Ever since the release of Battlefield 3, hundreds have climbed upward in the cockpit of an F-18 or an Su-35, hoping to experience the perfect dogfight. In reality,I have seen many pilots-to-be make common or easily avoidable errors. In this guide, I hope to share my knowledge of jet combat in order to make you the better pilot and gives me moar victims.


Due to the vast usage of vehicles in Battlefield games, achieving air superiority is key to securing a win for your team. While it is easy to rid the skies of enemy vehicles with ground-based SAM's, having friendlies in the air is important. There are two varieties of jets: basic and ground-attack. Basic jets are nimble and fast, but will easily come apart under fire. They are only found in conquest. The ground-attack jets are unique to rush, and have a sturdier fuselage and stronger 30mm cannon that will tear apart all caught in its sights. Ground-attack jets also cannot use afterburners.


While it is fun to attack everything that moves while in a jet, some targets have priority over others as threats to your team.

For regular jets:

  1. Enemy jets have priority, as you are the only vehicle that can keep up with it.
  2. Enemy helicopters should be attacked next
    1. Attack helicopters are more of a threat to both you and ground vehicles, so they should be targeted first
    2. Scout helicopter for the same reason
    3. Transport really shouldn't be engaged unless there are no other threats around
  3. Ground vehicles should be attacked, should there be no air targets
  4. Lone infantry should be ignored, even if they wield SAM's. They are merely a distraction to you and there are likely other, higher priority targets around. Same thing with ground transports.

Note: AA vehicles are best avoided and dealt with by other team members.

For ground-attack jets:

  1. Enemy jets, for the same reason as jets
  2. Enemy ground vehicles, as they more easily dealt with using a ground-attack jet and pose a bigger threat to the M-COM Stations than helicopters
  3. Heliopters, in the same order as above
  4. Infantry/ transport vehicles

Note: As with regular jets, AA vehicles are best avoided and dealt with by other team members. If you manage to catch an AA vehicles off-guard or looking the other way, however, by all means tear it apart with the death ray finger of God gun.

Levels of Lock

Every air vehicles can be locked onto and targeted with heat-seeking missiles (laser-designated missiles too, but those cannot be deterred by flares or ECM jamming).

  • The first state is a low-pitched repeating beep. This means an enemy is pointing at you with a launcher/air vehicle. Do not fire flares. If you have ECM jammers, fire those bad boys up.
  • Next state of lock is a low, solid tone. This means an enemy has acquired lock. Do not fire flares (same protocol with jammers, though. It could be just an engineer with an empty missile launcher harassing you.) I've see far too many misfires with flares here and it leaves you extremely vulnerable to missiles (read:dead).
  • The final stage is a rapid, higher-pitched tone that means missile(s) is/are incoming. Fire flares here (if you haven't used your ECM jammer by this point, go ahead and brace for impact or try to climb to get out of range, the jammer is useless unless you want to make sure no one else locks on).

Hopefully, this has taught you not to be a noob with the flares (makes me angry angry angrykljf angyiahiuly njfawenoonufaionfealiwefankjfawniuhafuhwbgauham,scl,mfdmxz,lmc,m ,mdsunihwuihwteauknklcxdklcvxkl,dslkcx). I hope this now destroyed keyboard and this lesson on lock-ons has made you a better pilot.


Note: I am a PS3-native player, so my conversions may not be entirely accurate. Also, I use default buttons and sticks, so keep this in mind as you read this section.

When you hop into a jet, accelerate by pressing the R2/RB/W button and pull back on the right analog stick/pull back with the mouse. As soon as the landing gear is pulled up, you will no longer have to hold accelerate in order to maintain speed. It is possible to slow down to reduce your turning circle or increase the time on target for your weapons by pressing L2/LB/S, but be careful not to hold this button too long, as it is possible to stall from lack of airspeed. Gadgets are bound to the R1/RT/X and weapons are fired using L1/LT/LMB. Weapons can be toggled between the gun and weapon upgrades by using triangle/Y. On PC, pressing 1 will equip the gun and pressing 2 will switch to the equipped weapon. 3rd person mode is toggled by pressing R3 or C and afterburners (sprint) is toggled by L3 or shift. Free-look mode can be used by holding down on the D-pad or RMB.




Upgrades are passive unlocks that will be activated as long as you are in a jet


An excellent first upgrade, stealth increases the time it takes to lock on for you and decreases time spotted. This helps you to escape chases and break line of sight easier. I find this a useful upgrade until air radar, and even beyond.

Belt Speed

A more aggressive upgrade compared to stealth, belt speed increases the gun's rate of fire. This is useful to those who do not like to slow down to take strafing runs, or just like to take down jets faster.

Proximity Scan

An under-preforming upgrade in my opinion, proximity scan reveals all enemies in a vertical cylinder around you. My problem with this upgrade is that because of the jet's speed, you won't be able to keep them spotted long enough for you to make another pass with guns and rockets. And as for spotting enemy jets, the below upgrade works wonders.

Air Radar

A simple, yet effective upgrade, air radar replaces your minimap with a sweeping radar scanner that spots all enemy air vehicles on the minimap only- not on the 3D map with a marker over it for your team to see. Combined with heat seekers, this setup can be effective in dogfights.


As with other vehicles, maintenance increases health regen on jets. This is useful to heal yourself after a missile hit or after getting strafed by cannon fire.

Beam Scanning

The penultimate unlock for jets increases missile lock-on speed. This lets you spend less time lining up attack runs against enemy helicopters, and bring about the death of enemy jets quicker.


Gadgets are unlocks that are activated upon pressing the associated button

F-15E flares

IR Flares

The first unlock for jet is a blessing ot all newbie pilots. These countermeasures will distract enemy missiles that are launched at you. Beware, as there is a short cooldown to using the flares, and an ill-timed flare can lead to your death.


The ultimate survival unlock for jets. While ground vehicles have the leisure of being able to repair at any time, and helicopters can land when they are disabled, jets cannot. With this upgrade, you simply activate it when you are disabled, and you will automatically be repaired to 52% health- enough for damage loss to stop and health regen to start. Your plane will still have control issues similar to those while disabled until your plane is at full health, though.

ECM Jammer

A flare of different sorts, the ECM Jammer acts similar to flares. When used, enemy locks are automatically lost and enemy locks cannot be acquired for another five seconds. However, launched missiles will still track and hit you, regardless of whether you launched chaff or not.


Weapons can be toggled between the gun and the equipped weapon by pressing the associated button

Heat Seekers

The air-to-air missile: a blessing to some who may have trouble wielding the cumbersome gun, but a terror to all. This lets the jet lock onto enemy air vehicles and take them down with ease. These can be deterred by flares, so it is suggested to fire only one to start with and wait to see if the target pops flares.

Rocket Pods

My favorite weapon, rocket pods give you 14 unguided rockets for use against ground targets. These are effective against tanks and IFV's due to their size.

Guided Missile

Compared to rocket pods, guided missiles are situational at best. They require a lock-on to fire and this leaves you vulnerable to pursuing jets. Also, the nose-mounted camera makes it awkward to steer the jet, but this can be remedied by switching to third person or switching to the gun.

Permanent Unlock

The sole permanent unlock for jets, as well as helicopters, is Below Radar. It works by making you immune to lock-ons by air vehciles by flying at low altitude for three seconds. Since is is permanently equipped, there really is no drawbacks to having it and it makes it easy to escape missile-savvy opponents. Be wary, as ground-based SAM's can still acquire lock.


Here are some setups that I have thought up. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses that will be discussed. However, some of these classes may not be what you are looking for or may not feel right to you, so I urge you to experiment to find out what suits you best.


Air Superiority

  • Upgrade - Air Radar for finding air vehicles
  • Gadget - IR Flares for deterring missiles
  • Weapon - Heat Seekers for attacking air vehicles

This is a generic air-to-air setup. It allows the player to engage air targets easily and effectively, with tracking due to the radar, anti-missile countermeasures from the flares, and death spears heat seekers for the weapons. The biggest drawback from this setup is the lack of ground-attack weaponry. However, flying a ground-attack jet remedies this by providing the pilot a 30mm cannon. Another drawback is as soon as the plane becomes disabled, the plane WILL explode eventually.


Ground attack

  • Upgrade - Maintenance for recovering from damage faster
  • Gadget - IR Flares for deterring missiles
  • Weapon - Rocket Pods or Guided Missile(rarely) for ground attack

By increasing the basic jet's anti-ground abilities, the pilot can engage a greater range of targets. However, the ability to combat air vehicles suffers. I would suggest rocket pods for the wapon, as they do not require lock-on to be fired, plus with a magazine of 14, can easily destroy tanks should you be able to land nearly all of the rounds on target. If someone on your team is laser designating targets, then guided missiles become a good alternative.


  • Upgrade - Maintenance for quicker damage recovery
  • Gadget - Extinguisher for recovering from becoming disabled
  • Weapon - Choice

My personal favorite class, the survivalist class allows for continuous support for your team. The key to this classes success is being able to avoid missiles and having a knowledge of tactics. Unfortunately, missiles will hit you more often compared to setups with flares or ECM jamming, but as long as you are undamaged, two missiles will not be the end of your flying.

Electronic Warfare

  • Upgrade - Beam Scanning for faster weapon lock-on
  • Gadget - ECM Jammer for disrupting lock-ons
  • Weapon - Heat Seekers (preferably) for use with Beam Scanning, but any other weapon can work

An unconventional setup, this setup is useful for quick fly-bys against enemy helicopters or strafing runs against enemy jet spawns. Popping chaff and kicking on afterburners after an attack run can render counterattack by missiles difficult. Just remember that the ECM Jammer is not the same thing as flares...


  • Be sure to watch your altitude, as flying too high will cause you to stall and lose control for a while.
  • Avoid prolonged dogfighting over the enemy base, as their AA turret will tear you to shreads.
  • Use the environment to your advantage. Use mountains to block missiles and break line of sight and use tall structures to deter chasing jets.
  • Be sure to reload your rocket pods before you make strafing runs.
  • Use 3rd person point of view or free-look to scan for enemy jets.
  • If you are being chased, keep your speed low and turn until you get behind the enemy jet.
  • Reduce speed to make tighter turns.
  • Be sure to lead targets with your gun. Don't worry about bullet drop though; it's negligible.
  • Be aware of your immediate environment whenever you make turns or fly at low altitude.
  • If your see a jet or helicopter being chased by an enemy jet, help them out and attack that jet. Wouldn't you want them to do the same to you?
  • While this may seem like a douche move to some, it is often a good idea to strafe empty planes waiting on enemy's runway. After their jet blows up, they will have to wait for another one to spawn in order to chase you. Watch out for the AA turret though.

Closing Thoughts

The road to unlocking the thirteen has been difficult, but in the end, it was well worth it. With this guide I hope that I have made you all better pilots. Before I go, I ask you to experiment with the jets. My guide was written off of my experience and is here for help. It may not fit your personality or style of play. Develop and test your own strategies and tactics that work for you. As for this guide, this is a test for possible future Battlefield 3 guides. Please leave feedback/errors/corrections in the comments below and I'll be sure to respond. Thank you for reading and see you on the Battlefield.

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