Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Review: DCS Mirage F1 by Aerges Engineering
Updated: Mar 4
Usually when you think about the Dassault Mirage, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Delta wings? Beautiful curved fuselages? or just cool jets? In this case, this is still a Mirage but not a regular one as this is not a delta. After years of waiting we finally have our hands on the Mirage F1 module by Aerges Engineering. Consisting of several variants of this aircraft, all with different roles and purposes, this is one of the most complete modules to date.
In this review we will be taking a look into several different parts of the module and evaluating if this cold war warrior is a fit for you. These points will be divided into several sections:
External and internal 3D models
Visual and sound effects
Ease of use and learning curve
Variants and Early Access
Is this aircraft for you?
This review will be constantly updated with the module, meaning that it will be updated with each major addition to it. This includes system changes, weapon additions and new variants. Whenever a new variant releases, it will get added as a new section.
This is an Early Access module as of 7/23/2022. Review updated: 2/25/2023
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL 3D MODELS
Externally, this model is pretty good overall. The developers, Aerges, payed a lot of attention to detail when it comes down to certain aspects of this aircraft. From the complex gear and control surface animations to the internals of the engine, it is evident that they wanted to depict this aircraft as faithfully as possible. There are also some pretty neat details such as the fact that the pilot lays his helmet to the side of the canopy frame border when the canopy is open and the engine is off.
At the same time, there are a couple of parts of the model that could use more love. This includes the big seam between the main gear doors and the fuselage. This seam does seem to have been present in the real airframes to a certain degree but the way that lighting works in DCS makes it look very unnatural. The other aspect that could be improved at some point are the textures.
When compared to other modules around the same base price point (without any discount, this would be US$ 80) it does seem to be a bit behind when it comes down to weathering quality and the texel density of the model itself. The reflectivity does seem to be a bit too high, or maybe too metallic, which leads to some weird reflections sometimes.
On the other hand, the cockpit model is absolutely brilliant. There are basically no flaws to speak of. From the way that light reflects on the bumpy texture of the dash to the absolutely impressive angle of attack (indicator) and its animations. To me, it is clear that Aerges had the piloting experience as a priority for this module, and it shows. Below are some pictures both in daytime and nighttime conditions, with and without the glare shield, so see it for yourself!
VISUAL AND SOUND EFFECTS
Visually, it doesn't have any particularly unique effects, but overall it is a very pretty module. The afterburner effect is great and, on top of that, the over wing vapor when pulling high alpha maneuvers at high speed is present. For me, that is more than good enough. Additionally, the lighting seems to have been done pretty well, with the exception the the bleed-through that some of the lights have on the fuselage. My only complaint here would be that there are some annunciator and panel lights that are extremely bright, even during daytime. The weapon select buttons are the most evident example of this issue. It would be good if their brightness could be lowered somewhat, unless they can be, but I did not find an intuitive way to lower down their brightness by using the brightness knobs inside the cockpit.
Sound-wise is where this module knew how to surprise me. Every button and switch in the cockpit resonates with a very realistic "clack" or "thonk". These sounds do seem to give some physicality to the virtual nature of a simulation, which is exactly why I am more than surprised by how well they were handled. All the alerts are, let's say, realistic. They will give you a slight heart attack if they catch you off guard. The engine sounds are excellent as well, specially the sound that it makes whenever the afterburner kicks in. There is also some high AoA rattling that can be heard whenever you pull high AoA maneuvers. Pretty neat!
EXAMPLES: (General volume warning, you have been warned!)
Engine start and canopy closing sequence:
Full take-off roll: Starting with Idle --> Full Power --> Afterburner then rotation.
(Volume warning due to Limits alarm)
High AoA sounds and rattling (Volume warning due to high AoA alarm)
Fly-by at 400kts, full afterburner: (Volume warning)
DISCLAIMER: This is always a tough category, as like with any other aircraft, there is a lot to take into consideration other than just the feel of the flight model. This category is the most subjective one in this article as I do not have any real world experience with this craft. I will only base my opinion on practical experience and knowledge of practical aerodynamics and the theoretical behavior that a Mirage F1 should have under certain scenarios.
That being said, I can now see why some people where really excited for this module. Aerges did an excellent job when it comes down to its flight model. It feels "alive", if you will. The best way I have to describe its behavior is as a more forgiving Tomcat. It will fight back when you push it beyond its limits, but I have found that at high speeds I could hold a higher AoA than I initially expected. As you lose speed, naturally, it will be harder for you to pull that nose up.
It feels like a non-flight-by-wire (FBW) F-16, with less maneuverability and high alpha potential. It is not hard to fly, quite the opposite. It is an easy plane to fly, one that will not be hard to get used to but one that leaves room for you to master it. That will not stop it from being a worthy opponent to the aircraft of its era, and a relatively even match for all the soviet contemporaries that it would fight against. Personally, I enjoy it quite a bit.
This is the least capable variant of the entire roster. It is technically a multirole platform but, practically, it is best if you commit to either an air to ground loadout or an air to air one.
Its avionics are simple yet very interesting for the time. Specifically the "HUD", which acts more like a very advanced sight rather than fully-fledged HUD. It does have some pretty neat features, such as a flight director mode for air to air intercepts and a basic velocity vector/flight path indicator when set to landing mode. Additionally, the aircraft lacks any kind of CCIP for bomb or rocket delivery, or even a radar adjusted gunsight for dogfighting.
Its radar, the Cyrano IV, is not the best one. While it is more capable than the suite installed on F-5E-3s, including its ability to do some basic air to ground work, it is still a monopulse radar. This means that it is not really capable of reliable look-down-shoot-down capabilities.
This variant is best used as an interceptor, an air to air fighter or a bomb truck against static targets, with the exception of attacks against lightly-armored targets. A perfect starting point for beginners or people used to contemporary aircraft (F-5E, MiG-21, etc).
A direct upgrade from the CE, the Mirage F1EE offers and much more usable experience when compared with its predecesor. This includes both its new missiles and its upgraded avionics package, both of which make it a lethal aircraft in the right hands.
The EE includes a new RWR with a western-style display. This means that you will be able to pick out individual emmitters by their type and direction, which will certainly boast your situational awareness quite a lot. It makes the old RWR look kind of Soviet as it works with the same way as those equipped on the MiG-21 and MiG-19.
The easiest way to distinguish between the CE and the EE is by looking for the refueling probe as this is only present in the EE. With this refueling probe the EE can stay in the air almost indefinitely, as long as you have a tanker operatating near your area.
Lastly, the main difference between these two variants is that the EE comes with a proper INS suite that will allow you to properly navigate with the use of waypoints! This, alongside the RWR, truly elevates the experience flying the EE to something that I would consider to be superior to even a couple of the early US fighters such as the F-5E
TWIN DEFA 30mm CANNONS
Good ol' DEFA cannons. It fires heavy-hitting but slower 30mm rounds which will wreck an enemy aircraft if contact is achieved. You have a total of 300 rounds, 150 per cannon.
MATRA 550 "MAGIC 1" AND AIM-9 "SIDEWINDER" MISSILES
These are your heat seeker missiles, the ones you will always have on your wingtips. Both the Matra 550 and most versions of the Sidewinder that you can carry are rear-aspect only, with the exception of the AIM-9JULI. This peculiar variant has the seeker and control units of a much more capable AIM-9L, which means that it is the only all-aspect IR missile in your inventory.
All sidewinder variants available:
AIM-9B (earliest model, least capable)
AIM-9J (much more capable rear-aspect-only missile)
AIM-9JULI (The most capable variant)
This is, currently, your only "long range missile". Its performance is quite poor and the range is not long enough for BVR combat, which means you will have to get close and, usually, inside of the enemy's range to fire it. It is best used against bigger, less maneuverable aircraft.
You have two versions:
R.530EM (Semi-active radar guided variant)
R.530IR (IR guided variant capable of self homing if lock is lost)
Included with the EE update, this missile is quite the upgrade from the old Matra 530 missiles. It is much faster, longer ranged and much more maneuverable than its predecesors. This, in my eyes, makes the radar-guided Matra 530 completely obsolete. The only reason why you would use the older missile would be to emulate certain historical events or timeframes.
Fast and heavy hitting, these are the types of rockets that I like. They are absolutely devastating and easy to aim, the best combination! You can carry up to four pods of two sizes, with a plethora of warheads to choose for your 68mm rockets:
MATRA F1: 36 Rockets
MATRA F4: 18 Rockets
There is quite a selection when it comes down to iron bombs. I don't have to explain what these do, don't I?
SAMP series (400, 250 and 125Kg)
BR series (500 and 250Kg)
Mk.82 bombs (500lbs)
Belouga (Cluster bomb with 151 submunitions)
While you are unable to lase these weapons for yourself, you do have access to GBU-12, GBU-16 and GBU-10 laser guided bombs. You can carry a maximum of three of these, one per pylon (inner wings and fuselage)
DURANDAL PENETRATOR BOMBS
Rocket penetrators, what else can I say. You drop them like high-drag bombs, let them fall over a runway. They will rocket themselves and penetrate the runway, cratering it!
You can carry a maximum of 8: 4 under the wings and 4 on the fuselage pylon.