FAQ: The Raptor Guide
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Raptors. Some people refer to them as 'school buses in space' and others sing their praises as the masters of the zero-G battlefield. Ron Moore apparently thinks of them as something akin to an EA-6B Prowler. Whatever the opinion is, the fact is that these airframes are some of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the Colonial Navy. They do nearly everything that Vipers don't — and even some things they do. The only thing the Raptors REALLY don't do is dogfight. The sheer mass of these platforms completely prevents the kinds of maneuvers done and attempted by Vipers. Generally, any missile or guns kills made by a Raptor's weapons systems against enemy fighters are accidents. Generally. Not always.

Below is a series of topics that will touch on the various points and parts of Raptors. Sensor suites, different variants, armament loadouts, how to survive being shot down, and all the little details of flying these versatile airframes are covered. If there is something missing here that a player would like to see covered, shoot a +request to staff. It will be added as soon as rulings can be made and the time found.

Squadrons

There are a variety of squadron types for Raptors. Each squadron has an assigned specialty and their Raptors can be modified to fit their roles better. Air Wings assigned to battlestars usually consist of a few of these types listed below. Some of the smaller ships would only have a dedicated logistical squadron (understrength) and would be assigned to an external Air Wing command that would be assigned to an anchorage.

All squadrons can do the basic duties of other squadrons. An Assault squad can still do Electronic Warfare. A Logistical squad can still do Assault. The main difference is that these 'dedicated' squadrons perform their roles better.

  • ASSAULT: These squadrons carry the 'VAQ' designation before the tri-numeral visible on their patches. These squadrons can specialize in two distinct areas: Space and Atmo. Attack groups practice engagements according to their individual specialty in each area with the Atmo crews working heavily with the Marines to hone skills with Close Air Support and insertion/landing operations. Space crews tend to focus their skillset towards massed engagements at the fleet level and operation within a single Air Wing-sized unit.
  • ELECTRONIC WARFARE: These squadrons carry the 'VAW' designation before the tri-numeral visible on their patches. Their primary function is to provide airborne early warning (AEW) support to the Air Wing by way of running DRADIS pickets and finding targets at longer distances than a Viper could. Their secondary task is the application of electronic warfare against enemy units and facilities by way of jamming, communications intercepts, and reconnaissance.
  • LOGISTICS & SUPPORT: These squadrons carry the 'VRC' designation before the tri-numeral visible on their patches. Most of the duties of L&S groups involves daily transport of personnel and materials between ships and doesn't seem all that exciting. However, these squadrons have a range of duties that varies quite widely from transport operations. Their other functions include Medevac (the Raptors assigned to hospital ships carry this designation), Zero-G Assault/Boarding Operations, and Search and Rescue (SAR). These areas are just examples and do not serve as limitations on their operations. L&S squadrons have more or less unlimited tasking options and are expected to perform in almost every role.
  • COMBAT SEARCH AND RESCUE: These squadrons have a different designation from the rest of the Raptor Fleet for a very good reason. Their designations carry the tri-numerals first and are followed by the letters 'RQS'. The Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) groups are a special breed and do not normally see deployments to the fleets. These groups are almost always based at Colonial Fleet Air Stations in order to maintain closer ties to the terrain that they train so hard at. While L&S groups will fly SAR for the fleet, these men and women are dedicated to it. That is their only mission. They specialize in flying in, locating, and extracting anything or anyone from some of the most hostile environments. CSAR units train extensively for these operations and are adept and combined arms engagements utilizing both Marines and Vipers in support of their missions. Try-outs for these groups are held bi-annually. Ensigns and LTJGs are not accepted. Most who apply stay for the duration of their careers and acceptance to the billet requires at minimum a ten-year contract extension that dedicates them to their particular squadron. IE: They own you.

Note: CSAR squadrons are/were out there. If you want to have had your bit stationed with a group like this, expect to have to write an amazing background that explains why one of the best pilots in the fleet got fired from the group (revoking their contract) and is still allowed to fly in the Navy.

Configuration

Raptors come in one basic configuration. It is devoid of weapons, and the focus is on electronic countermeasures and scanning capabilities. This is the standard outfitting for all Colonial Raptors, and it is the norm for all Raptors aboard Orion. Unless told otherwise by staff and/or ST, you should assume at all times that this is the state of your Raptor and any others in a scene.

On some occasions, it may be necessary to outfit a Raptor with additional equipment, including armaments. This is possible, assuming that one has good reason, sufficient time, deck personnel, materials, and authorization from the CAG. Given all of those things, there are a variety of ways in which Raptors can be armed. Below are examples of different standardized set-ups. The availability of these options at any given time is subject to staff approval, and they should not be considered standard operating procedure IC. A Raptor-F is not generally sitting around on the hangar deck unless the CAG has good reason to order it. Generally having a heavily armed craft loaded down with high explosive sitting around on a hangar deck with a lot of other explosive ordnance, volatile fuel, and crews working overtime is a bad thing. Arm it up, get it off the hangar deck.

  • Raptor-B: This is the general designation given to a normal, run-of-the-mill Raptor. It has all of the basic capabilities that any other Raptor would have. It is devoid of weapons systems but still has Swallows and various other types of defensive decoys.
  • Raptor-F: The 'Foxtrots' are the gunships. These Raptors have missile racks installed on every pylon as well as some additional programming added to the ECO station to aid in targeting and employment of these weapons systems. The Pilot can operate the 20mm miniguns and drop the bombs, but the ECO does the vast majority of the targeting and fire control on everything else. The armaments associated with these models are discussed below.
  • Raptor-G: These are the fire support craft. They haven't been actively fielded within the general fleet for almost ten years due to lack of purpose. The only groups to fly them are the CSAR groups. The reason is because these models have integrated M28 CAPARMs .50 door guns. The high rate of fire requires tubular mounting as well as reinforcement of the door frame of the cabin. These models also restrict the ability carry cargo or personnel down to two passengers plus the crew. Exit from these variants is also difficult under stress unless the crew ejects or shoves the gun out of the way. They were originally designed to provide heavy overhead fire support while another Raptor performed the extraction of personnel on the ground.
  • Raptor-R: These frames carry a few extra sensors and tools for the crew. They are designed for reconnaissance and have upgraded active sensor pods (ALQ-448 AJP, Dradome) that can see deeper and with more detail than a standard Raptor.
  • Super Raptor: The Arpay Enhanced Raptor, or 'Super Raptor' is a currently an experimental craft to be a midlife upgrade to the current Raptor. Built upon the original air frame of a Raptor-B, this Raptor was taken to the Arpay and refitted from the ground up. The Super Raptor is configurable with all current model configurations. Information on it's stats is below.

Possible Armaments

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It is important to note that the munitions carried by the Raptors are not unguided for the most part, but that Cylon jamming makes them effectively unguided. That means that your char cannot lock onto Raiders and blow them out of the sky with a single missile. Raiders are simply too agile and the targeting systems on the Raptors aren't fast enough. The missiles are designed for the engagement of either large objects (basestars, space stations, etc) or ground targets only at this time.

1) Hardpoint (Outboard, Wingtip): 1 x 20mm Fughes Minigun (Ammunition Store Negates Use of #2 Hardpoint)

2) Hardpoint (Inboard, Wingtip): 1 x 30mm Rocket Pod (24 Rockets Each), 1 x "Buddy Store" Refueling Pod, 1 x ALQ-448 Active Jamming Pod, 1 x Decoy Drone

3) Hardpoint (Midwing): 4 x ASIM-54C Javelin Missiles (Rack-Mounted), 6 x Mark-82 500lbs Bomb, 1 x B-81 Tactical Nuclear Warhead, 1 x Decoy Drone, 1 x Communication Drone

4) Hardpoint (Fuselage): 4 x ASIM-54C Javelin Missiles (Rack-Mounted), 6 x Mark-82 500lbs Bomb, 1 x B-81 Tactical Nuclear Warhead, 1 x Decoy Drone, 1 x Communication Drone

5) Hardpoint (Dorsal Fuselage): 1 x Carvel Missile Rack (12 Rockets Each)

6) Door/Hatch: 1 x CAPARMS M28 .50cal Heavy Machine Gun

The Centerline station on the Raptor cannot mount normal weapons systems and is dedicated to an internally-mounted countermeasures pod. It contains four flares (Swallows) and four chaff pods (Jiggers).

Sensor Suite

Below is a listing of the standard sensor and recon gear that a Raptor has. They can be mixed and matched to certain extents, but the ultimate capabilities of these will be left to staff. All of these are normally controlled by the ECO however the pilot can slave the systems (at the most basic level) as he or she pleases if the need arises.

  • DRADIS: We all know it. We all love it. It works off a variety of antennas located around the ship but the emitter is a small dish on the front. Extended capabilities include the ability to scan across all axis, at longer ranges, by the addition of a 'Dradome' on top of the Raptor. This dradome cannot be used in conjunction with Carvel Missile Racks (See Above).
  • LAMPS: Stands for 'LAser Measurement and Particle Sensor' and is an array that is mounted on the front of the Raptor on a rotating ball turret that can scan in almost any direction under the Raptor. It uses lasers to measure particles and atomic weights in the area around the Raptor. It can be used to scan the surface of a planet/plantoid/asteroid to determine atmospheric content, soil/surface compositions (if close enough), or the amount of radiation in the atmosphere.
  • PIRCS: Pronounced 'perks'. This is an acronym for the 'Photographic and InfraRed Capture System' that is mounted to the same ball turret as the LAMPS above. It has the ability capture still-frame images, record up to forty hours of video, and scan across much of the electromagnetic spectrum. The camera can scan up to about 10^17 Hz (between ultraviolent and X-rays) and be used to scan across that whole spectrum. There have been reports of CARPA (Colonial Advanced Research Projects Agency) successfully testing a system that could scan up across 10^20 Hz (Gamma Radiation) but the uses were extremely limited and the project handed off to Stellar Research.
  • REKRS: Pronounced 'wreckers'. This is an acronym that stands for 'Rollins Electronic Kill and Rejection System'. These are the electronic warfare systems that have been installed on all Raptors. Essentially one of the most complex and least-understood systems on the Raptors, their components are closely held by the Deck Chief in armored lockers. It is a combination of a very powerful jamming suite as well as a series of passive sensors that interpret incoming signals. The two subsystems can be manipulated (and are intended to be) so that the ECO can successfully jam enemy/foreign attempts at electronic warfare. The ALQ-448 Active Jamming Pod is an addition to this system that can boost the capabilities of REKRS with additional computing power and sensors that are built into the pod. It can boost outbound signals, better analyze incoming weaker ones, and provide more data about what the ECO is seeing electronically. The main drawback to the ALQ-448 AJP is that it is too powerful. Any cracks in the frame of the Raptor will produce massive feedback that has resulted in small electrical fires inside the ECO station. It also completely blinds Vipers in the immediate vicinity.
  • TRAFICS: Pronounced 'traffics'. This is an acronym for 'Templecast RAptor FIre Control System' and is responsible for the weapons systems that the Raptor can employ. The whole system is normally installed on a Raptor regardless of what the role of the individual bird is because this system is part of an integrated defense computer that works closely with REKRS to deploy the physical countermeasures like Sparrows and Jiggers. It is also responsible for target acquisition and has the ability to feed targeting information to Vipers, other Raptors, and capital ships via a simple, encrypted wireless network.
  • ALQ-448 Active Jamming Pod: These pods sit on the hardpoints of the Raptor-R configuration. They negate the safe handling of other ordnance on the Raptors due to the heavy radiological emissions these pods put off and the crew must be careful to avoid being cooked if their Raptor takes severe hits on the same side as this pod's hardpoint when its in operation. These upgraded jamming pods are capable of suppressing multiple targets at once or severely crippling the capabilities of a single target. These were commonly used in conjunction with Predators during the first war, forming Hunter/Killer Teams, where the Raptor would go hunt for air defense sites at high altitude and a Predator would fly at low altitude and hit the sites while the ALQ-448-equipped Raptor would distract and suppress them. Due to the sensitivity of these pods and the danger they pose working in close physical proximity to other frames, they are not recommended for dogfight support.

Ejection/Crew Survival

The Raptor has two ejection seats and the ECO isn't stationed in either one. Both ejection seats are forward on the craft and sit underneath the canopy. If the crew has to eject, the ECO has to make it to the ejection seat and strap in before the seats are engaged. There is a large yellow handle on the sides of each seat that is held in place by a simple metal clip. Its hard to trip on accident, but not hard to break on purpose. The firing of one seat does not fire the other, either. Both seats must be fired independently. This is done because the pilot may have to eject before the ECO can reach their seat. It also means that if the pilot is unconscious, then the ECO needs to eject the pilot before firing their own seat.

When the seats are fired, a few things happen in very rapid succession. The electrical switch first completes a circuit that fires explosive bolts. These bolts are what secure the canopy glass in place. When they fire, the canopy glass is blown free of the forward cabin. This takes approximately .23 seconds from the time the handles are pulled until the glass is cleared from the path of the ejection seats. At .26 seconds, the seats fire. Each seat accelerates vertically with a launch load of 14G's and clears the crew from the ship almost immediately. Back sprains are not uncommon with Raptor ejections because of this.

A lot of survival materials can be recovered from Raptors — depending on the extent of damage, of course. There are some basic crew survival kits on each ship that contain things like medical kits, MRE's, and some ammunition. A survival radio is issued to every pilot and is expected to be on them at all times when they are airborne, just like their sidearms. There is also a very basic repair kit aboard to perform minor fixes to the ship (Miniseries — Helo patches a busted fuel line on Caprica). Other items could potentially be salvaged but it will be up to the players to devise ways to make wreckage work for them.

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Flight Characteristics

Raptors operate in space via thrusters that fire to help maneuver the bird while the engines provide intermittent thrust to help accelerate the craft. The fuel use for space flight is minimal and the engines are used primarily to provide power to the ship. Raptors are not highly maneuverable craft, either. At least, not when compared with Vipers. What is important to remember is that while everything is weightless in space (weight is a relative measurement to earth's gravitational force), mass is not negated. A person could not push a battlestar around space if they had a solid platform to push from. Thus, mass still has to be maneuvered by thrust and the Raptor takes a lot of it, even though Raptors are more maneuverable in space due to the inherent lack of limitations that gravity imposes on airborne platforms.

When under the influence of gravity, Raptors operate under the same problems as helicopters. They have to transition from horizontal to vertical flight. Vectored thrust maintains their ability to hover while the engines have to operate to generate lift while they are moving forward. This eats a lot of fuel, either way. However, when hovering, Raptors have the problem of stability. Vectored thrust generates lift by overcoming the gravity acting against it, but the main issue is that thrust is generated downward and there is no stability provided by things like lifting bodies (wings). Thus, Raptors are inherently unstable in a hover and are particularly vulnerable during take-off or landing.

Arpay Enhanced Raptor (Super Raptor)

The Arpay Enhanced or "Super" Raptor is the midlife update to the venerable Raptor frame, thanks to the Engineers from Arpay getting a hold of a Raptor air frame and with help from Colonial ECOs, was updated to be a more complete combat and support platform.

The Super Raptor is a lighter, more fuel efficient and longer range Raptor - offering 40% more range than the current models for extended missions. The air frame armor has been replaced with lighter, more armored materials, providing for a higher crew survivability. It has updates to avionics, with the ECO and pilots stations being updated to provide the latest technologies in touch screen and interfaces.

The HUD is prism based, which is projected directly into the PNVGS and helmet systems as a filter, providing low visibility and night vision to the pilot and co-pilot. The ECO has a connection to an active Airborne Collision Avoidance System that is directly linked to DRADIS and it's improved range of more that 25% and capable of tracking up to 250 objects with no lag.

It's jamming interface of REKRS has been further integrated and updated with more power, so that the ALQ-448 Pod has become redundant. In order to make up for the power of this new system and it's tendency to interfere with friendly craft near it, the Super Raptor's newest feature is the network interface. Able to interact with up to 20 aircraft at a time, the Super Raptor can share it's DRADIS and other tactical information in real time, guiding pilots to targets and extending the tactical advantage of both Viper and Predator groups via Arpay Quantum Computing. This system is also to be used to communicate with JTAC interfaces. (Note: For this Network to work, the other ships in the group /must/ be of the upgraded variety as well).

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