So I happened to be in a group that was discussing the DCS: BO-105 Project being put on hold. I commented that I personally would like to see a flyable Kiowa or Longbow in the sim. A member of the group questioned my choice but also stated a Kiowa would not offer much in the DCS battlescape (for the record we respected each other’s opinions).
Anyway, his comment got me thinking. I have most of the DCS helos but realize I practically never fly them. I chopped around for awhile but quickly reverted back to one of my jets. As I look in forums and groups, there seems to be little talk or interest in helos. I’ve noticed in a few organized events, helos were not invited.
So I have to ask, besides personal preference, do flyable helos fit well or offer value in DCS? There are several great helos in real life, why are we not seeing more in DCS? Is it a preference thin? My brother loves sims but he avoids helos like the plague. Thoughts anyone?
If helicopters were truly useless, no air force would have them AND there would be no Osprey.
As in reality the point of helicopter is strictly related to the roles it performs best, not how well it does roles of aircrafts.
So, yeah it has weapons and it’s agile but those traits should be used to support their main role and not the opposite.
If you play a server like the 104th - they have Helo slots that make tactical advantage of helicopters capacity to transport troops and equipment.
To capture a base, you need ground forces. In the Persian Gulf - these are islands, so ground units can’t drive there. Helo players move troops and equipment to capture a base, or reinforce its defenses.
A large portion of players, for computer or internet performance reasons don’t play online. Others prefer single player’s ability to control the scenario to make best use of limited free time.
In line with what @komemiute said too, you are more likely to have a helicopter suited mission in SP than in MP.
If we had a Mi-28, Mi-24, AH-1 or Apache already you’d possibly see more helicopters players (myself included - they interest me, but I’m still a jet guy).
The Ka-50 is out of date per se, so maybe it will pick up again once it’s update is out. The Huey and Mi-8 have more limited combat roles (and everyone loves blowing stuff up). The Gazelle, from what I have read - people don’t think the flight model is great so it hasn’t attracted a crowd.
To compare to planes - imagine if DCS only had the trainer jets and SU25T. I’d say it would be better once the helicopter fleet is expanded and feature rich, same for combined arms which is currently like a half-complete RTS mixed with a half-complete Battlefield game (the tanks driving bit).
Do Helos fit with DCS? Yes.
Why don’t see see the greats yet? They are down the road projects - remember, the Mi-24 is in progress!
Is it preference? Yes, a Jet is much easier to go from zero to high-speed weapon slinging hero than a helicopter. Deep down, we’re all impatient children - hence the need for speed!
I like flying in Helo’s. In DCS I can fly the Helo, They are never fast, and we don’t have much time, so yes it’s easier/quicker to fire up a jet. But just think of the number of downed aircrew that are very happy to see a helo when they need one. You can fly it, or you can give it cover in the fast jet. They will be on the battlefield in real life for many years to come
First of all, the whirlybirds we have in DCS aren’t real super popular models. The UH-1 might be the most widely known, but its primary mission was always “trash hauler” (Kiowa pilot lingo). Same for the Mi-8, though it has a bit more versatility. The Gazelle is a light scout and very limited in what it can do, especially when it comes to assisting friendly forces. The Ka-50 is the only real dedicated attack helicopter of the bunch and frankly it’s not quite the same as a Mi-28 or an AH-64.
If you take something like an AH-64, that dynamic changes considerably, because it can throw up to 16 HELLFIREs and 1200 cannon rounds into the mix. That’s a lot of dead armor, and the HELLFIRE is something else when we look at available ATGMs in the game. Unlike the Vikhr, it can be used with buddy lasing, and further it’s a top attack weapon so it’s far more likely to kill targeted armor than a direct fire weapon. Then the AH-64 itself has the ability to buddy lase, so it can also work with friendly aircraft to attack targets. I doubt that we could get the AH-64D and all the fancy features into DCS right now, but the AH-64A still brings a lot to the table. The OH-58D brings a lot of similar capability as well.
DCS really needs to expand the logistic system in order to fully utilize what other helicopters can bring to the table. UH-1s and Mi-8s could bring not only fuel and weapon supplies, but also reinforce personnel like pilot lives. You can sorta script that into a scenario, but it’s a lot of work for a relatively small gain. As an example, Longbow 2 had map sizes measuring only 50x50km – a much smaller scale than we’re used to dealing with. I think scenarios operating in that regard could work, but without really popular helicopters available, would likely go unused. That potentially might change with the AH-1 and Mi-24, though the planned AH-1 variant would only have a LRF and wouldn’t be able to buddy lase.
Bottom line, helicopters operate on a much smaller tactical level than fast jets and unless the scenario is built to take advantage of that, it’ll get boring real quick for the whirlybird jocks.
One thing that I would like to see and something that would certainly add “utility” is CSAR in MP.
You wouldn’t have to add any models as the UH-1 and Mi-8 would work just fine. A player punches out and another player tries to pick them up with a helo, then take them back to a base/ship where they could jump in another jet and go at it again.
I figure you would need some way to get in/out of a helo on your own, pop smoke and of course talk on a radio. Don’t know how hard that would be to program. There is already away to guide in on a beacon in the Mi-8…it would be fun.
I think the way this could work is:
Let the crashed player get out and do something else, but still create a mission for the helo guys to rescue a downed pilot (who would be AI, except for the - probably rare - case that a pilot really wants to do it).
There is a script already that does this. When a plane goes down AI or player an alert is generated to that team with coordinates, and a nav frequency. An AI soldier is placed at the point the parachute landed. There are options to block the player slot if it was a player aircraft for a certain amount of time or indefinitely until the unit is rescued. It works very well.
Isn’t this exactly what the CSAR script does? I haven’t flown open online in a while but back when I flew Blue Flag and with 229th squadron, we used to have AI soldiers with a radio beacon pop up wherever a plane crashed and you could pick them up with a helo. They could also pop smoke when you got close.
To OP: in open servers that are made for jets, helo utility is limited and/or takes a long time due to distances, even when it is essential, as in BlueFlag.
However, if you like flying helos, consider joining a virtual squadron. There, missions are built around the helicopter and made for enjoyment of the helo pilot, whichever task (s)he is flying. I flew with 229th squadron, they are mainly focused on the UH-1H but I was in a subgroup that did mainly Mi-8. There are also Gazelle pilots there, and they used to fly together with Black Shark Den, a Ka-50 group that seems to be a bit more loose with regards to realistic procedures. Depending on how serious you want to fly.
Due to their being so slow, helicopters are great for coop multiplayer: when in a formation, you are real close, and especially landing in formation in a small clearing while under fire and being covered by other helo pilots is amazing, just like flying through cloud together or finding each other at night in bad weather.
Oh sure you can do that with scripting, and it is done.
You just have to be prepared that scripts might not be working all of a sudden after a new version, and it isn’t really integrated into the game. The enemy doesn’t try to capture the pilot, and there is no advantage or disadvantage to anyone if the pilot is rescued or not either IIRC.
(Edit: I just noticed that the script now allows disabling a slot when the pilotbisnt rescued. That’s good)
But it should be in the game. There should be comms with the pilot, it should matter where he crashes, including enemies trying to capture him when it is behind enemy lines. There should be the guys (including the rescued pilot) visible in the helo, and that kind of stuff.
And including all kinds of scripts is something most users have problems with. It shouldn’t be.
We can dissect this question into SP and MP environment. In fact both SP and MP are based on the same premise I would say.
SP environment provides multiple opportunities to fit the helos in. I counted 5 helo campaigns available for purchase ( maybe there are also some free, didint check ).
MP environment is not left behind. I definitely know about at least few very popular servers which utilize helos to that extend that the running DYNAMIC campaigns will become STATIC without the helos.
Blue Flag servers ( Caucasus, Persian Gulf ) are such servers where you can haul cargo ( repair
equipment, fuel, ground units like EWR or SAM … ) and haul troops ( they capture bases ).
Dynamic DCS server is another server where I think you can do even little bit more with the helos ( iirc ).
So I think helos posses great value in DCS. We have some great helos in DCS already and more are comin - Hind, Cobra ( iirc; bad luck that Bo105 was put on hold, this inverted-flying helo will introduce many people into the helo world I guess ).
Why not more ? Why other popular still not there ? One example from the other side. If we check civ sims like P3D v4.X and XP11 you will realize for example that there is not any realy good modeled Bell206 or Robinson44. These are helicopters which are realy popular IRL and they were produced in great numbers, but still omitted in the civi virtual world, where I would expect the exact opposite.
The more the merrier. Sure. But what we already have is really great imo ( I have great fun on Blue Flag servers flying them ).
But I understand why people would avoid them. First, they are not easy to fly, I mean they are not that straight forward as planes. And second the standard spring centered, desk mounted, twist gripped joysticks dont help here at all. But lets have @Chuck_Owl talk here ( from his Huey guide ) :
“HELICOPTERS SUCK!” is the first thing I said when I crashed my Huey for the first time. This is what many people among the flight sim community think as well. Choppers are slow, blocky, noisy, sluggish… who would want to be a glorified taxi driver when you could be Maverick and save the world at Mach 1.5?
Well, you should! Why? Simply because helicopter pilots have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. You have to be one hell of a pilot to fly one of those. Or batshit insane. Or a bit of both. Flying a helicopter is challenging, and one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had in a flight sim.
So my takeaway from the discussion is that helos do have a place in DCS; however, their popularity are not as widespread as jets. Still, I’m thinking if there are more dedicated theaters, scenarios, campaigns etc. more people would fly helos or at least give them a try. Methinks the type of helo would also play a significant role in attracting players.
Personally, I miss the old Jane’s Longbow series days.