So, you just bought your first tier II ship and you’re not sure which AA defense to use on it. To avoid making an investment you might regret later, I will explain the advantages, disadvantages, and differences between the various AA types.

Missile AA

Missile AA is widely considered to be the best AA type in the game. It’s homing (meaning it follows its target), deals a lot of damage, and activates earlier (more range) than all other types of AA. Its problem lies within the reload and ammunition. Most of the missile-type AA defenses fire one shot and then reload, meaning they get overwhelmed very easily. It does not help that a lot of them only focus on one incoming missile, only blocking the said missile and letting others pass while they reload.

These kinds of defenses are meant to combat aircraft, as they focus on one plane in a squadron and are capable of taking them out more quickly. However, because of aircraft/helicopter flares, this system is outdated and missile AA is no longer the best counter for aircraft. This means in the end, they are most effective at countering missiles.

Best tier II missile AA defense

OSA-M. It focuses on multiple targets and has a lot of range and a quick reload. 

Best tier III missile AA defense

Sea RAM. It’s special because it shoots 2 missiles in a burst before reloading, deals decent damage and has a quick reload. 

Best locked tier III missile AA defense

RF Shtorm’s S-400. For further elaboration, check out the article comparing Shtorm, USS Enterprise, and CN Type 004.

Machine Gun AA

Machine gun AA is decent when combating aircraft as it deals a continuous stream of damage and cannot be flared. However, its damage depends on how many projectiles hit, which is random (RNG). Due to this, it often fails to block missiles (because their speed gives the AA less chances to hit) and is regarded as ineffective in the community. There are some exceptions which we’ll get to later. 

Best tier II machine gun AA defense

All tier II gun-type defenses are equally mediocre, with the exception of RF Loon’s AA. More on this later in the article.

Best tier 3 machine gun AA defense

The Palash. Unlike other machine gun air defenses, it has the same amount of range as a missile AA. This makes it activate faster, therefore being more competent at hitting its target. Its special ability is that it can also damage ships like an autocannon. Sadly, you’ll have to reach level 20 to buy it.

Laser AA

Laser aa is special for one reason only: its accuracy. It follows the target flawlessly and it hits every shot. However, it deals very little damage and it will get overwhelmed just like any other type of AA. It’s very similar to machine gun aa in other aspects such as range. It’s the best at countering aircraft but encounters issues dealing with missiles as it requires more time to deal enough damage to destroy its target, and its “projectiles” sometimes do not deal damage. This is an intentional balancing of the aa by the developers. 

Best tier II laser AA

There are no laser-type AAs at tier II. 

Best tier III laser AA

THEL. Obtainable only by the free battle pass.

Hybrid AA

Hybrid-type AA combines missile AA and gun AA into a single system. It’s a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. Good for ships with very few AA slots, such as RF Lider.

Best tier II hybrid AA defense

There are none.

Best tier III hybrid AA defense

Pantsir-ME. An upgraded version of Kashtan-M, capable of damaging ships and stopping hypersonic missiles (sometimes). Also capable of damaging ships in a similar fashion to an autocannon.

Special AA

In addition to the previously mentioned air defense types, there are some special types of AA systems in the game. These are locked weapons which means they can be used only on specific ships.

RF Loon’s AA (the “UKU-9K-502-II (23 mm)“) is a machine gun AA. However, it’s special because of three things:

  1. It’s way of firing. It fires at the enemy missiles just like an Osprey’s cannon would. This makes it very accurate.
  2. It’s range. It has the most range out of all AA in the game, at 3.9 km. this, combined with its accuracy and damage, makes it perfect for blocking any kinds of missiles. Yes, even hypersonic ones. This was tested, it can effectively block any hypersonic missile coming its way, However, there’s one downside…
  3. It only activates at a 90-degree angle or less from the enemy projectile/aircraft. This means you need to position yourself facing the enemy or running away from them in order for it to activate. It is the only AA defense in the game that also relies on skill to work. 

RF Shtorm’s AA (the “S-400“) and Admiral Gorshkov’s AA (the “9K96 Redut“) are not normal missile-type AA. They are special because of two things:

  1. They deal area-of-effect damage, meaning not only will they damage your planes when they fire at you, but they will destroy your aircraft-based missiles. Try to flare to counter this. 
  2. They have a continuous fire. Not like machine gun AA, but their reload is so fast they basically fire 1 missile every 0.6 seconds or so, constantly. They also deal a lot of damage and have the most range out of all missile AA.

Conclusion

This concludes our list of anti-air types. So, what kind of AA should you equip on your ship?

If you plan on combating aircraft, use machine gun, laser or hybrid AA. If you plan on defending yourself against missiles, use missile or hybrid AA.

It’s best if you combine multiple types of AA to get the best effect on ships that can do this. For example, RF Varyag with its multiple AA module slots can combine missile, machine gun, and laser types of AA.