Training Missions and a Closer Look at the Aircraft
Su-27P, Su-33, and MiG-29
Now we come to the legacy aircraft, and this is where I have to pull out a semi-gig. It is painfully obvious that the team had more in store for us and didn’t have time to finish their work. The Su-27P, Su-33, and MiG-29 all are works-in-progress, but good ones. The overhaul of the Russian avionics was halted in mid-revision, and that is painful for any Flanker fan to see.
The separate DVB-DRLO AWACS mode is gone. Its functionality has been integrated with the Ob3 scan mode, and is only initiated when one turns on the radar or electro-optical system. And the DVB-CHN track-while-scan mode is gone absolutely from the radar, but not from the manual. What this means is that Russian interceptors will have to lock in single-target-track ATK mode from RWS immediately, and can no longer track and fire R-77s stealthily like we could in LOMAC’s predecessor. Now, this is not as bad as it sounds. One important part of CHN mode’s functionality is in the new Ob3 mode-its IFF function. Unlike the F-15’s radar, DVB-Ob3 mode queries the incoming flights automatically. You don’t have to lock to see if it’s a good guy or a bad guy-your bird reads their transponder or lack thereof and shows a double-line (= symbol) on the HUD for friendlies! The upshot is that you interceptor pilots online will be able to identify good guys and bad guys before the F-15s will, unless they have an E-3 calling the shots for them. They’ll know your type, and that you are radiating, and have your bearing, but won’t know your intentions til you lock them and send an R-27 on the way. If the F-15s have to worry about a blue-on-blue kill of a friendly nation’s Soviet-bloc birds in theater, the F-15s therefore won’t have the initiative and you will.
According to Matt Wagner’s 1997 article on the early N-019 radar, we should be seeing five radar combat modes, at least in the German version of the MiG-29 9-12: Head-On, Auto, Pursuit, Close Combat, and Track-While-Fly.
DVB-Ob3 mode, as it stands, is a good representation of the Head-On mode that is most commonly used for BVR target sorting. The HUD display is identical to that described in Wagner’s article. The Auto and Pursuit modes, if ever modeled, would give different types of scanning to help pick out targets, and TWF would prioritize up to ten targets in Head-On or Auto based on closing velocity and the enemy’s range, automatically tracking the highest threat target as determined by the system for a launch when it is close to max range for your selected missile. Strangely, the close-combat modes we’re seeing in LOMAC have not been changed from Flanker, and of them only the BVB-Vertical Scan mode is like the Close Combat mode of the actual first-model N-019 radar. There is no Boresight mode at all in the actual radar, and the pilot’s head-down display should not be range-adjustable; that’s fixed depending on the combat mode. And the radar antenna shouldn’t be slewable; it should be fixed in three separate zones, left, center, right of the aircraft’s direction of travel. The combat modes we have from the real deal, then are the Head-On (DVB-Ob3), Close Combat (BVB-VS), FIO (missile sensor self-targeting), and BVB SHLEM (helmet sight); we’re missing the ability to adjust the radar pulse-repetition frequencies for different situations (Auto and Pursuit modes) and the automatic BVR engagement system (TWF). It wouldn’t be as easy to fight with this system as what we have now, but it is a very different system from the APG-63 and similar radars. Simmers would find it a challenge to use in-game. It should be modeled, if the aircraft are going to be present at all, in my opinion, especially given the intense detail of the F-15, A-10, and Su-25. I would have preferred to see fewer player-flyable aircraft, modeled with still greater attention to detail.
That being said, though, the flight models have obviously been tweaked, because all four of the Russian fast-movers feel crisp and delightful in the air. Instrument modeling is as good as it has ever been, and this is one of the few sims where one can make a zero-zero ILS landing onto a totally socked-in aircraft carrier or airfield and not be able to see a thing until touchdown. You can rely on your instruments in these airplanes, and Mark Shepheard shows how in one of the best bad-weather landings I have seen, ever, in the Su-27 familiarization mission. This one is not to be missed, folks, it is excellent. The Su-27P particularly will show you why it is the undisputed king of the high-AoA and low-speed flight regime, and despite its size, it is a dogfighter that only the most desperate and skilled F-15 pilot will want to engage inside 10 kilometers distance.
And the MiG-29 9-13 ‘s R-77 makes it deadly at all ranges, particularly in the envelope of the F-15’s AMRAAM. Further, their 3d models have been worked on, and the world’s most aesthetically pleasing combat aircraft show even more beauty than in Flanker, where they were the stars of the show. These are the ones to beat close-in, and F-15 drivers online will have their hands full if the AMRAAM misses and the enemy gets into the Archer’s 15-20km envelope. It is clear that the long-clamored-for revamp of the SovBloc avionics has been at least partly taken in-hand, and perhaps if a payware addon (Carl Norman has hinted at this on various flight-sim message boards but has said nothing specific) comes out we could find some more tweaks still to the Russian aircrafts’ radar suites.