Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar: The Luxury Joystick!


The HOTAS Concept

The article first appeared in Tom’s Hard News Email Newsletter

"Hands on Throttle and Stick" . For decades, military aeronautics engineers have been trying to improve the human interface in aircraft involved in extreme combat situations. Of all the major advances that have resulted from their research, the HOTAS concept has been a real revolution. HOTAS enables pilots to use the avionics, radar and weapons systems without having to remove their hands from the control column or the throttle. So it was quite natural for the idea to be transposed into the PC computer world. In 1991, Thrustmaster launched its first HOTAS gaming peripheral - the FCS (control column) and WCS (throttle) were born. Two years later, the FLCS F-16 and TQS F-16 replaced them. These new models were equipped with advanced programming functions. Much imitated but never really equaled, ten years later, the FLCS and TQS were souped up by enthusiasts who added enhanced electronics and programming software. These devices are now being offered on online auction sites for much more than their original price !

But soon, all of this will be history. That’s because Thrustmaster has just produced a HOTAS for today, and well beyond. In fact, the HOTAS Cougar might even soon be touted as the "joystick without limits." To be sure, no concessions seem to have been made in terms of more realistic pricing. There’s no getting away from it, the Cougar is expensive, very expensive. At $299, it can’t be compared to any other gaming peripherals on the market. For this reason, it is vital to find out whether the investment is justified over the long term.