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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Di 05 Sep 2017, 05:54

OLt. Zimmermann

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Registriert: Sa 05 Sep 2015, 09:30

Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Di 12 Sep 2017, 13:59

One of the most difficult parts of developing the F-14 is developing your AI RIO companion- JESTER AI. For Jester, we want to make sure that the AI feels as lifelike as possible.
We have begun work on the AI’s “Human” behaviour model, which will simulate the RIOs current task, visual focus and detection abilities.
JESTER will move his head to look at exactly where the switch/indicator being manipulated or used is in the cockpit, and thus will not be able to scan the sky at the same time. Thus the RIO will have significant difficulties with visual detection when under heavy radar workload, as his head is buried in the DDD and TID screens.
The RIO has a focused viewing cone of roughly 30 degrees, and a peripheral vision field of roughly 100-130 degrees. Inside the focused viewing cone, the RIO will more quickly detect targets, while detection range and speed is significantly reduced in the peripheral vision. We also account for the sun, the horizon and line of sight (JESTER will not see through mountains or clouds). Thus, the RIO might even notice contacts in his peripheral vision while manipulating radar controls, but at a much lower chance than if actively scanning the sky, and thus using his focused viewing field.
Making sure that the RIO is bound by realistic human limitations is in the very foundation of our work, and it is important not only for immersion, but also to maintain appropriate multiplayer balance.
Below are three screenshots showing the system in action!
In the first image; Jester is looking straight ahead and has seen both the Carrier and the aircraft in the distance (yellow markers denote detected units).
In the second, he is looking down into the cockpit and manipulating one of the backseat controls.
In the third, he's looking at the locked targets, the dropped flares and has also seen one of the fired missiles. Note that the second missiles has not yet been seen by the RIO.
OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mi 04 Okt 2017, 10:07

Der Freudenknüppel
OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » So 08 Okt 2017, 06:09

i Everyone!

We’ve just returned from our second research trip of this year to the U.S!
The first trip of this year was conducted by the art team back in april to collect boring, totally unexciting visual reference stuff.

The main goal of this trip was for the engineering and research team to meet with SMEs and give them a hands on session with our F-14.
Most important to us was to receive detailed in-person feedback on our Flight Modeling, and to then apply that feedback to our F-14.
We were also eager to discuss various systems and aircraft functionality, as well as things like crew communication for JESTER and carrier operations.

After a long and tiring flight from Stockholm to Oakland, we went through the usual routine of collecting our luggage, passing through immigration and getting our rental vehicle.
The moment we turn the key in the ignition, "You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’" starts blaring through the radio.
We’re now about one overtime induced hallucination away from believing that developing the Tomcat is a divine mission.
No one will expect the Tomcat inquisition.

The next day, it was down to business. We met our subject matter expert, an experienced US Navy Commander and F-14 / F/A-18 aviator.
We hooked him up to a high performance VR-rig in order to have him evaluate our Tomcat and the game was on!

His overall impression of the simulation model was great, and he was able to provide very detailed and absolutely invaluable feedback regarding parts of the flight envelope or controls that need further improvement.
Having brought our development machines with us, we could immediately implement some of these changes and get immediate feedback on them.
Some of these include changing the thrust moment arm, adjusting and tweaking the ground effect and control surface actuator speeds.

Look at that amazing 'stache!

Now that we’ve returned home, our goal is to fully incorporate the feedback into our model, and within the coming weeks set up further remote testing sessions.
We’ve already spent some time tuning the AFCS which was a point of much feedback, which should alleviate some unwanted roll and pitch oscillations. We’ve also adjusted longitudinal stick pitch damping at high G’s.

Through these evolutionary changes, we are able to finely tune and polish our flight model.

We are already immensely proud of the F-14 FM, and as the foundation of the entire DCS: F-14A & B product, we hope its’ accuracy will permeate throughout the entire module.
We wouldn’t be able to get as close as we are without the fantastic contributions by all of our SME Pilots and RIO’s.

On a personal level, the most amazing part of the testing sessions was to watch him ace the carrier landings again and again (which even our own testing team is not able to do consistently) - something we believe speaks volumes about his skill as an aviator and our FM!

Here’s one of those landings. Smooth as silk!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... SrFSv2H60Y

Being able to discuss all things related to Tomcat also gives us some added perspective on the project as a whole as well as assisting us in the creation of JESTER, our two Campaigns (-A and -B) and just satisfying our nerdy needs in general. We're obviously all huge Tomcat fans and this was a great opportunity to delve into less technical details.

We then spent some time running intercepts as a two person crew (we had a second machine and Rift with us) - with one of our team members operating the Radar. Flying DCS: F-14 as a two man crew is simply one of the most enjoyable flight simulation experiences one can have, and doing so with a real F-14 pilot up front was the cherry on top.

I was inverted...
That’s it for this trip!

The entire team is hard at work at bringing you the best F-14 experience we can possibly craft, and we’re looking forward to the early access release and the F-14 roadmap beyond.

There’s still plenty of work to be done, and we’ll keep you updated on our schedule and progress.
Thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned for more updates.

We'd also like to sincerely thank all of our SMEs, both pilots and RIOs (you all know who you are!) and museums and associations that we have been working with for their amazing help and all of the contributions that they have made to DCS: F-14 so far. Thank you!

OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mo 20 Nov 2017, 06:57

Scan, Lock, Fire!
Heatblur F-14 Radar & Weapons Development Update

Dear All,

The entire Heatblur team is very hard at work on both the F-14, Viggen and other new projects. While we’ve tried to keep you up to date with smaller updates over the past few months; now may be a good time to give you a better overview of some of the systems development on the F-14!

Much of the focus currently lies with high level, core elements of the F-14 that made it such a valuable replacement for many aircraft in the Navy and probably the most formidable and diverse fighter aircraft of its time. Much effort is currently being spent on our recreation of the Hughes Airborne Weapons Group 9 (or AWG-9), it’s various modes of operation and weapons, as well as continuing the development on JESTER AI, our AI RIO pilot companion!

The AWG-9, heart of the F-14 Tomcat
Typical_Radar.jpg (170.84 KiB) 63 mal betrachtet
“The AWG-9 is made up of a radar, computer, interface between AWG-9 and weapons and the associated displays” James Perry Stevenson writes in the Aero Series 25 book “Grumman F-14 Tomcat”. He says further: “The primary purpose of the F-14 is to act as a weapons platform. To that end, then, the primary purpose of the AWG-9 is to control the four weapons it carries – the gun, the Sidewinder missile (AIM-9), the Sparrow missile (AIM-7) and the Phoenix missile (AIM-54). The AWG-9 weapon control system uses inputs from the radar and in conjunction with the computer, establishes target identities, establishes priorities, processes data for intercept geometry, establishes launch envelopes and monitors some of the F-14’s other black boxes.”

What really set the AWG-9 apart for its time was the many functions it offered to both Pilot and RIO that no other aircraft had at that time. The AWG-9 radar can use both Pulse Radar and Pulse Doppler modes with six basic modes, which in its time made it absolutely second to none. These six main modes are:
PDS: Pulse Doppler Search,
RWS: Range While Scan,
TWS: Track While Scan,
PDSTT: Pulse Doppler Single Target Track,
PS: Pulse Search,
PSTT: Pulse Single Target Track.
The AWG-9 also offers some ACM modes that would allow the crew to quickly lock onto a target in a high G, maneuvering fight, including:
PLM: Pilot Lockon Mode (the pilot could lock on a target directly ahead of him),
VSL: Vertical Scan Lockon (A vertical beam ahead high between +15° and +55° or ahead low between -15° and + 25° elevation and 4.8° azimuth from the aircraft datum line)
MRL: Manual Rapid Lockon (Also called NRL or NFO Rapid Lockon) - which would give the RIO the possibility to manually steer the radar with his Hand Control Unit (or “HCU”) towards a visual target and lock it. This mode was rarely used.
In addition the F-14 had a separate antenna for AIM-7 Flood Mode, which could be used in a situation when the radar would fail- alas this was considered fairly useless. (It has been described by our SMEs as a “Holy-shit-bad-idea-mode”, and pilots weren’t scored a kill during training if they used this mode).

All of these radar modes have now been implemented and their functionality improved over the past few months. To some extent, JESTER AI is now able to operate some of these modes as well. Modeling the AWG-9 in great detail will make the experience of being an F-14 RIO great fun and challenging- as well as accurately representing the real world effectiveness of the F-14.

All 4 air to air weapons of the F-14, both provided by ED (AIM-9M, AIM-9P and AIM-7M) and Heatblur (AIM-54A-Mk47, AIM-54A-Mk60 and AIM-54C-Mk47), as well as the M61 Vulcan Cannon, are currently implemented and available. These weapons constitute the core of the early F-14 experience.

Sidewinder capability in the F-14 is fairly standard if you’re familiar with other western aircraft. The sidewinders support active cooling (must be activated on ACM panel to get a tone) and the SEAM (Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode) function. In SEAM slave mode, the Sidewinder’s seeker head is slaved to the target that is locked with either the radar or TCS (Television Camera System) and starts tracking the target before the missile comes off the rail. The seeker can be commanded to SEAM lock by a pilot HOTAS button. The aircraft can carry a total of 4 Sidewinder missiles on 4 separate wing stations.
One of the most unique features of the F-14 is the optical sensor known as the Television Camera System. Apart from the ability to track and lock a target with the Radar, the F-14 provides the ability to observe camera footage of targets through the TCS. Acquisition of targets for visual identification on the TCS is super easy. You can slave the TCS to your currently locked radar target, or vice-versa if you’ve acquired a target using only your TCS.

The RIO’s main displays for the interpretation of data delivered by the AWG-9 are the Detail Data Display (or “DDD”) and the Tactical Information Display (or “TID”). While we’ll go through these displays in more detail in upcoming updates, videos and the manual - one can simplify the distinction and note that the DDD is akin to a raw radar scope display, while the TID is a computer processed overview of that same data. Thus, a skilled operator will have to be proficient in using both the DDD and TID displays to achieve maximum efficacy.

A typical TID display repeated on the Pilots HSI (placeholder cockpit!)

The pilot is also equipped with two displays, the Vertical Display Indicator (or “VDI”) and the Horizontal Situation Display (or “HSD”). The pilot can select what these two indicators should display. The HSD can, for example, display navigational data, ECM (RWR) data - or serve as a “repeater” for the RIOs TID display. Note though, that keeping an eye on TID data and flying effectively is a tough challenge! So a good pilot will know when to trust his RIO.

The VDI displays an artificially generated horizon, steering cues, navigational data or can also be switched to display TCS video footage. The VDI is sometimes also referred to as a “Heads DOWN Display”, since it can largely reproduce almost everything shown on the HUD.
repeater.jpg (132.44 KiB) 63 mal betrachtet
OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mo 20 Nov 2017, 07:00

The DDD (Detail Data Display) and TID (Tactical Information Display)

The DDD is really the lightning rod for all things AWG-9. A skilled RIO making great use of the DDD will make the F-14 an amazingly effective weapons platform. Being skillful in distinguishing single from multiple targets, picking out targets amongst ground and weather clutter and defeating defensive aircraft maneuvers is challenging. The F-14 radar controls allow the RIO to finely tune the radar and DDD display to really pick out targets with great precision (and in many cases, where other more automated radars of the era would fail!).
In all Pulse Doppler modes, the vertical axis on the DDD shows target blips on a range-rate (relative radial velocity) scale, which can be somewhat difficult to interpret.
A compiled example of AWG-9 Post-Processed Targets. Click to Enlarge!

The DDD also, due to its nature as a raw type radar display, means that it has rudimentary ground mapping radar capability!

We’ve further refined our ground radar technology which we created for the AJS-37 Viggen. While ground mapping is, perhaps, not as useful in an F-14 as in the Viggen- it can still be a helpful tool in bad weather, navigation and low light flight situations. The SMEs we’ve spoken to considered it to be an invaluable tool at times, especially in poor weather situations.
A compiled example of AWG-9 Ground Mapping capability. Click to Enlarge!

As important as the DDD is, it is however only really half of the equation.

The TID is a large 9 inch circular display (sometimes aptly named the “Fishbowl”), and will show tracked targets (in RWS, TWS, STT modes) with velocity vectors (TWS and STT only).
Targets can be “hooked” on the TID using the HCU (Hand Control Unit, basically the RIO’s “Joystick”, and additional detailed info like range, bearing, heading, ground speed etc. can be called up on the display depending on selected settings and the current radar mode.
The TID can also show navigational data like waypoints, and marked ground positions relative to the aircraft, and is thus like a simple TAD system, but without a moving map.

The most complete track file of the target in the scanning modes will be given in TWS, which can track up to 24 targets simultaneously and fire up to 6 Phoenix missiles. In TWS the targets are not locked, as they are in the PSTT and PDSTT modes. Instead, the computer tracks them by taking their last seen position and predicting the new position of the target in 2 second update intervals. During these updates it tracks the target’s information and can calculate the heading vector, ground speed and other required parameters. This gives the F-14 the advantage that its opponents will not know that they are being tracked by its radar, as their RWR will not register a radar lock.
A compiled example of some AWG-9 TID Screens. Click to Enlarge!

The limitation of the TWS mode is that only the Phoenix missile can be fired with guidance, and though it provides the same detection range as RWS (around 90NM for fighter sized aircraft under ideal aspect conditions, where 1NM=1.852km), the field of view is tied to the 2 second update and thus limited to a 2 BAR 40° or 4 BAR 20° search.

TWS also has both manual and auto modes implemented, which means that the computer will prioritize targets automatically and suggest launch queues which the RIO can use to line up his targets. The TWS auto mode will also adjust the scan pattern by itself.

The biggest field of view is provided in RWS which can be set to a 10, 20, 40 or 65 degrees left and right search pattern from centerline in either 1, 2, 4 or 8 BAR search mode, with the biggest pattern using a full 13 seconds to update (but covering a truly massive volume of sky) and the smallest pattern updating in a quarter of a second. While PDS provides only range rate (and thus cannot display targets on the TID), RWS provides range and range rate. PDS and RWS can be used to launch missiles in boresight modes. PDSTT and PSTT provide launch modes for all missiles and the gun. PS however provides a smaller detection range and is useful against beaming or notching targets. This comes as a trade off though, as it is very poor at detecting targets in front of ground clutter.
Non Post-Processed radar returns in Pulse Search modes differ greatly. Click to Enlarge!

The various radar modes also have somewhat differing parameters for range resolution, range rate resolution and angle resolution, depending on factors such as pulse length, pulse compression, pulse repetition frequency etc. This comes into play especially when trying to distinguish targets in close formations at longer ranges. We believe we have made a reasonable emulation of this within the confines of the DCS environment.

Datalink is a hefty development task for us, and we’ve made good progress on this particular feature of the AWG-9. Currently, the F-14 receives data linked targets from the E-2 Hawkeye, other F-14 Tomcats, and U.S. Carriers. Eventually, commands like WILCO, CANTCO and other small bits of information will be able to be shared among flights. Communication systems, such as the Datalink, of course adhere to the laws of physics and both occlusion and range play a part in whether datalinked targets will be transmitted. Another aspect of Datalink that is already included is the Automated Carrier Landing (“ACL”), which is one of the examples how the AWG-9 can also provide navigational functions.

We hope that this general overview of what parts we have already implemented of the powerful AWG-9 is giving you an idea of the many possibilities the F-14 will provide for you both in the Pilot and RIO role. Fighting in the F-14, be it BVR, WVR or BFM is already a very fun, dynamic and challenging experience. We’ve barely scratched the surface in this post when it comes to the full gamut of features available in the AWG-9, DDD and TID!
The complexities and depth of so many modes of operation and available inputs and output details are best left to future updates and the accompanying documentation.

Which in the end brings us to the question: how are we going to use all of that without a RIO in the back seat?

The answer is of course Jester-AI, and this is probably a good moment to go through the latest on your AI companion!
OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mo 20 Nov 2017, 07:01

The Jester-AI – your very own RIO

For those of you not aware yet (are there any of you out there? ) JESTER AI, is our proprietary AI, designed specifically for multicrew aircraft. Our goal with Jester is to make him (or.. it? Is that mean to JESTER?) both feel alive, adaptive and flexible, but also realistic in terms of the limitations and capabilities a real RIO would have. Jester will not make it easier for you than any real human experienced RIO would in Multi Crew, and we've already spent a lot of development time and resources to model things like a rudimentary human component model, which accurate models where the RIO is looking, what switches he is manipulating and more.

The ultimate goal and plan is to make Jester capable enough that you won’t have to jump into the back seat at all, as long as you don’t want to do something very specific.

A lot of effort has been put into making the underlying framework for Jester is as capable as possible. This allows us to create complex behavioral trees that dictate Jester’s behavioural patterns and actions in many different situations that might arise due to internal cockpit events (e.g. RWR spiking, fuel reaching bingo state), player interaction (e.g. telling Jester to lock onto the closest enemy), or external events (e.g. Jester having visual on a bogey or noticing a missile launch).

At this time, we’ve recorded well over 2.000+ different voice files, ranging from single numbers, to entire phrases. A big challenge for us has been the creation of a voice library and voice synthesis system which will allow for more naturally generated procedural statements. In our early design discussions, we decided to opt for a combined approach of sentence building, as well as having many complete phrases and sentences. In this way, we’re able to combine the flexibility of a fully dynamic system with the authenticity of entire phrases.

The entire Heatblur team would like to thank Grayson Frohberg for putting his amazing voice to great use, and putting in a monumental effort in recording thousands of voice lines. You’ll all be grow to be very familiar with Grayson’s beautiful timbre a few weeks into flying the F-14.

We expect that Jester’s list of capabilities will be somewhat limited at early access launch, but by having focused on the main underlying structure and behaviour trees, we are now able to rapidly grow its’ functionality. The last couple of weeks we’ve focused on adding BVR capabilities and in the near future we will switch over to WVR, start and landing procedures, as well as navigation. Here’s a sample of what JESTER is already capable of:
  • Using TCS and Radar STT modes
  • Spot and IFF bogeys both by radar and TCS, including making BRAA calls
  • The ability to spot and call out incoming missiles detected by RWR
  • The ability to react to RWR detected threats, both surface- and airborne, as well as their type and direction
  • He visually detects missile launches and calls them out (when in his field of view)
  • You can order him through a command dial to look into a certain direction
  • You can order him to lock differently prioritized targets, lock the closest or next bandit, lock the next target ahead, launch the next missile, break the STT lock and much more.
  • He will identify the target type via TCS in BVR
  • He will advise you to break if he spots the missile very close (and in time of course)
  • If spotted properly and in time he will advise you the direction to break
  • He will call out SAM launches and threats both visually and in RWR
  • He is able to call out groups of targets
  • He provides the player with an action system that works like a radial command that can be bound to both HOTAS and Keyboard.
  • The command radial menu allows the player to easily navigate through the command menus and submenus in a very short time.
The commands build on each other logically, so that the player has a quick and easy overview and does not lose much thought navigating the commands.
In time we will also add more modalities for Jester that will give the Player a deeper impression of having a “living RIO” in the back seat with a great range of possibilities for the Pilot to interact with the AI.

That’s about all we have for this update! We've dropped some sneak peeks at what the art team has been hard at work on in this post,
and it's likely the next update will focus just on that. Stay tuned! We're super excited.

As mentioned in various community outlets recently; we’re also hoping to do a “Road to Release” type update soon, where we can better update you on the state of the F-14, our current projections for release and what is left to do until we consider the aircraft to be feature complete for Early Access.

We say this a lot; but the F-14 has been a massive undertaking for us, and the amount of time and effort spent on recreating this aircraft will hopefully be readily apparent throughout early access and into release. Thank you for staying so patient and all of your support!

Heatblur Simulations
OLt. Zimmermann

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Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Di 21 Nov 2017, 06:53

OLt. Zimmermann

Beiträge: 1230
Registriert: Sa 05 Sep 2015, 09:30

Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mi 20 Dez 2017, 05:43

2017 leider kein Release oder Pre-Sale...

Heatblur Christmas Melt!
************************************************** ******************
Heatblur Simulations is super excited to kick off our new Christmas Sales event, running from now through January 1st at our store: www.heatblur.com

Grab the Legendary AJS 37 Viggen at -50% off or prepare yourself or a friend for the launch of the F-14A & B Tomcat, by grabbing or giving away our new Heatblur store credit gift cards!
These are also on sale through January 1st, and a great way to save some money off upcoming products and pre-orders!

We’ve also brought back the Viggen launch shirt! This has been a fan-favourite since we launched the Viggen.
After our rocky start as a seller of physical products, we’ve changed shipping carrier to avoid any future mishaps. Shipping is still free at Heatblur.com!

Shopping on the heatblur store goes a long way in supporting the Heatblur development team and making our roadmap a reality.

We’d like to wish you all a merry christmas and a happy new year.
Thank you all for your support!

Heatblur Simulations
Dear All,

The good news is: I still have all of my fingers. And after much deliberation, I’ve decided not to eat a sock.
Instead, I’ll write this post, and I hope it will be enough to sway you to put away your pitchforks.

Let’s quickly rewind to earlier this year.
We had just released the AJS 37 Viggen, the result of a super stressful development crunch, skipped Christmas(es), and lots of uncertain new technologies (some of which we finished, truly, at the last minute before reveal).
It was arduous and my shower drain still hasn’t fully recovered from the hair loss. Alas; we made it! Nothing could stop us now! Full steam ahead on bugfixes, new features and the F-14!

Having a relatively successful release can make you overly confident, however.
You become too much of an unrealistic idealist, and quite frankly, the arduous time prior to the Viggen’s launch was going to eventually take its toll. We didn’t know it at the time, but some of us were fizzling out, and standing on the gas pedal really doesn’t help with a fuel starved engine. In our post success hubris, I made the absolute dumbest statement I’ve made in, well, forever. Allow me to quote myself for ultimate posterity and shame:
Originally Posted by Cobra847 View Post
2017. No exceptions. Unless some cataclysmic event occurs, or serious bodily harm/illness to integral F-14 team members.
The picard double facepalm is not potent enough to describe what a boneheaded PR move this post is.
There was a voice in the back of my head screaming from past (MiG-21) lessons learned, but pff! we just released the Viggen. Nothing can go wrong! Silence, ye bellowing hounds, I rebuked as I hit the Post button.

Funnily enough though, nothing really has gone wrong, per se.

In fact, it’s been the complete opposite.

Software development is an exercise in constant trade-offs and choices.
Some are hard to make, but the decisions that led us to missing our window this year were as easy as pie. It doesn’t make us missing our public projections any less disappointing however.

For the Viggen, we experimented with new development methods, and developed new and very exciting in-house workflows, some focused around laser scanning technologies.
After releasing the Viggen, we decided to put all of our new experience to good use. Our goal has always been, and will continue to be to raise the bar to new levels, and what better time to take a massive step forward than with the F-14?
We knew it would be expensive, in both money and time - but our choices this year have been made without any hesitation.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to quality.
The results of this years events will not only be an aircraft with incredible simulation depth and accuracy, but an audiovisual experience that is dimensionally accurate down to the millimeter level, inside and out. The final results will speak for themselves, and we believe it will be the most accurate digital rendition of a flight simulation aircraft to date.

I could try a ham-fisted attempt to shove in ancient miyamoto platitudes of a delayed game eventually being good right about now, but I will stick to just mentioning that its core message aptly applies to DCS: F-14.

As clichéd as it sounds; the F-14 represents nothing less than a dream opportunity for our team. Moreso, it’s one thing to start a complex project such as this, but we believe we are in a unique position where we have the skill, new and cutting edge in-house tools and workflows, and a perfect blend of knowledge needed to make a truly outstanding F-14 experience.
Not just limited to one area of the module, but one which spans across the entire audiovisual experience, to the simulation depth of the FM and systems, and with Jester yelling at you over the ICS for screwing up as the cherry on top.

The bottom line is: the F-14 is intended to be the bedrock for the next decade of Heatblur Simulations. We can afford a delay, but we can’t disrespect the F-14 with an underwhelming release. In addition to this, the F-14 is integral to the technologies and methodologies required to complete our ambitious product roadmap, which is chock full of interesting and complex multi seat jet aircraft. I guess this is all also a long winded way of saying: if we were concerned only with revenue to development time performance ratios, we would have released the F-14 already. It wouldn’t have been poor, but it wouldn’t have been amazing either. And that is an abject failure in our eyes.

Most importantly however: I’d like to apologize to you all for keeping your hopes up for this year. It was not done in malice nor incompetence (biased opinion, I know, but we do try to be very introspective at Heatblur). We are very sorry. The wait will be worth it, we promise.
The ultimate question becomes then, when? Honestly, we don’t know.
The aircraft feels very much like a complete product (despite the in-game aircraft still being the Chromecat) - but we need some more time to migrate in all of our new art assets, and brush all of the dust away. The FM is complete, and most, if not all of the systems are Early Access or close to Early Access ready. Our team will be entering 2018 high on optimism and success.

So expect it sooner rather than later. We know it’s disappointing not to have a specific date, but we’d rather not let you down again. And thanks to your continued patience, what will eventually arrive, will hopefully be an amazing product and experience. One which feels complete, high quality and exactly what you expect when you hear the name “Heatblur Simulations”.

In summary, do not be pessimistic about the question “when”. We aren’t, and currently, that says a lot. More importantly, we have not compromised our goal of trying to be the best, and we hope you find that equally as important as knowing when.

Now that you’ve been thoroughly bored; lets move on to some specifics!

F-14 Art

One of the biggest remaining items on the F-14 remains the completion of the entire gamut of visual assets.

The biggest task for the art team this year has been completely and utterly nuking anything currently in use from existence.
Every single piece of media, artwork, models, textures, indicator graphics, etc you’ve seen so far (with the exception of the new TCS and screenshots from a month ago) have been (or will be) thrown away and replaced by completely new, unassociated assets.

Witness Me! Bellows the Chromecat as it gets ground by the trash compactor.

The scale of this revamp effort was initially limited to bigger chunks of the cockpit and exterior. However, with our new sculpting and laser scanning based workflow, which we created during the Viggen’s development, this replacement effort has grown to encompass every single asset built from 2014 and onwards. We are confident that we will attain absolutely unparalleled quality in our work, and match the immersion of simulation depth with an appropriately advanced audiovisual experience.

Since about April 2017, our art team has been working double time and rebuilt the Pilot Cockpit, RIO Cockpit and Exterior Model in their entirety. This has been a monumental effort, and we undertook a temporary team expansion in order to handle the increased workload.
Current tasks for the art team focus primarily around completion of exterior and interior textures. We consider this to be the most important step in the visual development process, and the F-14 is particularly labour intensive, with complex and interesting weathering patterns.

Our team is operating at peak efficiency, and we’re nearing the end stages in both interior and exterior artwork. Expect the eyecandy to start rolling in as all of our new assets are completed and tied together with the rest of the aircraft.

Another big task is of course our CV59-62 Forrestal Class Battle Group effort. While most of the art team is currently focused exclusively on the F-14 itself, we do not expect it to take long to wrap the carrier and associated assets. We’ve spent a few thousand man-hours on the Forrestal thus far; and have built the carrier to be future proof in terms of detail and accuracy.

Systems and FM

For some of the latest in-depth detail on the Systems and FM modeling of the Tomcat, I’d like to point you to our November update (Scan, Lock, Fire!) - available to read here: https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=196159

In general, most of the engineering team’s focus lies in the same areas as last month. Our work is heavily focused around completion of the AWG-9 weapons system, JESTER AI and currently, some of the more complex Nav and Datalink features (such as INS, Link 4 (both player to player and Player to AI).

Early next year, we will start producing in-depth gameplay videos of the aircraft. This will be a great opportunity for us to go into much more depth on the aircraft and it’s systems fidelity.

With all of this said however, we’re very excited to note that the F-14 codebase can be considered in a practically Early Access ready state. We consider the Flight Model essentially complete, with minor tweaks being implemented (particularly in things like the control dampeners). We’ve also been working on a brand new engine model that will power most of our jet driven aircraft in the future and tying that together with the F-14.

That said, owing to the large complexity of this project, the F-14 will undoubtedly launch with a featureset that is not 100% complete. This is especially true with components like JESTER, which we consider to be integral to our roadmap for the next decade, and will be receiving massive improvements over time.

These are the kinds of features that we will grow over time, and will transition naturally into future multi-seat jet projects. Despite this however, we feel very confident in how complete the aircraft currently is, and the depth of our systems simulation will match our effort in other areas of development.

************************************************** ***********

AJS 37 Development Update

While most of your excitement currently revolves around the F-14; we’re still working hard on our post release AJS 37 roadmap.
We’ve recently unveiled some of the bigger, new, free features coming to the Viggen- such as the AI J-35 Draken. We’ve spent a lot of time building this aircraft to the same exacting standard as you’d expect from a flyable DCS module.

The Draken is an integral part of what we consider to be our AJS 37 Content Push.
The Content push for the Viggen primarily revolves and focuses around the two campaigns that we are working on, which will ship for free for the module. Both campaigns will be set in the Caucasus region, and one campaign will be a short 6 mission “mini campaign”.

Of course, the aircraft itself will be no stranger to expansion and improvements, both in and outside the game. Some of the major changes coming to the Viggen are as follows:
  • Major and minor bugs still remaining.
  • New, J-35 Draken AI
  • An overhaul of the cockpit to take full advantage of PBR BRDF (see F-14 cockpit samples)
  • Completely new exterior soundset, accurately recreating the sound of the Volvo RM8 as mounted in the AJS 37 Viggen.
  • New Caucasus Mini-Campaign
  • New Caucasus Main-Campaign
  • New in-cockpit pilot
  • Manual imagery and content completion
  • New Liveries, including fictional and JA-37 liveries
  • More Training Missions
  • New Single Player Missions
  • More new, secret content!
With these changes and additions, we hope that the AJS 37 will be considered one of the best packages of content available for $59.99. One of our prime goals is to make sure that everything we build is filled to the brim with content. The F-14 will be no different, and we have some exciting announcements to make with regards to the Tomcat as well.

Some of you have expressed concern that the AJS 37 will fall to the wayside with the coming of the F-14. The opposite is actually true. We consider 2018 to be a year where we consolidate both of our products, iron out any remaining flaws in both, and make sure that we can move ahead with a clean and low-intensity (upkeep wise) slate.

In Closing; from the entire team and very sincerely, we’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. This community never fails to make us feel safe in our investment of money, time and effort into developing new modules. We hope you’ll look past your disappointment of not flying the Tomcat yet, and stick with us as we wrap things up and launch.

For some of our team, this will be the first Christmas in a few years where we won’t be working over the holidays (as you can expect, Christmas 2016 was non-existant!). It’s been a long and tough year for us, with some amazing highs (Viggen launch) and super lows (F-14 deliverable date misses).

That said, the entire team is absolutely brimming with confidence and optimism. We believe we’ve built an amazing product, and we can’t wait to launch it.


Heatblur Simulations
OLt. Zimmermann

Beiträge: 1230
Registriert: Sa 05 Sep 2015, 09:30

Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » So 11 Feb 2018, 05:55

Dear All,

Since our last update just before Christmas; the team has been focusing on hitting several major milestones in the F-14 project. These are actually some of the last major milestones to be completed prior to early access release, and they primarily involve the completion of the new, rebuilt art assets, and their integration into the existing codebase and aircraft.

While our main development branch is still occuring on the “chromecat” - we’re now very close to completing our work on several major visual areas of the aircraft and merging these together. While this feels like it has been a long journey; we'll be clocking in at just under a year to build the most detailed rendition of an F-14 Tomcat ever created (and perhaps, any digital aircraft ever!)

This has required the full attention of all of our artist resources and has come at great cost - but there is nothing quite like a Tomcat, and we need to make sure that we do the best job that we can.

This process is not yet complete and will still take some time, but we’re very excited to show off what we’ve been working on and are pushing ourselves to the brink to get it done. Once this is complete, we can finally begin to record in-depth gameplay videos from the F-14. You should expect with great certainty for these to start dropping sometime in March. There is a ton to cover!

Late last month we’ve also announced the inclusion of LANTIRN into our F-14, making the Tomcat a formidable Bombcat. You will be able to use a full gamut of guided bombs to strike targets. Somewhat contrary to it’s initial role in the fleet, the F-14 is actually a very potent ground attack airplane, and flying strike packages in a coop scenario is incredibly fun. The Tomcat has plenty of range, and can carry a large payload, while remaining combat effective. No doubt, it will be one of the most capable aircraft in DCS on launch. We’ve always been committed to ensuring that our products are packed with value - and the LANTIRN being a part of the DCS F-14 is a move in the right direction for that to be the case.

We've also continued working very closely with our SMEs (F-14A, B and D pilots) to tweak the final elements of our flight modeling and control systems. Every time we iterate over a new build with our SMEs, we get closer to achieving satisfaction with both our SMEs and maintaining consistency with our data. We really can't understate how satisfied we are with what we've achieved with the F-14 flight model.

Multiplayer is a big focus for the F-14, and for the Tomcat and other future products, we've written custom networking code to ensure that the multiplayer experience is consistent and smooth. Flying and fighting in the F-14 together is incredibly fun and rewarding.
Multiplayer is not only important for the aircraft itself, but also for all of our included content. The F-14 will eventually receive two free, full campaigns - one for the F-14A and one for the F-14B, of which one the -B campaign is currently deep in production. We'll be adapting both of these campaigns to work in Co-operative - something which no doubt will be a ton of fun.

Concurrently, we’ve been organizing our future roadmap and plans. While our main focus during 2018 will be the full completion of the Viggen and polishing the F-14, we’ll be ramping up production on our future product roadmap as well. Jester AI, Navy assets, and other advanced, in-house technologies will be integral to ensuring that Heatblur products will be one of a kind moving forwards.

Fret not over the lull in updates - in this particular moment - silence is golden.

As always, thank you for the support!

OLt. Zimmermann

Beiträge: 1230
Registriert: Sa 05 Sep 2015, 09:30

Re: F-14

Beitrag von I/JG27_Zimmi » Mo 19 Feb 2018, 17:18

The Tomcat has a new powerplant model!

While we’ve already undertaken the development of an engine model with the Viggen, we decided last year to completely redesign this portion of our simulation framework, in order to create an much more in-depth and realistic simulation of a turbofan engine. This will also help us in recreating the P&W TF-30 engines for the F-14A, as well as other turbofan, turbojet, or turboshaft engines for our future product lineup.

The F-14B is powered by two F110-GE-400 turbofan engines with variable exhaust nozzles and afterburner augmentation.They are dual-rotor engines consisting of a three-stage fan driven by a two stage, low-pressure turbine and a mechanically independent, aerodynamically balanced, nine-stage high-pressure compressor driven by a single-stage, air-cooled, high-pressure turbine. Engine operation is automatically regulated and maintained electrically by the augmenter fan temperature control unit and by throttle inputs to the main engine control.

This new F110 model has been built entirely from scratch, incorporating many new features and improving the accuracy and fidelity of the engine simulation. The following components of the engine have been modeled based on actual F110 engine data gathered from various sources:
Air Inlet Control System (AICS)
The primary job of the AICS is to provide quality airflow to the engine in sufficient quantities to prevent engine operation issues. This involves a reduction of the speed of air entering the engine’s fan/compressor face. During this process, incoming freestream airflow is slowed and compressed. As a result, ram temperatures and pressures entering the engine are increased. On the F-14 this is achieved primarily by a system of 3 moving ramps per side that are scheduled based on flight conditions. During supersonic flight, these ramps are scheduled to move in a way that creates multiple shockwaves to more efficiently compress incoming air than a conventional duct would. The efficiency of the inlet’s pressure recovery throughout the flight envelope has been captured from real F-14 flight test data for use in the Heatblur F-14. Considerations for ramp actuator malfunctions have been made, which can include thrust loss and reduced stability margin (i.e. higher potential for compressor stall) if the ramps are out of their scheduled positions (i.e. high speed with the ramps in their stowed position...don’t do this!).
Augmenter Fan Temperature Controller/Main Engine Control (AFTC/MEC)
The AFTC/MEC on the F-14 is similar to a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) in function. It schedules fuel to the engine and afterburner based on numerous inputs. It also provides limiting functions to prevent engine damage and reduce risk of compressor stalls. RPM, EGT, and acceleration/deceleration are all limited by the AFTC to ensure safe engine operation. Other AFTC functions include engine start control, asymmetric thrust limiting, automatic relight, and fault detection. Fault detection automatically switches the engine control to secondary mode in the event of core overspeed, fan speed signal loss and other abnormal conditions. The AFTC/MEC simulation on the Heatblur F-14 takes in probe temperatures and pressures from the AICS, Mach number, pilot throttle positions, fan and core rpms, and engine ignition status, and outputs demanded fuel valve positions. These valve positions correspond to fuel flows that will cause the engine’s core to accelerate or decelerate as demanded by the pilot. While the pilot can demand a certain core speed, the AFTC is also constantly monitoring other engine parameters, such as N2 RPM and EGT to ensure that engine design limits are not exceeded and engine damage does not occur. Essentially, the AFTC protects the engine from the pilot while trying its best to give the pilot what he/she demands. When AFTC failures occur, the AFTC/MEC model reverts to what is known as secondary mode, in which the MEC governs N2 speed based on throttle inputs, but protection features such as EGT limiting are no longer available. Be aware that engine stall margin is decreased slightly at low rpm in this mode.
Fuel Metering Unit (FMU)
The FMU consists of the system of valves and pumps responsible for carrying out AFTC fuel schedule demands. The AFTC outputs fuel valve position commands which in turn spray high pressure fuel into the combustor and afterburner when in use. The Heatblur F-14 model consists of a system of valves that open/close according to AFTC demands, as well as a shutoff valve for engine fires and automated shutdown commands coming from the AFTC. Failures such as stuck valves and clogged fuel filters may be implemented in the future.
Gas Generator (N2)
The gas generator is the heart of any turbomachinery. Its primary purpose is to provide hot, high pressure air to the combustor. This is done by reducing the speed and increasing the pressure/temperature of the incoming inlet air even further, which the F110 can do at a pressure ratio of in excess of 30:1. The gas generator on the F110 is driven by a single stage high pressure turbine. The gas generator simulation in the Heatblur F-14 is robust, with the speed and acceleration of the core determined by fuel flow from the FMU, the speed of air entering the engine, and the inertia of the core itself. The amount of fuel introduced into the flow by the FMU directly corresponds to changes in torque applied to the power turbine, which in-turn changes the compressor speed as it is connected to the same spool. Failures such as compressor stalls (core airflow disturbances) may affect core speed, as well as any failures of upstream components that affect the fuel flow, such as AFTC/MEC or FMU failures.
Fan (N1)
The fan on the F110 is driven by a two stage turbine, with a bypass duct that is mixed back in to the core flow in the afterburner section. The bypass ratio of the F110 is about 0.85. Low-bypass ratio turbofans such as the the F110 have the benefit of improved fuel economy at cruise speeds, while still maintaining very good high speed performance. This makes them excellent engines in fighter aircraft applications. The Heatblur F-14 fan simulation is driven as a function of core speed, with a given steady state core speed corresponding to a steady state fan speed. Any failures affecting the core will also affect fan speeds.
Combustor/Exhaust Gas Temperature Model
The combustor section of the F110 ensures that high pressure fuel flow is efficiently ignited, dramatically increasing the temperature and pressure of the gases before the flow is expanded through power turbine section. The Heatblur F-14 combustor/EGT simulation is dependent on the amount of fuel being introduced into the engine, which is determined by the AFTC/MEC and FMU models.
The afterburner on the F110 provides extra thrust by introducing additional fuel into the flow after the power turbine section. Fuel flow to the afterburner is controlled by the AFTC and AB Fuel Control (AFC), with its own set of high pressure fuel pumps that cycle fuel back to the engine boost pumps when afterburner is not in use. This ensures that high pressure AB fuel is available at all times to prevent thrust lags and surges when AB is initiated. The Heatblur F-14 afterburner simulation is purely dependent on available AB fuel flow and throttle position, with the extra thrust as a function of AB fuel flow and nozzle position. Failures to the AFTC/MEC, AB fuel pump failures, or exhaust nozzle failures will affect AB operation and performance. AB operation is inhibited when in AFTC/MEC secondary mode.
Starting System
The engine start system is a turbine powered either by a ground air/power cart or via a crossbleed start from the opposite engine. Ground power can achieve approximately 30% N2 before light-off. In our F-14 starter simulation, the ENG CRANK switches open pneumatic valves allowing the ground cart air to begin spool-up of the core. As the core spins up, the MEC primes the engine with fuel and provides ignition and fuel control up to 59% N2 RPM.
Variable Exhaust Nozzle
The variable exhaust nozzle is responsible for controlling the expansion of exhaust flow downstream of the afterburner section. Engine exhaust gases at higher thrust settings are discharged through the nozzle throat at sonic velocity and are accelerated to supersonic velocity by the controlled expansion of the gases. Varying nozzle throat area controls fan stall margin, which optimizes performance. The Heatblur F-14’s nozzle simulation is dependent on Mach number, altitude, throttle position, weight on wheels, engine oil pressure, and AB operation status. Failures in the nozzle will affect engine thrust and stability.

We’re still working on completing our engine simulation. In particular some of the remaining items to be completed pre and post early access include the:

Engine Oil System
Bleed Air Draw Effects
Generator Load Effects
AICS Anti-Ice and Icing Effects
AFTC/MEC Secondary Mode Effects
Reduced Arrestment Thrust System (RATS)
Asymmetric Thrust Limiting
Afterburner Ignition System
Throttle Control Modes (Approach Power Compensator already complete)
Windmill and Cross-start failures and effects
Battle Damage Effects
FOD Effects

This new engine modeling will serve as a robust and deep base for all of our future jet aircraft simulation. An accurate recreation of the aircraft’s powerplant and all of the follow on effects is important, as it allows us to more accurately depict common F-14 flight characteristics, failure states and especially dangerous situations arising from engine related issues. These effects will become even more apparent as we simulate the TF-30 engines as found in the F-14A. Be gentle with those throttles!

Below are a couple of exports from our engine diagnostic interface. The descriptions above each column describe the conditions in which the snapshot of data was taken in.

Click to enlarge

Thanks for reading!
Heatblur Simulations F-14 Team
OLt. Zimmermann


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