LLTM 2011 Review -DCS/FC2 perspective

Below is a short review of all the missions we flew for the LLTM 2011 DCS/FC2 competition, which I enjoyed very much, despite my less-than-perfect results.

DCS/FC2 new since LLTM2011

LLTM 2011 – Air Race
One of the LLTM classics, the Air Race is the first mission in the competition.
The Air Race is a navigation challenge in which all pilots must fly their Su-25 from one airbase to another via a given route.
This year, that route consisted of a number of airfields, where the pilots needed to perform at least a touch and go.
The route was too long to fly on one tank of fuel, so a fuelstop was also needed on one of the airfields.

The race started at Krasnodar Pashkovsky, while the finish line was on the platforms at Batumi.
Landings (either touch and go or full stop) were required at Majkop, Sochi, Gudauta, Sukhumi, Nal’chik, Kutaisi, Tskhakaya and Kobuleti.

The biggest challenge though was that we only had cockpit-view, so no externals and no map.
Before the race started, we had 30 minutes to create a flight plan. Once in-cockpit, we only had our instruments to navigate with, which resulted in several pilots getting lost, either because their flight plan was wrong or they didn’t properly line up their compass.

The start of the race was a Le Mans-start, which means that everyone is parked on the platform with the engines off. Only after the starting signal was everyone allowed to start their aircraft and take off.

After take-off, I was in second place, but gained first place at Sukhumi, where vJaBoG32_Ghost decided to refuel.
I flew on to Nal’chik and refueled there.
While waiting for my tanks to fill up, I was again overtaken by Ghost, so back in second place.

From there, my race went very smooth, although my compass seemed a bit off, so keeping to my planned course became more difficult.

Still in second place, but closely followed by Zim, I arrived at Batumi, where my problems started.
Being in a hurry to land, I made my approach too steep and too fast. I slammed into the runway, broke both main gear, and bumped up into the air again.
Hitting full throttle, I entered the circuit to assess the damage, and contact the referee for instructions. I got permission for a belly landing on the taxiway, where I had to wait until my aircraft was repaired, and then fly one more circuit as penalty for landing at the taxiway.
My landing went quite well, although I left a trail of debris and veered off the taxiway into the grass.
Still, my plane got repaired, so I taxied back to the runway (blowing all tires when entering the taxiway from the grass)

After my extra circuit, I taxied to the finish platform using only the brakes and differential thrust on the engines.
All this had cost me quite some time, and in the end I finished in seventh place.

LLTM 2011 – Mixed SEAD

The Mixed SEAD was the first combat mission of the event.
In this mission we had a selection of air-to-ground aircraft, with several air defense sites as our primary targets.

During the briefing, two teams were drawn. I was on the Red side and chose the Su-25T for the mission.
After the general mission briefing, we had some time left for team briefing.
Given that some of us never fly the Su-25T, Zim gave us a short introduction into anti radiation missiles and how to use them on the Frog.
After that we hopped into our cockpits and the mission was on.

The mission went well, we took off and flew to our staging area in formation, and then started our attack, one at a time, to take out the enemy radars so our Black Shark pilots could do the rest.
I managed to kill two OSA radars, but then I got a bit carried away while lining up for the third and got hit by enemy AAA.

Badly damaged I decided to head home.
Unfortunately, when looking out the window to get my bearings, I saw another cloud of tracers rising up, which further damaged my aircraft to the point it could not stay airborne anymore.
So I ejected.

Still, the Red team won the mission, doubling my score (of which I only received 20% because I was MIA)

LLTM 2011 – Dogfight Tournament

Another classic in the LLTM Lockon competition is the 1 versus 1 guns-only dogfight tournament.
Pilots may choose any aircraft they want, even the Black Shark, to go head to head against a single opponent.
The tournament is set up as a single-elimination bracket, meaning that if you loose a fight, you’re out of the tournament, while the winner advances to the next round.

After the initial pairings, my hopes were quite low, as I was paired with Ghost, who is quite good at gunzo dogfights, and I never practiced any…
Still I managed to postpone the inevitable for a few minutes, and even got on his six for a moment.
But in the end I made a wrong turn, bleeding all my energy and became a sitting duck. Ghost happily took this chance and killed my pilot with a well-aimed shot (the plane was undamaged).

Since only 12 people joined the dogfights, we only had three rounds, so everyone who got through the initial round was in the semi-finals.
After the semi-finals there were three pilots left in the finals, so there would be three final dogfights.
The finals were shown on the big screen so everyone could watch and learn from the masters.

LLTM 2011 – 1980’s BVR Daytime

In this mission, two teams fight it out using 1980’s style missiles. So no AMRAAMs or R-77s here, only Sparrows, Sidewinders, R-27s and R-73s.

Again, teams were drawn during the briefing, and I was again on the Red side, this time flying my favorite, the Su-27.
We decided to split into three sections: two two-ship formations and a single ship.
I was lead for one of the two-ships, with Alvarez on my wing.

Before we could get our strategy to work, we ran into enemy aircraft, and went offensive.
Unfortunately, the Blue aircraft, piloted by LigerZero, had more speed, and so was able to get a missile off before I got a launch authorize.
I broke away and lost Alvarez, so we were both on our own.
My defensive manouver didn’t help, and my left engine was taken out, so I had to shut it down.

With my left engine on fire, I decided to dive, and give LigerZero the impression that he killed me.
It almost worked, but unfortunately he saw me pull up just above the ground and finished me off with an R-73.
I still managed to eject, so my virtual pilot didn’t die, giving me another 20 points, because Red team won. (MIA again, so 20% of 100 points for being on the winning team)

LLTM 2011 – CAS

This year’s CAS mission was designed for the Ka-50 Black Shark to fly together with the Lockon jets (Su-25(T) and A-10A in this case).
The mission also featured triggers, which would let the ground units at the front line spawn and move.

As in the previous combat missions, I was drawn in the Red team, and chose the Su-25T.
Being an aerobatics pilot on the Su-27, I don’t have much experience in air-to-ground missions (read: none at all) so I screwed this one up.
Team communication was bad so I went looking for targets by myself, and almost shot our own tanks.
When I finally found the enemy tanks, I was gunned down by one of them while trying to figure out how to convince my Vikhrs to go after them.
I ejected just in time to prevent being KIA, but was out of the action after about 10 minutes.
Blue won this round, so no points for me…

LLTM 2011 – BVR Nighttime

If flown correctly, BVR Night is one of the most interesting missions at the LLTM.
Again, two teams were drawn (again, I was on Red), and each team has to select a GCI controller.
The GCI controller does not fly, but uses a radar client to direct his pilots, who can’t see a thing because it is dark, to their opponents. Of course he only sees aircraft within his radar range.
If both teams perform as intended, this will result in a game of ‘Air Chess’ between the two GCI controllers, with the aircraft as pieces on the aerial chessboard.

I had high hopes for this mission, since the Red team had some good fighter pilots, who also knew how to communicate correctly.

Unfortunately the timing for this mission was a bit off, as it was scheduled at Saturday afternoon 15:00LT.
At that time, the sun was either in our face or on our screen, so we couldn’t see a thing and even had a hard time finding the taxiways and runway.

I was to line up next to LigerZero, but couldn’t see him until I was almost on top of him.
Still I managed to avoid a collision and lined up on the right side of the runway (LigerZero was lined up on the left)

After the Go command, we started our takeoff sequence, with me scheduled to depart 10 seconds after LigerZero.
So I watched LigerZero’s afterburners disappear into the night and then started my own takeoff roll.
At 320km/h I rotated, established a positive rate of climb, retracted the landing gear… and crashed at the end of the runway…

Behind me, Zim tried to take off and rolled off the runway, also writing off an Su-27.

On the Blue team, things weren’t much better, as Wasserfall took off, went almost straight up to 2000 meters, and then straight down into the ground.
None of us had the faintest idea what had happened…

In the end, the BVR Night was down to a 3 (Red) against 4 (Blue) fight, which Red won by gaining air superiority over the front line while the Blue team had to retreat due to bingo fuel or no weapons left.

LLTM 2011 – DCS:BS Surprise Mission

On Saturday evening, Woodstock had prepared a special, Black Shark Only, surprise mission to celebrate the first DCS competition at the LLTM.
Given the high fidelity of Black Shark, we all expected a difficult challenge navigating the map and operating the ABRIS and radio.

What we got was quite different though!
During the short briefing, we were told the true goal of this mission: Last Man Standing
All helicopters were placed in a circle over the Mineral’nye Vody Fresh Water Reservoir, noses pointing towards the center of the circle, closing in at 50km/h.
We all had two gunpods and 16 Vikhrs to take each other out.

The first match was mayhem, with helicopter parts flying far and wide, leaving only two flying after 5 minutes.
In the beginning, they couldn’t see each other, as one was at almost ground-level, while the other was 3000 meters up.
After a while, they nearly crashed into each other and started circling and firing.
Both went down, one with his rotors blasted off, the other with both engines on fire.

In order to claim victory, the last man alive had to land his helicopter (or what was left of it) on one of two FARPs situated at the northern and southern shores of the lake.
Mav, who was now auto-rotating towards the northern FARP, almost made it, but crashed 100 meters short of the FARP.

So we had a draw, and had to fly again.

The second match was even more chaotic, and after about 10 minutes, only one was left (Mav again), this time with less damage, and able to land his helicopter softly on one of the FARPs, claiming victory and gaining another 500 points.

LLTM 2011 – Solo Aerobatics Displays

Another LLTM classic is the LLTM Airshow on Sunday morning.
Pilots can prepare a solo display routine with their favorite aircraft during freeflight hours over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, a jury is assembled to judge all performances shown on the big screen.
This year, the jury consisted of JimMack, Dee (Jim’s wife), Groove and Woodstock.
All pilots got a time slot of six minutes to show off their best performance, while they were judged on creativity, precision and style.

To make it a bit more realistic, we have a display box which pilots are not allowed to leave.
Leaving this box results in 10% point reduction per violation, overflying the crowd area means no points and immediate landing.

Usually I have no problems whatsoever with a public aerobatics display, our team does this all the time.
But due to some private circumstances I didn’t have the opportunity to prepare my display, and so I screwed up my display.
The first part went well, with an inverted take-off, barrel roll, clover-leaf with flares, combined roll, slow roll and a cuban eight, but I felt my confidence drop due to some mis-aligned manouvers, and left out the more difficult parts, such as a slow pass, and decided to land early.

LigerZero had the most stunning display, resulting in excited remarks from both Jim and Dee, but due to one box violation didn’t make it to first place. That went to Wasserfall, who flew a very precise routine.

Unfortunately many pilots dropped out and didn’t participate in the airshow, leaving only seven slots, so the airshow was quite short.

LLTM 2011 – Conclusion

In the end I can say that I screwed up my competition, but despite that I had a great weekend.
I met many old friends, and made some new ones.
Apart from the sun, I haven’t heard any serious complaints, but only saw happy faces (although some were temporarily sad after receiving the Flying Pig Award or Twisted Metal Award).

As it stands now, this was the last year we had Flaming Cliffs 2 in the competition, next year will probably be pure DCS, with Black Shark and A-10C.

I would like to thank Ice for yet another great LLTM, and Woodstock for setting up a great set of missions.
Next year I will certainly be there again, no matter what the setup may be.
The LLTM is too much fun to miss.