Report 036: Out of the Blue
This report contains the changes of the 0.2220 update.
The long awaited update is finally here, this report will introduce a new family of aircraft has been previewed in an earlier report, but most importantly, it adds the much requested stealth system.
But first let’s begin the F-117 family.
This particular family was really fun to develop, especially because it changes so drastically in each iteration, as you’ll see below.
Also something to note, following the earlier tradition, when a new family is added, it was always developed at the same time all variants important, but the addition of these aircraft was done gradually in multiple updates, but this time all of these aircraft will be added this single update.
Starting with this particular aircraft, it was one of the first concepts in which would be born future F-117.
This design was originally unnamed, but because it was created to be tested in an RCS computation program called ECHO1 it will adopt that name for itself.
The ECHO was one the first tangible experiment in stealth aircraft and the absolute first beginnings of the F-117 series. The airframe produced after exhaustive computer simulations was grotesque to say the least, but it was the first step in producing the highly successful Nighthawk. The simple, faceted design offers inherent stealth capability, that when coupled with RAM coating; render the ECHO invisible to radar.
Weapon systems and basic electronics have been added to this design, but are characteristically limited by the accommodations required to achieve stealth capability.
Due to being a small aircraft the Echo can only carry two missiles and as it only has a few moving surfaces it is not very nimble fighter.
This strange shaped aircraft is named “Hopeless Diamond” experimental ‘black’ prototype was the progenitor of a long line of development and experimental aircraft that eventually led to the highly successful F-117 Nighthawk strike aircraft.
The Hopeless Diamond already bears a superficial resemblance to the Nighthawk, though it has a much more simplistic shape and lacks vertical control surfaces. The design of the Hopeless Diamond allows the majority of radar waves to be reflected away at odd angles, slightly raising the surrounding area with more interference, but otherwise remaining largely “invisible.” The airframe has been coated with the first experimental Radar Absorbent Material (RAM) coating, and has a radar cross-section smaller than a large bird when viewed head-on by radar when combined with its unusual shape.
The Hopeless Diamond is a stealthy but low-performance surgical strike aircraft, carrying little ordinance and lacking maneuverability- however, its stealth and low visibility allows the pilot to carefully plan out his attack to use his weapons to their full potential.
Because of the lack of vertical stabilizer it cannot yaw and it has a high tendency to slip, but thanks to that same lack of stabilizer it is stealthier than ECHO.
This version is the immediate evolution; while it still remains as the Hopeless Diamond this is the intermediate configuration.
The overall shape has been changed to the extremities resemble more like wings at the cost of adding more faces and potential increasing the radar signature.
The Hopeless Diamond (intermediate configuration) has a somewhat improved mobility compared to its predecessor, making it easier to deploy surprise attacks to other units, but is still is a pain to maneuver.
Evolving from the intermediate configuration, the Near Have Blue adds actual wings and an inverted V stabilizer, making it far more combat capable than any other previous version.
In this iteration, the Near Have Blue already starts to resemble the mass produced version of the F-117.
The changes in this version make it a more satisfactory fighter and a viable choice if the pilot is willing to accept this machine’s limitations
Now the more familiar HAVE BLUE, this is the first version, the 1001, this version has an instrumentation boom and spin recovery chute that hampers the sheath effectiveness
The HAVE BLUE is experimental prototype were the next development in the Nighthawk series. With two aircraft produced to explore characteristics of the Nighthawk airframe, the HAVE BLUE aircraft were smaller than the production Nighthawks and had inward-canted vertical control surfaces in addition to being smaller than subsequently developed aircraft. The 1001 Variant was the original model and was used to experiment with flight characteristics of the novel shape of the Nighthawk.
The HAVE BLUE is quite bigger in comparison with the Near Have Blue, but still not big enough to store extra weapons aside from the missiles.
The HAVE BLUE 1002 Variant was a subsequent development used to experiment with radar returns of the aircraft and was coated in Radar Absorbent Material and removes any extra equipment o maximize the stealth capabilities of this unit.
HAVE BLUE 1002 is fully capable of carrying out attack missions, but is again limited by the small weaponry capacity of the Nighthawk series, relying on stealth to perform quick, surgical releases into strategic enemy positions to inflict the most damage.
The Senior Trend is the final experimental version of the Nighthawk, the Senior Trend aircraft is almost visually identical to the production F-117A, and has full provision for weapons carriage and all flight and 1st generation electronics installed.
The Senior Trend was lengthened from the HAVE BLUE series, while the nose was shortened to improve visibility. In addition, the vertical tail surfaces were positioned outwards after a study showed that inward canted fins actually increased radar returns.
The Senior Trend can be distinguished from The F-117A because of the smaller Vertical stabilizers.
This variant can carry special weapons although it only has two weapon bays, this is because it is only loaded with only one missile and leaves the other bay door for the special weapon.
This version, is the true F-117A and recreate the actual version without fictional sub weapons or the ability to store missiles.
The F-117 “Nighthawk” has the distinction of being the first true stealth aircraft, using its distinctive and iconic faceted design to scatter radar waves away from its body and render itself virtually invisible to detection systems, with a cross-section equivalent to that of a large bird. Combat-proven in several conflicts, the aircraft is actually a strike aircraft, despite its “Fighter” designation. Severe limitations to aerodynamic performance and weapons capability have been made to accommodate the stealth features- the Nighthawk is slow in terms of both speed and turning because of its airframe and non-afterburning engines, and carries a very reduced amount of weaponry in internal bays.
The only fictional unit in this list, made to fit the more usual gameplay style, this is variant, the F-117SD (that sands for self defense), is almost identical to the F-117A but adds more weapons bays to fit the AIM-9L missiles.
The F-117SD, as mentioned above is visually also specs wise is almost identical to the F-117A but with increased ordinance.
The decision to make this fictional variant was to address the interested players that want an truly accurate F-117 while also fulfilling the desire others that preferred a dogfight capable F-117.
By showing the underside of both F-117A and F-117SD it is possible to notice the addition of two more bay doors that store the AIM-9L missiles in the latter variant.
The F-117B is the two seater trainer version of the F-117. This variant is directly derived from the SD version, so it is more combat capable than the original
Although this variant and the concept did not have any official name, it was labeled as the B variant because that letter usually is applied in the two seater trainer versions.
The F-117B sacrifices some fuel capacity in exchange for a second trainer’s seat, but otherwise retains full combat capability.
This is the F-117C (sometimes also referred as F-117B) is an all-around improvement in the F-117A (and F-117SD) with the addition of some Air-to-Air capabilities.
The F-117C was an evolved version with redesigned air intakes, newer avionics, better engines, and a clear-glass cockpit.
This variant is also derived from the SD variant, meaning it has the same weapons bay layout.
(Note: For this unit and other late evolutions it was attempted to recreate them as accurate as possible, however they still have some degree of speculation as all the material gathered is most of the times inconsistent)
The F-117N is the Navalised version of the F-117 and is capable of takeoff and landing in carriers.
The F-117N is a proposed carrier-borne version of the Nighthawk, the “Seahawk” boasts carrier-strengthened landing gear, radically redesigned wings and arrestor hook, as well as a new semi-corrosion resistant paint surface. Hardpoints have been added under the aircraft, adding combat load but removing stealth capabilities if necessarily. Additionally, the engines have been replaced by newer models, and the canopy has been modified to increase visibility.
The A/F-117X was a late-life variant of the Seahawk that added air-to-air capability as well as an advanced electronics suite. Performance has been upgraded by recycling engines used in the F/A-18E, and overall combat rating has improved greatly.
The A/F-117X is the final evolution of the F-117 family, it is capable of outrun and outmaneuver any other previous variant. While it still a strike aircraft, the weapons selection a capabilities makes and an interesting fighter.
Also this is the only F-117 variant that has TVC engines and afterburner. Other noticeable characteristic is that this version has the wings filled with flaps, allowing it to move at slower speeds than any other version.
This is a fictional missile derived from the real AIM-9P, this missile was made to be able to fold inside the small stealth aircrafts like the Echo and hopeless diamond.
Specs wise, is identical to the AIM-9P except it takes only bit longer to start maneuver due to the unfolding fins.
As the addition F-117 and inevitable inclusion would be the weapons bays.
Until now it wasn’t possible to fully recreate weapon storage inside the aircrafts’ weapons bay or connect weapons to the model animation bone.
With this ability also opens wide range of crazy possibilities that may be addressed by some future fictional unit.
During the implementation of the weapons bays, it appeared an expectable problem, if the player gives the order to fire the missile, this makes the doors to open and fire the missile as soon as it is possible.
But if it was given multiple fire request, this would make all the missiles fire all the same time. Although this is may not be serious problem, but it would force to overwrite the desired fire rate the player had in mind.
To fix this, it added as cached input for weapons fire. Now, if you double tap to fire both missiles, the game will remember the fire interval and it will execute that same interval as soon the doors finish opening.
Also in this update the Su-47 and Su-74 have been upgrade to use the weapons bay, but not every weapon in their selection is stored inside.
Here is a game screenshot of the Su-47 using the weapon bays:
Note for modders, the weapons bay was added in a way that preserves compatibility to all previous made costume textures.
This addition also means that in the future can be applied more emphasis in the addition of bomber type aircrafts.
Still associated to the weapons bays, although at first glance this may seem unrelated, with this addition it is also now possible to add weapons on the variable sweep wings, as this required the weapons and weapons pylons to be attached to the bones of the unit mesh.
Finally the biggest addition of this update is undoubted the stealth mechanic.
This system is quite complex but at the same time very simple to use, but the best part is that it largely expands the tactical possibilities in every mission.
To help the player be aware when it’s out of the vision of event radars it is displayer in the hud “UNDETECTED” just below the speed indicator.
This how the stealth mechanic works:
- For detecting units there will be two ways, by radar waves and heat, the attacking unit just needs to successfully detect in one of those two. So if a unit is has very low radar visibility but normal thermal visibility, that stealthiness can be easily nullified against a unit equipped with an IRST (although the heat detection systems are usually far more limited in range).
- Other important point is distance, even if a unit is undetectable in the radar at distance, the closer it gets the more sensible to lower values that radar also becomes. This also means the opposite, larger units like bombers can be detector at far greater distance than normal fighters.
- The attacker detection capabilities are not 360 degrees, both systems have limited field of vision, so the units have to look at the direction they may expect to be the enemies.
- The visibility values are dependent of the orientation of the defender unit, this means is far easier to detect by heat an aircraft if looking from behind.
- External loadout affects the unit visibility.
- Weapons bay open and landing gears deployed (when implemented) will affect the visibility values.
- The preserve the same gameplay feel that has been until now, by default there will be a threshold of visibility values, if the aircraft has values higher that that it will be show on the global radar as usual. This threshold can be deactivated or changed if need in any mission.
(These bullets are the same as the previous report, an in detail description of how the stealth works will be featured only later to avoid making this report even more extensive than already is).
Note: some campaign missions and AI have been slightly tweaked to make better use of the stealth mechanic
Awards have been added for quite some time, but until now it was available in a few quantities.
That collection has been expanded with the addition several dozens of new awards.
Also, there are now awards exclusive for campaigns, battle scenarios and skirmish.
This new awards will take in consideration the game and all the data can be easily modified, while some are the usual for this kind of games, others explore that fact, so have fun figuring out how these conditions can be more easily fulfilled.
A small addition but it will have a greater effect in the future, battle scenario modes now saves the mission data, meaning it can save your best records in the survival mode and Doppelganger Battle.
This is to prepare the battles scene mode for future missions that will use this record save to make the player more interested in challenging himself
This Directional Damage Mechanic was more an afterthought for this update, but with a fairly simple system made this update even more sizable and interesting.
Although localized damage is still a possible implementation in the future, this new mechanic is somewhat similar and still adds another layer of strategy in battles.
The idea is quite simple; every unit has different resistance values to damage depending of the direction of the impact/explosion.
For aircrafts aiming toward the front of the aircraft is the most effective place, as a result, in a dogfight, fighting head-to-head is now more rewarding but also much more dangerous.
As for tanks, the front of the unit is the one that has more armor and the top is the weak spot, as it usually is where the armor is thinner.
As for Destroyers and boats in general, the bottom is the weak point. But it is important to note that for now there are no torpedoes or other projectiles capable of inflicting damage directly from above, so it is very unlikely for them to be hit their weak spot.
But as tip for the players, shooting the hull will still deal more damage than any other place.
These are the usual values for this type of units, although it is possible to define unique values to a specific unit.
Custom units without theses values will have 100% damage in all directions.
While it is not anything exceptional it was still added some new mutators in this update that change the gameplay rules.
No Directional Damage – The damage is always the same, regardless the direction of the impact.
Joust Battle – Only head-on attacks deal damage.
No Stealth – removes the Stealth mechanic, and detections is processed the same way as it did before this update
Blind spots – removes the out of focus detection, meaning the units are only capable of detecting units in front of their field of vision
I hope you all enjoy this new update and looking forward to hear your opinion about these latest additions, you will also have plenty of new units to try out and if you are interested, there is much more awards to attain.
Note: (this is important) there is some testing and tweaking left to be done, so this update will only be uploaded in a few days, it is almost certain that this update will take bit more time than usual to be available. I thank you for your patience in advance.
- Added Stealth Mechanic
- Added Directional Damage Mechanic
- Added Weapons Bay system
- Added Battle Scene Saved data
- Improved Award System
- Fixed various bugs and issues
- Added ECHO
- Added Hopeless Diamond
- Added Hopeless Diamond (intermediate configuration)
- Added Near Have Blue
- Added Have Blue HB1001
- Added Have Blue HB1002
- Added Senior Trend
- Added F-117A
- Added F-117SD
- Added F-117B
- Added F-117C
- Added F-117N
- Added A/F-117X
- Added AIM-9PS Missile
- Added More Awards
- Added More Mutators
Stay tuned, more reports will follow.