Defenseless against aircraft and anti-air units
|“|| Death from above!|
- ORCA Bomber pilot, commencing bombing run as ordered
During the Second Tiberium War, the top brass thought it would be good to have a fleet of light, maneuverable aircraft comprised of variants of the original Orca strike aircraft. One of the most common was the Orca bomber variant, meant strictly for air-to-ground combat.
Building on the success of the Orca strike craft in the First Tiberium War, the Corps of Engineers was commissioned to come up with a design that could take the fight to Nod's ground forces from above. Work began immediately. In just eight months, a blueprint was drawn up and presented to the Board of Directors, who were impressed with and approved the design for full-scale production. It was virtually identical to the original Orca, with the only difference being the two large bombays bolted to either side of the hull, allowing it to deliver a hefty load of heavy-hitting, high-explosive freefall munitions on the target area.
The bombs were standard high-explosive for several reasons. 1) They were a safer alternative to the higher-yield, much more destructive warheads available, and if hit before released, they would only destroy the aircraft carrying them and not give off any harmful fallout, thus causing limited environmental and collateral damage. 2) The blast radius, though lethal to anything caught inside, would not encompass the entire battlefield. 3) They allowed groups of aircraft to carpet bomb an area, dramatically increasing coverage area and destructive power. 4) Formations of infantry can very easily be dealt with.
However, carrying heavy munitions has presented problem when considering armor. The aircraft's overall weight must be kept down to accommodate the weight of the load (crew, armament, fuel). In the Orca bomber's case, the aircraft's armor had to be kept within operable limits. Though classified medium, it offered little protection against missile and armor-piercing munitions. This presented a particularly nasty problem when the enemy learned to fire at the bombays to put both the aircraft and its payload out of their misery. Without any sort of self-defense system to keep overall weight down, many of these aircraft fell prey to such weapons.
By the Third Tiberium War, the Orca Bomber's role was partially succeeded by the Firehawk fighter-bomber.
The Orca Bomber's HE bombs are extremely deadly. Any light-armored targets caught in the blast radius will not be likely to survive. The HE bombs are also used to destroying tactical bridges, modifying landscapes, and even capable of damaging the Orca Bomber itself if altitude is not sufficient. Unlike Orca Fighters, Orca Bombers are designed for carpet bombing. GDI Commanders (and any Nod counterparts that capture a GDI tech building and Helipad) can maximize both survivability and damage output by sending them in large numbers against tightly grouped structures or ground units.
Due to its attack pattern of carpet bombing, the aircraft must return to the Helipad for reloading after a bombing run. It is found that the Orca Bomber will target any anti-air threat if that threat has already launched its rocket against the Bomber.