Combat School (Day)

This sortie would take me on a punishing route through which I am to attack three stationary AA sites and one five vehicle convoy traveling along a road interspersed with civilian traffic. In plotting out the waypoints in the mission editor, I wound up with eight which may have exceeded the threshold that the ABRIS system can handle (not sure about that in easy avionics game mode, however the whole mission went to hell full throttle after I requested clearance to land at Kobuleti).

The bird I am flying today is decked out in the demo paint scheme and numbered 22. It is black, menacing and all but a terror to look at save for the teal and white “Black Shark” logo slapped on the back. My load out is a rather standard 12X9A4172 (pods 4 and 1) and 40*S-80FP (pods 3 and 2). And of course the house dressing, the Shipunov 2A42 30mm cannon with a load of HE and AP rounds.  The Vikhr anti-tank missiles have a range of 8km while the main gun has a range of 0.5-2km in game.

The first leg of the flight to waypoint 00002 on the ABRIS (1 on the PVI-800 which has always confused me) is 49 KM from the airstrip I took off from. Plenty of time to trim out the aircraft and make sure I am heading in the right direction via route mode. The first target is a ZU-23 AAA emplacement that will die before they can realize I am even there. The HE rounds are more than sufficient to eliminate the target with a few squeezes of the trigger. I did have to break route mode though to line up a decent shot.

After reestablishing route mode, I am looking at a run of 31km to the next waypoint. This is another ZU-23 AAA emplacement that has no chance against the 30mm cannon. I am dropping metal on them before entering what appears to be their maximum engagement zone on the map and in ABRIS, so they may not even be able to detect my presence. I will have to do a flyby sometime and see if they shoot at me to gauge their effectiveness.

At this point I am approximately 30km away from what I believe is waypoint 00004, although the enemy convoy is traveling a main road stretching from Tsatskhvi to the airstrip I just visited at Isula. The vehicle group consists of two BTR-80 APC’s (front and rear of the formation) and three Ural-375 Transports. I get an auto lock next ground target approximately 9.5km out however the line of sight is obscured by two cranes going about their business.

This optical illusion dissipates and I have clear view and heavy time on target of the convoy. I go overboard on the Vikhr anti-tank missiles and rip the group to shreds in less than a minute.

Another brutal leg, this time 25km to waypoint 00005: I lock on the final AAA emplacement and take them out with lukewarm interest at best: they are no threat to me! Only trim is!!

Oh Lord what was I thinking: 40km to waypoint 00006, which happens to be so far off the coast, if my fuel runs out I will be eaten by sea urchin long before making it halfway to shore. The good part of this stretch however is there is some very nice scenery and things to note.

Every time I play this game with civilian traffic enabled, it never ceases to amaze me how easy the AI vehicles navigate roadways and bridges (something ArmA has yet to master after all these years).

I like flight sims/games that have realistic terrain features that can be used for basic navigation in case the ABRIS goes USELESS.

The Punisher: 55km to waypoint 00007.

Right here after I request landing, all hell breaks loose. I cannot control the helicopter, the trim is all whacked and on more than one occasion as I was free falling from 5,000 feet I thought about ejecting.

Home freaking sweet home!! Kobuleti never looked so good!!

Other thoughts: this game reminds me a lot of Silent Hunter III, a game I love to play and have spent countless hours on, but never stepped beyond weapons officer assistance. That game became something else entirely when you would put the effort in to learning how to fire torpedoes by your own calculations without game assists.

I see where Black Shark is most likely in that same vein: a game that can be played and enjoyed with easy avionics, game mode and what not, but is a wild horse once those encumbrances are removed and effort is put into learning how to fly this beast and employ it in a combat environment without any training wheels.

I dusted off my Thrustmaster HOTAS-T for this review, and after some configuration tweaking it quite expectedly beats the hell out of my Logitech dual action controller.

Meet Lab Rat, the test pilot used for this mission. No actual rats were harmed in the creation of this post.


  1. Great stuff. I have had Black Shark for years. I did once get quite good at starting up and flying it about a bit but that's it :) I really like it though and I will go back to it. I do the odd flight when time permits.

  2. I like this and LOMAC as well, although I have the newer A-10C that I have not given any proper time to yet. For Black Shark, I am thinking of going through one of the campaigns and posting about the progress as opposed to set piece battles here and there.

  3. Would be great to read that. Good luck if you do.


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