Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DCS Black Shark: Where did my target go?

Flying an attack helicopter in combat is a very demanding task. Keeping track on the targets, the threats, communications, weapon systems and flying the damn thing at the same time is the pinnacle of multitasking. Ed Macy put it very eloquently in his book "Apache": "... taking an Apache into battle is like playing an Xbox, a Playstation, and chess grand master simultaneously-while riding Disney World's biggest roller coaster ..." The information overload used to kick me hard when I couldn't find enemy units or landmarks I've seen in the Shkval just before performing hard evasive maneuvers. I reckon that probably the main cause for this is the shock of the near-(virtual) death experience (I tend to kill myself just maneuvering out of a missile's path). But I digress.

The I-251 "Shkval" electro-optical targeting system offers a great way to find back that enemy unit, landmark or general terrain area I have just been watching before maneuvering the Black Shark. The trick is locking the Shkval onto that point of interest before losing sight of it.

Locked into a multistory building. Please note the appearance of the building in front of the one I've locked. Click for an expanded view.

Now performing a 360 degrees turn while descending. I've lost sight of the building and off course the lock on it. Click for an expanded view.

Turn and descent complete. Now looking at the general area again from a lower altitude, the Shkval is in ground stabilized mode pointing just a few dozen meters ahead of the previous lock (do you recognize the building that was in front of my previous lock?). Click for an expanded view.

Everytime you lock onto something, the Shkval stores the target's angular coordinates and range into it's memory. I suppose this allows the targeting system to point itself back into the area you have locked into. I'm sure that there has to be a limit for how long in time or how far spatially you can be from the original lock-on in order to get the targeting system keeping the data in its memory. But as you can see I descended a lot from my original lock-on position, turned 360 degrees and still the targeting system was ground-stabilized fairly close to the original lock-on.


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