Mercenaries are hired at a building called mercenary command post. Mercenaries require an initial insurance fee, and charge a smaller rolling fee at five-second intervals. The insurance fee is completely or partially refunded when the mercenary team is released, depending on how many mercenaries are alive. Only one mercenary team any kind can be hired by any one player in a game. Mercenaries come in three categories, with slightly different deployment costs and upkeep:
- Official mercenaries: deployment $5000, upkeep: $100/6 seconds.
- Unofficial mercenaries: deployment $10000, upkeep: $200/6 seconds. Requires upgrade.
- Illegal mercenaries: deployment $15000, upkeep: $300/6 seconds. Requires upgrade.
When being deployed, most mercenaries (the exception being Iron Rain, Death Wing and Shadow Hawk airstrikes) will land a reconnaissance helicopter to scout the drop zone. If this helicopter is destroyed before it can finish surveying the area, deployment will be cancelled and the deployment fee refunded.
Mercenaries can be deployed anywhere on the map. However, the further away the drop zone is from the mercenary command post, the longer it will take for the recon helicopter to complete its survey, meaning greater risk for it to be destroyed. Additionally, the upkeep fee will continue to roll while the recon helicopter is scouting, even before the mercenaries themselves arrive to the battlefield. Thus, in many cases it is safer and more cost efficient to deploy mercenaries close to the Mercenary Outpost and have them reach their destination on foot.
The mercenary scout helicopter can also be used as a de facto scout by the player, since it will reveal a small area around itself when it lands. It cannot detect stealth units.