Bug #29379

Helo gunners stupidly switch weapons

Added by countroland about 5 years ago. Updated over 4 years ago.

Status:Feedback Start date:03/15/2012
Priority:Normal Due date:
Assignee:- % Done:


Category:AI Issues
Target version:-
Affected ArmA II version:1.60.87580 First affected build:Please Specify...
Reproduced by another DH user:Yes First affected ArmA II version:
I am using some Mods:No Single / Multi Player?:
I am using:CO (OA+A2) BIForumURL:
Reproducible for you:Yes NGUrl:
Related to content of DLC: WIKIurl:


Short description:
AI gunners in attack helicopters often refuse to use the weapons the player instructs them to use. This has infuriatingly rotten consequences for the player, namely, getting shot to pieces by enemies that otherwise would die in flames. The bug basically makes AI gunners worse than useless.

I encountered the problem in the 'Open Season' mission in Operation Arrowhead, and it is perfectly replicable therein. Start the mission, select the helicopter's gun, then fly directly ahead until you reach the enemy outpost, which has a handful of men and some light vehicles. Do not manually select a target. Do not switch to manual fire. Fly so that the gunner sees the enemies at the outpost - and note that the fool switches to rockets. Press F (default keyboard setting) to order him to switch back to the gun. He will do so, fire a few shots at something that needs killing, and then promptly switch back to rockets, which means he stops shooting things that need to be shot before they shoot me.

Expected behavior:
OFP's behavior. AI gunners in player-piloted aircraft should treat player weapon selections as Holy Writ. When I tell the gunner to use guns, he should attack with guns and only guns. When I tell him to use any other weapon, he should attack with that weapon and only that weapon. If I have selected a target for him, have not selected manual fire, and have not commanded him to cease fire, he should engage that target with the weapon I have specified, and only that weapon. If I have selected no targets, have not selected manual fire, and have not commanded him to cease fire, he should engage targets of opportunity with the weapon I have specified, and only that weapon.

The reason why this is the expected behavior is simple:
the pilot plots the aircraft's course, and it is the gunner's job to react to course changes while still doing his job - namely, to kill people and break things. If, for any reason, he switches to weapons that, given the aircraft's course, cannot be used to kill people and break things, and so does nothing useful while enemies are trying their level best to shoot down the aircraft and kill him (and the pilot), he is worthless, a liability. And given the nature of player-to-AI communication - namely, that the AI cannot read a player's mind - it is necessary for a player pilot to have the ability to direct the AI according to what the player intends...e.g. to use the gun he has commanded and hose down targets as he flies past them. If the AI does not obey such orders, the AI is, by any reasonable definition of the word, bugged, and thus I file this report and beg you to fix it in the next patch.

Related issues

related to ARMA2 Community Issue Tracker - Bug #3668: AI vehicle gunner enforces weapon selection - ignores ord... Closed 08/15/2009


Updated by kju about 5 years ago

  • Description updated (diff)
  • Status changed from New to Feedback

What about manual fire?

That said I agree basically that the AI weapon switching by the AI gunner does more bad than good.

Updated by countroland about 5 years ago

As far as I know, the AI gunner will not interfere with player weapon selection once manual fire is enabled. I haven't thoroughly tested it, but I haven't noticed it happen, either, and there is another bug report from 2009 (https://dev-heaven.net/issues/3668) that suggests that once upon a time, gunners did interfere with manual fire, and that the bug was fixed for version 1.05.

Unfortunately, keeping manual fire activated isn't a good workaround for this problem. Going all the way back to OFP, AI gunners won't target anything on their own if manual fire is enabled; they're strictly along for the ride unless the player specifies a target. Needless to say, picking off lightly-armored targets like infantry, trucks, or static machine guns one-by-one in such a manner is prohibitively time-consuming (and, without on-screen selection crosshairs, frustrating - and almost impossible if one has to dodge incoming fire). The whole point of having a gunner is to reduce the pilot's workload, in large part by managing exactly those sorts of situations without the pilot's help.

Personally, I'd say the ideal solution would be for AI gunners to stick with player-selected weapons at all times, and, if a cannon is selected but no target is designated, for the AI gunner to aim it at nearby targets regardless of whether manual fire is activated or not. I would imagine this is the most realistic solution - that it comes closest to approximating the behavior of a real-world gunner, especially one with a helmet-tracking gunsight, while retaining the usefulness of the game's manual-fire-for-the-pilot option in other situations where it can sometimes be effective.

But even a return to OFP's AI gunner behavior would be welcome. With manual fire deactivated, no target designated, and a cannon selected, they would put the cannon to good use on appropriate targets of opportunity until they ran out of ammunition, or were ordered to stop shooting or to activate another weapon, or, as the saying goes, 'there remained no enemy, but peace'. With manual fire activated, they would not move the cannon unless the player had designated a target. In no case would they switch weapons on their own. I imagine this solution is slightly less realistic than the one above, but judging by the apparently very low rate at which attack helicopter pilots are court-martialed for murdering their gunners, I suspect it's still closer to reality than the current system :>

Thank you so much for taking a look at this. I really appreciate all the astounding work that you've put into this game, and continue to put into it year after year.

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