with some minor differences, such as indications on the hud and different tones.

Hotas will take getting used to as it’s different from what we have so far as well.

1 Like

With regards to my previous remarks…

…which of course is based on current intel :wink:


Hah I must’ve completely missed that comment when you posted it.

The C model has been confirmed for some time, what hasn’t been confirmed are specifics like which lot and equipment we’re getting. For example, JHMCS, targeting pod (though I believe that’s been somewhat unofficially confirmed as the ATFLIR recently), weapons, etc.