Topic Four: Wait, there's stuff other than infantry?
Please forgive me if I've given the impression that I hate everything that isn't on two feet. Quite the opposite! Tanks, helicopters and jets when employed properly are massive force multipliers that will speed up an assault or make a defensive line insurmountable. However do not make the mistake of investing everything in these expensive toys, as all of them can be blown up from under you by a guy and a rocket launcher at the fraction of the price you paid to get it. Also, tank heavy forces will be stalemated by competent players making use of TOW/Metis on hills and in forests. Air assets are only a bad run in with an anti-air asset away from plunging into the ground. As always, balance is key, too often I've seen a winning team loose because once the commander puts up the air factory everyone tries to play top gun!
The most looked over part of the game are the humble light vehicles. They are often ignored due to the perception that they aren't tough enough or strong enough to bring it to the enemy. This is not at all in line with reality. Properly used they can provide fast, cheap fire power that can tip the balance between victory and defeat.
REDFOR have the best offerings here, with the BRDM in both it's forms being an unbeatable contender. M2 HMG's will do surprisingly little damage to it. It's normal version has the 14.5mm KPVT HMG which is more of an autocannon, allowing it to even take on LAV's or AAVP7A1's. Should one get the drop on even a BMP2/3 or BTR90 it can win. Early on against small resistance towns the BRDM can quite easily take them almost single-handedly. The AT-BRDM however is even more impressive, being able to stop an armored push by itself in the hands of a skilled player. The best way of using it however is to move it to a commanding hilltop and spot targets for it, letting it's ATGM's scrap enemy armor, being able to fire one every second. Two hits will destroy an M1, one hit for immobilising. Add one to both numbers for a TUSK. It's not without it's drawbacks however, with no MG it is near defenceless against infantry and it only has 10 missiles in in two sets of five in total stored.
The UAZ series can be useful in certain cases. The DShKM and AGS variants can provide excellent fire support from afar during a push on an enemy town. The SPG9 UAZ however is near useless as the Ai cannot hit the broad side of a barn with it and even when it does hit, it's damage is not enough to knock out anything tougher than a car. It could have been useful as a direct fire support vehicle rapidly lobbing HE rockets into a town, but it cannot be completely reloaded by an ammo truck (only 1 round of AT ammo) and must have $500 spent on it to rearm it properly.
The Vodnik BPPU is just like the BRDM that precedes it but only with a bigger gun, the same gun mounted on the BMP2/3, BTR-90 and the Kamov. The cannon has a variable fire rate of either 300 or 600 RPM and a coaxial PKT MG. The 30mm cannon can easily destroy enemy infantry, light vehicles and even helicopters!. However it does suffer a limited store of ammo, with only 150 rounds each of AP and HE ammo.
The ZSU-Ural is a truck with the Zu-23mm two barrel gun mounted on it's back. It can fulfil the same role as the fighting UAZs from much greater range along with providing limited anti-air cover. However, it has even worse ammo problems than the BPPU vodnik, being able to burn up all of it's ammo in under 15 seconds of constant fire. It also has the same ammo resupply problem as the SPG9 UAZ and can only have 40 rounds (1 second of fire) unless you spend $500 to rearm it.
BLUFOR has it's large range of Humvees to choose from. M2/240 are basically the same, with the M240 version having slightly better protection, especially for the gunner. The Mk19 has it's powerful automatic grenade launcher that can quickly destroy infantry or light vehicles. The TOW hummer is note as good as it's AT-BRDM cousin, but has much better sustained fire. The Avenger is the best land based AA system BLUFOR has with a rapid fire .50cal MG and 8 stingers. In a pinch it can actually work fairly well against REDFOR light vehicles as it;s stingers can easily immobilise them in one or two guaranteed hits. The MG will chew up unarmoured targets very quickly.
Tanks are the most direct of the support options available. It's a big moving hunk of metal with a cannon bolted to it. These guys excel at supporting infantry advances across unfavourable terrain and eliminating hard targets infantry would have problems with. Ordinarily, an infantry squad crossing an open field would be at a severe disadvantage. With a tank supporting it's all good. The tank will provide a hail of fire while the infantry move up and suppress any sort of AT efforts. On the defensive, a tank that was in reserve pouncing out to counter attack the enemy after they have been blunted on your defences will cause havoc and most likely eliminate any remaining enemy forces.
The T72 and Abrams are both evenly matched with the Abrams having slightly better optics. The T90 has and ATGM launcher that makes it an even match against the TUSK as it can “double tap” at close range with the cannon being immediately followed with the missile. The missile also makes it possible to effectively engage enemy targets at long range or on forests. The TUSK is the toughest of all the tanks and much more capable of handling infantry attack with an extra machine gun.
Within this category for REDFOR are the excellent Shilka and Tunguska AA vehicles. The shilka just has four 23mm autocannons with a blistering rate of fire to destroy any threat from around 2km distance. It is also murderously effective against infantry and light vehicles. The Tunguska is even better with two 30mm autocannons that are even more effective than the shilka's set along with 8 Tunguska SAMs. One missile is almost guaranteed to destroy any air threat in one shot from any distance.
Transport helicopters allow for rapid advances and attacks from unexpected directions. They are also the fastest way of bringing forces up to respond to an enemy attack. Some of them can also directly participate in either with their weapons.
On BLUFOR you have the Osprey, the Huey and the Black-hawk. The Huey has the most offensive fire-power with two mini-guns an a small number of rockets. It trades this off with only being able to transport 8 men. Next up is the Black-hawk with only M240's to defend itself. However the transport capacity goes up to 13. Last is the osprey which can carry 20 soldiers around but no defensive armament.
On REDFOR you have the Mi8 in a few flavours. While the Mi24 can carry troops it fits better in the attack helicopters section. The first Mi8 has two PKM's mounted and a cargo bay that can fit 18 soldiers. The medevac Mi8 has no MG's but can heal troops. The Mi8-MTV3 is the king of transport choppers. Has 3 PKMs coving all directions with 128 rockets in pods for no loss in carry capacity. It can drop off a full squad and be on call to eliminate any sort of strong point.
Attack helicopters do what they say on the tin: blow things up from the sky. Their fast response and heavy fire power make them invaluable for destroying the enemy. Combine them with a laser designator on the ground and you will get pinpoint accurate fire for much further away.
On BLUFOR you have the excellent AH1 and AH64. Both carry a set of 8 Hellfire ATGM's along with some rockets. Where they differ is that the AH1 has a weaker cannon but two sidewinder AA missiles. The AH64 has a bigger cannon and heavier armour. In short, the AH1 is the jack of all trades while the AH64 is the dedicated ground asset killer.
On REDFOR you have two flavours of the classic hind and the Kamov. For the kamov it has 12 VIKHIR missiles that are officially ATGM's but work against anything made of metal, including jets! With their supersonic speed the first indication of one of them screaming towards you is when it detonates in your face. One will destroy anything short of a TUSK, which requires two. These missiles can be laser guided onto targets that cannot be locked. The kamov also carries some rockets and a semi-fixed 30mm gun.
The Hind comes in two flavours: the P and the V. The Hind-P has a fixed GSH 30Autocannon, 4 ATGM's, 2 fuel-air bombs (FAB-250) which can lock on to targets along with 40 Rockets. This is the much better option for destroying enemy armor as it's FAB's can destroy even a TUSK in one hit and it's ATGM's are more powerful than the V's. The Hind-V by contrast has a 12.7mm minigun turret mounted on it's chin with 4 ATGM's and 80 rockets. This version is much better in Air to Air engagements as the turret is much easier to bring to bear on the enemy than the fixed 30mm. It's large number of rockets also make it much better for close-air-support or air assault missions.
Now, usually it is said that air cannot take towns. But this is not true on REDFOR's side. The Mi8 and Mi24 can both perform airborne assaults by (para)dropping off infantry near an objective and supporting their attack. I would say the Mi8-MTV3 is the most effective at this role followed by the Hind-V then Hind-P.
Attack jets are just like their helicopter cousins except for their much higher speed and usually heavier payload. They however do not have as much ability to “loiter” over a target or give precision support. The turnaround time between sorties is also higher due to the much longer landing process. They should be held in reserve flying a holding pattern within friendly airspace, waiting for an air support request. The request should detail the location of the target(s) and what they are. The jet should then fly to within range, drop ordnance and then return to the holding pattern. A jet should not fly over enemy territory as that is just asking for it to be shot down.
REDFOR open up at level two with the amazing Su34. It has a GSH 30mm cannon, 4 R73 air to air missiles, 6 CH-29 “ATGM's” and 40 rockets. I put the ATGM part in quotes because the CH-29 has 320kg of HE for it's warhead. For comparison, the maverick has only a 20kg shaped charge warhead. With laser guidance from the ground an Su34 can level a base from a distance land based air defence cannot reply to.
Next is the Su25 which has slower airspeed than the Su34 but trades that for more armour. However it has much less guided munitions compared to the Su34. Only 2 R73's and 4 CH-29's or FAB-250's. However it has more rockets, clocking up at 80. Out of the two the Su25 makes the better ground attacker as it's lower airspeed and heavier armour allows you to spend more time lining up your shots. Also it's heavier load of rockets makes it a superb base killer. While the Su34's balanced features makes a much better multi-role fighter.
BLUFOR have a much larger range of options for jets, along with the benefit of many being able to preform VTOL, negating the need for an airfield. The harrier jump jet comes in two forms: a bomber and a LASER bomber! Out of the the two the normal bomber is much more preferred as it's Mk48 bombs are lockable onto vehicles while the LGB version needs a laser target from a soldier or a Huey. In addition the LGB version has only a cannon along with it's bombs compared to the other version's cannon, two sidewinders and 18 rockets.
The F35B is a terrible jet in this game. It only has a cannon, two sidewinders and 2 LGB's. It has no use.
The A10 however is arguably the best air to ground attacker in the game. It has two sidewinders, 18 rockets, 4 laser guided bombs, 2 Maverick ATGM's and it's famous GAU-8 rotary “coke bottle gun” cannon. It can use the Mavericks to soften up the target before swooping in with it's main gun. Should an enemy base be discovered and laser pointed, the LGB's will demolish it in short order.
Artillery is something everyone should be using. As the saying goes, god is on the side with the most artillery. There is nothing more disruptive to enemy players than constantly running into well direct artillery fire. So having two howitzers ready to go will be of great help to you and your team. Ideally everyone will have their own artillery section as 5 groups of 2 artillery each is more powerful than one group of ten due to increased flexibility. This is because of the artillery cool-down time between salvoes (5minutes with no upgrades). Artillery on both sides comes in 3 flavours, mortars, howitzers and MLRS/GRAD.
Mortars are the cheapest and have the shortest range. Their bombs are effective against infantry and light vehicles and fire 4 shots a salvo. Howitzers are next up the list in cost and range, with their fire-power going up as well, firing 10 shots a salvo. A few good hits can destroy a tank, but just an immobilisation is most likely. Conversely that means that the crew is likely to be killed as they bail out into an artillery strike. Last is the MLRS/GRAD which is mobile and thus can be moved up to support an offensive. More boom than a howitzer, but with less penetration so it's not as effective against tanks.
If a town is proving to be a tough nut to crack, consider putting a howitzer within direct fire range of the town. Consistant, accurate fire of a howitzer will quickly destroy any sort of defence, and usually half the town along with it!
For reloading any artillery you will need either an ammo-truck, a vehicle supply point, a vehicle ammo box or use the resupply support menu option of the repair truck. If you are using the ammo-truck, the artillery pieces will need to be close around the back end of the truck.
Artillery is not without it's problems however. Mortars are notoriously hard to reload consistently and only carry 2 salvoes worth of ammo. The Howitzers can occasionally blow themselves up due to a bug in the artillery script. Because of those two problems many players favour the MLRS/GRAD which does not have those problems. Reloading is easy as it can drive to the appropriate spot and it will never blow itself up. However the MLRS/GRAD will normally take double the number of men to operate unless you micromanage. So have only one crew in it and tell them with the action command menu to switch seats as needed for reloading, moving or shooting.