Hello fellow simmers. I would like to touch on subject, that is somewhat hotly debated among DCS community : potential addition of non military aircraft modules into DCS World.
First off, I need to clear a misunderstanding that comes to mind when saying civilian aircraft. Heavies, i.e. big air liners and big long range military strategic airlift planes are really much better off in simulations like FSX, P3D, X-Plane etc. I agree such planes, at least currently, does not play to DCS’ strong suits. In order to be enjoyed at their most, it can be argued that they require, among other things :
- Gigantic map sizes, talking about intercontinental here…
- Other civilian air traffic
- Tied with above, a proper ATC
- Again, tied with above, a more solid navigation system (although, one can navigate with beacons in DCS, they are not that numerous, and some of the beacon / automat
ed landing systems aren’t shared the same between all modules, and there is no seperate GPS navigation device for aircraft that lack one, however, last one is in works already).
So, yeah, flying a few hundred people from city A to city B in a big jet is not quite DCS’ strong point currently.
I agree such planes may not be best use of effort, and I agree including such planes alone will not win over people who love them, other sims are better for what they love. However, civilian aircraft does not necessarily mean those only. And I would look at the case for other civilian aircraft in DCS here, not necessarily the case for heavies. Strong point of DCS is it’s physics / flight modeling. Currently, it is the best platform to portray intricacies of aircraft with interesting, funky, finicky flight dynamics. More so for the helicopters. With recent release of Gazelle, we currently have four very well modeled helos, easily top four helos in sim world with few other contenders in FSX/P3D or X-Plane. There are many non military aircraft that could prove fairly interesting an experience in DCS. For many, precise flight is at least as rewarding as challenging combat in DCS, these sorts of aircraft would provide just that, the experience of challenging, precise flying. To count a few :
- Aerobatics aircraft for display routines or air races, for which flight model is paramount, would be most at home in DCS. Besides virtual airshows, there may be a whole e-sport of sorts in form of air races. DCS already have seen examples of this using TF-51D free aircraft and an online air race competition was held with many participants.
- Small cargo aircraft, or even a few small passenger aircraft would work in Caucasus. They would not suffer from range requirement of bigger boys, and one such as An-12 would work very well as a military transport as well. This also opens up possibility of “bush flying” type missions, where pilots land at ridiculous patches of flattish land to provide much needed supplies to most remote areas. Most DCS aircraft, does indeed land just fine on grass, while some do not. There already is an aircraft already in work which fits both small cargo plane and bush flying themes, as well as being operated as both a military cargo plane and civilian aircraft : the Dehavilland DHC-4 Caribou by Tailored Radials. Currently it is progressing more as a community mod, but I am very much looking forward to this becoming an official licenced 3rd party module.
- As said above, DCS and helicopters get along real well, and UH-1, Mi-8 and Gazelle have all real life civilian application as well. Currently, UH-1 and Gazelle may already be flown in a civilian state. Recent UH-1 forestry operations mission is already having a positive response from UH-1 community. Sling loading, difficult landings, forest fire fighting, high altitude operations, timed challenges, evacuating people from difficult places, helos can have all sorts of precise flight challenges, that also align well with their real life civilian roles.
A common rebuttal seem to be “there are sims for that”, but the truth is, while they are better indeed for large passenger aircraft, they simply do not provide tactile flight modeling DCS is known for. Both ground and aerial handling of airframes, are prime strong points of DCS, and such precise flying tasks need this feature foremost. Besides, many of us who are invested in DCS, may be averted towards the idea of buying into and setting up another sim, which is not as good as the others we have for the stuff we are interested in doing. If I wanted to navigate a long road and do complete procedures of flying a passenger liner over a long distance (which I don’t), yeah, in that case I would certainly have to prefer FSX, P3D or X-Plane for that. If, though I wanted to fly between buildings, under bridges, around racing pylons, doing most audacious display maneuvers, I would want doing these in DCS, where flight modeling is one of the most, perhaps the most important feature of a module. If I wanted to fly helicopters in difficult weather conditions and do some precise flying, again, DCS.
Yet another reaction is something along the lines of “you would be target practice”. Many virtual pilots seem to be under a common misconception that, DCS is flown exclusively on any one of the famous airquake online servers. This may be a revelation for some here : it is not :). There is no reason for an aerobatics plane to be featured on such a server. And, as many do, when you either host your own multiplayer session, or just fly singleplayer, such threat just magicaly disappears :)! We have WW II aircraft, and utility aircraft, as well as trainers / light combat aircraft, naturally, these are rarely included in multiplayer PvP servers with high threat environments. There is nothing new here, and “civilian planes are target practice”, is a basically a non-argument. Planes and helicopers that would be missile fodder against 4th gen air superiority fighters have been in sim since day one, we are (thankfuly) still getting more. This is just nay-saying, rather than an actual argument.
A third common negative reaction to this idea, is the fear that it would detract from “what is important” (in plain English “what I personaly and subjectively like myself”) according to some of community. This is the exact reaction that was seen when :
- Helicopters announced / relesed
- WW II aircraft announced / released
- Early jets announced / released
- Trainers announced / released
And yet, we are getting more of almost every one of these categories, with their devout and loving communities. But, the better part is, just because someone developed any of these, it did not mean end of anything else. We are still getting new modules of 4th generation fighters, multirole aircraft, supersonic and fairly sophisticated attack aircraft, you name it. With “this is good, I like it, don’t waste effort on anything else” mentality, neither DCS, and frankly, throughout our history nor the humanity would have went too far. There will be lovers and detractors of every type of module for DCS, what is awesome in DCS is, we are getting them all. Stating DCS is a combat sim, is partly true. It is a combat capable sim, and main focus is, and will always be combat capable aircraft, which is what I am prefering myself. Adding some civilian aircraft modules, will not “take away C of DCS”, in fact, you can read the official product description written by Eagle Dynamics about DCS on, DCS’ official website, it says quite openly : “DCS is a true “sandbox” simulation that can and will cover multiple time periods covering many types of combat and civilian units.” This is copied verbatim from the description, and you can read it yourself here. In fact, such modules would, in all likeliness, entice some newcomers, who will almost inevitably wet their feet with other available modules (hint : combat ones), increasing DCS’ marketshare in this very niche market. This, in turn, would only lead us getting more and better modules, and most likely from more developers too. Saying such developments diverts developmental resources away from “what is important” (see above for plain English translation :)), ventures a territory which lies a bit inside the borders of selfishness.
There is yet another camp of thought on the matter. This one in particular, goes on saying that big civilian aircraft are not fitting (which, again, I at least partly agree), but military aircraft of similar size, or HVA like AWACS, JSTARS etc are ok. This one is particularly interesting, since something like C-17 would suffer the exact same issues something like a 747 would. More so the aircraft like an AWACS which would fly the same as a 707 would, but would add on top of them hundreds of classified systems used by many crew. If a civilian aircraft is an untenable development risk, something like an AWACS would be the same thing at least tenfold.
Civilian aviation, does not necessarily mean taking a few hundreds of people from city A to city B in a big gas guzzling jet liner. And I certainly agree that sort of civil aviation is not DCS’ strong suit. However, there are many other oppurtunities, which are potentialy very exciting, and more fitting with DCS than any other sim. At this point, I am eagerly waiting for a dev to boldly go where no one had the verbal battle with community before, and announce release of such a civilian airframe module.
Best regards, and happy flying!