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How do you AAR at pitch black night


WelshZeCorgi
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And I mean like, no moon + thick cloud layers. I managed to do it by really cranking up the NVG gain but once I'm in close, its very difficult to stay in position due to the glare of the tanker's formation lights and the poor resolution + dim outline of the tanker through the NVGs. Tried to take them off, but the formation lights did not illuminate enough of the tanker to get an effective reference. 

 

Just wanted to see if anyone else did something differently or has a tip i'm not aware of. 


Edited by WelshZeCorgi
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I AAR'd with NVGs no problem in the Harrier. Just turned the gain down until the lights weren't distracting. They're for actual darkness, full moon or a light in your face, you have to turn the gain down.


Edited by Mars Exulte

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Very carefully… I wonder if IRL the tanker keeps is lights off until you’re that close. I used the ACM mode on the radar but I’m sure that’s not polite in real life either. 

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  • 3 months later...

It's easy for probe aircraft as the probe light can illuminate the entire tanker. Line up using NVG but switch them off at pre-contact. Aircraft like the Harrier can also use HUD Reject mode which makes finding the tanker really easy.

On aircraft like the viper, i found it really difficult to see the position lights adequately in VR. It's certainly possible, i've done it many times but it's not an enjoyable experience.

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You're not the only one. The director lights are hard to see IRL, too. They're OK at night, during the day they're too dim. When the tanker was designed, the lights were positioned for strategic bombers, I'd expect them to look just fine from a B-52, nobody gave much thought to the fighters back then. Then again, one Phantom driver in 'Nam once topped up with his visor down. He couldn't see the lights at all, I don't know how he kept formation, but he did.

 

As for probe and drogue, lights such as probe light are far better at illuminating things than they are in the sim. That, or NVGs.

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not know if true or not, I was told that in real life, NVG was not recommended to use when doing night AAR. 

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On 9/13/2021 at 4:17 AM, Dragon1-1 said:

I think that's because they kill your depth perception (quite important when doing AAR), or at least the early models did. Not sure if that's still the case today.

Dual-tube units, which virtually all aviation goggles will be (if not more tubes), offer reasonable depth perception as your brain is seeing a stereoscopic image. 
 

Single tube and 2-1 units do struggle. 

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I’m not sure the NVG picture (and litening pod picture as well) are as good as they should be. I know on Syria and Nevada maps, the ground is black. My only frame of reference are the NVGs I used regularly back in 1998-2002 with the Border Patrol…and those were army surplus from late 80’s. The view was much better than that in the game even with limited ambient light. Point is that I’m not sure it’s as hard to AAR with NVGs in real life 

 

I know in the F-18, there I’m is a light somewhere that highlights the basket when it’s close. Did it last night 

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On 9/13/2021 at 12:54 PM, schurem said:

Crank the gamma to the max.

 That's what I do, lol

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On 9/20/2021 at 7:34 PM, Mikeck said:

I know in the F-18, there I’m is a light somewhere that highlights the basket when it’s close. Did it last night 

 

Light is located at the base of the refueling probe:

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  • 3 months later...

Hi pilots,

I'm trying exactly this now, AAR in A-10C at night time. It's next to impossible. As soon as I get in position I fail to fly closer in into the position. But soon the cockpit rig itself is in the way for me to see the lights from the tanker so I lose my reference points. I'm using Track-IR as well, and I'm moving around to be able to see them.

I think that in real life those lights, and the light from A-10 is illuminating the boom and the tanker itself more, giving you a wider view of multiple reference points to use and a sense that there actually is something flying out there in front of you.

And now I still believe, you guys that are saying that you are doing it all the time. But I'd like to know how it looks for you, when doing it. What do you actually see? Is gamma at max? Have you setup your display or anything else to be able to see?

Frustrated.. but I love this sim.
/ McAnders

Tanker.png

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4 hours ago, McAnders said:

Hi pilots,

I'm trying exactly this now, AAR in A-10C at night time. It's next to impossible. As soon as I get in position I fail to fly closer in into the position. But soon the cockpit rig itself is in the way for me to see the lights from the tanker so I lose my reference points. I'm using Track-IR as well, and I'm moving around to be able to see them.

I think that in real life those lights, and the light from A-10 is illuminating the boom and the tanker itself more, giving you a wider view of multiple reference points to use and a sense that there actually is something flying out there in front of you.

And now I still believe, you guys that are saying that you are doing it all the time. But I'd like to know how it looks for you, when doing it. What do you actually see? Is gamma at max? Have you setup your display or anything else to be able to see?

Frustrated.. but I love this sim.
/ McAnders

Tanker.png

 

McAnders,

 

     Here's a quick set of pictures to help with visual references.  Just note that you need to get into a decent enough position for them to latch you as the references are based upon being latched.  With how the AI handles air refueling, this can get wonky as the boom operator tries to decapitate you.

 

VisRef2.png

 

VisRef.png

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Engines 1 & 4 nestled on top of the left and right rear view mirrors about 1/4 of the way from the upper end gives you forwards/backwards reference

 

Boom "wings" on top of Center rear view mirror  gives you vertical displacement

 

Boom entered (i.e. not angled at all) gives you centerline reference.

 

Flying these references will help stop you from "chasing the boom", create a stable platform from which you can make small/controlled changes, and take away your dependence on the PDIs since they tend to get blotted out by the structures of the two aircraft.  Another thing to keep in mind is that you may be able to solve boom extension (i.e. what might make you think you need to change your fore/aft) by ensuring the vertical is fixed first.  

 

Another technique for closure is to start 1,000 feet below the tanker's altitude, stabilize at a mile out, and as you close gain 100 feet in altitude per .1 NM until you get within pre-contact.  Pick up the visual reference and drive up and forward at about 1 to 2 feet per second (a very slow and gradual closure...it can feel painfully slow sometimes) until in the approximate envelope for them to plug you.  Once linked up, maintain visual references with very small changes.  Lastly, be aware that a change in one aspect will change things in another.  Work the vertical, then the for/aft, then the center.  Hope this helps 🙂

 

Cheers,

 

Thump


Edited by Thump
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Thanks a lot for your thorough reply, Thump!
I will try this. From the images it seems like you get it perfect every time. 🤯

Following the tanker in formation is fairly manageble and this will help to find the actual position. But then my biggest problem is usually to maintain the speed.

I also realize that the gamma setting needs to be almost maxed out to be able to see this as well to apply this procedure. I usually have my gamma setting at 1.8, but air refueling at night requires gamma to be close to 3.0.

Regards,
McAnders

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2 hours ago, McAnders said:

Thanks a lot for your thorough reply, Thump!
I will try this. From the images it seems like you get it perfect every time. 🤯

Following the tanker in formation is fairly manageble and this will help to find the actual position. But then my biggest problem is usually to maintain the speed.

I also realize that the gamma setting needs to be almost maxed out to be able to see this as well to apply this procedure. I usually have my gamma setting at 1.8, but air refueling at night requires gamma to be close to 3.0.

Regards,
McAnders

I definitely don't get it perfect every time (my squadmates can attest haha) 🙂  but I appreciate the complement.   

 

If I can offer one more piece of advice since you mentioned throttle control, the key thing with that is stabilizing in precontact.  Your ability to remain within the refueling envelope for the tanker will be directly impacted by how stable you were in precontact.  Once you have zero closure for about 5 or 10 seconds, you are in a good enough throttle position to move to contact. As you find that position with the throttle that keeps you pretty close to the same speed as the tanker, use that as the a "zeroed position" or "reference position."  From there, you only want to move it very slightly so as to create a 1 to 3 knot closure rate (if it feels like too fast of a closure rate, it is..just back off on the throttle a bit and you'll be good).  Whatever you put in to generate that closure, you are going to have to take out.  Think of it as two "steps" forward on the throttle, one step back (from reference position) to arrest the closure and then return to the "reference position."  The smoother the throttle movements, the more stable your closure control will be.

 

Here's my settings for your reference, hopefully it will help a bit.  I misread your post and didn't catch the lighting issue.  I can tell you that the tanker is definitely not lit properly (I think it's both a KC-135 model issue and a DCS lighting issue to be honest).  

Cheers,

 

Thump

settings.png

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Practise makes perfect. Though I still have a long way to go. I suppose that once you get better and better you develop a feeling for how to do it and how to just 'know' where the tanker is even though you are not having 100% of or even all of the visual cues.

Your guide is good. It's not easy to stay perfectly in that spot but at least to achieve a connection. I've learnt that it's of course important to make sure the aircraft is in "Ready" state for a connection [Ins] key. Beacuse if it is not in "Ready" there won't be a connection no matter how much you try and that gives you a feeling that you are not in the right spot. After a disconnect you need to press [Ins] again. But I'm so concentrated in flying the thing so I've missed that a few times.

As for the speed, the tanker is not flying in 200kts as stated. It's more like 198.5-199kts. But after a while you learn to look at the tanker instead and just forget about the speed indicator. Now I'll just have to learn to keep the connection long enough to actually get some fuel into the tanks. 

Thanks again,
McAnders

Tanker.png

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Refueling is definitely a perishable skill and takes practice.  As you've pointed out, the tanker isn't going to be in an exact speed so it's all about just doing what it takes to stay in position.  The good news is that the boom has an envelope kind of like a rectangle, so you really don't need to be perfectly in place, those visual cues are just to give you something to reference to tell where the middle is.  There's always minor corrections being made with the throttle and stick throughout the refueling so making small adjustments when needed is a natural part of it.

 

Good Luck 🙂

 

Thump

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