|World Air Power: IAF by Jane's Combat Simulations
Bubba Wolford with Leonard Hjalmarson
Since the release of Jane's F15, simmers have sought to find out what was coming down the pike from Jane's Combat Simulations. A few weeks back we learned that IAF was in production, but details were still a mystery.
At E3 the mystery was unveiled and we found that Pixel Multimedia in Israel has signed a deal with Jane's to simulate seven (7) current Israeli aircraft. These include: F-4, F-4 2000 (upgraded version of the Phantom which includes upgraded avionics, "glass" cockpit, and upgraded weapons stores) F-15 A&C models (I asked about the "E" and was told that up till that point the "Thunder" was not planned on being simulated), F-16, Lavi, Kfir, and Mirage III.
Although only these seven have been announced I feel certain more will be simulated. Why? At E3 I flew a MiG-29 against the two Israeli F-15 pilots who attended on behalf of Jane's. But these guys weren't ONLY real Israeli fliers, they were also involved heavily in actually PRODUCING the simulation! So while on the one hand Jane's is wire guiding this sim toward the broader ATF crowd, on the other hand, there is some serious design at work!
It makes sense to continue to serve the ATF crowd, since the "hard-core" group has been temporarily enlightened by Jane's F15 and the ATF crowd is a bit weary of the eternal "upgrade" versions of ATF. As Andy Hollis has indicated in the past, making games strictly for the "hard-core" fans is difficult due to lower financial returns and the amount of detail and work required to "get it exactly right" as hard-core gamers demand.
But again, this isn't ATF rehashed. The designers are SERIOUS combat pilots, in one sense at least, the most serious in the world. What other country is situated like Israel where the talents of a relatively small pool of pilots, albeit with some of the best equipment and training in the world, are all that stands between them and occupation? Furthermore, what other country can boast a roster of so many pilots who actually have air-to-air combat experience against modern MiGs? (Watch for our interview with a couple of these men to follow soon).
World Air Power: IAF will include 42 "tree" missions taken from six intense campaigns. Why "World Air Power?" I'm glad you asked! IAF is the first in a series detailing the entire fighting force of individual countries. An interesting idea for a survey, no? What's next, you ask? IAF may be followed by a simulation based on the United States Air Force, and by that time we would likely see Pixels' next generation 3d engine.
The first generation engine delivers terrain based on stereoscopic satellite data at ten meters per pixel resolution with true elevation and coloring. This is a rather fascinating concept, and the terrain looks very good from 5000 feet and higher, and much better at low elevations than say, iF22. But at much less than a few thousand feet it has an odd, jagged and pixelated appearance. Its a subjective call, though, and if you click the image top right you can judge for yourself.
Players can expect to see some differences from aircraft they have flown before. For example, the Alpha and Charlie models of the Israeli F-15's can carry "dumb" bombs. I didn't know this and upon taking the controls at one of the four computers linked together in the Jane's booth, I glanced over to see the guy next to me looking at an external view of his F-15.
Underneath the F-15 were racks of bombs and so I remarked that he was flying an "E" model F-15. "No", he says, it's an "A" or "C" model. I laughed and thought, "this guy has NO idea what he is talking about". Well, after I remarked that Alpha and Charlie F-15's don't carry bombs, he commented, "Israeli ones do!" Needless to say, I had no idea that Ramy was an active duty Israeli F-15 pilot! Other enhancements include Israeli Helmet Mounted Sights (HMS) and special other "changes" to US made aircraft.
There are some other fascinating firsts in this sim. World Air Power: IAF is the FIRST simulation by anyone anywhere where you can actually fly the Lavi. The Lavi is maybe best compared to a second generation F16, which is the aircraft design used as a starting point.
The Lavi has an unusual history and has become quite controversial. When cost overruns led to the US Defense Department cutting funding for the Israeli program, the Israeli program was cancelled two years later. A few years later satellite photos over Chinese airfields revealed an aircraft virtually identical to the discontinued fighter.
Apparently China has been busy producing their own version of the Lavi which according to Pentagon sources will also make use of stealth technology. The Israeli Ministry of Defense officially acknowledges that it is working with China to manufacture jointly an advanced fighter plane, but denies that any of the technology from the Lavi is used in the Chinese F-10
The other first is the simulation of the Python 4. The following is from a news release after last years Paris air show.
In 1996, Israel finally unveiled the latest addition its air-to-air combat armory, the Rafael Python-4 Although speculation about the existence of the weapon had been widespread, official confirmation of its existence and capabilities caused a stir all over the world.
Rafael stresses that the new short-range missile is not simply an extension to its range of Shafrir and Python products, but a step advance to a true fourth-generation infra-red-guided look-and-shoot missile.
Its primary advance it to expand the "no-escape" zone within which an enemy aircraft has no hope of evading the missile. with an increased velocity and high offboresight capability, the Python-4 enlarges the no-escape volume dramatically to almost any frontal target. In short, any aircraft in the pilot's forward field of vision within range will be destroyed regardless of its flightpath or of any evasive maneuver it makes up to 9G.
To achieve this, the Python-4 not only needs the power and aerodynamics to make fast turns, but also requires special-pursuit trajectory algorithms. For example, the missile may cut across the path of an evading aircraft to pursue it through a high-g turn. Previous missiles would simply have lost the target. Such trajectories - and from a wide range of angles.
Rafael adds that the Python-4 is not a development project but a mature weapon system. As the Israeli defense ministry revealed in 1996, and operational with the Israeli air force.
Release for IAF is scheduled for fall of this year. As of yet minimum specs have not been released but a fair assumption would be P200 32 Megs Ram with a 3D accelerator card. Multiplayer will include single missions or campaigns over LANs or Internet play over Jane's new Online Gaming Center.
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Last Updated June 5th, 1998