------------------------------ Energy Airforce aimStrike! FAQ ------------------------------ Version 1.2 Written by Jack Power Questions, additions, and comments can be directed to JackPower "at" aol "dot" com with "Energy Airforce" in the subject line. Version history 0.5; 12/10/03 Initial release 0.6; 12/13/03 Several minor corrections, added information to several sections, added missile and gun sections, and many enemy units 0.7; 12/18/03 A few minor corrections, added outline for allied units and missions sections 0.8; 1/7/04 Added Mission and Strike mode guides, ally and enemy descriptions, more hints and tips, more FAQs, and a couple more potential bugs 1.0; 10/12/04 Guide is as complete as it will get. Added a few more details, and corrected some things that were showing up funny on my new Japanese-enabled laptop. Added new challenges. 1.1; 1/21/07: Decided the guide needed a little polishing. I even found out some new things in my recent playthroughs. 1.2; 8/1/07: Corrected a few typos and clarified a few things. -------- Contents -------- Introduction Basic FAQ Controls Unlocking Aircraft F-16 F-16 UD F/A-18 A-10 F-15 X-35 F/A-22 F-35 Ordnance Cannons Air to air missiles Air to ground missiles Bombs Fuel tanks Allied units Enemy units Mission Mode Story Wingmen Mission outline Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5 Strike Mode Setting up Challenges General Hints Taking off Landing Firing cannon Launching missiles Bombing ACM Avoiding missiles Sepcial thanks Legal info ------------ Introduction ------------ Energy Airforce is an air combat simulation series by Taito exclusive to the Japanese Playstation 2. "AimStrike" is the second game in the series, released in October 2003. Boasting significant graphical improvements, more flyable aircraft, more missions, larger maps, and a mission editor of sorts, it is on par with or superior to the best PC simulators. Though it is currently (and for the foreseeable future) only available in Japan, AimStrike is extremely import friendly. All of the in-game text, voice, and subtitles can be set to either English or Japanese in the options menu. Plus, the translation is surprisingly good for something that may never see a NA release. Be warned, however, that the game is a pure simulation, and has an extremely steep learning curve. You can't carry 50 missiles, pull 20G turns to dodge enemy fire, or fly forever in full afterburner. During mission mode, you arm your aircraft however you see fit, and control it from taxi to touchdown. This FAQ is meant to (eventually) cover every aspect of the game, as deep as it is. It is my hope that more people will check out this excellent game and find the information in this guide useful. --------- Basic FAQ --------- Q: Where can I get this game? A: Only in Japan, unfortunately. I suggest ordering it from an online import store. National Console Support (http://www.ncsx.com/) Himeya (http://shop.himeya.com/) and Play Asia (http://www.play-asia.com/) are your best bets. NCSX definitely had it last time I checked. *Update* I was told that there is a PAL version as well; perhaps Taito went completely insane and decided that only the North American market wasn't big enough for this game. Q: Which is better, this game or Ace Combat 4? A: It's apples and oranges. Ace Combat has more "arcade" style gameplay, while Energy Airforce is closer to a true simulation. EA has more accurate flight models, and perhaps even better graphics on the planes and backgrounds, but AC has more flyable aircraft and a greater variety of missions and areas. And so on and so forth. To be honest, AC04's missions are more fun, because it puts you right in the action in every mission, with little wasted time. In Energy Airforce, missions are long periods of boredom (taxiing to the runway, cruising to waypoints) punctuated by moments of stark terror (when there are 2 or 3 missiles coming right at you). On the other hand, I love being able to customize my ordnance exactly how I want it, and the "Strike Mode" provides a bit of extra customizable fun without all the waypoint and landing formalities. I would recommend that any serious aviation fans own both of these games. Q: Since it's just clearly better in all aspects than the previous version, is there any point in getting the first Energy Airforce? A: I've never played the first one, but it apparently had a "license" sort of deal like the Gran Turismo series where you had to pass tests to earn your wings. AimStrike doesn't, for better or worse. However, if you have save data from the original, it will transfer to AimStrike, unlocking aircraft you had earned in that game. Q: What aircraft are in the game? A: The F-16C, F-16C update, X-35, F-35B, F/A-22, A-10A, F-15C, and F/A-18E are the flyable aircraft in the game. The last three are new additions in this sequel. Q: What views can you use when flying? A: Only cockpit and chase (behind the aircraft). Most of the time you'll want to fly in cockpit mode, because you'll need to see your HUD and the instrument panels. Yes, you can look all around the cockpit with the right analog stick, and most if not all of the dials and gauges are functional. Q: Do you have to blow up everything by yourself to get high scores like in other games? A: No, you just have to do your job. You will always have wingmen to support you, not to mention other squadrons. There are no "medals" or "ranks" in this game, and score doesn't affect anything as far as I've seen. Q: Are there any Russian aircraft? A: Tons, but only for you to shoot down. Overrated deathtraps... Q: Is there a 2-player mode? A: No, it's single player only. Q: Can you eject? A: Not of your own free will. You will, however, see your pilot in a chute if you get shot down. Q: Does the game support [insert flight stick of choice here]? A: I'm not sure, as I don't own any USB controllers. The Flightstick by HORI (Japanese company) is advertised in the manual, so that must work. I'll compile a list of working and non-working USB flight sticks here, if any readers care to try theirs out and let me know of the results. I'm willing to bet that any USB stick that works with other PS2 flight sims is compatible, though you may have some frustration with the button configuration. (See below.) -Saitek's x45 HOTAS stick does NOT work. -You can get a HORI Flightstick 2 (HOTAS setup) compatible with AimStrike and Ace Combat 5 from GameStop and Play-Asia. The original release of the Flightstick 2 wasn't compatible with AimStrike but the new release apparently is. (Thanks to ajaxle) Q: Does the game support surround sound or wide-screen? A: No, unfortunately, just regular stereo. It does support 16:9 screen format, though. Q: Where are the fuel gauges for the A-10 and F-15? A: Thanks to Cobitoby for the following answer: "The A-10s is on the lower right part of the cockpit. It is the largest circular shaped instrument found all the way to the right. Just above your right knee are 12 small gauges (they indicate fuel flow; engine temp; % RPM; APU - one for each engine). To the right of these is the fuel indicator. It looks like the needle points to a 5 o' clock position when the tanks are full, and as the fuel level drops the needle rotates counterclockwise to roughly 6 o'clock as being the empty position. The F-15s fuel gauge is in nearly the exact same location as the warthog's. However it is smaller in size. Look to the lower right of the cockpit. The indicator is along the right edge of the cockpit as low as the instrument panel goes (diagonal from your right knee). There is a long rectangular shaped black box here. In the top half of that box is the fuel indicator. Its not a complete circle - only a hemisphere. The needle is showing full when pegged far right. It will slowly rotate back to the left as fuel is depleted. I had to fly around a while to see the needle move. The F-15 must carry tons of fuel..." -------- Controls -------- Here are the default flight controls. Fortunately, you can go to the options menu and change the button setup to your liking, but unfortunately it's not easy. See the bug warning below. Left analog stick: maneuver aircraft (pitch and roll) Right analog stick: free view (look around cockpit) Control pad up: not used Control pad down: raise or lower landing gear Control pad left: special feature (depends on aircraft) Control pad right: change target Circle: deploy chaff/flare X: fire cannon Square: launch missiles/bombs Triangle: Change weapons R1: throttle up L1: throttle down R2: rudders (yaw right), choose wingman command L2: rudders (yaw left), choose wingman command R2+L2: air brakes L3: locks/unlocks camera R3: toggles between cockpit and chase view Select: display wingman commands Start: pause Little known fact 1: Hold down Triangle while in any combat mode to return to NAV mode. This makes navigation back to base easier, and also aids in stealth. Little known fact 2: You can disable the radar and flight route overlays during flight by pausing the game and going to the Information settings. BUG WARNING! There is a bug in the game where you cannot set up your button configuration correctly, particularly the O, X, S, T buttons. It will display the changes on the option screen, but they will be messed up during the game. For example, let's say you wanted Ace Combat style controls (which I use and strongly recommend, since using Square as the main fire button is stupid). Missiles and bombs should be on Circle and the cannon on X, but setting them on those buttons doesn't get the right results. You need to set it like this: Missiles/bombs: Square Cannon: Circle Chaff/flare: X Change weapon: Triangle --------- Unlocking --------- When you start a new game, you'll find there are many things that need to be unlocked before you have everything the game has to offer. Flyable aircraft, archive footage of various aircraft and weapons, and story mode missions are among these. Fortunately, they are very easy to unlock with a little persistence. -To unlock aircraft for use in any mission and Strike Mode, simply complete a normal mission with it. More advanced fighters are available normally in later missions, so you have to wait until your first opportunity to use them. -To unlock the aircraft movies in the Hangar, you must complete a certain number of missions with each aircraft. Generally, completing 2 and then 5 missions with an aircraft will unlock the two movies for it. The F-16's, F/A-18, and JSF each have 3 movies. Fly Enough missions with both F-16 variants to unlock their 3rd movie, and fly 7 missions with the F/A-18 to unlock its third movie. For the hidden JSF movie, it looks like you just need to complete 3 missions with the X-35. -To unlock the Story movies, complete every scenario in each mission. Strangely, you will get the ending movie before you even reach the end; this might be a glitch. -To unlock the Special movies, you need to destroy a large number of various types of enemy units. For the first movie, shoot down S-37's (must be done in Strike Mode). For the second movie, shoot down Su-34's and Su-37's. For the third movie, shoot down MiG-21's and MiG-29's. For the fourth movie, shoot down Tu-160's. For the fifth, shoot down Mi-24's, Mi-28's, and Ka-50's. For the sixth, blow up SA-13's and SA-19's. For the seventh, blow up T-72's and BTR-90's. NOTE: Except for the Flanker and Berkut movies, it seems you have to get the kills in Mission Mode. -------- Aircraft -------- There are 8 flyable aircraft in aimStrike. I will list them here in the order you are likely to unlock them. The game's own ratings for each plane are listed here as well, but take them with a grain of salt. The "mobility" ratings are especially hokey and do not reflect actual game play (even if they meant acceleration instead of agility). "Cruise speed" is my tested maximum speed at full military power flying straight and level at 10000 feet carrying only 2 Sidewinders, with full internal fuel. F-16 ---- Full designation: F-16C Fighting Falcon Role: light multirole fighter Speed- 6 Mobility- 6 Air to air- 7 Air to ground- 6 Avionics- 5 Evaluation- C Hardpoints: 9 total -2 wingtip rails for 1 AAM each -2 outer wing HPs for 1 AAM each -2 mid wing HPs for AGMs, bombs (varies), or AAMs (1 each) -2 inner wing HPs for bombs (varies) or fuel tanks -1 belly HP for a fuel tank Cannon: M61A2 Vulcan with 510 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9M, AIM-120B Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, AGM-88, AGM-65H, Mk-82, Mk-84, CBU-87, CBU-103, GBU-31, GBU-12, GBU-24 Max speed: Mach 2.0 Cruise speed: 595mph (varies with altitude and payload) The F-16 is your starting aircraft, so you'd better get used to it. Fortunately, it's a good overall fighter. The displays are simple, effective, and informative. It handles pretty well, but heavy strike loads will weigh it down. It can carry a huge variety of air to ground weapons, but only 6 air to air missiles tops. It's also a bit fragile, so try not to get hit. (Obviously...) Oh, the engine isn't the most powerful out there, so be careful about stalling when trying to go straight up. F-16UD ------ Full designation: F-16C Fighting Falcon, Block 50 update Role: light multirole fighter Speed- 6 Mobility- 6 Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 6 Avionics- 6 Evaluation- C(+) Hardpoints: 9 total -2 wingtip rails for 1 AAM each -2 outer wing HPs for 1 AAM each -2 mid wing HPs for AGMs, bombs (varies), or AAMs (1 each) -2 inner wing HPs for bombs (varies) or fuel tanks -1 belly HP for a fuel tank Cannon: M61A2 Vulcan with 510 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9X, AIM-120B Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, AGM-88, AGM-65H, Mk-82, Mk-84, CBU-87, CBU-103, GBU-31, GBU-12, GBU-24 Max speed: Mach 2.0 Cruise speed: 595mph (varies with altitude and payload) The updated version of the F-16C. It's nearly identical at first glance, but it has better radar, instrumentation, and a helmet-mounted sight for the AIM-9X missiles. Basically this allows you to look over your shoulder (with the right analog stick) and fire a Sidewinder at enemies nowhere near your HUD. Other than this and a much cooler paint job, it handles just like the other Falcon. If you're like me, you'll use this one a lot. F/A-18 ------ Full designation: F/A-18E Super Hornet Role: carrier-based fighter/attacker Speed- 7 Mobility- 10 (not quite...) Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 9 Avionics- 8 Evaluation- A Hardpoints: 11 total -2 wingtip rails for 1 AAM each -2 outer wing HPs for 2 AAMs or 1 AGM each -2 mid wing HPs for bombs (varies) or AAMs (1 each) -2 inner wing HPs for bombs (varies) or fuel tanks -2 HPs on each side of the fuselage for 1 AAM each (AMRAAM only) -1 belly HP for a fuel tank or bomb (cluster bombs only) Cannon: M61A2 Vulcan with 520 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9X, AIM-120C Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, AGM-88, AGM-65F, Mk-82, Mk-84, CBU-87, CBU-103, GBU-31, GBU-12, GBU-24 Max speed: Mach 1.8+ Cruise speed: 625mph (varies with altitude and payload) The Super Hornet is pretty damn good, especially considering how early in the game you have access to it. It's got good engines, plenty of fuel, tons of hardpoints, and a great variety of weapons to stack on them. Not only that, but it has the helmet mounted sight and AIM-9X combo along with the improved AMRAAMs. While it's a fighter/attacker, it's great for air to air missions because of all the missiles it can mount (10 total). If this bird has a weakness, it would be the strange aversion to anti-tank missiles. The F-16's can carry 3 Mavericks on a single hardpoint, but the Hornet can only carry one on each. Then again, the Hornet can carry more AGM-84's or -88's. A-10 ---- Full designation: A-10A Thunderbolt II Role: close support and attack aircraft Speed- 3 Mobility- 5 (but turns well at slow speeds) Air to air- 2 Air to ground- 10 Avionics- 2 Evaluation- D(+) Hardpoints: 11 total -2 outer wing rails for 2 AAMs each -2 outer wing HPs for 1 AAM or AGM each -2 mid wing HPs for bombs (varies) AGMs (varies) or AAMs (1 each) -2 inner wing HPs for bombs (varies) AGMs (varies) or fuel tanks -2 HPs under fuselage for bombs (1 each) -1 belly HP for a fuel tank Cannon: GAU-8 Avenger with 1350 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9M Air to ground weapons: AGM-88, AGM-65H, Mk-82, Mk-84, CBU-87, GBU-12 Max speed: ~650mph Cruise speed: 400mph (varies with altitude and payload) When there are lots of things on the ground that need to be killed, this is the plane to use. It has some enormous strengths, but some serious weaknesses. First of all, it can carry a ridiculous air to ground payload. You will almost always run out of targets before you run out of bombs and Mavericks if you're any good. Second, its gun is evil. While designed for ground targets, if you're a good shot it's effective against aircraft as well. Lastly, it's the toughest aircraft in the game (but by no means invulnerable). On the other hand, it's slow, has no long-range missiles, and the avionics suck. There is no cue when in range to fire like other aircraft, and if you want to see things like target type or elevation, you have to look around the dash board. It's a tough aircraft to fly, but very useful. F-15 ---- Full designation: F-15C Eagle Role: air superiority fighter Speed- 9 Mobility- 6 (a misunderestimation) Air to air- 7 Air to ground- 1 Avionics- 5 Evaluation- B Hardpoints: 9 total -2 wing HPs for fuel tanks -2 wing stations for 2 AAMs each -4 HPs on the sides of the fuselage for 1 AAM each (AMRAAM only) -1 belly HP for a fuel tank Cannon: M61A1 Vulcan with 940 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9M, AIM-120B Air to ground weapons: none Max speed: Mach 2.5+ Cruise speed: 640mph (varies with altitude and payload) The Eagle is a great aircraft, but as you'll see by flying it, it's starting to show its age. This is NOT the Strike Eagle. True to the "not a pound for air to ground" design, it has no bombs or AGMs. It does, however, have exceptional maneuverability, awesome speed, lots of fuel, 8 air to air missiles, and a lot of gun ammo. The avionics are fine, though a bit harder to read than the other aircraft. (See the FAQ section in the beginning to find the fuel gauge.) X-35 ---- Full designation: X-35C JSF Role: experimental joint strike fighter Speed- 5 Mobility- 7 Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 6 Avionics- 7 Evaluation- B Hardpoints: 7 total -2 wingtip rails for 1 AAM each -2 outer wing HPs for 1 AAMs or 1 AGM each -2 mid wing HPs for bombs (varies) AGMs (varies) or AAMs (1 each) -1 belly HP for a fuel tank Cannon: none Air to air weapons: AIM-9X, AIM-120B Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, AGM-88, AGM-65F, Mk-82, Mk-84, CBU-87, CBU-103, GBU-31, GBU-12, GBU-24 Max speed: Mach 1.6 Cruise speed: 600mph (varies with altitude and payload) The one flyable aircraft I'm just not very fond of, the X-35 looks and feels like an unfinished work. Probably because it is! Prototypes should be left to test pilots. Anyway, the X-35's main strengths are its avionics (which support the AIM-9X) and the large variety of weapons. Think of it like a navalized F-16. Unfortunately, it has no gun, and very limited weapon capacity (even compared to the F-16). It also has no stealth ability. F/A-22 ------ Full designation: F/A-22A Raptor Role: air dominance fighter Speed- 10 Mobility- 9 (more like 11) Air to air- 10 Air to ground- 4 Avionics- 10 Evaluation- A(+) Hardpoints: 4 plus internal bays -2 side bays for Sidewinders (1 each) -2 lower bays for either 3 AMRAAMS or 1 AMRAAM and assorted bombs -2 mid wing HPs for fuel tanks -2 mid wing stations for 2 AAMs each -2 outer wing HPs for bombs (varies), AGMs (1 each) or fuel tanks -2 outer wing stations for 2 AAMs each Cannon: M61A2 Vulcan with 480 rounds Air to air weapons: AIM-9X, AIM-120C Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, GBU-32, SDB Max speed: Mach 1.8+ Cruise speed: 850mph+ (varies with altitude and payload; note that most stages are not big enough for it to reach maximum supercruise, so the above is a guesstimation) The F/A-22 is evil. I was seriously left in awe after flying this aircraft, as aimStrike has the best representation of it I've encountered so far. Let's get to the obvious stuff first. It has thrust vectoring, and can turn on a dime and do crazy missile-dodging maneuvers. It has the most powerful engines ever mounted on a fighter, giving it awesome acceleration... and supercruise. Yes, it really does in this game. I once hit over 900 knots at 5000ft going level without afterburner. It has Stealth. If you're flying without external weapons, pressing left on the d-pad will put you in LPI (Low Probability of Intercept) mode. Nothing will find you until you open a weapons bay or come within visual range, and active radar missiles cannot lock on to you. And finally, if stealth is not important, you can put stupid amounts of weapons on it. I'm talking about SIXTEEN AIR TO AIR MISSILES. Its air to ground weaponry is quite adequate a well. A bit of warning is due, however. By the time you have access to the Raptor, the missions are extremely difficult, so don't get overconfident. F-35 ---- Full designation: F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Role: S/VTOL multirole strike fighter Speed- 5 Mobility- 7 Air to air- 9 Air to ground- 6 Avionics- 9 Evaluation- A Hardpoints: 7 plus internal bays -2 side bays for AAMs (1 each) -2 lower bays for assorted bombs -2 wingtip rails for 1 AAM each -2 outer wing HPs for 1 AAM or 1 AGM each -2 mid wing HPs for bombs (varies) AGMs (varies) or AAMs (1 each) -1 belly HP for a fuel tank or bomb (cluster bombs only) Cannon: M61A2 Vulcan with 240 rounds (actually it should be a GAU-12, IIRC) Air to air weapons: AIM-9X, AIM-120C Air to ground weapons: AGM-84H, AGM-84L, AGM-88, AGM-65H, Mk-82, CBU-103, GBU-31, GBU-32, GBU-12, GBU-24, SDB Max speed: Mach 1.6+ Cruise speed: 600mph (varies with altitude and payload) Much, MUCH better than the prototype, the F-35 is a very cool plane. The avionics are just plain slick; there's one huge multi-function display in the center like a big computer screen, and there is no HUD--Everything is wired to the helmet. This means that you can lock on with AMRAAMS "over your shoulder" as well as Sidewinders. And since this is apparently the USMC variant, it can hover. (I strongly suggest trying it out in Training Mode before you try landing on any carriers with it, though.) The weapon selection is truly impressive as this plane can carry almost every weapon. The one disappointment I have is the JSF's supposed Stealth. It has no LPI mode like the Raptor, so arming ARMRAAMs (thus opening the bays and turning on your air to air radar) will let everyone know where you are. It doesn't open its bomb bays until the moment of launch though, so it's still great for anti-ground missions. The sheer number and variety of weapons it can carry makes it a solid choice for almost any mission. --------- Ordnance --------- This section will cover all of the weapons and gear that you can mount on your aircraft. I believe my explanations are, well, pretty self-explanatory. There are no official numbers available, so I'm just guessing on things like accuracy, power, and blast radius. Cannons ------- M61A Vulcan Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: low Power: low Blast: none A six-barrel 20mm rotary cannon that fires about 6000 shots per minute, the Vulcan is the standard gun on most current US military aircraft. Compared to other games, the gun is extremely hard to use. For tips on how to use this weapon, see the "firing cannon" section. Note: Whatever it's supposed to be, the cannon on the F-35 is functionally identical to the Vulcan. GAU-8 Avenger Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: low Power: medium Blast: none A seven barrel 30mm rotary cannon, this unique weapon is found only on the A-10; in fact, the aircraft was practically built around it. It has a slower firing rate than the Vulcan ("only" about 4200 rounds per minute) but that's not saying much. It will shred any armored vehicle in the game if used correctly. However, you'll probably never have to use it on ground targets because the A-10 carries so many other weapons. This gun CAN be used against air targets; I know from experience that a half-second burst will cause a MiG to explode violently. However, thanks to the poor avionics, you have to guesstimate the path of your shots by yourself. Air to air missiles ------------------- AIM-9M Sidewinder Effective range: ~5nm Accuracy: medium-high Power: medium Blast: very small The standard in infrared air to air missiles, the AIM-9M will serve you well. Most of the time, it is safer to use AMRAAMs instead of Sidewinders, because the enemy will not be able to get close enough to fire. Also, the larger warhead on the AMRAAM seems to be more forgiving, making a potential "near miss" into a hit. However, it's a good idea to carry a couple of Sidewinders anyway, because sometimes a bandit will get too close for ARMAAMs. Remember, the closer you shoot from, the less time the enemy has to counter, but there is a minimum range even for heatseekers. AIM-9X Sidewinder Effective range: ~7nm Accuracy: high Power: medium Blast: very small The updated version of the Sidewinder, designed to regain supremacy over the Russian heat seekers (i.e. the AA-11). The main differences in this missile are its longer range, higher agility, and ability to be locked on and fired using the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System). It takes a lot of dexterity to move the right stick to aim while pressing the fire button, and honestly it isn't worth it unless you're extremely lucky. In this game, the AIM-9X seems to have a "no escape zone" of 1.8 miles, so wait until that range if possible. AIM-120B AMRAAM Effective range: ~15nm Accuracy: medium-high Power: medium-high Blast: small A must-have for those intercept and CAP missions, the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile will probably earn you more kills than any other weapon. In real life, this missile has an effective range of over 40 miles, but even at 15 miles it accomplishes its purpose of "first shot, first kill." These are truly fire and forget missiles, so don't be afraid to launch 4 of them at a hot group, turn hard, and run. You'll see a bunch of "SUCCESS" notices in no time. NOTE: It turns out that it's not the AMRAAM's range that's limited in this game, it's just the radar mode (modeled after the F-15's "Visual" mode). AIM-120C AMRAAM Effective range: ~18nm Accuracy: high Power: medium-high Blast: small An upgrade of the AMRAAM, this missile boasts even longer range and better agility, but is still functionally the same. It should be noted that these missiles do have a small blast radius, and I once had more kills than launches with this missile, presumably because the enemies were flying too close together. Heh. Also, the F-35's helmet mounted sight allows this missile to be fired at any angle like the AIM-9X. Note: I can't confirm this, but I think the game models the AMRAAM's mid-course update feature. I seem to get more hits if I keep my radar focused on the enemy until the missiles are closer, but it could be a coincidence. Air to ground missiles ---------------------- AGM-84H SLAM Effective range: ~20nm Accuracy: high Power: very high Blast: small An anti-ground version of the classic Harpoon missile, the Standoff Land Attack Missile is listed as "medium range" but in fact is one of the longest-range weapons you can get (real-life range is 60+ miles). It's great for getting rid of SAMs and other nasties you don't want to get close to. AGM-84L Harpoon Effective range: ~20nm Accuracy: high Power: very high Blast: small The premiere long range anti-ship missile. Strangely enough, you never once have to use this missile in Mission Mode, as there are no sea targets. In Strike Mode, however, it's your only hope if you're taking on Kirov class battlecruisers. AGM-88 HARM Effective range: ~15nm Accuracy: high Power: medium Blast: small The High-speed Anti Radiation Missile is a very mission-specific weapon. It's probably the best weapon for taking out SAMs, and it gives you the definite advantage in range (though real-life range is 30+ miles). Because the missile homes in on active radar, it will only lock on SAMs and ships with SAM launchers. On one hand, this limits the missile's usefulness. On the other hand, the fact that it won't lock on to anything else means that you don't have to sift through the less dangerous ground targets. AGM-65F Maverick Effective range: ~6.5nm Accuracy: high Power: high Blast: small The Navy version of the Maverick is functionally identical to the Air Force version. They are short-range but very powerful air to ground missiles. These are your best choice for taking out AAA and heavy armored vehicles just out of your reach. The Navy version is optimized for ship tracking, but the game doesn't seem to reflect this. AGM-65H Maverick Effective range: ~6.5nm Accuracy: high Power: high Blast: small The Air Force version of the Maverick is functionally identical to the Navy version. They are short-range but very powerful air to ground missiles. (Real-life range is 13+ miles.) Note that the F-16 and A-10 can carry a lot of these on single hardpoints, whereas the F/A-18 and JSF cannot. The Air Force version has a larger penetrator warhead, but the game doesn't seem to reflect this. Bombs ----- Mk-82 Snakeye Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: low Power: medium Blast: small Unguided 500lb bombs. Once you master the game and want an extra challenge, these are the bombs for you. They are extremely hard to connect with, because they are unguided and the blasts are quite small. Fortunately you can carry a lot of them on any given hardpoint. Mk-84 LDGP Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: low Power: very high Blast: large Unguided 2000lb bombs. Much more fun than the little 500 pounders, these bombs are very powerful and have a blast radius big enough to take out small groups of enemies. You still have to aim them manually, but their power makes things more forgiving. They are limited to one per hardpoint. CBU-87 CEM Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: medium Power: medium Blast: very large One of my favorite bombs, the Combined Effects Munition is an unguided cluster bomb designed to clear out large areas. You can get 3 or more kills per bomb easily, making them more efficient than standard bombs. Even better, they weigh less than the 2000 pounders and you can often mount 2 on a single hardpoint. There's really no disadvantage to using these, aside from bad PR courtesy of the liberal media. You may need more than one to take out a tank, though. CBU-103 WCMD Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: high Power: medium Blast: very large My vote for best bomb in the game. The Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser is a guided cluster bomb. Yes, guided. As if normal cluster bombs weren't vicious enough, this one guarantees you will kill something by going straight to your target. (Be sure to lock on to whatever target is closest to the center of formations.) To make the deal even sweeter, these weigh just a bit more than the CBU-87 and have the same destructive power. GBU-31 JDAM Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: high Power: very high Blast: large This 2000lb bomb modified with a GPS/INS guidance kit is part of the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) family. Being guided weapons, these are a lot better than the 2000lb dumb bombs. Their main disadvantage is that you only get one per hardpoint, as they are very heavy weapons. GBU-32 JDAM Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: high Power: high Blast: medium This is the 1000lb version of the JDAM. Apparently the GBU-32 is the only "medium" bomb in the game (everything else being 500 or 2000 pounds), and it is one of the best. It is exclusive to the F/A-22 and F-35, both of which also carry SDBs, so use this when you need a more serious punch. GBU-12 Paveway II Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: medium-high Power: medium Blast: small A 500lb laser guided bomb, this weapon is a good choice for most targets. It usually hits it target and usually kills what it hits. The problem is that "usually" isn't always good enough. Almost every aircraft can use these, and you get enough of them for most jobs, however. GBU-24 Paveway III Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: medium-high Power: very high Blast: large A 2000lb laser guided bomb, this is the big mean cousin of the GBU-12. This is the bomb to use when you want to make sure the enemy is really, really dead. It's accurate, very powerful, and has a blast radius that makes up for any errors in targeting (and can probably take out enemies around the intended target as well). Unfortunately you usually can't drop them from 10 miles away like the real thing. I'm not sure whether these or the GBU-31 are better overall. SDB Effective range: ~1.5nm Accuracy: medium-high Power: medium Blast: small A brand new weapon, the Small Diameter Bombs are narrow 250lb guided bombs designed to have the effectiveness of 2000lb weapons. The real SDBs can penetrate up to 6Eof reinforced concrete, but in this game they are lacking in power. After much testing, I have noticed they have accuracy problems. When you release them, your wings should be level and you must be lined with your target, or they will have a chance of missing. Fortunately, you can carry a whole lot of them. Note that SDBs are exclusive to the F/A-22 and F-35, and can only be carried internally, so use them when stealth is required. Fuel Tanks ---------- You probably will not need extra fuel tanks on most missions, but they do provide a bit of extra insurance that you will be able to make it back to base. A rule of thumb is that if the aircraft has a drop tank equipped on its default loadout for a mission, you will need one. Remember that fuel is the heaviest thing you can carry, and extra tanks will affect your airspeed and agility. Drop tanks come in several different sizes: 300 gallon, 370 gallon, 480 gallon, and 600 gallon. Certain aircraft can only load certain tanks on certain hardpoints, but it's not a big concern. Drop tanks will automatically be released when their fuel supply is empty. If you suddenly hear a faint crash and you're nowhere near combat, it was probably the drop tank. ------------ Allied Units ------------ Here are your allies in the air and on the ground. You'll rarely if ever get visual contact, but you'll hear them a lot over the radio. AWACS ----- Call sign: Starburst Starburst is your eye in the sky. Listen to him for waypoint information, mission updates, and most importantly, notices of incoming enemy aircraft. JSTARS ------ Call sign: Jacknife Jackknife is in charge of everything on the ground. She'll let you know how your friendlies are doing, and where the enemy ground forces are. Air Force F-16 ---- Call sign: Unicorn, Cougar Unicorn is with you on a large number of missions, and takes up your slack most of the time. Cougar is often in your complimentary role during the multi-part scenarios. F-15 ---- Call sign: Drake Drake only shows up for a few missions, mostly intercepting bad guys for you. He must be in a Strike Eagle though, since he shows up in support roles too. A-10 ---- Call sign: Warthog Hog is awfully cheerful for someone behind the controls of a flying tank. She (yes, she) is always in close air support missions. F/A-22 ------ Call sign: Rapier Rapier shows up in only one mission, so I can't say much about his flight, except that he sounds like a computer geek. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Navy and Marines F-14 ---- Call sign: Blackwolf The F-14D Tomcat is considered the best interceptor in the world, but unfortunately they are being phased out. Blackwolf will watch your back and protect the carrier in several missions. F/A-18 ------ Call sign: Steel Mace, Wombat Steel Mace shows up a couple of times during strike missions off the carrier. Wombat is apparently an allied Australian F/A-18 flight. AH-1 ---- Call sign: Silver Serpent The Super Cobra is an attack helicopter used by the Navy and Marines. Like the rest of your friends on the ground, you don't really have to worry about them. Army AH-64 ----- Call sign: Scorpion The Longbow Apache is the Army's premiere attack helicopter. Again, you don't have to worry about them as long as you're doing your job. RAH-66 ------ Call sign: Stingray The Comanche is a state of the art recon/attack helicopter with low observable technology. ...Not that it matters to you, since you're not flying one. M1A3 ---- Call sign: Dagger The M1A3 Abrams is a 60+ ton main battle tank. You never need to worry about these guys. M2A2 ---- Call sign: Tortoise, Katana The M2A2 Bradley is an infantry fighting vehicle. As high-tech as it is, its armor is weak compared to a tank, so you'll often hear damage reports from Tortoise and Katana. ----------- Enemy Units ----------- Here are the enemy units you will face during the game. I'll add more detail for the aircraft, as they are the biggest threats. MiG-21 Fishbed -------------- Speed- 6 Mobility- 5 Air to air- 7 Air to ground- 1 Avionics- 4 Evaluation- D A "flying coffin" as my friend puts it, this supersonic cigar will probably be the target you destroy the most overall in Mission Mode. It has heat-seeking missiles and is fairly maneuverable, but not too dangerous. MiG-29 Fulcrum -------------- Speed- 6 Mobility- 6 Air to air- 7 Air to ground- 6 Avionics- 5 Evaluation- C One of Russia's most prolific exports, this frontline fighter is the equivalent of the F-16 or F/A-18. It's fast, rugged, and maneuverable, and a lot more dangerous than the MiG-21. Watch out for radar-guided missiles from the Fulcrums on later missions. MiG-35 MFI ---------- Speed- 8 Mobility- 6 (that's it?) Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 1 Avionics- 10 Evaluation- A Also known as Project 1.42, this is the MiG that never made it. You'll never see the MiG-35 in Mission Mode, just as you'll never see it produced in real life. I often call it the "Vaporware." While it can't hold a candle to the F-22 it was designed to defeat, it has powerful radar and long-range missiles you'll have to watch out for. Su-25 Frogfoot -------------- Speed- 3 Mobility- 5 Air to air- 2 Air to ground- 8 Avionics- 2 Evaluation- D The Russian equivalent of the A-10, this is a pure attack aircraft. It's a rather easy target compared to most fighters, but it still has some heat-seekers, so don't get careless. Su-34 Flanker ------------- Speed- 7 Mobility- 10 (riiiiiight...) Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 8 Avionics- 7 Evaluation- B What, no plain Su-27's? Anyway, this is a tandem-two-seat strike version of the Flanker. Think of it like a bad-guy Super Hornet. It's one of the most dangerous aircraft in the game, with better agility and missiles than the MiGs you'll meet before it. Su-37 Terminator ---------------- Speed- 10 Mobility- 9 (shouldn't *this* one be 10?) Air to air- 10 Air to ground- 1 Avionics- 8 Evaluation- A You'll only ever see a couple of these in Mission Mode, which makes sense because there are only a couple of them in the entire world (if they haven't been converted back to Su-35s yet). A very fearsome aircraft, the infamous Su-37 has super agility thanks to its thrust-vector/triplane configuration. I highly recommend not letting one get close to you. S-37 Berkut ----------- Speed- 9 Mobility- 8 Air to air- 8 Air to ground- 1 Avionics- 7 Evaluation- B(+) Yet another "Raptor-killer" destined for a glorious failure, the S-37 is an experimental forward-swept wing fighter based loosely off the Flanker airframes. (It would have been the "Su-47" had it actually been cleared for production.) This jet isn't in Mission Mode, but should you face them it Strike Mode, be warned: it has very dangerous missiles and some stealth ability. Tu-160 Blackjack ---------------- Speed- 5 Mobility- 4 Air to air- 1 Air to ground- 8 Avionics- 4 Evaluation- D The Blackjack is a long-range strategic bomber, basically a scaled-up knock-off of the B-1. They have a high maximum speed, but they have no air-to-air weapons and can't maneuver too well, making them easy targets. You may even want to practice with your guns on them. Mi-24 Hind ---------- A large, heavily armed gunship helicopter, the Hind is another major export from Russia. It's not too dangerous to your aircraft, but sometimes they can't be targeted with air to air missiles (Mavericks work on those occasions instead). This may be a glitch. Mi-28 Havoc ----------- Fashioned after the Apache, this is a fast attack helicopter. Like the Hind, they're worth big points and are not very dangerous to you, but again they have the same glitch as the Hinds sometimes. Ka-52 Hokum ----------- Nicknamed the Alligator, this is a big, heavily-armed helicopter. These are worth a lot of points and can always (in my experience) be attacked with air-to-air missiles, but they have short-range heat-seekers of their own, so use caution. T-72 ---- Popular Russian MBT. It has decent armor, but it's really nothing more than a target for you. T-80 ---- Russia's top of the line MBT. Again, it's just a target, but worth a few more points. They do have reactive armor, though, so occasionally they can survive a cluster bomb, and on extremely rare occasions, a Maverick hit. SA-13 ----- Mobile SAM launcher that fires heat seeking missiles. Its engagement range seems to be about 5 miles, so keep your distance. SA-19 ----- Mobile SAM launcher that fires radio-guided missiles. It has a slightly longer range than the SA-13, but if you destroy the launcher, the missile it fired goes dead. ZSU-57-2 -------- Mobile AAA (anti-aircraft artillery). It has very short range, but will tear you to shreds if you go in low and slow. The solution is simply to stay high (above 6000ft seems safe). BTR-80 ------ Simple APC. It poses no threat to you, and is usually an even easier target than the tanks. BTR-90 ------ Another APC. Identical to the BTR-80, except worth more points. ZIL-135 ------- A truck transporting ballistic missiles. It can't defend itself, so just blow it up. FROG ---- A ballistic missile launcher. It can't defend itself, but is worth a ton of points and is a required target to complete certain missions. Spyship ------- A small boat with surface to air missiles only encountered in Strike Mode. One good shot will take them out. Kirov ----- A nuclear-powered Russian battlecruiser. There were only 4 of these ever constructed, and you can only fight them in Strike Mode. They are heavily armed with long range SAMs, and will take two Harpoons before going down. ------------ Mission Mode ------------ Mission Mode is divided into 5 scenarios, each scenario having multiple sections and multiple missions for each part. You do NOT have to complete every single mission, but doing so sure helps the replay value. Missions are fairly straightforward. Just pay attention to the briefing, fly along the outlined route through every waypoint in a timely manner, follow orders from AWACS and JSTARS, destroy your assigned targets, and don't get killed. In most cases a walkthrough would be redundant because you're given all the info you need. However, there are a few tricky missions among these, and I have provided short guides for them. Story ----- Paraphrased from the game: Fundamentalists have taken control of a small country (which is obviously somewhere in the middle east), giving birth to a military dictatorship. They have poured money into their military, including a large air superiority force, and have begun a move against a peaceful neighbor to the south. You (obviously a pilot in a US-led coalition) will be helping to save the day. Wingmen ------- You can issue various orders to your wingmen at any time by pressing select, highlighting one of the options with the L2/R2 buttons, and then confirming with select again. Under some circumstances, such as being too far from you or getting no joy on your target, they can't follow certain commands, but they do their best most of the time. -FREE- Lets your boys go after any targets they want. -GROUND- Orders them to go after ground (and sea, if applicable) targets-AIR- Orders them to go after air targets (including helicopters). -COVER- Orders them to get behind you and keep enemy aircraft off your back. -ATTACK- Orders them to attack the target you are currently locked on to. -FORM- Orders them back in formation. This is default. Mission Outline --------------- Missions fall in to one of 6 categories. Here the abbreviations for them. AI: Air Interdiction. Fly intercept against enemy aircraft. CAP: Combat Air Patrol. Scout an area and engage any hostile forces that show up. CAS: Close Air Support. Provide direct cover for forces on the ground. DAS: Deep Air Support. Strike hostile forces to soften them up for friendly ground troops. INT: (Ground) Interdiction. Perform a deep strike against a strategic enemy facility. SEAD: Suppression of Enemy Air Defense. Destroy SAM systems and other air defenses. Scenario 1 1-A: CAP 2-A: AI 2-B: CAP 3-A: DAS 3-B: CAS 3-C: DAS Scenario 2 1-A: CAP 2-A: AI 2-B: CAP 3-A: SEAD 3-B: CAS 3-C: DAS Scenario 3 1-A: AI 2-A: CAP 2-B: SEAD 3-A: DAS 3-B: CAS 3-C: AI Scenario 4 1-A: SEAD 2-A: INT 2-B: AI 3-A: AI 3-B: CAS 3-C: DAS Scenario 5 1-A: CAS 2-A: AI Scenario 1 ---------- 1-A CAP The first mission is simple; just shoot down some MiG-21s. Unicorn will fly with you, and call you rookies. Go through it a few times until you have the basics down. 2-A AI This mission is fairly simple as well. Intercept the enemy squadron of MiG-21s and Su-25s. The Frogfoots (Frogfeet?) should be your priority. Unicorn will be flying CAP in the south. 2-B CAP Same as above, except your role is switched with Unicorn, who will fly the AI mission. Down any MiG-21 or Su-25 that comes close. 3-A DAS This is a strike mission to help capture Mutara base. You have plenty of ground targets in this one: ZSU-57-2, ZIL-135, T-72, and Mi-24. It's a great opportunity to try out all the fun bombs and AGMs. Obviously the A-10 is the best plane for this mission. Unicorn will fly CAP nearby, so don't worry too much about enemy fighters. 3-B CAS This is a close air support version of the above. Your only listed targets are T-72s and ZSUs. Unicorn will fly CAP once again. 3-C DAS This mission is almost identical to 3-B, except you will launch from a carrier. This is your first opportunity to fly and unlock the Super Hornet. Blackwolf will fly cover. Scenario 2 ---------- 1-A CAP Another fairly simple mission. Just shoot down the MiG-21 squadron approaching Sithar base. Unicorn will be flying with you. 2-A AI In this mission, you have to protect Mutara base and intercept the MiG-21s and MiG-29s. This will probably be your first real encounter with Fulcrums, and since they are more dangerous than the Fishbeds, take them out first. Unicorn will fly CAP in the north. 2-B CAP Similar to 2-A, this mission has you taking down Fishbeds and anything else approaching from the north. Unicorn will back you up, as usual. 3-A SEAD Your first of many stressful anti-SAM missions, this one involves taking out SA-19 and AAA sites to the southwest. Unicorn and Cougar will cover your flanks, but watch out for MiGs. 3-B CAS In this mission, you must support ground forces near Sithar. Your targets include Mi-24, T-72, and BTR-80. Watch out for any MiG-29s that get by Cougar who's flying intercept. Hog will assist your attack run. 3-C DAS This mission is a strike against an enemy missile base. Your primary targets are FROG launchers, but they will be surrounded by SAMs so prepare accordingly. The briefing doesn't mention it, but a ton of Mi-28 Havocs show up at one point. Blackwolf will fly CAP in the area. Note that this mission is pretty long, so you might need an extra fuel tank. Scenario 3 ---------- 1-A AI This is a simple intercept mission against a flight of Tu-160's. Bring them down, but watch out for their escorts. You have access to the F-15 here, so use it and unlock it. Unicorn will help you out. 2-A CAP This mission has you flying CAP to defend Unicorn and Cougar from enemy intercept flights as they make an anti-SAM run. There are a couple of MiG-29 squadrons, so watch out. 2-B SEAD This time, it's your turn to willingly get shot at. You team up with Unicorn to hit some SAM sites near Dorgon, while Cougar flies cover. However, this is a trick mission. There are only a couple of SA-19s on the ground, and anywhere from 4 to 6 Mi-28 Havocs that spring up at you. Bring lots of Sidewinders to take them out. 3-A DAS This mission is a strike against the enemy base at Dorgon. Your targets include T-80, BTR-90, SA-13, and Mi-28. Make the helicopters and tanks your priority. Unicorn is flying CAP, as is Drake flight, so they should be able to hold off any bogies. You've got a long way to go, so take extra fuel if you think you'll need it. 3-B CAS Similar to 3-A, this mission is mostly a strike against Mi-28s which have been giving the ground forces trouble. Unicorn and Drake are also in the air, but be sure to bring some air to air missiles to deal with the helos. By the way, the target area is infested with SAMs, so equip for that as well. 3-C AI Two enemy squadrons are approaching the carrier, and you have to take them out. There are MiG-29s, and Su-34s. The latter are particularly nasty and pretty good at dodging missiles. It's a short mission, so don't be afraid to start over if you miss too many. Blackwolf and Steel Mace will be flying with you. Scenario 4 ---------- 1-A SEAD This mission has you team up with Unicorn to destroy SAM sites near Poipe'haq. There are a lot of SAMs, so you'll need a lot of ammo. Stealth would be helpful, but you'll need to get by this mission before you get any stealth aircraft. 2-A INT My vote for most terrifying mission in the game-- this deserves a short walkthrough. This is a strike against a ballistic missile station. Your targets are the FROGs, which are an incredibly long distance away, surrounded by SAMs. And all along that route, you will encounter even more SAMs and enemy patrols of Fulcrums and Flankers. Gargoyle flight is alone on this one. Stealth and speed are a must, and fortunately you have access to the F/A-22. Do not mount any external stores! Just take 6 SDBs and 1 JDAM, plus the 2 Sidewinders and AMRAAMs in the bays. Leave your attack radar OFF (making sure you are in LPI mode the whole time anyway), and just tip-toe through the insane asylum. Slip by every enemy you can without going too far off the flightpath. If you are forced into engagement, order your wingmen to handle it, and stay on course. Target the FROGs quickly, and use your JDAM for a assured kill. Destroy any more launchers and SAMs if you have time with the SDBs (line them up carefully) and then bug out as fast as humanly possible. Carefully supercruise back to base, and then rest for a half hour before playing the game again or operating heavy machinery. 2-B AI Your base is being approached by Tu-160s and MiG-29s. Intercept them, with help from Cougar flight. This is more difficult than it sounds, because there are lots of SAMs in the area. You can either use stealth to try to avoid the SAMs, or try to mix in some HARM missiles with your air to air load. 3-A AI This time, you need to intercept a squadron of Su-34s headed for Poipe'haq, where Hog and Unicorn are on a close air support mission. This is a pretty short mission, but it's still difficult as the Flankers are tough opponents. 3-B CAS This mission has you supporting ground forces at Poipe'haq along with Warthog. Your priority should be the T-80s and Ka-52s, but watch out for MiG-29s as well. Unicorn is supposed to be intercepting the Su-34s, but be prepared in case they get through. Bring a good mix of air to air and air to ground weapons. 3-C DAS This is perhaps the toughest mission in the game, because of the sheer distance and amount of things that want to kill you. You need to strike an enemy weapons plant and soften up the ground forces. The target is hundreds of miles inland; you will launch from a carrier and land at a base after accomplishing your mission. The target area is surrounded by SAMs, of course, and Su-34 flights will harass you along the way. Rapier flight is with you on this mission, but they aren't too effective at keeping the enemies away unless you slow down a bit and make sure they stay ahead of you. You can use the F-35 here, and if you go with all internal stores, you can theoretically use stealth to sneak by some of the dangers. Unfortunately, you will be low on weapons and, worse yet, low on fuel this way. You'll have more fuel flying the Super Hornet, but also a much bigger radar signature. Whatever strategy you use, you need to be on your toes the entire time. Scenario 5 ---------- 1-A CAS Here it is, the end of the game. This mission is a close air support mission as allied ground forces attack the enemy's last stronghold at Ad-Barath. T-80s and Ka-52s are the biggest targets, but there are a lot of surprises in the way of enemy aircraft that you need to watch out for. Warthog is assisting on CAS, while Unicorn is on CAP. Even with that support, the fight tends to get messy, so be ready for anything. 1-B AI Your job in this last mission is to intercept some "unidentified aircraft" that apparently aim to shut down your air power in the push on Ad-Barath. Those aircraft turn out to be Su-37 Terminators. Since you're launching from the carrier, you can't use the Raptor and whup them all easily. This leaves you two main strategies. 1) Use the F-35 in stealth configuration and hope you can make every shot count. 2) Use either the F-35 of the F/A-18 and load it up with as many missiles as you possibly can. Whatever you do, do not let them get close to you, since they can outmaneuver you easily at close range. Just kill as many as you can, hope that Blackwolf and Steel Mace can pick up your spare, and RTB. ----------- Strike Mode ----------- Strike Mode is a new feature that lets you instantly create and customize a small combat scenario, or do a bit of free flying or maneuver practice. It is not related to the story, and in retrospect it could use a lot of tweaking, but it allows a bit of fun that you can really jump into. You don't have to worry about briefings, takeoff, landing, waypoints, and time limits; just kill the enemy. If you want to unlock the S-37 archive footage, you will need to play Strike Mode. You can't face that aircraft any other way. Note that your scores and records from Strike Mode are kept separate from your Mission Mode data. I seriously doubt you will have perfect accuracy with many weapons in Mission Mode, but if you're anal-retentive like me, you can get 100% hit rates on your missiles in Strike Mode. Setting up ---------- Strike Mode is very easy to get into, and requires two general steps. Step one is the player side. You simply choose your aircraft, your ordnance, how durable your aircraft is, starting altitude, your wingmen (see bug warning below), and your wingman's weapons. While most of this is straightforward, there is another BUG WARNING that deserves attention. For some reason, you can never have more than 1 wingman in Strike Mode, no matter what you set it to. It has been suggested that the number refers to their "lives" but until someone actually sees their wing get shot down and respawn, I will assume it's a bug. As for the durability setting, it determines how much damage your aircraft can take before going down. Be warned: It seems that durability sometimes increases your enemy's toughness as well. I can't confirm this, because some hits are just luckier than others. If you want to be sure that you have the same level of deadliness (and danger) as in Mission Mode, keep this setting at 1. If you want an arcade-style missile slugfest, set it higher. For your wingman's weapons load, you can't directly customize it like in mission mode. Instead, you choose from a predetermined loadout. "Full Range" means both long and short range air to air missiles. "Short Range" means heat-seekers only. "Gun only" is just what it says. Step two is the enemy side. You choose the stage, the number and type of targets, what kind of weapons they are allowed to use, and (in the case of enemy aircraft) how far and in what direction they start from you. Challenges ---------- This section is dedicated to the readers of this guide and Energy Airforce fans. I am requesting scenarios for Strike Mode that other players might find interesting and/or difficult. Send them in to my e-mail address (see the top of this document). My examples: -Fishbed in a Barrel- Aircraft: Any but X-35 Weapons: Gun only Altitude: Any Friends: None Friend weapon: N/A Area: Any Enemy: 4 x MiG-21 Fishbeds Enemy weapon: Gun only Position: Any Distance: Any Synopsis: This is an old-school dogfight. Can you take out 4 Fishbeds with your guns alone? This is much harder than it sounds; I've done it *once* with the F-15 so far, but that's it. Even 1 on 1 is tough without a lot of practice. If you somehow master this challenge, try it against Mig-29s! -Snakeyes and SAMs- Aircraft: F-16 or F-16UD Weapons: 6 x Mk-82 bombs only Altitude: Any Friends: None Friend weapon: N/A Area: Any that supports ground targets Enemy: 4 x SA-13s Enemy weapon: N/A Position: N/A Synopsis: An anti-SAM mission from hell. It's hard enough to connect with 500lb dumb bombs normally, let alone when the target is shooting at you. This one is not for the faint of heart. -Crimson Tide- Aircraft: Any Weapons: Any Altitude: Any Friends: 1 Friend weapon: Ground Area: Any that supports sea targets Enemy: 4 x Kirov Enemy weapon: Full Position: N/A Synopsis: You're up against four Russian battlecruisers here, all of which have particularly nasty SAMs that will eat you alive if you come too close. Most aircraft can carry at most two Harpoons, if any at all, so you will need to be very creative with your selection and use of weaponry. Make sure your wingman is doing his job as well. -Tank Buster- Aircraft: A-10 Weapons: gun only Altitude: Any Friends: 0 Friend weapon: N/A Area: Any that supports ground targets Enemy: 4 x T-72 or T-80 Enemy weapon: N/A Position: N/A Synopsis: This is pretty simple, but not as easy as it sounds. Just kill all 4 tanks with your gun. Keep in mind that they do have machine guns and they will shoot at you if you fly too low. -Warthog at Sea- Sent in by Glass Heart Aircraft: A-10 Weapons: 2 AGM-88, 6 Mk. 82 Altitude: Any Friends: 0 Area: Any that supports sea targets Enemy: 2 x Kirov Synopsis: It takes 5 AGM-65's to sink a Kirov, in case you're curious. How many Mk82 bombs, you're wondering? Find out yourself, if you can. -A-10 Pickle Barrel- Sent in by ajaxle Aircraft: A-10 Durability: 5 Weapons: 4 Mk. 82 Altitude: 10000 Friends: 0 Area: 09 Enemy: 4 x ZSU-57-2 Synopsis: "Try to do this mission without using your cannon. The first time I tried I completed the mission in 4 minutes 36 seconds/ Time: 00' 04" 36. A few tries later my best time was 1 minute 50 seconds/ Time: 00' 01" 50." ------------- General Hints ------------- Here are some basic hints to help get into the game. Some of this stuff is covered in the instruction booklet, but as it's in Japanese, I figured putting it here in English would be helpful. Taking off ---------- At first, even taking off may prove a bit frustrating, because you have to taxi your own plane to the runway. I recommend throttling up to about 75 or 80 for a few seconds, then bringing the engines back down to idle (power 70). This will give you enough of a boost to cruise to the runway. Before you turn, put on the airbrakes, and then use the rudders (R2 or L2) to turn. Come to a complete stop on or just short of the runway, and you'll be ready to go. Actually taking off is easy; just hit the afterburners and pull up slowly when you're at about 200 knots. NOTE: You can skip straight to the runway instead by pressing Select. Note that you don't need to taxi on carriers; just power up to full burners and the catapult will launch you. If you're flying the F-35, you don't even need a catapult, because it's S/VTOL. Just hit afterburner and go. Heck, you can even do that on a normal runway and save time taxiing. Landing ------- There is an in-game tutorial for landing, and I strongly suggest you play it --over and over again with every single aircraft-- until landing is no longer a problem. My personal advice is to start slowing down long before you reach the airfield, and start your descent early as well. This will give you more time to line up with the runway and make any corrections needed. Remember, you need to be at or below 300 knots to deploy the landing gear and bring up landing mode in the HUD. As far as carrier landings go, practice is again the key. Don't forget to deploy your tow hook with the left direction key. You may end up hitting the carrier and miss the arresting wires. If that happens, immediately speed up and pull up, so you'll "bounce" off the carrier and have another chance at a pass. It's tough, but just thank your lucky stars you don't have to do it at night... Of course, if you really really hate landing your own plane, you can always go to the options screen and set landings to "auto." Under this setting you will automatically land once you reach a certain point on the map. Firing cannon ------------- Guns are very unforgiving weapons in Energy Airforce. You have to pay very careful attention to the range to target and the path of your bullets if you hope to score a hit. Also take note that the rate of fire in this game is true to life, and you will empty the whole gun in no time if you're not careful. Use short, controlled bursts. To fire against an enemy aircraft, change weapons until you are in Dogfight Mode. Get within 1.5 miles of your target (closer is always better), but slow down so you can maneuver more easily and don't overshoot your target. I recommend not even bothering trying to shoot a fighter unless you are within 5000 feet. Better yet, wait for the enemy to fill most of your HUD. Using the A-10's cannon against ground targets is much simpler, because the ground targets aren't moving around at hundreds of miles an hour. Still, it can be difficult because you need to be very close to the ground and approach at a rather scary angle. Just line up the gunsight with the target (visual identification is crucial here), and fire. You might not hit it at first, so just practice in training mode. You can try different techniques like strafing, broken bursts, or even dive-bombing to see what works best for you. Launching missiles ------------------ There are two kinds of missiles in this game: radar guided and infra-red. Firing a radar-guided missile is fairly simple. Press the weapon select button to switch to the missile you want, and "Missile Mode" and the search radar will be activated. Legal targets for the weapon will be outlined by a box made of dotted lines, and the selected target will be outlined by a thicker box. When the selected target comes into firing range, the circular target reticule will become larger, and a lock-on diamond will appear in the target box. Soon after, the word "SHOOT" will appear in the HUD, alerting you to fire. (Note that the A-10 does not have that feature.) Keep in mind that because of the way radar works (sweeping back in forth over a limited area), occasionally your lock will be broken. Pay attention to where your enemies are and keep searching for them. For infra-red missiles, press the weapon select button to bring up "Dogfight Mode" and begin a search for heat sources. Pay attention to the buzz you hear, as it will be your cue to launch. Once a target is found, a target box will appear around it. Close in on the target until about 5 nautical miles; the buzz will change to a high-pitched continuous whine and "SHOOT" will eventually appear (if you're not flying the A-10). That's the best time to fire. Remember that the closer you get to fire, the less time the enemy has to dodge and launch flares, but the same is true for you if he fires back. If you lose lock on a target, it is recommended that you switch to Missile Mode to more easily look for it. Your search radar works even if you have no radar-guided missiles left. Bombing ------- There are two basic kinds of bombs; unguided and guided (or "dumb" and "smart"). Both are fairly easy to use. For dumb bombs, just line up the pipper (either an X or a circle with a dot in the center depending on the aircraft) on the target, and release. You don't have to be right above the target, because the bomb will use the forward momentum and coast to the target. When using smaller bombs, try to get the center dot right on the target. With larger bombs, you have more room for error. And with cluster bombs, just aim for the center of a large group. "Smart" bombs save you some of the work. You can release them the same way as dumb bombs by just tapping the button, or you can lock on and have them release automatically. To do this, make sure you have the target you want selected, get within a couple of miles, and then *hold down* the fire button. A long vertical line will appear on the HUD, and a short horizontal line will travel down it. When that horizontal marker lines up with the flight level indicator, the bomb will release automatically and fly to its target. Note that if your angle of attack is a bit off, or if you are too close or too far, the bomb might not release. If the indicator passes the line and it doesn't release, let go of the fire button and circle around for another run. Effective range for bombs is a bit tricky, because it depends on your altitude and airspeed. I listed 1.5 nautical miles as the best range to fire for all bombs above, as I've almost always been able to get a good shot within that distance. At higher altitudes, however (10000ft or above) it is possible to get a good shot from nearly 5 miles away, especially with some of the guided bombs. ACM --- ACM is Air Combat Maneuvering, i.e. dogfighting. This section will cover the tactics you need you stay alive, as well as make sure the bandits stay dead. I have neither the experience nor the space to explain all the different possible tactics, so I'll leave it to these pages. The second one has great 3-D-ish diagrams to help detail basic maneuvers. http://tailslide.firelight.dynip.com/glossary.htm http://members.tripod.com/~F15EEagle/manu.html One thing I've found is that scissor maneuvers work very well against the enemy AI to get them off your back, but loops rarely ever do. Avoiding missiles ----------------- "Mobius, are you saying that I can dodge missiles?" "What I'm saying is that when you're ready, you won't have to." The best way to dodge missiles is to not get shot at in the first place. To do this you will need a tactical advantage: either superior range, superior positioning, or the element of surprise. Out-ranging your opponents is usually easy. In air combat situations, just load up on AMRAAMs. Whatever the Russians claim about their AA-12 (a missile that has never been fired in combat), there's nothing the enemy forces can really do to counter the AMRAAM, which has a perfect or near-perfect kill rate in combat. The AIM-120B will serve you just fine until the later missions, where the opposing forces get some more advanced gear. At that point, the AIM-120C will give you back the edge. Out-ranging SAMs is easy as well; just use missiles. Even Mavericks can be fired just outside of the range of SA-13s and SA-19s (but be sure to turn and run fast). Obviously HARMs and SLAMs are even better at this. To obtain superior positioning, effective use of your radar is necessary. The arrows on your radar represent other aircraft, so look for the direction they are pointing. The idea is to stay behind them. Not only are you in the best position to fire that way, but they can't fire back. (See the upcoming ACM section for details on how to maneuver behind an enemy aircraft.) You may want to make use of your wingmen and even other squadrons to provide a distraction for the enemy. Tell your wingmen to cover you, and they'll do their best to keep bogeys off your back. Be sure to return the favor, though; if an enemy is trying to get a lock on your buddy, he won't see you coming at him from behind. As for the element of surprise, the answer is obviously Stealth. Flying a Raptor, you can choose to either sneak by enemies entirely (most cannot even hope to get a fix on you until they are very close), or you can sneak up on them. It's not that hard to get within range of an enemy squadron, switch off LPI mode, fire a volley of AMRAAMs, switch back on LPI, and cruise to safety in a matter of seconds. They will literally never know what hit them. Remember that for full stealth, you need to be flying "clean" (no external stores). However, even with the best tactics and preparation, sometimes you just can't avoid getting shot at. Getting hit with a missile usually results in one of three things: -Minor structural damage (loud bang and disorientation) -Heavy damage and loss of engine power (lots of black smoke) -Getting shot down (game over) Clearly, we don't want any of those things to happen. If you see a missile coming towards you, you need to take swift, precise actions to evade it. Here is the best method I've found for evading medium range missiles. The idea is to get lots of chaff directly between you and the missile to confuse it, like the moon blocking out the much larger and brighter sun during an eclipse. It works for heat-seekers too, but you don't have as much room to turn. 1. Turn your aircraft so you are headed straight away from the missile (on a parallel flight path) and run from it. Do NOT engage afterburners. 2. Drop chaff/flares every 3 to 6 seconds. It seems you have unlimited chaff and flares, so don't be shy about using them. 3. When the missile is extremely close (with a couple of miles; check radar), drop one final chaff/flare and turn as hard as you possibly can. 4. Keep turning hard until the warning buzzer stops and the missile is not on your radar anymore. Don't worry about blacking out, because the missile will do much worse to you. 5. If there are multiple missiles following you, repeat steps 1 to 4, very, very quickly. Turn in the opposite direction you turned for each previous missile if possible. The second method is much riskier and takes more practice, but it is also best applied in situations where you can't run from the missile. The idea here is to trick the missile by turning gradually in one direction, then turning hard in the other just before it hits. 1. When the missile is within 10nm or so of you, start turning steadily in one direction (say, up and left) until the missile is within 30-60 degrees of your path of flight (i.e. still within your radar cone). 2. Position your aircraft in advance so you can bank hard in the opposite direction you were turning. 3. When the missile closes to 2.5nm or so, jam on the breaks, and turn hard in the opposite direction, while dropping chaff/flares every second or so. 4. You may need to start turning earlier or later depending on which aircraft you are flying. Obviously some are more maneuverable than others. 5. You may hear a bang from the missile exploding, but don't let it shake you. If you are still flying, you did something right. 6. After the missile is gone, unload and regain control (stabilize the craft to prevent from blacking out) and recover any lost power (throttle back up). Be sure to get a bearing on whatever shot at you. For some real-life missile-dodging tips, try the following: http://tailslide.firelight.dynip.com/evadingm.asp If anyone has experience with such tactics (in either real life or other flight sims), please let me know. -------------- Special Thanks -------------- -Don "Gamera" Chan for the correction on the Ka-52, links to info about the F-35's gun, and a link to a Japanese site with the save data trick. To check out his many gamefaqs contributions, see http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/recognition/146.html -Mark Psarakis, M.D. for trying out the Saitek x45 flight stick -Cobitoby for letting everyone know where the fuel guages are. ---------- Legal Info ---------- This document is copyright 2003 by Jack Power. It is not to be used for profit in any way. If you wish to reference part of it in your own guide, please ask. Energy Airforce aimStrike! is property of Taito. F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-22 Raptor, X-35 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are trademarks of Lockheed Martin Corporation. F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet are trademarks of Boeing.
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