Helicopter Survivability in Zeus

Author: CodyHawkCaster
The topic of Guide or Information: Helicopter Survivability in Zeus
Last Edit Date:7/29/2021

Hello everyone, after the last modded Zeus event I’ve seen a large increase in the number of air assets available to players in missions, which is awesome! However, while this addition has been fun I think we should take pause and think harder as players about how we use, and more specifically, fly our rotorcraft around the map. Often in missions where these assets are given out, it seems sometimes the aircraft spend more time on fire in a crater than flying in the air. So why is that?

insert Vsauce music here

While this is obviously a complex and multifaceted issue, the most common factor is consistently pilots not understanding how to use their assets in a Zeus mission, and more specifically, their role in a combined operation. First and foremost something to keep in mind throughout your time flying rotary is that compared to fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters are exceedingly fragile, generally speaking, every asset on the ground is a threat to you to varying extents. So by this token, we find our first major rule DON’T TAKE UNESSASSARY RISKS. The rest of this post branches off from that rule and learning how to minimize risk.

Part 0. Don’t Die
Generally speaking above all other mission-related tasks your primary should be to not die. Dieing will make every other task you attempt to accomplish much harder.

Part 1. Don’t be Seen
When an opportunity arises to where you can hide without compromising mission effectiveness do so. This does NOT mean you should land every second you are not actively fighting nor does it mean you should be flying low enough that a redlight camera would tag you for going 200 in a 25. This means broadly to use the terrain to your advantage without expanding the risk due onto you. HILLS AND MOUNTAINS ARE YOUR FRIENDS, TREES AND DIRT ARE AT BEST ACQUAINTANCES. Use terrain to break line of sight, if you can’t be seen you cant be hit.

Part 2. Keep your distance
Due to the fact that the only thing standing between you and a bullet is thin layers of glass or metal its advisable to make sure you minimize the likely hood that any bullets meet your windshield, the easiest and safest way to do this is with distance if you stay far enough away enemies 1 may not see you at all or 2 if they do see you won’t be able to hit you as they will be too inaccurate or simply cannot shoot far enough. If you can be seen don’t get acquired.

Part 3. Keep speed
Due to the simple fact that a moving target is harder to hit than one standing still its advisable to keep on the move. This does not mean that you must be going full speed while operating in or around an AO, it means simply do not stop. Most targets can be orbited while keeping speed, if the current situation requires that you slow down to look more closely at something don’t simply stop. Always keep some level of speed tangential to the object being observed. Generally, at a minimum, you should be hovering around 15 km/hr in a direction, as this gives you a nice start of speed in case you need to go fast quickly. This also means that if you are shot at unexpectedly it will be harder for the enemy to hit you and will give you enough time to react to fire. IF BEING SHOT AT DON’T JUST SIT THERE! MOVE! If you are acquired don’t get hit.

Part 4. Know your aircraft, know your role
On NAK we generally use NATO assets so this discussion will be focused on those vehicles, however these can be extended to other faction’s vehicles as well. There are 3 types of helicopters: transport, recon, and attack. Please note dear reader, that none of those types are: plane, so don’t try to be one. Transports are self-explanatory in their function, they transport, that’s their purpose. Secondarily if needed they can provide recon and fire support but these should not be the primary use for such an aircraft. A Ghost Hawk’s miniguns are meant to defend the helicopter NOT to provide fire support. Keep as far away as possible and only come in close when necessary.

Next, we have recon helicopters, this is the Pawnee. One might ask ‘but a Pawnee has weapons isn’t it for attacking’ to which the answer is no. A pawnee is a recon aircraft that just so happens to have guns, not an attack aircraft that just so happens to do recon. In a recon helicopter, your primary purpose is to give allies intel and not die while doing so. The pawnee is interesting in this role by the virtue that it has no alert systems nor counter measures besides the aircraft itself. This means that unless you absolutely have to you should minimize all exposure to enemy fire. Stay far away and stay fast, squint really hard if you have to. If the time arises to provide CAS remember what CAS is: Close Air Support. Close in this case is NOT referring to the proximity of the aircraft to enemy forces it’s referring to the proximity of ordinance to allied positions. So with that in mind stay as far away as possible when doing runs, if possible don’t overfly targets, and stay fast while moving away from them.

Finally, we have attack helicopters. Your primary job is to attack threats to allied forces while secondarily acting as recon. This does not mean you should attempt to destroy an entire AO on your own, not least of which due to the fact that you are taking away from the fun from players on the ground you are also wasting ammo that could be used later on. The biggest strength of attack choppers like the Blackfoot is not their speed, their maneuverability, their guns, nor their missiles. Their greatest strength is their ability to abuse the power of distance. A Blackfoot can very comfortably provide support to ground units in excess of 5kms away through the use of DARs and skalpels. Even its gun can reach out to 2.5km and only starts to lose effectiveness at around 2km. This long gun range should not give you a sense of safety however, manpads, 50cals, autocannons, and Anti air missiles are all effective within 2.5 km in the hands of AI. So when orbiting and providing air support always stay on the move slowly orbiting your target. And you should almost NEVER EVER do fast low gun runs, you give up your biggest advantage and your weapon systems generally lose their effectiveness, while you drastically increase the enemy’s ability to punish you.

Thank you for coming to my NAK Talk.

And remember, when in doubt return to onion

When sitting at a distance in a Blackfoot it is generally a good a idea to be in the shadow of a hill if possible. Just sitting behind one hovering low to the ground, you can rapidly use the terrain as cover as threats begin to engage you.

A note on surviving air-to-air missiles is to fly fast in the 20-30m height while fleeing at an angle. Use the terrain as much as possible to confuse the missiles tracking and potentially create a barrier between you and the missile or the aircraft that fired it, pumping flares about 2 seconds before the missile gets to you.