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In the beginning, Battlefield 3 helicopters were sparsely equipped, barely capable of doing more than transporting troops or firing off an errant machine gun shot or two. Then came the upgrades: special abilities unlocked through skillful use of each class of conveyance.
The more players killed, the more powerful they became.
The number of vehicle upgrades in the multiplayer component of Battlefield 3 is truly unprecedented. There are a ton of abilities and equipment to unlock for each class of helicopter, and our guide covers them all.
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Scout Helicopter Unlockables
Scout helicopters are fast-moving choppers equally capable of rapidly deploying reinforcements and raining down minigun fire from above. Skillful scout helicopter pilots can completely devastate enemy efforts to hold or capture an objective.
Scout helicopter unlockables include:
Heat Seekers, 1200 experience: guided missiles that can be locked on to enemy aircraft.
Stealth, 2500 experience: makes it more difficult for enemies to lock on to your helicopter and decreases the amount of time you appear when spotted.
Belt Speed, 4400 experience: decreased reload speed for your primary weapon.
Proximity Scan, 7000 experience: reveals the position of nearby enemy troops and vehicles.
Air Radar, 10000 experience: minimap range is increased and enemy air vehicles automatically appear.
Extinguisher, 14000 experience: gives the pilot the ability to extinguish onboard fires and restore a disabled chopper.
Maintenance, 19000 experience: enables your helicopter to recover more quickly from damage.
Guided Missile, 25000 experience: guided missiles that can lock on to enemy ground vehicles and laser-designated targets.
Below Radar, 32000 experience: when flying at low elevations, you cannot be targeted by air-to-air missile systems and do not appear on enemy radar.
Laser Painter, 40000 experience: automatically laser designates targets directly in front of the aircraft, enabling friendly players to lock on.
ECM Jammer, 48000 experience: when activated, prevents enemy troops and vehicles from locking on to your vehicle for a short time.
Scout helicopters are fun, but the real fun comes when piloting their bigger brothers, the attack helicopters.
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Attack Helicopter Unlockables
Attack helicopters are a little slower than their scout counterparts, but make up for their lack of speed with greatly-increased firepower and upgradability. Attack helicopters also carry two soldiers, a pilot and a gunner, enabling them to simultaneously attack multiple targets.
Attack helicopter unlockables include:
Heat Seekers, 800 experience: guided missiles capable of locking on to enemy aircraft.
Stealth, 1600 experience: enemy ability to lock on and track your helicopter is decreased.
Autoloader, 2800 experience: an enhanced mechanism that reduces the minimum time between firing bursts of the helicopter’s primary weapon.
Zoom Optics, 4400 experience: 3x, selectable magnification for the gunner position.
Proximity Scan: 6500 experience: external sensors that automatically detect and spot nearby enemy units.
Air Radar, 9000 experience: minimap range increase and automatic spotting of friendly and enemy aircraft.
Guided Missile, 12000 experience: missiles capable of locking on to and tracking enemy land vehicles and laser-designated targets.
Extinguisher, 16000 experience: a controlled air pressure release that will extinguish fires in the engine compartment, helping disabled helicopters to return to normal operation and recover from damage.
Maintenance, 20000 experience: improved ability to recover from damage.
Thermal Optics, 25000 experience: enhanced optics for the helicopter’s gunner position, allowing them to spot soldiers and vehicles far more easily.
Laser Painter, 30500 experience: Nose-mounted targeting system for the chopper that automatically paints enemy vehicles as a target for teammates using laser-guided weapons.
Below Radar, 37000 experience: your helicopter’s heat signature is greatly reduced when flying at low altitudes, making you disappear from enemy radar and preventing enemy air-to-air missiles from locking on.
ECM Jammer, 44000 experience: electronic countermeasures that prevent your aircraft from being locked on to for a short time when activated.
Guided Rocket, 51000 experience: the pilot’s dumb-fire rocket system is enhanced with semi-active guidance, allowing them to track enemy targets to some degree.
TV Missile, 60000 experience: helicopter gunner gains the ability to launch missiles that are guided by nose-feed video, enabling precision strikes.
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It can be difficult to score those first few experience points with each type of helicopter necessary to unlock some of the more useful abilities, but once you do, you’ll be racking up a ton of experience points before you know it.
The more abilities you unlock, the more versatile you become when piloting a helicopter. Skilled pilots can make the difference between the success and failure of an assault, so keep fighting and unlocking those abilities.
- All references and images from Battlefield 3.