A quick introductionEdit
There are two types of assaults: main assaults and Tactical assaults (raids, ruses and secondary strike groups operating outside a main groups direct vicinity).
The first step in an effective strike lies in understanding that airborne assaults strength lies in speed and mobility and should not be pitted against AAs. Transporters filled with inexpensive troops can if you are willing to take casualties move past AAs and disembark but clearing a hole for them is preferred. Mind, though, that not clearing a hole before transporting your more expensive troops is not a good idea as losses will be crippling. Scouting for a strategic weakness is also a good idea so use scouts liberally. Worst case scenario: they draw AA fire away from transports and other aerial units. Always bring air support if possible.
A typical tactical strike will take casualties (no survivors) and the objective is to either serve as a sacrificial lamb and draw defenders to their position or to assault a external location often AA defended only (radar stations, forward bases, mass sites). When using the first tactic, there are a couple of basic ideas for a sacrificial lamb strategy:
The Kill-Zone planEdit
Draw enemy troops out of static defenses and shields into a area dominated by you with air forces, long range units or with shields/static defenses. Since the troops that you used are (presumably) expendable (nuke away), any losses can be ignored, and hopefully this will result in an advantageous exchange providing an advantage.
The Pincer variantEdit
Most people will think two assault groups are of equal strength if both are deployed on the same terrain (two sea strikes or two land strikes) and will thus deploy their troops spread evenly allowing for the stronger group to hopefully move through the defenses. The weaker force should continue in transports and attempt to ignore perimeter defenses in the air. The beauty of this plan lies within the fact that if the opponent sees through the plan you still have a good chance of moving the airborne troops through the lines, and if you are really lucky he will move his troops to the weaker force ("more blips stronger attack"). Always remember that it is better to destroy their economy than defenses because then they have to spend time repairing their economy rather than building troops or static defenses. Another target is missile defenses so you can launch tactical/strategic missiles as this will most likely cripple the enemy. Now, why build all those nice troops for an ground assault if they are not being used? The hope is that he pulls all troops to defending either that point on the perimeter or that mass deposit and leave something vulnerable. Tunnel vision is a common problem among most players.
Sacrificing material for tactical gainEdit
This strategy is using a large amount of troops to destroy a small target such as a heavy artillery or a forward base. These strikes are generally expensive as these places that you are destroying are well fortified (many forget to defend the rear). This is intended to provide a tactical advantage as the enemy will have lost some critical thing (that long range artillery piece thats destroying your base or control over that choke-point). Remember that mostly the objective is not to destroy the entire base only weaken it by destroying the AAs or that annoying piece of artillery that hinders your troop movement..
Load T1 Light Assault Bots aboard a transport and voila, the ghetto gunship is born. This strategy requires that there are very few defenses available to fire on the attack so strike early. This method loses its advantage after the early game and is mostly a rushing/early kill strategy. A large group of T2 Ghetto Gunships can do significant damage later game, especially to navy if no interceptors are about. The UEF T3 Ghetto gunship, in groups, is powerful and hard to take down. Creating Ghetto Gunships at any level is a time consuming process that requires complete attention to it for a lot longer than churning out a batch of traditional gunships. If you decide on Ghetto Gunships, make sure your base and units will not need any immediate help.
Airborne troops as the main forceEdit
This is risky business; you might lose all units thanks to a single interceptor, but it can pay off well. The key to a succesfull strike lies in aerial supremacy: with the weaker air strikes you can afford to lose some troops, but with a main force you cant be as liberal with the butchers bill. To open a hole in the perimeter defense: Using artillery fire, a hole can be opened in the enemy lines, but mostly, that tends to alert enemies of your strike, so if possible, nuking is a better idea but also harder to pull off. Another way is to retask air forces from defending the strike force to opening a hole in the defenses. The strike force can also be divided into two groups where one strikes on the ground and one moves in after them and deploys behind enemy lines. Getting some through is better than none since destroying the economy is better than destroying the defenses.
Blitzkrieg is a good strategy concerning airborne assaults. speed is your strength. with good transports you can make full usage of a Sun Tzu quote: "Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions." And in all strikes remeber the ACU is almost always in the base and thus vulnerable to units getting through the defenses.
UEF Airborne AssaultEdit
If you are UEF it is possible to pull off a very powerful Airborne Assault. Use T1 or T2 gunships to send in cheap suicide squads that aren't meant to survive. Do not even fully load the transports. As the transports fly in have T3 Continentals fly in and unload mobile shields and Siege and/or Armoured assault bots. Because of the shield dome and heavy weaponry the Continental has a high chance of escaping the fight alive. While you will most likely lose the ground forces, the amount of damage they could inflict would make up for it.
Attacking Defended Positions(with bombers)Edit
Throughout the game, there will be times when a bombing campaign will be favorable, in both multiplay and singleplay. In these cases, make sure you know the layout of your target for maximum damage potential. When setting up an attack, come from the direction which has the fewest static AA defences. Check to see if the opposition has any ASFs in active patrol. If they do, it is often a good strategy (in early game) to whip up a squadron of air scouts. Once you have your bombers in formation, have the scouts fly slightly ahead of them on the way to the target. When closing in, have the scouts break formation and fly over the target. They will be killed pretty quickly, but static AA and interceptors will have had to turn away to track them as they pass over, giving your bombers (who are several seconds behind) a critical window to hit their targets.