How Actually Useful Are Multicrew Aircraft?

So here’s an observation for a discussion: Before the Tomcat I thought it would be really desirable to have DCS aircraft with two seats, so two humans could co-op and fly together as a crew. While I’ve flown in a Gazelle and C-101 multi-seat, I would probably estimate that I’ve actually done it at less than 2 hours in all.

There seems to be a gap in how good I thought something would be, versus the actual practicality of getting two people together to fly something.

Is multi-seat aircraft in DCS worth all that extra effort? Discuss [20 points].

Given that one person is going to be using an AI for the other parts then maybe it’s best to concentrate on single seaters for new aircraft?


Do you want to be Maverick or Goose? I’m guessing that 95% of players want to be in the front seat even though in some aircraft, the real cool stuff takes place in the rear seat. I’m a pilot at heart, and I want to drive the beast. :wink: .


When I pick up the Tomcat I’ll be happy to be the RIO.


I think there’s two different criteria, usefulness vs how enjoyable it is.

Usefulness is a function of the jet and those flying it.

What’s gonna sell it is how enjoyable the experience is. I think that comes down to a personality thing. Do you like doing everything yourself or prefer to have a helping hand?

Are we still doing phrasing?


It’s a bit like I like the idea more than the reality, just because it’s more than twice as hard to get two people organized.

I’d love an Intruder, Tornado or Apache in DCS but I do wonder how good the second seat AI would be.

It’s a bit like the single player vs multiplayer emphasis in DCS. The two seaters might actually be a tiny amount of actual players in reality.

Is Jester in the Tomcat good enough or is it the case that ‘seat jumping’ is where it’s at?


Are there any statistics about Multi-Player vs Single Player in DCS? It seems to me that the Multi-player crowd might be the vocal minority at the end of the day.


I used to play a lot of two seat or multi station when I was younger with my older brother and a null modem cable. Strike Eagle was our favorite.

There is something about having two people in the same physical space focusing on a common goal that you lose when you’re doing it remotely. When you’re both physically present you are committed, even if one you has to leave, it’s not like you just disappear into thin air. Remote, it’s much less connected, and much more difficult to make happen.

I like the IDEA of some of the two seater AC out there. Honestly a GIB campaign would be a lot of fun, and with good scripting, you could get around AI issues.


I don’t think so, but do have a vague recollection that ED did comment that SP was vastly more popular than MP before, like something like 95% SP, 5% MP or something (I could be remembering wrong here, and can’t find an easy link).

MP is sort of a tent-pole feature, where you spend a lot of effort doing it because it’s needed or expected rather than balancing it purely on player numbers.

Multi-seat is interesting because it sort of turns a niche (people online playing) into an even smaller niche (people online playing with the same module, one of which doesn’t want to steer).


There’s always places like wingmanfinder or various discords if you don’t mind flying with a stranger.

In some aircraft such as the F-15E, F-4 and AH-64 flying duties can be shared. That might be more entertaining than the “I fly, you shoot” split we see in the 'cat. I also wish there were some more resources on flying in the back seat. There’s some decent training, but I wished there were entire missions focussed around it so you could ‘test your steel’ before heading into real MP.


Had way more fun when flying with someone else in the tomcat. But like was mentioned above, i generally enjoy DCS more when I’m flying with other people anyway. I spend probably 80% of my DCS time online and the majority of that is with members from this site.

Is a person better than Jester when they know what they are doing? 100%. Do most people know how to use the backseat to exceed Jesters capability? Not sure, but it doesn’t take much time to figure out how to manipulate the radar and Lantirn.


The Tomcat is challenging from the backseat and therefore a satisfying experience. A simpler machine like the Gazelle would be much less satisfying. I guess I am saying that it depends on the machine. Not much insight there, I know.


Another reason I think we need the F/A-18D (or F!) - like already mentioned, full shared duties I think would be better than the Tomcat split. Myself and @Franze have done some teaching as we fly and I think being right in the aircraft with your student would be a big advantage. I also say this because I now almost exclusively fly the Hornet, so going to a two-seat model would be perfectly fine for me. Else, it’s tough to go to two-seat when I don’t know what I am doing and don’t want to drag another guy down. If there were more multi-crew planes to match with different player’s wants, we may see more.

Does anyone have much experience with the L-39 or C-101 as two-up in MP to add that type of perspective to the discussion?


Now, on another tangent - there are two words that accurately describe how we feel about what we’re flying in DCS:

Combat Effectiveness

While I have tried RIO with Franze flying a Tomcat just to see how things worked and use the LANTIRN, there seems to be less fun as I know we can accomplish more with our own aircraft then we can in a single airframe.


I think it’s highly airframe dependent. Both the Cobra and the Apache have dual flying controls, so even though the guy in front might be the weapons guy, he can still fly the aircraft if needed. In an attack helicopter it’s far more important to have multiple people at the helm because flying and fighting is a huge workload, so it works far better to have one guy focusing on flying the aircraft while the other focuses on weapons. The Russians found this out in short order with the Ka-50 and I think that’s why they opted for the Ka-52 and Mi-28.

For a lot of fixed wing aircraft, it’s a bit more muddy. They tend to fly themselves, without much input, so once one figures out the basics it’s not that hard, and when you throw in computerized capabilities it makes it that much easier to multitask. Even the F-14 boasts a basic autopilot that can fly it in a circle for the LANTIRN or hold a course to intercept. I think that’s why Razbam has indicated that their F-15E won’t have an AI for the WSO, as the front seater and back seater can do the same things.

Having said that, using the LANTIRN mod for the F-14 as well as checking out the back seat does make me appreciate having someone in the back to run that stuff while I fly. There’s a huge element in trying to order Chester around that doesn’t really quite match having an extra brain in the back that can handle that without much input. I strongly suspect the F-14 might be a hair more popular to multicrew if it had duplicate flight controls and crews could trade back and forth so everyone gets a little bit of flight time inside a sortie. I’m not opposed to doing RIO work myself after having tried it out a bit (though I need to setup a kneeboard for startup), but I do understand why most people prefer to have the front seat and stick with Chester, no matter how inefficient he might be.

At the end of the day, with technologies like Chester, I don’t think multiseat aircraft should be off the table. The F-14, while difficult to run with one player + Chester, is a completely different challenge than a Harrier or a F/A-18. It’s a unique perspective and I hope more developers consider taking a bite at that apple.

Just don’t do what P-38 instructors did and stuff the student behind the seat. That stuff sucked.


I think a problem with the multi-crew trainers is that I can’t (from the back seat) operate any of the flight controls without making a request to the front seater who then has to click a dialogue box to allow me to take total control. It means I’m limited to talking them through a sequence, which I’d rather do from another jet to be honest.

The other nice use of multi-crew would have been helicopter gunners, but again they simply aren’t implemented or don’t work.

I don’t think we should judge the potential of multi-crew by it’s current implementation. But that’s just my opinion, and we have a good trainer for both east and west now (L-39 and C-101), so I’d also be happy for a focus to go on the single seaters for a while. But only a while, we need an F-111 :sunglasses:

(Edited to say I don’t own the Gazelle, so perhaps that one works well and I just don’t know about it)

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I like the idea but I am not ready :-). I think that it, as always is my opinion I guess, has potential. I would love to see some ACM in a two-seat jet so I could see what the pilot sees with respect to how they are fighting the other aircraft. So for training, it has awesome potential. For regular MP, it sure is cool but it means getting twice the number of people engaged and that is hard to do.


I really like flying as rio. I suck at bfm. I’m fairly good at ground attack but I find it a lot of fun in the tomcat.

I wish I could be the boom operator in the tankers bit I think I’ve made my point with respect to that wish lol :joy:

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I personally really enjoy multiseat. The one mission I did with multiseat gazelle was awesome, the 6 of us in 2 gazelles, a shark and huey. Unfortunately I almost never manage to fly online any more with people. I do think it’s a concept that should be kept though, I do see a lot of added value to have it.

I would love to be a RIO but I have a few problems:

  • I cannot effectively train to be a RIO outside of MP. So when I join a server I cannot be a good RIO for a mission.
  • MP performance is too bad (because of my current PC)
  • my time is very limited, so finding someone who wants to fly with a bad human RIO instead of Jester is not easy either.

So while I like the possibility of flying in MP, I discovered that right now I just cant.
That makes multicrew relatively uninteresting for me.

I am sure it is pretty awesome if you manage to be a dedicated member of a virtual squadron or something.


I am planning on picking up the Tomcat to fly RIO. If it had been included in the summer sale I’d have it, holding off for July 4th weekend now. My little town is showing Top Gun in the park on Saturday :sunglasses:

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Regarding the Gazelle…

I can see going multi crew for the ATGM and door gunner versions (I think it can do multi player in door gunner). The ATGM system is pretty much heads down so between searching, identifying and engaging targets, there is a lot to do. True, the 1-person procedure is to put the thing in auto-hover and “swap seats”. Easy enough but having an actual pilot flying, scanning for threats and moving the aircraft around (dodging incoming fire) is likely much more realistic and fun.

Working pilot and door gunner sounds like a blast…I would foresee a lot of “Come Right! Come Right!…No, your other right!” :open_mouth: conversations…always a good time.