Heavy Weapons Platforms

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Heavy Weapons Platforms, or HWPs, are small unmanned tanks. They are fast, heavily-armored, and carry specialized versions of several weapon types available to your soldiers.

The five HWP types available to X-COM commanders are:


HWPs are divided into two distinct chassis types, the standard miniature tracked tank and the hover tank.

Tracked Chassis
Standard tracked tank

The tracked tank chassis is the weaker but more readily available and can be purchased off the market. Engineers can produce - without the aide of special materials - a replica of the tracked tank in the workshops fitted with a powerful heavy laser turret.

Hover Chassis
Hovertank tank

The hovertank, a hybrid of human and alien technology, must be built. It is expensive and requires exotic resources in its manufacture, but has superior overall performance, generous layers of armour, and most importantly is able to hover in the air much like a Cyberdisc.


HWPs use turrets to fire. These turrets can turn independently of the tanks themselves. For example, if you tell a tank to fire behind itself, the turret will turn and not the tank. The turret will keep its new bearing relative to the tank until it is told to fire again. Moving the turret costs 1 TU per directional change. The turret do not contain any optical perception sensors, so the turret can only see what the tank sees.

With the exception of the Tank/Laser Cannon and the Hovertank/Plasma, you must have sufficient ammunition in your stores before loading the tank onto a transport craft.

A special allowance is made for protecting bases during attacks if you do not have ammunition available. Tanks will always be granted a full payload of ammunition. Any rounds remaining after a successful Base Defence will be added to your stores.


  • Tanks are not affected by psi attacks. They cannot lose morale, except by killing "friendly" units (which includes mind-controlled aliens).
  • Tanks are not affected by stun, nor can they receive fatal wounds. (unlike alien tanks, which ARE affected by stun.)
  • Tanks start off with fairly decent stats, except for their Reactions, which are extremely low.
    • Tanks have greater Time Units than normal soldiers and also regenerate to full Energy every turn, which can be quite a big advantage when crossing rough or uphill terrain, making them excellent as scouts.
  • Tanks have huge Health and massive armor (but can be one-shot killed), especially the Hovertanks. This lets them often remain unscathed from shots that would have killed a normal unarmored soldier, and Hovertanks can take more damage before being destroyed than even the best soldier wearing a Flying Suit, EXCEPT for explosive weapons, which do 4x damage to tanks.
  • Tanks are counted as items, not staff. This lets them be stored in general storage instead of Living Quarters.
  • When starting up a new base and fearing alien attacks, it's convenient to buy/send a couple of HWPs there on guard duty. You still need at least one soldier on duty there for a base defense though.
  • A damaged tank is instantly repaired at the end of a mission.
  • Other units can fire over the top of a tank without the tank getting hit in the crossfire.
  • Tanks have better ammunition management than their man-portable counterpart. This significantly affects launcher type tanks like the Hovertank/Launcher and Tank/Rocket Launcher.
    • Tanks carry more (large) ammunition than a soldier can at one time.
    • The ammo loaded in the tank does not count towards the 80 item limit.
    • All of the tank's ammunition is loaded in a single magazine. Ammo is therefore automatically fed into the gun, and does not require 15TUs to reload after every shot.
  • Tanks do not draw salaries. While their initial cost is large, you don't have to keep shelling out cash every month for them. Ammunition expenses take its place.
  • As expensive as they are, everything is included in the cost of the tank except ammunition. You do not need to buy weapons, armor or equipment for them.
  • Tanks cannot be implanted by Chryssalids. Their bite may well destroy the tank, but at least you don't have to worry about the tank turning into a Zombie. This also means that tanks have a chance of surviving being bitten/clawed by a Chryssalid, unlike soldiers who are automatically zombified aka insta-killed in 1 hit.
  • Hovertanks, like all flying units, can avoid physical attacks from melee aliens by hovering one tile above them.
  • Losing a tank affects morale the same as losing a newbie - much less than the death of a soldier of somewhat similar stats, who would probably have earned a high officer rank. Despite being a significant economic loss, the destruction of a tank doesn't trigger the panic wave the fall of a Colonel would.
  • Hovertank/Plasma has 255 shots, which are refilled instantly for free for every battle. .. admittedly, this might be a considered a miniscule advantage, considering the amount of heavy plasma clips that Xcom ends up scavenging from aliens, especially in the late game.


  • Tanks cannot perform Mind Control.
  • Tanks are much more expensive than soldiers - eg $420,000 vs $40,000. Their cost and usefulness are inverse with time. When you need them for their superior mobility and defenses you cannot easily afford them. By the time you can afford them, you will already have better alternatives. They will always remain useful as expendable scouts.
  • Each tank takes up four soldiers' worth of space in the transport.
  • They do not gain experience during combat.
  • Tanks have very low reactions. In other words, tanks draw fire. Aliens will prefer to fire on tanks than your troops because tanks have low reaction levels.
    • Many commanders consider this an advantage, however, knowing they can bring a tank in to distract the enemy from vulnerable troops. This works by making the enemy use up their remaining Time Units on a tough and expendable decoy.
  • The tank's size introduces a variety of problems.
    • They make bigger targets
    • More damage is taken from explosives.
    • They cannot pass through narrow gaps such as doorways.
    • They can go up a 1 tile wide stairway (BUG), and get completely stuck upstairs, since they cannot come DOWN a 1 tile stairway.
    • They can also get stuck in walls if they fall off ledges while traveling north or east.
    • It's possible for a tank to be "halfway" (one square) past a wall and be visible to enemies and vulnerable to their fire, yet unable to spot those same enemies or return fire. This occurs because the tank can only see via one of its quarters. The others three quarters are blind.
  • Tank versions of the various weapons are limited:
    • Tanks do not have any Auto-Fire capability and their snap shots are time consuming.
    • Tanks cannot re-arm during the battle.
    • Though many of the weapons are very powerful, they are reduced in effectiveness thanks to the tank's own accuracy levels.
    • Plasma hovertanks are poorer than Heavy Plasmas at breaching UFO inner walls, due to a 5 point power difference (see Destroying Terrain for more details).
    • Normal lasers have infinite ammunition for the duration of a battle, but the Tank/Laser Cannon has a limit of 255 charges, like all HWP direct energy weapons. In practise, this hardly matters.
    • Launcher tanks in general have weaker missiles. Tank/Rocket Launchers use mid-weight rockets that sit between the small and large rockets, while Hovertank/Launcher have weaker blaster bombs that cannot breach outer UFO walls.
  • Tanks cannot carry additional equipment. This means they cannot pick up loot during a hit-run-abandon mission; cannot throw smoke grenades, flares, or explosive grenades; cannot equip or use medkits...
  • The aimed shots on most tanks are not worthwhile. The gain in accuracy does not nearly match the extra time units they require. This is especially true on the Hovertank/Plasma.
  • Once destroyed, tanks or their ammunition cannot be recovered.
  • Tanks can go berserk, although only by killing a large number of friendly units (including mind-controlled aliens). Although soldiers go berserk much more easily, and can potentially kill a huge number of fellow soldiers with friendly fire, a berserk HWP will scuttle your campaign by causing your game to crash! Note that HWP/Launchers do not fire their weapon or crash the game when berserk... a significant point considering that HWP/Launchers are the biggest cause of unintentional friendly fire, other than berserk and mind control.

See also

UFO Badge X-COM: Enemy Unknown/UFO Defense: Equipment
Armour: CoverallsPersonal ArmourPower SuitFlying Suit
Weapons: PistolRifleHeavy CannonAuto-CannonRocket LauncherStun Rod
GrenadeProximity GrenadeHigh ExplosiveLaser PistolLaser RifleHeavy Laser
Plasma PistolPlasma RifleHeavy PlasmaAlien GrenadeSmall LauncherBlaster Launcher
Equipment: Smoke GrenadeMotion ScannerMedi-KitElectro-flarePsi-AmpMind ProbeElerium-115
HWPs: Tank/CannonTank/Rocket LauncherTank/Laser CannonHovertank/PlasmaHovertank/Launcher
Data Item WeightsAlien Weapon Loadouts • Armour Damage Modifiers