Part 20: Mobile Anti AircraftMobile Anti Aircraft
The MAA is one of the most popular vehicles in the game. While tanks and LAVs and even the occasional helicopter may sit idle in spawns for minutes at a time, the MAA is nearly always active. There's a couple reasons for this. It's relatively easy to use; point the gun at the thing you want to die and pull the trigger/press the mouse button. It's also got insane range, able to lock down enemy air vehicles from leaving their spawn while sitting in your spawn. More aggressive players will also discover that it can do serious damage to armored ground targets as well and will down infantry pretty quickly. On most maps the MAA is on it won't leave spawn. On Dawnbreaker, Zavod, Lancang Dam, Rogue Transmission and Golmud Railway each team starts with an MAA in spawn. On Hainan Resort and Paracel Storm an MAA spawns at a capture point (C on Hainan, B for Paracel). This makes the MAA a bit shorter lived as it either has to stand and deliver or try to hightail it back to spawn protection, and neither of the maps are great for the latter (though it is still viable). The only maps not featuring an MAA are Siege of Shanghai, Floodzone and Operation Locker. There are a number of kinks to work out with the MAA and spawn protection. Since release the most popular tactic with the MAA is to retreat near your team's spawn to an area the enemy can't reach (spawn protection area). While you can fire on the enemy from that spot, the enemy may not be able to see you at all, meaning you have free reign to take every helicopter that comes into your view out of the sky. Some servers restrict this practice, others encourage it to the point they will kick anyone criticizing people using it (or ban them if it happens to be an admin abusing the tactic).
The funny thing about that strategy is that it often leads to good players staying away from helicopters and instead driving tanks and LAVs or playing infantry and capturing points, so while you may lock down airspace, it is possible you'll still be on the losing team going 34-1. Actually, that score is a bit anomalous. The MAA has the second lowest kills-per-minute according to DICE, the first being the attack helicopter. The reason is twofold: first, most people bail from the helicopters you are shooting down before you can get the kill and two; the game often simply won't award you the kills for shooting down a heli. You'll see me get "killed in action" in this video when someone shoots me down while I'm piloting a jet and they are in their team's stationary AA. For whatever reason the game can't properly attribute kills to anti aircraft guns.
Like most other vehicles in the game the MAA has two primary choices. The 20mm fire fast and hit for decent damage, the 30 fire slower and do slightly more damage. the 30's used to be something of a be all end all weapon for the MAA, but a recent patch brought them more in line with the 20's. Either one will seriously fuck the day of any helicopter pilot dumb enough to get in range. The real issue using these things is knowing how to lead the target. For some reason I always believe these things are hitscan or something and will fire on where it is rather than where it is going to be. You'll see that a couple times in the video. For the most part guns like the 20s are actually pretty close to hitscan at close range (same with a lot of the small arms) just due to the speed of the projectiles, which keeps screwing me up.
Ah, something new. So the MAA is really geared towards anti air fighting so most of these are exclusively used against flying vehicles. The Zuni Rockets stand out as they are dumbfire and really effective against tanks and infantry, but not great for high flying helicopters or jets. Heatseekers are the same thing we've seen on helicopters and jets, just not fired from the ground. The passive radar missiles are like the IGLA missile launcher: you maintain the lock on the target until it hits or the missile will go off on its own. The real attraction here is the Active Radar missile. These are a mix between your average dumbfire rocket and the passive radar missile. Instead of locking on to a vehicle you fire this towards it. If the vehicle ends up in the targeting range of the missile then the AR missile will track that vehicle and explode near it for some good damage. At release Active Radar missiles were extremely broken. Firing into the air randomly could sometimes generate a lock and they flipped vehicles on their side if they hit. There were also six of them in an MAA at a time, so you could just about spam the things at random and get some kills. Things have gotten better in more recent patches. The cone in front of the missile has shrunk in both width and distance (which took two patches to do successfully for some reason) and the number of missiles was reduced from 6 to 4 (and supposedly to 2, but I've never equipped the things, so I can't confirm at the moment). Thank the various gods for that.
Literally all the same stuff from the Tank and LAV. Use active protection even though it is on a longer cooldown, I would have survived longer in this video if I had ever changed to that like I meant to.
Nothing new here either. Use Zoom optics, sniper helicopters from the sky.
For the most part we've seen all this before, but it is worth noting that this is the one spawn ground vehicle that offers a motion sensor to the driver. There is no gunner in the MAA, so they had to put it somewhere. It's also the only land vehicle to offer air radar, which makes total sense. I still like the auto loader so you can down a heli after it pops flares.