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  • Writer's pictureAaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

Skyward Marianas Training Range - Bombing Range and Strafe Pit

Updated: May 8

A look at our training mission to be released in the future

I can confidently say that when it comes to Digital Combat Simulator (DCS), pretty much all the Skyward Flight Media staff prefer multiplayer experiences over single player experiences. Not to say that we dislike well-made solo pilot missions and campaigns. We just deeply enjoy the teamwork aspect of online multiplayer missions. Instead of solely learning by offline independent study, our lead DCS mission editor, Caio D. "Hueman" Barreto, created a controlled training environment that can be used in multiplayer servers or for offline play.

Known as the Skyward Marianas Training Range, it features various training tools players of all levels could use to learn any module (aircraft) in DCS world with other human participants. These include valuable bombing ranges and a strafe pit that uses in game assets and .lua scripts, not requiring the download of mods, to provide users with information they can use for training. While the Skyward Marianas Training Range has been operational for many months now, a version specifically made for public release is still in development. Consider this a preview of something good to come.

Digital Combat Simulator F-5E Tiger II.
F-5E on approach to the Skyward Marianas Training Range.
The Traditional Training Process

In November 2020, when I started my serious effort to get started in DCS, I did plenty of offline study and practice. Reading the provided manual, single player tutorial missions included with the module (aircraft) I purchased, video tutorials, expansive PDF guides - I spent a lot of time just trying to wrap my head around it all. But when you have other friends that are online slinging AMRAAMs and landing on aircraft carriers, the desire to get out there yourself often overtakes the "traditional" study approach. The same certainly happened to me. At the time, we thought the best compromise would be to find public servers running 'training missions' for me to learn while flying along them.

I learned quickly that calling these missions "training missions" is a bit of a stretch. It is hard to learn and retain knowledge when there is a sprawling battle taking place against an opposing force. You could potentially have new players that can barely take off from the airfield, fumbling through basic aircraft systems while there is an unforgiving AI enemy actively trying to destroy them at every moment. Learning something new while under enemy fire is always less than ideal. While I did persevere through the dozens of deaths during that time and until I was finally comfortable with DCS, I have never forgotten the grind and how few training environments there are in DCS multiplayer servers.

Digital Combat Simulator AV-8B.
AV-8B Harrier firing its underslung cannon.

Training Environment

To clarify, when I say "training environment" I mean a scenario that does not force players that are trying to learn their first aircraft or their latest aircraft while in the middle of a full-scale wartime scenario.

A training environment would be something where players could learn how to aviate, navigate, manage aircraft systems and become familiar with weapon capabilities long before being fired at themselves. A place where they could get comfortable enough with their aircraft with other players around, if desired. This same environment would also have the option for players to voluntarily enter into limited combat scenarios when they felt as though they were ready. That is a basic idea of what I would consider a training environment.

Digital Combat Simulator F-16CM practice bombs.
Skyward F-16CM dropping practice bombs.

The Skyward Marianas Training Range includes every aspect of what I've described a training environment to be (for the record, I personally had nothing to due with its development, all credit goes to Caio D. "Hueman" Barreto). Since this is a preview of sorts, I will not be detailing them all just yet, but my personal favorite features in this mission are the Bomb Range and Strafe Pit.

Preview: Bombing Range

The Rota Island Bombing Range is designed for guided bombs, air-to-ground missiles, unguided rockets, air launched cruise missiles, guided rockets, glide weapons, and unguided bombs.

Using a .lua script, munitions that explode within its range provides specific players with their accuracy in the form of in-game text messages.

For unguided weapons, this is especially useful. As pilots practice CCIP or CCRP weapons delivery, they become more familiar with the dive angles, air speeds or distances they need to maintain to consistent hit targets. While multiple bombs can be dropped at the same time onto the bombing range, the ideal application is to drop one bomb at a time to truly practice refining accuracy.

Preview: Strafe Pit

6 nautical miles north-east of the Rota bombing range is the strafe pit. This pit is set for West to East gun only attack runs when aircraft roll in below 5000 feet MSL.

As long as aircraft stay within the valid strafe pass zone, information on the number of hits on designated targets and the accuracy of those impacts are also communicated via in-game text messages.

Coming Soon

The public release of the Skyward Marianas Training Range will be handled similarly to how we provided the Syria COIN mission. When the time comes, a similar product page will be setup with an online event scheduled. There is no hard date for release of this mission file, but work is actively being done to prepare the public version for release.

About the Writer

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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