U.S. AV-35 Steel Tiger Attack VTOL:

The United States Air Force has always been more interested in engaging other aircraft and strategic missions than supported forces on the ground. This can be typified by late twentieth century interviews with Air Force reserve pilots in the late twentieth century. These pilots were ecstatic about having their A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft replaced with F-16 Falcons because the Falcons were much better at dogfighting and ignoring the fact that their job is to support the ground troops which the A-10 can do a much better job. Because of this, the United States Army has attempted several times to wrestle control of attack aircraft from the Air Force. This has failed in the past and the Army purchased a large number of attack helicopters in partial compensation.

Eventually the Army was able to get permission to operate non rotary VTOL aircraft which finally allowed them to circumvent the restrictions. The Steel Tiger was one of the air forces most successful attack VTOL aircraft and in general function is like the Russian Hind attack helicopter. The Steel Tiger acts as both an airborne APC as well as a ground support craft. The Steel Tiger will often drop its troop and then stay to support the troops it just dropped. The first Steel Tiger attack VTOL aircraft entered service just after the Jackson main battle tank and the Maverick infantry fighting vehicle. The Steel Tiger, with other VTOL aircraft, replaced virtually all of the helicopters that were previously in service in the army and was built in large numbers. Construction of the Steel Tiger continued until the coming of the Rifts. Some of the older surplus Steel Tigers were sold to other nations and could be found worldwide. It is unknown how many of the Attack VTOL aircraft survived the coming of the Rifts but they have been found in several pre-rifts army bunkers. It is likely that the post-rifts Triax Mosquito Airship was inspired by the Steel Tiger and similar aircraft. The Steel Tiger has been involved in several engagements during its service and was found to be more flexible than initially expected. Along with supporting troops, the Steel Tiger was found to be useful in anti tank roles and was fast enough to operate with the hover vehicles, such as the Schwarzkopf hover tank, which came into service many years after the Steel Tiger had entered service. The Steel Tiger was even found to be useful for supporting power armor units.

The Steel Tiger is much faster than any combat helicopter and is only slightly slower than mach one. While a fair amount slower than fighters of the same time frame, the speed of the Steel Tiger allows for the rapid movement of troops on the battlefield. The Attack VTOL aircraft is designed for nap of the earth flight and as such is useful in surprise attacks. The Steel Tiger was well armored and man people of the time called the Steel Tiger an airborne tank. The Steel Tiger was also designed from radar absorbent materials and the profile is designed to minimize its radar cross signature. The Steel Tiger is very heavily armed with two heavy forward firing rail guns. This rail gun was one of the first burst firing rail guns designed by the United States but is more advanced than many of the rail guns designed after the coming of the rifts. The Steel Tiger has two side mounts for defensive guns but the mounts are in armored ball turrets instead of being simple door guns. Originally, two liquid propellant machine guns were mounted in the ball turrets but they have been replaced in virtually all units. The liquid propellant machine guns were initially replaced by either grenade launchers or rail guns. While the grenade launchers have a shorter range, they inflict massive damage and are very effective at clearing landing zones. Late models of the Steel Tiger carried pulse lasers in the turrets but older models with grenade launchers were still very popular with aircrews. The Steel Tiger also has eight hard points for additional weapons including missiles, mini-missile pods, and rail gun pods. There was some consideration of developing a grenade launcher pod but mini missiles could fulfil a similar role and there were concerns about firing grenades forward when moving at high speeds. Normally the Steel Tiger will carry at least two mini-missile launcher pods. Ordnance carried is external and reduces stealth when carried unless designed from radar absorbing materials.

The Steel Tiger is designed to carry up to 16 troops in body armor with standard equipment or 12 troops in ground power armor. There are three exits from the cargo/troop bay with a large rear door and a smaller door on either of the main body. A cargo/rescue hook and winch are located behind the rear door. The crew of the Steel Tiger is large due to carrying gunners for the side turrets. The Steel Tiger has a pilot, copilot, sensor/communication operator, and two gunners.

Model Type: AV-35
Class: Military VTOL Jet fighter & Transport
Crew: Five: One pilot, one co-pilot, one communications/sensor officer, and two gunners.
Troop Payload: 16 in Body Armor and 12 in Light or Medium Power Armor

M.D.C. by Location:

Forward Heavy Rail Guns (2)80 each
[1] Side Ball Turrets (2, Sides of main Body):50 each
[2] Wings (2):300 each
[3] Elevators (2):80 each
[3] Rudders (2):80 each
Rear Cargo Bay Doors:120
Side Doors (2):80 each
[3] Engines (2):250 each
Reinforced Pilot’s Compartment / Cockpit:150
[4] Main Body:800
Landing Gear (3):40 each

[1] All indicated hit locations are small and/or difficult targets to hit. An attacker must make a called shot and has a -3 penalty as well.
[2] Destroying a wing will cause the plane to crash.
[3] Destruction of rudders or one elevator will still allow the aircraft to be controlled by the varying of power levels of the engines but aircraft 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. The destruction of one of the engines will cause the aircraft to crash.
[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.

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: The maximum speed of the aircraft is 704.5 mph (1,133.6 kph) which is just slightly under mach one and has a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 m). The aircraft is Vertical Take Off and Landing which allows it to take off virtually anywhere and can hover. The Steel Tiger cannot travel over 200 mph (321.9 kph) with an underslung cargo load.
Maximum Effective Range: The cooling system is much better than those on many post rifts aircraft but does have its limitations. The aircraft can fly up to 36 hours if flying at less than 500 mph (256 kph) and can fly for 10 hours at 500 mph (256 kph) or greater.

Statistical Data:
Height: 22 feet (6.7 meters)
Width: 60 feet (18.3 meters)
Length: 78 feet (23.8 meters)
Weight: 32 tons (29 metric tons) fully loaded.
Cargo: In place of troops, it can carry 8 tons in cargo hold or 4 tons slung underneath.
Power Source: Nuclear, Should have an average life span of 20 years.
Black Market Cost: 45 million credits for a new or fully operational AV-35 Steel Tiger Attack VTOL.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Heavy Rail Guns (2): Two huge cannon-like guns protrude from the front of the aircraft and are in a fixed forward position. The rail guns are controlled by either the pilot or copilot. The rail guns are used whenever the attack aircraft has to engage another attacking aircraft and for clearing landing zones.
    Maximum Effective Range: 6000 feet (1828 meters)
    Mega-Damage: 2D4x10 M.D.C. per burst of 20 rounds for one rail gun or 4D4x10 M.D.C. for both cannons (40 rounds). Single shot inflicts 3D6 M.D.C.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to number of combined hand to hand attacks of pilot or co-pilot (usually 4-6).
    Payload: 2000 rounds per each gun, that's 200 bursts each.
  2. Side Ball Turret Mounts (2): The Steel Tiger has two ball turrets with one on either side of the main body. Unlike door guns, the weapons can be used at any speed. Each mount is controlled by separate gunner and has 360 rotation and 90 degree arc of fire. A variety of different weapon systems have been mounted in the ball turrets. This has included liquid propellant machine guns, rail guns, grenade launchers, and pulse lasers.
    1. Liquid Propellant Gatling Gun: This weapon is carried on the original AV-35 Steel Tiger but replaced on most tanks. This weapon is similar to the sub-machine-gun carried on the USA-GPA-01-D. This weapon's primary purpose is use against infantry and other lightly armored targets. The weapon can fire all types of burst available to machine guns except extended bursts. The weapon uses a special liquid propellant which delivers about four times the force of nitro-cellulose propellant and the weapon fires an 8 mm round.
      Maximum Effective Range: 3,000 ft (914 m)
        Single Shot (Costs 1 attack): 1D6
        Ten Round Burst on One Target (Costs 1 attack): 5D6
        Ten Round Burst on 1D4 Target (Costs 1 attack): 1D6
        Thirty Round Burst on One Target (Costs 1 attack): 1D6x10
        Thirty Round Burst on 1D8 Target (Costs 1 attack): 2D6
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of pilot or commander.
      Payload: 3000 rounds each.
    2. 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.
      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.
    3. Automatic Grenade Launcher: Weapon is similar to have a post Rifts WI-GL21 Automatic Grenade Launcher mounted in a turret but fires a slightly smaller round.
      Maximum Effective Range: 3,000 ft (914 meters)
      Mega-Damage: 3D6 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 12 ft and 5D6 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 3 ft, burst of 10 rounds does 2D4x10 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 40 ft and 2D6x10 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 8 ft.
      Rate of Fire: Equal to number of combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (usually 4-6).
      Payload: 800 Rounds
    4. Pulse Laser Mounts: Mounted in the later versions of the AV-35 Steel Tiger and refitted into many earlier models. The weapons' primary purpose is use against infantry but is effective against missiles and to a lesser extent both aircraft and other armored vehicles.
      Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
      Mega-Damage: 1D6x10 per pulse.
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of pilot or commander.
      Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  3. Ordnance Hard Points (8): The aircraft has eight hard points with four hard points on each wing. Missiles, rocket packs, and bombs can be mixed or matched but all ordnance on a hard point must be the same type. Most often at least two mini-missile pods are carried.
    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. Each hard point may carry one long range missile or heavy bomb, two medium range missiles or medium bombs, or four short range missiles or light bombs.
      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 per Hard Point. Two Medium range missiles /Medium Bombs or four Short Range missiles / Light bombs can be substituted for One Long Range Missile/Heavy Bomb.
    2. Mini-Missile Pod: Large capacity mini-missile pod. Each pod requires one Hard Point. 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 missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), or sixteen (16) mini-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.
    3. USA-M31 Rail Gun Pod: 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.
      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.
  4. Anti-Missile Chaff Dispenser: Located at the very tail of the aircraft 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 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)

Special Equipment:

The aircraft has all the standard features of a standard fighter (same as standard robot including loudspeaker and microphone on this aircraft) plus these special features listed.

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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