Fleet Air

Note: Information on the Vipers and Raptors has been taken directly from Battlestar Wiki to be used here.

Colonial Navy and Fleet Platforms

Fighters

Vipers Mark II & VII

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Both models are considered flyable craft in-game.

In space flight, the Viper is highly maneuverable, dangerously so in inexperienced hands. Reaction control system (RCS) thrusters for rapid and flexible attitude control, a cluster of 3 main thrusters for high acceleration, and retractable reverse thrusters housed in both port and starboard cowlings for some degree of deceleration can subject the pilot to punishing g-forces. Its retractable landing struts can be magnetized to secure the Viper on metal decks and surfaces in zero gravity.

In atmospheric flight, Vipers consume more Tylium fuel than in the vacuum of space. Once in an atmosphere, the engines must run continuously to maintain sufficient airflow over the wing lifting surfaces. Depending on the composition of the atmosphere itself, this can place severe strain on the Viper's engines. In addition to greater fuel consumption, the high wing load (i.e. small wing area relative to weight) may compromise the Viper's overall maneuverability. Because the smaller wing surfaces generate less lift, higher speeds are needed to stay aloft. The fighter's RCS thrusters might partially compensate for this.

Viper cockpits are pressurized and heated, and pilots wear flight suits which, along with a breathing pack housed within the back, provide full life support should ejection be required. In atmospheric ejections, the seat jettisons automatically once clear of the Viper, exposing a parachute which is deployed at a safe altitude.

Leap Upgrades (Mark II+)

With most of the Viper Mark VII's destroyed during the Second Cylon War, the Mark Two's have once again become the workhorse of the fleet. They were in-fact ideal for upgrades due to the fact that much of their cockpit was already empty but for the very basic necessities of flight. This left a lot of room for the quantum computing and encryption upgrades offered by the Arpay. Amongst other things there are now two MFD's (multi-function displays) other than the DRADIS picture that allow for communications, armaments, avionics, and damage displays among other options. This upgrade includes the BADIL (Battlespace Digital Link) system that allows networked information sharing with other craft within line of sight or about thirty miles in space.

The upgrades include:

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  • A chin-mounted IRST (infrared search and track) camera that can pick up a fighter-sized object in space at 45 miles. It will see anything not immediately shielded against IR signatures and can pick up engines readily. This can be slaved to two systems: the fie control system for IR guided missiles as well as the BADIL system.
  • An avionics upgrade system that includes an upgraded flight helmet. The helmet includes a mounted sight system that allows off-bore missile tracking and locks, as well as night vision filters that work by electronic charge of the plastic facepiece.
  • All three engines replaced with Arpay Fleet Hornet engines for a sixty percent improvement in thrust without sacrificing maneuverability. It includes a more fuel efficient system for allow for increased range.
  • The twin 30mm Thraxon cannons have been replaced with four slimmed 30mm cannons designed to feed HEAP rounds (high exposive armor piercing) that will penetrate four inches of Raider armor in space at standard muzzle velocities.
  • Upgraded missile racks that allow for the reliable carry of four missiles in any combination of DRADIS or IR-guided systems.
  • A new matte black and gray camouflage pattern that makes it much harder to see in space, but retains high visibility with combatible Colonial IFF and dynamic faceplate modes.

These are the standard Vipers now in use with the Colonial Fleet. A small contingent of Mark II's remain unmodified and in mothballs.


Attack

Predator

This craft is considered flyable in-game.

The Predator is a product of the original Cylon War where delivering ordnance had to be fast and accurate and getting in beneath Cylon air defenses could be difficult. Built upon the original design of the Viper Mark II, these aircraft were lengthened at the nose to create a second cockpit seat behind the pilot for an ECO. Additionally, the wings were extended forward as well to allow for larger payloads and there are several large bulges along the belly to accommodate the additional avionics and targeting systems. The photo below shows the engine intakes (note: red intake covers), cockpit setup, and paint scheme.

Predcockpit.jpg

The Mark II was one of the most basic designs available at the time so building it up into a fully capable strike aircraft was a difficult task. The installation of more sensitive threat warning receivers was the first step, followed by a terrain-following DRADIS system that allowed Nap-of-the-Ground terrain masking. With the additional weight, plus the need to be able to deliver heavier ordnance loads, the wings were expanded forward by 20% and triple-ejection racks were added for missiles and bombs, plus an increased fuel load. Lastly, a rudimentary fire control system was added for guiding the missiles and deploying the bombs. The Predator was put into action almost immediately and the Fleet had to dig up all of its old manuals about two-man fighter crews from centuries past. Fortunately, the project was a quick success. The Predators got into low-level bombing very quickly and then started going after Cylon air defense systems as well, in a role dubbed 'Wild Weasel'.

After the war it was decided to give these frames a new reporting name other than that of a Viper derivative. They were renamed to the 'Predator' officially, a term that the crews had already been using for some time. But through the war, the crews had also done a lot of on-the-spot upgrades and Deck Chiefs had gotten creative, such as upgrading the output of the engines. Post-war, the Fleet incorporated a lot of these fixes as official upgrades and eventually installed a more state-of-the-art fire control system which evolved into integration with the Raptor's TRAFICS, REKRS, and PIRCS. Today these platforms have still found service with the Navy but they are generally stationed on the more advanced battlestars. Parts for them are easy to come by as well since there are so many in common with the Viper Mark II. The Battlestar Orion has twenty-four of these attack craft, however there are no dedicated squadrons anywhere in the fleet anymore. Today, Viper and Raptor pilots are expected to know how to fly these aircraft (though Viper pilots tend to, but not always, have a better handle on the outright speed of these craft) and maintain proficiency the same way that ECO's are expected to know how to operate the fire control, bombing, and defensive countermeasures systems.

These craft are capable of launching out the tubes of battlestars as long as they are only armed with their chin-mounted 20mm Fughes minigun. If they are loaded down with missiles, bombs, or other ordnance on their wings, like Vipers, they need to launch off the flight deck and be lifted up on elevators just as the Raptors normally are. Fully loaded, a Predator can carry a total of six bombs on two triple-ejection racks, or six standard missiles, or two large anti-ship or anti-radiation/DRADIS missiles. They retain no capability to drop precision ordnance the same way that a Raptor can. Arguments within the Fleet for upgrading this capability are constantly countered that the platform needs to be kept as simple as possible, an agreement spearheaded by the large majority of the flight and deck crews.

Note: OOCly we are not allowing these aircraft to be used to dogfight for now, nor will they be used in electronic warfare against Raiders. The first ruling may change in the future, however the second will not. Additionally, these craft are not in any way a close replacement for a Raptor in terms of pure ordnance delivery. Nothing will top that. But Raptors are big, heavy craft. Where does the Predator fall in? They are extremely fast, can get in underneath air defenses to avoid detection, and are far more maneuverable than a Raptor. A Raptor might be able to jump in and drop a bomb, but if that bomb misses its target or there are unexpected air defenses? It is a very fat, slow target while it spools its jump drive to get out of the area. Survival rates go down quickly. Predators are far more adept at hitting targets fast and without detection. Think of Raptors as big, lumbering heavy bombers like B-52s and the Predators as F-111's.

Leap Upgrades (Predator Block Two)

The old Predators proved to be some of the deadliest craft of the Second War when it came to mission survivability in high threat environments. The ships became known heavily for the use in Wild Weasel with hunting down Cylon SAM systems and clearing the path for the Vipers and Raptors to get their heavy work done. Getting these birds their needed upgrades became a priority just after the capabilities were demonstrated in full. This upgrade includes the BADIL (Battlespace Digital Link) system that allows networked information sharing with other craft within line of sight or about thirty miles in space.

The upgrades include:

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  • The 20mm Fughes minigun in the front has been replaced with a 30mm six-barrel rotary cannon that fires the same high explosive, armor piercing rounds as the Viper II+ models do. However, the torque generated by the operation of the gun system in zero-G is such that it will overpower the flight control systems and send the Predator into an uncontrollable roll after firing more than three seconds and **will* result in GLOC (gravity induced loss of consciousness) of the flight crew and eventual death. However, this gun is designed to kill not just armored vehicles but also blast through stone fortifications.
  • Twin IRST and night vision sensor systems, one on each side of the craft's nose. They link similarly to both fire control and the BADIL system just as the chin-mounted system on the Vipers.
  • The Bathtub. Both pilot and Weapons System Operator in the rear now sit in one large armored bathtub. The tubs are not traditional armor, though. They are woven microfabric using compressed carbon and diamond fibers. The result is a very, very expensive, relatively lightweight, and basic protection system for the crew that will absorb almost anything up to direct cannon fire.
  • A new avionics bay has been built into the belly at the center of gravity. This system includes the ability to take on-the-fly precision targeting upgrades for any location either in space or on a planet. Planetary targeting requires terrain mapping information that can be obtained by the Predator using the new terrain following radar system, or by a Raptor that has mapped the area. The new terrain following system uses a similar millimeter-band radar system that the Cylon Forge anti-aircraft system employs, making the system accurate down to six inches at ten miles. The fleet has foregone the use of a slaved autopilot system due to the desire to retain manual skills with crewmembers.
  • The entire rear end of the frame has been rebuilt and upgraded over time. Using lighter and stronger materials, the wingroots and load bearing structures of the ship have been strengthened considerably. While it will degrade maneuverability to do-so, obviously, the Block Two allows the carrying of two triple ejection bomb racks on each wing in addition to four air to ground missiles, or fueling tanks (with the capability to refuel others through a drogue) for increased range, or rocket pods, or two large anti-ship or anti-Saber 'Shrike' missiles.
  • A new ghost green/gray/brown camouflage pattern on the top that makes the craft hard to spot when looking down on it, and a off-gray fade across the bottom, increasing the difficulty of spotting it from the ground.

The initial rebuild on the Predator was a proof of concept. The fleet liked the concept so well that they opted to adopt the full frame rebuilds that effectively made the Predators completely new ships. However, because of their heavy use in training the Predators have become the same old workhorses with the same character that they had when they came out of mothballs. While there is additional weight due to the new systems and the armor to protect them, the maneuverability has changed little. It is still described as trying to fly a freight train while someone pours coal into the furnace.

The Predator Block Two's are the fleet standard. No Block One's remain in service, but a small contingent is left unmodified and in mothballs.


Support

Raptor

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This craft is considered flyable in-game.

The Raptor is usually operated by a crew of two (one pilot and one ECO), has synthetic gravity on board, and is controlled by means of a fly-by-wire system. It is capable of atmospheric flight and is also equipped with a short-range FTL engine, allowing it to make short faster-than-light hops. Due to its size and shape, a Raptor is not launched from a battlestar's launch tube, rather, it deploys from the forward end of a flight pod. The vehicle has been a mainstay of the Colonial fleet for over 40 years, having entered service sometime prior to the twelfth year of the first Cylon War. Its versatility and reliability in various roles has likely prevented it from being phased out by newer Colonial craft.

As a scout, Raptors can:

  • Undertake short and medium-range scans to detect electromagnetic, heat or other signatures from other vessels
  • Scan planetary surfaces for signs of life, energy output, or to locate and assess mineral deposits
  • Scout ahead of its parent warship in other planetary or celestial systems for any signs of hostile intent or stellar conditions prior to the parent ship's arrival
  • Undertake search & rescue operations after an engagement with Cylon forces.

As an ECM platform, the Raptor contains a full suite of electronic countermeasure and monitoring tools, enabling it to:

  • Jam wireless or relay transmissions (by wireless or optically) from other spacecraft
  • Scramble control signals used by guided weapons
  • Undertake IFF operations for Viper squadrons

In addition to reconnaissance and scouting, the Raptor can also undertake the following roles:

  • Airborne warning & control and electronic countermeasures platform supporting Viper operations
  • Marine assault craft
  • Ambulance / evac vehicle
  • General purpose transport
  • Combat Search and Rescue
  • Secure communication with other vessels

In the transport role, a Raptor is capable of carrying around eight to ten adults in addition to the two-person crew. In the assault role, it can carry a squad of some eight equipped Marines.

The Raptor Guide has an extensive overview on Raptors, their operation, armaments, and capabilities. This page also includes a write-up on the Post-Leap upgrades given to the Raptors.

Rhino

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The Rhino is a relic of the First Cylon War. This beast was designed - from the ground up - to be a long-range close support and assault craft. One that exceeded the ability of the Raptor. It was originally created to fly into heavily occupied zones light years away, provide support, and drop a squad of troops. It was the hero of a few old movies and the reputation was well-deserved. It is heavily armored and heavily armed. The craft has two inches of depleted uranium armor around the whole hull, which gives it excellent protection. However, it also makes the craft extremely heavy on the mass-end. Thusly, it is very hard to maneuver. However, the Rhino makes up for its handling in armament. It's size also precludes it from actually being parked on a Battlestar hangar deck. The ships can be carried by a Battlestar and stored on the Flight Deck or, more commonly, kept at ground bases. For the purposes of the fleet, they are kept on the ground at Sheridan.

The Rhino has two different manned ball turrets, which contain twin MEC-A6 Thraxon 30mm cannons, in addition to a missile system and 20mm front gun. The first ball turret is located on the dorsal section. This turret is accessible in the crew quarters and gives a very free 180 degrees of targeting across the top end. The second turret (accessible from the cargo section) is located under the chin and provides the gunner the ability to target any opponents that drift within 270 degrees of the nose. Either of these turrets can be used to target Raiders and can be manned by Deck, pilots, ECO's, or Marines. Up front the pilot has access to a dual 20mm chain gun that plunks out high explosive depleted uranium rounds (HEDEU) and are only applicable for ground attack. Behind the pilot, the ECO has a full electronic warfare suite that includes the ability to launch missile attacks. However, the Rhino retains no bomb-carrying ability, nor the ability to carry nukes or external jamming pods. The pilot and ECO are limited to ground attack only.

The ship, as a vessel, has three primary sections. The Aft Lower Deck is where the passengers and cargo stay. There is also an armory there for standard Marine weapons or specially loaded gear, as well as an assault docking collar. The fore ball turret is accessible from this area. The second deck is considered 'Flight Deck' and is a long neck to the front. The ECO sits directly behind the pilot just like a Predator and has an overbuilt screen, manning their position in their own ACES-II Ejection Seat. The Aft Upper Deck provides more comfort. There are three sleeping bunks, a kitchenette, a bathroom/shower combo, and access to the dorsal turret.

OOC NOTE: Piloting a Rhino is a -2 to rolls, trained. Untrained, it is a -5. They were last flown in the First Cylon War, so training will be done on-camera for PCs (RP opportunity!). Ball turrets are the only ones who can kill Raiders. Pilots and ECO's in the backseat position at the terminal cannot kill Raiders without extremely good justification. Those positions are strictly limited to ground attack. Additionally, below is a floorplan for the ship. It is boarded from a ramp at the rear. This is a large file and can be zoomed-in. Not that in this view there is only one seat in the cockpit. For the purposes of RP assume that there is an additional seat directly behind the pilot for the ECO.

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Leap Upgrades

The Rhinos were pulled out of AMARG after it was realized how badly the fleet needed a reliable, armored and armed transport that could take a beating and deliver a larger number of troops than the Raptor could. The upgrades performed on the Rhino were done completely in-house with the Colonial Fleet using what had been developed for the other combat ships. All upgraded models include the BADIL (Battlespace Digital Link) system that allows networked information sharing with other craft within line of sight or about thirty miles in space.

All models have had the following upgrades:

  • Updated avionics that allows for easier piloting, including eliminating a known issue with yaw oscillation at high velocities. The package includes a dynamic system that harnesses the power of the anti-grav 'wings' and allows them to assist in propulsion as well as maneuvering. Higher-powered avionics packages and generators allow for heavier payloads as well due to the grav system being redesigned to compensate for different loads.
  • The fire control system has been upgraded to match that of the Super Raptors, however its ordnance capabilities remain unchanged.
  • The lower rear decks of every ship have been gutted to remove the armory and extended aft, allowing for higher cargo capabilities.

Rhino-AC
This version of the Rhino has been gutted of the living area upstairs and the lower deck has been completely redesigned. The upper deck structure retains the turret but every other inch of the compartment is dedicated to the heavy gun fire control systems downstairs. The upper deck is manned by Marine gunners, usually, or Air Wing personnel. In the last few years the Navy has also seen fit to train members of the Deck in how to use the systems. The upper deck also includes a very high end FTL communications system that allows for instant communication over massive distances.

Down below the whole lower deck has been turned into a gun gallery and sensor suite. Along the left side of the Rhino-AC's exterior are several camera systems that can see across nearly the whole spectrum of visible and invisible light. Along the bottom corner is a line of heavy guns that are loaded by the crews on that deck, but remotely controlled by the gunners on the top deck. There are two 40mm Bofors cannons, a 20mm minigun off a Predator, and a 105mm artillery tube donated by the Colonial Marine Corps. This ship is designed from the bottom-up to be a total air support craft. When orbital bombardment is too lethal to friendlies and Predators just can't drop it in any closer, or maybe you just need one craft with a very large loiter time, this is it.

Rhino-AM
This version of the Rhino retains the crew quarters on the upper deck as a standard Rhino, but the lower deck has been completely stripped down. The armory cab towards the fore has been removed and the inner hull has had the chairs stripped out. The walls have a modular track system similar to shelving where seats can be installed, but so can stretchers for a mass casualty situation. owever, this variant also allows for the ship to carry a lot of palletted cargo all the way up to an armored 4WD vehicle. Without cargo it can carry two squads of airborne Marines in full kit.

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