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by Douglas Helmer

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Friday, January 31, 2003

PC Game and Hardware News

Aces High II: Tour of Duty FAQ
Doug Balmos has begun an FAQ on the upcoming features of Aces High II: Tour of Duty (reprinted with permission):
We’ll update this as we go and eventually put it into a real FAQ format, but this will have to serve as a starting point to get through your initial ponderings.

What is AH2?
AH2 is the next generation of AH. It’s a massive overhaul of our existing game engine with many new and updated systems including graphics, terrain, physics, and damage. The version number will jump from the current 1.11 to 2.00 when AH2 is released.

Will Version 1.11 still be supported when AH2 is released?

No. Version 1.11 will go away when AH2 is released, just like 1.10 went away when 1.11 was released. We only support the current version of our software, which will be 2.00 when it is released.

Will the system requirements increase for AH2?
Yes. Our benchmark system for AH2 is roughly a PIII 900 with a GeForce 2. That is the design limit we are using for nice playability. The minimum system will fall under that, but we won’t be able to give specifics until we get further down the development and testing road. The new graphics engine in AH2 will be much more video card dependent, so even if you have a slower CPU, a better video card may be all you need to upgrade.

Are you getting rid of the main arena in AH2?

No. AH2 will be divided into two branches of gameplay, AH2: Classic – this is just a new name for the arena format that we use today, and AH2: Tour of Duty – a polar opposite of the Main Arena format.

What is Tour of Duty?
Tour of Duty is a cross between a historical WWII simulation and military RPG. What is so different about it is that it’s not simply an Axis vs Allies free-for-all using WWII equipment in a geographic WWII setting. ToD puts you in the role of a WWII combat pilot (of course the emphasis is on air-combat, but ground combat will also be included at times) with all the responsibilities and restrictions that comes with it. You are not just an operator of military equipment, you are a soldier or airman in the military. That means that everything you do is part of a unit and part of a mission. There is no free-lancing, you can’t just select a plane and head off to exchange lead with the closest enemy.

Everything in ToD is based on missions. It’s not necessarily about how many kills you get. It’s about the successful completion of the mission. Success will come to those who use teamwork. With success will come promotion and the additional privileges and responsibilities that that entails.

Think of the classic movie 12 O’Clock High and what it would be like to be in that setting. That’s what we want to capture with ToD. It’s not just the combat, it’s the entire experience. Filing into a mission briefing at 4 a.m., not knowing where you will be going until the curtain falls from the map and the mission briefing is given. Feeling the anxiety that comes with risking something, the camaraderie that comes from shared tribulations and interdependence, the pure adrenaline rush when enemy contact is made, the utter relief and letdown you feel when your wheels touch the runway, the exuberance upon seeing the results of a successful mission in the post-mission debrief, the pride of getting a second bar pinned on your collar, those are all experiences we want to capture with ToD.

Will there be AI in ToD?
A.I. units will be used in the form of bombers, vehicles, and things of that nature requiring large amounts of units.

Does the use of AI bombers mean that ToD is for fighter pilots only?
You can be a bomber pilot in ToD. ToD will be a much more realistic experience for bomber pilots because they will get to fly as part of a large bomber group. Using A.I. bombers allows us to field more bombers and maintain a more realistic fighter/bomber ratio. It also insures that missions always run on schedule and do what is intended.

Doug "Pyro" Balmos
HiTech Creations
Web Page: Aces High II: Tour of Duty FAQ
Website: HiTech Creations

NWS: Warship Combat-WW2 V1.03
Christopher Dean informs us that Warship Combat-WW2 v1.03 has lots of new features, improvements, and updates.

Download: Naval Warship Simulations

Cool Aces High Movies
Ed "Fork" Reddy clued us in on these funky movies at Combat Hanger®: Home of the Tiger Squadron.
  • ME-262 defends home base (Divx)
  • LA-7 the Russian Patriot (Divx)
  • TIGER SQUADNIGHT Oct 13 P-51 raid (Windows Media Player)
Website: Combat Hanger

IL-2 Forgotten Battles War Story + Friday Dev Update
Cartrix informs readers that Ian Boys has now published his fifth war story based on his experiences with the beta of Forgotten Battles. In addition it also includes an update from Oleg.

Story & Update: Angel Pushing

Delta Force - Black Hawk Down Official Single /Multiplayer Demo Announced
Demo to Debut on www.nvidia.com on February 4th, 2003.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Entertainment software publisher NovaLogic, Ltd. today announced that it has teamed up with NVIDIA Corp. to launch the official single / multiplayer demo for Delta Force - Black Hawk Down. Beginning February 4th 2003, the demo will be available for download exclusively at www.nvidia.com, with key mirror sites becoming available from February 7th onwards.

The demo will feature one single player mission entitled "Diplomatic Immunity." The objective of the mission is to recapture a UN building being held by Habr Gadir militia. Delta Teams 2 and 5 insert by helicopter and must locate and secure hostages before escorting them to a waiting convoy for extraction.

Demos available Feb. 04, 2003

A new multiplayer map, playable over the NovaWorld Games Network and via LAN, will also be included featuring the Team Capture the Flag game type. Entitled "Bridge over the Jubba River," the level is an open terrain map that has several bridges across the river and green rolling hills. To reach the enemy's flags, players will need to cross the river by either securing one of the bridges or swimming across the water.

Other features in the demo include:
  • Insertion by MH-6 helicopter transports.
  • An AI system that drives friendly teams and enemies that carry out strategic, lethal combat maneuvers.
  • Guard fallen squad members until CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) team arrives.
  • In multiplayer, players can use hand signals to direct their squads, taunt opponents or celebrate victory.
Delta Force - Black Hawk Down will ship on PC CD - ROM on March 28th 2003.

Website: Novalogic

Vietcong Movie Clip
There's a new movie clip showing off the game's accurately modelled foliage. The music is nice too!

Download Page: Vietcong Web Site Direct Download: Vietcong Movie

Armored Assault is now a FREE Download
We've learned that Armored Assault can now be downloaded in its entirety for free, gratis, bupkis, zilch!

A tank explodes on the training range.

Download: Armored Assault [115 MB] Read: COMBATSIM.COM Armored Assault Review

American Conquest Patches v1.46
With this patch your existing version of American Conquest will be updated to version 1.46. This patch contains all fixes of the patch 1.45u. This optional MapPatch additionally contains numerous reworked maps and mission changes (see below).

PR Info: GSC Game World presents a historical RTS devoted to the history of vast American expanses exploration: the first European landing in the New World, development and growing of colonies, setting up and forming of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and other American countries, the dramatic events dealing with their history.

The plot of the game embrace the time span starting from the moment of Christopher Columbus's discovery of the American continent and up to the 18. century, the time of the independent USA forming, which totals in over 300 years packed with various historical events

Download: 3DGamers

Raven Shield Community Intel
The folks at the official Raven Shield site do a weekly survey of the hot community sites. This week is comprised of the following sites:
  • RvS Platoon
  • RSOceania
Website: Official Raven Shield Site

Strike Fighters Community Updates
Well, if you are into Strike Fighters, you better go check out Biohazcentral. They have the skinny on all things Strike Fighters including, today, the following news items:
  • Native TrackIR Support for LOMAC and IL-2-Forgotten Battles
  • 5 new F-4 skins from Coyote's Den

Website: Biohazcentral

Battlefield 1942 Updates

Nothing like a babe or two to keep the troops happy, eh?

We have to admit, BF1942 is one of the most happenin' combat games at the moment. Look at this list of stuff we found going on over at the PlanetBattlefield.com site:
  • Latest Road to Rome Girl
  • Road to Rome Hands-on Update
  • Desert Combat mod gets a mod (confusing, huh?)
  • New Desert Combat mod map
  • New Action Battlefield mod trailer
  • Conflict in Somalia mod pics
  • Star Wars mod name vote
To get the full details, go to their site.

Website: PlanetBattlefield.com

A340 Hong Kong Approach Video
Some things you just have to see once in your life. Hong Kong has one, if not the, most hair-raising approaches used by heavy commercial jets. We found this movie clip at FSPlanet.com.

Movie Clip: A340 Hong Kong Approach (scroll down the page 'til you find it)

PCI or AGP? You May Not Have What You Think!
Peter Inglis at MiGMan.com found this little tidbit about determining whether or not your AGP card is running in PCI mode. You may get a surprise just like he did.

Web Page: MiGMan.com: PCI or AGP?
Website: MiGMan.com

SpectraVideo Ship New Xbox Flightstick
SpectraVideo plc is now shipping the new Logic3 Flight Stick controller for the Xbox console. The Logic3 Xbox Flight Stick is the perfect partner for games such as Star Wars Jedi StarFighter, Yager, Jane's Attack Squadron and even games like Battle Engine Aquila.

The Flight Stick has an analogue control stick and action buttons; dampened analogue throttle and HAT switch, as well as an ergonomically designed handgrip and weighted base for extra stability.

Logic3 Flight Stick for the X-box

The Xbox Flight Stick features:
  • 8 foot (2.5 meters) cable with in-line release system
  • 8 way directional control pad
  • Fully analogue directional controller
  • Twin analogue stick controller compatible
  • Analogue throttle control
  • Vibration feedback.
  • SRP £24.99
More Info: Logic3

AMD Delays Launch Date for AMD Opteron™ Processor
SUNNYVALE, CA — January 31, 2003 --AMD today announced that the worldwide introduction of its next-generation, 64-bit AMD Opteron processor for servers and workstations will take place on April 22 in New York City. AMD plans to follow up with the introduction of the AMD Athlon 64 processor for the desktop and mobile markets in September 2003.

AMD also announced today that it will introduce the AMD Athlon XP processor 3000+ on February 10 and the AMD Athlon XP processor 3200+ in mid-2003. These processors, based on the core code-named “Barton,” feature additional integrated cache memory for industry-leading performance.

“With the enhanced features of the AMD Athlon XP processor, AMD will extend its leadership position in high-performance PC processor solutions,” said Rob Herb, executive vice president, chief sales and marketing officer for AMD.

AMD expects that the AMD Opteron processor will be the highest-performing server and workstation processor in its class, will expand our competitive position in these markets, and will help establish AMD’s leadership role in 64-bit computing for the enterprise.

“AMD believes the future of computing, from high-end servers to mainstream desktop and notebook PCs, will be based on pervasive 64-bit computing. We expect to work with our customers and partners to bring the benefits of 64-bit computing to end users worldwide,” Herb said.

Follow-up Story: CNET News

Defense & Aerospace News

F-15C Jet Crash Pilots Got Bad Info
AN RAF air traffic controller was overheard giving wrong information shortly before two US jets crashed, a court martial heard today.

Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Williams, 47, initially gave an incorrect hand-over position for the two F-15C jets.

It is alleged he told Kenneth Hyvone (sic), 40, and Kirk Jones, 27, to fly 2500ft below the safety limit in a snow storm.

Their planes crashed into 4284ft Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms on March 26, 2001.

Full Story: Daily Record

Jordan Handed Six F-16 US Jet Fighters, Missiles
AMMAN (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday gave Jordan six F-16 jet fighters from its surplus inventory as part of bilateral military assistance between the two countries, the US embassy here said in a statement.

"Excess" F-16s given to Jordan. Where can we get some of those "excess" fighters?

The aircraft which were identified as "excess defence articles from the US air and National Guard inventories" were handed over to Jordan at a ceremony at the Shahid Muwafak al-Salti air force in northern Jordan, near the Iraqi border.

Full Story: Borneo Bulletin

Fighter Fundamentals
Reservists rely on experience to teach new wave of pilots
By Staff Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan

When Operation Desert Storm kicked off in February 1991, Tom Manion was a young, inexperienced first lieutenant flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon as a member of the active-duty 33rd Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Manion was among tens of thousands of Air Force airmen who took part in the mission to drive Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. By the time the operation was over and Kuwait was liberated, Manion was a veteran of 31 combat missions, logging 101.4 flying hours.

Citizen Airman Magazine

“At first, my primary job was to drop bombs on selected targets such as command and control locations and airfields within Iraq,” he said. “Later in the conflict, we were assigned a ‘kill box’ or sector to patrol where we made sure targets were not being rebuilt. We also looked for Republican Guard targets and surface-to-air missile sites.”

In the almost 12 years since the end of the Persian Gulf War, Manion, now a major in the Air Force Reserve, has often reflected on the missions he flew. He frequently speaks to others about the adrenaline rush he felt during his combat sorties.

His purpose in telling these “war stories” is not to call attention to either himself or his accomplishments. Rather, he said, it is to reinforce to fellow pilots just how valuable training is and to emphasize the inherent risk associated with fighter missions.

Today, Manion is in a perfect position to impart these messages, along with the vast experience he has accumulated in his career. As a traditional reservist with the 39th Flying Training Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga., he works as an instructor pilot, teaching Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals to the next generation of fighter pilots.

“Someone needs to pass on the knowledge to the new guys,” he said. “For many of our students, Desert Storm is something that took place in the distant past, and most were not born until after the Vietnam War ended. Learning from actual combat experience is essential for effective fighting in the future.

“The way training is structured today, within six months of graduation from pilot training our aviators could be involved in a real conflict. That’s why it is important for me to pass on my corporate knowledge to new fighter pilots.”

Full Story: Citizen Airman

Chopper Crash Kills 4 Americans
WASHINGTON – All four crewmembers of an Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter died following a crash in Afghanistan Jan. 30.

The crew was participating in routine training at a range 12 kilometers east of Bagram Air Base. The Army is withholding the names of the dead pending notification of next of kin. No other U.S. personnel were injured.

MH-60 helicopter. (In yesterday's news, we incorrectly identified the crashed helo as an UH-60. )

U.S. officials said there is no indication of hostile fire in the accident. The crash occurred at around 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Army officials said the crash is under investigation.

Marines Charge Ahead with Updated Bayonet
By Tony Perry
Los Angeles Times
San Diego — In an era of remote-control, ultra-high-technology weaponry, the Marine Corps is looking to an updated version of a fighting tool that dates from the 17th century: the bayonet.


Within a few months, the Corps plans to equip each Marine with a bayonet that is sharper and stronger than its World War II predecessor and can double more effectively as a fighting knife.

"We've created this myth that we can stay in the clouds and win wars," said bayonet expert Homer Brett, who serves as a consultant to the Marine Corps. "But the only way to control territory is with infantry, and for the individual fighter on the ground, a bayonet is indispensable."

Full Story: Anchorage Daily News

50 Caliber Sniper Rifles That Can Destroy Aircraft Are Easier to Buy Than Handguns
VPC Releases 'Just Like Bird Hunting' - The Threat to Civil Aviation From 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles

WASHINGTON —The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released "Just Like Bird Hunting" -- The Threat to Civil Aviation from 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles, which details the threat of military-bred 50 caliber sniper rifles to aviation and passengers throughout the United States. The 32-page study discusses the range and striking power of the 50 caliber sniper rifle and its ammunition in the context of potential terrorist attacks against civilian airports and aircraft.

Good for huntin' "birds".

"Increasingly popular 50 caliber sniper rifles, available at your local gun shop, are a lethal danger to the safety and security of Americans. We ask this Administration to consider the serious consequences of the 50 caliber sniper rifle in terrorist hands," said Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst and study author.

The 50 caliber sniper rifle is capable of firing accurately over thousands of yards and can utilize legally available armor-piercing, incendiary, and explosive ammunition. The U.S. Army's manual on urban combat states that 50 caliber sniper rifles are intended for use as anti-materiel weapons, designed to attack bulk fuel tanks and other high-value targets from a distance, using "their ability to shoot through all but the heaviest shielding material." Various models at a wide range of prices are available to civilians from an increasing number of gun manufacturers.

Even the leading manufacturer of these deadly terrorist tools, which are easier to buy than handguns, touts their anti-aircraft capability. In a brochure advertising its Model 82A1 50 caliber sniper rifle, Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. states, "The cost-effectiveness of the Model 82A1 cannot be overemphasized when a round of ammunition purchased for less than 10 USD [U.S. dollars] can be used to destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft." In 1999 court testimony, Barrett Manufacturing head Ronnie Barrett testified as to the 50 caliber's ability to destroy aircraft: "If it is coming directly at you, it is almost as easy. Just like bird hunting. But yes, it is more difficult if it is horizontally, or moving from left to right, yes."

The VPC has warned President Bush, Secretary of the Office Of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and countless other state and federal officials charged with keeping Americans safe from terrorist activities of the dangers posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles.

Three years ago in its report, One Shot, One Kill, the Violence Policy Center warned for the first time that the unfettered sale to civilians of military sniper rifles presented a "serious threat to American national security." That report focused particularly on the dangers presented by the 50 caliber heavy sniper rifles, noting that these powerful weapons of war present a "whole new order of threat" by their ability to "knock down aircraft, including helicopters, and punch through concrete block, armored vehicles, and other materials that may be relied upon for executive protection." These devastating features are exactly why Barrett 50 caliber heavy sniper rifles, for example, are in the armories of U.S. Marine Corps snipers and at least 17 other armies around the world.

Source: Violence Policy Center

ThalesRaytheonSystems, LLC Receives Added $38 Million for Weapon Locating Radars for India
FULLERTON, Calif. — ThalesRaytheonSystems, LLC has received a $38 million contract modification award, which increases the quantity of AN/TPQ-37(V)3 Weapon Locating Radars sold to India in a Foreign Military Sale contract. It also includes training, technical support and spare parts through the first quarter of 2008. This contract modification brings the overall contract value to $142.4 million.

TPQ-37 Radar

The TPQ-37 radar automatically detects, tracks and locates long-range mortars, artillery, and rocket launchers, extending beyond the maximum effective ranges of those weapons. The TPQ-37 can backplot enemy projectiles within seconds, and pinpoint the locations from where they were fired, providing this information to friendly forces.

To date, 107 TPQ-37 radar systems have been delivered to 11 countries. The radars will be manufactured at the Raytheon Consolidated Manufacturing Center -- CMC, in Forest, Miss.

Source: Raytheon

Boeing Signs Army Contract for First Lot of Modernized Chinooks
ST. LOUIS — Boeing and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command have signed the first Low Rate Initial Production contract valued at about $140 million including options for remanufacturing seven CH-47 Chinooks to the new CH-47F and MH-47G Special Operations configurations.

The contract covers the first production lot of a modernization program that will include at least 300 Chinooks over the next 13 years.

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems will manage the program at the Rotorcraft Enterprise Capability Center in suburban Philadelphia.

Work on the first aircraft begins this month, with the first CH-47F delivery scheduled for Sept. 2004. The remaining six aircraft in the first lot will be converted to MH-47G Special Operations Chinooks and delivered in 2004 and 2005.

CH-47D's to be modernized

Modernization involves teardown of CH-47D Chinooks, removal of existing cockpit sections for replacement by newly manufactured subassemblies, full inspection of all structural elements and replacement of components as required, and installation of new or recapitalized components and systems that will enhance Chinook operational capabilities and reduce sustainment costs.

Both CH-47F and MH-47G Chinooks will incorporate “tuned” fuselages to reduce the effects of vibration on aircrews, structures and avionic systems. Both aircraft also will incorporate advanced cockpit management systems. The CH-47F cockpit contains a digital mission management suite with a moving map display and digital modem. The MH-47G will utilize the U.S. Army’s advanced Common Avionics Architecture applicable to all Special Operations rotorcraft. In addition, the modernization includes installation of more powerful and fuel-efficient Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines with Full Authority Digital Engine Control.

Chinooks are the world’s most efficient and reliable heavy transport helicopters. They have been the U.S. Army’s prime movers for forty years, and will remain in the Army’s inventory at least until 2035. In addition, 15 international customers operate Chinooks in military and humanitarian service on six continents, in every climate and condition.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, is one of the world’s largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $25 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world’s largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA’s largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.

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