USA-M-4044 “Sand Rat” Hover Jeep:

This hover vehicle can be considered the direct descendent of the Willys jeep that served in World War II and for years afterwards. While a hover vehicle, it fills the same role as the original Willys did. Before the coming of the Rifts, the Hover Jeep was becoming one of the most important cargo support vehicles in the United States' military and supplemented wheeled vehicles which performed similar roles. Officially, the Sand Rat is only known by its number but crews gave the hover vehicle the nickname "Sand Rat." While when most people think of military vehicles, they think about tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, vehicles like the Sand Rat are just as important to the pre-Rifts United States military. The Sand Rat had only been in service in the US Army for about four years on the coming of the Rifts and was just beginning to enter service with the Marines. The hover jeep was never really planned to replace wheeled jeeps but as a supplement.

The main role of the Sand Rat is to carry passengers or cargo in support of troops or armored vehicles. The vehicle can carry approximately 2500 kilograms in the standard cargo model and has room for three passengers in the main compartment. Some are modified to carry additional communication gear and senior officers behind the battle front. Other versions include ammunition carriers and ambulances with a capacity for four litters. Comparatively few of the Sand Rats were armed due to the fact that the Wolfe class hover scout of the same time frame was designed to operate in the light scouting role and there was no need for the Sand Rat to operate in the same role. Unlike most older wheeled models of jeeps, the Sand Rat has a fully enclosed cargo compartment and the vehicle is streamlined for higher performance. The vehicle appears in many ways more like a sports car than what might be expected of a jeep. The hover jeep has four side doors in the main compartment and has a rear hatch and top escape hatch. The cargo and passenger compartments are both air tight with all doors and hatches sealed and while the vehicle does not provide full environmental systems, the scrubbers in the air circulation unit can filter out most toxic gasses.

The main advantages of a hover craft are the ability to hover over most terrain and their high speeds. While the Sand Rat is not as fast as many of the other hover designs built for the United Military, it is still faster than most hover vehicle designs serving in other militaries. With a full load and in virtually any weather conditions, the Sand Rat can travel at Sand Rat is around 200 kilometers per hour. The powerful hover fans in the Hover Jeep also enable it to travel over almost any terrain. The main design consideration of the Sand Rat is low-cost manufacture due to the fact that it is powered by high capacity batteries instead of a fusion reactor unlike most contemporary military vehicle designs. The electrical system was able to be charged from any available reactor, it's built in power regulator would keep the batteries from being overcharged. The electrical tap is designed specifically for use with other United States military vehicle and facilities but adapters were available for connecting the hover jeep up to other fusion reactor designs. During the initial trial phase there was talk of re-powering the vehicle with a fusion plant but that was scrapped due to cost considerations. While generally considered short ranged compared to other United States military hover vehicles, the hover jeep has none the less has a healthy range of 1000 kilometers on a full charge.

The Sand Rat is not designed for true combat and is only lightly armored. Most tanks and combat vehicles used by the United States' military featured stealth features, the Sand Rat did not incorporate any stealth features as a measure to reduce cost. With the cost-effective nature of the hover vehicle, it was designed with no mounted weapons. Crews experimenting with the escape hatch on the top of the cargo compartment have found that it makes a great firing position while on the move. The crew is still limited to what they can carry with them. However, rail guns, grenade launchers and personal rocket launchers are available to some, most crews are limited to their personal weapons.

While the New Navy has designs for this hover jeep, there is little pressure to construct it and wheeled support designs are considered adequate for most roles. It is likely that if any of the vehicles were found or designs were found that several mercenary companies and manufactures would be interested in the design.

Model Type: USA-M-4044 Sand Rat
Vehicle Type: Light Cargo / Scout Vehicle (Hover)
Crew: Four (Driver, 3 Passengers). Can carry up to four additional passengers with gear in cargo compartment on standard model. Six passengers can be carried in cargo compartment in cramped conditions.

M.D.C. By Location:

Top Weapon Hatch:40
Rear Cargo Hatch:50
[1] Headlights (4):6 each
Reinforced Crew Compartment:75
[2] Hover Thruster Units:100
[3] Main Body:200

[1] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a “called shot,” but even then the attacker is -4 to strike.
[2] Destruction of the hover unit will cause the vehicle to be no longer under the pilots control.
[3] Destruction of the main body will cause the vehicle to crash. All systems will not function.

Hover Speed: Can hover at ground level at from a hover to up to 125 mph (201.2 kph) over both land and water. Minimum hover height is 2 feet (0.6 meters) and a maximum altitude is 10 feet (3.0 meters).
Maximum Range: Runs off of high capacity electric batteries. Has a range of 621 miles (1000 km) before needing to be recharged.

Statistical Data:
Height: 6.6 feet (2.0 meters) with no weapon extended from the top
Width: 8.2 feet (2.5 meters)
Length: 16.4 feet (5.0 meters)
Weight: 7,720 lbs (3,500 kg) empty.
Power Source: Electrical, High Capacity Batteries with an 621 miles (1000 km) range. Batteries can be recharged from any available fusion reactor.
Cargo Capacity: 5,511 lbs (2,500 kg) in cargo compartment and the hover jeep has a small storage space in pilots compartment for crew. This space is designed to carry small arms (four pistols) and emergency supplies.
Market / Black Market Cost: 500,000 Credits without additional weapon systems.

Weapon Systems:
No weapon systems are standard but a variety of different weapons can be mounted in the vehicle. Only one weapon can be mounted and it is mounted so it fires from an opening in the top of the cargo compartment. A gunner may also use hand held weapons fire from the upper door in the cargo compartment. Along with these weapons, handheld missile launchers are popular with the Hover Jeeps crews.

  1. USA-M31 Rail Gun: This rail gun is carried on C-40R and is from the original Pre-Rifts SAMAS design. It has fewer bursts and is heavier but the rail gun inflicts more damage than the C-40R.
    Weight: 110 lbs (50 kg) for the Rail gun and 190 lbs (86.2 kg) for the ammo drum.
    Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
    Mega-Damage: A burst of 40 rounds does 1D6x10, a single round does 1D4+1
    Rate of Fire: Equal to number of combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (usually 4-6).
    Payload: 2,000 round drum for 50 bursts.
  2. Automatic Grenade Launcher: The mount has 360 degree rotation and the arc of fire for the grenade launcher barrel is a 60 degree angle. Weapon is similar to the post Rifts WI-GL21 Automatic Grenade Launcher mounted in a spindle mount but fires a slightly smaller round.
    Maximum Effective Range: 3,000 feet (914 meters)
    Mega-Damage: 3D6 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 12 feet (3.7 meters) and 5D6 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 3 feet (0.9 meters), burst of 10 rounds does 2D4x10 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 40 feet (12.2 meters) and 2D6x10 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 8 feet (2.4 meters).
    Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
    Payload: 800 Rounds

Sensory Equipment:


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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2002, Kitsune. All rights reserved.