Interview With Soviet From the 51st PVO Regiment
Soviet is an Su-27S virtual combat pilot from the 51st PVO Regiment, champion of the last SATAC 2013 competition and currently #17 in the DCS air-to-air rankings. Soviet’s wargame history includes many titles such as Dune, F-19 Stealth Fighter, LHX, panzer generals. Soviet is also a professional player in the World of Tanks title and does a lot of streaming/casting/consulting within the realm of eSports. This article is the 3rd interview with iconic DCS virtual combat pilots.
Q1-Glad to have you with us today Soviet, thanks for answering the invitation. Could you tell us a bit about your first steps into wargames and warfare simulators, when and how has it all started for you?
Warfare theme seems to be rather central within the gaming industry, especially when going back and looking at some of the earlier titles. I grew up with computer games, from the earlier RTS (real-time strategy) titles to my favorite flight simulators. So, some of those titles that stand out are: Dune, F-19 Stealth Fighter, LHX, panzer generals. In the early nineties flight simulation genre was booming, developers were not afraid to spoil us, flight fanatics, with numerous titles which is what seeded my love for them. Today, I have maintained my love for gaming, to the point that I actually work in the industry. I am a professional player in the World of Tanks title and do a lot of streaming/casting/consulting within the realm of eSports. Our team, Fulcrum Gaming, has been dominant in the North American region and has represented the United States at various international tournaments such as World Cyber Games and more.
Q2- Many 51st PVO veteran pilots come from the iconic VVS 504 Red Hammers, are you guys still in touch with the 504, any news about your former squad-mates?
Actually, I was not part of the VVS 504 squadron. My history within the LOMAC community really started with Russian Air Force squadron (RAF), from which I transitioned to 169th and finally the 51st PVO.
Q3- 51st PVO is a well established squadron today and is one of the very few groups still going strong since early Lock On versions. What’s the secret to that?
We have a really great group of guys that are not easily deterred from flight simulation due to things like extremely buggy releases, poor modeling and overall problems that we face as flight simmers. Also, I believe part of the stability is the fact that our squadron specializes exclusively on operating the Su-27 for air superiority type tasks. Part of it is romanticism, sure I am not afraid to say that word, another part is the challenge that comes with utilizing this beautiful airframe in a very diluted timeline of DCS. Our training program is extensive, serious and reinforces the importance of discipline and team work.
Q4- DCS World appears to be one of the leading warfare simulation in the market today. How would you rate the current state of this simulator in general but also MP wise considering the current online instability?
The evolution of DCS line has been questionable, to me it seems like the developers are constantly in state of jumping from one “fire” to another. Unfortunately, the engine is dated and the multiplayer in its current state is extremely limited. There are promising developments, and changes that we have recently seen. For example, the development team seems to be more willing to lead constructive conversations as equals which helps the health of the community a lot! We have also seen a rise in small and regular updates on what to expect. So, we continue to support the community with our dedicated server, online presence and even, every now and then, some presence on ED forums.
Q5- Su-27 and 51st PVO share a lot together. How has the Su-27 story started? could you also give us your insight into the capabilities and limits of the Flanker in this game?
The graceful Flanker has been our bird from the start. Part of the storyline of the 51st PVO Regiment is that we are indeed attempting to re-enact, if you may, a Soviet PVO (air defense) squadron which entails the use of Su-27 as the primary aircraft. Flanker is an excellent air superiority fighter with a capable armament and extremely long legs, meaning large fuel capacity, so we are able to stay on station longer. In the game there are a lot of compromises and simplifications that limit the full range of the airframe, but also boost it in other areas. As pilots we have to be extremely patient and be fully situationally aware when pressing the engagement. Overall, it is a struggle for us to fight on equals with the likes of the UFO that is the F-15C, but with proper execution and close team work, no Eagle is too strong for our beloved Flanker.
Q6- 51st have just won the SATAC 2013 tournament without dropping a match! It felt like it was very intense sometimes especially against NFI who took the first round twice before you managed each time to turn the tables on them. What were the keys to your success, how did you guys manage to find the right tactical adjustment and mental strength to take the upper hand?
First of all, SATAC was a great event and I hope the community supports future competitions with stronger participation and interest on the subject of air-to-air combat. As for keys to success, I will keep it short, discipline and trust. Our tactical maneuvers are well rehearsed, with clean brevity and situational awareness we are able to reinforce each other and be there when your wingman is in dire need. Of course, we have extremely well skilled pilots in our squadron – which helps… a little 🙂 Should our situational awareness deteriorate while in an engagement, we are able to rely on individual decisions to reestablish lost awareness or in extreme circumstance engage in “rambo” combat. Fighting NFI was challenging, as they only utilize F-15Cs and with an extremely tuned AIM-120C the Flanker has to be very picky about when to commit into an engagement. It is very easy to lose an advantageous position against the Eagle, and if you do not realize that you are in trouble your doom is iminent. Whenever we lost our opening round against NFI we would regroup and concentrate on our mistakes, never do we doubt ourselves nor start changing what we have been doing for years.
Q7- How have you guys managed to deal with the current R-27 guidance deficiency, the broken EOS and other bugs that hinder air-to-air combat on the Su-27 especially against fully-fledged F-15’s?
Well, sad to say our flight hours have gone down. This is not only because of clear issues with the so called Missile AFM tweaks, but also with the fact that multiplayer is completely unsuitable for competitive air-to-air environment. And sorry, moving mud or transporting UN dignitaries is not our thing.
Q8- In addition to actual combat, you guys have shown great skills and discipline when it comes to close formation flying. It would be great to get your insight into the benefits of efficient formation flying to ACM.
This is our staple at the 51st. All of our cadets are expected to be able to hold close formations, execute precise maneuvers in direct vicinity of the lead aircraft. No, we do not have aspiration of becoming an aerobatic squadron, though I bet we would be pretty damn good at it, the reason behind this is that it teaches you to actually fly the aircraft instead of just being a passenger along for the ride. Formation flying, precise maneuvering, calculated adjustments all help you feel the airframe and its limitations – in turn we are able to maximize the advantages of the Flanker in combat.
Q9- There has always been a debate on the F-15/Su-27 respective version modeled in Flaming Cliffs with lot of people claiming it unfair and in favor of the Eagle. Now that ED has recently canceled the Su-27SM project in favor of the S version not to mention Western and European 4++ and 5th generation fighters being in development (F-22, F-35, EF-2000…), how do you see the future of the Flanker in DCS as an air superiority fighter?
Flanker will always be a formidable foe in the sky, no matter which UFO aircraft DCS decides to introduce into the mix. However, I obviously hope that the 27 will continue to be improved as abandoning it or the 29 will gut the community in its core. The community will simply shatter.
Q10- SATAC 2014: Which squadrons that did not participate would you like to see in next year?
104th and 44th… Both of these squadrons are respected by us, and we would love for them to partake in such an event.
Q11: There seem to be some interesting wargame titles out there, probably not as detailed as DCS but gameplay, visuals and multiplayer seemed convincing at first blush. Have you guys tried your hand at games such as Wargame Air Land Battle, Arma3, Men of War, among others?
Majority of the squad plays ‘Wargame’, it is a good title. Has some over simplifications, but provides for quick and fun ways to spend some time… or dare I say days upon days.
Q12- Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for this opportunity, I hope my sincere answers do not offend anyone and our community continues to grow and support each other. Flankerator you are doing a hell of a job for all of us, hats off to you!!
Thanks Soviet for your time, answers and valuable insights. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you guys in action again soon!
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