- Burning fuel on purpose to lighten the plane.
ARB matches usually go around 10 min, and ~2 min of fuel is enough to RTB and rearm if needed, so if you’re carrying 43 min of fuel or something, it’s helpful to cut it down and save weight. Weight makes a big difference for some planes.
- To get into position early.
If you plan on doing something other than charging at the furball, you need to be somewhere that the enemy isn’t looking for you, especially when you get into BRs where PD radar will detect you 30km away if it’s pointed in your direaction. It’s often possible to rush out to the flank or above where the radar is pointed, but you have to do it ASAP so th enemy doesn’t have time to get close and see you taking off.
- To build speed.
Many planes rely on speed as a defense, but accelerate slowly. The F-111 and F-105 are good example as they both rely on staying supersonic to keep fighters off them, but take minutes to reach that speed. Even if a fighter has an altitude advantage, it will have difficulty diving, turning to follow, and then holding it’s speed over Mach 1, so if a bomber can exceed that spped before reaching enemy fighters it’s significantly more survivable. If you don’t use afterburners you won’t be going anything close to a safe speed.
- To reach bases before anyone else on your team.
I’m not saying I like this reason, but Gaijin doesn’t put enough bases into the game, and if you are ½ second behind your teammates you run a good risk of eating a repair bill with no income at all to balance it. Many planes in the game are either designed as bombers, or they fit poorly in the meta (like the F-4C and F-4E) so they need to bomb bases to grind (and you need to grind through them to reach top tier).The maps are too small for hitting ground targets to be an alternative, because that puts you low an slow right under the furball in a plane which already didn’t fit the meta.
The problem is compounded by the Air and Ground BRs being the same — many planes have their BR because of the air-to-ground capability while they really should be lower if they were acting as a fighter, so getting some income from bombing is required.
It would be great if my whole team could play meta fighters, but you can’t play a meta fighter and grind for the F-15 — you need to bring an F-4E and that means the only way to reliably grind is to bomb. Anything else is a bit random on whether you get engaged before you have a chance to do anything.
There aren’t enough bombing targets, so it’s a race vs your team.
Mostly it’s just not a big issue burning fuel. Most people playing jets have figured out their limits, and performance improves the closer you get to empty.