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Flaming Cliffs 3

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Main article: Lock On: Modern Air Combat
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In the beginning, there was Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC), and it was… well, it was decent enough. Already back then, Eagle Dynamics had chosen the Black Sea as their primary campaign area and they included a reasonably wide variety of aircraft in different roles.

When a planned LOMAC expansion eventually became the basis for a complete revamp and re-release of the simulator in the form of DCS World, the work done on those original aircraft was not to be wasted. Instead, they were transformed into simplified, lower-fidelity playable aircraft models for DCS and were released as a package under the moniker Flaming Cliffs 3.

Included aircraft

The following aircraft are part of the FC3 collection:

Note that, while technically not a part of the FC3 package since it comes included with the free DCS World client, the Su-25T should also be considered an “FC3-style” aircraft in terms of flight and systems modelling. Also note that the J-11 can only be obtained as part of the FC3 package, not as an separate module (not that anyone should ever buy these aircraft separately).

Aircraft modelling

Flight models

Whereas the regular aircraft in DCS use a professional flight model and advanced systems modelling, the FC3 aircraft are modelled at varying lower degrees of detail and fidelity. Three different flight models are available: [1]

  • Advanced Flight Model (AFM) and AFM+. A flight model that uses force application and calculation on the relevant flight surfaces. This simulates edge of envelope conditions well and avoids scripted behaviors as used in an SFM. AFM+ adds limited modelling of hydraulic and fuel systems.
  • Professional Flight Model (PFM). This flight model uses wind tunnel data, moving part kinematics, and simulations of airflow as well as the influence of, for instance, hydraulic, electric, and fuel systems on flight dynamics.
A-10A Advanced Flight Model (AFM+)
F-15C Professional Flight Model (PFM)
J-11 Professional Flight Model (PFM)
MiG-29 Professional Flight Model (PFM)
Su-25 Advanced Flight Model (AFM+)
Su-25T Advanced Flight Model (AFM)
Su-27 Professional Flight Model (PFM)
Su-33 Professional Flight Model (PFM)

For a very long time, there was also a Standard Flight Model (SFM) used by the MiG-29 — a data- and scripting-driven flight model that was used in the Lock On series. The MiG-29 has since been updated to full PFM.

Systems modelling

In addition to the various flight models, the FC3 aircraft use Standard Systems Modeling (SSM) as opposed to the Advanced Systems Modeling (ASM) of the more complex modules. This means that only cockpit systems essential for flight, navigation, and combat are directly simulated. These systems are controlled through direct keyboard or button binds, rather than through mouse interactions with simulated switches in the cockpit.

Among other things, this means that the FC3 aircraft do not offer any kind of emergency or recovery procedures. Fires or loss of control surfaces cannot be addressed — rather, the pilot can only hope to be able to return to base and land with degraded controls before the aircraft crashes or blows up. For an more critical faults, ejecting is really the only option.


The upshot of the simplified systems modelling is that the FC3 aircraft offer a very uniform learning experience. The same set of procedures and shortcuts can be used, with only slight variations, for any aircraft in the package. Some carry special equipment — for instance the IRST on Fulcrums and Flankers or the targeting pods on the Su-25T — that need a handful of additional key binds, but the essentials of getting the aircraft started and off the ground are universally the same, as are the default binds.

This also means that the use of any kind of more advanced HOTAS or other controller setup is made much simpler. Once the pilot has figured out a good set of binds for one aircraft, being familiar with the rest is just a matter of copying over those same binds to the new plane. Similarly, the limited set of interactions that are even available are conveniently suited for special gaming button peripherals, such as the additional keys on Logitech gaming keyboards or the button arrays on the Thrustmaster MFDs.

Finally, over time, all FC3 cockpits have been given full 6dof control, so even if some older reviews or descriptions may mention that only rudimentary keyboard or mouse controls can be used to look around, all airplanes are now fully compatible with TrackIR and VR setups.

Newbie tips

Originally posted by Sagebrush[2].

For the newbies: IMO the only controls you really NEED to bind in order to fly a FC3 plane like the F-15 or Su-25T are

  • Pitch, roll, throttle ("thrust") and rudder axes on your joystick.
    (If you don't have a rudder axis, use Z and X to steer the plane when taxiing and just ignore it in the air.)
  • Weapon release.
  • Fire gun (American jets only; Russians use the weapon release after selecting guns).
  • TDC up/down/left/right (this is the thing you use to select a target, use your hat switch)
  • Target lock.
  • Release countermeasures.

Everything else can be done with the keyboard. It's nice to have more stuff on the HOTAS of course but I think those are the only ones that are really critical to have at your fingertips.

  • Get in the cockpit
  • Press RShiftL if nothing is lit up to turn power on.
  • If engines are stopped, press RCtrlHome and RAltHome to start them both up, then wait 30 seconds for them to spool up.
  • If it's nighttime, press L to turn on your instrument lights, RCtrl-L for nav lights, and RAltL for landing lights.
    Do NOT press RShiftL because that will turn your electrical power off again (welcome to DCS).
  • Press LCtrlC to close canopy (it will be really noisy in the air if you don't do this).
  • Throttle up and start taxiing, using rudder (Z/X) to steer and wheel brakes (hold W) to stop.
  • Get on the runway and/or a big taxiway.
  • Hold brakes, put in max afterburner, release brakes.
  • Use rudder to stay in line, pull back when you think you're going fast enough.
  • Once you start to climb, press G to retract gear
  • Throttle back to get out of afterburner so you don't run out of gas.
    (Either listen to the engine, look for the lights in the cockpit, or press F2 and verify that there isn't a huge flame coming out of your engine.)

For any kind of air-to-air aircraft:

  • Get generally pointed at your targets and press 2 to enter BVR combat mode.
  • Press I to turn on your radar.
  • Press D until your radar missiles are selected (AIM-7/AIM-120 or R-27/R-77).
  • Look for little sets of three dots on the HUD, and move the TDC box until you have one selected, then press target lock.
  • Get close until it says SHOOT (US) or LA (Russia), then fire ze missile.
  • Hopefully that was a bad guy.
  • Infrared missiles are the same except you can turn off the radar and just point at the guy until you hear a loud noise.
  • For the gun, lock a target then press C and fly until the moving crosshair is over the bad guy, then shoot.
    You have to be a lot closer than you think.

At that point you know basically how to fly and shoot so any other questions can be asked to other people in the stream without cluttering it up too badly. Landing is left as an exercise for the interested student

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