Viper TTP - RL vs DCS

I’ve been doing some Viper flyings lately. As I have, some questions have come up - not pure sim stuff but more like “What are the real F-16 Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP)?”

My first question: A-G TGP: Area vs Point Track. I realize that a point track is necessary to track a moving target. That said, I’ve bee automatically going Point Track every time I drop an LGB. Is that advisable? I know it isn’t necessary (just watched Waggs blow up a hangar in Area Track) and now I’m thinking it might cause an issue - i.e. as the the jet/TGP moves, the LOS angle changes so might it lose the contrast needed for a point lock?

So Area lock for all stationary targets? Or just larger stationary targets like buildings?

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I think Area track, or in the hornet INS track is preferable because it leaves the user the most control over where the laser points. Pointing a dot of certain and inevitable death is not something you want to leave up to a bit of computer code if you can help it.

At least, that’s how I would think about it, were I to make such decisions.

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I remember from the Warthog that sudden moves can throw an inertial track off - I had always used “point” thinking it was, well a specific point on the ground but that is false as it tracks moving targets. So I guess area track would be the way to go.

Personally, I would trust the computer to return a specific location (via coordinates, which I guess area track does) vs. an inertial “offset” from the airframe.

I like to always zoom in for the finest placement, designate target, and then zoom out for a better view of the surroundings and BDA.

While I am a Hornet pilot, I believe the principles still apply. @schurem’s point about inertial track being open for adjustment is also important as fumbling between modes is a frustrating waste of time that can ruin a good run.

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For AAQ-28 not certain but for AAQ-14 (F-16C B50) Area Track is described as thus

The TGP AREA track mode tracks targets that are not POINT trackable. Large targets, scenes that do not contain targets with well-defined edges, and targets that do not have significant IR signatures are examples of situations where POINT track might not maintain a stable track.


IIRC then in real life you often just don’t get the TGP to point track as it requires a quite small and high contrast target. Real life videos from hogs or vipers usually show area mode.

Right and imagine the amount of excrement that would hit ventilation units all up and down the chain of command if the point tracker decides the dove that took off from the roof of the enemy air force command & control centre is a more enticing contrast than the vent it was sitting on? Because it landed on the building across the street; St. Mary’s children’s hospital.

You know fully well that 3-1 is classified secret and no one will be able to chat about it.


Real life Area track in a TGP uses reference points and contrast in the image to try and stabilize the pods track on the scene in the frame. Real world it can bite off on say a quick scud deck of clouds sliding through the image, or as the image rotates and long unbounded high contrast things (roads) come into view, it might start sliding the track along the road cause it has lost bounding features. It also is not perfect, you can watch it move around slightly as the scene rotates and various features that it is using to bound and stabilize the image change.

None of that is a problem in DCS, it just looks at the coordinates on the ground, so do what you will with it.

Point track IRL is usually a much better track IF, BIIIIIG IF you can get a good solid contrast on the target from the background. You do this by playing with the level and gain controls and black hot vs white hot to try and get the best “pop” out of the target possible. IE make it as distinct with a clearly contrasting outline as you possibly can.

Again, not really a problem or an issue in DCS, it tracks the object closest to the center of the crosshair when you select point track, so as long as you have it on the correct thing… doesn’t really matter.

General rule of thumb for DCS, point track for movers, area track for everything else.

I dunno what the F-16’s IRL TTP’s for this are, but that rule of thumb should work just fine for anything you are doing in DCS unless they really start making actual contrast tracking and bounding a feature.


Somehow I think that “Area Track good for Buildings. Point Track…eh…not so much” is likely not classified…which is what I was asking.

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So if I understand correctly, I was quite wrong about the reason not to use point track, but the net effect, that you’d more often use area track for buildings and such is the same. Funny :smiley:

Would be cool if DCS could properly simulate a contrast lock and all the art that goes into gaining one. Perhaps when ray tracing becomes the norm.

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I’m think it is an accurate simulation…you jiggle the cursor thing back and forth while mumbling curses under your breath…“Come on…come onnnn…Lock damn it!” …that sort of thing…what could be more realistic. :grin:

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Use a maverick with the TV seeker from max range and yep, exactly that.

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Next Question: TWS vs RWS?

…and before somebody mentions it, yes I know there are lots of circumstance in the RL where the answer is classified. Not going there.

In DCS in the Viper with Link 16 working with an AWACS, I’m not sure I would use RWS…in the Viper. The Tomcat is a different story.

Even if you are only armed A2A for selfdefense, once you get the HOTAS button pushes down cold, you can be pretty quick with locking up for a 120 shot and still keep good SA on the radar MFD.


Difficult to say because I expect the radar will still be changing over the next patches.

Against 2 large transports for example TWS might be great but against something that knows how to cause problems RWS might be better at keeping track…but as I say how they compare today might be totally different down the line.

RWS might have the better range…and range on the display can be changed with cursors last time I checked.

A good point.

My preference is RWS due to less chance of dropped tracks. While SAM only works with one target right now, it’s my preferred mechanism if I want to keep it “quiet.”

Yeah, everyone swears by TWS but I have severe trust issues with it for every aircraft capable of using it. The cost in scan volume for using TWS plus the time needed to build tracks makes me stick with RWS for most situations.

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In DCS there are few downsides other than the reduced scan volume to using TWS.
In general in DCS the optimal radar flow goes something like, start in RWS, once you see them, neck down to TWS around the guys you wanna shoot, and then either go STT and then shoot, or stay in TWS and shoot.

Real world there are lots of factors as to why you generally prefer (in the F-16/15) RWS/STT over TWS, but they aren’t an issue in DCS. It works perfectly in game, so if you have no issues with the HOTAS or how it works, go ahead and use it as such.


Well, both @Franze and @klarsnow have given me plenty to think about. Thanks!

Scan volume…hmmmmm… I guess I should weigh that against how I (just me; not universal) tend to fixate and lose SA when I go RWS/STT. I don’t totally lose the bubble but I do seem to get target fixation which I don’t in TWS. Still, i can put the HSD on the other MFD…but I like the SMS. Lots to consider.

HSD would always be my default for AA…if you have an F-16 type HOTAS it is very easy to flick through each mode on each MFD with DMS left/right…to the point that with 3 MFD type aircraft I am sitting there thinking…err why do I need 3 screens again?!


As klarsnow said other than in scan volume (which when you have L16/datalink isnt really a problem) there is very little reason to use RWS over TWS in DCS. Me personally I basically never use RWS in the Viper or Hornet. Probably the biggest downside in the F-16 TWS is the track building time, but i’ve found that a TMS UP on a search brick will build a track for it almost instantly, rather than waiting for it to automatically build a track on it, which mostly mitigates the track building time issues. Also the multiple levels of tracks can be somewhat finicky to deal with initially, but its pretty routine once you get used to it. Now, sub 5nm i usually switch to STT. I’ve found that TWS does drop locks fairly frequently at this sort of range. Also something to consider that SAM mode currently has a bug where it doesnt center the scan properly, and when the range scale changes the lock is often lost.