Electronic Warfare is the use of, disruption of, supply of, and augmentation of the understanding of the battlefield through long-range scanning systems (in other words, using radar to your advantage). Electronic Warfare is a big part of battlefield control, and can make or break an operation.
Every vehicle except Battle Armor has an active radar range of 1 kilometer, or 1000m. If an enemy is within this radar range, and not using any disruptive precautions, they will appear on radar. However, an enemy will almost always be using disruptive precautions of some sort, and these precautions are designed with one purpose in mind: To deny you information.
At the moment, there are two types of radar augments: C3 suites and Active Probes.
- C3 is an advanced radar system which adds many benefits to the standard radar package mounted on vehicles. Most importantly among these features is that it allows the asset to share full radar data with any allied units in a 1000m radius (and earn C-bills for your troubles). This is an invaluable asset for any team, as it is useful at all ranges of combat. Data from a scout equipped with C3 allows units to see enemies they wouldn't normally see on radar; this is very important for units that have no radar augmentations, as they will be very vulnerable to ambushes from units with GECM or running passive, and LRM boats sitting outside of radar range; a scout sending information to this unit will prevent these types of ambushes, and give the unit more longevity and maybe even save its life. On the note of offense, C3 can be used to give artillery units and aircraft constant data about the entire battlefield, allowing them to assist any ally at any point on the map with minimal effort; artillery units and aircraft can save lives if their full operational range is utilized, and this full operational range can truly only be achieved with C3. Point being: C3 is awesome. You should go out of your way to select 'mechs with C3 so long as it doesn't compromise your ability to survive and prosper.
- Beagle Active Probe, abreviated 'BAP' is a common augmentation found on scouts and sniper/missile units which increases active radar range by 200m. It also allows the asset it is mounted on to detect powered-down enemies within 150m, which cannot be done with the standard radar package.
- Bloodhound Active Probe is a more powerful version of BAP, affording the same benefits with the addition of 200 more meters of radar coverage. This increases the active radar range of any vehicle to 1400m, allowing it to detect units at a notably larger range, and when coupled with C3 or a long-range weapon, allows for an extremely long radar reach. If you have BHP, there is a good chance you will see them before they see you. Note that equipping BHP also doubles the range at which powered-down units can be detected, increasing it to 300m.
There are a wide variety of utilitarian augments to assets which will disrupt the enemy's ability to detect you or your allies. Bear in mind that these countermeasures are completely useless if your asset overheats, as an overheated asset can be detected so long as it is within radar range.
- Passive Radar is not an augment per say, all units with Radar (except Battle Armor) have the capability to switch their Radar to passive. A unit 'running passive' cannot be detected outside of 250m with a standard radar; however, a unit equipped with C3 will be able to detect an enemy running passive so long as they are within 500m. Passive radar disables radar augmentations, such as GECM, AECM, BAP and BHP, and therefore it is unaffected by these augmentations.
- Guardian Electronic Countermeasures (GECM), the most common of these augments, reduces the range at which an asset running on activate radar can be detected by an enemy running on active radar by 500m and increases the time which it takes for an enemy to acquire a Missile Lock on you. They are most commonly mounted on scout 'mechs and hovercraft, and are often paired with C3, as to allow a scout to close the distance and gather intelligence without being detected. GECM does not effect the range at which you can be detected when your radar is set to Passive.
- Angel Electronic Countermeasures (AECM) is an experimental upgrade of GECM which grants the same effect that GECM does to any allied units within a 150m radius. It is mounted mostly on support units (most notably the Loki and Atlas), however also has ended up on a few other units, such as the Hephaestus.
To acquire detailed information about an enemy asset, you must fufill the following requirements:
- The enemy has been detected by radar. Once this happens, they will show up as an unidentified target on radar. You can acquire only distance and location from this radar ping.
- The enemy has closed to half your active radar distance (?), this will show the class of the unit (light, medium, heavy, assault, armor, aerospace, VTOL)
- You have line-of-sight with the enemy, this will give you detailed information on the unit's armor and model.
The biggest part of electronic warfare is how you use your electronics to your own advantage, and your team's advantage. There are a few tried-and-true tactics which will give you an edge in battle. First of all, lets look at stealth, there are two 'types' of stealth:
- Tactical Stealth: Tactical Stealth is the use of disruptive radar manipulation (going passive, GECM, AECM), to keep your opponents guessing as to your location. It is most commonly used by skirmishers and missile boats.
- Strategic Stealth: Strategic Stealth is the use of disruptive radar manipulation (going passive, GECM, AECM), to gain a locational, tactical, or situational advantage over your enemies by moving unseen. This could mean approaching a vantage point in a long-range unit, or sneaking up on a long-range unit with a brawler. It may also mean using AECM to move an entire force unseen through enemy territory for a surprise offensive. Strategic Stealth is harder to use than Tactical Stealth because it almost always implies running passive, which is the most effective way to 'stealth' your asset. Because of this, you may run into enemies who are also running passive, or worse yet, the entire enemy team.
A good way to keep stealthy without having to risk not being informed is to 'ping' your radar. This essentially means, every few seconds, you flip your radar to active, then flip it back to passive. This gives you a glance of the battlefield, and shows you where any enemy unit concentrations are, without revealing you for excessive amounts of time. Most enemy players will be too busy focusing on the battle to notice you being on radar for half a second.
TAG and NARC
TAG and NARC play a small role in intelligence gathering, both, when applied to an enemy target, create a beacon that the entire team can see. This includes any players sitting behind lines in a Long Tom, or Arrowpult, or any Brawlers close by. Because of this, TAG is ideal for designating priority targets.