Recently, the in-mission RADAR was updated. It is no longer possible to request a RADAR report “on demand” via the F10 menu. Rather, at set intervals (currently testing 5 and 6 minutes) the server will automatically populate a text message out to each player. This message will report the basic location and heading details of the nearest two enemy aircraft which have been identified by the RADAR.
The primary reason for making this change, was to dial back on the RADAR as a tool for directing dogfights. Under the on-call system, it was possible to use the RADAR to assist with near-contact acquisition. Furthermore, the on-call RADAR made it very difficult for players to disengage from combat, as their position would be constantly given away by the RADAR reporting.
The updated system appears already to have been effective in achieving its intended result. At the same time, player behavior has begun to change slightly, and the following key observations can now be made with some confidence.
- Milling about over a ground target is no longer viable. Previously, a ground attacker could, for the most part, loiter for extended periods of time over a ground target making multiple passes, at will, generally safe from a “bounce” due to the constantly available RADAR information. Upon the receipt of a “near” bandit report, the attacker could then decide to depart the target area. This made for the somewhat unrealistic scenario where ground attackers would do just that, loiter over a target for extended periods without real concern for visual airspace observation.
Times have changed. Target loitering is now a risky behaviour. The 1-pass or 2-pass attack is now becoming standard as ground attackers look to get in and out of the target area within the few minute window between the automatic RADAR reports. Overall this represents a more similar approach to ground attack that was deployed during the Normandy campaign, at least until the closing of the Falaise Pocket!
- Group flying is now more effective. More eyes, more guns and a greater chance that the enemy won’t know you are coming have made solo flying more dangerous, and group flying more effective – especially in the air to air scenarios. It’s already apparent that there has been an increase in the willingness and desire for virtual pilots to group up for mutual protection, knowing that they cannot simply rely on the on-demand RADAR to be their extra set of eyes, and their near-space situational awareness.
- Loose formations are less effective. At the same time as grouping up has become MORE effective, the failure to deploy a moderately close combat formation has opened the door for confusion. It is no longer possible to quickly consult the in-mission RADAR to find out whether a sneaky interloper has weaved his or her way into the formation, and is about to open up on Smithers back there. Visual scanning is now more necessary, and, furthermore, knowning who is where in the formation has become critical. A loose and fluid formation runs the risk of providing a wily hostile with a golden opportunity to get a quick victory before anyone is any the wiser.
- SRS/ Coms more important. The loss of the close-in-high-frequency Situation Awareness provided by the on-call RADAR now has to be compensated for with added pilot to pilot communication. SRS or other voice coms are additionally important now, even more than they have been with the old RADAR.
- Altitude is life, still. Flying at an altitude that take more than 6 minutes to climb to is now one of the critical ways to avoid being snuck up on. Any hostile which is looking to hunt you down is going to have to exposure themselves to RADAR. An enemy that hides under the RADAR on the deck, or tries to deploy ground masking, is going to struggle to sneak up on you with the adjusted RADAR. At some point, that enemy is going to have to climb up to you, and in doing so, they’ll expose themselves to RADAR during a reporting window. Furthermore, now that your foe cannot use the RADAR to track you if you successfully dis-engage, being able to separate with a dive from altitude is going to save some bacon, that otherwise might be fried.
The RADAR changes remain in testing and observation, but for now, it looks like it has been a successful update. Thanks from the server admins to Hammer for suggesting we adopt the non-solicited RADAR approach.
Let us know in the comments/ reply section if you’ve noticed a change in the way the missions are being played.