Once again, work and Real Life™ commitments have been pulling me away from my HOTAS, but luckily I was able to get away last Saturday night for a few hours. A big part of my motivation was introducing DCS newcomer “AeroMechanical” to the joy and addiction that is DCS. New to the genre and without TrackIR, HOTAS, and rudder pedals, or any modules besides what ships with DCS Wold, I decided the best introduction was a quick romp in the free-to-play Su-25T. I quickly pulled together a quick mission with a squadron of Tangos out of Krasnodar Central and some mild Georgian baddies in the hills north of Tuapse, and off we go.
Luckily Aero was already familiar with Teamspeak, so I was able to talk him through the excruciatingly long start up process: right shift + L, left shift + C, right shift + home.
Load confirmed, aircraft started, some basic controls discussed, we taxi out to the active runway.
Not wanting to go too easy on him, I decide he needs to go through a section takeoff. I figure learning a new sim AND trying to maintain station without TrackIR might be a little extreme, so I put him in lead position.
I walk him through the process and execute the takeoff and climbout brief on the tarmanc. Our full CAS load and fuel puts our Frogs slightly on the heavy side (no offense, @fearlessfrog), so we set a notch of flaps and I expect to rotate around 275 kph. (Do any readers out there have decent Su-25T performance data for calculating TOLD?)
For a first-timer, he did quite well – heck, he probably did it better than I do! We lift off as a section, clean up, and he smoothly turns the flight onto course.
Enroute to the push point, I stay on Aero’s wing and a run down on the mission brief. I also start asking him questions about his knowledge of the Su-25T systems. Like most first-timers, he’s read up on the systems, flown a few training missions, but hasn’t actually fired any of the weapons we’re carrying today.
Luckily, we have the Russian countryside ahead of us – essentially a free firing range, right? – so I talk Aero through the systems necessary to to lock the Shkval on a target and fire a Vikhr or S-25L.
Trying to keep some edge to the experience, we run through the steps while running in towards the IP at low-level.
A few button goofs later and Aero launches his first Vikhr, earning his first noseart kill – a Larch conifer that clearly demonstrated hostile intent.
As if our mission were being directed by Michael Bay himself, no sooner do we fly over the burning remains of Aero’s victim when a cloud of angry green tracer fire envelops us.
We’ve run into enemy fortifications 10 km closer than our target waypoint, but we egress to the north, maintaining formation. A quick battle damage assessment shows a couple panels off of his aircraft, and a smattering of speed holes on his right wing, but no serious damage, so we press with the attack, turning back to attack the enemy units with our Vikhrs and S-25Ls.
During the melee, Aero got turned around, but actually stumbled upon an inactive SA-3 site, and was able to take out the search radar, ensuring the battery would stay disabled during our mission.
Wraith joined up with us about halfway through the mission, also making a sizable contribution to the kill count.
The rest of the flight was more of the same – attack runs, dodging fire, eventually trying to hunt down the last few units hiding between buildings, trees, or in some crevasse.
This first sortie was pretty sweet - Aero and I both recover our aircraft successfully at Krasnodar Center (although on fumes) while Wraith rides his in. Overall a great first experience for our fresh nugget.
On our second sortie (no screenshots and the track breaks long before that sortie gets started, sry), we mop up the remaining units, RTB due to fuel, but only Aero makes it home safe - both Wraith and I had spent too much time/fuel trying to recover the formation and end up flaming out just a few kilometers from the aerodrome. Another 100 kilos and we probably would have been fine.