Mission Design Guide

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Goals

  • Make it a smooth process for mission designers to create new missions.
  • Establish standard configurations for things such as callsigns, comms and TACAN channels.
  • Provide workarounds for common DCS problems, such as loss of TACAN.
  • Provide tips for how to design a fun mission.

Game Options Considerations

Some settings that you set in the game's options (available through the DCS main menu) are copied into the actual mission. You need to make sure the following is setup in your options:

  • Gameplay / Wake Turbulence OFF
  • Gameplay / Easy Communication OFF

Mission Editor Considerations

Mission Template

To make things easy, you can download a template .miz file that has all the basic stuff already setup for you. This will most likely save you quite a lot of time.

The template includes:

  • Supercarrier with correct frequencies and tacan.
  • Deactivatable backup carrier to enable spawning of 4+ Tomcats.
  • F10 menu controlled script letting the carrier start stationary (to eliminate deck sliding) and be started after aircraft departure.
  • F10 menu controlled script that lets us reactivate the TACAN and ILS in case it shuts down because of a bug.
  • Three tankers with patterns and correct frequencies.
  • E-3 AWACS.
  • 17 flights of F/A-18C, F-14C, AJS 37, A-10C, F-16C, Mirage 2000, UH-1H and Ka-50.
  • F-14Bs and A-10s have comms preset synchronized with other aircraft types as per Master Arms standards.
  • All aircraft have unique modex/tailnumbers.
  • All aircraft have unique laser codes in the format 1[tail number + 111]. For instance Alpha11 has tail number 400 and laser code 1511.

Download it here:

Detailed Basic Instructions

This section covers all the things that should be considered in all missions. If you're using the mission template, most of this stuff is already taken care of.

Carrier Setup

The mission templates already have these things set up.

  • Use ship number for TACAN (72X for CVN-72) and 264.00 for AI comms.
  • Use the method showcased in the template .miz to allow the carrier to be started through the F10 menu.
  • Use the method showcased in the template .miz to allow for TACAN and ILS reactivation.
  • Set the carrier speed to zero. The speed and route is assigned to the invisible route-holder speedboat instead.
  • If you have wind, make sure that the carrier route makes the carrier steam into the wind. No carrier cross-wind.
  • The wind-over-deck speed should be around 25 kts. If you have zero wind, set the speed of the route-holder speedboat to 25. If you have 10 kts of headwind, set the speed to 15 kts.
  • To calculate the BRC, you need to work some magic because of true vs magnetic heading differances.
    • In Caucasus, take the course you see in the ME minus 7. Example: Boat is heading 000. BRC is 353.
    • In Persian Gulf, take the course you see in the ME minus 2. Example: Boat is heading 000. BRC is 358.

Flight Callsigns

The mission templates have flight names set to Adder1, Beaver2, Camel3 and so on by default. Feel free to be creative and change them, but if you do, a new custom transponder json file willl have to be created for your mission.

Using the callsigns in the templates make things easier. Here is a spreadsheet with the flights available in the templates:

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Unless there's a good reason for not doing so, use incremental numbers on the flights. If you have three flights and want to use the names Adam, Boxer and Charlie, call them Adam1, Boxer2 and Charlie3.
  • Don't use callsigns that are too similar to each other. For instance avoid using two callsigns starting with the same letter (like Viper and Victor).
  • Avoid callsigns that are easily associated with a certain aircraft type, if the flight flies something else. For instance, don't have an F-16 flight called Stinger1 or an F/A-18 flight called Viper2 or Falcon3.
  • Definetely not a requirement, but if you want, you can use names that remind of the flights' taskings. Examples:
    • SEAD: Weasel, Volt, Zap
    • Strike/Air Interdiction: Hammer
    • Air-To-Air: Sweep, Hunter

The mission templates have flight names set to Adder1, Beaver2, Camel3 and so on by default.

Tanker Setup

The mission templates already have these things set up.

  • Navy aircraft (F/A-18C and F-14B) use "probe-and-drogue" refueling. They can refuel from KC-135 MPRS and KC-130.
  • Air Force aircraft (F-16C, F-15C, A-10C) use "flying boom" refuling. They can refuel from KC-135 only (note: NOT the MPRS version).
  • We normally never use the S-3 tanker because of various reasons.
  • Be advised that the KC-130 carries significantly less fuel than the KC-135 MPRS and as such, can refuel fewer aircraft before it heads home.
  • Be advised that because of a DCS bug, even if you set a tanker's TACAN channel to Y, it actually used X.
  • You may want to add a two-ship HAVCAP aircraft that escorts the main tankers.
  • To setup a tanker pattern, add two waypoints (1 and 2) in addition to the starting waypoint. On WP1, add an action "ORBIT / RACE-TRACK". The tanker will fly in a race-track between WP1 and WP2.
  • We recommend setting the tankers' "Reaction to Threat" setting to "Passive Defence".
  • In most missions, you should setup three tankers:
    • 1) Navy main tanker using one of the mission specific channels. We recommend Ch 7 (270.00). Normally a KC-135 MPRS.
    • 2) Air Force main tanker using Ch 20 (266.00). Always a KC-135.
    • 3) Navy overhead tanker using Ch 19 (253.00). Could be KC-135 MPRS or a KC-130.

AWACS Setup

The mission templates already have these things set up.

  • There are two different AWACS aircraft. E-2D Hawkeye and E-3 Sentry. We recommend using the E-3 because of its superior radar coverage.
  • Put the AWACS in a location between the airfield or carrier and the enemy AO, in such a way that it can be protected by friendly forces if needed.
  • E-3 normally flies at around 29000' at 0.75M.
  • E-2D normally flies at around 22000' at 250 kts indicated airspeed.
  • You may want to add a two-ship HAVCAP aircraft that escorts the AWACS.
  • Set the AWACS frequency to 251.00. Normally we have a human acting AWACS on Ch 3 (265.00). Channel 18 (251.00) is the AI AWACS channel (normally not used).
  • We recommend setting the tankers' "Reaction to Threat" setting to "Passive Defence".

Radio Presets

The mission templates already have these things set up.

  • As far as it is possible, all aircraft should have the same radio presets for the UHF radio. It should follow the Master Arms standard comms plan, which is identical to the DCS standard list for F/A-18C and F-16C (305.00, 264.00, 265.00 and so on).
  • Normally, you only have to change F-14 and AJS 37 flights.
  • AJS 37 flights should have Special 1: 250.00, Special 2: 265.00, Special 3: 257.00

Mission Customization

To allow for convenient testing, the mission templates don't have F10 View set to "Map Only", so you need to change it manually.

  • Buildings can not be seen in TacView. So if you have buildings as targets, put a Russian Infantry in the roof, and set it to ROE: Green and HOLD, to make sure we can evaluate if we hit the targets after a mission.
  • When developing the mission, it's nice to have the F10 View Option set to "All", for easy debugging.
  • When you are done, before actually playing the mission, change this option to "Map Only" (and enforce it), so people can't use the F10 map as a GPS.
  • You can enforce Labels to "OFF" if you want. But we recommend leaving it not enforced. The mission needs to allow "Full Labels" to allow for pilots to use the Mini Pixel Modification. Typically, we trust people to not use actual labels.

Design Considerations

  • While it's up to you as a mission designer to decide the difficulty level, be advised that it's more common that one accidently makes the mission too hard than too easy. It's tempting to add lots of enemies, but generally it's not needed to provide an interesting challenge.
  • Even if the mission turns out to be easy, meaning nobody got shot down or was close to being so, you can count on that the mission will get challenging regardless. Comms, formation flying, keeping SA, aerial refueling and so on are very challenging and fun elements in themselves, even without somebody shooting at you.
  • Don't over-complicate things. With lots of players, things will get complicated regardless.
  • Always assign a package lead/mission commander, preferably a couple of days before the flight. If you don't have anybody else, consider taking this responsibility yourself. Don't run the mission without a formal commander.

Written Briefing Considerations

Include this stuff in the written briefing, typically posted in a forum post:

  • Real-life date and time to start (Swedish time).
  • In-game time for mission start. Set to at least 25 minutes before first takeoff.
  • Any special requirements for participants.
  • The flights' names, aircraft type and taskings.
  • A map over the route and AO, and possibly a zoomed-in version on the target area.
  • Time and weather.

Other things you might want to include if it's relevant for the mission:

  • Comms plan (normally the Master Arms standard plan, with the missions specific channels 7-14 set as needed).
  • Background story, situation and Package ATO (Air Tasking Order) overview.
  • Detailed taskings for each flight.
  • Additional maps showing important things such as tanker patterns.
  • List of expected friendly and enemy forces.
  • Hard deck (lowest allowed altitude).
  • ROE.
  • Carrier info (BRC or FB, TCN channel, ICLS channel).
  • Take off order.
  • Bullseye position.
  • RAMROD password (see Comms for details)
  • Push times and Time-on-target instructions.
  • Downloadable Combat Flite (CF) file.
  • Package roster (i.e who goes into which flight).

Step Briefing Considerations

  • Try to start the briefing asap. Don't wait more than a couple of minutes for late-joiners.
  • Quickly go through the plan from an overview perspective.
  • Let the mission commander and AWACS operator communicate any additional instructions and potential risks everyone needs to be aware of.
  • Allow for questions but avoid long discussions.
  • Keep the tempo up! Make sure the briefing doesn't take more than 15 minutes for easier missions and 30 minutes for very advanced missions.
  • Allow for a quick restroom break just before starting the server.