So I’ve been finally using my AH-129D after quite some grind and I have to say, Spike-ERs have been more than underwhelming. For those uninitiated, Spike-ERs are heliborne Fire-and-Forget ATGMs, the second to be implemented after the PARS 3 on the german Tiger helicopter.
Now, after quite some testing, there are some issues and I was hoping to get some input on whether other players experience the same. First of all, let me preface this by talking about where the AH-129D is situated: The absolute top tier, at 11.7. What this means is top-level Anti-Air is abundant (Pantsirs, supersonic jets, Rolands, you name it). Unlike at around 10.x, where helis can absolutely dominate, at 11.7, if you cannot outrange a pantsir, it is very hard to do much at all, because either a jet immediately gets you without much counterplay or an AA does. This translates to a situation where helicopters are fairly weak compared to top tier strike aircraft, despite costing similar amounts of SP. But this is not to whine about that – although I think it needs to be taken into consideration --, but just to talk about the play pattern of top tier helis: You mostly hide, peek out real quick, and then hide again, staying low to the ground. Everything else is out of the question and leads to swift death.
Now, why is this important? Because, on paper, Fire-and-Forget-ATGMs seem made for this task: You pop out, select a target and go back to hiding. But despite this, their performance for me has been lackluster, they either:
- Fail to acquire a target. Even completely unobscured targets that are clearly visible can oftentimes not be acquired. This is the part that really needs fixing.
- Fail to hit their target. This is either because they go for another heat signature (fine!), or because they lose their target due to other nebulous circumstances (often frustrating, because even in clear visibility, the missiles sometimes just disintegrate midair).
- Fail to deal any significant damage. For inexplicable reasons, the missiles often don’t go simply for center-mass, but rather for random modules. While it may be alright-ish to strike an engine (if suboptimal), them hitting a random MG just feels weird and and counterintuitive. This part of their behaviour seems unrealistic and I am not sure whether we need this.
- Fail to reach their target in time. Spikes are INCREDIBLY slow (180m/s), so any distant targets will either just randomly go back to cover despite not noticing you, get killed by allies or even shoot down the missile. This part may be kind of realistic, but it compounds with the other issues and is just frustrating.
So, after all this, I’ve been wondering: Do you experience the same issues? Did anyone issue a bug report for some of the things I’ve talked about here? What do you guys think?