Wednesday, July 13, 2016

DCS SA342 Gazelle - The Hovering Command Post

In this mission, I'm piloting a French Gazelle and our mission is to coordinate the establishment of a Georgian Armed Forces outpost near the Batumi Airport. Dismounted opposition is expected: insurgents armed with small arms and RPGs at OBJs Charleroi and Dinant.

After a few final words regarding coordination and other logistics, I am back to the Gazelle with the commanding officer on the copilot seat. In the background, the convoy (2 LAVs, 1 Humvee and 2 trucks transporting infantry) departs from Batumi.
Mission for today:  in order to ensure a safe transit of the convoy, clear OBJ Dinant and Charleroi. CAS is provided by a Mirage 2000C and my Gazelle, which is armed with a cannon and rockets.
Taxiing at Batumi. The Mirage 2000C is seen too near one of the runway accesses.

Flying along the convoy (on the road to the right). The relatively high altitude is because of the power lines. NOTE: the new flight model allows a better degree of control, including airspeed.

The commander asked me to make a show of force in Helvachauri. Here I am flying by an apartment complex.

The first hovering position. Note the target area in the background. The enemy insurgents are near a bridge, exactly as our intel reported.

This was further confirmed by the commanding officer by making use of the Viviane sight system.

With the target positively identified, the Mirage 2000C is called for a bombing run with free fall Mk-82 bombs. NOTE: to control other units,  I am using the "player as tactical commander" feature of DCS World/Combined arms. 

The Mirage 2000C has just released its bombs. The target are is over that bridge below and in the background.
This bomb longs for targets, but enjoys quite a panoramic view nonetheless. That airport in the background is Batumi.
The Mk-82 completes its task perfectly. OBJ Charleroi is secure.
The convoy keeps moving ahead, but is still some 3 km short of OBJ Charleroi.
I then moved the Gazelle towards the second hovering position. The next target area -that road junction in the background- also has dismounts ...

... Which were readily acquired by the commanding officer in charge of the Viviane. OBJ Dinant is packed with enemy activity.

The officer called for another bombing run, which took a long time to be completed. On the meantime, some of the vehicles passing through OBJ Charleroi had some issues negotiating the enormous crater left by the Mk-82 bomb.

Finally, the Mirage drops its bombs. It looks like the enemy infantry is a bit stretched out around this objective.

It was time to engage with my Gazelle's weapons, in this case the cannon. After a quick descent and seeing enemy dismounts near a high voltage tower,  I am about to make an strafing run.

I fail miserably. I didn't make a mental note about the precise position of the enemy troops and in flight, it was impossible to re-acquire the targets. Note my helicopter flying over the river.

I switch to rockets and this time I suffer from the same lack of target acquisition.
My rockets fall way behind the enemy dismounts.

Any effort to aim effectively is thwarted by those menacing high voltage lines and towers..

So I put the Gazelle into hover behind a ridge and the commander calls for another Mirage 2000C bombing run. The Mirage drops its bombs with scary precision and OBJ Dinant is now clear.

I'm ordered to take the Gazelle back to base. We overfly the convoy, which just started to move into their final destination.

The mission is now over and we are in our way back to Batumi (airbase in the background). The Mirage 2000C can also be seen maneuvering to align himself for landing.

My approach to Batumi airport may seem a bit dangerous (trees, illumination towers, etc.) but the runway and taxiing area were reserved for the Mirage 2000C. So I keep the Gazelle hovering for a while until the Mirage parks and shuts down its engines.

And then I land the Gazelle. Mission complete.
It was a nice mission and I was pleasantly surprised with the Viviane capabilities. Given the high ridges and the high angles down needed to be used to observe objectives down in valley areas, the Viviane delivered. 

The lack of variable aiming for the cannon limits the attack capabilities of the Gazelle SA342L: one has to be well aligned with the target area and coming down from heights may risk overspeeding. On the bright side, the pedals work marvels to aim the cannon on the horizontal axis. 

The Mirage 2000C had almost pinpoint accuracy delivering free-fall bombs from horizontal flight, which is likely a shortcoming of the simulation. I wonder how an A-10C would have worked, but I'm feeling French today.



Unknown said...

Is this a custom mission? Is it available for download anywhere? Finding good missions for the non-Ka-50 choppers in DCS is a challenge.

JC said...

Custom-made to train myself on different aspects of the SA342L (mainly handling and weapons).


JC said...

I will release it soon.

Erich said...

Amusing to see a Mirage 2000C (with a wing design optimized entirely for low transonic drag - it's horrible at anything else) used to move mud - with dumb bombs. Then again, I would definitely *not* put it past the Armée de l'air to do this ;)

JC said...

Thanks for your comment Erich. :)