Strike Fighters: Project 1 is a PC game (Combat / Flight Simulator) that primarily centers on a fictitious conflict in the Middle East between the Kingdom of Dhimar and the Empire of Paran from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Although the countries and conflict may not be real the aircraft and weapons used are completely accurate, in fact the conflict is what could be called a typical 'proxy' war between the USA and USSR where Dhimar gets help from the US and Paran uses imported Soviet equipment and expertise.
In 2004, Strike Fighters Gold was released to European market.
In 2008, Strike Fighters 2, updated to run on Windows Vista, was released.
The game was developed independently by Third Wire Productions.
Strike Fighters Project 1 was released in 2002. The initial reviews were of a poor unfinished game that had some exceptional 3D models of aircraft. In fact an early unfinished release of the game was sold by the leading US chain store, possibly in the publishers haste to get a game on the shelf. European users were sold a version already installed with "Service Pack 1" which had rectified many of the initial problems.
What had been released turned out to be really the starting point for a game that would improve vastly over the next few years. The developer continues to support the game with constant updates and patches (major updates are called Service Packs and there were 4 of them by 2007). Not only that, the game was designed to be moddable, and any players who had experience making computer 3D models could also add new objects for the game. First two years, the modding centered around a limited online community, but their initial work was to allow the start of a vast number of modifications and improvements to the basic game later in its life.
Currently there are thousands of free modifications for the game, most of them to a very high commercial standard. The strength of the game lies in what the game player can make of it because about 95% of the modifications can be carried out by anyone.
The storyline of Strike Fighters is set during a fictional conflict between the Kingdom of Dhimar and the Empire of Paran. The story begins in 1919, when geologists discover oil in the Valley of Kerman, a place at the Dhimari-Parani border. When drilling operations begin in the oil fields, Shah Mushani of Paran sends his troops across the border, beginning a long conflict between the nations.
In September 1933, Shah Mushani decides to put a halt to the conflict, following numerous attempts to capture the Mazadran oil fields. While Dhimar becomes a wealthy and economically powerful country, Paran has become poor. In February 1957, Halani Khomar, a Soviet-backed revolutionary leader, stages a bloody coup against the Mushani regime. Once in power, Khomar begins building up the Parani military forces, buying the newest fighter aircraft and tanks from the Soviet Union.
King Husani Karmar al'Galbhi of Dhimar, fearing a new war, decides to approach the US for military assistance. Tensions between the two countries culminate in two years of terrorist attacks in Dhimari border cities. In June 1959, the Dhimari ports become subject to a Parani naval blockade, stopping all shipping from and to Dhimar. Prince Fa'ad al'Galbhi, commander of the Dhimari Air Force, starts an emergency buildup of air power by creating several Special Operations Wings, manned by foreign mercenary pilots willing to fight. In July, the US dispatches US Naval and Air Force squadrons to assist their ally.
In September 1959, a mass Parani offensive is launched towards the Valley of Kerman and the Mazadran oil fields, and the game picks up here.
Games that use the Strike Fighters engine
- Strike Fighters: Project 1 (2002): The initial release centers on a fictional Middle Eastern scenario and a single Campaign.
- First Flight: The Wright Experience Flight Simulator (2003): A simulation of the Wright Brothers aircraft, including the 1903 Wright Flyer. Developed as a training tool for Wright Experience Centennial test pilots but is now available for the public.
- Strike Fighters: Gold (2004): An updated version of Strike Fighters: Project 1 released to the European market. It includes more ground objects and three extra campaigns called Desert Thunder, Quick Sand, and Rattle Snake. The F-104G and C-130 Hercules were removed due to a licensing dispute with Lockheed Martin although the F-104G was later available for free download. The game also included the F-4J Phantom II and A-4F Skyhawk that were available as free download.
- Wings Over Vietnam (2004): Set during the Vietnam War and released to the Strike Fighters Service Pack 3 standard which added further improvements including Aircraft Carrier operations.
- USAF: Air Dominance (2005): Game produced by the US Air Force for recruitment purposes (Not for public sale).
- Wings Over Europe (2006): Set in a possible Cold War conflict between NATO and the USSR and released to Strike Fighters Service Pack 4 standards
- First Eagles: The Great War 1918 (2006): Set in the World War I era and released to Service Pack 4 standards.
- First Eagles: Expansion Pack 1 (2007): Adds new planes and campaigns to First Eagles.
- Wings Over Israel (2008): (Also released as "Combat Over Israel") Covers the three historical Israel versus Arab conflicts 1967, 1973, and 1982.
- First Eagles: Gold (2008): Includes the Original 'First Eagles' and Expansion Pack together.
- Strike Fighters 2 (2008): A standalone update based on the original Strike Fighters: Project1 to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Vietnam (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Vietnam to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Europe (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Europe to run on Windows Vista.
- New 3D models of Planes, Ships, Weapons, and ground objects can be added - even concept types such as the F-19 and the F-23 are available and almost every weapon type has been created;
- Flight models and AI behaviour can be adjusted or created - If a flight model is not up to standard it can be improved to make it as realistic as possible;
- New campaigns, missions, sounds, music, graphics/scenery, menu screens, and skins for 3D objects - The look and feel of the virtual 3D environment as well as the game screens can be changed and improved upon;
The standard game comes with the following flyable US/Dhimari aircraft:
- A-4 Skyhawk- A-4B, A-4C, A-4E versions.
- F-100 Super Sabre - F-100D version.
- F-104 Starfighter - F-104G version.
- F-4 Phantom II- F-4B version for the Navy/Marines and the F-4C, F-4D and F-4E versions for the Air Force.
The following non-flyable US/Dhimari aircraft:
The computer-controlled Parani aircraft:
- An-12 Cub – AN-12BP version.
- Il-28 Beagle
- MiG-17 Fresco- MiG-17F version.
- MiG-19 Farmer- MiG-19S version.
- MiG-21 Fishbed - MiG-21F, MiG-21PFM and MiG-21MF versions.
- Su-7 Fitter – SU-7BM version.
- Tu-22 Blinder - TU-22B Blinder-A version.
- AIM-4D Falcon AAM
- AIM-7D/E/E-2 Sparrow AAM
- AIM-9B/E/E-2/J Sidewinder AAM
- AGM-45A Shrike ARM
- AGM-78B Standard ARM
- Mark 81 250 lb general-purpose bomb
- Mark 82 500 lb general-purpose bomb
- Mark 83 1000 lb general-purpose bomb
- Mark 84 2000 lb general-purpose bomb
- Mark 117 750 lb general-purpose bomb
- Mark 20 Rockeye cluster bomb
- BLU-1 napalm bomb
The game has been designed so it is as easy to learn and understand. This is an example of a 'light simulation'. This is opposed to other 'study simulations', such as Falcon 4.0, where the learning curve is much steeper.
The game has a useful 'Single Mission' option that allows the user to choose their mission, aircraft type, weapons and look at a map of where they are flying to. A set of names are generated to be included on the squadron rotor and they are allocated varying skill levels, which is useful to know when they are flying as your wingmen. The Single Mission mode is a good chance to practise for the Campaign mode because it gives all the mission types that the user will face in any campaign.
Mission types include:
- Intercept: Scramble to intercept incoming enemy bombers before they reach the target.
- Combat Air Patrol: Patrol vital defence areas and engage any aircraft in the area.
- Fighter Sweep: Fly into enemy airspace and engage any aircraft encountered.
- Close Air support: Support advancing friendly tanks by taking out enemy armour.
- Air Defence suppression: Also known as Iron Hand or Wild Weasel - Destroy AAA and SAM sites in the target area.
- Anti-Ship: Destroy assigned shipping
- Armed Reconnaissance: Look out and destroy enemy ground units
- Reconnaissance: Fly to and observe an assigned target.
Flying over the desert can be long and lonely, and just like the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s there are never that many enemy planes up in the air. A time acceleration feature is built into the game as well as a feature to let you warp to the target, although this later feature can place the player in the middle of trouble.
Bombing targets is difficult and the user has to practise dive and low level bombing to complete missions. The default jets are purely 60s technology and have no useful bombing aids.
The planes have simplified radars that are easy to operate, and try to simulate radars of that era; they have a delayed scan, do not always find and lock targets and are subject to ground clutter.
Dogfighting is almost always necessary thanks to the simulated unreliability of the early AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-4 Falcon – which adds an element of realism. The user will then find themselves in no position to out-turn the enemy MiGs due to the manoeuvrability of the featured US jets, so new tactics must be learnt.
The developer of the series
This series of games is designed by Tsuyoshi Kawahito (known as 'TK'), who was also involved in some of the 1990s best selling PC flight simulators, including European Air War (1998) by MicroProse and Longbow 2 (1997) by Jane's Combat Simulations.
- Developers site
- USAF: Air Dominance
- Online Community and download site
- Online Community and resource site