Update: Blackbird’s “State of the Sim” video is back online and available to be watched in all its glory. Watch it below or continue reading for a summary of all the important stuff shown during the stream. Lots of pictures included!
Blackbird Simulations went live this Saturday for a new “State of the Sim” livestream on Twitch, where they shared updates and answered questions about their upcoming products for Microsoft Flight Simulator. The team showed off a lot of very cool products in various stages of development!
During the stream, they announced a new brand called Shrike Simulations. The concept behind Shrike Simulations is to release in MSFS a simplified range of products that were developed during the P3D and FSX eras. The aim is to optimize Blackbird’s production pipeline and focus more resources on projects that the team feels are more interesting.
Shrike Simulations intends to release these products in a “standard” or “lower-spec” state to ensure they run smoothly on Xbox. These simplified aircraft will still have well-crafted 3D models and textures with relatively complete and suitable systems, but not at a “study level”. Additionally, these planes will have a good sound set, but no manual, and will be priced at $20 or less.
In the words of the developers, they should look and fly enjoyably, but they will be more like “toys”. These planes will be developed to work out of the box on the Xbox, and will be sold directly from Shrike Simulations as well as the MSFS Marketplace. However, the latter versions will not have access to weapons modeling.
During the presentation, the team showcased some of their upcoming products from both Blackbird and Shrike Simulation, starting with the MD 530F helicopter, the first of Shrike’s upcoming releases. This helicopter will come equipped with weapons, in a similar fashion to what the team has done in the Corsair. It has been confirmed that the MD 530F will work on Xbox, but the version available on the Marketplace will not include weapons modeling.
This helicopter boasts dynamic lighting, door animations, and custom sounds. However, it will not support any GTN systems. Default avionics are expected to function properly. Although still a work in progress, the team anticipates the MD 530F’s release within 30 days.
KBAB Beale Air Force Base
In addition to the MD 530F, the team is also working on a rendition of the Beale AFB, which served as a base for the SR-71. This scenery will be available for purchase on both the Blackbird Simulations website and Marketplace. It is expected to be released soon, with two versions available: one circa the 1970s with SR-71s, and the other a more recent version. This is Blackbird Simulations’ first foray into sceneries, and no specific release date has been announced yet.
PA-30 Twin Comanche
The PA-30 Twin Comanche was previously released for P3D and has now received minor upgrades to modeling and paint job. Its code base remains similar. Unlike the C310, it was never created as an in-depth aircraft, and it has features and limitations similar to the MD 530F. There’s no wear and tear, dirt leveling, etc. This is a relatively simple and inexpensive aircraft, priced under $20.
The Baron B-55 is the third aircraft in the pipeline from Shrike Simulations, and both the model and code are complete. The team was unable to show it in the stream, but it is in progress. All three of these products should be available within three months.
Now, let’s get to the juicy details!
After the successful release of the Beaver for the 40th Anniversary Edition of MSFS, the team has been working hard on the Turbo Otter. It’s set to have almost the same systems as the C310, with wear and tear, different levels of dirt, and study-level simulations of almost everything. Plus, it’ll have full-on animations, including a cargo bay. And who knows, a variant with a radial engine might be on the table!
The team has confirmed that they are working on the C-130J for commercial purposes. Once that’s done, they’ll be porting it for MSFS. It’s going to be very detailed! FLIR, air-to-ground radar, TAWS, and other systems don’t work properly in MSFS as of yet, but Blackbird is aiming for a full-on study-level simulation of the C-130J. However, they can’t promise anything just yet, as there are still a few unknown factors. The team is also looking into the ability to drop cargo at low levels with parachutes. Both short and long variants will be included, and a civilian variant will be available with default radios instead of the military radios. They have no plans for an AC-130 model, though.
UH-60 Black Hawk
An exciting new announcement from Blackbird Simulations is the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which is now being coded. All the modelling and texturing are done. Blackbird is making the HH-60G and MH-60S models in a close-to-study-level simulation in an all-glass cockpit. Blackbird Simulations is also including weapons for added realism. They hope to release the Black Hawk this year, but no promises are made.
The SR-71 is another aircraft in the works, as we all know by now after a series of teasers. Blackbird Simulations is aiming for 100% study-level simulation, with a fully functional front seat and partially complete rear seat systems. They had access to the SR-71A stationed at the Robins Air Force Base Museum to ensure an accurate representation of this legendary aircraft.
Blackbird says the SR-71 will be challenging to fly, capable of very high speeds at the appropriate altitudes. Some cool features will be included like refueling capabilities and realistic fuel leakage, just like the real thing. The team has planned 31 liveries to be included. No estimated release date yet.
Finally, the Huey. This iconic helicopter is being developed with an eye towards accuracy and realism. The team is taking input from active Huey pilots to ensure that the simulation flies like the real thing. Wear and tear, easter eggs, and realistic working wipers will also be included.
Blackbird Simulations plans to include a civilian version with default radios. While it won’t be compatible with third-party GTN units, Blackbird promises that the Huey will be an exciting addition to any enthusiasts of this iconic helicopter.
The F-15C Eagle is also in the works. 8 liveries are planned. The F-15E is also planned as a separate product. It will come with a variety of weapons and plenty of features, such as a functional HUD. Blackbird is aiming for its F-15 to be “as study-level as a military aircraft can be in MSFS”.
While these are the main products discussed during the stream, there are quite a few smaller but interesting tidbits regarding other airplanes:
- The F-86 Sabre is almost done.
- The T-38A is absolutely coming to MSFS at study-level state. T-38C release unknown.
- T-6 Texan also coming and “study-level”
- 737-200: model is being enhanced. FMS being coded. No release estimate.
- F-4E and F-4S also planned
- not doing the Lear or the King Air
As you can see, these guys have a packed production line for Microsoft Flight Simulator! While we tried to summarise the juicier details in this article, the full video is well worth a look!
Out of all the aircraft that were displayed, which one caught your attention the most? Feel free to drop a comment below and let us know!