A SimHQ "Second Look" Series
Jane's F/A-18 Simulator Revisited
By Guest Writers Joe
Keefe and Fredi "Bones"
If you are a fan of naval aviation
and flight sims, you have no doubt taken a look at Jane's
F/A-18. Created as a further development of the Jane's F-15
engine, Jane's F/A-18 was released in early 2000 and received
good reviews even on popular gaming Websites (8.8/10 on Gamespot
and 93/100 on Gamespy). In the flight sim community Jane's
F/A-18 is credited for its immersive gameplay, fantastic air-to-air
radar modeling, avionics fidelity, and carrier ops. Almost
6 years after its release, the SimHQ Jane's F/A-18 Forum is
still active, and the archives contain an unprecedented wealth
of information specific to the employment of Jane's F/A-18
weapons and tactics.
Janes F/A-18 was developed by
the same team that created Janes F-15, and the similarities
between the two are obvious. Janes F/A-18 also built
on the momentum of the Janes name, following
in the footsteps of the US Navy Fighters series (including
Fighter Anthology), Longbow and Longbow 2, and Israeli Air
Force. But Janes F/A-18 gave sim pilots something that
had never been done before: full Case 3 carrier operations,
complete with meatball (IFLOLS), LSO, pitching and rolling
deck, variable weather, a marshal stack, and an approach controller.
No long runways here, just a nice tennis-court-sized landing
area with four 2-inch thick steel cables separating a safe
trap from a dip in the ocean. All carrier aircraft participate
in the launch and recovery, and theyre not perfect,
either; their hooks skip, they bolter, and they get waved
off, just as in real life.
The world is full of aircraft, ranging
from other F/A-18E Superhornets to F/A-18Cs, F-14Ds, S-3Bs,
E-2Cs, and SH-60s. Comms chatter is abundant, and at times
confusing; aircraft call airborne, report their travel outbound,
and communicate with the marshal controller to recover back
aboard the boat.
Many Janes F/A-18 pilots say
that their most tense experiences with the sim do not come
from any sort of combat; they come from a hairy landing, usually
single-engine on a pitch black night, low on fuel when the
pattern in full. Here is an account by Blitz_25th,
posted in the Janes F/A-18 Forum in March 2001. There
are a few famous posts in that forum, and this
is one of them:
I sustained some damage
on one of my sorties; at first it was nothing big, but when
I was around 50nm from Mother I got a Left and Right BLEED
AIR warning. I immediately checked the BIT and ENG MDIs
and found out that engine stats were OK, other than the
I shut down the left engine immediately
and reduced the right to 70% throttle. Then I checked my
fuel state, jettisoned all stores, and declared an emergency.
ATC told me to divert to an airbase located 110nm away,
so I knew my only chance was to land on the carrier.
When my right engine EGT reached
1400 degrees, I restarted the left engine and shut down
the right engine. As I headed inbound I repeated this procedure
2 times, trading the hot engine for a cooler one. 10nm from
Mother I got an OIL PRESS warning on the right engine that
had just been restarted, so I had to restart the left engine
as well. Now I was running on both engines, and neither
of them was doing very well; the left engine was hot because
it had just been shut down, and the right was hot because
it was running out of oil. My plan was to gain as much air
speed and altitude as I could before I shut down the right
Around 5nm from the carrier my
right engine caught fire before I could shut it down; I
used the extinguisher, and wound up at angels 6, 200 knots,
single engine. This engine was rapidly moving into the Fire
temperature zone. Around 2.5 nm from Mother the EGT reached
1500 degrees and I knew I had very little time left.
I pulled the power to idle and
glided to the carrier. As my speed decreased rapidly, I
went dangerously low on the glideslope and I knew I was
risking a ramp strike, so I had to apply some power to correct.
I knew it was a matter of seconds before my left engine
caught fire, and I just hoped it was not before I trapped.
I caught a 2 wire successfully and shut down the engine
Exciting, isnt it? As you can
tell from the account above, Janes F/A-18 models cascading
damage; damage you take over the target might not immediately
bring you down, but over time fuel leaks, oil leaks, engine
failure, and even loss of cockpit oxygen can make your life
miserable. Cascading damage is also affected by the stress
you put on the damaged components; a damaged engine is much
more likely to stay in one piece if you egress gently at 50%
throttle than if you kick in the burner and pull 6 Gs
in your attempt to run away quickly.
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