The AV-14 Attack VTOL, colloquially known as the "Hornet", is a United Nations Space Command airborne assault vehicle.
The Hornet is a vertical take off and landing vehicle (VTOL) that has been in service for over 28 years and serves as the UNSC's rapid assault and reconnaissance vehicle. The Hornet is an atmospheric craft and as such cannot be deployed by orbital cruisers unless a ship rated for atmospheric entry can deliver Hornets to the battlefield; nevertheless, it is easier for Hornets to be deployed from an air base located on the surface than from a ship. The Hornet is slightly larger than the Covenant Banshee and lacks the evasive maneuvers and speed of the Banshee, but unlike the Banshee, the Hornet can remain stationary in the air.
The Hornet consists of a one-man cockpit and a rear section, extending approximately one meter backward. At the top of this rear section are a set of wings with what appear to be advanced turboprop engines mounted on gimbals at the ends, providing the Hornet's main source of propulsion. The front of the Hornet contains a target acquisition and designation system, along with cameras and sensors.
On each side of the cockpit is a jump-seat extending backward that doubles as a landing skid. These skids allow up to four passengers. The Hornet features both anti-infantry and anti-vehicle weapon systems, increasing the vehicle's battlefield utility. The anti-infantry system is composed of two triple-barrel fire-linked rotary cannons. These are located on either side above the cockpit on the leading edge of the wing. The guns fire synchronously, and can be elevated and depressed to a small degree without affecting the flight pattern of the Hornet. The anti-vehicle system is composed of two Class-2 Guided Munition Launch Systems, belly-mounted under the port and starboard skids. Upon activation, each pod fires a single missile. Like the Missile Pod support weapon, this system is capable of achieving a target lock, although the tracking system in the Hornet's missiles is slightly inferior. Given the Hornet's maneuvering characteristics and loitering capability, it is an excellent anti-vehicle unit.
The controls for the Hornet appear to be similar to those of a helicopter, suggesting that as turbine-driven VTOL craft became more practical, they replaced helicopters. Although the Hornet primarily serves as an attack craft, like most UNSC hardware it is flexible, able to serve a support role or to escort larger UNSC crafts if needed. The Hornet is very resistant to small arms fire; however, the M41 Light Anti-Aircraft Gun mounted on the Warthog is capable of inflicting heavy damage upon it. A Gauss cannon can destroy a Hornet in three consecutive hits. Wraith mortars and Scorpion rounds are both one shot kills.
The AV-14 Hornet is known for its efficiency in combat situations; its multi-purpose role allows for a wide array of tasks the AV-14 can perform without any major problems. In its role as an attack craft the AV-14 is very effective at hunting down and destroying armor with relative ease; the Class-II GMLS can take down the toughest Covenant armor in only a few strikes, making it the UNSC's prime choice for hunting down tanks. Its ability to engage infantry also makes the AV-14 both an offensive and defensive aircraft; the triple-barrel rotary cannons can take down heavily armored and shielded targets with little effort, and its ability to place itself in a stationary position to lay down cover fire while a larger craft retrieves fellow infantry also allows it to perform its role as a support craft. The firepower on the craft is also an added bonus when escorting other aircraft into dangerous territory that could be susceptible to ground fire. Its role as a support craft is further bolstered by its ability to easily insert small strike teams into combat situations.
While the AV-14 Hornet has a wide variety of roles and advantages, its greatest weakness is its small size and armor. Because the AV-14 is so small, its armor is light, and the craft can easily be taken down by Light Anti-Aircraft Guns, and high velocity cannons can shred the AV-14 to pieces with only one strike. Passengers on the AV-14 have no protection at all, making them easy to hit by accident or design, and must be tied down to the vehicle or risk falling to their deaths should a major problem arise. Because of this, the AV-14 is mostly used for inserting strike teams, and not extracting them, as the vulnerability of the AV-14 and the high risk of casualties mandates that larger, more heavily armored crafts like the Pelican be placed in combat situations for extracting UNSC personnel.
The Transport Hornet is exclusive to the multiplayer maps Avalanche and Sandbox, appearing only on the latter through Forge. This variant of the Hornet is camouflaged in a grayish-white. Its missile pods have been removed and the cannons' rates of fire and power have been decreased, shifting the Hornet from an aggressive assault vehicle to a more conservative air support/transport unit. The Snow Hornet on Avalanche has been used as a very effective transport vehicle for teams during objective games. It has also been noted to be slightly faster than its normal counterpart, to make up for the slow rate of firepower, making it opportune in situations that require quick transport.
The Hornet is extremely effective in Halo 3 if used correctly. In Campaign, the Hornet dominates all battles it enters with its accurate and effective rotary cannons, as well as its guided missiles. While in Matchmaking on Avalanche, however, the Hornet has no missiles, the rotary cannons have a slower rate of fire, and moves slightly faster. Thus, it remains a great transport and support vehicle, and can change the face of a battle if used properly. The following are a list of tips for both pilots and troops riding on the jump seats of Hornets.
- In Campaign, it is best to give your passenger Marine allies a heavy weapon like a Spartan Laser or a Fuel Rod Gun, as they can assist in destroying nearby infantry/vehicles that are often not in your sight.
- When engaging the Scarabs on The Covenant (Level) using a Hornet, be sure to continuously circle around the heavy attack platforms, as their weapons will take you down quickly on higher difficulties.
- Another handy way of taking on the Scarabs is to fly underneath them and attack their weak spot from behind, until the Scarab is destroyed.
- Another, more team-based method is to either pick up one wingman (on each Hornet if playing four player, two wingmen on one if playing 3 player) and drop them off on the Scarab as they land. If done quickly, the Brutes will all be bunched up in the corridor leading to the front, making it easy for the pilot to kill them with missiles and bullets. While the Hornet circles around, the wingman runs around the back, destroys the power core, then runs back to the front for extraction by the Hornet. If on four player with two Hornets, simultaneously dropping off wingmen from each Hornet is a quick and efficient way to get past a potentially difficult obstacle.
- The Hornet can only take so much damage before going down. Two missiles from a Missile Pod will take one out. If the Hornet is being tracked by someone with a Spartan Laser, it is best advised for you and your passengers to drop out of the vehicle or bring the vehicle to ground as quickly as possible.
- One discharge of a Spartan Laser is sufficient to either bring the vehicle down, or inflict critical damage and seriously injure the pilot on a near-hit. If a hit is landed on your aircraft, it is advisable to retreat immediately and recharge your shielding before engaging/reengaging.
- Passengers that are armed with Rocket Launchers or Spartan Lasers can help compensate for the lack of missile pods on the transport variant, although passengers can be hindered due to their limited field of view, restricted firing angles, and vulnerability to heavy weapons and small arms fire while riding on the skids. When this tactic is properly employed by a skilled crew on a standard variant, it creates a heavy weapons platform that is exceptionally difficult for the opposing team to engage without taking heavy casualties.
- A Hornet offers little protection from Battle Rifle fire; it is advisable to flee or return fire when engaged by such a weapon.
- Like the Mongoose, the Hornet can be used for rapid relocation of a sniper, or a firing platform as it can reach high altitudes, sufficient enough to reach structures that are otherwise inaccessible. It also serves as an excellent objective item-holding carrier, being a more durable and harder to hit target than a Mongoose or a Warthog.
- Do not engage Warthogs with the Hornet unless you have a range advantage, the element of surprise, or teammates providing sufficient supporting fire. The Warthog's turret can easily rip an overzealous Hornet to shreds. However, attacking a Wraith while in a Hornet is recommended, as the Wraith's arcing shots make it difficult to line up with a flying target and score a hit. Wraith mortars rarely hit a Hornet, but if there is someone on the Wraith's secondary turret, try to fight and fall back if your shields get low, as it can rip up a Hornet like a Warthog's turret if you are not careful. In addition, try to watch your back as the Hornet can be clumsy and easily bump into a tree or rock formation, giving the Wraith a chance at hitting you.
- Skilled pilots may decide to use the Hornet much like the Pelican, in that you could use the Hornet to drop off teammates near strategic locations. Be wary if using this tactic near enemy bases, as you are more than guaranteed to get hit by explosives.
- In a match where the Hornet is available, get two people riding jumpseat, and have the passengers equipped with a Bubble Shield. When someone attacks the Hornet with a heavy weapon, get one person to deploy the bubble shield. If done right the bubble shield will block the blast and then fall to the ground.
- In case you see an enemy Hornet and the Spartan Laser is unavailable, try using a plasma pistol, as it can easily disable a Hornet. Try to get near the Hornet so the plasma-charged bolts can follow the Hornet, but with caution so the pilot of the Hornet does not see you. Then shoot the Hornet with the plasma-charged bolts and wait until it reaches the ground, then destroy it with a plasma grenade , or wait until the effect of the plasma pistol passes to steal the Hornet.
The Hornet makes an appearance in Halo Wars as the main-line UNSC aircraft. It can be built at the Air Pad for a cost of 250 resources with a minimum tech level of 2. It takes 2 population slots. It is capable of engaging both ground and air targets but is susceptible to anti-aircraft fire; it has several upgrades making it more versatile against ground units:
- "Wingmen": Adds two Marines passengers who carry a Rocket Launcher each.
- "Chaff Pod": Increases the Hornet's avoidance of anti-air fire.
- "Hawk": Upgrades the Hornet into a Sparrowhawk gunship equipped with laser beams, which has a greater firepower and hitpoints, and is faster than a Banshee. Note that this upgrade is available only if Professor Anders is the selected leader.
- The Hornet is mentioned in Halo: Contact Harvest, and is used by the Marines of Alpha and Bravo companies to take down Insurrectionists on Tribute.
- The Hornet bears a slight resemblance to its namesake insect with the "wings" growing slightly wider towards the end (like a real hornet's wing) and with the personnel jump seats mimicking the long back legs that often trail behind the posterior of the insect.
- Not including the pilot, the Hornet is capable of carrying two Spartans or two Marines in Halo 3; however in the novel Halo: Contact Harvest, Hornets can carry four UNSC Marines for insertion operations, much like contemporary MH-6 "Little Birds."  This is likely because of gameplay measures, since the Hornet already has enough firepower to take down several opponents, especially if you have two passengers. However, the skids appear to be long enough to support four infantry units.
- The Covenant (level) is the only level in the Halo 3 Campaign in which the Hornet is available. It is available twice during the mission.
- In Halo Wars, it seems the Hornet does not use its twin Gatling guns, but rather a single, chin-mounted Gatling gun. This may simply be a different or earlier variant, as Halo Wars is set over 20 years prior to Halo 3.
- In Halo Wars, when the "Wingmen" upgrade is unlocked for the Hornet, the Marines sit on the wings instead of stand as they do in Halo 3.
- Megablocks has released a Hornet with their Halo Wars line of products.
- The Scorpion Gunships in the movie Avatar are similar to the Hornet in terms of appearance and function.
- ↑ http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=13368
- ↑ September 2007 Issue of EGM's vehicle scale chart.
- ↑ Halo: Contact Harvest
- ↑ Bungie Podcast, 8-27-07
- ↑ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 9
- Kestrel - A Halo 2 cut vehicle.
- Sparrowhawk - The upgrade for the Hornet, a heavy aircraft featured in Halo Wars.
- Banshee - The Covenant counterpart of the Hornet.