|For other Firehawks, see Firehawk.|
|“|| Firehawk, docked and ready!|
During the last half of the Second Tiberium War and subsequent Firestorm Crisis, GDI's air forces were suffering terrible losses at the fangs of Nod's versatile Apache and Harpy multirole aircraft. Orcas could only engage ground targets and were completely helpless against airborne targets, which Nod took full advantage of.
When it became apparent that the losses to GDI's air forces at the fangs of the Venom were becoming too great, the Board of Directors commissioned the Corps of Engineers to design an aircraft capable of countering Nod's nimble snake. During TW2 and the Firestorm Crisis that followed, several proposals for a new aircraft were drawn up, all of which had their own unique set abilities and weapons. In the end, only one was chosen.
The Orcas' unguided munitions were small and dealt only moderate damage, so it often required a dozen or more aircraft to significantly affect Nod's production in the local area of operations. But the Orcas' light armor made them easy prey for the Venom's cannon, even easier prey when it was upgraded with directed energy generators (laser capacitors). The new aircraft was to be supersonic and multirole, capable of engaging both ground and air targets and quickly retreating if the situation became too dangerous. The aircraft was dubbed the Firehawk.
Over the next ten years, the Firehawk underwent rigorous performance tests. It was fitted with dual Dermott-Rhyles JT-750 turbofan scramjets that provided an 8-1 thrust ratio (the engines put out eight times the aircraft's weight in thrust) and were later augmented with Ares hypersonic rocket boosters, a Tyre R13-G7 long-range radar and target acquisition-designation system (TADS), and a frameless bubble canopy set low in the nose of a sleek fuselage to minimize drag and maximize speed.
Two hardpoints were bolted to each wing, to which both bombs and missiles could be attached. When armed wit bombs, the Firehawk became an even more effective - if less flexible - anti-surface weapon than the Orca; with missiles on the rails, it became the most deadly human aerial vehicle in service. Despite having slightly less armor, the Firehawk was much faster and capable of escaping situations that had so easily turned the Orca into scrap metal.
The Firehawk is a highly versatile aircraft and can be augmented with several upgrades to increase its armament, survivability and speed.
|Statofighter Boosters allow the Firehawk to move to any part of the field in a few moments by boosting high into the atmosphere and back down again, essentially 'teleporting' them to wherever the commander chooses. With this, they can bypass enemy units and defenses, or move long distances quickly.|
|ZOCOM Firehawks become plated in Ceramic Armor. Increasing survivability to un-upgraded enemy anti-aircraft efforts.|
|Hardpoints increase the ammo capacity of Firehawks by 50%, granting longer linger-time. They are standard for the normal GDI faction and the Steel Talons in Kane's Wrath.|
|Not really an upgrade*. Grounded Firehawks become equipped with 2 Groundpounder bombs (3 with Hardpoints) that allow them to attack ground targets, though the bombs can be dodged fairly easily by most units if an enemy commander moves their troops effectively.|
|Not really an upgrade*. Grounded Firehawks become equipped with 4 Rattlesnake Missiles (6 with Hardpoints), enabling it to take on aircraft.|
- = Firehawks can toggle between using bombs or missiles when landed at an airfield. They cannot use both at the same time. They must be at a Airfield before doing so.
|“|| We're heating up!|
- An Unfortunate Firehawk
While Nod's Vertigo Bombers take advantage of stealth to strike targets, GDI's Firehawks use extreme speed to reach targets quickly, fire their payload, then move back to base. Firehawks have the distinction of being one of the best air-to-air units in the game, since they can often destroy or damage enemy aircraft without giving them a chance to do much damage, if any, in return. In addition, the Stratofighter Boosters upgrade allows them to move anywhere on the field unharmed when activated, allowing them to either bypass enemy defenses and bomb the inside of a base, or to escape pursuing air units and appearing back at base.
ZOCOM has access to the Ceramic Armor upgrade, which improves the health of firehawks. The standard GDI faction instead has addition to the Hardpoints upgrade, allowing Firehawks to carry 50% more ammunition.
When landed, Firehawks can be configured to either carry bombs or missiles, but not both. In this way, they can serve as agile strike bombers or as interceptor craft, depending on the current needs of their commander.
While Firehawks may initially seem totally superior to Orcas, they aren't always. Orcas are cheaper, more durable, and have less prerequisite structures required to be built. Orcas also can carry several missiles which they fire at a manageable rate, making them better suited to engaging multiple targets at a time, while the Firehawk usually drops all its bombs at once on a target. Orcas are also generally more effective at dealing with heavily armored vehicles like tanks, which is something that Firehawk bombs aren't as good at. Firehawks are still generally superior at surviving attacks by anti-air units and are more efficient at leveling buildings due to their very high speed, however. A pair of Firehawks can destroy an anti-air turret in a single bombing run, and can expect to survive if they do not take AA fire from anything else along the way. They are good at harassment and wearing down opponents that have a deficiency in anti-air, due to their good survivability.
- It is GDI's only air-to-air unit, and can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time to enemy aircraft. Four unupgraded firehawks together can usually take out any Scrin warship in a single run, a single Firehawk can destroy most other aircraft in a single run.
- Bombs are devastating against structures and slow-moving targets, including Epic Units. Bombs also have a wide area-of-effect that makes them deadly against idle infantry squads.
- Even garrisoned infantry are not safe from bombs, which can kill them after destroying the structure.
- Stratofighter boosters allow it to penetrate heavily defended areas or make a quick escape if needed.
- Extreme speed allows them to always have the first strike.
- Can carry up to 3 bombs or 6 missiles after Hardpoints upgrade, meaning it can engage more targets or do more damage at a time.
- Useful for destroying exposed enemy Superweapons and other structures.
- Needs to reload at Airfield.
- Vulnerable to anti-surface units while docked.
- Only available at Tier 3.
- One of GDI's costliest units at 1500 per unit.
- Has low armor unless upgraded.
- Bombs do poor damage to heavy units, especially fairly fast-moving ones like tanks which can avoid bombs a lot of the time.
- Notoriously inaccurate against moving ground units.
- Even SAM Turrets and Mantises with upgraded Tiberium Core Missiles are fatal without armor upgrade or booster to escape.
- Firehawks tend to bunch together in an air-to-air fight - which is suicide, since the Firehawk missiles tend to fire at the enemy when the clumped Firehawks are right beside it.
- Can be overestimated - Up to 4 Vertigo Bombers are capable of destroying a single Firehawk.
- Will crash land if it cannot find a friendly Airbase when out of ammunition.
- May drop off more bombs than it needs. Firehawks can drop it's entire load on an entire squad of infantry whereas in fact it only needs 1.
Firehawk uses an M-shaped wing with canards (forward stabilisers). While the particular wing shaped was never put to pracical use, the simpler forward-swept wing was used on Grumman X-29 and Sukhoi S-37 prototypes.
- We've been hit return to base!
- Its a go!
- Firehawk standing by!
- No problem!
- Ready for Co-ordinates
- Looking good...
- Firehawk here!
- All set!
- This one's mine!
- Bomber standing by!
- We're clear!