There is a jet (and helicopter) upgrade called "Below Radar" that states:

When flying at low altitudes your heat signature is decreased, hiding you from enemy radar and preventing enemy air-to-air missile systems from locking on to you.

I can't find it anywhere in my loadout screen even though I've unlocked it, and it doesn't seem to be a passive perk that's always on, as I can always be locked onto by enemy aircraft.

Is this a bug or am I just missing something?

  • I've tried to lock on to a heli with "below Radar" WITH my javelin, and it seems to work for the heli. Same thing happened when I was in a AA Tank. NOTE. There was nothing in the way that could mess up the Lock!
    – user14075
    Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 12:52
  • Is it a bug? I wanna know aswell... But right now i think its working as a passive upgrade, in the description it says "preventing enemy AIR TO AIR missile locking on to you", at some times flying almost ground level loses that lock on, and i know that frogfoot/a10 is on my tail trying to use its missile on me. But at some points im not sure, either it could be those stingers (GROUND TO AIR missile) or i wasnt flying low enough.
    – user16054
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 11:34

11 Answers 11


It's altitude based, not terrain based. Just because you're skimming low over a mountain cliff doesn't necessarily mean you're under the radar barrier altitude. Keep the map's geography in mind. When you want to be below radar you must be near sea level.


Well, I have it unlocked, and even way outside the range of all ground based anti-air, with only a jet on my tail and flying so close to the ground a slight bump could've caused me to crash, I'm still being locked on to. So, it's not a passive unlock that needs to be equipped to work. If so, then Air Radar, which is also classified as a "Permanent Upgrade", would also have to be passive — but it still has to be equipped in order to work.

  • Yes this is exactly why I asked this question. I assumed air radar would be passive, but it wasn't. I'm hoping it's a bug in which below radar doesn't work at the moment, and air radar shouldn't need to be equipped.
    – Mr Smooth
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 5:09

It does work, but only for air-based AA. Ground-based AA (both infantry and vehicles) are not affected.

  • 2
    As of one of the last patches, All AA are affected.
    – DrFish
    Commented May 13, 2012 at 10:41

I can't offer a definitive answer, but FWIW here are the two current schools of thought. So far I've seen only assertions, not evidence.

  • According to the BF3 Wiki on Wikia it's bugged: "For reasons unknown, this upgrade currently does not appear on the upgrade lists for aircraft, even when unlocked, and cannot be equipped."
  • I've seen several forum posts like this one claiming it's a permanent passive upgrade that doesn't need to be equipped.

Below Radar is considered an Upgrade, and in general that should mean it needs to be equipped to function, so I lean toward the former interpretation.

I hope someone can provide an actual, unequivocal answer—with supporting evidence since there are already lots of assertions flying around (no pun intended).

But it may be hard to confirm empirically. Going by the description, ground-to-air can still lock onto you. So if you're buzzing the treetops and someone locks onto you despite the fact that you have Below Radar unlocked, that might not tell you whether the unlock is working: it could be a ground-based missile lock.


Permanent upgrades are passive. There are actually three I have on my jet:

Permanent Upgrade: Maintenance - what this does is passively increase the rate at which your jet fixes itself. If you equip Maintenance as a perk, the speed of fixing itself is increased further. Note that after being damaged, there is around 5 second delay before your jet will fix itself, this is not affected by either upgrade.

Permanent Upgrade: Air Radar - this one scans the area IMMEDIATE TO YOUR JET and automatically spots passing air helicopters and jets. It works properly on my XBOX 360, with the latest patch and B2K. The Air Radar perk scans the entire battlefield for flying jets/helis.

Permanent Upgrade: Below Radar - this is absolutely useless on a jet, but it works regardless. When flying below radar altitude (which i believe starts when your altimeter flashes red, so at around 50m) you cannot be locked on with AIR to AIR missiles (so, heatseekers and SOFLAM + Javelin). Note that if you're locked on before entering "below radar" it won't loose your lock on, you'll still need to pop your flares.

As for the helicopters all of these do the exact same things with the only difference being "below radar" is incredibly useful for the ZW-11 and the AH "Little Bird". When flying low and mowing down infantry, they won't be able to lock on to you with the Igla or Stingers. Bear in mind, the Little Bird is extremely easy to shoot down when flying low, all it needs is a single M320 to the side to go down to 20% health.

These are all my observations, I might be wrong, I am yet to confirm everything in real terms. Hope it helped!


Below radar works at altitudes of 20 meters or less above the ground directly under you (so 20 meters above a mountain will still work.

It works by not allowing anyone to lock onto you, and any locks currently in progress will be broken.

It doesn't work to stop missiles that are already in the air, and the lock won't break for about .5 seconds after you go below radar, so if someone is almost locked on, there's a chance they might still be able to fire a missile or two.

It's very easy to tell when you're below radar in a helicopter, as the altimeter on the right hand side of the screen will be red when you're at 20 or below. In a jet however, there's no indication, so the best way for you to learn is to fly helicopters until you're comfortable enough with knowing instinctively how low 20 meters is.

Before the latest patch, it wouldn't work on Surface-Air Missiles, but as of the latest patch it works on everything (in fact it's a little bit OP sometimes).


It works when you are less than 25m above ground.


It only works with air to air missiles, not ground to air missiles.


Below radar is a permanent upgrade that does not need to be equipped and will always be active. Once unlocked your vehicle (helicopter or jet) cannot be locked on to by enemy Air-to-Air weapon, but your altimeter has to be flashing red (below 50 FT). This system only prevents locks below 50 ft. If you have been locked on to before flying low, you will have to deploy counter measures and then stay low to avoid being re-targeted by any enemy aircraft.

Take note that this system only avoids locks by enemy Air-to-Air weapons (aka only weapons fired from an enemy aircraft). This means no matter how low you fly in any air vehicle ground troops can still acquire locks on you with a stinger or javelin and soflam combo. Remember that any lucky soldier with a smaw or RPG could blow you out of the sky. So remember be observant and use all the tools at your disposal. One of the best tools you can use in the helicopter is to equip stealth to help you escape locks while flying low.

Fly safe soldier.


Below radar only works when altitude is low enough. Skimming mountains won't work. <100 ft. above sea level.

Before you acquire the perk, it says "Permanent Upgrade" meaning you don't need to equip it. It's permanently set to your bird. You just need to know your topography. ;)


Permanent upgrade - meaning it will always be there and won't appear on your customization screen, your altimeter needs to be flashing red and if someone is already locking onto you and you fly low altitude it wont break your lock.

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