Air Combat (LWR)

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In General

UFOs are tougher, faster, and much stronger in Long War Rebalance than in either Long War 1.0 or Vanilla EU/EW. Along with that, your crafts and armaments are significantly less potent, at least at first. However, in Long War Rebalance you can send up full squadrons of up to 5 aircraft at once, which helps you handle such strong UFOs.

Players should exert caution and pick and choose their air battles carefully. You will not be able to bring down every single enemy UFO. Sometimes attempting high risk interceptions against tough targets would be detrimental to your campaign due to the highly unpredictable nature of the engagements at the start of the game. Your early game goal should be to get experience for some of your pilots and advance your air-warfare technology in order to keep aliens at bay on the battleground for the Earth's skies. In case you overreach too early, you might quickly find yourself crippled with long repair times and unable to stop alien operations.

If the aliens send a UFO and it is damaged, destroyed or lost, the aliens will pay resources for it, limiting their options in the next month.

XCOM starts with 3 interceptors.

Damaging and Destroying UFOs

It is not necessary to shoot down enemy UFOs in order to prevent them from completing their mission. Doing damage to them is enough to spoil their plans or reduce their effectiveness. The damage that UFO sustains is stored between interceptions, therefore multiple interception attempts may be a good idea to limit the damage to your own Air Force. When a player does more than 50% damage to a UFO, you will start seeing explosion effects around it. A non-landing UFO at 50% health will fail the mission it was sent on. It is important to consider dealing some damage (even 1) to all non-landing UFOs, as this will prevent them from increasing panic in the country below (except for the bomb mission, which causes some panic anyway, unless foiled by damaging the craft for at least 50%).

UFOs that take a lot of damage beyond their HP total will be destroyed in the air, so in some cases you may want to pull your punches. To compensate, the Council will give cash rewards for UFOs obliterated in flight. Fighters and Destroyers will always be destroyed if their HP is reduced to 0 or less (as they never crash land). Destroying UFOs (except for Fighters and Destroyers) is unlikely until you get harder hitting weapons in the late game that have a greater chance of reducing UFOs to a pile of smelted alloys: specifically, it is the amount of damage beyond the UFO's HP total that determines the UFO's survival chance.

Chance of Destruction =  (HP_Overkill - 1200) divided by 5
Average Chance of Destruction = 1 - 0.5 ^ ((Weapon_Damage-1200)/500)

Average chances of shots (non-crit) causing destruction of a UFO (vs the UFO being shot down) are listed in the table here: Aircraft Weapons

Destroying Crashed UFOs

If a UFO is shot down, it will be vulnerable to an aerial bombardment and destruction.

You can choose to do this by clicking on Destroy UFO when selecting a crashed UFO mission.

If you do, you will be rewarded with a small bounty similar to if you destroyed that UFO in the air.

Pilot Rank and Kills

UFO kills are awarded to all pilots in a sortie that downs a UFO, and not just the pilot who lands the final hit.

Pilots gain 0.5 aim for each kill they make (modified by campaign length).

Pilots can also earn ranks through kills (modified by campaign length) and the ranks will allow them to command larger sorties than the default of 2 aircraft.

Lieutenant: Requires 4 kills and can command a sortie of 3 planes.

Captain: Requires 6 kills.

Major: Requires 8 kills and can command a sortie of 4 planes.

Colonel: Requires 12 kills.

Commander: Requires 16 kills and can command a sortie of 5 planes.

UFO Flight Patterns

UFOs can fly at three altitudes: "High", "Low" and "NOE" ("Nap of the Earth"). The altitude is a clue of what mission the UFO is going on - UFOs flying at NOE altitude may land (and only such UFOs), are performing bombing runs (then their icon would flash in the mission view), or will generate an Abduction or Terror mission immediately upon arriving at their destination. UFOs at high altitude are most likely to be hunting satellites. UFOs at low altitude are likely to be scouting satellites, so they must be dealt with. Unless playing in Ironman, you may want to see if a UFO would land in a place visible to XCOM before deciding to shoot it down (and reload if it does not land). While a landed UFO is always more dangerous, an intact UFO and it's material components is a valuable prize, given how fragile Power Sources and Flight Computers are from being shot down in Long War.

Once you successfully raid, shoot down, or destroy a UFO type, you can research that craft for a damage and resource bonus against it in the future.

Formation

When launching you can set a combat formation position for your interceptors as they launch on a mission:

  • LEAD: +10 hit chance (1.5x hit chance for UFO)
  • MID: no change
  • REAR: -10 hit chance (0.67x hit chance for UFO)

You may only use the aim booster when the active aircraft is in the LEAD of a formation.

You may only use the tracking booster when the active aircraft is in the MID of a formation.

You may only use the dodge booster when the active aircraft is in the REAR of a formation.

Mathematically and not accounting for interception time, this means that lead is more efficient when your Interceptor aim is low, while rear is more efficient when your Interceptor aim is high. However, lead formation positions can lead to too much damage and rear formation positions can lead to too little.

Aircraft Hit Chance

The Hit Chance of a XCOM's aircraft is determined mostly by the aim of the weapon they are using. It can then be modified by their position in the formation, their experience, and the size of their opponent.

  • As discussed in the section above, aircraft in the lead of the formation will gain 10 hit chance and aircraft in the rear of the formation will lose 10 hit chance.
  • Experienced aircraft pilots will gain +0.5 aim for each UFO they have been involved in killing. There is no limit to this increase. This makes them especially effective using aircraft weapons with low aim.
  • Larger UFOs are (reasonably) easier to hit. As such, XCOM aircraft will find their hit chance to be 150% and 200% of the original amount, respectively, for medium and large UFOs.

Interception Time

The interception time of a squadron and a UFO is based on their speeds.

The specific formula is:

Interception Time = 30s * (Slowest Aircraft Speed / UFO Speed)

Interception time can be modified by:

  • UFO Scanners: +10% interception time
  • Damaged Aircraft: -20% aircraft speed
  • Elerium Afterburners: +5 squardron speed
  • Tracking Booster: +50% squadron speed

An example of a squadron of Interceptors with UFO scanners vs a Scout.

Interception Time = 30s * (20 / 45) * 1.1
Interception Time = 14.6s

The Active Aircraft

LWRActiveAircraft.png

The active aircraft is chosen randomly from all aircrafts in the lead of the formation. If there are no aircrafts in lead, an aircraft will be randomly select from the mid of the formation. Likewise, if there are no aircrafts in mid, an aircraft will be randomly selected from the rear of the formation.

The active aircraft will take 50% of all shots from the UFO, which makes it the most likely to take damage when there are more than 2 aircraft in a sortie. Support aircraft (non-active aircraft in the squadron) will evenly share the remaining 50% of shots from the UFO.

The active aircraft also dictates which aircraft boosters can be used (an active aircraft in lead restricts the use of dodge boosters and an active aircraft in rear restricts the use of aim boosters).

The active aircraft is also the only aircraft which you can tell to disengage. Supporting aircraft will automatically disengage if their HP has dropped below 25%. The active aircraft will continue to engage until you issue a disengage order.

Note that the disengage order can take a second or two to occur.
This means UFOs can still destroy aircraft AFTER they have been given an order to disengage.

Damaged Aircraft

Damaged aircraft can engage UFOs but will have -10 aim and only 80% of their base speed. The entire sortie will always fly at the speed of the slowest aircraft, so sending in a single damaged aircraft may end up reducing the overall damage of your sortie.

You can speed the repair of aircraft by hiring additional repair crews in the hangar at the cost of 150 credits per crew. This cuts remaining repair time in half, though it cannot go below 1 day.

Refueling

After engaging a UFO, all aircraft will need to refuel. The refuel time is 12 hours which mostly prevents an aircraft from engaging the same UFO more than once.

Country Air Forces

If you engage a UFO over a country that has some Country Defense (gained by completing council requests for that country) then there is a chance they may aid you in the air battle by sending up one of their own aircraft.

The chance is:

Chance for Country Air Force Aid = Country Defense / 2

The strength of the aircraft the country sends up is based upon their Country Defense:

Country Defense Aircraft Upgrade
>= 30 Phoenix Cannon
>= 60 EMP Cannon
>= 90 Firestorm

Damage Calculations

LWRAirGame.png

The damage each aircraft deals when it lands a hit is based upon its weapon and the damage resistance of it's target.

To aid the player, the average damage per second of your current aircraft (in its selected formation position) against the current UFO will be displayed on any aircraft you select to join a squadron. As well, the aim of your aircraft and the HP of the UFO will be displayed. This allows for quick calculations of the amount of damage you will be dealing during the engagement.

Air Game Damage Calculation Formula:

  • DR = 1 - (25 * (Armor Tier - Penetration Tier) / 100) <-- Clamped between 0.0 and 0.95
  • Base Damage = Weapon Damage * DR
  • Critical Hit Chance [x1.5 damage] = 10% * (Penetration Tier - Armor Tier)
  • All damage is randomized between 80-120%

Example of Phoenix Cannon (360 damage, 3s cooldown, Tier 2 penetration, 30 aim) vs Fighter (HP:400, Tier 3 armor):

Base Damage = 360 * min(1 - Clamp((25 * (3 - 2))/100, 0, 0.95))
Base Damage = 360 * 0.75
Base Damage = 270
Critical hit Chance = 10% * (2-3) = -10% = 0%
Base Damage is then randomized between 80% and 120%
Rate of Fire = 3s
Damage per Second = 270/3 = 90 dps

UFOs and UFO Weapons

For information on UFOs click here: UFOs

For information on UFO Weapons click here: UFO Weapons

Aircraft

Name Health Armor Battle Speed Map Speed Other Prerequisites Cost Maintenance
Research required
Engineers required to prevent increase in production time
Cost in Credits
Cost in Alien Alloys
Cost in Elerium
Cost in Meld
Other
Duration in days
Monthly maintenance cost in Credits
Satellite
Satellite
Increases funding and provides unique bonuses 10 450
(630)
0
(7)
27 days
(13.5 days)
Skyranger
Skyranger
Cannot engage in interceptions 2000 XCOM starts with one, unable to produce more 1
Interceptor
Interceptor
2000 Unarmored 20 5500 500 20 days
(cannot be rushed)
1
Firestorm
Firestorm
3000 Tier 4 30 7000 Can wield a Fusion Lance Alien Propulsion 55 600
(900)
120
(180)
30
(45)
XX
(XX)
4 UFO Flight Computers
4 UFO Power Sources
80 days
(40.0 days)
2

Aircraft Weapons

Name Hit chance Damage Firing
cooldown
Penetration UFO Destruction Chance
1-0.5^((dmg-1200)/500)
Prerequisites Cost Sell
value
Research required
Engineers required to prevent increase in production time
Cost in Credits
Cost in Alien Alloys
Cost in Elerium
Cost in Meld
Other
Duration in days
Avalanche Missiles
Avalanche Missiles
30% / 40% / 50% 160
(80 per second)
(32 dmg/s realised)
2.0s No Penetration 0% XCOM starts with an unlimited supply
Stingray Missiles
Stingray Missiles
30% / 40% / 50% 800
(73 per second)
(29 dmg/s realised)
11.0s Tier 2 0% XCOM starts with an unlimited supply
Phoenix Cannon
Phoenix Cannon
20% / 30% / 40% 400
(133 per second)
(40 dmg/s realised)
3.0s Tier 2 0% Alien Materials 15 180
(252)
20
(28)
0
(5)
13 days
(6.5 days)
48
Phoenix Coilgun Tier 3 Phoenix Coilguns (Foundry) 28
(42)
56
(120)
0
(5)
6 UFO Power Sources
230 Weapon Fragments
7 days
(3.5 days)
Laser Cannon
Laser Cannon
35% / 45% / 55% 400
(160 per second)
(72 dmg/s realised)
2.5s No Penetration 0% Advanced Beam Lasers 35 310
(465)
25
(37)
0
(5)
18 days
(9 days)
64
Pulse Cannon 800
(320 per second)
(144 dmg/s realised)
Supercapacitors (Foundry) 200
(300)
300
(450)
40
(60)
30
(35)
8 UFO Power Sources
140 Weapon Fragments
21 days
(10.5 days)
EMP Cannon
EMP Cannon
25% / 35% / 45% 420
(120 per second)
(42dmg/s realised)
3.5s Tier 5 0% Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons 55 220
(330)
90
(126)
0
(5)
20 days
(14 days)
230
Plasma Cannon
Plasma Cannon
10% / 20% / 30% 1600
(356 per second)
(71 dmg/s realised)
4.5s Tier 4 43% Vehicular Plasma Weapons 95 400
(600)
80
(112)
55
(82)
0
(5)
28 days
(16.6 days)
200
Fusion Lance
Fusion Lance
5% / 15% / 25% 5000
(625 per second)
(94 dmg/s realised)
8.0s Tier 6 99% Fusion Weapons
Only equippable on Firestorm
120 600
(900)
90
(135)
230
(322)
0
(5)
1 Fusion Core 49 days
(24.5 days)
320
Note: EMP Cannons increase the chance to retrieve artifacts from shot down UFOs by 40% if they are responsible for the fatal hit (see UFO Equipment)

Boosters

Name Special
properties
Prerequisites Cost Sell
value
Research required
Engineers required to prevent increase in production time
Cost in Credits
Cost in Alien Alloys
Cost in Elerium
Cost in Meld
Other
Duration in days
Aim Booster
Aim Booster
The active aircraft automatically hits the next two attacks
Increases interception time by 30%
Only usable when active aircraft is in LEAD
Alien Materials
Aircraft Boosters
12 3
(4)
1
(1)
1
(3)
12 Floater Corpses 5 days
(2.5 days)
6
Dodge Booster
Dodge Booster
Dodges the next two shots that would hit the active aircraft
Increases interception time by 30%
Only usable when active aircraft is in REAR
Cyberdisc Autopsy
Aircraft Boosters
50 5
(7)
2
(3)
1
(3)
2 Cyberdisc Wrecks 5 days
(2.5 days)
10
Uplink Targeting Long War.png
Tracking Booster
Increases interception time by 30%
Only usable when active aircraft is in MID
Floater Autopsy
Aircraft Boosters
35 4
(5)
1
(1)
1
(1)
1
(3)
4 Drone Wrecks 5 days
(2.5 days)
8

See also