The Role of Vehicles on the Battlefield

The first thing one must remember when taking a vehicle role is that you ultimately are there to support the infantry. It is not your job to run around pell-mell trying to rack up an impressive kill count; instead, you should do everything you can to work with friendly forces so that you can best support the infantry. If you cannot comprehend this fundamental fact, you should not be manning a vehicle, period.

Vehicle Radars

To get started, let's look at the method by which ArmA2 abstracts vehicle sensors - called simply 'the radar'. For aircraft, this represents the aircraft's sensor suites, radar systems, etc. For ground vehicles, it generally represents the thermal detection systems on such vehicles.

Reading the Radar

The ArmA2 radar is pretty simple to work with and understand. The green rectangular section is a 360 degree radar view, while the smaller, light green section indicates your current field of view. If you zoom in, it gets smaller. Zoom out, it gets larger. Radar contacts are color-coded by type - red is hostile, green is friendly, and gray indicates civilians or knocked-out targets . The icons will fade in and out based upon how far they are from you, too. TAB is used to lock onto a target - priority seems to be given to targets that are within your current field of view. For some vehicles, right-clicking can be used effectively to lock specific targets - this is generally best done by the gunners of vehicles.

Lock Symbology

Any weapon that can lock onto a target will first have to acquire the target. This is done either by right-clicking over the target, or pressing "TAB" to cycle through available targets. When a target is acquired, it will have a green box around it. To lock the target, you must have it within a certain number of degrees of the weapon's orientation (relative to the nose on most aircraft, or the direction the weapon is facing on ground vehicles) - this may vary depending upon the specific weapon.

When a target has been acquired and locked, the box has a circle overlaid on it. At this point any guided weapon can be fired and it will automatically track and (hopefully) destroy said target. Note that when reaching the limits of the lock 'cone', the circle indicator will begin to fade out, letting you know that you're about to lose lock.

General Ground Vehicle Tips

Foot Recon & Ground Guides

When the tactical situation permits it, the commander of a vehicle can dismount from the vehicle to do a 'foot recon'. This is typically done when the vehicle is about to crest some significant terrain feature. Dismounting and checking over the crest 'on foot' allows for the commander to decide on where possible enemy threats might be, locate obvious threats, and choose on where and how to crest the terrain, where his gunner should be aiming when they crest, and so forth.

Ground guides, on the other hand, are infantry who walk in front of a vehicle to guide it through a tricky area. Ground guides can be used to get a vehicle positioned specifically where the infantry need it, to help guide vehicles through a potentially mined area, or to help them navigate through tight or confusing terrain.

Clearing Lanes of Fire & Observation

Depending on their weight and hardiness, vehicles can be used to knock down trees, bushes, walls, and other obstacles in order to clear lanes of fire & observation for themselves or the infantry that they support. Tanks are generally able to knock down anything, whereas trucks and such generally focus on light bushes and light walls to prevent disabling themselves in the process.

Close coordination with the infantry commanders is needed in order to create effective lanes of fire that are integrated into the defensive plans of the supported infantry. Too many trees knocked down, or holes punched in walls, can compromise the ability of the infantry to put up an effective defense.

Soft Vehicles

5-ton trucks, unarmored HMMWVs, jeeps, motorcycles, etc, fall into the 'soft' vehicle class. These are meant to be used as transportation and will not survive any significant combat. During combat, 'soft' vehicles carry the minimum of crew - a driver and gunner at most. All infantry using them as transportation dismount to fight on foot once contact is made, or whenever it is anticipated as being imminent.

Types of Soft Vehicles


Unarmed soft vehicles fall into two general categories - transport and service. Transport vehicles are concerned with getting troops somewhere, while service vehicles carry fuel, ammo, and provide mechanical support to damaged vehicles. All of these are death traps once bullets start flying.

MTVR (L), unarmed HMMWV (R)


Armed soft vehicles are generally vulnerable to enemy attack, yet have a powerful weapon on them that helps to counterbalance that vulnerability. HMMWVs with HMGs, GMGs, ATGMs, and such are the prime examples of this class of vehicle.

TOW HMMWV (L), M240 HMMWV (C), 'Avenger' Anti-Air HMMWV (R)


Soft vehicle roles were described in the Combined Arms page, previously.

Typical Threats

The following threats are the ones most commonly employed against soft vehicles. While there are plenty of other things that can destroy a soft vehicle, these are the most commonly encountered. For more information about additional threat types, read the "Armored Vehicles - Typical Threats" section below, and understand that most of those can also be employed against soft vehicles.

If you take anything away from this, it should be that soft vehicles do not stand up to serious enemy resistance and are best employed in low-intensity conflicts. If you're going into a serious fight, bring a serious armored vehicle.

Small-Arms Fire (SAF)

Small arms fire is by far the greatest and most prevalent threat towards 'soft' vehicles in A2. The key characteristics of it, as it relates to 'soft' vehicles, follow.

A Russian soldier blazes full-auto with his AK

Heavy Machinegun Fire

Heavy machinegun fire typically is encountered in the form of enemy vehicles. Heavy machineguns are more than capable of quickly destroying a soft vehicle. They do everything that small-arms fire does, except multiplied in intensity. They can destroy tires, tear through the vehicle hull and kill anything they hit, destroy the engines, and generally swiss-cheese soft vehicles in short order.

Light Anti-Tank Rockets

Light anti-tank rockets, such as the RPG-7, are deadly threats to soft vehicles. One good hit from an RPG warhead is usually enough to disable a soft vehicle, if not outright destroy it.

Russian soldier sporting an RPG-7

Armored Vehicles

Types of Armor

For the purposes of ArmA2, the three armored vehicle classes are light, medium, and heavy. These classifications are given based upon two things: The armor of the vehicle and the armament. They differ somewhat from the real-world classifications in some regards, but this convention is done in consideration of the way in which A2 models such vehicles.


For our purposes, light armor has the weakest armor and weakest weapons - nothing more than a .50cal MG and a grenade launcher is typical for this class. Strykers with M2s and Mk19s, AAVs (Amphibious Assault Vehicles) that carry an M2 and Mk19, uparmored HMMWVs with any kind of armament, and the M113 with an M2 fall into the light armor class.

Light armor offers effective protection against small-arms fire but generally is vulnerable to anti-tank weapons like RPGs and various types of explosives.

LAV-HQ (L), AAV7 (R)


Medium armor tends to differ mainly by the armaments it has. Medium armor has at least a cannon (typically automatic). The Bradley IFV, Stryker MGS (Mobile Gun System) or ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile), and LAV-25 are considered medium armor due to their markedly improved lethality compared to the light armor.

Medium armor provides excellent protection against small-arms fire and some (but not much) protection against infantry-carried anti-tank weapons. Their weapons allow them to wipe the floor with any enemy infantry and some of them are even effective against heavy armor thanks to ATGMs and such.



These are exclusively tanks. The M1A2 TUSK Abrams Main Battle Tank is our heavy armor. It has fearsome firepower, great armor, and is pretty much the king of armored vehicle combat. Heavy armor is the infantry's worst nightmare come to menacing life.

M1A1 (L), M1A2 TUSK (R)

Armored Vehicle Roles

Armored vehicle roles differ somewhat from those of soft vehicles, primarily because they are intended to be aggressively employed in a combat role. The drivers, commanders, and gunners of armored vehicles must be knowledgeable on what that means, and capable of carrying out the following responsibilities with competence.


The armor driver is typically the junior member of the crew. His basic responsibilities include:

M1A1 driver turned out


The armor gunner is responsible for employing the bulk of the armor's armaments. His basic responsibilities include:

M1A2 TUSK gunner displays the main gun's power


Often referred to as the 'vehicle commander' (VC) or 'tank commander' (TC), the armor commander is the senior member of the crew. He is in charge of his armor, and gives orders to both the gunner and driver in order to carry out whatever mission they have been tasked with. His basic responsibilities include:

M1A2 TUSK tank commander stands in his turret

Armor Crew Coordination & Comms

Brevity words


When directing the movement or gunnery of a tank or armored vehicle, several methods of orientation can be employed. They are as follows.

The Tank/Vehicle Commander in Detail

Tank/Vehicle Commanders have a great many responsibilities and things they must stay aware of in order to effectively employ their vehicles and keep their crews alive. The following sections detail some of the more significant aspects of what they are expected to do.

Tips for Tank Commanders

Directing the Driver

Directing the Gunner

Commander Initiated Engagement

A commander initiated engagement (CIE) is similar to the contact report used by infantry, but tailored towards the equipment and requirements of armored vehicle crews.

It is important that the commander is quick, clear and concise when giving a Commander Initiated Engagement. Passing the vital information in a timely matter will ensure the safety of yourself, your vehicle and other friendly elements. To this end, let's take a look at the different components of a CIE.

  1. Alert. Identifying the position "Gunner" is the standard alert; however, the infantry word "Contact" or "Target" is also acceptable. This will alert the gunner a CIE is about to follow.
  2. Orient. There are three common methods to orient the gunner on target. Choosing which method will be determined by the VC's preference and the difficulty for the gunner to find the target. They are the same as those detailed above in the "Orientation" section.
  3. Describe. Quickly describe what exactly the target is - for example, whether it is a BMP or an enemy squad in the open. This will confirm for the gunner what his precise target is, which is of particular importance when multiple threats may be present in a given area. Brevity should be exercised in this step as speed is very important in a CIE.

    If the gunner observes the target, which should hopefully be the case, he will verbally state "On" to inform the VC he is observing the target. If the gunner cannot find the target the command "Not seen" will be used to inform the VC he needs to expound on the CIE to get on target.

    Once the gunner is on target, the commander will finish the CIE by designating the weapon system to be used (Coax, SABOT, HE, etc.) and end with the command "Fire".

    In the interest of saving time, which in turns saves lives in vehicle engagements, the commander can give the weapon system and "Fire when ready" command after step 3. This will inform the gunner to fire as soon as the target is in sight.

Once you have given a CIE and the gunner is engaging the target, begin to scan for other targets. Your gunner will be able to observe the target and finish it, while you should be worried about any other enemy threats that may be around. Ideally, you will spot a new threat and give your follow-on CIE commands just after the gunner has finished destroying the initial threat.

Typical Armor Threats

The following threats are the most common ones encountered by armored vehicles. I have avoided mentioning two other possible threats - cannons and artillery - which can be read about in other sections.

Infantry Anti-Tank Rockets (AT)

Infantry anti-tank rockets are the unguided weapons most commonly found in infantry units to protect them against enemy vehicles and armor. They come in a variety of types, with some being single-shot disposable systems (AT-4, RPG-22, LAW), while others have a reloadable component with a variety of warhead types to select from.

Depending on their size and warhead, these can cause significant trouble for most armored vehicles. They will not outright destroy main battle tanks with a single shot as a general rule, but their stronger variants can do that to light and medium armored systems, and massing multiple launchers can greatly enhance their effectiveness.

Due to their unguided nature, AT rockets tend to have a relatively short effective range, particularly when employed against moving or obscured/masked vehicles. A long shot is considered to be beyond 400m, and none of them are capable of reaching a kilometer.

AT rockets are capable of causing mobility and firepower kills, as well as injuring any personnel embarked in a vehicle. The best way to avoid them is to be vigilant in scanning, utilize proper movement techniques, and be able to think like an enemy AT soldier and predict how they might be employed against you.

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM)

ATGM's come in three main types on the ground - infantry carried, such as the Javelin, crew-served, such as the TOW, or crew-served vehicle-mounted, such as the TOW HMMWV. They are also featured on rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, like the TOW, Hellfire, and Maverick missile systems.

ATGM's are guided missiles with powerful warheads that can wreck armored vehicles with ease. They are incredibly dangerous weapon systems. The only defense against them is doing whatever you can to not be shot at - once they're in the air, nothing short of vehicle armor and active defense systems (which A2 does not have by default) can save you, and neither is 100% effective.

BTR with ATGMs

Anti-Tank Mines

AT mines are heavy, powerful mines that can tear the guts out of most armored vehicles with ease. They are triggered by pressure and magnetic detection, generally - if a heavy enough vehicle drives over them, they detonate, sending a fierce explosion up into what is typically the weakest armor of any vehicle. Mines are place-and-leave weapons that do not require an enemy to be nearby to detonate them.

Depending on where the mine is when it detonates, a vehicle can either be outright destroyed (such as if it detonates directly under the hull) or simply disabled (such as when it detonates under the wheels or tracks).

AT mines are best avoided through the careful observation of the vehicle crew and any attached infantry.

See the mine? No? This is why they're such a danger to tanks - good emplacement makes them almost impossible to spot while moving at speed.


Satchel charges are explosive packs that can be used in an anti-tank capability when needed. They are similar to mines in their destructive ability, differing primarily in how they are detonated. A satchel must be either set on time detonation or remotely detonated, and if remote, the triggerman must be within several hundred meters of it to be able to send the signal.

By virtue of a manual detonation mode, a satchel charge can lay dormant while lead vehicles pass it, with the triggerman waiting until a vulnerable vehicle gets near it before detonating.

Like mines, satchel charges are best avoided through the careful observation of the vehicle crew and any attached infantry.

Tips for Armor

Hull Down

"Hull down" is the term used to describe when a vehicle (typically a tank) uses the terrain in such a way that only the gun/turret is visible to enemy forces. This provides the enemy with a smaller target, protects the more vulnerable parts of the vehicle from enemy fire, and allows the vehicle to fire more or less unhindered.

The illustration below shows an M1A2 tank in a hull-down position behind a small rise. From this location, the tank had perfect visibility of a major enemy avenue of approach and had a clear line of fire down that approach without having to expose anything more than the turret to enemy return fire.

An M1A2 utilizing a hull-down position to cover an enemy avenue of approach


Hull down positions can be used by any vehicles that have weapon systems atop them - even a HMMWV with a TOW can benefit from a hull-down position.

In the best-case scenario, a tank can utilize a hull-down position when firing, and then retreat back below the cover (i.e. down the slope that provides the 'hull-down' possibility in the first place) to total protection during the reload before popping back into a hull-down position for the next shot. Whenever possible, a tank should not pop back up at the same location it used last - a new one should be picked each time to prevent any enemies from zeroing in on their next exposure point.

Remember that a hull-down position is relative to the location and distance from the enemy. The greater the distance of the engagement, the more likely you can get into a hull down position even in a small elevation decrease.

"Turret down" is when the entire tank is hidden behind the terrain or an obstacle.

Turning Out

Unbuttoning is possible in most armored vehicles from the driver or commander position. It simply involves opening and standing in the hatch. This is very useful for keeping a high level of situational awareness and should be used whenever the situation allows for it. The main drawback is that many of the unbuttoned crewmembers are highly vulnerable to enemy fire due to the high-profile stances they take. However, if you exercise good judgment and only unbutton when it's safe to do so, you should be fine and will definitely benefit from the increase in SA.

Make sure that you have your turn-in/turn-out keys bound to something readily accessible - "stance up" and "stance down" are great for this. Having these keys bound makes it much easier to duck at a moment's notice, and generally increases the ease and usefulness of turning in/out.

Note that in some vehicles in ACE2, a commander may have to turn out to employ a machinegun on the vehicle. For vehicles that require the TC to stand in his hatch to use the machinegun, a careful assessment must be made as to when and where it is safe to do so.


"Jockey left" or "Jockey right" are commands that a vehicle commander can use to have his driver move the vehicle laterally left or right behind cover without exposing the larger and weaker side profile to enemy observation or fire.

Jockeying is accomplished by backing the vehicle up to mask it from frontal fires, then turning left or right and driving a short distance laterally from the previous position. Once a suitable distance has been reached, the vehicle reorients towards the threat and advances up and back into a hull-down position from which it can resume engaging the enemy. This allows a vehicle to continually appear at different locations before firing, making it hard for the enemy to predict where it will appear and thus making it more survivable.

Vehicle Countermeasures & Equipment


Many vehicles, armored and unarmored, are equipped with smoke dischargers for defensive purposes. These dischargers are most often mounted to the vehicle's turret, allowing the smokescreen to be laid in the direction that the turret is pointed.

The vehicle commander generally has control of the smoke system. He selects it as he would a normal weapon and presses 'fire' to deploy the smoke. The canisters will propel away from the vehicle in an arc, quickly deploying a thick white smokescreen after a few moments. This smoke can be used for a variety of purposes to screen friendly forces from enemy observation.

Many smoke systems have two or more deployments available before they will need to be reloaded at a supply position.

Bear in mind that smoke, used as a defense against enemy anti-tank assets, is only really useful if the vehicle moves after deploying it. Movement makes it much harder for any manually-guided missile systems to properly track the vehicle as well.

A LAV-25 deploys smoke to the right of the vehicle


Ground vehicles come equipped with a wide variety of armaments. The most common types are described in this section, with the intent being to familiarize all players with the capabilities of the different weapon systems they will see employed from vehicles.

Cannon (large)

Large cannons are the main guns on tanks, or standalone artillery pieces. They are capable of causing great damage to whatever they hit, but have a relatively slow reload time. The M1A2 has a 120mm smoothbore cannon which falls under this category.

Large cannons typically have a range of ammunition types to choose from, such as:

M1A2 TUSK after firing the 120mm cannon

Cannon (small)

Small cannons are found on infantry fighting vehicles and other medium armored vehicles.

Small cannons (20-30mm) tend to have a rapid firing rate and are capable of using sabot or high-explosive rounds. They are superb at killing infantry and other similarly-classed armored vehicles, but come up at a distinct disadvantage when faced against main battle tanks. Cannons can be used to devastating effect when engaging masked urban targets - putting HE shells into a room, or blasting SABOT rounds through walls that hostiles are hiding behind, are both superb at wrecking an enemy defense.

The LAV-25 is an example of a USMC vehicle with such a cannon, with the BMP3 being a similar example of an OPFOR vehicle with a similar cannon.

25mm cannon of the LAV-25


Every armored vehicle inevitably has at least one machinegun on it. Machineguns can range from medium-caliber like the 7.62mm M240 up to the heavy-caliber .50cal M2 Browning. They are used against soft targets such as trucks or enemy infantry, and can generally carry an obscene amount of ammo due to said ammo being stashed in the vehicle itself. Heavy-caliber machineguns can even be employed successfully against light enemy armored systems, and can also punch through walls that lighter machineguns cannot.

Machineguns come in several types of mounts on armored vehicles:


Anti-Tank Guided Missiles are carried by a number of armored vehicles. These missiles are capable of outright destroying most armored threats and are very dangerous to face off against. ATGMs such as the US "TOW" give less-than-heavy-armor vehicles a fighting chance against main battle tanks. Most common ground-launched ATGMs require some sort of guidance/tracking of the target from launch time until impact.

ATGMs can also be employed effectively in an anti-bunker/anti-building capacity when the threat of enemy armor is not present.

HMMWV sporting a TOW missile system

Grenade Machinegun

The grenade machinegun is exactly what it sounds like. Capable of firing dozens of grenades at a high rate of fire, these are superb weapons to use against enemy infantry, soft vehicles, and light armor. Their effects against heavier vehicles are generally unremarkable - by the time they can do enough damage, the heavier vehicle will have already blown them to scrap.

Grenade machineguns generally have a steeply arced trajectory due to their relatively low velocity, but the terminal effects of the grenades are independent of their velocity and stay lethal out to as far as they can be lobbed.

The Mk-19 Grenade Machinegun, as seen on a HMMWV

Turret Types

ArmA2 introduces the ability to simulate the degree to which a turret is or is not stabilized. There are two basic types - non-stabilized and stabilized. Stabilized turrets can occasionally come in varieties where only one axis is stabilized, though that is rarer.


A non-stabilized turret does not have any special method to keep the turret pointed in a given direction while the vehicle is moving. Because of this, uneven terrain makes it difficult for the gunner to engage on the move or when the vehicle is turning. Non-stabilized turrets are most effective when the vehicle is at a complete stop and the gunner is able to aim effectively.

Two examples of non-stabilized turrets can be found in the HMMWV and AAV vehicles. Neither is particularly accurate if the gunner is attempting to engage while moving on rough terrain. Utilization of a non-stabilized turret weapon system requires a tighter coordination between the gunner and driver for good effects to be achieved.


Stabilized turrets use special mechanisms to maintain their orientation and direction, within reasonable limits, while the vehicle maneuvers. Because of this, vehicles with stabilized turrets can engage effectively even when driving at high speeds, over rough terrain, or during turns and other vehicle maneuvers.

The M1A2 TUSK is a prime example of a vehicle with a stabilized turret.

Vehicle Damage Model

While not a hardcore simulation-level damage system, the ArmA2 vehicle damage model does have a number of different damage effects that can present themselves, based on the location and severity of the damage. This section will describe them.


Non-Catastrophic Kills

Non-catastrophic kill is the result of a vehicle being knocked out without it violently exploding into flames. It is likely that one or more crew members have been killed in the process, and the survivors will likely be wounded. Due to it not always being clear when a vehicle has been knocked out in such a fashion, many gunners will put additional rounds into the vehicle until they get secondary explosions, flame, or some other visual indication that the vehicle is no longer a threat.

Catastrophic Kills

A catastrophic kill happens when the vehicle explodes violently from battle damage. If the crew is inside when this happens, they won't have a chance and will be obliterated in the blast.


A vehicle which has been knocked out, either via a catastrophic or non-catastrophic kill, will likely have secondary explosions if the vehicle burns. Secondary explosions are caused by the vehicles ammo or fuel exploding, and they can easily take out any nearby dismounted infantry. STAY CLEAR OF ALL KNOCKED-OUT VEHICLES!


Destroyed vehicles that catch fire will cause damage to any players that get close to them in ACE2. As it says above, stay clear of all knocked-out vehicles. Nothing good can come from getting up close to them.


Flat Tires

Most wheeled vehicles are susceptible to having their tires flattened by enemy fire. This makes the vehicle difficult to control, usually with it tending to turn heavily into the tire(s) that were damaged. Drivers should attempt to keep their vehicle moving for as long as possible and attempt to get out of the kill zone before abandoning the vehicle (if necessary).

A LAV-25 sits on the road, disabled by an explosion that took out its front four wheels


Tracked vehicles can suffer a number of different types of damage.


Tracking is known as a "mobility kill". When a vehicle is tracked, it means that they have lost the use of one (or both) tracks and can no longer move in a controlled fashion. The vehicle becomes a stationary turret for all intents and purposes. The vehicle crewmen should stay put if they can safely do so and fight from within their vehicle. If this is not possible, they need to immediately bail and make their way to friendly infantry positions.

Disabled Turret/Gun

A solid hit to an armored vehicle's turret can cause it to lock up and become unresponsive. In this case, the tank may or may not be able to effectively engage the enemy, depending on whether the gun is active and how it is oriented. In most cases a tank which has lost use of its turret needs to get out of the combat zone and head back to friendly territory for repairs. When the loss of the main armament has been sustained, it is referred to as a "firepower kill".

This section is intended to detail all sorts of considerations that every ArmA2 pilot must make during flight. Further sections follow that are specifically oriented towards rotary-wing (helicopter) and fixed-wing (jet) pilots and the special considerations they must make.

Minimizing Risk

There are a number of things that can be done to limit the threat of anti-aircraft weapon systems. Several methods of tactical prevention are listed below, broken down by whether they're general methods or more specifically oriented towards gun or missile threats. In addition to that, countermeasure systems are discussed, as are evasive maneuvers.

Tactical Risk Prevention

Tactical prevention is simply the art of using proper aircraft employment and maneuver tactics to minimize the threats posed by enemy air defenses.

Prevention: General

These guidelines can be used to protect you from any anti-aircraft threats, regardless of type.

Prevention: Guns

These guidelines can be used to protect you specifically from anti-aircraft guns

Prevention: Missiles

These guidelines can be used to protect you specifically from anti-aircraft missile systems.

Countermeasure Systems

Aircraft have two main types of countermeasures - flares and chaff. Unfortunately, neither is modeled in ArmA2 by default. Both are expected to be added by the community in short order, however, so we'll go ahead and cover the basics of how they work.


Flares are burning objects ejected from aircraft to attempt to spoof infrared (heat-seeking) missiles.


Chaff is a packet of thin metallic strips that spread into a cloud upon release and act to confuse radar systems.

Evasive Maneuvers

There are several standard types of evasive maneuvers available to aircraft pilots, regardless of whether they're flying a jet or a helicopter.

Classifications of Aircraft Threats

How Threats are Classified

Throughout the course of flying in ArmA2, you will be confronted with a variety of different threat weapons. Each of the main classifications of these threats is described below, via a "Capabilities, Indicators, React" info breakdown. The "CIR" rating is intended to answer the following questions.

Small Arms Fire (SAF)

Small Arms Fire is generally the most common threat to aircraft on the battlefield. While they pose little threat to jet aircraft, they can be a major issue for a helicopter crew that does not exercise proper tactical judgment while flying. Small Arms are anything typically employed by the infantry - light and medium machineguns, rifles, et cetera. Their Capabilities, Indicators, React (CIR) info is as follows.




HMGs & Vehicle CSWs, including AAA

Heavy machineguns, crew-served weapons, and anti-aircraft artillery are a common threat. They are similar to SAF in many respects, but pack a heavier punch and have higher accuracy at range. Their CIR info is as follows.




A Tunguska opens fire with anti-aircraft cannons


Anti-tank assets are generally used in "target of opportunity" situations against slow & low helicopters. It requires a great deal of skill (or luck) for an AT shooter to take down an aircraft with an unguided rocket, or a great failure on the part of the aircraft crew to allow such a shot to be successful. The CIR info for AT is as follows.




MANPADs, SAMs, & Anti-Aircraft missiles

Missile systems tend to pose the most serious threats to aircraft. Their guidance systems allow them to track even the fastest jets, while their warheads can wreck an aircraft with a good hit.




A Russian anti-aircraft gunner prepares to fire his Igla missile

* While these do not yet exist in vanilla A2, they are expected to be added by the community in short order

Damage Model

Fuel Leaks

Oftentimes an aircraft will receive a fuel leak after being hit by a MANPAD missile or taking sustained machinegun fire. The indicator for this is simply that the fuel level begins to drop. If you take a hit that causes a fuel leak, announce it to the appropriate person (ie the FAC or PltCo) and head back to base if possible. If you can't make it back to base, find some place to set down (if a helo) or eject (if a plane). (Note: In ACE2, helicopter pilots typically cannot "bail" out of their helos while in the air and survive. Thus, you must land the aircraft if you'd like to live to talk about it.)

Intro to Helicopters

Rotary wing aircraft - more commonly known as helicopters - are one of the most interesting types of vehicles to employ in ArmA2. They have a very unique set of flight characteristics compared to 'typical' aircraft, in that they are able to fly in any direction or even simply float in one place if they so desire. Their ability to operate so close to the ground forces makes them excellent close air support forces, while their cargo- and troop-carrying abilities give the ground commanders a way to move infantry around the battlefield to attack from unexpected directions, or transport resupply all over the battlefield to where it is most needed.

Helicopters are extremely flexible aircraft that can be employed in a wide variety of creative and interesting fashions. They are the air asset you are most likely to find yourself working with when it comes to how Shack Tactical plays.

Types of Helicopters

Like with most things, there are a variety of classes for rotary-wing aircraft.


Attack helos are defined by the amount of firepower they can deliver, as well as how survivable they are. The AH-6 and OH-58 are the lightest, with the Cobra being above them in the medium category, and the Apache taking the crown as the heaviest attack helo due to its impressive armament and relatively survivable airframe.


A UH-1Y Venom acting in the CAS role


Vipers on patrol in the rain



Transport helos are defined by the amount of personnel or equipment they can move around the battlefield. Thus, an MH-6 is at the bottom of the ladder as the lightest transport helo, while the massive CH-53 Super Stallion is at the top.


The UH-1Y Venom carries a pilot, copilot, two door gunners, and 7 passengers


The SH-60 Knighthawk carries a pilot, copilot, two door gunners, and 12 passengers


The Osprey can carry a pilot, copilot/observer, and 23 passengers

Helicopter Crew Roles

Most helicopters are multi-crewed. For attack helicopters, this is in the form of a pilot/gunner combination, while transport aircraft typically sport a pilot, copilot, crew-chief, and door gunner. This section will cover the different responsibilities of each of the common helicopter roles.



The helo pilot maneuvers the helo tactically in order to accomplish the assigned mission. The specific responsibilities of a helo pilot differ based on whether they are a transport aircraft or an attack helo, and are as follows.

AH-1Z Viper pilot

Pilot Responsibilities (General)

Pilot Responsibilities (Attack Helo)


The helo gunner helps to navigate and observe prior to combat, and once in combat, he scans for and engages the enemy while communicating his needs to the pilot.

AH-1Z Viper Gunner

Gunner Responsibilities

Gunner/Pilot Intra-aircraft Coordination

Things that need to be communicated are broken down by whether they're communicated by either crewman, by the pilot, or the gunner.

By both:


By the pilot:


By the gunner:

Gunner/Pilot Brevity Words

Crew Chief

A crew chief is a member of the helicopter crew that, in ArmA2 terms, acts as a door gunner for the duration of the helicopter's employment. Unlike the 'door gunner' role, the crew chief does not disembark from the helicopter except in the event of an emergency (such as being shot down).

The crew chief is responsible for communicating the proximity of obstacles to the pilot when in close terrain and attempting to land. This is done with simple concise verbal commands to the pilot to tell him which way to move the helo to avoid obstacles, such as "Tree on left, move right 10 meters". The door gunner, if embarked, assists with this process, as described in "Combined Arms".

Crew chief waiting for takeoff, M134 in the forward-facing position

Crew Chief Responsibilities


The copilot's responsibilities in A2 are different from those of a real one, since they cannot assume control of the helicopter as a real one could. Because of this, their primary tasks are observation, navigation, and communication. In the event that the pilot is shot and killed in flight, they are tasked with leading the passengers and door gunners in a rousing game of 'scream for your life until the aircraft has successfully impacted with the ground'.

Copilot Responsibilities

Helo Flight Principles

The art of flying a helicopter is one that takes time to master, typically accomplished with a great deal of offline practice. The following sections will help to familiarize you with the basic helo flight principles, as they apply to ArmA2, so that you know what you should be practicing towards.


Taking Off

Getting a helicopter into the air is a pretty simple process. There are a few things to keep in mind, as described below.

Considerations Before Lifting Off

Once all of these are considered and checked for, simply apply power to the engines to lift off the deck. You only need to bring the helo a few meters off the deck to "take off" - there is no reason to go higher immediately unless terrain or obstacles force it.

As you move away from the staging area, evaluate the terrain and choose your flight profile accordingly.


There are two primary aspects involved with landing - the basic procedures of the act itself, and the considerations that must be made when making a combat landing. Both are described below.

Basic Landing Principles

Combat Landing Procedures

  1. Decide on what kind of landing it will be. Full touchdown, hover, moving, etc.
  2. Minimize enemy threats via the approach route used. Choose high alt or low alt as necessary, based on expected enemy threats.
  3. Suppress with door gunners if possible. If the LZ is hot, the door gunner fire can be an effective means of suppressing it long enough to set down and get the troops debarked.
  4. Come in fast and touch down lightly. A proper combat landing requires a good grasp how to flare a helicopter to rapidly bleed of speed without gaining altitude. Coming in fast is the best counter to enemy small arms fire - it's not easy to lead a moving helo, after all.
  5. Tell your passengers to debark via "GO GO GO". Once you've touched down safely, or have entered a hover or slow & low state (in the case of a 'hover' or 'moving' insertion), give the "Go, go, go!" command so that the embarked infantry can hear you. They will then begin exiting the aircraft and conduct their mission.
  6. Listen for confirmation from the senior embarked player that all troops have dismounted. In some aircraft you will be able to look into the passenger compartment to watch the unloading process yourself.
  7. Once given the all-clear, take off and assume your next assigned task. If feasible, your crew chief can continue suppressing the LZ as you depart.

Altitude Tradeoffs

Flying a helicopter forces the pilot to take calculated risks in order to best accomplish his mission. One of these involves altitude - there is no one-altitude-fits-all solution; depending on the mission, terrain, enemy, et cetera, the risks/rewards of each altitude will vary. It is up to the pilot to be familiar with the tradeoffs involved and be able to make the right decisions when the time comes.

The pros and cons of high and low altitude flight follow.

High Altitude

Low Altitude

Masking with Terrain & Tactical Helicopter Movement

One important aspect of helicopter survivability lies in using the terrain to maximum advantage. Hills, valleys, forests, buildings - there are countless terrain features that can be used to mask a helicopter from enemy fire and observation. Attack helicopter crews will often stay low and fast, moving from one covered position to another to avoid enemy anti-aircraft artillery and MANPAD or SAM units. When it comes time to engage the enemy or scout out areas, the helicopter can pop up briefly, scan the area or employ weapons against the enemy, and then drop back down behind a terrain feature so that enemy gunners have little time to acquire, lock, and fire upon them.

Bear in mind that when masking with terrain, the helo crew must be aware of what's on the 'near' side of the terrain being used for cover. Taking cover behind a ridge that has an enemy platoon sitting on your side doesn't do you a great deal of good.

Also keep in mind that helicopters are highly susceptible to enemy air defense assets, and are by no means to be thought of as invincible flying machines of death and destruction. Keeping a helicopter alive in a hot environment, particularly a player-vs-player one, requires a great deal of skill, patience, and coordination between the crew members. Rambo helicopters will find themselves shot down in short order almost every single time. People who fly helicopters like they're jets will likewise find themselves being quickly shot down. Helo tactics and jet tactics are two entirely different beasts and must be treated as such.

Nap-Of-Earth Flight

The altitude a helo can safely fly at will vary depending upon the terrain. Heavily wooded, rolling terrain allows for helos to fly higher due to the amount of terrain and vegetation that interferes with MANPAD systems (ie very low exposure times, lots of obstacles for firing a clean shot), whereas desert terrain or other fairly flat terrain can force lower flight altitudes.

Regardless of terrain type, nap-of-earth flight is an important technique to use to avoid enemy observation or engagement. NOE simply means that the helicopter is staying low and following the contours of the ground as it flies, as opposed to simply beelining across the sky without consideration for the terrain below.

A few guidelines for NOE flight follow.

Guidelines for NOE Flight

Attack Helo Attack Types

There are several distinct attack types that can be utilized by rotary-wing aircraft. Each has a time and place where it can be used successfully, and being familiar with the different attack types allows for an aircrew to maximize survivability while fighting according to the enemy threat level.


A slashing attack is used when the pilot determines that he can fly over enemy territory without putting himself at unnecessary risk. This is typically when the enemy is known to have no serious anti-air equipment.

A slashing attack is simply a run where the helo flys in, fires ordnance, and then continues in the same direction and passes over or near the target before leaving the area.

Slashing attacks are typically done with FFARs or fixed-forward-firing cannons or guns.

A Viper flys past after knocking out an enemy APC


Break-off attacks are used when there is a threat of enemy air defenses beyond or at target.

A break-off attack consists of the pilot lining up for an attack run, firing his ordnance, and then immediately breaking off so that he does not fly over or past the target. The distance at which the helo should break depends on the anticipated threat - bear in mind that the further away you break, the less likely enemy small-arms fire will be able to get you.

Break-off attacks are typically done with FFARs.

Breaking to the right after firing a salvo of FFARs at an enemy position


Stand-off attacks are used when there is no significant threat of enemy return fire or anti-air defense and cannons or anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) need to be employed.

For a stand-off attack, the pilot brings the aircraft to a hover (or slow flight) out of effective small-arms range of the enemy. The gunner then proceeds to employ the aircraft cannon or guided missiles to strike enemy targets. During this, the pilot scans the area around the aircraft for any enemy infantry that may be on the ground.

If the threat of enemy anti-air is completely non-existent, the aircraft should hover at least 500 or more meters above the ground to reduce risk of enemy small-arms fire.

The aircraft should remain in a hover only as long as is necessary to employ ordnance. Once complete, the pilot should resume normal flight.

A Viper pummels a target area with FFARs from a stand-off position


A pop-up attack is a variation of the stand-off attack that is used when enemy anti-air threats are expected.

To employ a pop-up attack, the pilot must first move via a concealed or obscured approach to within effective weapon range of the target. He will then instruct the gunner that they are going to pop-up, and that the gunner needs to stand by with a specific weapon system (typically an ATGM). The helo then rises up just enough to clear the terrain feature, at which point the gunner acquires the target, fires his ordnance, and the pilot rapidly drops the helicopter back behind the cover afforded by the terrain.

When done correctly, pop-up attacks are extremely difficult to defend against.

Popping up from behind a treeline, this Viper has just launched a Hellfire at an enemy Tunguska

Cobra Fire Control Systems ACE2

The following section about the Cobras in ACE2 is from Headspace, ShackTac member and creator of both the ArmA2 Artillery System and the ACE2 Cobra Fire Control Systems.

Cobra Employment in ACE2

Written by ShackTac NCO Headspace

Pilot/Gunner dialogue is critical to smooth combat operations in the AH-1Z. The Cobra has two crew so that the tasks of flying, target acquisition, engagement, and evading can be done simultaneously. However, this requires effective coordination between the gunner and pilot to work effectively. Ensure that pilot/gunner communications are read back after receiving and that brevity is observed, particularly during combat.

The pilot is responsible for ensuring that the top mission priority is fulfilled, that being to prevent the aircraft from hitting anything on the ground (or in the air) and to prevent anything launched from the ground (or the air) from hitting the aircraft. If necessary, the pilot will need to maneuver away even while the gunner is making a shot, if it is necessary to preserve the aircraft.

Most, if not all of the weapon systems in the AH-1Z are designed to be used so that the helicopter can engage enemy forces with minimal exposure to threats. Take advantage of this. For instance, if friendly infantry is equipped with a laser designator, make sure to utilize the LOAL (Lock-On After Launch) modes of the Hellfire system so that you don't have to expose your ship to enemy AAA.

Know the Hellfire weapon system and which mode is appropriate for the current engagement. If you are behind a tall obstacle, such as a mountain, the LOAL-HI mode is appropriate. If the target is only a few KM away and there are minimal obstacles, the LOAL-DIR (for Direct) mode is probably the better choice.

The AH-1Z in ACE2 has the ability to elevate its cannon to match the range to target read from the laser, just like the real AH-1Z. Make sure that when you engage a target with the cannon, that you have the appropriate range locked in. Otherwise, you will waste ammunition.

In cases where you must acquire the target yourself, ensure that you do so in the smallest time window possible so as to limit your exposure. When engaging targets with the AH-1Z's cannon, one helpful trick is to pop up over the obstacle, range the target location, then lower behind cover. When it's time to engage you will already know your range and thus be able to put fire on the target immediately.

Transport Helo Insertion Types

Flying troops to a landing zone is only part of the problem. Once there, getting them safely on the ground can be a challenge all by itself. It is important that every helo pilot is familiar with the landing options available to him, and is able to pick the right one to suit the situation at hand.


A touchdown insertion is the most common type, used whenever possible. All that is required is a helicopter-sized patch of relatively level open ground to set down on. This type of landing is also used when extracting troops, for obvious reasons.

Touchdowns ensure that infantry are able to safely dismount without the injury that is possible when conducting hovering insertions.


Hover insertions have two primary uses. The first is when dropping troops on sloped terrain. In most cases, trying to land on sloped terrain is a recipe for disaster, so dropping your troops off from a hover is a great alternative to crashing and killing everyone.

The other use is any time that enemy return fire is a significant threat. In such a situation you want to minimize the amount of time that you're low, slow, and vulnerable to the enemy. Keeping your skids or wheels off the ground is one great way to accomplish this, as it allows you to more quickly get back into the air if things turn hot.

A safe altitude for dropping troops in a hover is below five meters. Anything more runs the risk of injuring the troops from the fall.

A Venom inserting troops into a hot LZ comes to a hover moments before troops hop out.


A moving insertion is a variation of the hover insertion that is done while the helo does not come to a complete standstill. This method is even more secure than the hover insertion, as the pilot is at less risk of being hit in the cockpit by enemy ground fire due to his constantly shifting position.

When doing a moving insertion, ensure that the aircraft stays under 30kph and is less than five meters off the deck. These are the thresholds for safe troop drops from a moving helo.


Rooftop insertions can be done either at a hover or by landing on the roof. It is recommended that they be done at a hover, as that tends to be the safer method.

When doing a rooftop insertion, pay special attention to the rooftops of other nearby structures. If they are occupied, the insertion will likely need to be aborted due to the danger of being shot out of the sky.

Bear in mind that the security of a rooftop insertion depends largely upon the surrounding terrain, the surrounding buildings, and the height of the building that is being inserted on relative to both the surround building heights and the surrounding terrain. For instance, trying to drop troops on a low house in hilly terrain that has enemy infantry likely positioned in the hills, or other locations that are higher in elevation than the roof, is a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, dropping a sniper team on a very tall building in relatively flat terrain is much more likely to be successful.


Anyone who has seen Blackhawk Down should be familiar with the concept of fastroping. While this capability does not exist currently with any of the default ArmA2 vehicles, it will no doubt be present in the future via community addons.

Fastroping can be useful for inserting troops into an area where the helo cannot easily land. While the altitude of the helo makes it more vulnerable to enemy fire, it also allows for the doorgunners to fire without risk of hitting the disembarking troops.

Helicopter Damage Model

Due to the altitude they operate at, helicopters are apt to get shot up. Being familiar with the types of damage that can be sustained can help to prepare a helo crew for what to do when they take heavy fire, allowing them to react appropriately even when the situation is tense and every second counts.

Tail Rotor Failure

Heavy damage to a helicopter has a good chance of inducing tail rotor failure. Since the tail rotor is what stabilizes the helicopter at low speeds, this can be very bad news for the pilot and any embarked passengers.

If at high speed, the helicopter will not visible react. You will probably not notice that your tail rotor has stopped spinning until the next time you slow down.

At low speed, the helicopter will begin to yaw to one side as the tail rotor blades spin down. There are a few critical moments at the beginning of the process that should be used to get the helo down on the deck as quickly as possible, before the full spin begins. Once the full spin begins, having something like a TrackIR is of great use due to the fact that you'll want to be spending a great amount of concentration on both controlling your flight and scanning the terrain (while spinning heavily) for any safe area that you can set the helo down on.

Alternatively, a helo at low-speed can try to gain speed until the effects of the tail rotor (or lack thereof) are nullified by the higher speed. This will temporarily remove the issue; however, you will still need to set down eventually, and at that point you'll have to fight with the spinning at low speeds. Also bear in mind that a hit that is powerful enough to cause tail rotor failure will also likely cause a fuel leak.

Reacting to tail rotor failure is something that needs to be practiced in a non-combat situation (ie, set up in the editor) many times before it becomes second-nature.

Engine failure & Autorotation

The worst thing that can happen to a helo, aside from outright being destroyed, is for it to have an engine failure. In mods like ACE2, which (realistically) do not allow for the pilot/crew to bail out with a parachute, the only way to survive an engine failure is to get on the ground as quickly as possible without killing yourself and everyone else in the process.

To accomplish a safe landing in a helo that has lost it's engine requires that you be familiar with the concept of Auto-Rotation, and are able to carry out the required actions with split-second notice and timing.

Surviving an Engine Failure via Auto-Rotation

  1. When the engine fails, an alarm will sound and the rotors will begin to spin down. You cannot let them spin down, else you'll crash and burn hard.
  2. IMMEDIATELY press and hold your "Thrust Down" key to keep the blades spinning and begin a descent, while attempting to limit your forward speed as much as possible. If you are too slow, the blades will rapidly come to a halt and you'll be headed for a nasty crash.
  3. Scan your immediate area for a safe place to land - due to the lack of warning beforehand, you may be faced with some pretty tough landing spots.
  4. Identify the best landing spot and head for it while keeping your "Thrust Down" key depressed. You will want to try to minimize forward movement as much as possible due to how A2 models autorotation.
  5. At the last moment, flare your helo (bring the nose up) and press the "Thrust Up" key. If done right, the last bits of energy stored in the spinning rotors will reduce your downward velocity to something survivable. If timed wrong, you'll stall out too high off the ground and then crash and burn.

Like everything else concerning helos, auto-rotation is a skill that must be practiced extensively in advance.

Note that due to current FM limitations, you will be unable to attempt an auto-rotation if the helicopter is moving at a very high forward speed at the time of engine failure. In such a case, the helo will nose down, become unresponsive, and spread bits and pieces of your body all over the terrain at the site of the crash.

Types of Fixed-Wing Aircraft

Fixed-wing aircraft can be broken into several main groups for the purposes of ArmA, though some of them have little relevance to the game and will not be seen with any frequency. The main groups are CAS, Air Superiority, Bomber, and Transport.

Close Air Support

These are the most relevant to the ArmA experience. CAS aircraft are specialized at ground attack and are designed to provide excellent close air support to infantry.

The A-10 "Warthog", loaded with bombs, Maverick ATGMs, FFARs, and AA missiles

AV8 Harrier, loaded with bombs, FFARs, and AA missiles

Air Superiority

You will see these less frequently than straight CAS aircraft. Air Superiority Fighters can be multi-role, able to hit either ground targets or air targets with effectiveness. They tend to be faster than other aircraft.

The VTOL (Vertical Take-Off/Landing) F-35 Lightning II. This configuration has all weapons stowed in internal bays.


Very rare in ArmA2, though they may show up at some point. Bombers can obliterate large swaths of ground with massive payloads. They fly in, drop their bombs, potentially kill a huge number of the enemy, and are gone. These will rarely be able to provide effective CAS in the way that a dedicated attack aircraft can. However, if you'd like to flatten a small village, they will come in handy.


Transport aircraft like the C-130 will most likely be seen only in missions where we act as paratroops. They are unarmed and vulnerable but can deliver a large number of airborne soldiers into the action in short order.

A C-130 transport

Fixed-Wing Aircraft Crew Roles


The fixed-wing pilot is the standard in most of the jet aircraft we will see in ArmA. He does everything in his aircraft - navigates, communicates and coordinates with ground forces, employs his weapons in support of ground forces, and so on and so forth

An F-35 pilot prepares to take off


The copilot/gunner of a fixed-wing aircraft deals primarily with weapons employment, navigation, and communication with ground elements. These are fairly rare - only the Su-34 in ArmA2 even has one by default. Basically, he allows the pilot to concentrate fully on flying the craft without interruption.

Attack Aircraft Attack Types

Fixed-Wing attack types share some similarities with their rotary-wing counterparts, but due to the speed at which the aircraft moves and the differences of FW flight compared to RW flight, they are distinctly different attack types that must be mastered separately.


A fixed-wing break-off attack is used to avoid flying over a danger area. Because of the speed at which a plane moves, break-off attacks typically are used when firing air-to-ground (AGM) missiles. The aircraft can fire the missile from extended ranges and break well before coming into effective range of the enemy air defenses.

A-10 breaking off after firing a Maverick AGM


A diving attack is the preferred method for delivering rockets, laser-guided bombs, cannon fire, and 'dumb' bombs/munitions. This is because the "long axis" of the ordnance delivery becomes shortened when coming in in a dive, and thus ordnance tends to land closer together and human error (ie: timing of a bomb drop) is minimized.

When conducting a dive attack, two methods can be used during the approach. The first is a high-altitude run-in, followed by a dive onto the target and ordnance delivery.

The second method is a low-altitude approach, using terrain to mask the aircraft, before pulling up into a steep climb followed by a dive and ordnance delivery on target. This is known as a "Pop-Up" attack.

Note that when it comes to dive attacks, the steeper the dive is, the more accurate the ordnance delivery will be - to an extent. The reverse of that is that the steeper the dive is, the faster you are likely to close on the target, and the harder it will be to acquire/align/fire/pull out. Finding a good balance between dive angle, aircraft speed, and other delivery considerations is key to mastering the dive attack.

Note also that the higher that laser-guided bombs can be dropped, the more time they will have to adjust their flight and zero in on the laser designation. With cannon fire, the further away it is initiated, the more 'spread' there will be to the impact area, and the more damaging it will likely become.

A Harrier dives in and drops Mk82 'dumb' bombs


The most basic fixed-wing attack run is a slashing attack or strafing run. In this attack, the aircraft flies in, fires cannons, FFARs, or other munitions and then flies over and past the target.

Slashing attacks typically are done at a shallow dive or during level flight (depending on the target being attacked, the terrain it is on, etc). The pilot should maneuver his aircraft in an evasive fashion up until the last possible moment, as this gives the enemy less time to settle their sights on his aircraft. Direct attacks against anti-aircraft artillery such as Shilkas are done in an undulating pattern where the attacking aircraft pitches up and down, firing each time his weapons are aligned with the target, with the rest of the time acting to throw the Shilka's aim off.

A-10 making a cannon run on enemy tanks

Fixed Wing Aircraft Damage Model

Exploding into flames

There really isn't much to say about the damage model for fixed-wing aircraft. Aside from fuel leaks, there's not much that happens - typically you're either ok, or you're dead. You may have a small window in which to eject from the aircraft in some situations, though.

Chute deploying after bailing from an F-35