The Hunter is a military attack helicopter featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, and can be spawned using a trainer in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.
The Hunter is based on the Boeing (formerly Hughes, then McDonnell Douglas) AH-64 Apache, more precisely the AH-64A Apache. In GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories, the Hunter is an aesthetically correct AH-64A, though in VCS, it is technically a YAH-64A as the helicopter did not formally enter service with the United States Army until 1986. The version featured in GTA San Andreas has a similar design, however, it omits the co-pilot gunner seat (CPG), uses an eight-bladed tail rotor, and has a canopy that swings open horizontally to the right, like the Hydra jet fighter. In all its appearances the Hunter always comes with a dark green color.
The Hunter is also present in GTA Liberty City Stories, although it does not spawn anywhere and can be only obtained through third-party trainers and modifications.
A special Vigilante Mission is available with the Hunter, the "Brown Thunder" mission. Despite being a military vehicle, it does not appear being military-operated in normal gameplay, out of missions or scripted events.
An unnamed helicopter assumed to be the Hunter can be seen in a trailer for The Simian during the showing for the movie Meltdown and a picture for Warstock Cache & Carry's Lifeinvader that details their equipment selection (located in the lower right). In the trailer for The Simian it's seen that the pilot is visible in the co-pilot gunner seat, like in previous renditions. The Hunter's front suspension is raised in order to fit the Hughes M230 30mm chain gun mounted on the chin of the craft's fuselage when grounded, and is also equipped with 4 Hydra 70 rocket pods and is no longer equipped with 8 AMG-114 Hellfire missiles. The tail boom is briefly seen and has a build similar in appearance to that of the RAH-66 Comanche. The stabilizers have moved to the top of the tail fin and the rotor is removed and replaced with a Fenestron-style fan-in-fin. The canopy of the Hunter now resembles that of the RAH-66 Comanche as well. The nose of the Hunter features detailed cameras, mounted in similar fashion to that of the AH-64 Apache series and its 3D Universe predecessor. The engines have been modified slightly too, with the exhaust vents on the rear of them horizontal instead of vertical as seen in the previous 3D models and its real-life counterpart. For this time, comes with a desert camouflage.
The Hunter is, in all of its appearances, the fastest helicopter in the game. It also possesses stellar handling, but has a wide turning radius. Unlike many other helicopters, the Hunter cannot automatically stabilize at 45 degrees when keeping the control thumbstick forward, as doing so will result in the Hunter getting upside down, loosing control and eventually crashing.
The Hunter is easy to control and is a good choice to fly between structures in cities. However, the Hunter can easily get upside down when moving the helicopter at high speed. It is highly resistant to damage in comparison to the average helicopter, however, it's by no means indestructible.
The Hunter has two sets of weapons, which consist of a Hughes M230 30mm chain gun mounted on the chin and dual Hydra 70 rocket pods. This weaponry makes the Hunter a deadly vehicle. The chain gun is autonomous and automatically lock/fire at targets in a 45 degrees radius. The rocket pods will fire two rockets (one from both sides) at once. These are unguided, but the high rate of fire of the rockets and the good handling of the helicopter make the rockets easy to use and devastating. Like the Rhino, the Sea Sparrow and the Hydra, all weapons have unlimited ammunition.
GTA Vice City
- Fort Baxter Air Base - Inside the base after completing either Keep Your Friends Close or collecting all 100 hidden packages, which will appear only after a certain percentage of the game is complete.
- Ocean Beach - At the helipad next to Lance Vance's house after finding all 100 hidden packages and completing Keep Your Friends Close.
GTA San Andreas
- Easter Basin, San Fierro - On a helipad inside the Easter Basin Naval Station after completing Pilot School with all golds. The player instantly gains a 5 star wanted level upon entering the base and therefore will be engaged by two NPC Hydras firing heat-seeking missiles, which makes obtaining it very difficult.
- Verdant Meadows, Bone County - At the airstrip after getting gold on all Pilot School tests. (Note: When both the Hunter and Leviathan are unlocked at Verdant Meadows, only one of them can spawn at a time. Arrive from the west to spawn the Hunter and arrive from the east to spawn the Leviathan).
- Used in Heli Hell - you can keep it if you take the Hunter to the aircraft hangar in Verdant Meadows instead of completing the course.
- Can be spawned by inputting the cheat during gameplay (see Cheats in GTA San Andreas page).
GTA Liberty City Stories
- The Hunter aircraft itself is not available in the regular game, but left over code from GTA Vice City is, and can only be spawned in with a third-party trainer.
GTA Vice City Stories
- Escobar International Airport - At the southern part of the airport near the Biplane after completing Last Stand. Starts the "Skywolf" side-mission automatically upon entrance.
Notable Appearances in Missions
The Hunter's most notable use is in the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories missions Over The Top and Last Stand, when Victor Vance steals a Hunter (in Over the Top) in order to attack the Mendez Cartel (in Last Stand). It appears too in a previous mission, From Zero To Hero. It also appeared in Learning to Fly, race event Heli Hell and two flown by NPC in Up, Up and Away! (part of casino heist mission) from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City it makes one single appearance in the mission All Hands On Deck.
Although it isn't considered a mission, the Hunter appeared in a multiplayer match for the PSP version of GTA Vice City Stories named "Might of the Hunter".
The Skywolf mission is a side mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories available after Last Stand, it is activated by simply entering the Hunter at Escobar International Airport. The mission requires the player to use the Hunter's weaponry and destroy a certain amount of targets while flying through some rings. The targets are boats, cars and for the last part, another helicopter. Completion of the mission gets the player a step closer to 100% Completion.
- In GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, and GTA Liberty City Stories, the player is able to play the game's radio stations while flying the Hunter. However, this ability was removed in GTA Vice City Stories. The default radio stations for the Hunter are V-Rock in GTA Vice City, K-DST in GTA San Andreas.
- The Hunter is one of the fastest helicopters in the 3D Universe and with the widest turning radius, on par with the Sparrow, Sea Sparrow and VCN Maverick/News Chopper.
- The name "Brown Thunder" is a reference to the 1983 action film Blue Thunder, which centers on a heavily-armed law enforcement helicopter.
- The Hunter's "Brown Thunder" Vigilante mission is the best way to earn money in GTA Vice City, and third best in GTA San Andreas (after the Inside Track betting trick and using the Rhino in Vigilante missions). The mission allows the player to take-out criminals in a specific time period, earning more time with each successful kill. Once at a high level (level 30 & beyond in GTA Vice City, level 150 & beyond in GTA San Andreas), the money earned can be massive, sometimes over 100K.
- The in-game chain gun, despite it was intended to be the Hughes M230 30mm chain gun, is seem to be very boxy and small for this helicopter in the 3D Universe, due to the low suspension of the main landing gears. However, the Beta Hunter from GTA V has a realistic model of the said weapon.
GTA Vice City
- In GTA Vice City, the front wheels are designed in the same orientation. Thus, the black side is on the left side of both wheels.
- Tommy Vercetti flies the Hunter from the co-pilot gunner seat situated at the front of the cockpit. AH-64 Apache helicopters are actually piloted primarily from the rear of the cockpit.
- Even though the cockpit has the correct two personnel layout, the Hunter in GTA Vice City only has the control stick in the gunner position. AH-64 Apache helicopters actually have control sticks in both the pilot and co-pilot gunner seats.
- In GTA Vice City the Hunter's machine gun has a firing sound like the M-60, instead of a 30mm chain gun.
- Jacking the Hunter from Fort Baxter Air Base without a police uniform is not easy. The easist way is to fly another helicopter (purchasing the Hyman Condo is the easiest) to the rear of the base (where the Hunter is parked), then slam down and land right next to it, hop out, and then jack it. This must be quick because eventually guardsmen will spawn around the base with M4's, and will shoot the player down.
GTA San Andreas
- In GTA San Andreas, there is a visual glitch that might cause the inside of the cockpit to disappear. It often happens when viewing it from the right side.
- If GTA San Andreas is modded to make the Hunter replace the Police Maverick when pursued by the police, the AI-controlled hunter will almost always crash shortly after spawning.
- In GTA San Andreas, using the turret to destroy any vehicles does not attract police attention, but killing people while grounded using the turret or rockets (unless they hit the ground, a structure, directly at criminals spawned by a Vigilante mission or explode in the air) does attract a wanted level.
- In GTA San Andreas, if the player fits a Hunter into a Pay n' Spray it will be sprayed and if you have a wanted level the stars will flash. (Note: it is extremely difficult to fit a Hunter into a Pay n' Spray so you'll have to squeeze as much as you can into the garage until the door closes).
GTA Liberty City Stories
- Although it does not appear within the game, leftover Hunter files from GTA Vice City are present in the code of GTA Liberty City Stories. With the aid of third-party trainers, a fully functional Hunter can be spawned. It has the same design as the GTA Vice City model but cannot be used for Vigilante missions, nor does is it have a in-game name.
GTA Vice City Stories
- One must be careful when shooting the rockets from the Hunter in Vice City Stories because if the helicopter strafes too much, the rockets will hit the chopper immediately after firing, thus, destroying it in the process. Same is true for any Hunters in other games when firing too close to the ground as the splash damage will instantly kill the player.
- At the start of Jack Howitzer series, Jack is pursued by 2 Hunters in a scene from Loincloth, one of his 80's action movies, therefore the Hunters used appear to be the previous 3D Universe renditions.
- In The Simian trailer appearance, the pilot seen is wearing an LSPD flight helmet.
- Buzzard, GTA TBoGT, GTA V, and GTA Online equivalent.
- Annihilator, a helicopter armed with regular miniguns in GTA IV and GTA Online. Armed with explosive miniguns in GTA TLaD and GTA TBoGT.
- Sea Sparrow, a similarly armed amphibious helicopter.
- Savage, a "Hind" based attack helicopter added to GTA Online in the Heists Update.