DCS: F-14 Development Update - AIM-54 Phoenix Improvements & Overhaul

DCS: F-14 Development Update - AIM-54 Phoenix Improvements & Overhaul

Dear all, 

As part of this patch, we are very happy to conclude a major overhaul of the AIM-54 Phoenix! This effort is intended to bring you significant improvements in realism based on new analysis and insights into the AIM-54, further enhancing realism and more accurately depicting air-to-air combat of this era.

Regrettably, our journey with the Phoenix is somewhat long, owing to the difficulty of simulating even older ordnance. In the end, our goal has, and always will continue to be, to achieve a greater level of realism across all facets of our simulation, even at the cost of some inconsistency over time, investment and time. We are not afraid to take a step back, further analyze and improve upon our work to bring all of us, and you, one step closer to the ultimate simulation of the F-14 and its trademark Phoenix. 

Over the course of this overhaul we gained many new insights and new knowledge, through new documentation and SMEs, that has increased our understanding of the AIM-54 missile, ultimately helping us to improve the simulation of this iconic weapon. It is a continued journey of discovery and learning, and we appreciate you all being a huge part of it and helping us to expand our knowledge and insights through your outstanding and unwavering feedback. Thank you! 

With this update, we believe that we’ve reached a point, where both -A and -C variants are depicted as close to real life as is possible with the current API/schema. Any further updates to guidance and features will have to come as part of a renewed effort to fill any remaining gaps that may remain.

On a general performance note, we’ve very thoroughly tested these changes, and have recreated all known test shots from 1972 and 1973 (with the -A) as part of our verification process. Every missile has strengths and weaknesses, and particularly with older missiles, one has to play to its strengths to not only make it work, but make it work consistently. In that sense- we will be very much looking forward to your feedback and results. 

We truly hope you enjoy the changes, both as F-14 drivers and otherwise, further detailed below:

Upon further in-depth investigation and consultations with SMEs, both the MK-60 and MK-47 motors were found to have somewhat incorrect performance. Of particular note is that with newly found data we’ve concluded that the MK-60 motor performance was too high, and this motor now more closely aligns with the other motors. 

Thusly, we’ve adjusted motor performance to levels which now more closely reflect real life performance as follows:

  • MK-47 Mod 0: Reduced Impulse: burn time is the same but thrust is reduced.
  • MK-60: Reduced impulse significantly: thrust is the same, but burn time is reduced to 20.6 seconds.
  • MK-47 Mod 1 (originally the C motor): Impulse has been reduced to be the same as the MK-47 Mod 0, however this motor produces a reduced level of smoke.
  • The MK-60 motor has been made available for the AIM-54C.

As many of you have noticed, we’ve been working on guidance for the AIM-54 for the past several months- continuously improving tracking and terminal performance. 

In this update, we’ve continued this general guidance work, and all missiles have seen their proportional gain increased, yielding better terminal performance. 

Primarily as part of this overhaul however, we’ve made significant changes to both the -A and -C specific guidance models, which now gives a greater depth of simulation of both missiles, as well as differentiating appropriately. Specifically:

The -A model of the AIM-54 is rather old, and unfortunately not very smart. This will now be more accurately reflected in the missile’s behaviour and how it guides on targets.

Reflecting the lack of internal guidance, the AIM-54A will now only track when the target is actively illuminated by the radar. This means the missile will only guide periodically in Track While Scan (TWS) mode. The guidance updates can be observed when viewing the missile in external view. Single Target Track (STT) will still illuminate the target constantly and as such the missile will guide the entire time. 

We’ve also reduced the chaff resistance of the -A to a level that we believe is more appropriate. Overall, the AIM-54A guidance will more accurately reflect being a product of its time and being limited in processing power.

Note the periodic guidance updates of the AIM-54A

In stark contrast, the -C is a smart cookie and we’ve now been able to implement some additional features to reflect this. 

Importantly, the missile will now go active on its own. This is important as previously the -C had to receive a command from the aircraft, limiting its capability somewhat in situations where the shooting aircraft had to turn away. We’ve also reduced the chaff susceptibility of the AIM-54C, and added a MK-60 equipped -C variant due to motor interchangeability. 

One remaining small limitation is that in STT, the missile will erroneously go active on your target (it should remain semi-active all the way to target). This is unfortunately a limitation of the API at this time. We endeavour to model this behaviour properly in the future. 

Overall, we hope that you will enjoy this update and are greatly looking forward to your input and feedback. We believe we’re now one step closer to the ultimate F-14 simulation, and we’ll be continuing our efforts to get ever closer as we continue our journey out of EA.

The full changelog of the update is as follows:

DCS: F-14 Tomcat by Heatblur Simulations

  • AIM-54 Overhaul, Part 2:
    • Increased PN gain for all variants.
    • AIM-54A will now only update guidance when the target is illuminated (you will see the missle periodically update).
    • Corrected motor impulse (reduced MK47 a bit and the MK60 significantly).
    • Reduced MK-60 burn time from 30 to 20 seconds.
    • Both motors have the same total impulse now. The MK60 has a slight advantage during motor burn time, while the MK47 has an advantage in burn time. With increasing altitude the difference becomes smaller. 
    • MK47 Mod 1 has now the same thrust/impulse and burn time as the Mod 0, but with reduced smoke (was previously weaker than the Mod 0).
    • AIM-54C should go active by default (even when losing lock from STT).
    • Increased AIM-54C chaff resistance.
    • Reduced AIM-54A chaff resistance.
    • Added option for AIM-54C with MK-60 motor.
    • Adjusted AIM-54 missile empty mass.
    • Adjusted MK-60 motor propellant mass.
  • Set the JESTER option for automatic PDSTT -> PSTT to disabled by default.
  • Fixed several issues with damaged avionics and flight systems (including jammed flaps for example) not allowing a repair to be triggered.
  • Potential fix for CTD with F-14 AI (was not applied correctly in the last patch).
  • Fixed emergency sweep logic:
  • Fixed commanded wing sweep position being saved over to a new aircraft spawn.
  • Fixed emergency wing sweep handle moving to spider detent on new aircraft spawn.
  • Fixed wing sweep indicator commanded position bit mismatching with the actual indicated position.
  • Fixed emergency sweep handle able to be moved between 68° and 75°, after being stowed at 75°. Now it has to be lifted to move it again after it has been stowed.
  • Fixed wing sweep indicator raising EMER / OVER flags when wings get swept past 67 degrees.
  • Fixed turn indicator needle deflection rate.
  • Fixed mach buffet not dying off beyond M 1.3. 
  • Fixed an issue with the AWG-9 track logic to avoid tracks being thrown by aircraft launching air to air missiles.
  • Fixed LANDING CHK light remaining illuminated after touchdown. 
  • Fixed Manual Throttle not unlocking after disengaging the Autothrottle.
  • Fixed all mission versions of “Watching the Devil Dog” not being able to be completed successfully.
  • Fixed VF-31 AE-200 and AE-205 1991 by Mach3DS - thank you. 
  • Fixed VF-14 AB-100 and AB-103 1796 by VFlip - thank you. 
  • Added Top Gun 114 by LanceCriminal86 - replaces previous Top Gun livery. Thank you.
  • Updated Rogue Nation by YaeSakura - thank you.

Thank you!


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