Posted by Matt "Wags" Wagner a little while ago.
What is DCS?
DCS stands for “Digital Combat Simulator”. DCS is a world simulation engine permitting the user to operate or direct a growing number of combat and civilian aircraft, ground vehicles and ships, from different historical eras and in different geographical locations. It is a true "sand box" simulation. DCS started with the Ka-50 and A-10C, but has recently grown to also include the P-51D Mustang and, with Combined Arms, a ground command and control tactical warfare component. Future products from The Fighter Collection and Eagle Dynamics in the DCS line are in development and will include third party products for the first time.
The overall "simulation operating system" is termed DCS World and is a free program that includes a free Su-25T for the player to fly. All DCS products will plug into DCS World as unique modules within the same software installation. DCS products will not be limited to aircraft, but will include maps, missions, campaigns, environment objects, weapons, vehicles and ships. We even hope to look into a train simulation component in the future!
Third party products to DCS are supported by ED and there are already several qualified 3rd party teams creating new aircraft that will plug into DCS World. In these cases we leave it up to the developer to decide the level of systems fidelity, but we do expect certain "DCS Standards" to be maintained such as detailed and accurate models and cockpits, mouse clickable cockpit controls, and 6 DOF view control. Third parties are provided access to our Standard Flight Model (SFM), which ED can assist to adjust and improve to suit the requirements. Given the extremely complex nature of our Advanced Flight Model (AFM) in DCS we are currently unable to provide a SDK for 3rd party use. However, 3rd parties are also invited to offer their own Flight Models should it prove to be satisfactory.
In parallel, we are also developing Flaming Cliffs 3 (FC3), which will also work within DCS World. However, Flaming Cliffs 3 will require an installation of Lock On: Modern Air Combat to be present on your computer. FC3 will probably be the last version of this critically acclaimed product line.