Fighter pilot training course ideas/suggestions

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Fighter pilot training course ideas/suggestions

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  • #6533
    Blaze Strife
    Participant

    Interesting thoughts.

    #6626
    Draeco
    Participant

    @Feil, as one of the volunteers flying with you last duty shift, I think you did an excellent job as Wing Commander, especially for your first opportunity. I hope to fly with you again (though I do enjoy engineering and want to return to my training in it). Also, I agree with your comments, spot on. In particular, I think it’s worth stressing that communication is a make-or-break factor: having a dedicated CAG, who can track the group and give to the Wing Commander the information needed to coordinate the fighters, is essential, and the Wing Commander has to relay key items to the group with crisp precision. Otherwise we’re just a bunch of individual ships operating independently with inadequate information.

    Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth. I am sure I am not the first to note many of my observations, but I don’t recall seeing prior conversation really explore them as much — apologies if I’m just late to the party.

    To anyone who has not (yet) had the opportunity, flying a fighter is a completely different experience from piloting any other ship class I have tried, even a scout. It is exceptionally suited to 3D tactics, with perhaps the most effective strafing run coming from directly above or below the target (for those ships we faced, the enemy beam arcs did not extend vertically), a tactic capital ships simply cannot use. And while an individual fighter doesn’t have a lot of punch, three fighters working together can inflict considerable damage to a target.

    Also on the subject of weapons, interestingly there is no “auto-beams on/off,” it’s a hybrid: you must manually fire your beams each shot, but if the target ship is close enough and in your gunsight, you will always hit, and you cannot target specific systems. There is no “safety” mechanism, so if a friendly ship flies in between you and the enemy, you’ll hit them instead. Missiles, similarly, are a little different than on a ship, in that you fire in the general direction of the enemy and rely on the missle’s on-board proximity to lock on. A fighter only has three missles, so they must be used thoughtfully. With training, a fighter pilot should be able to compensate for these differences readily, but new pilots like myself, who are used to ship weapons and helm controls, will find the differences to be a little jarring.

    On the downside, it’s very easy to get disoriented because all you can see is what is directly in front of your fighter, the display has no radar or similar tool to enable broader situational awareness. Although the viewscreen does have compass and elevation guides, those don’t tell you where the other ships are, so you can easily go blundering off in the wrong direction — and as we learned, a figher group splitting up inadvertently can be deadly.

    Also, as Feil noted, the viewscreen does not project ship-specific designations, which made it surprisingly hard to know if you’re correctly following the order to “attack the lead Karelian” when all you can see is 2 or 3 ships out of a larger group. Likewise, the command “focus on the ship the Phoenix is attacking” is not easy to follow when the Phoenix isn’t in your viewscreen. Moreover, without those designations you essentially have to know ship silhouettes, friend and foe, cold. Also, we were enirely unable to attack bases — a glitch in the ship’s software meant our targeting sensors could not see bases at all, and so the computer would not fire the beams even at point-blank (oddly, my torpedo also didn’t lock on the base). I hope the next batch of fighters will have these items fixed.

    Another issue is that the fighter isn’t equally useful against all targets. Weak ships are the best targets, including heavy ships weakened by ordinance. We could easily come up behind a small Karelian group and pick them off one by one, and even nail a wounded Torgoth with nine missles. We were also reasonably effective against Skaarans whose special weaponry is designed for big ships — shield drain, anti-torp, and the like — as long as we stayed away from their heavy-beam arcs. Pirates with gatlings, however, shredded us, as did larger healthy fleets. Drones were also a challenge, as our only defenses are to turn the fighter to aim directly at the drone and kill it with the beam, or try to run away, both difficult in a melee — and you only know to do either if you see it coming. It doesn’t take many drones to off a fighter.

    Obviously, basic training for fighter pilots has to start with simulators at the Academy (//see below). Maneuvering absolutely must be second-nature, as having to think about that plus targeting plus listening for new orders is impractical in the heat of battle. So, once a trainee advances to the real thing, I think the first exercise should be simply forming up with and following the Wing Commander through a series of preset 3D maneuvers, for example:

    * Pattern “Epsilon Z -XXX, bearing YYY” means “level out at elevation -XXX, turn to bearing YYY, and form up” (reorganize);
    * Pattern “Pi” means “climb to elevation +200, level out, then on my mark, dive to -200, rinse and repeat” (strafing run);
    * Pattern “Iota” means an Immelman (turn around); and
    * Pattern “Sigma +XX” means “on my mark, turn to starboard XX degrees from our current bearing and then, again on my mark, turn to port XX degrees, resuming the original course” — “Sigma -XX” would be port, then starbord (serpentine/avoidance).

    Something like those, anyway.

    After maneuvering skills, fighters will need their own unique battle doctrine for dogfighting. That will probably have to evolve with experience, but maybe we can dust off some tactics manuals from other eras for ideas (//for example, http://www.zenoswarbirdvideos.com/OffensiveTactics.html, particularly on coordinated attacks).

    //Especially as I am not an aficionado of flight-sim games, I’d really like to be able to practice flying on my own between duty shifts even when I can’t find anyone else, let alone enough to field a carrier. I envision a “maneuver practice only” scenario, in which I (or, if several of us meet up, we) have to stay in close formation with an AI Wing Commander through a timed set of randomly selected maneuvers, which would be scored based on my average distance from the WC. I also would like a few sole-figher-vs-enemy scenarios with just a base for resupply. If I had programming skills I might take a crack at setting them up myself, but as I have none, this idea requires someone else to volunteer. Sorry about that.

    I hope these comments provide useful feedback.

    Ens. (Act.) Draeco

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 11 months ago by Draeco.
    #6629
    Blaze Strife
    Participant

    That is definitely useful! Thanks for your thoughts, I’m sure the higher-ups will consider them.

    #6633
    Xavier
    Keymaster

    Now, I have just had a thought. In the TSN expansion, we have added a gate model. They are rings floating in space (if you like watching the view screen, you may have spotted them). I can set up a course pretty quickly in a mission script that puts theses rings one after another and form a circuit to fly through.

    I’ll have an experiment later and see if I can get it added to the training sim. The first test for pilots will be flying through the course accurately.

    Ship recongnition sounds important too. If people can use a fighter to fly around enemy ships and take screenshots, we could use the images in training and for a test. We need the standard top, side, front and rear shots of enemy ship, some notes of discernable features to look out for, then loads of pictures from different angles. It would take a long time for me to do that,so if a couple of people could pick up the task and compile the images for a Ship Recognition manual, I can knock up an official document template to use to record it all. I did start something a couple of years ago that I could modify.

    #6635
    Blaze Strife
    Participant

    We already spoke about the ring course earlier, but didn’t know if it was feasible.

    Is it possible to script enemy ships that are stationary, without weapons, maneuvering or impulse? That would allow us to create a gallery of them and then we can set up a training map that has them all in one section of the map.

    #6637
    Xavier
    Keymaster

    Easy enough to do. I could just simply set the enemy ships to neutral and assign ai that makes them hold position. They wouldn’t go anywhere or shoot at passing ships. I could also set some up that don’t hold position so that fighters can practise approaching and attacking targets without the ships turning and destroying them.

    #6640
    Draeco
    Participant

    I can volunteer to help take pictures, though given my choice, I’d like to do it on my own time between shifts rather than instead of regular duty. Do you envision that as a possibility?

    #6642
    Draeco
    Participant

    Another thought — a true dogfight sim against Arvonian fighters, ideally including variations of one-on-one and two-on-two (wingman tactics). In particular, getting behind and staying on the tail of an Arvonian fighter will be a real test of flying skill.

    I’m also curious to know if Arvonians will use three dimensions if we do, or if they will just fly about the center plane and wait for us to return to it. (//I suspect the latter, as I imagine programming 3D tactics would be exceptionally difficult, but the possibility of an Arvonian strafing run along the Z axis really should be something our ship commanders fear.)

    Another idea, I wonder if our ship computers someday could project a new “elevation” version of the tactical display, to get a sense of the relative elevation of things. The view would be fixed on the coordinates of the main ship but adjustable to Forward/Port/Aft/Starbord, just like the various “viewscreen” options — but this elevation view is only available to the CAG/science station (if Arvonians develop 3D tactics, all science officers will need it). I’m sure the folks at R&D already have a lot on their plate fine-tuning the fighter, but CAG certainly could use that information to complement the existing tactical view on the X-Y plane.

    Finally, I wonder how difficult it would be to enable a new “vectoring” function for CAG, which would generate on demand the fighter-specific vector to a target, be it an enemy or home. As I envision it, CAG’s display would have a new “vector” button. To vector a fighter to somewhere, CAG selects the fighter, presses the “vector” button, and then selects the target. The view would then change the standard, “current vector

      from me

    ” data with a “projected vector

      from the fighter’s location

    ” data (“F133, your vector home is 223 mark -210, range 7k”). Selecting another item on the view clears the vector data. That would solve the problem of the fighter flying over/under the target without seeing it. Of course, I expect all science stations would benefit just from changing 2D vectors to 3D vectors.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 11 months ago by Draeco.
    #6802
    Feil
    Participant

    @Draeco

    While I agree with most your ideas I have to say that at this time dogfighting with Arvonians is not a good idea. In my personal experience their dogmatic programming to fly in single file leads to you getting turned on and fired at by multiple fighters.
    Our craft, while tougher, don’t have the firepower required to dispatch their fighters fast enough when put against their numbers.

    The best tactic for dealing with an Arvonian fighter group is to wait til they reach bingo fuel and turn to return to their mothership. At that moment you can come at them from behind and destroy your way from the rear most ship to the front of the column.

    While the Arvonians prefer to stay on the same plane as their Carrier, and will do so while engaging our larger vessels due to a good beam arc, they will climb and dive to engage a TSN fighter craft but only as much as necessary to get a shot off.

    #6812
    Draeco
    Participant

    @Feil, good to know — but to clarify, I meant just a one-on-one sim, rather than a suggested battle tactic.

    Disappointingly, I have been summoned to another assignment and will have to miss the next duty shift, so please dispatch a Karelian for me.

    #6814
    Feil
    Participant

    Only one Draeco?
    If the Dauntless goes out I’ll be Wing Commander again, if the Duty assignment is kind. We’ll destroy at least 3 for you. One in the first pass. This I swear!

    #6817
    John van Leigh
    Participant

    As I don’t expect to see the vectoring aid applied to the scicomms screen, it probably could be worked on a 3rd party thing. You can calculate your headings with quite some fine precision with rather simple math (knowing your position, the range and bearing to the fighter, and the range and bearing to target you get a neat, workable triangle). Otherwise, you can just take an educated guess. You imagine your 0-180 axis projected into your map, imagine a parallel line, and fiddle a bit with your own angle until you have a decent match for your parallel.

    As I don’t have a background in programming (//I seriously don’t, I know this is *doable*, but I wouldn’t even be good to pick a language or to evaluate if it’s *difficult*) I can’t develop the app to do this, but if you’re willing to settle for manual imput, the set of equations is simple enough.

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