Part 11: JetsJets
The way jets move in the air may not be really great for people with motion sickness issues to observe, I mention this in the video as well, but it may be a good idea to just read the post rather than watch the video.
Jets are also pretty boring to watch someone fly long term, sorry about that, it is why I cut out a lot of flight footage from the videos posted thus far, no one wants to see me line up shots and then circle around over and over.
Jets are, however, a pretty rewarding class of vehicle. Nothing is quite like missing an obstruction by inches after angling down and killing a vehicle. Jets are more or less used as anti vehicle tools in BF4, which is a bit of a change from BF3 where an Attack Jet with Hydra Rockets equipped could strafe and kill an entire squad pretty quickly. A lot of people complained that the only recourse against jets infantry had were lock on weapons that didn't extend far enough to maintain a lock on a jet pilot, so DICE nerfed jets and tossed the Mobile Anti Air tank on a few different maps. This seems to have balanced it so that in BF4 jets are really only great against larger targets like tanks, LAVs, boats and other air vehicles and it is risky for them to simply endlessly strafe every target. There is now also a true dichotomy in the jet classes in BF4 when compared to BF3.
In Battlefield 3 the "Attack Jets" as we know them now were slightly slower, but outside of that they did damage on par with the "stealth/Fighter Jets" Fighter jets were faster and could use afterburners, but Attack jets were great at the ground game where the Fighters were just good at it. This difference only comes in the fact that the F/A-18, the Fighter Jet for the US did 45 damage per bullet from its cannon while the A-10, the US Attack Jet, did 50. That five points could be the difference between some serious damage and a kill when you consider the fact a tank had 1000 health. In Battlefield 4 the attack jets are still great at the ground game, but the Fighter Jets are now Stealth Jets and are really only great at engaging in Air-to-Air battles. They do much less damage with their base weapons and start off with heatseekers as their secondary, which only lock on to flying vehicles. The maneuverability of the stealth jets combined with their speed make them seem like a really attractive option for someone who wants to fly, but getting in one means you'll be spending a lot of time hunting for rare airborne targets. Meanwhile the Attack Jets are out of the gate beasts. They do hefty damage to ground craft and can inflict some painful injuries on other aircraft as well. If you want to learn how to use a jet this isn't a bad place to start as the slower speed and need to line up shots means you'll have fewer accidents just buzzing around than in the ultra nimble stealth jets. Attack jets get laser guided bombs as their opening unlock secondary, letting them take a sizable portion of any armored unit's health in a few seconds, so long as the target doesn't use smoke or active protection to break the lock.
This is more or less to give you an idea where you are in 3-D space. I don't use it that much and instead use the capture points to orient myself when making turns. However, some players can use this pretty effectively so know when they've come completely around or when they turned enough to approach their target while not being able to see the ground or other landmarks.
2: Kilometers/hour and height
On the left is your speed gauge. It may seem like fluff, but it is actually pretty important as there is a optimal turning speed with jets, and knowing when you are in that sweet spot can make all the difference in a dog fight. On the right is what I can only imagine is altimeter telling you how far above the ground you are. Again, when you need to know high or low you are.
3: Circly dude
I have no idea what that thing indicates. It may be something to help you figure out which way you are turning or a really extreme idea where shots will land when you fire, not sure.
This cross shape here is where your shots are projected to land if you fire at that moment. For the most part it is a valid measure, save for when making extreme maneuvers and firing on close targets. I almost always ignore this thing and either take guess shots or try to predict where a shot will land as this thing isn't super reliable all the time.
5: Active Weapon
When you hit the fire button you'll shoot this. If it is flashing red it is reloading or is currently overheated.
This little indicator tells you how much tilt you have going on at any time. Useful if you aren't sure if you are upside down.
This is the minimap in a jet. You can see that instead of having the normal map I get a radar overlay which is really useful for tracking down air vehicles, but not great for seeing where you are on the map.
Let's start with the stealth Jet and move to the shared category before doing the attack jets.
These are the cannons available to the Stealth Jet class. You start off with the 20mm, graduate to the 25 and then unlock the 30mm. The 20 is supposed to be optimized for air to air combat and unarmored vehicles. It's only ok for those two things. The 25 fires a bit slower but is better against medium armor and air vehicles. The 30 supposedly fires even slower but does much more damage. I really want to unlock the other cannons before I make a final judgement on stealth jets as a whole, but at their base level they aren't really that good because of the cannon being so bad.
You start out with heatseekers, to score a hit you just need to keep a target painted long enough and launch a missile. If they have flares that one gets lost and you fire the next one the second you can get the lock again and you'll probably cripple the other vehicle for a time. It's a great equalizer for air-to-air combat, but I forget to use them a lot because I keep forgetting cannons suck in this game. Passive Radar are pretty close to heatseekers, save for the fact you don't need to maintain a lock with the heatseeker. Use if you think you can stay on the tail of an enemy long enough to lock and then guide a missile to the intended target. Laser guided bombs are the same thing that the Attack Jets use, pretty great if you want to take down the occasional tank, but the change in views can be disorientating. Active Radar are the bane of many pilot's lives. All you need to do is fire the missile near where the vehicle you are targeting will be and it will lock on to them and do some pretty serious damage.
Countermeasures are things you make use of to avoid getting hit or recovering from the hit. Attack and Stealth Jets share these abilities, but you have to unlock them for each type of jet instead of by using like combined experience or anything (though that would be neat). You start off with flares, which you can activate at any time to either stop people from locking on to you or to stop missiles that are traveling at you. Generally, you wait until the missile is in flight before using these as the recharge time is 25 seconds. This is an eternity in Battlefield time and is probably the cause of death of more pilots than anything else. The fact that you only get five or so seconds of protection from using these helps nothing. ECM Jammer is not a visual thing, but it works like flares, breaking locks on you and keeping new ones from forming for a time. ECM has to be activated while you are being locked, not during missile flight or people will be able to hit you. Keep that in mind. Finally, the extinguisher lets you rapidly repair your vehicle once you enter the "red" zone, where you have minimal health. Nowhere near as good as the other two options because once you drop into...the Danger Zone (ugh) you really risk crashing and the extinguisher may not help that much.
Side note: Battlefield 3 gave you no starting countermeasures in any air vehicle, meaning new pilots got shot down a ton as they had no way to stop lock on weapons from hitting them. That was a bad design decision.
Upgrades are also common to each jet type. The Gyro Stabilizer is super useful and unlocked from the start. Basically, when you are disabled either through a damaging hit or a low health situation this will kick in and make the plane more flyable for the duration. You don't realize how much you need it until you switch it out. Stealth Coating makes it take longer for someone to lock on to you. Great for turning battles with other stealth jets or stopping people from locking you from the ground, but not much else. Oh, by the way, stealth jets are not given this by default since they are, you know, stealth jets. Belt feeder lets you cool down or reload your weapons faster between uses. Good if you tend to waste a lot of shots, but not really useful overall. Proximity scan is kind of useless at the moment as only the recon's proximity grenades and T-UGS sense nearby movement correctly right now. In theory, if someone moves while you fly over them it will show up on the minimap for your team to see, but this is a boon against jets more than anything else, as if you can't see them the entire time it is good to have them on the radar.
Jumping right into attack jet secondaries because there are not choices in the primary weapon category, you always have to use the 30mm cannons. This is OK because they are awesome. Attack Jets start with the laser guided bombs. When you switch to them you get a thermal picture from under the plane looking forward and down. Point the reticule at a vehicle and hold the lock, then fire and keep maintaining the lock until it hits. Not difficult in concept, but jet pilots crash a bit using these because they can't see straight ahead of them. Heatseekers are the exact same thing the Stealth Jets have. Rocket Pods give you Hydra Rockets on your jet that you can fire at ground or air targets (usually ground) that can do some serious explosive damage if accurate. The TV Missile is a guide by wire weapon that you can fire and then control from the comfort of your cockpit. I've never seen it used from a plane because you can't control the plane while flying the TV missile. The JDAM is a big ass bomb that is way harder to use than the laser guided ones from what I understand, but only active protection can stop it, so getting good with it may be worth your time if people keep smoking out from your laser bombs.