DCS World

DCS World

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Su-27 Flanker Beginners Guide
By Tom
Shoot something down in 10 minutes or less
 
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Introduction
The Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker is a super-maneuverable fighter aircraft intended as a direct competitor to the F-15 Eagle
With a fly-by-wire control system and long range heat seeking missiles the Flanker is easy to fly, and can shoot without giving itself away.


To begin with, we need to firstly download the Danger Zone mission from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rj8rdjo36sr3ctr/The%20Danger%20Zone.miz?dl=0
(save it somewhere you will remember, so you can open it in DCS)

If you have a joystick I also strongly recommend that you set up at least the basic axis commands, Pitch, Roll, Rudder, Thrust/Throttle.

If you are unsure how, I have a control setup guide as well.

It's fine to fly with a keyboard, but it is a bit tedious and you will have a lot more fun with even a basic joystick.
Trim
Since the new and more realistic flight model has been released, the aircraft now requires trimming fairly regularly as you change your speed. The more speed you have, the more lift is generated by the wings, so unless you want to hold your joystick forwards for long periods of time to keep the plane level, you will want to add some downwards trim, allowing you to recenter your stick and give your hand a rest. (also allows you to press things on the keyboard without the plane going out of control when letting go of the stick).

The default controls are:
. + Right Ctrl - Trim Up
; + Right Ctrl - Trim Down
, + Right Ctrl - Trim Left
/ + Right Ctrl - Trim Right

But these aren't very reachable while you fly, so at the very least, have your Trim Up and Trim Down buttons set up on your joystick or somewhere very convenient.[/b]

Trim Left and Right will be quite handy too, as once a missile is released from one wing, the opposite wing begins to dip. It is a good idea to trim your aircraft back to level flight after you have finished any maneuver, or weight has changed. It seems tedious at first, but it will become second nature after a few hours, and you won't even know you are doing it.

If the controls start to feel strange, e.g. the autopilot has done its own trimming, or you have also trimmed and not too sure whats going on, press Right Control + ENTER to bring up a display that shows you where the in-game controls are, and you can compare this to where your real life joystick is angled.

If that doesn't help, you can always reset the trim back to normal with Left Control + T. But beware resenting trim can cause your plane to suddenly and wildly turn or pitch, as it is the equivalent of suddenly pushing your stick back to center position.


Try to remember this for when you finally get into the air and have reached cruising speed and altitude :)

Climb Into The Cockpit
  • Open DCS World
  • Click on Missions
  • Browse to where ever you have downloaded The Danger Zone mission to.
  • Use the folder with the .. two dots to move up a folder
  • The mission will most likely be in "C:\users\*user-name*\downloads"
  • Click Open and the mission will load
  • Once the mission has loaded, click on the FLY button and the mission will finally load into the simulation.
  • We will presented with a long list of various flyable aircraft available in DCS World.
  • We of course want to scroll down to and select one of the Su-27 Flankers (feel free to do this multiplayer btw).
  • Then click Start and you will be presented with a short mission briefing. As you can see our objective is to fly to waypoint #1 and shoot down anything we find in the sky.



    Click Fly again, and we are finally seated in the cockpit of the Flanker!
Start Your Engines
  • If you press F2 you can see that we are already armed to the teeth so we can start up immediately. Press F1 to go back to the cockpit view.

  • Start Electrical Systems with Right Shfit + L
  • Contact the air traffic control tower and ask for permission to start up: Backslash, F5, F1, F3
  • (the tower should confirm your request, if not, do it anyway as they sometimes don't respond)
  • make sure your throttle is all the way off, (if you are using a keyboard it is already off by default)



  • Start Your Left Engine: Right Alt + Home
  • Start Your Right Engine: Right Control + Home
  • You will see your engine RPM and Temp gauges kick in, as well as a green light indicating the start up phase.


  • While you wait for your engines to fire up:
  • Start Cockpit Lighting : L
  • Start Navigation Lights: Right Control + L
  • Start Taxi/Landing Lights: Right Alt + L
  • Close your cockpit : Left Control + C

  • When both engines are idling at 70% RPM and the green start up lights are gone,the plane is ready!
Taxi to the Runway
  • Contact the ATC and ask for permission to taxi to the runway: Backslash, F5, F1, F1

  • Now lets roll over to the start of the runway (turn left)
  • Take it slowly. Give it some thrust and then ease off once you start moving.

  • (speed is displayed on the TOP LEFT corner of the HUD)
  • The top right, indicates your altitude.


  • brake: W
  • steer: Z (left) X (right)
  • accelerate : NUMpad plus
  • decelerate : NUMpad minus

  • Now drive all the way to the runway, but do not enter the runway yet.
Take Off
  • Contact the ATC and ask for permission to take off : Backslash, F5, F1, F1
  • Line your self up on the runway nicely on the middle line.
  • Press F to lower your take off Flaps.


  • Speed is indicated on the left side of the HUD in kph, the right side is your altitude in meters

  • Things will happen every quickly as you start to take off, so it might be worth ready ahead a few times!


  • Hold W to keep yourself still while your engines spool up.
  • While holding the W - press down on NUMpad plus to increase your engine thrust to maximum - you'll hear them roar as the afterburner begins.
  • Once it feels like the plane wants to move, let go of the W key to release the wheel brake
  • Try to keep the plane centered down the runway with Z and X
  • When your plane reaches over 300kph you switch over to the keyboard arrow keys (or joystick) and gently pull back or press the down arrow until your plane starts lifting off - not too much though, start at a shallow angle.


  • Once you are in the air:
  • Press G to disengage landing gear, the gear lever will move and the lights will turn off once the gears are stowed.



  • Press F again to return the flaps back to normal. The status screen should be completely blank now. (the Su-27 has forward flaps as well on the leading edge of the wing, which are controlled automatically by the computer, so you will sometimes see these light up at certain speeds and maneuvers).

Find The Targets
  • Now that we are flying, we want to get to a reasonable altitude, somewhere between 1000 and 3000 meters is fine for now. (shown on the right side of the HUD)
  • We also want to ease off the throttle/thrust to turn off the after burner, it's a real fuel guzzler. And we also don't need to fly faster than the speed of sound.
  • A nice 500-700kph should be plenty, with RPM set to somewhere around 85-95%.
  • You will see that the after burner lights have turned off as well.

  • Don't forget to trim your aircraft once you have settled on steady speed and altitude.


    So how do we find the targets? Luckily enough I've preset a waypoint into your Flanker which will lead you to exactly where the targets are located.

    You can see in the bottom left of the HUD it says ENR (enroute mode) and in bottom middle of the HUD it will list a distance to the waypoint.
    (if you don't see this, press "1" on the keyboard (not keypad) to switch into ENR mode, if you keep pressing 1 then it will go into various other landing modes etc, so make sure you are in the right mode).

    HUD ENROUTE MODE

  • On the display screen you can see the path that you should be following, and in the bottom left corner of this display screen you can see that there is a number 2 representing that we are heading to waypoint 2. (waypoint 1 where we took off from).


  • Simply line up your plane on the display screen so that you are flying towards the top triangle symbol and you will be flying to waypoint 2.
Radar Guided Missiles
Radar guided missiles are fantastic for shooting down bandits that are so far away that we are not able to see them with our own eyes. Beyond Visual Range. We are able to detect potential targets at distances up to 160 away, and engage them at distances up to some ~60km away, assuming they are flying towards us. (less if they are flying away).

  • Press 2 on your keyboard to switch the radar to Beyond Visual Range mode
  • You will see that your HUD and your MFD have changed into Beyond Visual Range mode. (BVR listed in bottom left of HUD).

  • Press i to activate the radar (notice the left of the HUD says RL bottom of the HUD now says ILL to indicate the radar is on.)




  • On the HUD (not MFD) you should be able to see a box this represents your cursor or target designator.
  • We can move the target designator around with < > ? : keys on the keyboard.

  • If you are heading towards the waypoint you should see that there are one or more little horizontal lines (blips) fading in and out - these are targets detected by the radar.

  • If you can't see them, no worries we might be out of range, increase your viewable scan zone by pressing + and - on the keyboard (not keypad). And you will see that on your MFD screen the view is expanding. And show you a bigger area. (This also changes the the distances on the HUD, and sometimes its useful to zoom right out to view further, but also sometimes better to zoom in, so you have more space between the target lines, allowing for easier selection of specific targets).

  • Lets also make sure we are using the right missile, press D until the bottom right of the HUD lists 27ER - a radar guided extended range missile.

  • Once you can see the radar target lines/blips, move your targeting designator on top of a blip and press ENTER to lock it up.



  • You will notice that both the radar and HUD have changed a little bit. The HUD highlights your locked target to help you keep your nose pointed the right way, as well as a distance indicator on the left side of the HUD. This indicates how close you need to get before the missile will hit successfully.

  • Wait until the little arrow is between the two solid rectangles on the tape and you will see that your HUD states LA, which means launch authorised - telling you to shoot.



  • Hold Spacebarfor 2 seconds or until a missile fires

  • Fox 1!
    We must keep our target locked until the missile impacts (it is not a fire and forget missile).


  • You can press F6 to watch the flight from the missiles view (F1 to go back to cockpit)

  • Now, lets try a heat seeker
Heat Seeking Missiles Long Range
Using Long Range Infrared Missiles (heat seeking), is very similar to using the the radar guided missiles, but they act much differently. Apart from obviously being drawn to a high heat source, instead of being drawn to reflected radar waves, heat seeking missiles are different in that they are fire and forget, meaning you once fired, you don't have to stay locked (you are are free to fire at another target, or fly into cover). They also have the advantage of not alerting the target that anything has been fired. (where as radar guided missiles would be setting off all sorts of alarms in the target's cockpit).

  • Press 2 on your keyboard to switch the radar to Beyond Visual Range mode
  • Press o to activate the optical IR detector - which you can see outside of your plane between the nose cone and the cockpit canopy - it looks like a security camera. A EO icon will appear on the left side of the HUD to indicate we are using electro optical heat / IR tracking.


  • If your radar is still on, press i to deactivate it. We don't want the radar on, as it will give us away. With only heat seeking and infrared tracking they won't know we're coming. The ILL icon will disappear from the bottom of the HUD

  • if you have some targets in front of you, your HUD will show some horizontal lines representing heat sources - coming from the engines of our targets.

  • Move the target designator around with < > ? : keys on the keyboard.
  • Once on top of a heat source blip press ENTER to lock it up.


  • Press D to cycle between your missiles, (shown in the bottom right of the HUD) we want to select either a 27T or a 27ET


  • Again, on the left side of the HUD wait until the little arrow is between the two solid rectangles on the launch indicator and once we have LA (launch authorized) message appearing on the HUD, we are good to fire.

  • Hold Spacebar for 2 seconds or until a missile fires
  • Fox 2!
Close Combat Heat Seekers
We are now most likely in a close enough range that we can see the target aircraft with our own eyes or at least have a pretty good idea where they are.

When we are close to a target - around 10 km a close combat heat seeking missile can be used, and they are also designed as such and have a better turning rate than radar guided missiles. These are the R73 missiles.

  • Press 5 to change helmet mounted sight mode, notice the big green circle.
  • press D to change until the HUD lists 73 in the bottom right.

  • We can now put a plane in visual distance, into this circle, but moving the mouse, or by moving your head if you have a headtracker (which I suggest you should for DCS, especially since they are about $15 to make your own these days)

  • As long as the target is more or less in front of us it will get locked (notice the circle has a cross through it when lock is not possible)

  • Press ENTER to lock up the plane you have in your helmet sight.

  • Press Spacebar to shoot.
Fox 2!
Close Combat and Cannon
  • Because of the super-maneuverability of the Su-27 Flanker, turning combat is something that it excels at, and if you can match your opponents speed they will have a very hard time shaking you once you are behind them. For this, you can use any weapon you like, radar missile, heat seeking missile, or internal cannon.

  • Press 3 to enable Vertical Scan mode - anything inside the middle strip in the HUD will be locked onto automatically.
  • or use the Helmet mounted sight, as outlined in the previous chapter.
  • You can press i or o to decide if you want a radar or heat lock, or both.

  • Once a target is locked in either of these modes :

  • Press D to change to any missile you like.
    Or
  • Press C to enable the Cannon HUD mode, and it will give a moving indicator of where your bullets will end up.
  • Simply fly to place the middle of the circle on top of your target and press SPACE to fire the cannon. (shoot in half second bursts, the cannon only needs to hit with a few rounds to devastate the target)

Landing
  • Since its a nice day we can perform a visual landing (this is a super rough landing guide).
  • Press 1 to go set the HUD back to ENR mode.
  • Press Left Control + ~ tilde to cycle the waypoints, we want waypoint 1.
  • When about 30 km out :
  • Descend to about 2000 meters high.
  • Press 1 a few times to set the HUD to LANDING mode.
  • On the MFD simply follow the lines, while descending slowly



  • Press Left Control + W several times to jettison any remaining missiles.



  • Press B to engage the Airbrake



  • Lower your thrust to about 70%
  • Try to keep your speed around 300, no less, and no more than 350 kph. increase thrust if required.

  • If your flaps have not automatically engaged with your speed below 400, then press F to lower them again.

  • about 10 km out lower your landing gear with G

  • Once you get closer to the runway - on the right of the HUD is an indicator of how slow or fast you are moving downwards/upwards. We want aim for a rate of about 3 meters a second, so try to keep the arrow/triangle about a 3rd of the way down, under the neutral marker. (the screenshot below is descending a little bit too fast).



  • Just before touchdown, slightly pull up, so that your back wheels touch the ground first.

  • Hold W to engage wheel brakes

  • Press P to deploy your landing chute (if you are running out of runway!)

    Hopefully your plane still looks like this :)
Bonus : Air to Ground
If you've gotten this far, then I assume you are now quite comfortable in the Su-27, so why not try something even more challenging, such as Air To Ground attacks?

Despite the Flanker being an air superiority fighter, it is still capable of deploying various unguided air to ground weaponry. However, while it is capable, air to ground attacks are certainly not going to be as effective as a dedicated attack plane, such as the Su-25 or A-10 for the following reasons:
  • First of all the Su-27S is not equipped with any sensors that help find the ground targets (the powerful radar is air to air only), you also don't have an infrared targeting pod, or shkval camera to mark the target on a display. It's just you and your eyeballs at high speed (although view zoom helps!) - which can make spotting targets difficult, and even once you have spotted them, you will usually need to turn around and make an attack pass (because by the time you have spotted a target, you are usually too close to attack safely/accurately). So you turn around for another pass, and where has the target gone, oh nuts, you have to try to spot it again. It is hard to find the target even when you know it is there without the targeting pods and other sensors to help you align your aircraft from a safe distance (4km +). So you will need to learn how to read the terrain in order to help locate your targets from far away. E.g. my target was next to a yellow building, which was at a T intersection road with a river parallel to them.
  • The weapons are unguided, which means, you need to more or less fly the aircraft towards the target very accurately before you can fire, slightly bad approach or minor deviation will mean that your weapon will miss. For large and soft target's it's not such a big deal, as the blast / shrapnel may still do some damage, but for hardened targets that normally require a direct hit, it will be very difficult. And even if you do fly perfectly there is always the wind factor which can push your weapons off course.
  • What makes this even more difficult, is that as you approach the target, you must fly quite slowly and you lose agility which is the Su-27's biggest strength. It's designed for agility at fast speeds, rather than gliding like an attack plane.
  • Further to this, going slow combined with flying in a straight line makes you easier to hit by ground weapons (as they can easily predict your movement and send bullets ahead to meet you. You are more or less a sitting duck as you approach your target, and you don't have the benefits of titanium armor that attack planes have to protect the pilot and critical systems. So for the Su-27 a few hits and you will be lucky to fly home.

However if you can survive your ingress and even release some weapons you do have one advantage, and that is the after burner, it will help you get out of the enemy's firing zone faster than any attack plane can, and once you hit 500km/hr you become quite agile again (especially if you've released most of your heavy bombs and rockets).

As you can see ground attack is probably best left to the dedicated attack planes, especially when the target is heavily armored such as a tank - as these require direct hits. But if you have a mission to destroy some soft targets, say an column of trucks, troops or perhaps a building - then it's certainly achievable, as even a missed bomb should create enough of a blast and shrapnel to damage these soft targets. Even better if the targets are unable to return fire - e.g. a truck. As you will be able to take your time to line up the shot.

Let's equip some air to ground weaponry:
PRESS \, F8, F1 to ask the ground crew to rearm and refuel.

There is a pretty good variety iron/dumb bombs for general targets, rockets types for both soft and hard targets, as well as smoke rockets for marking areas and targets, and cluster bomb dispensers for creating explosions over a wide area. For more information check page 86 of the manual for some very detailed explanations - http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/250310/manuals/DCS_Su-27_Flight_Manual_EN.pdf?t=1417046009

I would start with rockets - you can equip these to almost every weapons station / hard point. They are probably the easiest to use, because you can fire them from a good distance, and you have a reasonable idea of where they will land.

Once you take off, activate Air to Ground mode by pressing 7 on the keyboard (not numpad) and you will see the HUD change to indicate with a different type of sight / crosshair.

With most Air to Ground weapons, you simply place the aiming piper where you want the weapon to land - wait for the LA (launch authorised) message for best results, and then press and hold your weapon release button. (Default is SPACE).

Bombs work in a similar way, you place aiming piper over the target, and hold the weapon release button and fly the plane smoothly until the bombs release.

If you have a combination of rockets and bombs etc, you can press D when in air to ground mode (7) to change between them and it will be indicated in the lower right corner of the hud.

You can also press Left Ctrl + Space to change how many bombs/rockets are fired in one go.
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43 Comments
Tom  [author] Nov 2, 2016 @ 5:27pm 
You must have your cockpit set to Russian - NP is how LA is spelt in russian :)
A100percentBEEF Nov 2, 2016 @ 5:13pm 
I get an NP instead of an "LA" when I'm in missile range. What do?
Stinger-☯ Oct 1, 2016 @ 6:28am 
Hopefully your plane still look like this LMAO!!
fudabidu Aug 18, 2016 @ 8:44am 
"if you're using a keyboard" ... please don't.
Tom  [author] Jun 20, 2016 @ 4:41am 
Fuel is the 2 thin white vertical bars below the radar screen :) If you have no bars you have no fuel :P
LieutenantFalcon Jun 20, 2016 @ 2:40am 
I think it's an engine stall but the fuel gauge location would be nice to know aswell if I want to master the plane. Thank for the help!
Dr Jebus Jun 20, 2016 @ 1:35am 
@LieutenantFalcon--Might be an engine flameout. It's really easy with the SU-27 to lose airspeed if doing excessive turns, especially with only 1/3rd throttle. If your air speed drops too low, the engines can't 'breathe' and so shut down. You can recover from these if you are high enough. Point nose-down to gain airspeed while repeatedly trying to turn both engines on (RAlt+Home, RCtrl+Home). Eventually, you should hear them start to spool up. Leave it as long as you can, then pull up to avoid the ground.
Tom  [author] Jun 19, 2016 @ 5:54pm 
You might be running out of fuel, or perhaps engine stall. Save a reply and you'll be able to tell :)
LieutenantFalcon Jun 19, 2016 @ 9:02am 
Great guide! Question: my engines randomly turn off mid-flight in the Su-27 (Cannon tutorial). All alone, not at high altitude, throttle to about 1/3rd, not damaged... Maybe been flying around for 15 minutes before engine death. Haven't been using the Afterburner extensively, only got a beep and a flashing red light, left on the central panel. Luckily I can crash-land the Su-27 easily...
Tom  [author] May 31, 2016 @ 3:55am 
Thank you Jebus (lol). I've updated the instructions - Thanks for letting me know about the changes.