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A-10 Tank Killer 2: Silent Thunder

INTRO
By the end of 1996, the U.S. Air Force has almost completely eliminated the A-10 from its inventory. Almost. The spectacular performance characteristics of the aircraft, particularly in the ground support role, uniquely suits the A-10 for the measured application of force in situations of extreme political sensitivity. Accordingly, the Air Force has deployed the remaining A-10s into a new and highly-secret flying unit: the 11th Air Commando Wing (Provisional)-code name Silent Thunder. Its specific mission is covert support of vital U.S. policy objectives for nations or organizations unable to invite or acknowledge open U.S. involvement.

Unlike all other U.S.A.F. units, Silent Thunder's aircraft normally operate alone. However, the unit specifically recruits star pilots chosen for independence (i.e., talented troublemakers like you. See Personal Briefing: Jack Haggart.) In addition, the unit is heavy in support elements, like AWACS airborne warning and control aircraft, satellite imaging systems, and logistical structure. This unprecedented support capability provides each aircraft commander with phenomenal real-time theater intelligence, as well as plentiful fuel, maintenance, and weapons. Accordingly, the strike elements of Silent Thunder are expected to accomplish missions beyond the scope or capabilities of conventional units of any size.

Note: The use of the term "Silent Thunder" for the A-10 originated with Iraq's soldiers during the Gulf War. The airplane's turbofan engines allowed it to approach so quietly that the target's first awareness of an attack was usually the thunderous impact of the ordnance.

Of this motley crew, the motliest and most talented is you-Jack "Loudmouth" Haggart. On the ground, the only orders you will observe are from a bottle of tequila or a long-stemmed dame. (Several of your former posts feature a "Loudmouth Haggart Memorial Cell" in their stockades.) The brass lets it slide, though, because in the air, you deliver: on target, on time, every time, no matter what. So far, that is. If you fail in the air, you may not want to return to base.

Despite the most grave misgivings of the command structure, you face perhaps the heaviest responsibilities ever shouldered by a United States Air Force pilot. Operating virtually alone in the air, your actions will decide the fate of millions. Do well, and a grateful nation will honor you. Do poorly, and you will sink into well-deserved oblivion. It's up to you, Jack.

ACTUAL GAME PLAY

You may be ordered to destroy bunkers, aircraft hangars, illegal factories, headquarters buildings, command posts, or other enemy assets. Be sure to positively identify your target before firing, as some civilian structures may resemble valid targets. Use GP bombs or FAEs on conventional structures, and NAPalm against hardened bunkers or command posts.

On some missions, you may be directed to Bonus Targets by your supporting forces, or to find valid targets of opportunity on your own. However, many of the structures and vehicles you spot during your mission are not combatants. Attacking these targets may diminish your score, or even cause the loss of an entire scenario.

ORDINANCE

To use a weapon other than the Avenger, you first must select it, then get target lock in the HUD, and then fire or drop the weapon using your [ENTER] key or Joystick Button #2. (To see what weapons you have available or remaining, check the A-10 Status Screen [S].) You may select any available weapon by pressing the appropriate key, or cycle through the weapon types with the [ [ ] and [ ] ] keys:

HUD ID Weapon Name Select Key
MAV Maverick anti-tank missile [H]
MK84 2000 lb. Mk. 84 GP Bomb [J]
MK82 500 lb. Mk. 82 GP Bomb [E]
ROC Rockeye II cluster bomb [K]
CBU52 Anti-personnel cluster bomb [R]
CBU58 Cluster bomb [U]
FAE Fuel Air Explosive [T]
NAP BLU-27 Napalm [L]
LAU LAU Rocket Pod [Y]
SID Sidewinder anti-aircraft missile [;]

If you are out of a selected weapon, "[NONE]" appears next to its HUD ID.
WEAPONS RELEASE
To use the selected weapon, you must have a target lock for it showing on your HUD. If you have a target lock, the words "lock" or "release" will appear next to the weapon code on your HUD. To cycle through the available targets, use the [TAB] key or Joystick Button #4. Once you have lock, drop or fire the weapon with Joystick Button #2, or the [ENTER] key.

Flares. [F] key or Joystick Button # 8 (if available). The A-10 is equipped for every mission with 30 flares as a defense against heat-seeking missiles. Whenever warned of an incoming SAM or air-to-air IR missile (Infrared Radiation, e.g., heat-seeking), you should launch several burning flares to confuse the missile while maneuvering the A-10 abruptly. With luck, the missile will home in on a flare instead of the A-10's exhaust. (But note - every A-10 downed in the Gulf War was hit by an IR missile.)

Chaff. [C] key or Joystick Button # 5 (if available). The A-10 is equipped for every mission with 30 chaff cartridges as a defense against radar-guided missiles and guns. If you are warned about an enemy radar locking onto your A-10, launch chaff and maneuver abruptly. The chaff cartridge sprays out a cloud of foil strips to reflect enemy radar and blind it for a few seconds, which may allow you to escape.
ATTACK TACTICS
When you're about 7 kilometers from the target, slow down to a throttle setting of [4] or [5]. This will give you enough time to line up on the target. Then select the proper weapon:

Tanks: MAVerick, ROCkeye, or Avenger Light Vehicles: Anything but Sidewinders. Structures: Select Mk 82 bombs for smaller targets. Mk 84s, FAEs for larger ones. Try NAPalm on bunkers and other hardened installations. Hangars, Grounded Aircraft: FAEs or cluster munitions. Aircraft: SIDewinders, or the Avenger if desperate. Enemy Columns: ROCkeyes vs. armor, CBUs or iron bombs against soft targets.

Make sure the correct target is selected (boxed) in the HUD. When "LOCKED" appears ("RELEASE" for "dumb" weapons), send the weapon on its way with the [Enter] key, or Joystick Button # 2.
QUICK HINTS
Fly The Training Mission -- In training no one shoots at you, and you get the opportunity to attack a variety of targets. It's a good chance to hone your weapons skills. You can also create a custom loadout and test the effectiveness of different weapons in a safe environment.

Learn Your Weapons -- Different weapons have different advantages. If all you ever use are Mavericks and Sidewinders, you'll be missing half of the fun.

Stay Low -- SAM radar can't pick you up through hills or mountains. The lower you fly, the closer they must be to detect you and the shorter time they have to fire.

Get Ready -- When making an attack on a target, select your ordnance in advance; you may not have time when the fur is flying. Use your Avenger for those quick shots in order to avoid having to change selected weapons.

Sometimes, Slow Is Good -- Slowing down over a target may seem like asking for trouble, but sometimes going a bit slower may let you hit all of your targets in one pass and avoid the need to fly back over the target, actually lowering the time you spend in the enemy's sights.

Don't Be Ashamed To Run -- Helicopters are more maneuverable than you, but slower. Dashing away can sometimes allow you to reposition and bring Sidewinders to bear without getting blown out of the sky.

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