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  • Writer's pictureAaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

DCS World: Buddy Bombing!

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Low Situational Awareness Laser Guided Bomb Delivery

The smarts in smart weapons don't mean much if the pilot flying the aircraft is having a "helmet fire." The air combat arena has been complex since the first observation aircraft met over the battlefields of World War I. As technology moved forward and combat aircraft became more capable, pilots' physical and mental workload has only multiplied. Even in the most capable 4th generation of combat aircraft, having the knowledge to operate them correctly, manage communications, and evade threats from the land, sea, and air can be a tall order. Especially when you're being shot at.

Task saturation, misprioritization, reduced situational awareness, and tunnel vision is a dangerous mix when flying. Even the most experienced pilots can get lost in the information buzz. This combination of factors is a commonly cited reason for mishaps and missed targets. During a combat mission, a member of the flight being "tumbleweed" or dealing with a full-on "helmet fire" makes them wholly ineffective and dangerous to a degree.

Besides talk-ons, bullseye calls, and other methods to give the confused wingman information, there is an unusual technique that can be used in Digital Combat Simulator World and similar combat flight simulators. "Buddy Bombing" is a technique that works best with laser-guided bombs deployed from higher altitudes. While it is similar to "Buddy Lasing" that a forward air controller airborne (FAC-A) would provide, there is a noticeable difference.

Laser guided bomb in flight, guidance fins deployed.

Buddy Lasing calls for allied aircraft to approach a known target in an identifiable area illuminated by a laser from another ally. The attacking aircraft engage the target from any briefed or verbally agreed upon direction and altitude. "Buddy Bombing" calls for a member of the flight to fly on the wing of an allied aircraft equipped with a targeting pod to work together to deliver a laser-guided weapon on target.

In our example with the confused pilot, they are called to rejoin the targeting pod-equipped aircraft. Upon rejoining formation, the confused pilot only has to match their flight lead's airspeed, altitude, and direction. This minimizes the amount of information they have to manage, resets their mental workload, and simplifies their immediate task. All they need to do is fly on the wing of their flight lead as the flight lead maneuvers them onto the target. The flight lead can talk their wingman onto the target, give visual references, sensor-based references, and even a description of the target they can visually identify. Both aircraft coordinate matching laser codes for weapon guidance, and the flight lead gives a countdown for the wingman to drop their weapon. After weapon release, the wingman can leave the flight leader with now rebuilt situational awareness or remain with the leader to set up for a second attack.

F/A-18C Hornet with F-5E-3 carrying LGBs turning onto target.

While the wingman doesn't have to fly close formation throughout the rejoin and turn onto the target, flying close formation will be required for the run-up to the target. This is needed to send the weapon in the right direction with enough energy behind it for the flight lead's laser designator to guide it onto the target. If the aircraft deploying the laser guided bomb releases it far off target, it will be hard or impossible for the bomb to maneuver itself while tracking the targeting laser to hit the target. If the bomb is released at the same speed, altitude and vector as the aircraft illuminating the target, the deviation is negligible .

Buddy Bombing isn't a go-to tactic. It can be somewhat time consuming to set up while in the middle of a mission. All aircraft maintaining SA and attack targets from varying directions and altitudes makes it harder for the defenders to fight back. However, when faced with the possibility of a mission failing and a confused wingman being ineffective or potentially shot down, reducing their workload to maintaining formation and releasing a weapon at the end of a countdown is a great alternative.


About the Writer

Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.



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