Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DCS A-10C Warthog - Pointing the Targeting Pod Into Worthy Places

In total awe with the A-10C and its capabilities ... Really, how well all its sensors and avionics work for its primary mission.

I've spent some time today practicing with the targeting pod. I was interested in quickly pointing the targeting pod (TGP) back and forth across different areas of the battlefield.

For the mud-moving pilot, taking off towards a series of pre-planned waypoints (including a IP and target area) is complex enough. An additional layer of complexity is when that pilot doesn't know where he will drop his payload. In the case of the A-10C, a tactical air control party will frequently provide the target's location and the aircraft has a truck load of avionics and target acquisition systems to make sure that ordnance is delivered within feet of where it was intended.

What about when the pilot is granted a "kill box", where he can target any enemy forces within it? In this case, the pilot better know how to use his target acquisition systems, because there will be no waypoints, coordinates or laser designators to guide him towards the important stuff.

In addition, a view of the battlefield from thousands of feet above the ground is not to be wasted and the A-10 can be tasked as an airborne forward air controller. As the saying goes, there is always more targets than bombs, so the airborne forward air controller needs not only a solid performance on his instruments but also  the coup d'oeil of an infantry man to be completely successful. Knowing what piece of terrain is tactically important is as an important skill as proficiency with all the gadgetry.

Pilots that can't master the A-10C's target acquisition system need not to apply.

The targeting pod is the premiere target acquisition system of the A-10C. The good news? It's extremely powerful. The bad news? It's field of view is extremely narrow. It is virtually impossible to completely sweep a battle space just by moving the targeting pod around. Correction, you can do it. It will just take a long time and it will leave you extremely disoriented.

I got myself into the DCS A-10C's mission editor and put a couple of insurgent teams, each of them on separate bridges, miles away from each other. I also put myself on an A-10C with a targeting pod, some 75 miles away from the action. I wanted to practice pointing the targeting pod towards specific places of my choice. No coordinates, no TAC party to guide me to the target. Just a general idea that the insurgents are crossing the bridges towards the town of Narktala.

Start of the scenario. This is the moving map (AKA as the TAD).  My aircraft is at the center of the range rings. I am flying towards steerpoint 2 (yellow square). At that steerpoint I will turn south and point my pod west towards Narktala, some 50 miles out of steerpoint 2. 
Another nicety of the TAD is the ability to move to any specific part of the map and expand it to your liking. In this case I just located the town of Nartkala. Note the two bridges north and west of the town. Those are the ones  I want to keep an eye on. 
Now that I located the town I'm going to mark the points that I think are important to keep an eye on. This selector in the   control display unit (CDU) needs to be in the "MARK" position. With this selection, I am not able to see steerpoints any more, just marks.

The CDU is located in the right console, below my right forearm. Seeing stuff and entering data on it drives me nuts, even with TrackIR. That's why I love this "CDU Repeater" that shows anything that is on the CDU in the right multifunction display (MFD). 

With the TAD as a sensor of interest (SOI), I move the cursor onto the north bridge and I make a short press righton the target management (TMS-righ-short). The point where the cursor now becames a markpoint, in this case is markpoint "B".
One odd thing is that when the "mark" switch is on in the CDU page selector only one markpoint is shown in the TAD (moving map). I usually switch from markpoint to markpoint using the HUD as the sensor of interest and hitting the small rocker in the front dash that is normally used to change steerpoints. Now I can see the "B" markpoint (yellow square) and I selected it as the sensor point of interest (SPI, the white wedding cake icon inside the yellow square).
Rinse and repeat. Now I have created another mark, "C". Every new mark gets a name that is the next letter of the alphabet. TMS-right-short, baby!
With the marks "B" and "C" on the map, it's a kid's game to move the targeting pod back and forth between them. Here is the view from the targeting pod of some insurgents on the bridge I labelled as "B". The distance to them (slant range to be more precise) is 14.1 nm. 



Dimitris said...

Hey JC,

Do you know if there are any player-made scens/missions floating around that depict a typical WW3-CentFront sortie? You know, truckloads of tanks & APCs running in, and having to dodge fighters, SAMs & high-end AAA both on the way in and out.

Anonymous said...

try the fulda gap multi player senario, might be what your looking for.

Johan said...

About having trouble seeing and using the CDU, have you tried the Snap views (under "View Cockpit" in the controls)? With these you can zoom in on those panels, both on the left and right rear sides, that are hard to see when looking around in the cockpit. I recently started using them, and they are amazingly useful.

Dimitris said...

Where can I find that scenario?

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