Review: DCS Mirage F1 by Aerges Engineering
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 Flight modelling Mission capability Armament 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: 10/25/2023 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. Added with the release of DCS 2.9 , the Mirage F1BE variant is also now available as a flyable aircraft! With this addition, we went back to this bird and took a very close look at it, both externally and internally. Let's start with the external first, as this model was already available in-game as a non-flyable AI-only aircraft. It looks as accurate as the CE or EE models, and that includes both negatives and positives. but here, have a look!
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! This feeling of immersion extends to the new cockpit model made for the two-seater F1BE version of the Mirage. One aspect I particularly loved about it was the HUD repeater that is available for the backseater/instructor. It seems to render like a HUD in itself, but it emulates video feed from the front seat's HUD/gunsight. It works perfectly during the day, but it is practically unusable at night. Here are some shots of this new cockpit included with DCS 2.9:
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)
FLIGHT MODELING 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. MISSION CAPABILITIES: MIRAGE F1CE 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). MIRAGE F1EE 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 MIRAGE F1BE This two-seater version of the Mirage F1CE lacks any of the "modern" amenties of the EE, but what it allows is for this bird to become a solid supersonic trainer that does not compromise its combat capabilities. In this category, it stands as the only aircraft capable of functioning like a proper trainer for an existing single-seat module.
As any good trainer made from a single seat platform, the front seat is identical to that of the single seat variants. This facilitates transition to the single seat version once training is over, a feature that will make the BE variant quite the useful one for groups running the module or for those that want to introduce their friends to it without overwhelming them with a solo flight as soon as they purchase the aircraft. I personally love the fact that they went out of their way to offer a training platform for their own module, one that allows more players to put their hands on the control stick and have more fun, without compromising on its combat capabilities over the single-seat version. ARMAMENT 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) MATRA R.530 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) SUPER 530F 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. ROCKETS 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 UNGUIDED BOMBS 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) GUIDED BOMBS 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. EASE OF USE AND LEARNING CURVE It is as easy as any other 3rd generation fighter. Its systems are not complex and lend themselves to a very straight-forward learning experience. You do not need to worry about any modern avionics, at least not for three of the variants that this model will bring. The only challenges of flying it are when it comes down to learning how to properly employ its weapons since you do not have any CCIP or computer aid for their delivery. It will require some getting used to if you come from modern aircraft where you do not need to worry about anything when it comes down to bombing or rocket delivery.
Overall, it is a beginner friendly aircraft and one that, thanks to its simple systems, lends itself to be a wonderful starter aircraft for anyone interested in this era of combat. VARIANTS AND EARLY ACCESS This module uses the same approach that the C-101 did, which is only natural seeing as this is another project by the same devs which have found a home at Aerges. That means that we get different variants of the Mirage F1. This time, we will get 4 flyable variants (3 available as of time of writing) and way too many AI variants. I will patiently await for the rest of the flyable variants, as each of them will offer a unique experience separate from what other modules offer for this price. With the initial release they included 1 flyable variant and 21 AI-only units. While technically all of them are different "variants", the large majority of these are derived from the C. I do appreciate the though of having all of them be separate, but as a mission creator I see no point in including all these variants when functionally they are all the same with the exception of the ones that have the laser designator and the two seaters. I would have preferred to have all of the variants be assignable to a single unit, the flyable CE, since they are functionally the same. It would be less confusing for mission creators. IS THIS AIRCRAFT FOR YOU? If what you want in a module is: An amazing cold war experience. An excellent flight model that will fight back. A module that will include the equivalent of 4 modules down the road. A period-accurate flying experience that will have you at the center of the fight. If you don't mind: Not having advanced avionics (yet). The small imperfections of the external model. Having to adapt to a more analog experience. Not being able to fight well in BVR engagements. If all or some of the above is what you want, then Aerges Engineering's Mirage F1 is for you. 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 2000s 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 2010s. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as the co-founder and writer ever since. Twitter | Discord : Cubeboy