Human Fighters in use.
Alien UFO's in use.
At the start of the game you will have two Condor Interceptors at your disposal, for most of the early game these two interceptors should have little problem handling the initial Light Scout UFOs that are encountered. Not long after the game has started the player will be able to research and construct a MiG-32 Interceptor, you should make this investment as the MiG comes with heavier missiles and is much faster than the Condors.
The Light Scout will be the first type of UFO encountered. It is very weak and its weapons do little damage against your Condors and can easily be caught up to and intercepted. The Scouts will start to appear slowly in the first month and gradually replace the Light Scouts; the larger Scout class vessels represent a more credible threat. At top speed the Scout can outrun a Condor but not a MiG, so the player may wish to dedicate their MIG Interceptors to hunting down Scout UFO's.
Enemy Fighters appearing mark the beginning of the later stages of the Early Game in the Air Warfare spectrum. Initially a Fighter can be handled by a single Condor but in a squadron force they are a significant challenge, their ability to dodge missiles and fire their own presents the first real threat to the Xenonaut Air Force. Fighters will also attempt to intercept Xenonaut Aircraft, at this stage the player should be escorting their Transport Craft with their own fighters for protection.
The Light Scout is the easiest UFO to tackle, a single Condor can handle a Light Scout and the damage a Light Scout deals is minimal. Its ability to perform a defensive roll makes missiles largely ineffective. The general strategy is to fire both missiles in close succession, the first missile will be avoided, the second missile will strike the UFO. Follow up as necessary with cannon fire until missiles have been upgraded.
The Scout is basically a tougher and faster version of the Light Scout. While it is still a relatively easy to handle UFO, its main strengths come from its ability to move faster than the Condor on the Geoscape - often needing a MiG-32 Foxtrot to intercept it. Its inability to perform a defensive roll makes a Scout an easy target for a single Foxtrot with torpedoes in early states of the game.
The Fighter is the most powerful UFO in the Early Game and represents a new challenge to the Xenonauts as it is the first dedicated Alien combat unit encountered and is armed with both an effective plasma cannon and missiles. Fighters can also perform a defensive roll, making missiles largely ineffective. A simple tactic is to fire one missile, wait for the fighter to roll, and then fire the second. The fighter's roll will be in cool down, and it won't be able to avoid the second missile.
The main threat from Fighters comes from their numbers. When faced with a squadron of Fighters, the player must exercise caution. Similar tactics to those described above will work to eliminate one Fighter, and the remaining Fighters can then be eliminated with the interceptor's cannon. Once the cannon is upgraded it is possible for a single Condor to eliminate three fighters by using well-timed defensive rolls, but taking damage is usually unavoidable.
The first mid-game UFO craft encountered is the Corvette. It is bigger and heavier than Scouts, with a narrow long-range pulse cannon as well as a wide-arc burst cannon. Its main weakness is slow speed and a rate of turn. For that reason it is commonly escorted by two Alien Fighters.
The problem then is to first draw the Alien Fighters away from the Corvette and dealing with them first, and this cannot be accomplished by a single interceptor. Therefore it is recommended to engage Corvette class UFOs with a minimum of three Xenonaut aircraft.
It should also be noted that a single fully armed Condor is unable to bring down a Corvette. Usually it takes at least two Condors, which preferably saved their missiles earlier in encounters with Fighters. It is strongly recommended that players attempt to destroy Corvette Fighter escorts with cannon only.
Interceptors are the ultimate alien air superiority fighters and are incredibly fast. They are more than capable of taking a Condor one on one, and they are slightly superior to the Corsair. The only true counter to these as of 0.20 is the Marauder, which can solo an interceptor with its plasma weaponry.
Interceptors will actively seek out Xenonaut craft, and will eventually start escorting larger UFOs.