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How Many Planes Can You Actually Fly for Free in DCS?

Hey flight sim fan! If you‘ve looked into the ultra-realistic Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) platform, you may be wondering: how many planes can I actually fly for free?

It‘s a great question, because while DCS World itself is free, most of the planes require purchase.

The short answer is: You get 2 free aircraft modules with DCS World. These are the TF-51D Mustang and Su-25T Frogfoot.

But let‘s dig deeper into the free content available in DCS, paid modules, quality and realism, costs, and how to maximize your free flying time. Strap in and let‘s take off!

The 2 Free DCS Aircraft Modules

When you download DCS World, you get 2 free official aircraft modules plus the Caucasus map included:

DCS: TF-51D Mustang

This iconic WWII fighter plane converted into a post-war trainer is a great way to explore the DCS flight dynamics for the first time.

While unarmed, the TF-51D allows you to learn:

  • Basic flight maneuvers like rolls, loops, stall recovery
  • Takeoffs and landings
  • Navigating around the map

It‘s simple enough for new sim pilots, but realistic enough to provide a smooth transition into more complex combat aircraft.

DCS: Su-25T Frogfoot

The Su-25T is a Soviet-era ground attack plane designed to provide close air support.

Compared to the TF-51D, the Su-25T:

  • Has weapons like rockets, bombs, and guns for ground attack
  • Is more complex with hands-on analog controls
  • Offers a combat flying experience right away

Between these two modules, DCS World provides a flexible starting point to get your feet wet with flight basics or realistic combat operations depending on your interests.

Overview of DCS Paid Modules

The DCS platform has a huge amount of paid content available beyond the two free planes. Let‘s look at what‘s available:

High Fidelity Aircraft Modules

Over 50 ultra-realistic planes can be purchased including:

Modern Jets

  • F/A-18C Hornet
  • F-16C Viper
  • F-14 Tomcat
  • A-10C Warthog
  • Mirage 2000C

WWII Fighters

  • Spitfire
  • BF-109
  • P-51D Mustang
  • FW-190D9


  • UH-1H Iroquois
  • Mi-24 Hind
  • Ka-50 Black Shark

Other Unique Aircraft

  • JF-17 Thunder
  • C-101 Aviojet
  • Christen Eagle II (aerobatic plane)

Most aircraft run $50-$80 each depending on the complexity, with some older planes around $15-25. This includes amazingly detailed high fidelity recreations of the cockpits, sensors, weapons, flight dynamics and sound.


In addition to the free Caucasus map, DCS has 7 other highly detailed maps covering different parts of the world that can be purchased. These cost around $50 each and provide hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of terrain.

Some examples:

  • Nevada (USA)
  • Persian Gulf
  • Normandy (WWII)
  • Syria
  • Marianas (Pacific)

Campaigns & Other Content

Pre-made scripted campaigns for different aircraft can be bought for immersive single player combat missions. Other content like ground units, ship units, and new scenery units are also available.

Between aircraft, maps and campaigns, DCS has a massive amount of high quality content beyond the two free planes. Much more than we can cover here!

Costs of DCS Modules

So what does DCS content cost if you want to move beyond the free modules? Here‘s a quick look:

Aircraft Pricing

Aircraft TypeAverage Price
WWII Warbirds$50
Cold War Jets$60
Modern Jets$80
  • On sale prices can be 10-50% off regular prices

Map Pricing

  • Maps – $30-$50 each

  • Terrain Units – $5-$15 each

Campaign Pricing

  • Scripted Campaigns – $15-$25 each

While not cheap, DCS modules are very fairly priced for the extremely high level of quality and realism they deliver. When purchased on sale, you can get an entire high fidelity combat aircraft for under $60.

Maximizing Your Free DCS Content

While most DCS aircraft and maps need to be bought, you do have options to enjoy them for free short term:

14 Day Trial – You can test fly any purchased module for 14 days before deciding to keep it. This gives you plenty of time to try before you buy.

Multiplayer – Joining an online multiplayer server lets you fly any plane, even if you don‘t own it. Great way to take new aircraft for a spin.

Spectating – You can ride along with other players on multiplayer in spectator mode, again trying out unowned aircraft for free.

Between these options, you can get extensive hands-on time with any DCS module without paying a dime up front. Only if you decide to keep flying a plane long term would you have to buy it.

The Incredible Quality & Realism of DCS

Let‘s talk about why DCS modules justify their price tags. The realistic fidelity and attention to detail is unparalleled in flight simulation:

Cockpit Systems – Every switch, gauge, light, panel in the cockpit is modeled in exact detail with realistic behavior. The start up procedures mirror real world checklists.

Avionics and Sensors – The avionics like radar, sensors, targeting systems, electronic warfare systems all perform just like actual planes thanks to classified data from manufacturers.

Flight Dynamics – The flight models are tuned using actual aerodynamic data and input from real pilots. Flying each plane feels very true to life.

Battle Damage – Aircraft performance degrades realistically from damage. hydraulic leaks, electrical failures, control surface damage, etc will affect how the plane handles.

Audio – High fidelity cockpit sounds, engine noises, explosions, weapon effects pull you into the experience.

Graphics – Detailed 4K textures inside and out combined with real-time lighting and shadows bring the planes to life.

Simply put, there is no combat flight sim on the market that comes close to providing the sheer depth of realism that DCS does across its aircraft and environment.

DCS Planes Used for Real Training

A testament to the realism – the DCS A-10C module is so accurate and detailed, it is used by the actual United States Air Force for training!

The quality of the flight modeling, avionics simulation, and weapon systems is high enough that DCS provides practical real world training value.

Likewise, many real world pilots use DCS aircraft to stay sharp on procedures, aircraft knowledge, and combat tactics.

DCS may be the most realistic and authentic flight experience available on any platform.

Expanding Your Free DCS Options

I‘ve focused on the two free aircraft so far, but there are a few other ways to expand your DCS experience without paying:

User Mods – The DCS user community has created tons of free user-made add-ons like new planes, campaigns, theaters, liveries, and more. Browse sites like:

  • DCS Mods
  • DCS-Bios

Promotional Freebies – Occasionally Eagle Dynamics or third party developers release limited free trials of paid products for promotions.

Contests/Events – DCS sometimes gives away modules for free for short periods around anniversaries, holidays or other special events.

So keep tabs on the DCS websites and user community for occasional freebies you can grab!

Experiencing DCS on a Budget

Between the free modules and community content, you can get a great DCS experience without ever spending a dime.

But if you want to venture into paid modules, here are some tips for maximizing value as you expand your DCS hangar on a budget:

  • Watch for sales – Modules see discounts multiple times per year. Wait for 50% off big ticket planes.
  • Buy third party planes – Third party aircraft are often cheaper than Eagle Dynamics planes.
  • Prioritize what excites you – Focus on one or two aircraft or periods (WWII, modern jets etc) that most interest you rather than trying to buy it all.
  • Take advantage of free trial and MP – Get a couple weeks of free access to try before you buy.
  • Consider splitting cost with friends – You can share purchased modules across multiple PCs.
  • Use free promos & contests – Take advantage of any free module offers that pop up.

With smart purchasing, patience, and utilizing free options, you can experience most of what DCS has to offer without breaking the bank.

Final Thoughts

So in summary:

  • DCS World gives you 2 free aircraft modules – the TF-51D and Su-25T.

  • There are dozens more high fidelity planes, maps, and campaigns available as paid DCS downloads.

  • You can try almost all modules for free before deciding to buy.

  • Modules ranges from $10 to $80 based on the aircraft, but go on sale frequently.

  • DCS provides an unmatched level of realism that appeals to real pilots and simmers alike!

I hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of the free DCS content available as well as the huge amount of paid additional content.

The free modules make DCS World accessible for everyone to start enjoying right away. And the paid content will give you the most deeply realistic and authentic simulation possible as you expand your virtual hangar.

Now start up that TF-51D or Su-25T and take to the skies over the Caucasus! See you in DCS, and happy (virtual) flying!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.