Comanche 3 (e)

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Comanche 3 
            Shelter from the Norm: Most military helicopters have all the 
            subtlety of a city bus. They're big, they're loud, and so they 
            normally attract a lot of attention. Boeing Sikorsky's RAH-66 
            Comanche is different. Besides being the Army's most technologically 
            advanced rotary aircraft, the Comanche is designed to survive on the 
            modern battlefield thanks to its low-observable (LO) stealth 
            Comanche 3 is NovaLogic's newest helicopter simulation. Its five 
            campaigns (referred to in the game as operations) feature a diverse 
            mix of fast paced combat missions. Players will find themselves 
            performing everything from long range surgical airstrikes to 
            defensive combat air patrols. There are advancing enemy tank columns 
            to halt, submarines to hunt down and sink, trains to de-rail, even 
            nuclear reactors and chemical warfare plants to destroy. But what 
            really sets this simulation apart is its emphasis on the importance 
            of evading detection. 
            In this respect Comanche 3 is shelter from the norm. It's one 
            simulation that provides you with a change from all the 
            cookie-cutter flight simulations that flood the marketplace these 
            days. This game uses no linear detection equations or artificial 
            radii with pre-set thresholds. All detection routines are handled 
            dynamically. As a pilot, you can't look at a given situation and 
            think to yourself "everything will be okay if I stay this far away 
            from the enemy." If only it were that simple... 
            Comanche 3 manipulates an enormous amount of data just to determine 
            whether you've been spotted so it's easy to get lost trying to keep 
            track of it all. Fortunately, a lot of what you need to remember is 
            all common sense. But before we get into all the ways you can 
            maximize your stealthiness, let's first take a look at how this 
            simulation handles detection. Knowing how things work ahead of time 
            will make it easier for you to figure out ways to beat the system 
            later on. 
            There are two basic means of detection in the Comanche 3 "world": 
            general visibility and radar. All military objects (such as AAA 
            guns, radar towers, tanks, APCs, aircraft, etc.) are surrounded by a 
            general zone of visibility. Each zone is unique to that object and 
            is based upon the object's capacity to hear and see things going on 
            around it. The size and shape of the zone depends entirely upon the 
            object doing the viewing. A naval vessel like the Nanuchka, for 
            example, has a much larger zone of visibility than a tank crew 
            buttoned up inside a T-80. What's more, the Nanuchka has a zone 
            which fans out 360 whereas a tank crew is limited to looking 
            straight ahead through vision slits in the armor. 
            This general zone of visibility is based primarily on sight but it 
            takes into account thermal and audio detection also. Objects have 
            the ability to detect other objects based on the amount of noise 
            they make. Loud objects like tank engines or helicopter rotors can 
            be heard from a long way away. Even at night when vision-based 
            detection is degraded, objects equipped with thermal imagers can see 
            just fine, thank you... and of course, sound travels just as far at 
            night as it does during the day. 
            The second means of detection is based upon radar. Modern combat 
            revolves around the use of radar. Once spotted by radar, the enemy 
            knows how high you're flying and how fast you're going. They can 
            tell the direction you're heading and can guess where you came from. 
            A good radar set can even tell what make and model aircraft you 
            happen to be driving. 
            Getting picked up on radar is like stepping on the proverbial third 
            rail. It's only a matter of time until something nasty shows up in 
            your vicinity. Luckily, not every object in Comanche 3 is equipped 
            with its own radar. Fixed wing enemy aircraft all have radar but 
            ground vehicles, unless they are air defense vehicles, typically 
            will not. Naval vessels, on the other hand have very powerful radar. 
            You will want to stay away from them whenever possible. Finally, 
            important high-dollar targets like air bases or industrial complexes 
            will either have a radar installation nearby or will be defended by 
            a radar equipped object. 
            Between these two zones of detection you'd think that much of the 
            map is covered, but it isn't. There are some real gaps in the air 
            defense- gaps large enough to drive a truck through. Your job is 
            easier, however. You don't need to drive a truck; you only need to 
            fly a Comanche through it. Here's how to do it. 
            Your Comanche is built to deflect radar waves rather than reflect 
            them. Its smooth external lines cause radar waves to flow around its 
            fuselage instead of catching on something and bouncing off. Things 
            like exposing your bay doors or leaving your landing gear down only 
            serve to break up the Comanche's smooth appearance and make it more 
            vulnerable to detection. In fact, your helicopter is almost twice as 
            likely to be spotted on radar when your bay doors are open so keep 
            them closed. Having your landing gear extended does not have quite 
            the same impact, but it still has an affect. 
            Most of the radars in Comanche 3 happen to be of the pulse-Doppler 
            variety. These radars detect movement much easier when it is moving 
            at a 90 angle in relation to the direct of their beam. Crossing 
            targets are easier to spot than those approaching head-on so you're 
            somewhat less likely to be detected when traveling directly to or 
            from the radar emitter itself. Always try to fly directly toward or 
            away from these radars where possible. 
            One last thing to keep in mind about radar is that it works 
            according to direct line-of-sight. In other words, it ain't 
            Superman. It can't see through mountains or around corners. 
            Therefore, if you can keep solid terrain features between you and 
            the radar, it won't detect you. This technique of flying low to 
            avoid enemy radar is called flying "Nap of the Earth (NOE)." You'll 
            be doing a lot of this when flying the Comanche so get used to it. 
            Basically, if you're flying more than 50 feet off the ground you're 
            screwing up. Stay low and hug the terrain like a long lost relative. 
            It may take you longer to get where you're going, but that's okay. 
            These missions are not foot races so take your time. Keeping low 
            breaks up a radar's line-of-sight. It also lets you lose yourself in 
            ground clutter and false echoes. 
            Staying low also helps minimize the chances of being spotted 
            visually. Believe it or not, this simulation takes flying in shadows 
            into account- even during the daytime. It actually reduces the 
            chance an enemy object will detect you if you are in a shadow as 
            seen from the enemy's perspective. By the same token, if you are 
            back-lit by open sky, the enemy has a much easier time spotting you. 
            Enemy units are notorious gossips as well. They can't wait to tell 
            their comrades that they've spotted a Comanche in the neighborhood. 
            Once an enemy unit detects you, figure on everyone getting the 
            message sooner, rather than later. Of course, this can work in your 
            favor also. Get the enemy's attention focused on looking for you in 
            one area, then move. Strike suddenly in one spot, disappear, then 
            strike again somewhere else. This is the Comanche way. 
            Here's one final little tip to keep in mind. The saying "There's 
            safety in numbers" doesn't apply here. When flying a Comanche, 
            you're much safer on your own. Consider this fact the next time 
            you're blissfully flying along accompanied by an "escort" of AH-64 
            Apaches; the enemy may not be able to hear your super stealthy 
            Comanche but they can damn sure hear those Apaches coming! Once the 
            enemy starts looking in their direction it won't be long before 
            their attention is drawn to you. 
            Flying a Comanche for a living is a dangerous profession but then 
            again, so is driving a cab in New York. If you'd rather go 
            "tank-plinkin'" then worry about picking up fares, just follow the 
            common sense rules laid out for you in this article. You'll do 
            wonders for your chances of reaching retirement. 
            Fly low, fly slow, and try to keep something between you and the bad 
            guys. Oh... and whatever you do, keep those bay doors shut. It is 
            often said the Comanche has a radar cross-section the size of a 
            postage stamp. A moment's inattentiveness can turn this postage 
            stamp into something akin to the broadside of a barn. Good luck and 
            good hunting. 
            by Lawrence T. Russell