Here's a little test scenario, using F-18Es. All of them have Ferry loadouts, and all are flying at the same altitude (36,000 feet) and speed (loiter). The database indicates they should have a fuel consumption of 24.42 kg/minute under these conditions. In this case I let them fly for 3 hr 46 min, until they've used a little over half their fuel, and I got the following results.
1) Single planes, straight line: Two individual F-18s are on a straight line course. Both are consuming at 24.4 kg/minute, according to their Unit Fuel display, and both have 5379.4 kg of fuel left on board. Calculated consumption rate is 24.47 kg/minute, which is almost exactly the same as the 24.42 kg/minute indicated in the database. All is well.
2) Group of planes, straight line: A group of two F-18s is on a straight line course. Both are consuming 24.4 kg/minute, according to the display, and actually consuming 24.47 kg/minute. The lead has 5379.4 kg of fuel left, the same as the individual planes, but the wingman only has 5371.4 kg of fuel, which is 8kg less. I assume the 8kg difference came from a little nudge on the throttles that the wingman did to get into his station.
3) Group of planes, box pattern: A group of two F-18s is on a support mission, flying a box pattern approximately 7 nm on a side. Both are consuming 24.4 kg/minute, according to their display, when they are on the straight side of the pattern. The lead has 5379.4 kg of fuel left, just like the planes flying straight. However, the wingman has only 4009.0 kg of fuel, having burned over a ton more fuel than his lead. You can see the wingman's fuel consumption jumping from 24.4 kg/min (loiter) to 52.5 kg/min (military) as it goes around each corner. The wingman's actual consumption (averaged over the time in flight) was 30.54 kg/minute. This is quite close to cruise speed consumption, but that is coincidental, and other tests show the actual number will vary based on the shape and size of the flight pattern.
4) Group of planes, circling: A group of two F-18s has no orders, and is circling in place. The lead is consuming 24.4 kg/minute, according to its individual Unit Fuel readout. The lead has 5379.4 kg left, again, just like the planes on straight line courses. The wingman is much worse off, with a mere 2250.2 kg of fuel remaining, having burned over three tons more than his lead. The wingman's actual fuel consumption (averaged over the time of flight) is 38.3 kg/minute. This is above cruise fuel consumption, but less than military power. It's Unit Fuel display flickers up and down between loiter (24.4 kg/min) and military (52.5 kg/min) consumption rates.
So to me, it looks like the game is calculating properly.
My question, since I am not a pilot, is whether flying in formations really does impose this sort of fuel consumption burden in actual practice? Do pilots really have to jump up to military power to keep pace when a loitering lead turns a corner? Or do both of them make more gradual throttle changes and allow fluid formation changes, with the result that fuel consumption is lower? (Maybe the guy on the outside swings to the inside, and vice versa?)
< Message edited by AndrewJ -- 1/5/2020 3:12:38 AM >