We need to react quickly to counter the alien menace and pursuing them with aircraft is the simplest way to defend a large zone in a short time.
Once hangars are set in your base, clicking on one of them will bring you to the aircraft screen. All the aircrafts in the base are listed on the top left window. The top right one shows the selected aircraft.
The aircrafts selected for the PHALANX project can handle more or less weapons, equipments and armor extensions.
The bottom left window shows the equipment available in storage stored by category.
When weapons are listed the aircraft view will show the available emplacements with the currently equiped weapon if any. Clicking on an emplacement will show its state in the bottom right window. Replace the weapon by assigning a new one.
It will take some time to remove the mounted weapon and to attach the new one. If the weapon you selected has different kind of ammunitions check which one will be loaded and change them in the ammunition category.
As for weapons the aircraft can board some extensions. Select them and order mounting them in dedicated slots the same way as weapons.
Finally the regular armor can be reinforced with a single extension.
The effectiveness and lifetime of your interceptors will greatly depend on the equipment set. Choose them wisely.
The aircraft must be operated by confirmed pilots. Don't forget to hire some and assign them to an aircraft.
The box next to the pilot name shows its assignment. If the box is grey the pilot is already affected to an other aircraft, if empty it can be assigned to the selected one.
See also Manual/Singleplayer/Equip Soldiers.
Probably the most important sub-menu here is "Equip Aircraft". A click brings up a screen which allows you to choose which soldiers to assign to your selected aircraft. Obviously this is quite important when it comes to your dropship. A standard dropship offers place for 8 soldiers and there are only very few reasons not to use all of them. In order to choose the best soldiers for an upcoming mission you are provided with an picture of your selected character and his / her statistics. A simple click on the "X" or$\surd$ assigns or discards the selected soldier from the current ship (which can be changed using the screen in the lower right). By the way: if you are unhappy with the names of your fighters you may change them using the "edit" button in the upper right, just next to current soldiers name.
Also please notice that while you can assign one soldier to an interceptor ship, this wont do any good. Unless of course you decide to land on a mission-site with just this one soldier. Once you made your decision of whom to take to battlefield, confirm your selection using the button in the very bottom right corner (you can re-do your selection as often as you want as long as the ship in question hasn't left the base) which brings up the inventory screen.
Here you can equip your soldiers for their upcoming missions. The different sections of this screen should be quite self-explanatory, nevertheless we will comment some of its basic features. In the upper left you see all soldiers assigned to the current aircraft. On the opposite, left, side of the screen you see the soldier with his/her inventory. The amount of space an item requires is represented by the number of "squares" covered. The biggest part of the screen is used by your base's item stock. In order to make it easier to use the large amount of items, you can choose one of 4 categories (primary/secondary/misc/armour) to be displayed here. You can drag and drop items from the base's stock to the inventory of your soldiers and vice versa. Weapons shown with a red background lack the required ammo and aren't usable. You may equip them anyway but unless you get the corresponding ammunition from somewhere else they won't be of any use. In order to assist you in your task to equip every soldier with a weapon that he can handle effectively, the lower left shows the soldiers statistics (for details on stats please refer to the appendix or ufopedia). Please keep in mind that some weapons utilise two weapon proficiencies depending on the chosen firemode. Alternatively to the soldiers stats window you can change this to an object details view which presents the basic stats (one/two handed, round per clip, firemodes, damage, etc.) of an item. For details on damage and firemodes of a weapon you need to view the details of the corresponding clip / ammunition as some weapons can be equipped with different types of ammo. A simple click on the arrow symbol in the very bottom right corner confirms your selections and gets you back to the aircraft screen.