The Hydra is evidently a jet-powered military aircraft, bearing (slightly modified) roundels of the United States Air Force on its wings. The Hydra is suggestively based on the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing/BAe) AV-8B Harrier II, although the air intake is on the underside of the aircraft and resembles that of a Lockheed F-16. This is further proven by the code that is used to spawn it in the PC version, "Jumpjet", which is a nickname for the Harrier Jets.
Features and performance
The Hydra is the most sophisticated aircraft in the GTA series, boasting a variety of equipment. One of its more prominent abilities is its VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capabilities, which allows it to hover or descend or ascent vertically, alike a helicopter, and travel horizontally alike an airplane; these abilities are achieved by directing thrust from four jet outtakes downwards or backward using specific directional controls (by pushing the right analog stick forward/back, or, on a PC, by holding down 8 on the number pad, or Del). Due to its excellent engine and maneuverability, the Hydra is the fastest aircraft (and one of the fastest vehicles) in GTA San Andreas, with a fixed top speed of 300 km/h and one of the easiest to fly when the player learns the basics of fixed-wing flight.
The Hydra comes with various armaments, including lock-on or manual-aimed missiles, and flares as countermeasures for oncoming missiles fired by enemies, which redirects lock-on missiles shot from enemy Hydras or SAM sites (like those guarding Area 69) away from the player.
The Hydra is rated by many players as their favorite aircraft, for its speed, agility, and weapons which make it an excellent choice for 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, well before they've become visible due to model/texture loading being slower than the plane itself.
- Once the player attains a 4 star wanted level or higher and is in the air, two Hydras will pursue the player 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.
- Part of the text on the side of the aircraft features the letters "DMA", this is likely a reference to the fact that Rockstar North 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).
- Like the Leviathan, the Hydra is named after a mythological beast, a 7 headed serpent-like monster that lived in Lake Lerna on the Pelopennese Island in Greece.
- 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,
- Verdant Meadows: In the hangar furthest away from the Abandoned AC Tower after the mission Vertical Bird
- Ganton: At Sweet's house after attaining 100% completion
- Area 69: Two spawn by a tank garage after Black Project.
- The Hydra can be attained with the cheat code "Jumpjet".
- The Hydra can be found in the police garage underneath the Las Venturas Police Headquarters, although it's incredibly difficult to fly it out of the garage, and usually results in the death of the player.