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Tip of the Week #55 - The Firehawk

By _IaMThoR_ - 24th March 2009 - 04:27 AM

The Firehawk is GDI's ultimate fighter-bomber. It is one of the fastest aircraft on the battlefield, faster than Nod's Venom and the Scrin's Stormrider. Once upgraded, it is capable of flying into the stratosphere, which enables it to bypass even the best anti-air defenses.

Date: November 21, 2009
Game: Tiberium Wars 1.09
Authors: several (see below)

Firehawk: The basics

The graceful and deadly GDI Firehawk is a and powerful and versatile tier-3 multi-role bomber/fighter aircraft. Even a single complement of four Firehawks can be a decisive force in the late game. Here are the basic specs:
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  • Cost: 1500 credits, 15 seconds.
  • Hitpoints: 2625.
  • Armor: none (takes full damage from all weapons).
  • Armament: Either 2 bombs (1500 grenade damage each) or 4 AA missiles (1000 rocket damage each).
  • Build at Airfield, requires Tech Center. Each Airfield can house up to four aircraft (Orcas or Firehawks).
  • Fastest unit in the game. With Stratofighter Boosters upgrade, Firehawks can travel instantly across the map (see below).
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An Airfield with a full complement of four Firehawks.

Late-game tactics

First off, you should always target the enemy's Tech Center first when you have four Firehawks. It is the target that will hurt your opponent the most (apart from possibly their Construction Yard, but that requires seven Firehawks) and should be bombed as often as possible.

If you have the GDI Radar Scan ready, it is always best to scan the area of your enemy's base that you intend to bomb (as long as you don't already have a scout in their base, of course) and then take out one of these targets, ordered by priority, if you see them and have four Firehawks:
  • Primary target: Tier-3 tech structure (Tech Center, Tech Lab, Technology Assembler).
  • Tier-4 tech structure (Space Command Uplink, Tiberium Chemical Plant, Signal Transmitter), only takes one Firehawk.
  • War Factory, Warp Sphere
  • Tier-2 tech structure (Command Post, Operations Center, Nerve Center), only takes two Firehawks.
If you intend on bombing multiple buildings, it is vital to hotkey your Firehawks to different groups ([Ctrl]+Number) to control your bombings. Use the list of bombs it takes to destroy a building or the list of missiles to destroy an air unit (see below) to calculate the most effective and efficient use of your Firehawks.

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Bombs away!

Obviously you do not want to fly through any anti-air defenses if you can avoid it, but don't forget that a Firehawk can take a fair amount of punishment before going down. Also, don't just send your Firehawks on the bombing run and then, after they drop their payload off, leave them to fly through the newly placed anti-air defenses or the one that was already there before. Micro-manage them so to avoid anti-air fire on the flight back to the home Airfield; waypoint hotkeys or planning mode can prove invaluable tools for this.

Upgrades and abilities

Firehawks can be upgraded with Stratofighter Boosters. This upgrade costs 2000 credits over 60 seconds, available at the Tech Center, and allows the Firehawks to boost into the stratosphere and come down anywhere on the map almost instantly. Remember that you can use the Stratoboost ability in the waypoint and planning modes! See below for more on this.

The Firehawk's anti-aircraft capabilities are also very powerful. Four Firehawks can destroy almost any Scrin aircraft (only a shielded Planetary Assault Carrier in an ion storm would barely survive 16 AA missiles). Four Firehawks can destroy a Mothership in two runs.

Since the Firehawk bombs deal 1500 grenade damage each, they are not particularly useful against tanks, which usually only take 25% damage from grenade damage (i.e. 375 per bomb). By comparison, Nod's Vertigo Bomber drops a single bomb that deals 3000 cannon damage, making it a great anti-armor weapon, but on the other hand, cannon damage deals only 75% damage against buildings, which makes Firehawks superior to Vertigos for base destruction roles.

Firehawk Micromanagement

When using Firehawks, there are two main ingredients to success:
  1. Getting your Firehawks to target building alive.
  2. Not wasting your precious payload along the way.
A key technique to remember is always use the "hold fire" stance with your Firehawks. You never want to attack-move or set Firehawks to "aggressive" stance, because that would mean that the AI is controlling your Firehawks and not you — and while you, the player, realize how important it is to take out a Tech Center, the AI may think it's more important to use your Firehawks to take out a lonely Rifleman. And using the "hold fire" stance also guarantees that your Firehawks will not wander off into 30 waiting Pitbulls! So whenever you have produced one or more Firehawks, hotkey them so you can keep track of them and set their stance to "hold fire". You can even set the Airfield to "hold fire" so all produced units will default to that stance.

Stratofighter Techniques

The Stratofighter Boosters upgrade is often forgotten, but it is one of the most useful abilities in the game! Stratofighter Boosters essentially allows you to teleport your Firehawks to any spot on the map. So if your opponent has 30 Pitbulls blocking your way to his base, all you have to do is stratofighter past those Pitbulls and teleport your Firehawks right into his base to do your damage!

The easiest way to gain vision of a safe spot on the map as a destination for your Stratofighters is by using the GDI's Radar Scan ability, or even an Orca Strike. Alternatively, you can use a single Pitbull or any other unit to scout the map and gain vision. This is crucial so that you don't strato your Firehawks into 50 rocket troops! You can strato blindly into the fog of war, but this is quite a gamble and not recommended — if you have to do so, use good judgement and strato to parts of your opponent's base where you know there are not likely to be any anti-air defenses.

Once you have vision of the portion of the map that you want (or decided to strike blindly), you need to select all of your Firehawks, select the Stratofighter ability (default hotkey is [Ctrl]+A) and then left-click the location where you want your Firehawks to teleport to. Your Firehawks now will boost into the stratosphere like this:

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Once they drop back down at their destination, target the building of your choice. Keep in mind that when you drop inside the enemy's perimeter, you need to bomb as quickly as possible — but how will you get out? Your opponent will undoubtedly send Pitbulls, Seekers or other anti-air units your way, so a good way to escape unscathed is to fly your Firehawks around the back of your enemy's base, wait for the Stratobooster ability to recharge (which takes 20 seconds), then strato your way out! Or you can turn this tactic around and fly your Firehawks into the enemy base by sneaking around an unguarded long way from behind, drop your bombs and then stratoboost home to safety — try using planning or waypoint modes for this maneuver. And by all means, don't hesitate to use Stratoboosters to escape a hairy situation if it means that your Firehawks survive to fight another day!

Damage statistics

For a comprehensive list of structures and the number of Firehawks required to destroy them, see our Damage Guide or our detailed faction information. Here is a list of how many missiles it takes an anti-air Firehawk to shoot down enemy air units. Each Firehawk carries four missiles.

2 missiles
2 missiles
V35 Ox:
1 missile
2 missiles
Vertigo Bomber:
2 missiles
1 missile
Stormrider: 4 missiles
in ion storm: 6 missiles
Drone Ship:
9 missiles
Devastator Warship: 7 missiles
in ion storm: 8 missiles
shielded: 9 missiles
shielded in ion storm: 12 missiles
30 missiles
Planetary Assault Carrier: 10 missiles
in ion storm: 14 missiles
shielded: 13 missiles
shielded in ion storm: 17 missiles

This tip has been recompiled by R Schneider based on the work of You'reMyStar*, Death2all, Aron Times and Mexicanbrother, incorporating the original Tip 55 and Tip 15. Join the Tip of the Week Discussion and add your comments now!