A SuperPak4 OCA Mission Page 2

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With the planning complete we hit the FLY button and wait for our take-off time to roll around. I have chosen (as usual) not to do a full ramp start and am dropped into the cockpit on the runway with my engine running and my systems all functioning. Seconds later the tower clears my flight for departure and I push the throttle on my X45 forward and the afterburner kicks and as we roar down the runway.

Take-offThere are many types of F4 fliers. I am in the camp that allows external views for several reasons. First, I fly F4 for fun, and what is fun for me is watching everything else that is going on in the F4 world. F4 stands apart in this respect because the element of surprise is always there. Amazing things are happening all around you and it is great entertainment to watch events unfold by eavesdropping on other units. Second, I write mission reports. Trying to do that and make it entertaining while only showing views from the cockpit would be pretty boring to say the least.

As I climb out of the traffic pattern I bump the throttle back to about 75% to allow my wingmen to catch up to me without them having to stay in afterburner for very long. While I climb I take a minute to check out the action happening around the airbase. The new buildingsSP4 features a more highly populated theater, with additional buildings, factories, cities, etc… Additionally, SP4 now allows for spawning of many aircraft onto the airfields as the ATO progresses, allowing for populated ramps and multitudes of taxiing aircraft, flights taking off and landing, etc… The new buildings at the airbase look great and there is definitely a “buzz” of activity happening.

After take-off I reach down to the left side panel and click the navigation and anti-collision lights off. I’m told this should be done because there IS some sort of visibility penalty applied for leaving them on, allowing enemy aircraft and ground defenses to see you earlier.

Integrated Control Panel (ICP)Another important switch that I hit every flight is the HUD drift correction switch under the Integrated Control Panel (ICP). Flipping this switch up to the DRIFT C/O position will center your HUD ladder instead of showing an offset for wind correction. In my opinion having the HUD centered allows for better CCIP bombing (this is probably debatable!).

HUD drift correction switchI use the rotary on my X45 throttle to adjust the radar elevation on the left MFD and can see the first “push” of sorties entering and returning over the Forward Line of Troops (FLOT). I’ve been playing F4 for a fair amount of time now and have gotten very comfortable with the action in the F4 campaign. While I wouldn’t say it is predictable, it does have an ebb and flow that one can grow accustomed too.

The one thing that is certain with a mission in F4 is that no two will ever be exactly the same. Getting in quickly and getting your bombs away and exited quickly are paramount to success. The campaign engine keeps rolling regardless of how long you stand-off, and loitering over the target or making multiple passes is usually rewarded with a brisk ride on the silk elevator.

Situational awareness (SA) is a learned skill in F4. There are no “walls of MiGs”. There are, however, enemy strikes that are logically constructed to give THEM the best chance at mission success too! That means that the enemy will have the same mutual support system working in their favor. Enemy strike flights will sometimes consist of pure attack aircraft such as Tu-16s or Su-25s mixed with multi-role aircraft such as MiG-27s who are very capable of defending themselves and lastly, presiding over the strikers will be various pure fighters such as MiG-19s, 21s, 29, and Su-27s. Though it looks and sounds intimidating, it CAN be managed.

Your biggest asset in maintaining SA is God, whom we will refer to as AWACS from here on. Using your radio to query AWACS will keep you alive (at least a bit longer) in the F4 campaign. They will respond to your request for the nearest enemy with a bearing, range and altitude. If they know the type or number, they will also provide this information as well. Not only will AWACS help you maintain that mental picture of the airspace around you, they will aid you in preventing fratricide, which can be very easy to do in F4 since you have no Identification Friend or Foe (IFF).

Keeping all that in mind, I glance at the radar MFD and query AWACS for the “picture”. Things are fairly quiet with no enemies within the selected 40 miles range of my radar at the moment.

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