ARMA 3's AH-64D Apache Longbow: the best practice for DCS' upcoming module
There are only a couple of games that such an emphasis on combined arms like Arma does. And out of those, only Arma has such an extensive modding scene that allows this experience to be taken to the absolute extreme. Today, I wanted to talk about RHS' Apache mod and how it has allowed me to practice multicrew for the upcoming AH-64D module in DCS World.
It might not be clickable nor very in-depth when it comes to managing its systems, as it is usual for most aircraft in Arma, but it has a balance of realism and arcade mechanics that lends itself well to the combat environment that it will fight in. With that being said, let's start!
A GAME WHERE CLOSE AIR SUPPORT MATTERS
Aside from being an infantry focused FPS, Arma has always had a focus on combined arms combat. To the point where it has become a staple of the franchise. The Apache is, for a lack of a better term, the ideal Close Air Support (CAS) support aircraft for a game such as this. Maps are smaller than one would think and they can be flown over by aircraft in a blink of an eye. While something like an A-10C would do wonderfully as CAS if the maps where smaller, the slower speeds and operational flexibility it offers make it better suited to the smaller map sizes of Arma.
To understand this a bit more, put yourself in this situation: You have just been ambushed on a road by four APCs and a lot of infantry, you and your squad have called in CAS to support your advance. What would you rather have as support? 1. An A-10C which could take a minute or so in-between passes as it clears the area because, if it linger for too long, it might get shot down by an Igla. It's passes are deadly but it can only fire a Maverick and a short burst of 30mm with each pass.
2. An Apache that can stay closer to you and your squad while also being able to provide almost constant air cover for your guys. It stays behind a hill or at stand-of range, raining radar-guided Hellfires into the enemy vehicles, and once the armor is out of action it can fly close and obliterate the enemy infantry with non-stop 30mm cannon fire.
I would, personally, like to have an Apache cover me in this specific situation. An A-10C would probably be able to provide great cover too, but I love having the aircraft covering me be closer to the action. This is exclusive to Arma, though, so please do remember that everything I talk here is only about how me and my group have operated the Apache over fixed wing aircraft as of late.
THE KING OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT
For me and my group of friends, the Apache has been our primary CAS aircraft. Not only have we used it to defend our base from attack but we have also used it to attack enemy outposts and to provide support for allied armor assaults. It has been quite the workhorse! Even inside of Arma, this whirly bird has quite the arsenal (these are specifically talking about RHS' Apache):
INTEGRATED HELMET AND DISPLAY SIGHTING SYSTEM
The IHADSS is an extremely useful piece of kit. It offers navigational and targeting displays for both pilot and gunner, making it essential for combat even on a game like Arma. You are able to slew this puppy to the M230 cannon and to most of your sensor suite. Just aim and shoot!
M230 CHAIN GUN
Being able to choose your burst length is a godsend. It allows the gunner to put accurate fire exactly where it's needed and for no longer than it's necessary. You are able to use the gun both with the camera and with the Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS). Just look at what you want dead and press the trigger, pretty neat!
70MM HYDRA ROCKETS ON M261 PODS
Although they lack the moving pylons, these are still extremely effective for area denial. You have 19 Hydras on each pod.
AGM-114 HELLFIRE MISSILES
Tired of that pesky APC that is bothering your troops below? That is what these are for. You have two variants. A laser-guided one (AGM-114L) and a radar-guided one (AGM-114K). These are extremely deadly and accurate, and a lot of fun.
But there is something deadlier than an Apache, an Apache with a coordinated crew.
MULTICREW PRACTICE FOR DCS' APACHE
For quite a while, I've flown with Kosmos. He is good friend of mine and someone with who I have always had good chemistry, primarily when it comes down to working together as a team on games and such. But I have always said that the place where we both fit perfectly with each other is as a helicopter crew, specifically, as an Apache crew in Arma.
He's a pretty decent pilot in Arma and DCS, so he has no issues keeping the bird steady for me to work the gun and Hellfires from the front. We help each other, giving pointers and directions as to where targets are using our sensors. This usually has some awesome results, We usually use terrain masking and take advantage of the ability the JTACs have, which is to lase for us. There is something specially satisfying about using laser-guided Hellfires from behind a hill on Lock-on After Launch (LOAL) Hi mode. You just see this missile go upwards and then behind the hill where RibbonBlue, which is usually our JTAC, has his laser on an APC or any other piece of armor. Then you hear confirmation of a hit from Blue, that's always exciting.
It is that kind of teamwork and multicrew performance that makes me really excited about putting all this practice I have into "the real deal" whenever DCS's Apache comes out, which should be sooner rather than later. And I really, really am looking forward to flying with Kosmos in DCS. I am sure we'll be as good of a team there as we are here.
About the writer:
Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as the co-founder, content director and writer for Skyward Flight Media ever since.