Utility and Value of Helos in DCS


Sure, sure. Sure everyone wants Apache . But I will let @Chuck_Owl talk again :wink:

I hated the Shark at first sight, cursing the gods for not being an AH-64 Apache instead. I was glad a friend told me to stop being a wuss and fly the damn thing. Now, I feel like a complete badass flying at treetop level, dodging power lines and unleashing VIKHR missiles, volleys of 122 mm rockets and cannon fire. I’m having a total blast. The Black Shark is without the shadow of a doubt a force to be reckoned with.

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I think one of the major problems with the Ka-50 is it wasn’t designed with ergonomics in mind. Your hands have to bounce all across the cockpit to do things and a lot of stuff isn’t logically assigned. It’s very much Russian, which I respect and do enjoy about it, but compared to the AH-64 and the ease of use features it offers, I can’t blame anyone desiring a western attack helicopter.

Right off the bat, the AH-64 offers day/night capability. TADS packs FLIR, DTV, and DVO (removed in later D/E versions), plus the pilot also gets his own FLIR via PNVS. On top of this, there’s the IHADSS so flight information is always in your field of view, in addition to weapons and targeting information. TADS offers the extremely useful capability of buddy lasing, which in theory our Ka-50 should be able to do as well but is seemingly absent. HELLFIRE is far and beyond what Vikhr is; there’s no comparing the two missiles. I believe the S-8 is the superior rocket system over Hydra, but the Ka-50 doesn’t leverage them well – the AH-64 can articulate the pylons and employ rockets with far more precision than the Ka-50. The 2A42 is an exceptional cannon, but the mount is absolutely ridiculous on the Ka-50; by contrast, the M230 on the Apache has less muzzle velocity, but a far better turret mechanism as well as a massive ammunition load – which can also be traded in for some additional fuel, while still retaining 300 rounds. TADS can look up to 120 degrees off boresight, in addition to elevation of +30/-60 degrees. That means you can fly evasive while still lasing the target, on top of the fact you’ll still be able to put cannon rounds into it.

These differences get even more distinct between the A and D Apache, to say nothing of the E. With the D, depending on the block, you get color MFDs, GPS navigation, Longbow radar as well as HELLFIRE (true fire and forget), CMWS, and all sorts of fancy gizmos to the point that it wouldn’t be fair to the Ka-50 at all. I firmly believe the Russians made the right choice in going for the Mi-28 over the Ka-50; the conventional arrangement as well as systems just make sense.

There’s just so much about the AH-64 that I think, were we to have them in DCS, everyone would understand why the Ka-50 doesn’t measure up. It doesn’t make the Ka-50 bad, but there’s enough difficulty and quirkiness in it that I think most people don’t want to invest the time in it, especially when you add in how few scenarios have helicopters in mind.

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stop being a wuss


Thing is, I’ve been spending the past couple weeks in the Ka-50. Find myself missing a bunch of the features of the Apache.

We will get an overhaul. Will see.

Brave @Franze is no wuss good sir. He flies directly into the line of fire. It’s not his fault the KA-50 cannot handle a 152mm howitzer shell to the nose!

I agree with Franze’s point though - part of what holds me back from learning it is also the language barrier. I like to be able to read the data being presented to me.

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I don’t see the overhaul changing things like the SHKVAL’s azimuth or elevation limits, or adding a full flight information HMD, nor the addition of FLIR. Pylon articulation is also not a thing, nor is a gun turret with ±86 degrees of travel. I also very much miss being able to slave a sensor and a weapon to my HMD and not have to constantly keep a button pressed to maintain that slave.

As said, I wouldn’t call it bad, but very, very, very different in design and philosophy. Ergonomics are most definitely not a strong suit of the Ka-50.

I think there is an English language option for the Ka-50. I don’t need it after spending so much time with the IL-2 and Su-17/22, even though I’m not fluent in Russian or Cyrillic. That’s the good part about Russian hardware: the instruments, gauges, etc. are all pretty universal.

As @Franze mentioned, go to OPTIONS → SPECIAL tab → KA-50 → CUSTOMIZED COCKPIT dropdown → ENGLISH
Just tested online on BlueFlag now and works like a charm :slight_smile:

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What were those two switches from the other night that seemed like they shouldn’t be adjacent?

From what I recall fighting against KA-50s back with A-10C, was that you could typically count on them not to be maneuvering when they are in combat. Definitely lacking a more dynamic target acquisition and prosecution. You also aren’t going to be trying something like circle-strafing with that gun mount. Which to be honest, would be the fun way to employ a helicopter gun.

As for the Mi-28 - bring it on! I would equally love to learn that as an AH-64.

Main hydraulics switch and tip lights switch.

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First result for “Mi-28 meme”…perfect.



FWIW the Ka-50 optional upgrade will have: MWS, disco ball, and Igla capability. It retains SHKVAL sighting system and other sensors. So not a lot of major changes in my opinion and I saw nothing about chaff or RWR, which I consider some pretty weak points of the design – the AH-64 has the disco ball, radar jammer, RWR, and chaff; throws in flares with the CMWS upgrade, but that’s D Block II and greater only. The Ka-50 isn’t a terrible upgrade, but I don’t see it as significantly changing the nature of the aircraft.

Oh and something else I miss: rocket zones. The Apache (and the Cobra) can load more than one rocket type in a single pod and select between them. So I can take M151s, M229s, and M261s on the same sortie, giving me options for a variety of potential targets. Same is true of the M272/M299 racks, I can take more than one type of HELLFIRE on each rail.

It’s just a different experience on the whole. Right now, the only thing that comes close in DCS is the AV-8 and maybe the F/A-18.

Yeah, I miss it. Probably never get it in DCS, but there’s a lot of other game engines out there these days…

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One day we will get also Apache hopefully. Until then I am happy with Black Shark :slight_smile: ( and rest of the helos we already have )

I would love to see the mi-28 and the ah-64. They would without a doubt be fantastic additions to the sim

But honestly after flying the hip these past few months all I really want now is the mi24. The hind is just such a versatile machine that I think it will fit into the world of dcs better than an outright attack helicopter.

The cobra is another one i would instantly purchase but again i think they might be better off releasing a blackhawk first. Something US built with both utility and shootie bits to match the Hip.
Does anyone agree or am I talking nonsense

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Mi24 imo perfectly fits scenarios on my MP go-to server. Its good combination of Hip and Black Shark capabilities I would say.

I think some might be disappointed with the Mi-24P we’re getting due to the fixed 30mm gun (though that makes it way better against armored targets). It’ll be a kind of mix between the Mi-8/17 and the Ka-50, though far less advanced than the Ka-50 while being more complex than the Mi-8/17. Largest problem will be one of weight as that’s a huge balancing act for all Hind variants. Further, it’ll have much weaker guided weapon selection which is going to turn a lot of folks off from it. It’ll basically be a Hip with a couple sensor systems enabling it to employ weapons better.

The UH-60 doesn’t employ weapons outside of the door guns in US service. There were some attempts to standardize weapon loads using ESSS, but that got shot down by the Army brass for fears it might threaten the AH-64. The A/MH-60 are a different matter entirely, but that goes into secret squirrel territory and I’m pretty sure ED would nix any theoretical guesstimates of what they can do. One could do a “what-if” like they did with the UH-1H and its armament subsystem (which wasn’t used much/at all due to how much it tore into the airframe), but then your options are pretty much limited to 2.75" rockets and not much else. Not a very good contrast to the Mi-24 and its wide variety of munitions.

With the AH-1S (assuming modernized S, also 1F), we’ll get capability similar to the Ka-50. Many of the improved Cobra systems served as the basis for the AH-64’s systems, such as the rocket control system. There’s a bit of parity between the AH-1S and Ka-50 (though more in favor of the Ka-50) with systems and how they operate, in addition to the AH-1S being a perfect match for the UH-1H. Note that there’s a lot of sub-variants of the S, but the most common was the modernized S/F version. There’s a lot of capability packed into that little aircraft… At the cost of weight. Carrying a full weapons load will require a serious sacrifice in range and endurance.

The Mi-24 is just a unique aircraft and I really don’t think there’s anything comparable.

As noted previously, the utility of helicopters in MP depends on mission design and in order for helos to have meaningful tasks, the mission designer will have to put some thought into it.

The DCS map distances, the nature of the public MP servers and the equipment and speed of the available helos mean that unless the mission design especially caters for helos, it’s going to mean long flights to target and few meaningful tasks that wouldn’t be better accomplished by fixed wing units.

It is possible to create meaningful helo tasks, though. Well placed FARPs and good missions (ability to set up FOBs, pilot rescue, objective capture etc.) can make for excellent gameplay. So - some of the issues can be fixed with good mission design that allows a helo pilot jump into a casual MP session and have a good time.

The issue that’s harder to fix is that apart from the Gazelle (with it’s limited utility value) the helos don’t have RWR. This is one of those things where gameplay and simulation really clash.

I know DCS is considered a sim and therefore gameplay balance isn’t a primary factor (and I wouldn’t want to see ‘balanced missiles’ or anything), however the reality is that if a modern country was to ever employ helos against a technologically equal opponent in a contested airspace with no air superiority and active SAM threats, you can be certain they would have all the warning systems possible installed pretty darn quick and to hell with what the original factory list of equipment says. (I ranted about this before somewhere but never mind)

That’s the environment DCS helo pilots fight in.1960s gears with 1990s air threats above.

I love flying helos in MP and part of it is the challenge…but gameplay wise I often don’t do it because the populated servers don’t design for helos and it just isn’t fun to fly in a direction for 30 mins or 60 mins, only to be shot down by a fighter that’s been painting you for the last 50kms but you had no idea.

Give me RWR and meaningful missions with convenient transit times and I’d be flying whirlybirds way more. Sure it might be a ‘realism’ hit but the airquake MP isn’t exactly the height of true-to-life war game as it is.

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