A radio beacon is a device that transmits a signal, allowing it to be found from a distance. Scouts may use such a device to mark an area as a drop zone for paratroopers.
— Battlelog description
The Radio Beacon is a gadget featured in Battlefield 3 that is for the Recon class. It essentially acts as a stationary spawn point for a player's squad, allowing them to spawn closer to objectives and reduce the number of lost tickets.
The Radio Beacon replaces the squad spawn point normally attached to the player (similar to its BF2142 incarnation, the SLSB). In Custom game settings where players can only spawn on squad leaders, or in game modes where players normally spawn in a random location, the Radio Beacon provides squad members with an alternative spawn. Players earn the Squad Spawn Bonus if their beacon is used, same as if the squadmate spawned directly on the player.
Generally, players will spawn facing the same direction as when the radio was planted. On maps featuring aircraft (in any game mode), beacons placed outdoors allow the squad to spawn by parachute. The spawning player will appear about 100 meters in the air with chute already deployed. This may allow players to access towers to gain a height advantage, or to land up to 150 meters ahead of the beacon if on level ground.
If the beacon is placed indoors, or used on maps without usable aircraft, players will spawn next to the beacon.
When deployed, a folding dish antenna appears next to the radio. This, along with the device's intermittent beeping, makes it difficult to hide from enemies. Friendly beacons have a special minimap icon. Like certain other deployable items, the beacon is finicky about where it can be placed, preferring level ground free of foliage.
Squadmates can use the beacon as long as it is intact. In some Rush maps (e.g. Operation Métro), once the current objectives are destroyed, all beacons self-destruct. Players can, however, place new beacons immediately after a base has been taken, allowing for attacks on rear positions. If the original placer dies, the beacon will disappear on respawn regardless if they spawn on the beacon.
Radio Beacons can be destroyed with any weapon, or disabled with an MAV if it has line of sight, although hit registration of either of these can be inconsistent at times. Generally the Beacon should be shot on its lower half to destroy it, as shooting elsewhere might not result in a registered hit. Radio Beacons can also be targeted by guided weapon systems.
— Battlelog description
The Radio Beacon is a usable gadget for the Recon class in Battlefield 4. It functions in an almost identical manner to that of its predecessor. As before, whenever the beacon is placed outside with maps featuring aircraft, players will spawn in a sky dive hundreds of feet in the air. To prevent accidental deaths, players now automatically pull their parachutes after reaching a certain distance from the ground.
- During the Battlefield 3 Beta, the folding dish with the beacon was not present.
- During the beta, players respawned facing 90 degrees left of where the owner was facing when he planted the beacon. This was later changed so the user always faced north, then finally to face the same direction as the planted radio.
- There was also a glitch that prevented the beacon from being placed in certain areas.
- Players could re-use their beacon as many times as they wanted, provided they didn't spawn with the Recon kit.
- The beacon was originally designed to self-destruct when the user died in order to prevent Spawn Camping.
- Previously squad mates were able to spawn on the player who planted the beacon as well as the beacon itself however one can no longer spawn on their squad mate if they have an active beacon deployed.
- In rare cases, standing next to your own radio beacon while a squadmate spawns in causes the player's camera to fixate on the squadmate in third-person view. The player can still control their own character as normal, but the misplaced camera will render the player ineffective.
- The Radio beacon is classified as a "vehicle" in game, thus destroying it adds a vehicles destroyed count towards some of the assignments.