So the F-5E Tiger II, from Belsimtek for DCS World, it’s a 3rd generation light fighter. The initial F-5A Freedom Fighter was developed after the Korean War and was a light fighter that bucked the trend from the US of ever bigger, ever heavier and ever more complex aircraft that were super expensive. The F-5 was targeted at a different audience. It didn’t really find favour in the US as something for their air arms, but it was widely exported, for example it was used in Vietnam by the South Vietnamese air force.
The F-5E is the aircraft designed to replace the F-5A in service. It is upgraded with better weapons systems and radar, and it is supersonic. It is well known by another name…the Mig-28 from ‘Top Gun'(the skin for which is included in the module!)
The aircraft is roughly on a par with the Mig-21Bis, available in DCS, and is capable of ground attack, with both guided and un-guided munitions. It can carry a range of rocket pods and the Mk-82 bombs, both the snake eye ‘retarded’ bombs and the straight forward dumb bombs. It has a short range, which can be a limitation (as we found on on Monday 25th July as we flew the F-5E and F-86 across the Caucusus map and ran out of fuel on landing!). I must point out that the aircraft is still in early release and is under-development, however, it is extremely good to fly. It’s very responsive to stick inputs and it’s a simple aircraft to just get into and fly. The switches are well laid out, with clear functions. There isn’t an overly complicated HUD, it just has a radar gunsight, which can be adjusted to the weapons that you are carrying and the type of attack that you are going to carry out. There is no bombing computer it’s done by best guess, seat of the pants flying. It’s probably the most modern incarnation of a WW2 style fighter-bomber that you will find. After this it all starts to be on-board computers and CCIP/CCRP pointers and cues.
It’s an interesting one to take into a close-in dogfight, and you will only ever have close in fights with this aircraft; there are no long-range missiles only Sidewinders. The guns are very accurate, but you have to be aware of the time for the gun exhaust deflectors to pop-up if you are going to take a snap shot and you don’t have a two-stage trigger on your fire button. The roll rate is excellent, especially at high speed, the instantaneous turn rate is good, especially at high speed, and you can turn quite well initially, but you’re probably best off flying this like an Fw190, keep speed high and roll into the scissors and bring the opponent out ahead of you.
The engines are relatively low-thrust, so once you do lose the energy it can take some time to get it back, and extended use of the afterburners really does impact on your fuel state, so you do need to keep an eye on this in an extended scrap. Having said this the aircraft can compete well with the Mig-21, it may struggle when it comes to encounters with aircraft like the Mirage 2000C or the Flaming Cliffs aircraft, such as the Mig-29, Su27 or F-15C, but if you can get a pair in and up close with them you never know.
The Belsimtek F-5E Tiger II is up there with the Mirage 2000C as one of my ‘go-to’ aircraft now. I love the fact that I can make accurate, high speed ground attack missions with a relatively simple aircraft and then climb away to take on the nearest opposition aircraft with a good chance of winning before I return to base. The ability to carry LGBs is a bonus, but until there is a designating aircraft that can keep up it might not be too worthwhile. (F/A18C is coming…with laser designator). The A-10C is able to do this role, so we’ll see how we get on with testing it.
I’d really recommend this aircraft, the workmanship on the model is excellent, both internally and externally. The flight characteristics are excellent. The weapons systems are simple with minimal fuss. It just works. (It also has an arrestor hook, so tempted to try and land it on a carrier!)
As usual Chuck has produced another exceptional guide to the latest DCS module which gives a straightforward intro to the aircraft and systems.