Metalworks Incorporated F-550 Lionhawk Light Fighter:

Located west of the city of Tolkeen, the company known as Metalworks manufactures various ground vehicles, robots, and aircraft designs. Relatively new in the industry, the company got its start copying the designs of various companies and nations. The company was able to get permission from Triax to produce under licence several Triax designs and sell them in North America.

  While the F-500 Tigerhawk is considered extremely successful, there are many areas where a conventional take off and landing version cannot be operated effectively. As a result, Metalworks decided that they needed to develop a vertical take off and landing version of similar capabilities. In addition, the company wanted a design to directly compete with the Grey Falcon produced by Iron Heart Industries.

It was decided to develop the new fighter using the F-500 as the basis in order to reduce costs. Various methods of vertical flight were suggested with thrust vectoring eventually selected. It is most similar to that of the AV-8B Harrier. Further changes from the F-500 included enlarging the intakes and moving the center of balance so that the center of balance was closer to neutral. The design of the wings were also modified in order to facilitate vertical take off and landings.

After various changes, the F-550 became a very different fighter and there has been some criticism that the company should have started from a clean slate. It was given the name “Lionhawk” by the engineers who developed the fighter although there were a number of less complimentary suggestions with regard to the name of the new fighter.

Still, the thrust vectoring flight system of the F-550 is the basis of other Metalworks combat aircraft designs including the FB-144 Thunderhawk, the A-100 Ironhawk, and the F-310 Ghosthawk. The number designation of aircraft designs should not be considered indicative of the development or production date of the design.

The main engines of the F-550 are a modified versions of the engine in the F-500 but has the same basic thrust. Due to aerodynamic changes and the F-550 weighing slightly more than the F-500, top speed is slightly less with a top speed of Mach 1.6. Even though a thrust vector design, the thrust system is a surprising simple design and easy to maintain.

As with the F-500, The F-550 is available in both a fusion and fuel cell model. The systems are directly adapted from the conventional take off landing models. Dues to not requiring refueling, the fusion model is more popular although the fuel cell model is far cheaper. While the fusion reactor takes up less volume than the fuel cells do, the fusion reactor has about the same basic mass as the fuel tanks carried on the fuel cell version. In a similar manner to the F-500, the fusion reactor is relatively simple and does not have the duration of many of the more advanced fusion reactors.

 The technology for the fuel cell design was originally purchased from Archangel Heavy Industries who got the designs of fuel cells from pre-rifts records. The fuel cells operate by pulling the electrons off of an H2 molecule, splitting it into 2H+ molecules and 2 electrons. The electrons pass through the “load” (engines, weapons, avionics, etc.) creating current and powering the systems. Meanwhile, the 2H+ molecules pass from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. At the other “end,” the electrons then recombine with the 2H+ molecules and Oxygen (from the air) and are released as water from the rear of the aircraft. Unlike many of the ground vehicles that use the fuel cell system, the main aircraft fuel tankage is fixed.

The internal fuel tanks can be refueled by midair refueling but the external fuel tanks cannot be refueled the same way. The internal fuel tank holds enough Hydrogen to allow the fighter to travel 1,200 nautical miles and the fighter can carry fuel tanks on its external hard points which each extends the range by 400 nautical miles.

Compared to most post-Rifts aircraft, including a number of later designs manufactured by Metalworks, the avionics are extremely simple. The need for balanced flight vectoring for vertical take off and landings requires some upgrades compared to the F-500 however is still largely based on the earlier fighter. Due to fly by wire flight systems, the fighter is extremely easy to fly even though a relatively simple design. Electronics are largely based on those carried on most robot vehicles and the radar is comparatively short ranged.  

With regard to weaponry, the Lionhawk is basically armed in an identical manner to the Tigerhawk. Mounted on either side of the cockpit are a pair of forward firing pulse lasers which use the internal working from the JA-12 Assault Rifle. They are linked together to enable them to engage a single target. On fusion powered models of the fighter, power is pulled directly from the reactor while fuel cell models have a high efficiency capacitor to provide power to the lasers.

In the initial prototypes, the F-550 had only five hard points compared to seven for the F-500. Production models of the Lionhawk however were able to mount seven hard points. Limitations on the various hard points are basically identical to those on the conventional take off and landing fighter. Additional fuel tanks are limited to central and inner wing hard points while rail guns are limited to inner wing hard points.

Designation: F-550A Lionhawk.

Vehicle Type: Twin Engine VTOL Fighter and Attack Craft.

Crew: One.

M.D.C. by Location:


[1] Forward Mounted Laser Cannons (2):

50 each.


[2] Wings (2):

155 each.


[3] Elevators (2):

80 each.


[3] Rudder:

85 each.





[4] Engines (2):

180 each.


[5] Lift Nozzles (4):

60 each.


[6] Main Body:



Landing Gear (3):

40 each.


[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.

[3] Destruction of the fighter’s rudder or one elevator will still allow the fighter to be controlled by the varying of power levels of the engines and vectoring thrusters 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’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 if in flight. Pilot may attempt an emergency landing or pilot 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.


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: The Lionhawk can hover and go up to a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 (1,218.1 mph / 1,960.1 kph) on full output (the fighter consumes energy and fuel at a rate of ten times greater than normal. Extended hovering will also consume fuel at a rapid rate. Fighters with fuel cells have to be careful and the fighter with fusion reactors will have reactor’s life span reduced as well if operated at full thrust constantly). The fighter’s normal cruise speed is about 600 mph (965.6 kph) but varies on the situation. The fighter has a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet (16,764 meters).

Range: Fusion Reactor: Effectively Unlimited. Thrusters overheat after twenty hours of use below 250 mph (402.3 kph), 10 hours of use from 250 mph (402.3 kph) to 650 mph (1,046.1 kph), and 4 hours of use over 650 mph (1,046.1 kph).

Fuel Cell Version: 1,200 nautical miles (1,380.9 miles/2,222.4 km) with no external ordnance load. The fuel cell version can carry up to three external fuel tanks style (on center and inner wing hard points) that extend range by 400 nautical miles (574.2 miles/924.1 km) each. The fighter can be refueled in flight but limited to the internal fuel tanks being refueled in the air.

With fuel cells, the aircraft has potentially the same problems that the nuclear version of the aircraft does. The engines will overheat when operated for an extended period. While normally not a problem, this can become a problem if the aircraft remains in the air for extended periods due to being refueled multiple times while flying or being flown continuously with fast turn around times.

Reduce aircraft’s range by 15% if partially loaded (Over four medium range missiles, eight short range missiles, or four mini-missile pods) and by 25% if fully loaded.

Statistical Data:

Length:         53.31 feet (16.25 meters).

Wingspan:    30.68 feet (9.35 meters).

Height:         14.11 feet (4.30 meters).

Weight:        12,015.2 pounds (5,450 kg) empty, 16,049.7 pounds (7,280 kg) light combat load, and 28,527.8 pounds (12,940 kg) maximum takeoff load.

Power Source: Two versions. Nuclear version with 5 year fusion reactor and Fuel Cell version that uses hydrogen as a fuel to produce electricity.

Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment) in cockpit, does not include hard points.

Black Market Cost: Nuclear Reactor: 9.2 million credits. Fuel Cell Version: 3.8 million credits.

Long range (100 mile / 160 km) radar system costs an addition 500,00 credits to the base cost of the fighter.

Mini-Missile launchers cost 200,000 credits each, rail gun pods cost 95,000 credits each, and jamming pod costs 350,000 credits each.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Two (2) Laser Cannons: Laser cannons are mounted on either side of the cockpit in the front of the fighter. Normally both are fired together in six shot bursts but shorter bursts or a single laser may be fired. The fighter’s laser cannons are from the barrels and inner working of the JA-12 Assault Rifle. On the nuclear powered version, the laser cannons pull power directly from the fusion reactor of the fighter. On the fuel cell version, the laser cannons are powered by a high efficiency capacitor.

    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: Nuclear Reactor: Effectively Unlimited (draws power off the main reactor.) Fuel Cell Version: 480 blasts stored in a high efficiency capacitor. However, for damage purposes, consider a “magazine” to be 80 bursts of 6 blasts.

  2. Seven (7) Hard Points: The F-550 Lionhawk has seven hard points for ordnance and equipment. Below is a list of hard points and the loads that they are able to carry. Missiles, rocket packs, and bombs can be mixed or matched but all ordnance on a hard point must be the same type.

    Central Hard Point: Fuel tanks (Fuel Cell Version), ECM / Electronic Warfare pod, or missiles/bombs (one long range missile / heavy bomb, two medium range missile / medium bomb, or four short range missile / light bomb each.)

    Inner Wing Hard Points (2): Fuel tanks (Fuel Cell Version), ECM / Electronic Warfare pod, towed decoy pod, rocket packs (mini-missiles), rail gun pods, or missiles/bombs (one long range missile /heavy bomb, two medium range / medium bombs, or four short range missile / light bombs each.)

    Middle Wing Hard Points (2): ECM / Electronic Warfare pod, towed decoy pod, rocket packs (mini-missiles), rail gun pods, or missiles/bombs (one long range missile / heavy bombs, two medium range missiles / medium bombs, or four short range missiles / light bombs each.)

    Wing Tip Hard Points (2): Towed decoy pod, rocket packs (mini-missiles), or missiles (one medium range missile or two short range missiles each.)

    1. Bombs and Missiles: The only restriction is that a hard point must carry all the same type of missiles or bombs. Both unguided and guided bombs can be carried.

      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: Missiles can be fired and bombs can be dropped one at a time per hard point. Multiple hard points can be linked as one attack but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)

      Payload: Varies by hard point (see above - all ordnance on a hard point must be the same size and type of ordnance.)

    2. Mini-Missile Pods: Large capacity mini-missile pod. The aircraft normally carries missile pods for ground strafing, anti-troop, and anti-emplacement attacks. Normal missile used are armor piercing, plasma, or fragmentation mini-missiles.

      Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, mini-missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

      Mega-Damage: Varies with mini-missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

      Rate of Fire: Each pod can fire mini-missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), or sixteen (16 - all) mini-missile and can be linked with other mini missile pods for greater number of missiles (Counts as one attack no matter how many missiles in volley.)

      Payload: Each pod carries sixteen (16) mini-missiles.

    3. Rail Gun Pods: Copies of the Northern Gun NG-202 enclosed in a streamlined pod that is designed to be mounted on the hard points of the aircraft. It is 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. Main advantage over internal lasers is that the weapon is effective against targets that are impervious to energy.

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

      Mega Damage: 1D6x10 M.D.C. per burst of 60 rounds with a single rail gun firing - only designed to fire bursts (Multiple rail guns can be combined for greater damage.)

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

      Payload: 3,000 rounds each gun, That is 50 bursts for each rail gun.

    4. ECM / Electronic Warfare Pod: Pod takes place of all ordnance on the hard point. Gives a -25% penalty to detection but when it is active and also creates a -4 penalty to all radar guided weapons (such as missiles.) However, the jamming signal can be detected and some missiles will home in on jamming signals. In addition, active electronically scanned array radar systems can often find unjammed frequencies.

    5. Advanced Towed Decoys (4): Pod takes place of all ordnance on the hard point. The aircraft can carry a special pod that carries four advanced towed decoy drones in each. 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.

  3. 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.)



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



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



    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).

Special Equipment:

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

Combat Bonuses:

[ Altarain TM, Bandito Arms TM, Brodkil TM, Chipwell Armaments TM, Coalition States TM, Cyber-Knight TM, Federation of Magic TM, Free Quebec TM, Golden Age Weaponsmiths TM, Horune TM, Iron Heart Armaments TM, Kankoran TM, Kittani TM, Kydian TM, Larsen’s Brigade TM, M.D.C. TM, Mechanoids TM, Mega-Damage TM, Megaversal Legion TM, Millennium Tree TM, Mutants in Orbit TM, Naruni Enterprises TM, Naut’Yll, New Navy TM, New Sovietskiy TM, NGR TM, Nog Heng TM, Northern Gun TM, Phase World TM, Psyscape TM, Rifter TM, SAMAS TM, S.D.C. TM, Shemarrian TM, Splugorth TM, Stormspire TM, Sunaj TM, Tolkeen TM, Triax TM, Wellington Industries TM, Wilk’s Laser Technologies TM, Xiticix TM, and Zaayr TM are trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

[ Beyond the Supernatural®, Heroes Unlimited®, Nightbane®, Ninjas & Superspies®, Palladium Fantasy®, and Rifts® are registered trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2017, Kitsune. All rights reserved.