DCS World F-4E Phantom II: What We Know so Far and Our Thoughts
To say that I am excited for Heatblur's F-4E Phantom II module would be the understatement of the century. I am not only a fan of the Phantom as an aircraft, and quite fond of Heatblur's products, but some of my earliest memories with gaming and flight games were in front of my dad's CRT while flying a Phantom in Ace Combat 04. This aircraft means a lot to me, so naturally I have religiously kept up with all the news and updates related to the DCS F-4E. While I do know that I am not alone in this, I also know that not everyone has the time or will to stay updated, even more when most of the exciting information we have gotten about it is somewhat hidden away.
Today, I want to try to collect as much official information as possible, so you can know what to expect from this module and know some of the features that will come with it. Of course, this is because the launch of this module is fast approaching. CAPABILITIES AND CONFIRMED FEATURES Before we truly start, I'd like to address that Heatblur does have their own FAQ for the module, but this one is quite old, meaning that some aspects of the module and its release have changed since its publication, but these changes have not been reflected in the page. The purpose of this article is to fill some of these holes to give you the most up-to-date picture about this module that we can, with publicly available information, that is. With that out of the way, let's start by stating some of the most obvious items: Initially, we will be getting two versions of the Phantom. One of this is an F-4E from around 1974, specifically one belonging it Blocks 36 through 45. This means that we are getting a post-Vietnam era Phantom with plenty of avionic upgrades as well as the Agile Eagle aerodynamic upgrade package! This means it will come with its leading edge slats, which, in simple terms, increase its turning capability quite a bit when compared to older Phantoms. The second one is mostly the same as the Block 36-45, but with the DMAS (Digital Modular Avionics System) package installed, which will allow this version to carry some "modern" weapons such as AGM-65 Mavericks, CCIP delivery modes for bombs, an improved navigation system and even the use of the Pave Tack targeting pod! Both versions will also use the APQ-120 Radar, an older and more primitive radar that still has some of the first iterations of features we have grown accustomed to in modern aircraft, such as CAA mode, similar to ACM on modern aircraft. The radar picture that it will provide will not be filtered, and since Heatblur is making a fully physically based radar, you will have to deal with a lot of ground clutter to spot your target. This leads me to the subject of simulation within the F-4E ecosystem. What Heatblur have shown, pre-release, is astonishing. They have reworked the way their RWR systems work and how they accurately detect radars now, depending on bands distance, emitters, etc. It is amazing to see what they have created just to give their users a realistic experience. Additionally, our Phantom will also have an amazing set of weaponry available for it, minding its timeframe and its block, some of which we have had confirmed only through images and Discord messages from Cobra847, Heatblur's Lead Developer. The most obvious are: Almost every version of the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile older than the Mike models. AIM-7E/E2/F Sparrow missiles Integrated/nose mounted M61 Vulcan cannon Almost every single Mk.80 series bomb imaginable, as well as their laser guided GBU counterparts (GBU-10/12/16) There are a couple of weapons and equipment that been spotted on videos and screenshots shared on the Heatblur Discord server, some of these include:
GBU-8 & GBU-15(v) Electro-Optically Guided Bombs This is bomb is pretty similar to the AGM-62 Walleye in its function. It is an early glide bomb capable of being guided in real time through the use of a two-way datalink. It has a 2000lb warhead, so it will pack one hell of a punch. AGM-45A/B SHRIKE This anti-radiation missile will open up a new world of dedicated SEAD missions for any Cold War player, seeing as the only aircraft capable of launching this missile right now is the A-4E-C Skyhawk. Fun fact: Some of the modders that worked on the Skyhawk are now working with Heatblur on the Phantom, pretty neat!
AN/ALQ-131 Jamming Pod Seeing here mounted on the on one of the recessed pylons, the AN/ALQ-131 will offer a pretty good jamming capability for the Phantom; at least as good as DCS allows. COCKPIT CUSTOMIZATION One feature we are also getting with the Phantom is going to be pilot customization! This means that we will be able to choose how our pilot looks, within the limitations of the module! As Cobra847 mentioned this about the system in their Discord: more info soon of course; but expect to be able to interchange gloves, suit/main equipment, mask, helmet interchangeably, etc. Additionally, it seems that different regional/export variants will also get their own custom cockpits. Since the F-14 uses the FORGE system, I would also expect that system to be a part of the Phantom, but that is just a personal theory without any base at all. THE HYPE IS REAL I'd expect the Phantom to release in this last quarter (2023), especially since the artist that made the OST for the module, Meteor, announced just a couple of days ago that he had to push his new album "Prophets" earlier than expected to avoid it conflicting with the album that he is making for the module itself. Here is the post . With this last piece of news, let's wait and see if we get our phantastic Phantom this year! 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