I hope that there are still active fans of excellent combat flight simulator F-22 Total Air War developed in 1998 by legendary British game developer: Digital Image Design! I would like to share my life story with all of you, combat pilots from entire world.
In 1998 I bought my first PC: AMD K6 233MMX, S3 Virge DX/GX 4MB, 16MB RAM and onboard sound card with 15" CRT Targa monitor and of course first joystick. One of the first game which I bought was box with DID EF 2000 in which was everything, including data disk TACCOM, in bazar. I didn't know English too much well, therefore I faced a lot of problems with reading huge and exhaustible flight manual (which was entire in English language) and also internet was as dream for common citizens in 1998 in Czech Republic.
As time went after 18 years of my virtual combat pilot career, I started to read a lot of English articles about F-22 TAW here on combatsim.com like for example: http://www.combatsim.com/proddata/f22_taw/f22_taw.htm and especially this article http://www.combatsim.com/memb123/htm/2004/03/f22revisit/ + a lot of others opinions and topics on this forum as well! I spent usefully my time in TRAM during traveling to work and I used my smartphone to read all these articles on combatsim.com. I spent a lot of time in multiplayer of Falcon family, Sturmovik family and Lock On/Flanker family as well but I never win any campaign in any simulator which I played and I played a most of them, like for example: EF 2000, F-22 ADF/TAW, F/A-18 Hornet Korea, Janes F-15/F-18/IAF/USAF/USNF,WW2 Fighters, EAW, Battle of Britain, Flanker 2.0, Falcon 4.0, Enemy Engaged Apache Havoc and Comanche Hokum, Longbow 2 and others...
I made decision try to win the most difficult dynamic campaign (first Operation Highland) in my favorite DID simulator on HARD difficulty. Hard difficulty doesn't mean that there is more enemies, only all weapons are more precision and AI is much better in combat.
So, in October 2015 I started play my first campaign in F-22 TAW: Operation Highland which is the most difficult campaign in this game although in game is marked as easy.
Yesterday, I won this campaign (on HARD difficulty!) after more than 1 year playing, one hour before time limit, with 61% damage of ARMY targets. I spent the most of time in cockpit of my F-22 as combat pilot (52 hours from 71 hours). Its fantastic feeling. I never finish any campaign (static or dynamic or semi-dynamic) in any combat simulator before that!
During last strategy on which I had 55 hours to Strike military Target ARMY and required damage was 60% I spent all time as pilot of F-22 without commanding war as AWACS commander. It was exciting to the end because I was on border of lost war or win war. First 20-30 hours as you can see on my score and sortie graph I had huge problems with quantity of enemy fighters and I had to too much errors, because as John Wayne I tried to combat in scenario 2x F-22 as CAP (because I couldn't flight other missions, I could fly only CAP and ESCORT missions due to fact that my rank was too low!) versus common Strike Package with 16 fighters, like usually Su-27, Mig-27, Su-25 or Mig-29. Also it was impossible for me survive during first Interdiction Strike missions because I had to 12 AGM-65 Mavericks and I was visible for all enemy fighters and especially for SAMs.
So, my personal recommendation how to be success in campaign are:
Setting in GAME.CFG file must be:
REARM_WINGMEN=1 (possibility to land on any Allied airfield and when you stop you will have max. weapons and fuel)
LAND_AT_ANY_BASE=1 (possibility to land on any Allied airfield with success mission)
NO_COLLISION_ON_GROUND=1 (to avoid to crash with other planes on airfiled)
START_ON_RUNWAY=0 (always start on ramp)
OTHER_FLIGHTS_IN_AIR=0 (this mean that your ESCORT and Wild Weasel flights will also start on ramp as you)
MORE_CANNON_ON_HARD=1 (personally I was not use this setting, so I had only 515 round to cannon)
1. In first 5-20 hours play as much as possible as AWACS commander, because this is the faster way (each AWACS mission duration is 30 min.) how to get promotion as soon as possible if you want not to use cheat from DID and get max. Rank from start. When you have to rank 3 (from 5 as max.) you can start to play easier Interdiction Strike missions. Don't try to fly as Escort or Wild Weasel because your mission will be usually failed because Strike flight will be shooted down and you therefore will lost all points from mission as well as rank! This mean that you lost possibility to fly Strike Mission as lead of strike squadron because you will be demoted to rank 2! Remember time is still running! It's dynamic campaign. Don't waste yout time because time is your enemy.
This is highly realistic campaign, you don't have unlimited time to commit your strategy. As in real you have time limit to current strategy, simply politicans are people define goals of war and you must respect that nobody will fight to final regardless of progress in war is good or bad. Like in Desert Storm you have limited time to achieve political goals.
2. Focus on you current strategy and ignore everything else especially if you are not strong in AA and AG (SAM) combat. If you have rank at least 3 (from max. 5) you can start fly as lead of Strike Flight in Interdiction Strike mission with Escort and Wild Weasel escort. Especially on beginning of campaign when enemy is very strong (because enemy have really a lot of fighters), don't use external pylons and all weapons have to in bomb bay. Typically, I used 2x AIM-9x Sidewinder, 2x AIM-120C AMRRAM, 2xAIM-120R AMRRAM and 2x AGM-65G Maverick. On ENCOM (Emission Control) 2 or 1, this mean when radar off, armed with two Air to Ground Mavericks in bomb bay I was able to fly to target and then destroyed target (typically 2 buildings) and I was able to fly back to my airport as invisible for enemy radars (usually) or any other allied airport. Then I got score and with other strike mission I was able to promote to rank 4 and 5. If you store dump bombs or mavericks/LGB on you external pylons you will be always visible for all enemies. Be aware of this fact.
Ignore, if can any AA combat and try to avoid be in contact with SAM or enemy planes. Much better is survive and get score from each mission. If you destroyed your assigned target and survive you get max. Score in mission. If you died in AA combat you will be failed in mission and you lost your score. Much better is be alive, this mean use catapult as much as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes enemy’s AA rockets hit you without possibility to use catapult. Also if your airplane is damaged and fire use catapult, is much better lost only some part of score instead lost everything because you will die in cockpit.
Focus on your current strategy means, that for example: if your strategy is strike to Air Force target than you can destroy any building on airports or HQ of AF. If your current strategy is to strike to military target (ARMY) than destroyed all barrack and military bases, this practically means all building there. Don't waste your time to destroy infrastructure targets like for example bridges if there are not part of your strategy because you will not increase damage % in your current strategy and probably lost your war.
3. Because enemy will have still new and new planes, you should destroyed airports. Focus on control tower and Wind indicator. If you destroyed them then enemy airplanes will not able to operate from this airfield, but after some time (30-40 hours) this destroyed airfield can be in operation status again! Be aware of this fact.
Note: Unfortunately, AI is still generating new airplanes on both side (your and enemy as well). This isn't realistic but you have still feel that something is in air and you have some targets during 72 hours duration of campaign. But this is also frustrating. Especially if you aren't good in AA combat.
4. Don't fly over SAM circle or AAA circle if this isn't necessary, because in other hand you will have BIG trouble with SAMs.
5. Don't fly over well supported enemy Airfield because in other hand AI will initialize SCRAMBLE mission with at least one or two fighters which can cause you a lot of problems, especially if you have AG weapons on external pylons. If you will tracked by radar immediately drop all external AG and switch ENCOM to 1 or 2. Then you can survive, maybe, it depend on overall situation. And your skill in AA combat. Don't forget to use countermeasure if some IR or R rocket is tracking you.
6. When situation on battlefield will be more stable, this mean enemy Air Forces will be reduced, try to focus on kill as much as possible Ground Targets to get required 60% of damaged ARMY targets. Also if you are strong in AA combat you can very effective destroy a lot of enemy Strike packages which are incoming or out coming and are near to your way to target. But be carefully, still focus on your primary goal. The war isn't possible to win if you will only kill enemy fighters. Sorry, this is reality.
7. If in air aren't too much or any enemy airplanes and SAMs are the mostly destroyed you can store 12 AGM-65G Mavericks on your external pylons, in bomb bay only 2x AIM-120R + 4x AIM-120R + 2x AIM-9X and kill as much as possible everywhere. If there isn't any available Interdiction Strike mission in Mission Roster then choose CAP with same configuration, look before that on Target List and take photo of destination targets near to your CAP. Fly over waypoint 3 to commit goal that you are on CAP patrol and then use your AG destroyed usually target Barracks and any other buildings in Town where is your target. Then you will see on Target List that yours destination town have to 100% damage.
8. The best AG weapon is definitely AGM-65G Maverick, you can use it in SLAVE or FREE mode = this mean target any static building/basically everything or slow flying helicopter as well! Your skill on LANTIR and Maverick must be excellent! Maverick is the best because you are able to destroy everything including SAMs.
Note: in this case is F-22 ADF much better because there you can use really LGB, free fall bombs not only Mavericks to maximize your success.
9. Use every time and every where your escort flights: Escort and Wild Weasel as much as possible. Especially Escort flights are able to clean way to target very effectively and, in case of AAA/SAM don't forget to use Wild Weasel flight. Safe your AA arsenal to critical situation, be aware of fact there you are primary in Strike flight.
FRQ2 - Sequence 242 Help - Threat Hot use if you are tracking by AAA or SAM. In this case yours Wild Weasel flight will answer Roger That and will attack to SAM/AAA.
If you want to use your Wingman to attack on SAM/AAA use 1 Wingman - 3 Combat - 3 Engage Hostile
Sequence 241 Help - Bandit Hot use if enemy airplanes are tracking you. ESCORT flight will answer Roger That and will attack them.
'Engage My Target.'You need to have a target in your shoot
list to use this directive call. Your wingman will engage the first
target in your shoot list.
'Engage Bandit.' Make this directive call when your wingman
has called a contact on the enemy and you want him to engage
that contact. If the wingman has not called a contact, he will not
respond to this call.
'Engage Hostile.' This directive call will order your wingman
to attack surface threats such as surface-to-air missile sites. Do
not use it in an A2A engagement.
'Engage Threat. After you are targeted by an enemy aircraft,
you can use this directive call to order your wingman to attack
Note: the best ESCORT planes are F-18E with the most AA rocket as possible and only with one external fuel tank. Good is also Su-27. The best Wild Weasel planes are same airplanes.
Look to all pictures around here. As you can see, I had a lot of troubles on beginning of campaign because enemy had to really a lot of airplanes (quantity and quality as well). I had to fix situation as AWACS commander because I lost my rank and therefore possibility to fly Interdiction Strike missions. To be honest, get 60% damage of ARMY targets is VERY, really very difficult in cockpit of your F-22. But I was able to win although to end still was not definitely clear if I will win or lost entire war. I don't know if there is something like draw.
Air Medal x4
The Medal of Honour x4
Bronze Star x13
Distinguished Flying Cross 8x
Silver Star 3x