Saturday, September 16, 2017

Steel Beasts ProPE - The Artillery Observer's Job

One thing that Steel Beasts has is that keeps you thinking. The modern mechanized/armored battlefield is lethal and humbling. Learn or be condemned to reload the scenario forever.

An M981 FISTV (Fire Support Team Vehicle) assumes a hull down position to acquire targets and call for indirect fire support.

I had the opportunity to play a coop scenario and was particularly impressed with a young virtual commander's use of a single computer-controlled FISTV.

According to him, the secret is the use of the contextual use of the defense order. I heard about this a time ago, but I only used during the setup/deployment stage. After deployment and when rounds started flying, I consistently forgot about it.
I went straight into the editor and created a simple scenario to try it out.

A FISTV and a M113 PC, facing some unknown danger to their north, just behind that hill.
Besides providing a sector of interest and an orientation, the defend order has also that circle that defines a point of reference that has to be visible to the defending vehicles or troops. In the example above, I'm instructing the FISTV to make sure that his sights can reach the area around that black circle.

The FISTV then moved ahead and acquired a platoon of Russian T-72s. It even called the artillery mission all by itself.

For added survivability, it also helps to let the FISTV to retreat after it has done his job.
Upon further experimentation, and now actually crewing that FISTV, I found out that in a hull down position, the vehicle can take some rounds with nothing short of armored cockiness. But one has to be careful because the thermal sights and the radio get damaged quite frequently. And you can live without the thermals, but you can't live without the radio and unable to call the artillery.

The sight view of the "glid" or  Ground/Vehicular Laser Locator Designator (G/VLLD).

So here is to you, young virtual officer. From now on, I promise that no FISTV will be left at the line of departure. And as a proof, from an scenario editing test I am into, something you would certainly not approve.

Captain Bannon's dismounts heard a tank engine revving up at the west entrance of a village. His faithful FISTV commander volunteers to call indirect fire support on that entrance.

The FISTV calls a smoke screen fire mission and moves ahead in search for the enemy tank.

The smoke screen is so dense that the enemy is blind. The other side of the laser beam enjoys this view.

After lasing the target, its specific location gets recorded. With no need to stay in danger's way, the FISTV pulls back before the smoke screen lifts off.

The call for fire support interface. Just making sure this T-72 gets it.

Mission accomplished. A T-72 burns in its prepared position.



Frankie Kam said...

Great article JC! This cutie, M981 FISTV (Fire Support Team Vehicle), reseambles the M113 APC so that it will be less conspicuous in battle. From So it is a plain Jane, but an effective but lethal one. Thank you for the short but instructive episode on the FISTV.

JC said...

Hi Frank,
Thanks for reading. It's a crewable vehicle and fun to play with.