Armor Weapons (Part 2)
Posted by Pepin the Short - 05th January 2014
The earlier part of our discussion on vehicle weaponry can be found here. There is a small degree of overlap, as Zuni Rockets and TOW missiles are shared between some vehicles, but we'll explain them here too.
Fast Attack Craft
The attack boats have quite an array of weapons available to them. The primary weapons are all different shells for the cannon, and the secondary weapons are all missiles. The role of the FAC can change wildly based on the weapons chosen.
The three cannons that are available are the 25mm, the 30mm, and the 25mm Burst cannon. The 25mm is the default, and is an effective all-around tool. The 30mm, on the other hand, deals twice as much damage to all targets, which makes it incredibly powerful. However, as Battlelog describes, it does in exchange for reduced ammo capacity, as well as increased drop and slightly decreased accuracy. However, for one who can aim these shells well, the 30mm is second to none, and the undoubtedly superior choice for shore bombardment.
The 25mm Burst cannon fires 8-round bursts at 1000 rounds per minute, two and a half times faster than the rate of fire for the standard 25mm or 30mm cannons. It has the most ammo available, and the bursts can be lethal, but each individual shell deals up to a third of the damage to ground vehicles as the standard 25mm shells. On the other hand, the burst cannon has twice the velocity, and actually deals more damage per shell against helicopters than the standard 25mm cannon does. The burst cannon's primary role seems, therefore, to be in leveling the playing field in engagements between helicopters and attack boats. And, true enough, most of the maps with an attack boat presence also have a significant role for helicopters.
The FAC's secondary weapons have the greatest degree of versatility of all the vehicles. The Passive Radar missile, which functions like the IGLA described in an earlier post offers the FAC a degree of anti-aircraft capability. It is nowhere near as effective at keeping the skies clear as the MAA, but the Passive Radar missiles will at least serve to keep enemy aircraft from trying to disrupt your work.
Against ground targets, the FAC can choose between the TOW missile, the Laser Guided missile, the Zuni Rockets, and the TV Missile. With the exception of the Zuni Rockets, the damage dealt by these missiles is roughly the same (slightly higher, with the proper angle, for the TOW missile, and lower for the guided missile unless hitting a laser-designated target), so the decision between these weapons must be based on personal preference.
The TV Missile has superior range and constant damage, regardless of angle, but using it properly is a skill that takes practice, while the Laser-Guided and TOW missiles are about as straightforward as they come. As with the IFVs, the Zuni Rockets have the potential for keeping up with the damage output of a TOW missile, but every rocket must hit. On the other hand, the high splash damage offers unique anti-infantry (read: shore bombardment) capabilities. It is, once again, largely a matter of personal preference and play style; none of the secondary weapons can be definitively said to be greater than others.
The MAA's name is quite thorough in describing its purpose, though it is possible to give the MAA a load out that makes it a marginally effective tool against ground targets as well.
The two shells available for the main cannon are the 20mm and the 30mm. The 20mm cannon can reach 50% farther, and the shells move with 50% greater speed, making it unequivocally superior against fast-moving or distant aircraft, despite its significantly lower damage. On maps where vehicles can be expected to be relatively close, or moving in a way that they are easy to track, the high damage output of the 30mm makes it a legitimate possibility.
However, it is worth noting that the 30mm shell has a zero base spread, which is not of much consequence against air vehicles considering its limited range, but it gives the 30mm shell superior anti-infantry ability. And, with only six shots to kill at 600 rpm, the 30mm shell can be an incredible tool on maps with a less-consequential air presence, like Dawnbreaker or Zavod 311.
The missiles are all of a kind, with the exception of the Zuni Rockets. The Heat Seeker and Passive Radar missiles function much like the Stinger and IGLA, respectively, and the Active Radar missile, though dealing significantly less damage than the others, automatically locks onto enemy aircraft in-flight and has a significantly greater range and velocity. Against jets, Active Radar cannot be equaled.
One must always keep in mind that the primary purpose of the MAA is to eliminate, or at least neuter, the enemy air presence. That said, with 30mm shells and Zuni Rockets, the MAA can more effectively turn its focus towards the ground, both weapons offering excellent infantry-killing ability, and even allowing the MAA to hold its own against an enemy IFV or MBT, provided proper positioning and the element of surprise.
The important thing to remember when selecting a weapon load out, beyond whether or not it is amenable to your own style of play, is the kind of enemies one will encounter on a given map. The limited range of the MAA's 30mm cannons make it a poor choice on a map like Golmud Railway, while the close quarters of vehicle combat on Dawnbreaker may make the MBT's High Explosive shell a worthwhile choice. It is rarely possible to say which is the all-around best decision; one must consider the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Pepin the Short