CSDF Hercules Assault Shuttle:

The Hercules is a pre-flash shuttle design outfitted for the purposes of carrying assault troops or to act a gun ship or heavy fighter. Unlike the Star Hawk, the Hercules was designed from the outset to perform this job, and they succeeded very well in this role. Although the ships are much larger than can be expected for most normal fighters, they have an increased amount of maneuvering thrusters, improved evasion software, and as result the Hercules is more maneuverable than a normal shuttle. The shuttle is capable of trans-atmospheric flight and is aerodynamic with a large sleek lifting body design. Two fins extend from the outmost edges of the body. It looks quite menacing, and radiates power. Shark mouth paint schemes are quite popular with the crews. These shuttles are currently being made in the Ceres shipyard, and are in use by the combined USSF / ESDF forces. They are not sold on the open market.

The ship is divided into three compartments. One compartment contains the shuttle's crew, one compartment is a passenger compartment, and the final compartment is a cargo bay. The cargo back may carry passengers by the use of special seating set up as pallets in the cargo bay. The cargo bay may also be used to carry larger robots and power armors. The ship can also carry 20 heavy power armors or robot vehicles instead of power armors. In these cases, a small number of power armor or troops can still be carried.

The engines are the same FT-1500 second generation fusion pulse engines that power the Star Talon fighter, they use power from the shuttle's fusion reactor to use the shuttle's reaction mass to provide an incredible thrust to weight ratio. This engine is not equaled by any engine on Rifts earth or in the orbital community.

These ships carry a good amount of weapons. The shuttle has 3 triple ion pulse cannon turrets, a kinetic Energy Missile launcher in the hull, 15 mini-missile launchers, and a large number of missiles on hard points along the bottom and top of the shuttle. The ship also has a chaff launcher to decoy missiles, and an advanced jamming system. In sensors, the shuttle has the same sensor systems as the Star Talon fighter, giving it excellent detection capabilities. It can also carry the same reconnaissance pod as the Star Talon, at the cost of four of its hard points. Its hull has been clad with ceramic heat shielding, causing all plasma and heat based weapons to do half damage.

Because of a lack of large capital ships, the USSF / ESDF use these shuttles as patrol boats too. The conversion is easy: mounted on standard cargo pallets are extra fuel tanks and a large life support / crew compartment. The extra fuel increases the shuttles range by another seven days at 0.6 G acceleration, and the crew compartment holds a small exercise room, improved sleeping quarters and life support for a regular crew of 20 men (5 shuttle crew, 15 light power armor pilots). The entire conversion takes 4 hours for a team of competent mechanics, and takes up the entire cargo hold. Add a reconnaissance pod to the bottom of the shuttle, and the conversion to medium range patrol ship is complete.

This assault shuttle follows theoretical information about starships operating non chemical propulsion in space. This has meant much greater speeds and accelerations. Listed is the formula to allow player and game masters to calculate the shuttle's velocity.

Vehicle Type: Space, Heavy Space Fighter
Crew: 5 (Pilot, Co-pilot, 3 Gunners)
Troops: 15 light power armors pilots (either Space SAMAS or Space Predator) with a cargo load in addition to troops. Can carry up to 80 light power armor pilots with special pallet style seating and all space used except space used for power armors. If a fuel tank pallet is also loaded, reduce numbers to 55 light power armor troops total, or 15 light power armor and 10 heavy power armor.

Vehicle, Robots, and Power Armors:
Compliment 1:

120Soldiers in body armor with full equipment (seldom carried)
Compliment 2:
80Space SAMAS, Space Predator or other light power armors
Compliment 3:
15Space SAMAS, Space Predator or other light power armors
20Heavy Power Armors or Robot Vehicle (or Cargo)
Compliment 4:
15Space SAMAS, Space Predator or other light power armors
1Fuel Tank pallet
1Crew Compartment/Life support unit Pallet

M.D.C. By Location:

[1] Triple Ion Pulse Cannon Turrets (3, 2 top and 1 on bottom):450 each
Kinetic Energy Missile Launcher (nose):180
Mini Missile launchers (15):30 each
Rear Grapples (5):15 each
Landing Gear (3):20 each
[2] Tail Fin(2):300 each
[3] Fusion Pulse Engines (8):200 each
Pilot and Crew Compartment:550
Passenger and Troop Compartment:500
Crew Compartment Pallet (optional):300
Fuel tank pallet (optional):250
Cargo Bay:400
[4] Main Body:2,200

[1] For each 150 MD damage done to a turret one Ion Pulse cannon is destroyed. When the 450 MD are depleted the turret is destroyed.
[2] Destruction of the shuttle's rudders causes the pilot to lose control of the shuttle. The shuttle can be piloted by varying the power levels of the engines and vectoring the thrusters but the shuttle has a penalty of -10 to dodge, and a -30% penalty to all piloting rolls if operating in an atmosphere. Has no effect if the shuttle is operating in space.
[3] The Destruction of one engine reduces the ship’s acceleration by one eight. The destruction of two Ion Engines reduces the ship’s acceleration by one quarter, etc. Destroying all eight Fusion Pulse Engines means that the maximum sublight acceleration is reduced to ten percent of normal (using navigational thrusters).
[4] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will shut the shuttle down completely, rendering it useless and causing the shuttle to crash if in flight in an atmosphere.

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 and not on take off or landing.
Flying; In atmosphere: The shuttle can achieve escape velocity (Mach 32.6 / 24,170 mph / 38,900 kph) within 12 minutes. The shuttle has a maximum acceleration of 4.8 G. When the shuttle is operating within an atmosphere, pilot will normally keep velocity below Mach 5 (3,707.3 mph / 5966.3 kph).
Flying; Space: The shuttle does not have an effective top speed but is limited by acceleration. The shuttle can reach a top acceleration of 4.8 G but is normally limited to 0.6 or 1.2 G except when trying to escape the atmosphere.
Maximum Effective Range: Conditionally unlimited, while the fusion reactor gives power for two decades of service, when the assault shuttle is operating in space, it is limited by the ships reaction mass. The reaction mass consists of mainly Deuterium (Hydrogen 2) and Helium 3. The shuttle can be refueled at ground based facilities, space stations, and star ships as long as they have the special facilities. The ship can also be refueled by fuel shuttles.
The shuttle carries 2 weeks of reaction mass for travel at 0.6 G of acceleration. Double the consumption of fuel for 1.2 G of acceleration and double the consumption of fuel for each additional 0.6 G of acceleration. This means the shuttle will burn 128 times faster at 4.8 G than at 0.6 G. This allows the shuttle just over 2 hours of fuel at 4.8 G. A special pallet holding extra fuel tanks can be fitted, this gives one extra week of reaction mass at 0.6 G. The shuttle will often accelerate for a period of time and then shut down the engine and travel using the shuttle velocity. If the shuttle uses more than half of its reaction mass when accelerating, the shuttle will be unable to decelerate fully and the shuttle will normally only use a third or less of its fuel on accelerating so it does not run into a problem. If the shuttle runs out of fuel then it must be recovered by another vehicle traveling faster or be lost.
The shuttle's engine acts like the conventional engines used on other nuclear powered aircraft while operating within an atmosphere except provides more thrust to the shuttle than any engines presently on Rifts Earth and the engines do not use reaction mass while operating in an atmosphere.
The shuttle also carries supplies for pilot and crew for a period of two months and the life support will support the pilot and crew for up to six months before needing to be recharged. If the shuttle is carrying troops, then reduce life support is severely reduce by the number of passengers (They normally carry separate food supplies)

Statistical Data:
Length: 200 feet (60 meters)
Height: 62 feet (19 meters)
Width: 133.4 feet (40 meters.)
Weight: 445 tons (400 metric tons)
Power System: Nuclear Fusion with average life span of 20 years
Cargo: 400 tons in main cargo bay only if troops, power armors, or robot vehicles are not carried in the cargo hold. The shuttle also has small lockers for the shuttles crew for personal items.
Cost: The Shuttle would be worth about 500 million IOU in the orbital community.


  1. KEM-2000 Kinetic Energy Missile: (1): Mounted in the nose of the shuttle, this is a more powerful version of the weapon mounted in the Star Talon. The weapon launches a large rod of high tensile strength mega-damage material. The rod is initially driven by a rail gun and uses a rocket propellant to increase the speed to even greater speeds. This weapon reaches incredible speeds by this method. The missile travels at 7.500 mph (12,030 kph) faster than the shuttle when it launches the projectile. These missiles can be used against unmoving targets beyond the weapons normal range when used in space but suffers the same penalties that normal missiles do.
    Maximum Effective Range: 12,000 feet (3,650 m) in an atmosphere and 96,000 feet (28,800 m) in space.
    Mega Damage: 4D6x10 + 20 per missile / projectile
    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: 80
  2. Three (3) Triple Ion Pulse Cannon Turrets: Each turret holds three Ion Pulse Cannons. The cannons are equal to those on the Star Talon Fighter but have better range. Each turret can rotate 360 and has a 180 arc of fire. Two of the turrets are on the top of the ship (one left, one right) and one is on the bottom of the shuttle. The weapon turrets are used for missile defense, anti-fighter and power armor, and against large starships. Normally all three cannons are fired together.
    Maximum Effective Range: 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) through atmosphere and 64,000 feet ( 19,200 meters) in space.
    Mega-Damage: 1D6x10 per single pulse. 3D6x10 M.D. per triple pulse (counts as one attack).
    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  3. Mini Missile launchers (15): Mounted on both sides of the shuttle, in the front third of the body are two clusters of five mini missile launchers. A third cluster is located in the rear of the shuttle. The launchers are fitted flush with the skin of the shuttle. Each launcher has ten reloads, and if one of the launchers in a cluster is damaged, its remaining reloads can be fed to the other launchers in that cluster. Mini missiles are generally used for point defense against power armors, fighters and missiles.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, assume powered range is 8 x normal in space (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega Damage: Varies per warhead type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: one at a time, or in volleys of 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15
    Payload: 150
  4. Missile Hard Points (30): The shuttle is designed to carry missiles on hard points on the main body of the shuttle. The Shuttle has twenty hard points on the bottom of the main body and five hard points on top of the body close to each "wingtip". Because of the limited usefulness of bombs in space operations, the shuttle is designed to carry only missiles and not bombs. Each Hard Point can carry one long range missile or a mixture of lighter ordinance at the rate of two medium range missiles or four short range missiles for each long range missile. Missile are assumed to accelerate at 2 times normal mach speed in Gs greater than the starships speed when used in space. Missiles can be launched at non moving targets beyond the powered range of the missiles to hit targets without the chance of the launching ship being hit by missiles itself but penalties exist when launching missiles beyond normal missile range. Missile launchers are normally controlled by the Co-Pilot but the pilot has emergency controls.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, assume powered range is 8 x normal in space (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega-Damage: Varies with missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), or sixteen (16) missiles.
    Payload: 30 long range missiles, 60 medium range missiles, or 120 short range missiles or a mixture of different missile sizes.
    Special: A reconnaissance pod like that on the Star Talon can also be carried under the body of the Shuttle. It takes up 4 hard points. (see Other Systems)
  5. Rear Grapples (5): the shuttle has five grapples that are used for docking with vehicles that do not have landing bays and to grab items. The Grapples are fired at a target and uses a claw to grab the target and the grapple and cable has a breaking strain of 100 tons.
    Maximum Effective Range: 1,640 feet (500 meters)
    Mega Damage: None (S.D.C. Targets will take 1D4x10 S.D.C.)
    Rate of Fire: Once per four melees rounds
    Payload: 1 shot each but may be retracted and used again
  6. Anti-Missile Chaff Dispenser: Located at the very tail of the shuttle 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 and Mutants In Orbit decoys systems are assumed to not operate on Phase World missiles due to technological difference. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)
      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 still 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: Ten (10)

Other Systems:
The Hercules has all the systems standard to all Rifts Robot Vehicles with the following modifications:

COMBAT BONUSES: The Hercules is very maneuverable and very accurate for a shuttle. Use the Phase World Starfighter combat (Elite or Basic) skill. These bonuses are in addition to those from the piloting skill.

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Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa.)

Minor revisions by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 1998 & 2001, Mischa. All rights reserved.