So the other day I took the opportunity offered by Forge World units and the new dual FOC list at 2k to play something I've always wanted to try - an aircav guard army. I had one vet squad to act as forward spotters, the rest of the army was a command squad and vets riding valkyries and vendettas, with two twl punisher cannon vultures plus a thunderbolt and lightning (very very frightning galileo galileo figaro) as heavy support. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped, due to me not spotting one small rule in the aircraft section - ALL aircraft can choose to use skyfire if they wish.
Now in the old apoc rules for flyers everything hit them on 6s, even other flyers. This made sense - if a ground based gun struggles to hit me as I zoom by at 200mph then how the hell are two fighters passing each other at a combined speed of 400mph gonna be more likely to get a better shot off? Unless of course they are dedicated air superiority fighters. As such the thunderbolt, a ground attack fighter, laden with bombs plus some autocannons and a lascannon, could barely touch other aircraft. The air superiority fighter lightning had the AA rule for it's guns, meaning it hit on normal BS and was good at taking out other flyers. This all made sense. Of course, with ALL flyers having the ability to have skyfire if they choose to, air superiority fighters become useless. The bigger and heavier the plane the better - it's less likely to get taken in one, and more likely to have the firepower to punch you out in one. Which is what happened to me. A solitary stormraven took out most of my airforce. It would boost up to one and multimelta plus two missiles to the face... while the assault cannon would be machine spirited at a separate target. The head on attack usually got the job done, while the assault cannon would certainly clip the wings of the other target.
Disagree? Take the following example.
In todays world, putting the following two against each other with equally skilled pilots should have a clear winner.
The apache will kick arse out of ground targets, but the fighter should nail it easily enough. I consider the 40k equivalent to these to be the Vulture and the Lightning.
Now my vulture with twin linked punisher cannon comes in at 155. My lightning, including 6 skystrike missiles for true anti air prowess, comes in at 205. I'll even give the lightning first shot. Now i'm not normally one to math-hammer, but just run the averages here. Assuming head on, as we will have entered from own table edge.
Lightning fires autocannon, twin linked lascannon, and two missiles. Hitting on 4s. So one autocannon hit, the reroll should see the lascannon hit 75% of the time, and you'd certainly have one missile hit with a 50% chance for a second. I'll round up and say they both hit. That's 3 str 7 and 1 str 9 hits. Front armour of vulture - 12. So a 3+ to damage with the lascannon - let's call that a pen. a 5 to damage with the rest. Call that 1 glance. Then of course there's the possibility of a jink save which might get rid of one of them. Even if we choose to ignore that, unless we get a good roll on the pen hit, that's still a live opponent.
Vultures turn, with it's anti infantry gun. 20 shots, hitting on 4s, twin linked. So 15 hits. Glancing on 5s. That's 5 hp. Even with the jink save, 3 should still go through. Which is one more hp than the lightning has even before any penetrating hits are rolled.
I consider the vulture to be ground attack. The stormraven likewise, and my vultures and vendettas. They're the helicopter equivalent, for fire support and troop carrying in support of ground operations. They should fear the dedicated flyer. Not swat it like an annoying insect. This is the first thing I have not liked about sixth edition so I'm not gonna toss my toys from the pram over it. But while it seems to be encouraging us all to take flyers, it seems which flyers you take could be key... and the stormraven seems like a rock solid top choice so far. Oh joy, Grey Knights have yet another of the best toys.