War Thunder background
General playtest of air-to-air missiles with ARH Seekers (FOX-3)

Today, we’d like to tell you about an important milestone that is approaching for War Thunder’s aircraft component — the game wide introduction of Active Radar Homing Missiles, otherwise known as FOX-3. Taking into account the characteristics of this type of weapon and its possible impact on the gameplay in air battles, we’d like to talk to you in detail about our approach to adding these highly advanced missiles into the game.

As more and more advanced aircraft and missiles have been introduced into the game, we were faced with various challenges in implementing them and the impact on gameplay they had. Starting with the first generation of basic guided missiles, to the first missiles capable of hitting maneuvering targets, to the first all-aspect missiles, and more recently the first super-maneuverable missiles. Each of these additions had the potential to drastically change gameplay in one way or another, and sometimes not always in the direction of more fun. Because of this, the introduction of each new missile generation was preceded by many game tests by several teams, including us, the developers, our QA team, the alpha test team and by players on the dev server. This has allowed us to verify the decisions taken for gameplay consideration, the scope of necessary improvements required and the impact on balance.

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Similar missiles can already be found in the game, but with features that don’t have much of a strong impact on the overall gameplay. Firstly, there’s only two aircraft that carry these missiles: the F-14A and B. Secondly, the intended purpose of the AIM-54 is primarily to combat anti-ship cruise missiles or aircraft such as heavy bombers instead of highly maneuverable targets. These types of missiles can and still do successfully hit fighters who may not see them incoming, normally because they’re flying straight. However it’s not too difficult to avoid these missiles with some maneuvering around, which is why they don’t have a massive impact on gameplay balance.

In comparison, new medium-range missiles such as the AIM-120, R-77, MICA EM and others are created and intended for use against maneuvering aircraft. Aircraft capable can carry up to 8-10 of these missiles each, which in game terms means the possibility to fire up to 100 missiles per side. Combining this with the radar capabilities of these missiles and their maneuvering characteristics at medium and close-range, this could drastically alter the current meta of the game and make it much more difficult and unforgiving when making even the slightest error.

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Having said this, going by our internal tests, air dueling situations between a small group of players in a battle using these types of missiles lead to some very interesting gameplay, with new tactical approaches being created. It’s also worth noting that these missiles don’t generally provide any new range parameters for hitting targets compared to the existing ones.

Based on the above, we’re planning to conduct mass general tests of this type of weapon and their aircraft within the current dev server period. This test will be held in the form of an event with a given set of aircraft and missiles — every player who has unlocked Rank VI aircraft on the live server will be able to take part.

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To participate in this event, you’ll need to put an aircraft of Rank VI or higher from the following nations into a crew slot: USA, USSR, Great Britain, China, France and Israel. The nation selected when the mode starts will determine the aircraft available for testing in the event.

List of aircraft and missiles:

  • F-16C with AIM-120A missiles
  • MiG-29SMT with R-77 missiles
  • JAS39C with R-Darter missiles
  • J-8F with PL-12 missiles
  • Mirage 2000-5F with MICA-EM missiles
  • Barak II with DERBY missiles
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The introduction of these new missiles is currently planned for the second major update of this year, in which missiles with ARH seekers and their respective aircraft will be added to the game for all nations at once.

That’s today’s blog wrapped! We hope that you’ll participate and leave some feedback for us, so that together along with our analysis of statistical data, we’ll be able to find any problematic areas and outline possible ways to solve them.

More instruction how to join Dev Server and participate in test here

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