I dont know how experienced you are, so my apologies if I suggest things which are may be too trivial for you. I have tried to “mentor” a couple of guys back into BMS in the last years and I have noticed something very similar to what is happening to you (my impression, i.e. I may be wrong here).
One of these guys is my friend since we were 13 years old. We have flown in LAN almost every sim you can name, EF, Tornado, F3, F4, etc. Unfortunatelly life got him away from the sims for a while.
When he decided to start flying again, he just wanted to fly campaigns. I said, well, we can do, but your chance of survival in a tough mission is very low. And indeed he got shot-down systematically “attacking HQ”, SAMs, not respecting enemy WEZ, etc. I noticed that the problem is that many people (re-)starting in BMS want to go directly into the action, or choose tough targets without proper introduction to several aspects of combat flying. This can lead to extreme frustration.
As my friend, I guess you can handle your plane, land, take-off in bad weather, do some IFR etc. But these skills does not guarantee any success in a campaign mission at all. Success in combat mission requires that you are on top of your game in every aspect of the aircraft you are flying in. This requires “unfortunately” (= I love it) that you continously train as building block approach all skills required to complete succesfully a campaign mission. The question is how you do that?
Here is what I have been doing my whole “F4-life”. It is inspired by the training syllabus that some AF have online and everyone can access.
- Choose an aircraft. Yes, F-16s come in different models. Choose for example a CM high block, since you can use in most of the campaigns. Learn all the cockpit. Read the manuals.
- Do your VFR/IFR training and some emergency training (like flame-out training=saved my life sometimes).
- Start your combat training where nothing is shooting at you. Employ each weapon (yes, each one) against units which cannot defend themselves (e.g. engineers). Do that in good and bad weather, night and day, dusk and dawn.
- Run now a set of A2G and A2A missions against simple threats. No double digit SAMs, no active missions for the enemy. Combine some of these missions with different weather and IFR/VFR skills. Start from high-altitude and move lower, Start with PGM followed by unguided weapons. Choose first MIG-17s, then MIG-21, then put some SARH, and at the end some R-77s. You got the idea.
- Increase the complexity of the training even more. Develop and try tactics of other people. Low-level TFR at night, mavericks, MITL weapons, HARM tactics.
- Put a wingman on the show and learn how to use it. He is not cannon-fodder, if you understand the limitations of the AI. If you prefer, fly with a friend. Remember: comms is an additional complexity, but is required to fly online.
- Fly your campaign.
What I also have noticed ís that when I keep flying some aircraft in a kind of mission during a campaign, some of my skills disappear. For example, when I do too much A2G with PGM delivery, I am simply not good anymore in BFM or in low-level pop-ups. How to keep up-to-date?
I run two kinds of “continuation training” (CT) missions. The first one I call “simulator”. It is a TE where there are several missions with F-16s of different blocks at the push point with different weapons. If I want to train, e.g., Maverick with low-level attack, I re-read that part of the manual, then I pick the corresponding mission, fly the weapons employment part of the mission and exit. As a simulator. It is a “simulation”, where I dont care about ramping the acft, recovery etc. The goal is to practice a given attack profile/weapon delivery.
The other kind of CT is the real deal. It is a TE, with all sorts of enemy forces pre-positioned. I plan a full mission by keeping track of each skill required to mantain a “combat mission ready” status. For example, according to the USAF a pilot has to perform some core missions within X days. If I did not do that mission within these X days, then I will run a full CT-sortie where this mission (perhaps combined with other skills) are trained. This can vary in complexity, but it is always at least a 2-ship against a shooting enemy. Just to illustrate, my last CT sortie was a DEAD mission in Block 50 together with 2 Tornados to attack an airfield. After the attack I combined a AAR and a SFO to practice some skills.
In general, I manage to run 3-4 simulator sorties per week since these are shorter and only 1-2 real CT sorties. The rest is dedicated to campaigns.
In other (less) words, dont go for a Loft attack of a Crotale-NG/HQ, before you are ready for that. You can avoid the frustration of being shot-down by the AI sortie after sortie.
Have a nice Sunday!