HOTAS reference in F-16 Manual

So OK, I have the old TM Cougar HOTAS sticks.
The download programmable function died a long time ago and WIN 10 does seem to recognize that function so its cool you can bind the keys to the sticks etc.
Like back when Falcon 4, EF2000, and LOMAC were the sims to have.
So ya, I’m not new at the flight sim genre, I guess I dropped out back almost 20 years ago when I couldn’t run those games in windows.
I discovered DCS, but didn’t have a real gaming machine until recently.
Right now in DCS they work fine on the axis’s and I’ve gone and bound some buttons and switches to the most rudimentary functions.
Tedious to say the least and tough to get the functions of the same or similar across the modules, F15, F16, F18 are the ones I have.
But I notice in the manuals, not just the f-16, but all that I’ve skimmed through, they refer to the HOTAS. And the buttons and switches that are labeled accordingly.
Am I missing something here?
Is there a way to get those complicated functions bound to the sticks?
Radar, Nav, Combat, etc.
I mean why go through in the manual with all the mnemonics etc and then having to find them and translate them to get them to bind to the sticks?
Could there be a sort of cheat sheet that says:
Bind this key to get ACM
This key for radar,
this key for aim9s
and so on…
J. surfdog A.

Well if your Cougar is being recognized by Windows, in DCS you can set the actually button presses to activate whatever (dogfight mode, etc). This saves you having to program the stick externally. Still a pain to go through and do each button press, but once you’re done, you’re done.

Yes, Yes, I know Jenrick, but in the manual it goes into detail on what each button should do.
For example the hat on the top of the cougar, now we know we all use that to look around, swivel head. If you don’t have VR goggles that is.
And by the way I have the Oculus rift. But if I can’t get the sticks setup then I cant really use them.

The manual suggests the hat could be setup as the 4 way trim switch.

I’m having a real hard time getting the MFD’s to do what they say in the manual.
First I try it with just looking up what key does what. Then I try it by pushing that key on the keyboard. Doesn’t seem to work as advertised. Then I try the mouse in the cockpit to push suggested buttons. No dice.

Would somebody please just list off the keys to get the MFD to show A-A setup or any page on the MFD. And the key sequence to get there.
Once I know what keys they are I’ll bind them in the control section.
Why in the manual does it seem like your being schooled to fly the F-16.
Not being shown what key press or switch does all those functions.
Sounds like they’re missing just the basic stuff.

I haven’t played around that much with the DCS Viper, but it is still in early development, so you may be absolutely correct about basic stuff is missing.

Back in the 90s sims aircraft functions were more abstracted, which sounds like what you are describing, i.e. single button to pick A-A missiles, single button to set up the jet for A-G, etc. The sim didn’t require you to press every button on the jet that would get you to that state, it was simplified down to a single key press. That especially applied to a single sim that simulated multiple aircraft. So in something like Jane’s USAF, the “A-A missile” button would result in the same action in each jet, even though in reality you would need to press different buttons in the real cockpits of an F-16 vs an F/A-18 to get the same result.

DCS goes the other way and simulates the exact button presses that you would need in the real world. That means that the sequence of buttons to get ready to fire an AIM-120 in an F-16 will be different than the sequence to get ready in an F/A-18. It’s not simplified down to a single button press. It also can’t really be simplified down to a single press through clever programming (programming multiple simulation key presses for a single physical button press) as getting from one state to another is dependent on the exact situation you’re in.

Flaming Cliffs is the exception in DCS, where the individual button presses are abstracted to single key presses. However, DCS does also have a “game mode” for the full simulation aircraft, which simplifies the systems and flight models, and gets closer to the systems abstraction of the old sims (and Flaming Cliffs). I’ve never used it personally, and don’t even know if it’s implement in the F-16 yet since it’s still in Early Access, but it could be worth a look.

So here’s the general flow, again, some parts are dependent on what state your jet is in. Screenshots taken from the DCS F-16 manual.

  1. Put the jet in A-A mode. If you aren’t already in that mode, press the “A-A” button on the ICP.

  2. Press the “SMS” button on the bottom of one of your MFDs (typically the right one). If you don’t have a button labelled “SMS,” press one of the bottom, middle three MFD buttons, and possibly press it again to get to the page menu (shown), and then press “SMS” on the right side to select the “SMS” page.

That should put you on the A-A missile setup page.

That’s exactly what it’s trying to do. As mentioned above, the system abstraction is gone, so you really are learning how to fly the F-16.


ICP control panel, A-A mode button: 1 key on the number line for keyboard; will switch left MFD to radar, right to A-A stores. Press again to return to previous mode/nav.

As an alternative, the dogfight/missile override mode switch has to be bound, but will allow you to cue up medium range missiles in A-A mode or short range missiles with gun in ACM mode. MISSILE OVERRIDE and DOGFIGHT in HOTAS bindings.