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"We don't fly and we're not letting anyone else, either!"
Unofficial motto of Russian anti-air corps

Fighting against flying enemies is a pain when your own two feet are on the ground. Either your enemies can swoop down at you swiftly or stay high enough that your attacks cannot reach them.

For this situation, you need Anti Air: an attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is effective against flying enemies. Alternatively, it can be something that brings the flying enemy down to ground and prevents them from flying again temporarily.

Works with flying monsters bring Anti Air to the fore. There's nothing like a dragon overhead to start a craze for archery. Effective Anti Air attacks are great for dramatic reversals of fortune in a story, with a flying enemy brought figuratively and literally low.

In video games, one common way to add tactical depth and Competitive Balance is to make AA units excel against flyers, but fail against everything else — what we call Crippling Overspecialization. They usually form part of a Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors game mechanic. For example, AA is great vs aircraft, aircraft are great vs troops, troops are great vs AA. Any unit not specifically devoted to the role will be unable to touch airborne enemies.


Alternatively in video games, they can serve as objectives in setting up, manning, or destroying to further the plot, whether it is to negate or regain air superiority.

More generally, works set around WWII have given us a legacy of visual tropes: a sweating crew frantically traversing a multi-barrel anti-aircraft gun, the rapid pounding of the barrels, the terrifyingly fast blur of strafing aircraft. In works set from the pilot's point of view we have the sinister black puffs of flak and tracer fire appearing in the air all around them. This is pretty much a given during a bombing run, where the pilot is unable to try and evade the incoming fire, having no choice but to fly straight into the teeth of the defenders lest he throw off the aim of his own attack.

Specific anti-aircraft weapons are deployed in Real Life. However, units with mixed roles are more common than in games. For example, most warships have some sort of AA as well as their main weapons, or their AA missiles ''are'' their main weapons.


Contrast Point Defenseless. See also the Anti-Air entry under Air-Launched Weapons.

Sub-Trope of Weapon of X-Slaying. Compare Shoryuken for fictional martial-arts moves designed to counter an airborne opponent, as well as Anti-Cavalry, Anti-Infantry, Anti-Vehicle, Anti-Structure and Anti-Armor.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • New Dominion Tank Police has an ironically accidental example of this when Leona Ozaki fires a prolonged burst from Bonaparte's minigun in frustration when the villains escape her which, unbeknown to her at the time, damages the villains' plane and causes it to explode moments later.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig has Kuze and several of his comrades using Stinger missiles to shoot down a JSDF jammer plane that had been disrupting all communications in Dejima.
  • In the Gundam metaseries, most MS carriers use vulcans or laser guns as anti-aircraft defense. Probably the clearest illustration comes in Gundam SEED Destiny, where the Minerva's CIWS shreds a Murasame rather viscerally.
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the ADR-04-X Defender has four long-range, high-explosive 78mm anti-aircraft autocannon at its main armament. The effectiveness of these rounds against aircraft is... considerable.
    • As it includes the original Macross, Robotech also has the Defender, plus a few other additions put on the various ships' hulls. This makes quite painful how the ships of the third series are Point Defenseless in spite of fighting an enemy that relies exclusively on massed fighter attacks. Though this may be an issue arising from the original Genesis Climber MOSPEADA where Earth and the Colonized Solar System are basically unprepared for Inbits/Invids invasion.
  • Mazinger Z: Anti-aircraft guns were placed around the Photon Atomic Power Research Institute to shoot down flying Mechanical Beasts that tried to invade the base or blow it up. They weren't too effective, though.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Green magic, being the opposing school of Blue magic (which is fond of flying monsters), has several ways to specifically deal with flyers. These range from spells that damage or destroys all flying creatures or simply strips them of their Flying attribute, to creatures who could block flying creatures or could be tapped to deal direct damage to them.
    • Almost all Spider creatures had the ability to block flying creatures.
    • The ability for land based creatures to block flyers has been given the mechanic title "Reach." Making any creature with that ability into an Anti Air blocker.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Punisher MAX story "Mother Russia, Frank infiltrates a Russian nuclear missile silo along with a Special Forces guy, and they are trapped in a hangar with only an immobilized tank for defense. So Frank gets behind the machine and mows down the attackers, noting that the gun was originally intended for use against aircraft.
  • Wallace form the Sin City story Hell and Back is menaced by a Black Helicopter. Luckily, he has an old army buddy with an anti-aircraft missile launcher.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Crown of Stars, Postdam's missile launch complex was protected from air raids by a Positron Cannon. It was mounted like an artillery piece and connected to the power grid, and it was capable of shooting down an eighty-meter-tall flying Transforming Mecha.
  • In Along Came a Spider, Kai pilots a 'Mech specifically designed for air defense, with advanced radar and a 360 degree weapon arc.
  • In "Last Rights" a Klingon fighter is shot down by Vaadwaur infantry with a shoulder-fired missile.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the concept of an Air Force is in its infancy. Two air-capable Powers, Ankh-Morpork and Klatch, have the most evolved air arms and are watching each other closely to see what happens next. Ankh-Morpork's Air Watch has been into all-out combat once and has evolved tactic both for air-to-air fighting and for ground attack. The most that has been thrown back at them - so far - consists of random fireballs from ground-based magic users. But the commanding officer is aware that this resulted in one pilot being killed and another limping back to base with damage. After an exercise involving mock attacks on Ankh-Morpork's navy in its home port of Pearl Dock, she is aware that there is a very definite need for capable ground defences capable of causing damage to air attackers. She is rather keen to be on the side that has them - and that the people operating them can tell friend from foe. Olga is also keen to know what form anti-air defence is likely to take so that she can start evolving counter-strategies.

  • Behind Enemy Lines has a rather memorable scene where the protagonists' plane is engaged by not one but two enemy surface to air missiles which are virtually impossible to outmaneuver or foil with any countermeasure they can think of.
  • Flight of the Intruder has North Vietnamese anti-aircraft defenses as a major and constant threat to the protagonists, which makes sense given the role of the titular aircraft as a low-altitude attack plane vulnerable to everything from advanced surface to air missiles to (literally) a peasant with a rifle. A major plot point in the film involves the protagonists going rogue to take out a stockpile of Vietnamese SAM's that were off-limits due to operational restrictions at the time.
    • The original book had them hitting the HQ of North Vietnamese Intelligence instead.
  • The Sum of All Fears shows the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier attempting to defend herself from a missile attack using a Phalanx CIWS turret, though it doesn't turn out very well.
    • It should be noted that in Real Life, the carrier would have been protected by the numerous AEGIS cruisers and destroyers surrounding it. Given that they were in range of a Russian bomber regiment, not having a CAP is also rather foolish.
  • The Death Star Turrets in Star Wars: A New Hope.
    • Which didn't work, since the Turbolaser batteries were intended for capital (Star-Destroyer caliber) starships, not one-man fighters. Plan B? TIE Fighter squadrons.
    • And then in The Empire Strikes Back, Hoth base has an anti-orbital ion cannon.
  • The Mechs in The Matrix sequels.
  • A major drive in Charlie Wilson's War is the need to find a weapon the Afghans can use to shoot down Soviet Hind gunships, which are armoured against anything up to .50 calibre. The venerable Oerlikon 20mm cannon is mentioned as a possibility, but dismissed because the Soviets will just switch to flying higher-altitude missions, above its effective ceiling. The key turns out to be the Stinger AA missile, though the CIA weapons expert also points out that a lot of other hardware is needed to make the Afghan fighters effective - including advanced communications gear so "they won't be so fucking easy to find".
  • Red Dawn (1984) has both the Russians and the Wolverines trying to invoke this trope against attacking helicopters. In the beginning of the film, we see a US Army Huey strafing the Russian forces (and exacting a Gunship Rescue for the heroes at one point), while the climax of the film shows the heroes take a desperate shot at a Soviet chopper with a rocket propelled grenade, hit it... and barely cause any damage at all.
    • Actually, the shot against the Soviet chopper was a perfect center-mass shot that went through an open hatch on the helicopter. The round would have continued going if it hadn't hit a crewmember.
  • Comes into play at two points in Thirteen Days.
    • First when the Navy begins making low-altitude photo recon passes over Cuba. Because they were trying to avert a war, rather than admit the Russians shot at them, the planes come back riddled with "birdstrikes."
    • The second instance is when Major Anderson is shot down.
  • Congo: the expedition is attempting to fly over a closed border only for army units to start firing at them with shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles. After using Flare Guns to divert some, they skydive out of the plane before a missile locks on to them.
  • Severance (2006): Played for Black Comedy when a weapons merchant fires a missile at attacking soldiers, only for the missile to arc up into the air and shoot down a passing airliner. Oops!
  • The Peacemaker has the protagonists violate Russian airspace while chasing stolen nuclear weapons. The local Russian air defense forces do not take it lightly, and destroy one of the helicopters.

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Targaryen dragons are an almost irresistible weapon, because there are so few defenses against them. Most of the dragons that are killed in the series either die in a fight with other dragons, or are ambushed and killed on the ground. Still, at least one dragon was successfully killed in the air, using massed scorpion fire.
  • In the Biggles series, Biggles, like many other WW1 aviators is contemptuous of ill-aimed and random ground fire ("Archie" to pilots of the day) and largely ignores it. Which doesn't mean he isn't shocked on the one-in-a-thousand chance when he sees it bring down a plane. At one point, shot down and forced into the trenches for refuge, he leads an informal class in how infantrymen can shoot down German planes with the issue machine-gun - reminding them to account for deflection and to always aim ahead. He proves his point by knocking down a strafing German biplane. Later on, he is victim of a fluke when a single bullet, fired from the ground, knocks out his engine. He glides his plane to a landing wondering, bitterly, how unlucky you can get to be.
  • Ecotopia. When the fledgling title country was invaded by the U.S., its armed forces used missiles that deployed streamers to tangle up the blades of attacking U.S. helicopters. Which would work about as well as a chocolate flamethrower, but hey.
  • Flight of the Intruder centers on a Navy attack pilot during the Vietnam War, and the various flavors of threats to their aircraft (and their various methods of dealing with them) is a constant underlying theme of the book. Through the course of the book, they have to deal with everything from radar-guided Surface to Air Missiles to fighter interceptors to a farmer firing blindly into the night sky with his rifle. Three named characters die without warning due to lucky shots by the enemy, and another dies as a result of a duel with an enemy Anti Air battery.
  • In the James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever, Bond uses a Bofors anti-aircraft gun to shoot down Jack Spang's helicopter.
  • In the aviation novels of Derek Robinson, his WW1 pilots are equally dismissive of ground flak. Until one pilot flies right into a shell that turns his plane into a cloud of small fragments.
  • In the Ryanverse novel The Cardinal of the Kremlin, one of the characters is an Afghan who excels in using the FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher to shoot down Russian helicopters. He also averts the Crippling Overspecialization at the end by using the heat-seeking warhead to lock on to and destroy Russian guard towers with electric heaters in them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • In near-future military thriller Victoria, various American states begin to secede as the economy tanks and the federal government lapses into totalitarian tyranny. Initially, they face very uneven odds; the protagonists in the New England breakaway state are particularly light on air defenses, with the Feds dominating the air. It becomes a plot point when a lucky soldier with a MANPAD manages to shoot down an overconfident Navy F-35 that went in too low and slow.
  • The Temeraire series is an alternate-history version of the Napoleonic Wars that gives the various players aerial corps populated with intelligent talking dragons trained for combat and aerial defense, which happens to be the only role dragons can have in Europe. However, the smaller dragons can still go down to cannonballs like anything else, and pepper guns, which literally shoot ground peppercorns at dragons to irritate their eyes and airways, are common on warships and are an essential part of any anti-dragon compliment. One advocate for dragon rights fights so fiercely for dragons to work outside the military or without riders because she has seen the advancement of technology in firearms and the invention of pepper guns. She posits that there will come a day when a weapon will come about that can kill even the biggest dragons, crew and all, Breath Weapon or no, in a single strike mid-flight, and then where will that leave dragons?
  • In Honour Bound by Gerald Seymour involves a British SAS man going into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan to shoot down a Hind gunship so its secrets can be photographed and brought back for British intelligence. Given that he's using an obsolete Redeye missile launcher (for Plausible Deniability) with only eight missiles, and is up against the most feared helicopter gunship of the day, this is not easy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5
    • Earth Alliance has the Interceptors, energy weapons with two uses: the first is to intercept enemy fire (hence the name), the other is shooting down enemy fighters. And without enemy ships to distract them, the Interceptors will mow down enemy fighters with little effort: the one time a group of raiders attacked the titular station, their fighters survived less than ten seconds after Sinclair realized their mothership was unarmed and had the station's antiquated Interceptors repurposed.
    • Pretty much any race has particle weapons for both jobs (indeed, the Interceptors are notable because they're better than Earth Alliance tech level should allow and have a low-level shield as a bonus, and EA complements them with more powerful weapons that are almost as good). The exception are the Hyach, who use lasers as anti-air and a different system against enemy incoming fire, and some races that use matter weapons (projectile-based) for the job, either for preference (the Orieni. Their gatling railguns are frighteningly effective against fighters and missiles) or because they are technologically primitive.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Empty Child", Rose accidentally hitches a lift on a barrage balloon, which were used during World War II to snag low-flying aircraft with their cables.
  • In the later seasons of Game of Thrones, we see two dragons taken down in the air. One was by a javelin thrown by a White Walker (therefore presumably magical), and the other with massed scorpion fire. The latter was the more conventional anti-air weapon, but that case turned out to be a lucky shot, as Drogon proved able to easily avoid those weapons in the subsequent battle.
  • JAG:
    • In the pilot movie we see Soviet-made AA guns used by the Serbs against U.S. Navy F-14s, and they almost take the CAG out, if it were not for his resourceful passenger.
    • Also part of the backstory of Harm's dad: he was shot down by AA during The Vietnam War (Christmas Eve 1969).
    • "Brig Break" begins with a JAG investigation concerning a missing Stinger missile before the titular brig break occurs. The missing Stinger launcher is used on a Sea Stallion helicopter pursuing the villains. But it was sabotaged so the warhead didn't go off.
  • Stinger missiles are widely used by the Tau'ri in the Stargate-verse against enemy fighters. By Stargate Universe, they've added 200-round-per-minute railgun artillery to the mix.
    • In Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill once used a Colt M203 Grenade Launcher to shoot down a Death Glider.
    • The Tollans defend their homeworld with a grid of ion cannons, each capable of taking out a Goa'uld mothership by itself. Until Anubis arrives and upgrades their shields to the point where said cannons no longer work.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions supplement Gadgets!.
    • The Flight Neutralizer Gun took various forms depending on what type of flight was to be targeted. A net gun would tangle up wings, the "Gumball Special" plugged up jetpacks, heavy gravity models brought flyers down to earth, and an energy neutralizer stopped those who flew by an act of will.
    • The "Puff" ground to air missile deployed Kevlar streamers which snagged and fouled the propellers of prop-driven aircraft. Probably inspired by the Ecotopia example in Literature.
  • The "Theater Air Defense" unit in GURPS: Mass Combat has a strength of 50000 at TL 7 which makes it the most powerful unit in the game, capable of neutralizing the massively powerful Flying Battleship and and entire airforce at the same time.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, since the introduction of airplanes in the core rules of sixth edition anti-aircraft weapons have become much more common. Every army has at least a few options, except for the Tyranids. By standard, such weapons do not receive penalties for firing on aircraft, but have a hard time hitting anything else.
    • The Imperial Guard Hydra, pictured above, mounts several autocannons and is one of the most cost-effective anti-aircraft units around. They also have Saber platforms, which are cheaper and can be deployed as part of infantry platoons, but aren't as tough and can't move.
    • The Space Marines' new Codex introduces the Hunter, which fires a Super-Persistent Missile, and the Stalker, the Beam Spam version of the Hydra. They also have access to the Contemptor Mortis Dreadnaught and Devastators with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus Onager Dunecrawler can mount a main weapon appropriately named the Icarus Array, which fires bullets, missiles, and rockets at enemy aircraft.
    • The Eldar field War Walkers with surface to air missiles and the Firestorm grav-tank as their primary surface-to-air weapons.
    • The Tau can stick anti-aircraft targeting onto any Battlesuits, which leads to a fair bit of surface-to-air missile fire.
    • Chaos Space Marines tend to rely on air to air combat instead, though Forgefiends in their autocannon configuration produce enough high Strength dakka to be passable as anti-air units, and Havocs with flak missile launchers are also useful.
    • It is worth pointing out however that dedicated anti-air units and the flyers they counter have both entered a sort of mutually assured destruction scenario. If you bring a flyer and your opponent brings anti-air then you're in serious trouble, but if you don't bring a flyer then s/he has wasted valuable points on a useless weapon. As a result, hardly anybody uses them.
      • Though several of them are seeing use as general anti-infantry weapons, as the sheer volume of fire which some posess can make up for abysmal accuracy.
  • BattleTech features a few weapons with the explicit "Flak" special ability — a -2 to-hit bonus against airborne targets. The classic example are LB-X autocannons firing their special "shotgun" cluster rounds, although in recent years the Clans' hyper-assault Gauss rifles have joined the fray and dedicated flak ammunition for standard autocannons has been retconned into having always existed as well. In addition, engaging specifically fighters from the ground calls for rather different traits in a weapon than attacking ground targets; damage inflicted is nearly irrelevant under tournament rules because any hit in an atmosphere already forces the aircraft to make a control roll with the consequences of failure being a sudden loss of altitude and possible crash, while range is paramount because altitude does rapidly add to effective engagement range, rendering many shorter-ranged stock weapons largely or even completely ineffective. As a result, it's generally acknowledged that exactly the low-caliber autocannons that are frequently belittled in ground combat for their abysmal damage-to-weight ratio are among the best weapons to have on hand when the aerojocks come calling. The game also has the "Anti-Aircraft Targeting" quirk, which grants a bonus to attacks against airborne enemies. The Rifleman, Jaegermech, and Partisan Air-Defense Tank are all purpose-built for anti-aircraft work and have both the quirk and medium-sized autocannons for swatting down anything that tries flying over the battlefield.

  • BIONICLE: the Venom Flyer's Rhotuka prevents targets from flying, naturally or mechanically.

    Video Games 
  • An enemy staple in Ace Combat, coming in several varieties such as machine guns, SAMs and the occasional flak cannon or laser. AA guns are a very mild incenvenience at worse provided the plane isn't on it's last legs, SAMs can spell doom on high difficulties. Some games make them actually dangerous by giving them perfect accuracy if the player flies too high or not under clouds, making them invisible to radar (but not invincible; keen-eyed players can still destroy them by aiming at the source of the bullet trail or the contrails) or making them reachable only from a certain angle.
  • Witches in Dungeon Fighter Online can both jump three times AND dash through the air, and since no other class can do this, witches can be a real pain to fight (at least until they got nerfed). The only real effective class against witches are melee Exorcists. As they swing their axe or scythe, the weapon is so big, that when swung upwards for an uppercut, they can easily knock out midair witches (unless they are at the very peak of their jump, or used leap, etc.), much to their fear. As a side note, melee Exorcists won't flinch in the middle of the majority of their attacks, so Exorcists are as hard to approach as Witches are hard to chase.
  • Digital Combat Simulator features SAM sites and Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Fortunately, thanks in part to Artificial Stupidity, the SAMs keep their targeting radars on all the time, allowing them to be taken out completely with anti-radiation missiles.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has the Huitzilopitchli and Partisan anti-air tanks. They spew out hilarious amounts of ammunition at anything that flies, and are surprisingly effective against battlearmor. The Rifleman battlemech is an anti-air battlemech - it's overall less powerful than the tanks, but is faster and has a much more stable firing platform which can peak over hills. Some regular assets mounting the LB-X shotguns or a Heavy Gauss Rifle can deal crazy amounts of damage to dive-bombing aircraft, but most lack the necessary max pitch to be able to hit the high-altitude aircraft.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves has a mission during the final level where the player is tasked with eliminating the Big Bad's anti-air defenses which consist of automated missile turrets.
  • Master of Magic has the "Web" spell in the Nature Magic category, which momentarily immobilizes pretty much any unit. When used against flying enemies, even once they chop their way free of the web strands and can move again, web remnants prevent them from flying again, and they are ground-bound for the rest of the combat.
  • Standard to any Tower Defense is the Anti-Air tower, which rapidly destroys air units — but only air units.
  • Most RTSes with ground and air defense as separate buildings use the same principle: Anti-Air does more damage than a tower, and may have other effects such as splash damage, rapid fire. But AA units provide no defense against ground units.
  • Plants vs. Zombies partially avoids the above. The Cactus, which can shoot down Balloon Zombies, can still damage ground units as well. The Cattail can hit any zombie anywhere in the field, airborne or not. Only the Blover is highly specialized to deal with air units, and it still has the secondary effect of temporarily removing mist.
    • But in a strange twist, the Blover's overspecialization actually cripples the CACTUS too. Balloon Zombies are so rare that it is usually not worth planting a Cactus in each lane to guarantee that you pop their balloons. Blovers are less cost efficient, but you can plant Repeaters or something else with more firepower/other uses instead of the Cactus to use the spaces more efficiently instead. Not to mention that you need five Cacti to be sure that you don't let anything through which costs 125 sun more compared to just planting Peashooters there instead (for the same firepower but no anti-air capabilities). A Blover, on the other hand, costs 100 sun. So if you only see one wave of Balloon Zombies, the Blover becomes more cost efficient too! Besides, sometimes you just can't afford the extra time it takes to kill one more zombie, so you're really happy that you can instantly kill them with a Blover instead of just grounding them.
    • In the sequel, the Kernapult can instantly kill Seagull Zombies if they lob butter at it. The Blover returns and can instantly kill Seagull Zombies, Jetpack and Disco Jetpack Zombies, Dodo Rider Zombies (when airborne), and Bug Zombies. The Hurrikale functions similarly to the Blover except it affects Zombies on the lane it was planted on.
  • Averted in Blitzkrieg; if there are none of those pesky Messerschmitts around, the AA guns will be just as happy to blast themselves some panzers instead.
  • Project Reality has anti-aircraft guns on many of the maps, and even has a class just for this role, toting a shoulder-launched SAM (Surface to Air Missile) such as the American-made FIM-92 Stinger or the Russian-made SA-7 Grail.
  • Halo:
    • The Covenant have the Anti-Air Wraith. However, it only fires the slow-moving fuel rod bolts, which generally are useless against player-piloted aircraft. As the wiki itself states, most player deaths caused by AA Wraiths are due to the pilot's stupidity.
    • The Covenant also have the Mantis and the Tyrant, both stationary anti-air plasma cannons, with the Tyrant being the heavier of the two. They're a lot more effective at their job than the AA Wraith. The player is tasked with destroying a handful of them in Halo: Reach.
    • Reach also introduces the AA Shade turret, a variant of the common Shade that's been in the Covenant's arsenal since the first game, but varies in that the gunner seat is completely shielded and it fires plasma rounds that detonate after a certain distance. The only time they're encountered is when the player is on board a Falcon utility helicopter, the weapons of which can destroy the Shade from well outside the turret's maximum range.
    • UNSC rocket/missile launchers can often lock onto enemy vehicles... including aircraft.
    • Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2 add the UNSC Wolverine and the Banished Reaver, both of which are primarily armed with anti-air rockets/missiles.
  • Franchise/{{Pokémon}}:
    • The move Gravity nullifies a Flying-type's immunity to Ground-type attacks, as well as the effects of Magnet Rise and Telekinesis.
    • The Iron Ball item grounds the holder.
    • The move Roost is a self-inflicted Anti Air move that nullifies the user's Flying-type for a turn in return for HP recovery. The move Ingrain makes the user susceptible to Ground moves, regardless if it is a Flying-type, has the Levitate ability, or has used Magnet Rise or Telekinesis.
    • Stealth Rock does extra damage to Flying-type Pokémon, among other types.
    • Twister, Sky Uppercut, Gust, and Thunder do double damage to a Pokémon that's taken to the air. In addition, a new move called Smack Down involves throwing a rock at the opponent, which knocks flyers to the ground. It's funny having all your Pokemon use it at once in a 3-on-3 battle.
    • Anti-air techniques are so strong in Pokémon that Flying-types are rarely seen in competitive play, although the ability Levitate is seen frequently as it's not subject to the same anti-air rules as the Flying type.
    • Zygarde's Secret Art Thousand Arrows is a Ground-type move that hits airborne enemies and grounds them. To date, it's the only Ground-type attack that can damage Flying-types and Pokémon with Levitate without prior setup.
  • Advance Wars Anti-Air units (creatively called Anti-Airs) are essentially rapid-fire heavy machine guns on tracks. Not only are they devastating against air units, but against infantry and light vehicles as well. Against tanks however, they are rubbish and they cannot even attack ships. The Missile Launcher, meanwhile, is anti-air artillery capable of attacking aircraft up to five squares away. Being a SAM launcher it cannot attack non-aircraft at all. Days of Ruin increases their range to up to six squares away.
    • Aircraft Carriers in Advance Wars: Dual Strike and Days of Ruin can only attack air units. In Dual Strike, they are absurdly powerful indirects that can attack aircraft from up to eight spaces away but in Days of Ruin, they are direct units with a weak attack.
  • In Gadget Trial, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery unit is the only surface (non-air) unit that can engage air units. It's usually a one hit kill, but it's also slow, poorly armored, cannot fire after moving, and incapable of hitting anything else, and unlike in Nintendo Wars, air units can take advantage of terrain defense bonuses, so for air defense, the player is advised to stick to fighters.
  • Fire Emblem: Bows and wind magic are effective against winged enemies such as Pegasus and Wyvern units, and even Draco Zombies in The Sacred Stones.
  • Final Fantasy series
    • Aero spells, which are quite effective against flying enemies.
    • Wakka from Final Fantasy X specializes in striking airborne enemies with his basic physical attack. Other characters suffer a drop in accuracy against flying foes.
    • Final Fantasy XII; any large flying creatures can only be hit by using a projectile weapon, ie. bow, gun, or certain Techniks, like Telekinesis.
    • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, the Gravity spell grounds flying enemies so the player can attack them. Without it, flying enemies rarely suffer anything more than Scratch Damage from player attacks.
    • Some enemies have a skill called "100 G", which removes the Float status from all characters. (Fridge Logic: Shouldn't they be, like, Squashed Flat?)
  • Battlefield 2 features surface to air missile turrets on some maps as well as mobile anti-aircraft vehicles such as the American M6 Linebacker and the Russian 2S6M Tunguska. The USS Essex amphibious assault ship on some maps is also equipped with a Phalanx CIWS and Sea Sparrow missile system that can be operated by the player.
    • 2142 had the AA turrets that fired EMP missiles and some sort of plasma flak cannon. There was also a portal AA weapon, but it wasn't very useful, and a player was better off just using the stock rocket launcher against an air vehicle that flew too close to the ground.
    • Its sequel Battlefield 3 had these as well.
      • Certain maps had Phalanxes/Pantsirs that were meant mostly to dissuade enemy aircraft from camping the vehicle spawn points.
      • And then there was the Russian 9K22 Tunguska. Although referred to as Anti-Air, its four barrels, inhumane fire rate, excellent accuracy, and ability to fire at ground level meant it was more of Anti-Everything. Before the well-needed nerf, it was common to see Tunguska players with kills in the hundreds. Now, regular infantry can survive its barrages longer than an armored helicopter can, though it is still terrifying against said aircraft.
      • Other heavy vehicles in the game, however, such as Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Gunboats will beat the AA gun to a pulp, unless it uses Zuni Rockets in Battlefield 4.
  • StarCraft: the Terran Marine, Zerg Hydralisk and the Protoss Dragon can all attack air units. The Terran Missile Turret and Zerg Spore Colony are exclusively anti-air structures, while the Protoss photon cannon can hit both air and ground units. The Terran Goliath is a specialised anti-air unit with a much weaker ground attack. The expansion Brood War gave each race a new flying anti-air only unit: Terrans get the Valkyrie, a ship with a splash-damage attack; the Protoss got the Corsair, which relies on Beam Spam, and the Zerg got the Devourer, which uses a corrosive attack that slows attack and movement speed and reduces armor, which splashes and can be stacked.
  • Starcraft II also gives each race a flying AA unit: the Terrans get Vikings, which can switch between being anti-air-only fliers or anti-ground-only ground units at willnote . The Protoss get Phoenixes, which are essentially upgraded Corsairs with the ability to suspend ground units in the air temporarily, allowing other AA units to attack them. Finally, the Zerg get Corruptors, similar to Devourers except that their ability only increases the enemy's damage taken, is used separately rather than as an effect added to the basic attack, and doesn't splash or stack. The Thor also has a devastating ground-to-air missile barrage attack, designed almost exclusively to take out groups of mutalisks.
  • Warcraft III:
    • Basic range units like the Night Elves' archers, the Orcs' Troll {{Javelin Thrower}s and the Humans' Dwarven Riflemen. They deal weak damage individually so a number of them is usually needed.
    • Most defense tower buildings outside of the specialized cannon tower of the Humans.
    • Humans have the Dragonhawk Rider's Aerial Shackles spell, which prevent the captured unit from moving or attacking while doing large amounts of damage all the while; their Steam Tanks can be upgraded to fire rockets at multiple flyers simultaneously, their Flying Machines can receive the ability to do splash damage to air units.
    • Undead' Crypt Fiends can shoot webs that force flyers to the ground so ground units (including the Crypt Fiend) can attack them, and the Gargoyle has a melee claw strike that deals considerably more damage against other airborne units than the beam attack they use against ground ones.
    • Orcs can use Raiders' nets to the same effect or use their Batriders' suicide attacks to deal large amounts of damage to multiple air units.
    • Night Elves can have their Hippogryph Riders dismount, turning a ranged air unit into a separate strong melee flyer and a ranged ground attacker in no time at all. Their entire army being based on multiple ranged units, flyers tend not to last very long against a volley of arrows. The Hippogryphs also deal huge melee damage in the air just like Gargoyles.
    • Heroes with range attacks. Some of their abilities/spells work too, such as the Mountain King's Storm Bolt (which stuns in addition to dealing huge damage).
    • Also, the elemental orbs are buffed in the Frozen Throne Expansion Pack to allow melee Hero Units to attack air units without having to resort to special abilities and spells.
  • Most ordinary combat units in Shattered Galaxy will usually have attacks dedicated to anti-air or anti-ground. There exist "versatile" units and weapons that can attack both, but they are generally considered to be unfit for either role, and therefore only good for beginners who have yet to learn the system.
  • World in Conflict has something in each role that can deal with targets in the air. Standard infantry squads carry a portable AA launcher, Support role has access to the best anti-air vehicles, and the Air role itself has helicopters with air-to-air missiles. True to the game's Rock–Paper–Scissors balance, the Ground role is the odd one out, with only one real AA-capable unit... and it'll still lose in a fair fight.
  • Command & Conquer usually follows the principle of having units and defense structures dedicated to either anti-ground or anti-air. That said:
    • This most frequently manifests as a Surface-to-Air Missile attack. Both sides in original Tiberian Dawn and Tiberian Sun have some kind of SAM structure.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Soviets love their Flak cannons.
    • Allied AEGIS cruisers in Red Alert 2 unleash a missile spam on air units, and only them. By comparison, GLA quad guns in Generals are as efficient on aircrafts as on infantry. As do the Chinese Gatling tank, which can actually shred infantry divisions with only a handful of them. Lastly, the US Patriot Missile systems can destroy large groups of any vehicle extremely fast. Which includes both aircraft and tanks. In Zero Hour they get the Avenger which shoots down air units with lasers.
    • In Renegade, it is well possible to use a tank to fire at air units when you manage to target well enough. This is in fact the only way to get certain EVA Database entries of airplanes, which are otherwise impossible to aquire.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the trend is subverted with the Allies and the Imperials, since the Allies use the Multigunner system and the Imperials use the VX system; both let the commander choose what the turret's going to attack by putting infantry in and out of the turret or changing the configuration of the turret, respectively.
      • It's also subverted by most units in the game, since the two-weapon system allows some units a choice between anti-air and anti-ground, for example, the Chopper-VX, which is normally an anti-ground chopper but can be switched to an anti-air walker at will. Similarly, the Sea-Wing/Sky-Wing is a submarine that can only fire on air units while in water, and can only fire on ground targets while flying.
      • This can lead to some interesting stalemates, where a Chopper-VX in walker form encounters an enemy anti-air unit, as the only way for it to attack a ground unit is in chopper form, but changing to chopper form will let the enemy unit return fire.
      • While the Soviets and Allies' anti-tank infantry can also target air units, the Imperials were cruelly bereft of them until the expansion, where the Archer Maidens finally give them a decent (if Glass Cannon) AA and anti-infantry T1 infantry unit (the Imperial commando Yuriko can one-shot air units, but she's a T3 unit).
      • The Allies' naval AA unit has a Secondary Fire mode that actually prevents the target from firing, and can be used against any target.
    • Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight nearly completely subverts the trope - because there's an entire Crawler class dedicated to air, most units now have the capability to strike air - the only exception, Cannon units.
  • Impossible Creatures has anti-air towers that unleash bolts of electricity on flying creatures. Given that flyers tend to have fairly low Hit Points and defense stats in the first place, they fall pretty quickly; however, these towers can't hurt land or water based units.
  • City of Heroes has many abilities that disable flight. A bit too many. Did you know getting hit with a slab of rock will prevent you from flying 20 seconds after impact? These were mostly added to balance PvP, but no one takes flight in PvP anyway because there are too many counters.
  • The Naval Ops games require you to mount anti-air weapons on your ships if you don't want to be blown to bits by swarms of enemy aircraft. SAMs can only target aircraft, but machine guns double as point defense weapons for taking down missiles and torpedos.
  • Operation Flashpoint appropriately features classic Real Life self-propelled AA artillery vehicles of its Cold War era setting : The ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" on the Soviet side and the M163 VADS "Vulcan" on the NATO side.
  • Joint Task Force has the SA-11 Russian SAM launcher. It can devastate flying targets at extreme ranges, but nothing else. You also have to capture it since it is not a NATO unit. On your side, you have the German Gepard Flakpanzer, which uses it's two 35mm autocannons to great effect against light vehicles, light armor, helicopters, CAS-planes and, of course, Infantry. Tanks and other vehicles can use their mounted Heavy Machine Guns against helicopters for minimal damage, and Helicopters themselves can use their cannons against other helicopters.
  • Flak towers and flak ships in DEADLOCK function as anti-air. Notably, everything else can attack aerial units, but only flak defense shuts them down entirely.
  • Just Cause 2 gives Rico access to Panuan military hardware, including anti-air flak guns which are hilariously useful against just about anything that happens to cross in front of them—infantry, helicopters, destroyable targets, all are handily shredded by the quad-barrel monstrosity.
  • Ground Control had missle-based AA terradynes for Crayven Corp and bullet-based AA hoverdynes for the Order of the New Dawn.
    • Similar to the Just Cause example above, the Order hoverdynes could hit buildings and ground units if they were on its line of fire even though they were not permitted to directly target these types of targets. Shredding is an accurate description to what happened to those buildings and (rarely) ground units hit by AA fire.
    • Actually the other way around. Dedicated Crayven AA terradynes fired a mass of projectiles while OND AA hoverdynes fired homing balls of lightning. Additionally, both sides had a support vehicle (missile terradyne and beam platform hoverdyne) that, while not quite as effective as the dedicated AA units, would make short work of enemy aerodynes and still could engage most ground targets.
  • Total Annihilation had missile units that could hit everything. They did pitiful damage, but they were only units that could track air units, which in turn had very low health. They ended up being spammed against ground targets anyway. The expansion pack added dedicated flak units that could only target aircraft, but destroyed them even more effectively.
  • Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds has extremely fragile AA Troopers, less fragile AA Mobiles, decently durable AA turrets, and psychotically resilient Fortresses for all your AA needs. (Fortresses can shoot pretty much anything, since they're also fitted with ground-based lasers.) The general rule of thumb is that if it shoots rockets, it kills flyers.
  • Heavy Weapon has the Homing Missiles, which only target aerial enemies and actually do quite a good amount of damage to them. Best used against weak flying Mooks that come with more dangerous land troops (e.g. fighter jets along with tanks).
  • All ranged units in Rise of Legends can attack aircraft, but the Alin's Eternal Flame structure constantly spits bolts of fire at aircraft, and the Alin's Heartseeker unit is especially effective against air units. The Vinci and Cuotl prefer to use their own fighters to counter other air units, especially the Cuotl's Storm Disk.
  • Supreme Commander has two levels of ground-based mobile anti-air units. With the exception of the Cybran T1 anti-air gun, none of these units can target anything on the ground. On the other hand, all those guns on naval units aren't just for show; most ships have at least some kind of AA defenses in addition to their big guns: autoguns, flak cannons, SAMs/nanodart launchers, etc. Cruisers have serious anti-air capabilities in addition to their surface-to-surface cruise missiles. And we haven't even got to the kind of AA firepower some experimentals carry...
  • Team Fortress 2: The Direct Hit and Reserve Shooter inflict mini critical hits on airborne targets depending on certain situations.
  • Skyrim: The Dragon Rend shout is probably the most evident example, being specifically designed to force dragons to land. However, other Shouts such as Storm Call and Marked for Death are also pretty effective against flying dragons as well: Storm Call will indiscriminately target any non-player entity within a given area, while Marked for Death will severely weaken the armour of anything it hits. Lightning-based Destruction spells are also good for the task too, due to the fact that they are insta-hit.
  • The Modern Warfare games in the Call of Duty series feature the Stinger Missile Launcher - it can't hurt other players, but it's very effective at shooting down airborne threats. You can make it even more effective by using perks that prevent airborne threats from shooting you.
  • Every faction in Company of Heroes gets access to some form of anti-aircraft weaponry, but since the only aircraft in the game are in the form of doctrine-specific Support Powers they're employed more for their ability to shred infantry and light vehicles.
  • Resident Evil 6: In the connected parts of Chris, Piers, Sherry, and Jake's campaign has the BSAA needing to take out anti-aircraft guns before they can call an airstrike on an Ogroman.
  • Half-Life 2 gives Gordon Freeman a laser-guided missile launcher that is quite good at taking down Combine gunships.
  • A few missions in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 3 involve you taking down enemy AA towers on foot so you can get some support from your Cool Starship (being a frigate, it couldn't accurate lay down orbital bombardment and couldn't provide atmospheric support without being shot down by the guns). Static AA defenses range from railguns to lasers, and are very effective at their jobs.
    • There's also anti-space guns. They get referenced a few times in 1 and 2, and we finally see an example of an anti-space battery in 3; it's a small building housing three massive 100 meter long railguns that can accurately hit ships thousands of kilometers away, and take out even the most advanced ships in the galaxy in only a few shots. Granted, they have slower firing rates than ships and no defenses, but they're still good cheap glass cannon defenses. Any attacking force will lose a lot of cruisers if they try to slug it out with the guns, forcing them to either take the losses or send in large amounts of commandos. That said, dreadnoughts, with their extremely long ranges of tens of thousands of kilometers, can pretty much ignore the guns, though actually bombarding a planet with a dreadnought is equivalent to nuking your enemies in our universe. Probably because a single slug from a dreadnought impacts with three times the force of the Hiroshima bomb and a dreadnought can fire one out every two seconds with near Infinite Ammo. Not many factions have dreadnoughts, though not have such powerful defenses either.
  • BioForge: At one point, the protagonist must shoot down a dropship at close quarters using a large turret gun in the complex's tower.
  • Carriers in the X-Universe series are capable of mounting massed anti-fighter weapons, such as the Starburst Shockwave Cannon, Flak Artillery Array, or the Phased Shockwave Generator, all of which slaughter any fighter dumb enough to get close with extremely fast, high-explosive splash damage bolts. Destroyers and frigates typically have to make-do with flak coverage only on their topside and bottom.
  • Planetary Annihilation has Missile Turrets that attack land and air units and the more beefier Flak Turret that only targets air but is extremely efficient at it. Also for each of the unit types there is one that deals with air, you'll need a few of those in each army to prevent being bombed.
  • Archers and magic units in Genjuu Ryodan can two-shot most air units. It helps that most of them do not receive defensive bonuses from terrain.
  • Nectaris has the Seeker AAG-4, a sort of light tank designed to be more effective against aircraft than against ground units, the Hawkeye M-107, a dedicated anti-aircraft artillery unit with formidable power and range, and the Falcon FX-1, a plane that can only attack other planes.
  • Terraria:
    • There's an enemy that's like this towards the player. The Crawltipedes that appear when fighting the Solar Pillar will ignore any grounded player, but if a player takes to the air, they will home in on said player very quickly and deal an incredible amount of constant Collision Damage.
    • The Aerial Bane is specifically designed for this: It fires a spread of explosive arrows that deal increased damage to airborne enemies.
  • In PlanetSide 2, players have many choices in anti-air weaponry, but most are pretty terrible even for their designed purpose. Most take the form of Flak (the mediocre Skyguard tank cannon and Powered Armor Burster cannons, terrible Phalanx base turret, and godawful Ranger vehicle turret), handheld rocket launchers (Annihilator, Swarm, and the Terran Republic-exclusive Striker), or pure dakka (Walker). In practice, the best AA weapon is the Walker courtesy of its monstrous 1 kilometer/second velocity, unerring accuracy and great damage paired with a deceptively weak impact noise for the enemy pilot. Back when the Prowler tank's Anchored Mode provided a whopping 60% increase in cannon velocity, Prowler drivers would prop the tank up on hills and use the armor-piercing cannon to shoot down aircraft.
  • Clash Of Clans has the Air Defense and Air Sweeper towers along with the Air mines that are suited to deal with the flying units such as Balloons, Dragons, and Healers.
  • Wargame: Red Dragon and its predecessors have a variety of missile and gun AA on their ground units, ships, other aircraft, and even infantry. The weapons differentiate themselves by a number of factors, but mostly what kind of targeting system they use: Infrared, Radar, or Optical. They vary hugely in effectiveness, from the laughable Blowpipe missile to the terrifying Phoenix missile. Also notable in that AA guns rip infantry apart faster than anything but napalm, while AA missiles can't target ground units at all, but if a shot misses and hits the enemy below it, they explode. Truth in Television, too, as anybody who has seen a late-series Tunguska could tell you.
  • Empire Earth: Aircraft are divided into two categories: helicopters and balloons, which can be shot down by infantry in addition to anti-air, and planes, which can only be taken down by other planes or anti-air. There's only one dedicated ground Anti Air unit, which is only really effective in large groups, and is later upgraded to a mobile missile launcher. One of the most effective is the Partisan unit, which can shoot at anything short of space units (and due to the way the game works, they can shoot down satellites), is available one era before planes as a Curb-Stomp Cushion, and can move through trees.
  • In Monster Hunter, the most reliable way to ground a flying monster is to throw a Flash Bomb in front of their face, sending them crashing back down to the ground due to losing control of their body, including their wings, and helplessly writhing for several seconds. However, a few monsters seem to have adapted to this trick: the Dreadking Rathalos in Monster Hunter Generations can get stunned but they won't fall out of the air, and a post-release patch for Monster Hunter: World makes Tempered monsters resistant to Flash Pods after being affected enough times.
  • In FTL: Advanced Editon, sometimes battles that take place in orbit around a planet will have a hazard known as Anti-Ship Batteries. These planet-side cannons will fire up at either your ship or the enemy's (but yours more frequently) and while a lot of the shots they fire will miss (since the cannons are on the ground hundreds or thousands of kilometers below you), when they do hit, they will ignore any shields on the target (even supershields) and inflict a lot of hull damage (if it hits yours, it's 10% of your hull meter).
  • Transformers (2004) features the tiny purple Minicon Airburst, whose special ability is turning into a flak cannon capable of one-shotting any common aerial enemy, such as the annoying Jet Snipers, with ease.
  • Ancient Empires has archers do additional damage towards wyverns (dragons in the sequel), the only flying unit. Combined with their ranged attack and much cheaper cost, they serve as an effective countermeasure to what is otherwise the most powerful unit in the game.
  • Muv-Luv: Laser-class BETA in Unlimited and Alternative. They have their limitations—as strictly line-of-sight weapons, they're foiled by terrain relatively easily, and they're helpless at close range—but they're tremendously destructive to aircraft or any TSF that flies too high, making traditional air support methods suicidal. They're also noted to be extremely good at defending against artillery, with artillery units attempting counter-battery fire frequently running out of ammunition before making a dent in the Laser-classes' numbers.
  • At one point in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus needs to call in her gunship to destroy a particular target. It turns out that the target is protected by AA defenses, forcing her to find and disable them on foot.
  • Hearts of Iron: Being a franchise of historical grand strategy games set in the era of World War 2, it naturally has various anti-air options just like in real life: There's anti-air artillery, tank variations, ship variations, and static anti-air defenses. There's also the fighter-type airplanes that specialize in attacking other aircraft. Some of the ministers that can be hired to your cabinet also provide additional bonuses to anti-air weapons.
  • The Grineer settlements on Mars in Warframe are equipped with giant cannons aimed skywards that fire at something, probably some ships of the Corpus they are at war with.
  • In the 7th Dragon series, attacks that are classified as "Aerial" inflict extra damage to airborne enemies.
  • Infinitode: Air towers are designed to kill Air and Jet enemies only. They excel at it with their overall high stats, though.
  • One of the subweapons available in Centipede (1998) is a red rocket that launches into the air and homes in on airborne enemies.
  • The KPA in Crysis make use of AA turrets during the US invasion of the Lingshan Islands. Nomad has to destroy three of them before the bulk of US forces can land.

  • Girl Genius: The Torchmen of Mechanicsburg are the formidable city's primary air defense system, and are widely feared throughout Europa. Prior to the Castle's near destruction, old airshipmen had a bit of poem they all memorized which demonstrates that just the threat of the Torchmen was enough to keep everyone who didn't have a death wish out of Mechanicsburg airspace. This despite the ubiquitous nature of military airships in the setting.
    Kraddok: "If you'd live to see the end of day, from Mechanicsburg two leagues stay."
    Airman: That's a lousy poem.
    Kraddok: Oh yeah. Effective, though.
    Airman: Two leagues, uh... whose leagues? And what's that in kilometers?
    Kraddok: How the freefalling hell would I know!? WE JUST STAYED AWAY FROM THE PLACE!

    Western Animation 
  • TV of Tomorrow: One of the TV sets showcased in this short has a built-in set of anti-aircraft guns that deploy automatically and blow any airplanes flying over the house (disrupting the TV signal) right out of the sky. The short also shows how Awesome, but Impractical this device is when the camera moves to a side and shows the multiple crashed airplanes littering the house's living room.

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, the bulk of anti-aircraft weapons are specially designed for the role. Weapons designed to attack ground targets are often much less effective. For example, the sights on most firearms are not meant for firing into zenith — ballistics is tricky science. Throw in the fact that airplanes are rapidly moving targets, and it is obvious that the weapon will need a fancy targeting system, relatively high rates of fire, high muzzle velocity, and a special mount to fire at steep angles. As a result, anti-air weapons are specialized and expensive. As such, it makes sense to use them in their intended capacity first and in all other capacities only as a last ditch effort.
    • That said, during the Second World War, AA guns of all types were successfully repurposed as ground weapons. In the case of larger, heavy anti-aircraft guns, it was found that their high muzzle velocity and heavy shell weights allowed them to punch through armour that earlier, specially-designed anti-tank guns (which were easier to handle but less powerful) could not penetrate. The German 88mm gun is the most famous example of this, in large part because its mountings actually made it a lot easier to use in this capacity, and because of its effectiveness against the heavy frontal armor of the British Churchill and Matilda II in North Africa and the Soviet KV-1 in the Eastern Front, all of which were generally impervious to other German anti-tank guns that were in use. This led to the development of the Tiger heavy tank, which mounted its own 88mm gun (though not one that was compatible with the anti-aircraft gun, contrary to popular belief). Similarly, light anti-aircraft autocannons, with their high muzzle velocities, rapid rates of fire, and ability to fire a variety of different projectiles, proved to be particularly effective against a wide range of ground targets.
    • On one recorded occasion in January 1945, a low-flying Me 109 fighter was shot down by an M10 tank destroyer of the US Army. It helped that the M10 was a tank-like vehicle mounting a repurposed 3 inch A/A gun. On this occasion it was laid and aimed by a soldier who in civilian life had been an accomplished hunter, and who knew to shoot ahead of the target to bring down a bird in flight. He waited for the horizon-skimming fighter to get just where he wanted it in relation to the tank, and treated his 3" gun as if it were a very large hunting rifle...
    • Towards the end of the war, the British army realised it was massively over-stocked with anti-aircraft guns it just did not need, because the collapse of the Luftwaffe had been so quick and complete. Much to their consternation and annoyance, anti-aircraft gunners who thought they were relatively safe were redeployed as infantry to replace losses. Many AA weapons were re-allocated as light artillery and were used to crushing effect to augment artillery barrages, most decisively during the Rhine crossings, where everything in the British artillery inventory was methodically sited and its firing times were synchronised so that all shells of all calibres landed, without warning, on German positions simultaneously.
    • Additionally, while an individual rifleman poses little threat to aircraft, large numbers of infantry can damage low flying aircraft. For instance, at least three Argentinean jets were shot down in the Falklands by concerted small-arms fire alone. Furthermore, even minor damage can require hours of maintenance and checks to ensure the plane is airworthy. The Soviets were noted to take this to extremes during WWII, with everything from submachine guns to light mortars being fired in the direction of attacking aircraft.
    • It was noted that even well into the 1980's (and in some circumstances maybe even today) that while modern jet aircraft might get to the target zone at supersonic speeds, they still had to slow down to speeds not much faster than a WW2 piston-engined fighter, to be able to bomb accurately. This made them extremely vulnerable to WW2 era defences against aircraft - such as concentrated ground-fire from small-arms weapons and machine guns. British defensive fire in the Falklands exploited this weakness. However, at least one RN ship was equipped with lock-on lasers used to blind incoming pilots on bombing runs - the ultra-modern alongside the old-fashioned.
    • Mobile ground-based anti-air platforms exist. The Germans created the "Möbelwagen" (Furniture van), mounting four 20mm cannon on a Panzer IV tank chassis. The Americans mounted the M61 Vulcan six-barreled cannon on an Armored Personnel Carrier platform. One of the most effective ever created was the Soviet ZSU-23-4 "Shilka", equipped with a tracking radar and four 23mm cannons, which absolutely shredded low-flying aircraft in Vietnam and the Middle East. While highly powerful and a massive threat to helicopters even today, their old and easily jammed radar systems and the emergence of armored ground attack aircraft like the American A-10 "Warthog" and Russian Su-25 "Frogfoot" which could withstand 23mm fire led to the creation of the Shilka's more advanced cousin, the 9K22 "Tunguska". This combines 30mm cannon with radar-guided missiles to form an effective combo that can engage a variety of targets, with the guns being brought to bear primarily on low-flying aircraft and combat helicopters, as well as ground targets if necessary.
    • Anti-aircraft artillery are not necessarily rapid firing machine guns. Once miniaturized radar systems were developed, it was possible to put proximity fuses in pretty much any cannon shell turning any fast-traversing high-angled, long-barrel, high velocity cannon into a potential AA device. The US and UK deployed many warships with 5" and 5.25" dual purpose guns, every bit at home with shooting down bombers and blowing up enemy warships. They also used huge batteries of 20mm, 40mm and, late in the war, 76mm automatic cannon to tear up kamikaze aircraft that came too close. Large caliber guns are still used today for an AA role.
    • The UK's 4.5 inch Mk 8 Mod. 1 gun fitted to the majority of their frigates and destroyers is able to operate in a proximity fused mode, along with predictive radar aiming in order to act as a rather mean flak cannon. Especially when you consider that it is an auto loading cannon, capable of firing a shell every two seconds.
    • The French firm GIAT builds a 100mm anti-air naval gun useful also for anti-ship combat and ground shelling used by various navies, and the Italian consortium Otobreda manufactures and sells the 127mm Compatto multipurpose gun (soon to be replaced with the similar but lighter 127 LW) and a 76mm gun whose two versions (Compatto, being more compact than the weapon it replaced, and the newer Super Rapid) are in use by 53 navies.
      • Otobreda loving the dual-purpose Super Rapido, they managed to put it on a tank chassis, obtaining the Otomatic, capable of both supporting ground troops with light artillery and shooting down choppers at 6 km, 2 km beyond the range of the helicopters' own anti-tank missiles. While this failed to sell, Otobreda tried again in 2010 with the help of the IVECO firm and created the Draco, that has the same gun (with better munitions) on the more mobile chassis of the Centauro tank destroyer.
    • And in Russia as well - the Russian AKM-130 is a 130mm automatic cannon that is used for both anti-ship and anti-air combat, and fires at up to 80 rounds a minute.
    • The Japanese had the "Beehive" round, a shell designed to turn the main guns of the battleship Yamato into the world's largest anti-aircraft shotgun. Such a big gun turned out to be impossible to aim fast enough, making it Awesome, but Impractical. The Germans had a massive anti-aircraft shell of their own for the main guns of the battleship Tirpitz, which succeeded in disrupting an incoming wave of Lancaster bombers but was, unsurprisingly, of very little utility in the end.
    • Such guns were effective in the past but are very much a last resort weapon by now against modern fast movers (be them aircraft or sea-skimming missiles). And that's why Otobreda developed the STRALES maneuverable projectiles for its 76mm guns. The upgraded guns with the STRALES system basically fire miniature radar-homing missiles, and are expected to take down multiple enemy anti-ship missiles with a short burst to each.
  • While fixed wing aircraft are usually fairly safe from anything not specifically designed to attack aircraft, it should be noted that helicopters are not quite so fortunate. Being much lower and slower flying, they're under threat not only from dedicated anti air platforms, but also from other weapons systems. General purpose guided missiles can typically still target them, being designed not only with anti tank work but also with versatility in mind. The same goes for cannons and unguided rockets designed to take down tanks, though some luck is required with the targeting. If the helicopter flies close enough to them, even infantry armed with machine guns can pose a threat by scoring a lucky hit on a weak spot like the tail rotor.
    • Not to mention that many helicopters are designed to transport troops, dropping them off and picking them up directly on the battlefield, meaning that they often have to hover in close proximity to their enemies, if not outright land on a battlefield. There is a well-founded saying about how all aircraft become targets once they are on the ground.
  • Inversely, a rare few aircraft are equipped with repurposed anti-air guns with the intent that these aircraft play a fire support role. Go figure.
  • One of the most famous machine-gun examples from WW2 is the the M45 Quad mount, aka the Quad 50. It's 4 .50 cal machine guns mounted together, and was originally intended for anti-aircraft use. Three guesses as to how it earned the nicknames "Meatchopper" and "Krautmower", and the first two don't count.
  • The German equivalent was the 2 cm Flakvierling 38 used in the Möbelwagen: Four 20 mm machine cannons.
  • Various mounts have been produced utilizing the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon, most commonly associated with American fighter jets. Despite the use of radar-assisted targeting, they are of limited use against aircraft in an age of Roboteching munitions with ridiculous accuracy and a range measured in tens of miles. However, experience has shown that the vehicle-mounted Vulcan cannons are tremendously effective against just about any sort of ground vehicle short of a tank, due to the Vulcan's hitting power and impressive rate of fire.
  • In the modern era, the autocannons of the past have been if not entirely replaced at least supplemented by a variety of man-portable and mobile surface-to-air missile systems, most famously the American man-portable Stinger missile and the ground-based Russian S-75 Dvina missile used by North Vietnam. The modern Russian Igla man-portable SAM is available in huge numbers and has a seeker with the ability to distinguish thermal exhaust from countermeasures like flares.
  • If all else fails, try to snag the enemy with some cables strung between poles (preferably across any particularly tempting approaches for attackers, such as valleys or the tops of mountains or other high terrain near the target) or dangling from balloons floating over the target. This was primarily effective against enemy aircraft attempting to fly at tree-top level to avoid the worst of the anti-aircraft weapons and fighter cover. The presence of these cables would passively force the enemy aircraft to fly higher to avoid them, rendering them easier to target.
  • While many battleships built during and in the decade or two after World War I typically had limited ability to defend against air attacks, some WW2 battleships brimmed with anti-air firepower. Examples include the United States' North Carolina-, South Dakota-, and Iowa-class battleships. During one battle, an Admiral on an adjacent ship queried USS North Carolina asking if she was on fire because of the sheer volume of muzzle flashes from More Dakka the ship's AA guns were throwing up. In adition to them, the Japanese designed special AA ammo for the main guns of their battleships, that however were considered by US pilots as little more than pyrotechnic shows.
    • Further, many older battleships were extensively refitted to improve their Anti Air capability, to the point of tearing down and rebuilding everything above the main deck except for the main battery, in particular to provide more places to mount defensive guns. Their main weaknesses in this regard were that the WWI era super-dreadnoughts were slower and smaller than the newer fast battleships, meaning they both had more difficulty avoiding aircraft and had less space to mount defenses.
  • Modern air-defense equipment is dominated by guided missiles, which have the useful ability to steer themselves quite accurately into enemy aircraft, as well as in most cases boasting significantly longer range and larger warheads than any gun-based system. As the missile aims itself to an extent, much less gunner skill is required. The implications of such an accurate weapon system go beyond the obvious:
    • Since each missile is much more likely to score a hit than a gun projectile, you can get away with carrying many fewer missiles than gun shells for equivalent effect. This means you can make each missile bigger, increasing range and power, on the same size platform—or carry more but smaller missiles, and get a platform the same size with much increased potency.
    • Fewer crew are generally required for each platform, meaning you can have more platforms for them to operate, or dedicate crewmembers to other duties.
    • If the weapon does the "thinking" for you, you can distribute them to untrained personnel and still get a reasonably effective air defense out of each platform, but now in more places at once.
  • Most modern surface warships are varying levels of optimized for anti-aircraft defense, ranging from basic self-defense suites to AEGIS cruisers that can shoot down many of the world's smaller air forces by themselves. This is half due to the primacy of the aircraft carrier and the need to escort them, and half due to the fact that modern surface combatants increasingly need this capability just to survive against modern air and missile threats.


Video Example(s):


Flak Trooper

Burly convicts forced to carry heavy anti-air flak cannons and satchels of violent mines.

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