- "These British jets have been decommissioned for twenty years, but who cares when you've got vertical take-off capabilities and rockets up the wazoo. The billionaire action movie enthusiast's toy of choice."
- ―Description on the Warstock Cache & Carry website.
The Hydra is a jet-powered military aircraft, bearing roundels of the United States Air Force on its wings. It is suggestively based on the British Aerospace Harrier II (Formerly known as the Hawker Siddley Harrier) a well-known British fighter jet with Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities. This is further proven by the cheat code that is used to spawn the jet in the PC version: "Jumpjet", which is a nickname for Harrier jets. The Hydra features the Harrier's VTOL system, as well as its weaponry, including missiles and countermeasures. The built-in machine gun of the Harrier, however, does not appear; instead, the machine gun is featured on another vehicle, the Hunter.
- Countermeasures: When used, the Hydra will drop a white flare that has the ability to deviate incoming heat-seeking missiles from enemy Hydras at high wanted levels, and the surface-to-air missiles of Area 69. It should be noted however that the flares will not put the Hydra in a safe situation entirely, as sometimes the missile may head towards the jet again after deviating for a few seconds. Shots fired from a Rocket Launcher cannot be deviated at all.
- Rockets: When used, the Hydra will fire one unguided rocket per side. Despite being unguided, if correctly aimed (deadly when used with the downward thrusts), it will make short work of vehicles, blowing them up on contact (except for the Rhino). The missiles, if they do not hit anything, will travel a relatively long distance before blowing up.
- Heat-seeking missiles: This alternative fire mode of the missiles is identical to the handheld Heat-Seeking Rocket Launcher. The Hydra can lock onto vehicles, and once it is done, any fired missile will be heat-seeking and will head towards the target. These missiles however are less powerful than the unguided missiles (requiring three missiles to destroy a car instead of a single rocket for the unguided missiles). When fired towards an aircraft, it will be much faster, and is likely to reach its target.
The Hydra was originally going to be in Grand Theft Auto V, but it was cut for unknown reasons. It was briefly seen flying over the city at the end of the first GTA V trailer, and was later shown in more detail shooting down a Police Maverick in the second trailer. It was distinguishable from the P-996 LAZER due to its shorter, vented fuselage and black-painted nose. In fact, the two are similar in design, though the P-996 has a shorter fuselage, underside intakes and side mounted guns. The Hydra in the second trailer shoots two missiles at the same time, which it was very similar to the 3D Universe rendition in many attack aircrafts, but no longer applied to the actual game.
The Hydra is included in the Heists Update, similar to how other beta vehicles returned in DLCs. Like the San Andreas rendition, the jet is based largely on the British Aerospace Harrier II; however the nose, vertical fins and horizontal stabilizers resemble those of the F-35 Lightning II, specifically, the F-35B version. The B variant is utilized by the US Marines and is the STOVL (Short-take off and Vertical Landing) version. The Hydra's air intakes resemble those of the French Dassault Rafale, with details, such as the side air holes and the four rotatable exhaust thrusters, from the AV-8B itself. In fact, the entire VSTOL system of the Hydra is still based on the AV-8B Harrier II, such as the two front exhaust thrusters still using the "scarf" thrusters, rather than the F-35B's Lift Fan System + rotatable "Lobster Back" exhaust for its main engine. The jet retains its Vertical Takeoff and Landing capabilities, allowing it to be flown in a hover mode akin to a helicopter, or flown as a plane. These modes can be changed by pressing right on the D-pad. The Hydra in GTA Online is utilized by the United States Navy.
The Hydra re-uses some of the weapons of the P-996 Lazer. It features two cannons mounted below the aircraft, that fires explosive rounds. However, unlike the P-996 Lazer, the Hydra fires lock-on and non-lock-on rockets instead of missiles with the ability to switch between lock-on rockets and non-lock-on rockets. This results in the rockets having less range and less flight time before the rocket self destructs compared to the missiles on the Lazer which have longer flight time and better range. This was changed in the Ill-Gotten Gains update, and now it fires missiles like the Lazer. The cannon is identical to that of the Lazer, having restricted range (but substantially greater than the Savage's cannon) but being destructive against vehicles. The cannons being mounted on the underside means they must be aimed a little higher than the Lazer's, whose cannons sit on either side of the cockpit.
The Hydra is more versatile compared to the P-996 Lazer, being more effective to attack targets on the ground thanks to its VTOL abilities, making it somewhat comparable to a helicopter, though less maneuverable. It has difficulty tilting forwards to attack targets on the ground (similar to the Savage) However, this also increases its vulnerability in this state.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
The Hydra is the most sophisticated aircraft in the game, boasting a variety of equipment. One of its more prominent abilities is its VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capabilities, which allow it to hover, descend or ascend vertically like a helicopter, and travel horizontally like an airplane; these abilities are achieved by directing thrust from four jet outlets downwards or backward using specific directional controls (by pushing the right analog stick forward / back, or, on a PC, by holding down 2/8 on the number pad or Ins/Del, by default. Or, with the iOS version, snaps automatically forward at a moderate speed). Due to its excellent engine and maneuverability, the Hydra is the fastest and fail-deadly aircraft (and one of the fastest vehicles) in GTA San Andreas, with a fixed top speed of 200 kph, and one of the easiest to fly when the player learns the basics of fixed-wing flight. It is probably the fastest aircraft in GTA San Andreas, being able to travel from the southern most point in Los Santos to Northern most point of Las Venturas in around 60 seconds (1 in-game hour). However, similar aircraft like the Rustler and the Stuntplane, are more agile. It is very complicated, one mistake can send it plummeting towards the ground.
The Hydra is the most preferred aircraft for its speed, agility, and weapons which make it an excellent choice for nearly any purpose requiring an airplane. Its chief disadvantage comes not from the vehicle itself, but the game engine. High-speed flight can allow the plane to hit objects, such as trees, before they've become visible due to model / texture loading being slower than the plane itself (this process is also nick-named 'pop-in'). Another drawback is that there is no passenger or co-pilot seat, restricting it to only carry one person, making it unsuitable for several-man transport.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Similar to the San Andreas rendition, the Hydra is able to switch between vertical and horizontal flight. When in horizontal flying mode, the Hydra has very good top speed, being able to reach very high speeds (around 140 knots, identical to the Lazer) in a short amount of time. However, the Hydra is heavier then the Lazer, and when performing a vertical climb in attitude, the Hydra will start to lose speed and eventually even stall out, unlike the P-996 Lazer which will continue to gain attitude. The hydra has good maneuverability being able to quickly pitch, yaw and roll in any direction, however, due to the Hydra's extra weight, it is slightly less maneuverable compared to the Lazer.
When in VTOL mode, the Hydra is surprisingly less maneuverable than its previous rendition; the Hydra is easily controllable in this mode, but has difficulty tilting forwards to engage targets (much like the Savage), and is reluctant to change directions. It has a remarkable tendency to continue moving in the direction it was traveling if switched into hover mode, and also takes a while to ascend and descend in the same mode. The VTOL capabilities make using the vehicle's weaponry much easier, but it is a double edged sword; it is not as maneuverable as a helicopter and responds to inputs differently. It is difficult to slow down from flight mode into hover mode and the throttle must be constantly modulated, otherwise the engine will cut out if the Hydra is close to the ground. If slowed down to the point that the main engine shuts off, switching to VTOL mode and accelerating will not start the engine, preventing any thrust coming through the nozzles, and the plane will plummet to the ground. Caution should be taken when switching to the VTOL mode due to the aircraft taking a while before the Hydra flies vertically; as such, the player should not try to land it immediately. Landing immediately will usually cause the aircraft to crash. Also, one should be careful when using the Hydra in VTOL mode to attack targets, since it also makes the Hydra much more vulnerable to direct fire and leaving very little chance of dodging RPG's and locked-on Homing Missiles. Also, when switching to flight mode, the Hydra will lose a small amount of altitude before it takes flight, therefore it is not suitable to change to Jet mode very close to the ground or near buildings. If the Hydra plummets to the ground with retracted landing gears, there's an opportunity to change to VTOL mode if the player reacts quickly before it results in an imminent crash. It also suffers from the Lazer's tendency to wobble in flight due to turbulence, as well as its unresponsive controls if the afterburner is not engaged.
The Hydra's VTOL capabilities make it able to land basically anywhere on the map as long as there is enough space available for the aircraft to safely land. The pilot of a Hydra can also land and takeoff just like a normal plane if the controlling player wishes to do so, however, caution should be exercised when doing this since the landing gear on the Hydra was designed for VTOL landings.
Overall, the Hydra can be considered as a VTOL counterpart to the Lazer. Its finicky performance in VTOL mode is realistic; VTOL aircraft are not like helicopters and cannot operate in hover mode, only for takeoff and landings. Despite being a little heavier, the VTOL features make the Hydra a very deadly aircraft with its weaponry (if players take the time to learn its unique quirks), which is partially balanced by not only its price, but also by the fact that the vehicle is not available outright to players Online.
GTA San Andreas
- Easter Basin Naval Station: Available on the aircraft carrier after completing Vertical Bird, the player instantly gains a 5-star wanted level upon entry of the base, then stealing will cause the player to be chased down by NPC Hydras.
- Verdant Meadows: In the hangar furthest away from the Abandoned AC Tower after the mission Vertical Bird.
- Ganton: On Sweet's House rooftop after attaining 100% completion.
- Area 69: Two spawn by a tank garage after Vertical Bird (dangerous to obtain, as Surface to Air Missiles will shoot at the player unless the player takes them out before).
- Two NPC-controlled Hydras pursue the player when in the air after reaching a 4-star wanted level; although it's extremely difficult as the wreck is likely to disappear, one can attain 6-star wanted level, shoot down one of them with a Rustler or Hunter, theoretically even a Sea Sparrow, as close as possible to Verdant Meadows (this is the easy part), land and bail out next to the wreck, jack a nearby Rhino and use it to push the wreck into the hangar.
- The Hydra can be obtained with the cheat code "jumpjet" for PC. For other consoles, see Cheats in GTA San Andreas.
- Found on the USS Luxington ATT-16 in the preparation mission Humane Raid - EMP, preparing for The Humane Labs Raid. Must be stolen as part of the mission objective.
- Can be bought from Warstock Cache and Carry for $3,000,000 after the Humane Raid - EMP mission is complete.
- Delivered by Pegasus Lifestyle Management.
- As of the Ill-Gotten Gains Part 1 Update, the Hydra will now also spawn at helipads when called for.
GTA San Andreas
- There is a glitch that occasionally occurs with the flares; at times they do not deploy. The player would then have to rely on the Hydra's evasiveness in order to avoid incoming missiles (if flying at a high enough altitude, roll the Hydra upside down, then pull up - this will likely divert the missile. If it is too high to dive, then use the rudder and turn at the same time.)
- If the player locks-on to a bike and fires missiles at it, the Hydra receives damage until it explodes as if you are being attacked. This is due to the fact that bicycles aren't meant to explode and it will glitch the damage values, like a "bouncing" damage that affects the Hydra. This can be done easily at the Mount Chiliad, as it is a fixed spawn for a Mountain Bike. (PS2 Confirmed)
- If the landing gear is on while the Hydra is in air, then no flames will come out of the thrusters. (PC confirmed)
GTA San Andreas
- The Hydra is named after a Greek mythological beast, a 9 headed serpent-like creature that lived in Lake Lerna on the Pelopennese Island in Greece. Other vehicles named after mythological creatures include the Leviathan, Phoenix, Banshee and Kraken.
- Both of its introductory missions are very similar. They both involve the player stealing the VTOL from an aircraft carrier after a shootout with military personnel, only to use it for another ultimate purpose.
GTA San Andreas
- Once the player attains a 4 star wanted level or higher and is in the air, two Hydras will pursue and try to shoot down the player. The enemy Hydras should be no match, as they have a penchant for flying in lazy circles and not deploying flares, and as a result they will easily crash into buildings when flying in cities.
- Part of the text on the side of the aircraft features the letters "DMA", this is likely a reference to Rockstar North, since the company was formerly known as DMA Design. DMA is also a play on United States Marine Corps squadrons that use the AV-8B Harrier II (VMA).
- The Hydra has a U.S. Air Force logo on its left wing, but on the right wing, it does not.
- The Hydra has a handling similar to that of a helicopter if the thrusters are not faced backwards.
- An alternative model of the aircraft can be seen on one of Zero's hobby shop kits, sporting a V-tail and a more Harrier-esque look.
- The NPC Hydras chasing CJ in a dogfight are actually piloted by police officers from the city/region that they spawned from.
- If the player enters the Hydra with the landing gears retracted, upon entering the plane, the Hydra will explode.
- The flare has the same texture/model as the Tear Gas.
Grand Theft Auto V
- The Hydra cut before the release can be seen in the in-game TV Cunning Stunt Academy. This one has the exact same design as the one in GTA Online.
- In GTA V, one of the trailers showed the Hydra firing two missiles at once, but in GTA Online, the Hydra shoots only one missile at a time.
Grand Theft Auto Online
- From an aeronautical standpoint, the Hydra's dual rotating nozzle/fixed engine afterburner design in GTA Online makes little sense. Having Harrier-style thrust nozzles on the fuselage coupled with an F-16 style jet engine in the rear would increase fuel consumption and weight (as both the nozzles and afterburner are supplying rearward thrust in flight mode, and the jet engine will still supply rearward thrust when the fuselage nozzles are pointed down in hover mode, making landings difficult) and require the afterburner to constantly shut off and on as the aircraft transitions from hover mode to flight mode.
- The Hydra incorrectly fired homing and non homing rockets. The Ill-Gotten Gains Update fixed this, so it now fires homing and non homing missiles.
- With the Ill-Gotten Gains Update, the Hydra now spawns at the nearest helipad, instead of the nearest airfield.
- Unlike the Lazer, the Hydra does not seem to possess any airbrakes as none are shown deploying when the aircraft slows down in flight mode.
- The Hydra is described by the Heist Planner to be a piece of 40-years old technology, yet it is fairly comparable to the Lazer in design and performance. This may simply be a misstatement on his part, or because the real world jumpjet system was developed in the 1960s and introduced into the United States in the 1970s. This could mean that it is based on the 1st Generation McDonnell Douglas AV-8A Harrier, which in itself is based on the Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR1/GR3; this is further evidenced by the fact that the Warstock Cache & Carry description states that it was retired 20 years ago. The RAF retired this model in 1994, by which point it had been retired by the U.S. Marines after the construction of AV-8B Harrier II in the 1980s. The later BAE Harrier II was retired in 2011, whilst the U.S. Marine versions are still in service. It is most likely similar in performance to the Lazer for gameplay balance. The Hydra in game is likely a modernized variant, as it features a cockpit comparable to the Lazer, including a side mounted control stick.
- In the Heist Setup mission Humane Raid - EMP, the Hydra has the EMP device placed where the radar would be. This could be a developer's oversight or possibly a reference to the infamous "blue circle" radar system developed by the British in the 1970s - 1980s. Although it could be a tongue in cheek joke since any radar system emits electro-magnetic radiation.
- The Hydra can burnout like a car when in VTOL mode on asphalt with its landing gear deployed, by holding brake and yawing to one side.
- The end description by Warstock Cache & Carry of the Hydra, "The billionaire action movie enthusiast's toy of choice" is a reference to the movie True Lies and Arnold Schwarzenegger's character Harry Tasker, who pilots an AV-8B Harrier II to rescue his daughter from a group of nuclear armed terrorists.
- P-996 Lazer, a multirole fighter plane featured in Grand Theft Auto 5 and Grand Theft Auto Online
- Besra, a military trainer plane featured in Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online as a part of the San Andreas Flight School Update
- Rustler, a WWII Fighter plane featured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas