Get ready to buzz the tower whether the pattern is full or not, because DCS is now taking pre-orders for the venerable DCS F-14 Tomcat. The pre-order prince is a fairly steep, yet still discounted, price of $69.99. Regular price will be $79.99 when the plane is finally done. And make no mistake - it's going to be awhile. The F-14, despite its age, is a very complex machine.
DCS has provided this compelling list of features:
• The Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS)
• Detailed electrical, hydraulic and fuel system
• Fully functional multiplayer two seat functionality
• JESTER AI: A new, lifelike AI that fills the role of RIO when flying single-player
• A limited functionality Iceman AI piloting the aircraft in single-player when switching to the rear cockpit
• Simulation of the AN/AWG-9 Weapons Control System (WCS)
• Simulation of the LANTIRN designator pod
• Fully functional Instrument Carrier Landing System
• Comprehensive digital manual
• A complete set of interactive and voiced tutorials
• Campaigns in the Caucasus and Persian Gulf theatres
Of the bunch, the AI backseater is by far the most innovative and compelling feature, at least as far as I'm concerned. One of the problems I have always had in DCS airplanes is keeping up with the complex systems and threatening environment. A second brain, eyes, and pair of hands will make a world of difference.
There's no word on when the plane will be completed, but my years of experience with DCS have made one thing very clear: they are done when they're done. It happens slowly but steadily, and you get new components as they become available. I have also learned that they are typically finished to a degree that exceeds my capabilities in the very first early access release. The F-14 is not being built in-house, but the developer, Heatblur, also has a good reputation.