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DCS: F/A-18C Mini-Updates


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  • ED Team


In this DCS: F/A-18C video, we’ll look at new features coming to the datalink capabilities of our F/A-18C. As many of you already now, data linked flight members are limited to the same four-ship group as set in the Mission Editor. With this update, it will now be based on Source Track Numbers, or STN. This will allow you to set aircraft outside a group to your Team of aircraft 1 to 4 and even change this while in a mission. You can also set up to eight donors. Let’s get started.

Let’s start in the Mission Editor to see how we now set up the F/A-18’s datalink. When selecting an F/A-18C Airplane Group, you will now have an additional tab called datalinks. We’ve also added some new functionality to the Aircraft Additional Properties tab that we’ll look at first.

Along the bottom, we now have three new items under Datalink. The Voice Callsign Label, Voice Callsign Number, and STN are identifiers used when setting up the network. You will probably want to set the Voice Label and Voice Callsign Number to match each aircraft’s callsign. It’s important that each STN be unique within a Fighter Channel and the STN must be entered as an octal, i.e., only values of 0 to 7 are valid.

The Tactical Net Datalink, TNDL, tab as two sub-tabs, one for Settings and one for Network. Your Voice Callsign will be auto-populated here and everything else cannot be edited at this time except the Transmit Power.

The Network sub-tab is the meat of setting up the network. The top portion lists up to four Team members that can exchange data and target assignments over the datalink. Although these can be assigned in the Mission Editor, they can also be edited while in flight using the Situational Awareness, or SA, page. We’ll examine this a bit later. Along the left side of the team member number that is auto assigned. To the right of that is the Pilot Name and to the right of that is the Voice Callsign Label and Voice Callsign Number that we discussed earlier. Next is the member’s STN number. The rightmost column can be selected to remove a member from the Team.

If you have open Member slots in the Team list, you can add an entire Group or add an individual aircraft.

Below the Team Member list is the Donor list that can have up to eight aircraft. Like the Members list, each row displays an aircraft with its Member number, Pilot Name, Callsign, STN, and delete option. Also like the Members, you can add Groups and individual units to the list.

What is also very important to note is that any aircraft with a TNDL STN can be added to the Member or Donor network, not just other F/A-18s.

We’ll get in the air now and look at this in action.

Looking at the SA page, you can see that I have my three Team members off my right wing, four F/A-18 donors off my left wing, and four Viper donors ahead of me. I also see four other F-16s that are not assigned to my team or donor list. Remember that team members will have an alphanumeric letter and donors will have a dot on the left side of the icon. We can place the TDC over a contract and see it’s information in the bottom, right corner.

Using the SA page,  I can remove and add participants to my Team and Donor lists. For example, we’ll place the TDC over one of the F/A-18 donors and we can see that it is a donor. By selecting the DONOR label, I can remove it as a donor. I can now place the TDC over the second F-16 flight and select DONOR to assign that aircraft as a donor participant. You can do this with all networked aircraft, and it allows you to dynamically configure your network during a mission.

I hope you enjoyed this explanation of expanded datalink functionality for the F/A-18  and recognize it as a major advancement for DCS in general.

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