French Épée VSTOL Fighter/Interceptor:

Because the French government had not upgraded much of its military during the first half of the Twenty-First century, the state of their forces dropped to deplorable levels. The majority of their equipment was old, worn-out, and outdated. The resurgence of colonial Britain in 2055 “woke up” the French government and made them realize that they had lost their status as a world power. To make up on lost ground, the French government funded and enormous military build-up program to re-equip its military in all areas. The army, navy, and air force all received funding for projects, especially those dedicated to colonial expansion and enhancing global presence.

When the Mirage VIII entered service with the French air and naval services in 2070 and 2071 respectively, it was their pride and joy. Capable of low level penetration of enemy defenses, precision strikes, and fleet defense, it was the ultimate Mirage design. However, the destruction of the Royal Navy Ark Royal task force in 2072 by Chinese-built Argentinean stealth bombers showed a definite gap in the capabilities. That same year, the French Air Force and Navy put forth a request to the government for funding for a new fighter/interceptor. In light of the British disaster, funding quickly came in for the project, named Épée or “sword”. The aircraft was to be capable of long-range high-speed interception of enemy forces. The sensor suite was to be capable of detecting even the stealthiest targets by a combination of radar, infrared, and ultraviolet systems. A long-range directional jamming system was to be incorporated to shut down enemy detection and communication systems as far out as possible. Finally, the new fighter/interceptor’s weapons were to be capable of independently targeting aircraft and missiles and destroying them well away from their intended target.

Dassault Aviation of course took the project by the reins, and began developing the airframe around the requirements. The designers chief inspiration, surprisingly, came began with the old American F-104 Starfighter from the 1960’s. The concept was rejected as being impractical and the designers shifted to others ideas. Eventually the designers submitted a sleek design that closely resembled the Rafale design from earlier in the century and the newer Super Rafale. This new design did have significant changes to the older aircraft. The delta and canard wings were more elongated and sleeker for less wing resistance. The single vertical stabilizer was replaced with two fins both at 60 degree angles for increased high-speed maneuvering. The aircraft was designed with stealth in the body shape and used radar absorbing materials to help avoid detection. The materials used in construction were highly resistant to damage and corrosion like most new military designs.

The majority of the weapons were within ordinance bays to reduce drag and increase stealth. Two large ventral bays could each carry three long-range missiles or six medium-range missiles. Two smaller bays further out on the wing-roots each carried two medium-range missiles. The same railgun fitted to the Mirage VIII was incorporated into the left wing-root for close-in dogfighting. Four hardpoints were fitted to the wings, although they were not often used. Using them reduced the stealth characteristics of the aircraft and increased air-resistance, both of which hurt the aircraft’s intended role. The Épée carried chaff and flare packs, and towed decoy dispensers located at the tips of the wings to protect it from missiles. The inboard jamming system was extremely powerful and almost matched those on dedicated jamming aircraft. Being a very directional system, it did not need the power or space required on other aircraft. The system was intended to jam enemy detection and communication systems until they could be targeted and destroyed.

Production of the Épée began in 2075 after an exhausting testing and evaluation period. The developmental costs overran their budgets in every area, but the requirement for the fighter/interceptor remained solid throughout. Eventually just over 120 of these aircraft were built with half going to each of the services. Like most French squadrons, naval units received eleven aircraft while land-based units had thirteen aircraft assigned. Though both services used the exact same aircraft, the “N” designation was given to the naval aircraft to separate them from their land-based brethren.

Model Type:ÉpéeLand Based Air Force Fighter/Interceptor
Épée-NNavy Fighter/ Interceptor
Vehicle Type: Twin Engine High Speed Interceptor
Crew: Two (Pilot / Sensor & Electronic System operator)

M.D.C. by Location:

Forward Mounted Gun (1; Wing Root):35
Wing Mounted Missile Hard Points (4):10 each
Large Internal Ordnance Bays (2; hatch):60 each
Small Internal Ordnance Bays (2; hatch):45 each
[1] Wings (2):120 each
[2] Forward Canard Wings (2):30 each
[3] Rudders (2):65 each
Reinforced Crew Compartment / Cockpit:130
Ejection Seats (2):2 each
[3] Engines (2):120 each
Landing Gear (3):10 each
[4] Main Body:200

[1] Destroying one or both Canard Wings will result in reducing bonuses to dodge by two and removing the 10% bonus to piloting the aircraft.
[2] Destroying a wing will cause the plane to crash
[3] 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. Pilot may attempt an emergency landing or pilot can choose to eject.
[4] 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.

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. Because of the vectoring of the thrusters, the fighter can take off in a short distance.
Flying: The Épée has a top speed of Mach 3.5 (2,595.1 mph /4,176.4 kph) and has a maximum altitude of 72,000 feet (21,942 meters). When the fighter is carrying ordnance on its external hard points, the fighter has a top speed of 3.2 (2462.4 mph / 3962.9 kph) but reduction in fighter’s top speed is negligible with internal ordnance. The fighter has a minimum glide-speed of 150 mph (240 kph); if it goes any slower, the wings cannot provide sufficient lift and the aircraft will crash unless VTOL engines are engaged. Cruising speed tends to be between 720 mph (481 kph) and Mach 2.0 (1,482.9 mph / 2,386.5 kph).
Maximum Effective Range: Nuclear powered, giving it continual energy, but the jet engines begin to overheat after 12 hours of continual use. Occasional rest stops every 4 to 6 hours, giving the engines an hour to cool down, will allow the aircraft to travel indefinitely.

Statistical Data:
Height: 16 feet 5 inches (5.0 meters)
Wingspan: 43.5 feet (13.2 meters)
Length: 74 feet (22.6 meters)
Weight: 39,600 pounds (18,000 kg) empty and 55,000 pounds (25,000 kg) fully loaded.
Power System: Nuclear fusion; should have an average lifespan of 10 years.
Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment), does not include ordnance bays or hard points. Small ordnance bays can carry 2,200 lbs (1000 kg) each and large bays can carry 6,600 lbs (3000 kg) each
Black Market Cost: Not available. None are known to have survived the coming of the Rifts. The jet has never been recovered by enemies or mercenaries. Such an aircraft would sell for 80 to 110 million credits on the open market.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Forward Mounted Rail gun: A fix forward weapon was mounted on the wing-root of the fighter. It served as the one of last line of defense against enemy planes and missile volleys, although some pilots used it for strafing runs against ground targets. Most pilots did not like being exposed to ground weapons fire so it was an uncommon practice. The weapon was controlled by the pilot.
    Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).
    Mega-Damage: A burst of 40 rounds does 1D6x10.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of pilot or commander.
    Payload: 4,000 round magazine for 100 bursts each.
  2. Main Ordnance Bays (2): The aircraft had two ordnance bays at the bottom of the mid-fuselage. The Épée could carry three long-range missiles, six medium-range missiles, or their equivalent in smaller ordnance or bombs. 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. Both guided and unguided ordnance may be carried. These weapons were almost never carried as the Épée was intended to be an interceptor. The weapons officer controls the missiles but the pilot has auxiliary controls.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile and varies by altitude 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, five, eight, or sixteen but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)
    Payload: 3 long-range missiles or 6 medium-range missiles in each bay. Bombs and naval mines could substituted for missiles. Alternately, 9 short-range missiles could be exchanged for the Long Range Missiles or Medium Range Missiles.
  3. Secondary Ordnance Bays (2): The aircraft had two ordnance bays on the intake sides. The bays were designed to carry two medium-range missiles or four short-range missiles. Missiles could be mixed and matched but normally the bay carried all the same type of missiles. Normally only medium-range weapons were carried. The weapons officer controlled the missiles but the pilot had auxiliary controls.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega Damage: Varies by missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Missiles can be fired one at a time or in volleys of two, or four but must be the same size (light or medium).
    Payload: 2 medium range missiles or 4 short range missiles per bay.
  4. Wing Hard Points (4): The Épée had four external hard points for ordnance and equipment. The hard points could be used to carry missiles, bombs, and rocket packs as needed by the mission. Missiles, rocket packs, and bombs could be mixed or matched but all ordnance on a hard point had to be the same type. Carrying ordnance on the aircrafts external hard points negated the aircraft's stealth from the bottom, sides, front, and back of the aircraft. The aircraft retained normal stealth from the top when carrying wing mounted ordnance. The hardpoints were only used when heavy combat was expected. Reduce Stealth by 10% for every hard point carrying ordnance.
    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: One long range missile or heavy bomb, two medium range missile or medium bombs, or four short range missiles or light bombs (see above - all ordnance on a hard point must be the same size and type of ordnance)
    2. Mini-Missile Pod: Large capacity mini-missile pod. The mini missile pods are normally carried 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 missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), or eight (8) missiles, 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.
  5. 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 decoy systems are assumed to not operate against 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 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)
  6. Advanced Towed Decoys (4): These are mounted in dispensers on the tips of the fighter’s wings with two decoys in the dispenser on either wing. 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 operate against Phase World weapons due to technological difference.
    M.D.C.: 5
    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 it.
    Maximum Effective Range: Not Applicable although decoy is deployed 328 feet (100 meters) from the aircraft
    Rate of Fire: One can be deployed at a time and requires 15 seconds to deploy (Reel Out) another decoy \
    Payload: 4 Decoys (2 each)

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 below.

Combat Bonuses:

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Writeup by Kamikazi (

Copyright © 2004, Kamikazi. All rights reserved.