Metalworks Incorporated FB-144 Thunderhawk Fighter-Bomber:


Metalworks Incorporated is a company that is west of the city of Tolkeen that constructs various ground vehicles, robots, and aircraft. A number of their designs are copies of other companies or nations. While many of their designs are outright illicit copies, the company does have permission from Triax to produce under licence several Triax designs and sell them in North America.


A wrecked Pre-Rifts aircraft was found by a group of adventurers and they sold what they were able to salvage to Metalworks Incorporated. It is believed that the aircraft itself was never a production aircraft but a prototype that never actually entered service. Still, the design was extremely valuable to the company in developing a new fighter-bomber design.


After a lengthy examination of the aircraft, the engineers at Metalworks Incorporated were able to piece together the frame of a variable geometry (swing wing) medium bomber /heavy fighter that was designed to incorporate extensive reduction of the aircraft’s radar cross-signature. Because the material that the aircraft was actually made from was unable to be salvaged, Metalworks initially did not have the materials to construct the radar absorbent skin of the aircraft. It was until they were able to purchase a captured Coalition Talon stealth fighter were they able to fully develop a design based on the wreckage.


The aircraft which the Research and Development division of Metalworks Incorporated was able to develop from the wreckage was given the designation F-144 Thunderhawk and is considered to be a fighter-bomber. The design is meant to fill a role fairly similar to what the F-111 Aardvark did in the late Twentieth Century. There is some criticism that while the aircraft is an excellent ground attack aircraft and high speed bomber, the size limits its effectiveness as an actual fighter.


At the time of its introduction, the F-144 was the most advanced aircraft design produced by Metalworks Industries. Unlike the F-500 Tigerhawk light fighter, the F-144 Thunderhawk was designed as a state of the art design. Included in this are top of the line electronics, sensor systems, and communication systems. While the Tigerhawk has only a short range radar with the option of a conventional medium range radar, the Thunderhawk mounts a far longer ranged and capable actively scanned array radar. The system is resistant to jamming and can be used for jamming as well.


One item that the F-144 Thunderhawk does have in common with the F-500 Tigerhawk is that the aircraft’s flight controls are an advanced fly by wire design. They are quadruple redundant to protect from electronics failure and battle damage. While they increase the fighter-bomber’s maneuverability, the Thunderhawk is still not as maneuverable as most smaller aircraft.


Extremely fast, the fighter-bomber can reach just over Mach three on maximum power. In comparison, the Tigerhawk can only reach 1.75. It is believed that the company had outside assistance with the development of the advanced engines mounted on the Thunderhawk. In addition, the F-144 has an incredible cooling system which prevents the fighter-bomber from overheating. It is believed that this system contributes to the high costs of the aircraft as much as the stealth.


In order to make the fighter-bomber more flexible, it is designed with the ability to take off and land vertically. It is also designed to hover for extended periods of time. Mounted on the sides of the aircraft’s fuselage are four lift nozzles which are modified from the design first fitted to the F-550 Lionhawk and mounted on a number of other designs produced by Metalworks Incorporated.


The fighter-bomber is designed to strike with either missiles or bombs, although primarily missiles. As a result, the aircraft’s ordnance bays are generally considered its main weaponry. In total, the fighter-bomber has four ordnance bays with two large bays in the fuselage and to smaller bays in the wing roots. Interestingly, the Thunderhawk does not have any external hard points.


For self defense, the fighter-bomber does have two mounts for forward firing weaponry. These mounts are designed to carry a pair of laser cannons or a pair of rail guns. Due to fire control issues, it is not recommended to mount a laser and a rail gun even though in theory it is possible. The lasers are basically using the mechanisms from the JA-12 pulse laser rifle while the rail gun is a modified version of the Northern Gun NG-202 model. Special discarding sabot ammunition has been developed to increase rail gun effectiveness.


The fighter-bomber is designed to be operated by a crew of two, a pilot and weapon officer. The pilot has emergency controls to operate weaponry while the weapon officer can operate the aircraft if the pilot is incapacitated for some reason. The control systems and displays are touch systems and able to be quickly reconfigured. Similar to the old United States F-111 Aardvark, the whole cockpit of Metalworks fighter-bomber ejects as one unit.


Because of the sensitive nature of the design, Metalworks Incorporated is extremely cautious about customers whom they have vetted for purchase of the fighter-bomber. In addition, only a relatively small number of these aircraft have been sold. Customers have included the cities of Tolkeen and Lazlo. Another customer has been the mercenary company Larson’s Brigade, replacing their Aircastle bombers. There have been some questions by groups within the New German Republic and Triax has looked at the design. There are concerns about the relationship however between the New German Republic and the Coalition.


The Coalition is aware of the fighter-bomber design and they appear to treat it in a similar manner as the Iron Heart Industries Aircastle bomber. There is a “shoot on sight order” against these fighter-bombers. Of course with the aircraft’s stealth and high speed, it is far easier said than done.


Model Numbers: FB-144.

Vehicle Type: Twin Engine Stealth Fighter-Bomber.

Crew: Two (Pilot and weapon’s officer).


M.D.C. by Location:

 

[1] Forward Mounted Rail Guns/Laser cannons (2):

50 each.

 

Large Belly Ordnance Bays (2):

150 each.

 

Small Wing Support Ordnance Bays (2):

100 each.

 

[2] Wings (2):

250 each.

 

[3] Elevators (2):

120 each.

 

[3] Rudders (2):

120 each.

 

Landing Gear (3):

20 each.

 

Cockpit/ Reinforced Pilot Compartment:

150.

 

[4] Engines (2):

350 each.

 

[5] Lift Nozzles (4):

80 each.

 

[6] Main Body:

575.


Notes:

[1] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a “called shot.” Even then the attacker is at -4 to strike.

[2] Destroying a wing will cause the aircraft to crash if in flight. In addition, if a wing takes over 50% damage, it will be unable to transition between sweep modes, limiting the aircraft’s speed.

[3] Destruction of both rudders or one elevator will still allow the fighter to be controlled by the varying of power levels of the engines but the fighter has a penalty of -10 to dodge, and a -30% penalty to all piloting rolls. Destruction of both of the elevators will leave the plane uncontrollable and pilot must eject to survive.

[4] The destruction of one engine will reduce the fighter-bomber’s top speed by half and give the pilot a -2 penalty to dodge as well as giving a 10% penalty to piloting. Destruction of both engines will cause the aircraft to crash. The crew may attempt an emergency landing or the crew can choose to eject.

[5] Destruction of a single lift nozzle will prevent the aircraft from hovering. Destruction of a pair of lift nozzles will prevent the aircraft from making short take off and landings. These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a “called shot.” Even then the attacker is at -4 to strike.

[6] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will shut the aircraft down completely, rendering it useless and causing it to crash if in flight. Damage to the main body will also reduce the aircraft’s stealth, for every 10% of damage to the main body, reduce the aircraft’s stealth by 10% of its total.


Speed:

Driving on Ground (Taxiing): Only possible for take offs and landings as well as for parking and storage. Speed is 40 mph (64 kph) when traveling on the runway / air field and not on take off or landing. The aircraft can make both short take off and landings as well as true vertical take off and landings.

Flying: Can hover and go up to a maximum speed of Mach 3.1 (2,360.0 mph/3,797.7 kph). Its cruise speed is up to Mach 1.0 (761.379.4 mph / 1,225.1 kph) and has a maximum altitude is about 20 miles (105,600 feet/ 32190 meters). With wings swept forward / extended, maximum speed is limited to Mach 1.6 (1,218.1 mph / 1,960.1 kph) and with wings swept back, minimum speed is 200 mph (321.8 kph).

Due to the fact that all ordnance is carried in internal bays, the aircraft’s performance reduction when fully loaded is negligible.

Range: Effectively Unlimited. Unlike most Coalition and other governments aircraft, the FB-144 Thunderhawk does not overheat and can run indefinitely and is mainly limited by pilot’s endurance. This is because the engine has a high efficiency cooling system.


Statistical Data:

Height:         12 feet (3.7 meters).

Wingspan:    70 feet (21.3 meters) with wings extended and 35 feet (10.7 meters)  with wings swept back.

Length:         85 feet (25.9 meters).

Weight:        35 tons empty (31.8 metric tons) and 55 tons (49.9 metric tons) fully loaded.

Power System: Nuclear, Should have an average lifespan of 20 years.

Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment), does not include ordnance bays. Heavy Ordnance bays, if emptied of ordnance can carry up to 20,000 lbs (9,071.8 kg) of cargo each. Light Ordnance bays, if emptied of ordnance can carry up to 5,000 lbs (2,268. kg) of cargo each.

Black Market Cost: Metalworks Incorporated presently sells these aircraft for 100 million credits. If one of these aircraft was to become available on the black market, it would probably sell for two to four times that cost.


Weapon Systems:

  1. Two (2) Gun Pod Mounts: Instead of having fixed dogfighting and strafing weapons, the fighter-bomber has two special mounts in the nose of the fighter that can use either a laser cannon or a rail gun. Gun pods are controlled by the aircraft’s pilot. Due to issues with the fire control system, it is not recommended that one mount carry a laser cannon and the other carry the rail gun. Laser cannons have the advantage of not needing ammunition and pilots can remain in combat longer. Rail guns have the advantage of being useful against targets that are impervious to energy.

    1. Two (2) Laser Cannons: Normally both are fired together in six shot bursts but shorter bursts or a single laser may be fired. The fighter-bomber’s laser cannons are from the barrels and inner working of the JA-12 Assault Rifle. The laser cannons pull power directly from the fusion reactor of the aircraft.

      Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).

      Mega Damage: 4D6 for one cannon, 8D6 for both cannons, 1D6x10+10 for three blast burst from one cannon, 2D6x10+20 for three blast burst from both barrels (6 total blasts).

      Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).

      Payload: Effectively Unlimited (Draws Power off the main engines).

    2. Two (2) NG-202 Rail Guns: The pilot has two copies of the Northern Gun NG-202 as forward firing guns. They are modified to fire a longer burst than is standard for the NG-202 in a similar manner to the rail gun carried on the Samson power armor. The aircrafts used by Metalworks Incorporated uses a special APFSDS (Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot) ammunition which increases the effectiveness of the rail gun further.

      Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1200 meters).

      Mega Damage: Normal Ammo; 1D6x10 M.D.C. per burst of 60 rounds (Does not fire single shot) for one rail gun or 2D6x10 M.D.C. for both cannons. APFSDS Ammo; 2D4x10 M.D.C. per burst of 60 rounds (Does not fire single shot) for one rail gun or 4D4x10 M.D.C. for both cannons.

      Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).

      Payload: 3000 rounds each gun, That is 50 bursts for each rail gun.

  2. Two (2) Large Ordnance Bays: The aircraft has two large ordnance bays in the main body of the aircraft The ordnance bays in the aircrafts wing supports will often carry air to air ordnance with the larger bays devoted to air to surface ordnance. Ordnance types can include missiles, torpedoes, naval mines, and bombs. Missile and bomb sizes may be mixed between different types of ordnance but an ordnance drop or launch must include the same type and size of ordnance. Ordnance may be carried at the rate of four short range missiles, four light bombs, two medium range missiles, or two medium bombs for one long range missile or heavy bomb. In the large ordnance bays, one Cruise missile or extra heavy bomb may also be carried instead of two long range missiles or heavy bombs but the smaller bays do not have enough space for cruise missiles or extra heavy bombs. Both guided and unguided ordnance may be carried. Launching of ordnance is controlled by the weapons officer but the pilot has emergency controls.

    Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile and varies by altitude bombs are dropped at (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega Damage: Varies by missile or bomb type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Ordnance is dropped or fired one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (8), eight (8), or sixteen (16) but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)

    Payload: Thirty-two (32) short range missiles or light bombs, sixteen (16) medium range missiles or medium bombs, eight (8) long range missiles or heavy bomb, or four (4) cruise missiles or extra heavy bombs each bay. Ordnance can be mixed and naval mines may be carried as well as missiles and bombs.

  3. Two (2) Small Ordnance Bays: The aircraft has two small ordnance bays in the wing supports with one in each wing support / root. The ordnance bays in the aircraft’s wing supports will often carry air to air ordnance with the larger bays devoted to air to surface ordnance. Ordnance types can include missiles, torpedoes, naval mines, and bombs. Missile and bomb sizes may be mixed between different types of ordnance but an ordnance drop or launch must include the same type and size of ordnance. Ordnance may be carried at the rate of four short range missiles, four light bombs, two medium range missiles, or two medium bombs for one long range missile or heavy bomb. In the large ordnance bays, one Cruise missile or extra heavy bomb may also be carried instead of two long range missiles or heavy bombs but the smaller bays do not have enough space for cruise missiles or extra heavy bombs. Both guided and unguided ordnance may be carried. Launching of ordnance is controlled by the weapons officer but the pilot has emergency controls.

    Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile and varies by altitude bombs are dropped at (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega Damage: Varies by missile or bomb type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Ordnance is dropped or fired one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), or eight (8) but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)

    Payload: Eight (8) short range missiles or light bombs, four (4) medium range missiles or medium bombs, or two (2) long range missiles or heavy bomb each bay. Ordnance can be mixed and naval mines may be carried as well as missiles and bombs.

  4. Anti-Missile Chaff Dispenser: Located at the very tail of the fighter are two chaff dispensers. When tailed by a missile, a cloud of chaff and other obtrusive particles can be released to confuse or detonate the enemy’s attack. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies missiles due to technological difference and not as effective against smart missile. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)

    Effects:

    01-50

    Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles are all destroyed.

     

    51-75

    Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)

     

    76-00

    No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.

    Also note that the chaff cloud will also blind flying monsters that fly through cloud. They will suffer the following penalties: reduce melee attacks/actions, combat bonuses, and speed by half. Duration: 1D4 melee rounds.

    Payload: Eight (8).

  5. Four (4) Advanced Towed Decoys: These are mounted in two dispensers on the tail of the fighter. These drones are dragged about 328 feet (100 meters) behind the aircraft on a thin cable. Each is a specially designed radar lure that creates a radar image to mimic the aircraft. The decoy has a special jammer that is designed to decoy missiles that have been programmed to home on jamming signals. If decoys are not destroyed, they can be recovered and repaired. Rifts Earth decoy systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies weapons due to technological difference.

    M.D.C.: 5 each.

    Effects: The decoy has an 80% chance of fooling ordinary non military radars and non smart guided missiles, the decoy has a 50% chance of fooling military level radars (like those of the Coalition), and the decoy has a 25% chance of fooling advanced military radars (Like those of the New Navy and Triax) and smart missiles. Against missiles homing on a jamming signal, jamming has an 40% chance of tricking missiles if both the aircraft and missile are jamming and an 80% chance if the jamming system on the aircraft is deactivated before the missile reaches is.

    Range: Not Applicable although decoy is deployed 328 feet (100 meters) from the aircraft.

    Rate of Fire: Only one decoy can be deployed at a time and requires one melee (15 seconds) to deploy (reel out) another decoy.

    Payload: Four (4) decoys (2 each dispenser).

Special Equipment:

The fighter-bomber has all the standard features of a standard fighter (same as standard robot minus loudspeaker and microphone) plus these special features listed:

Combat Bonuses:



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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).


Copyright © 1998, 2001, & 2017, Kitsune. All rights reserved.



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