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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #048 (repost) - Strike Fighter, Medium  (Read 2827 times)

Trace Coburn

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“Defender” Medium Strike Fighter - 25t, AT2/TRO3039
Originally posted 7 Dec. 2005.

  All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread.

  Planetary militias and home-defence units need air-cover and ground-attack capabilities, too, and given that they are usually very far down on national procurement priority lists, they most often can’t get aerospace platforms, or afford adequate numbers of them even when they’re available; indeed, for most planets’ self-defence needs, surface-to-space capability is not an absolute necessity so much as an expensive luxury.  Thusly, they find themselves in need of purely atmospheric aircraft which can move fast, deal damage... and be fielded in adequate numbers, often through indigenous manufacture.  This is the thought process which brings us the assembly of generic conventional platforms known as the Strike Fighter family.

  “Medium” means different things in different contexts; hell, at the KFC where I bought lunch the other day, a “medium” drink is a dash of water and three drops of flavouring.  :P  In the context of conventional fighters, the Medium Strike Fighter (MSF) offers the same aerodynamic performance as a medium ASF, but seems to address the roles of a low-cost fire-support platform and bomb-truck, rather than that of dogfighter as most medium ASFs do.  Oddly enough, the ‘generic’ version shown in AT2 makes use of Level 2 technology in its weapons systems, implying that it may actually be a foundtech ‘improvement’ on an older system.
  Since I first ran this article, TRO3039 has come along to reveal, correct and clarify a number of things about the MSF.  Like the LSF, the MSF originated in the Free Worlds League (with ImStar Aerospace on Amity) under the type-name “Defender”, but was quickly cloned across the entire Inner Sphere in the pre-Amaris era and became even more popular during the Succession Wars, when a planet with an Age of War level of technology could build the thing in job-lots without needing to import (too many) components in a time of scarce interstellar transport.  House Steiner in particular spammed the thing left, right and centre as a militia-support airframe, which is no great surprise given their relative economic and industrial might.
  Unlike its smaller cousin the “Angel” Light Strike Fighter, the MSF uses a turbine powerplant to achieve its respectable 6/9 movement curve, accepting the resultant mass penalty to save money (presumably to allow the end-user to buy more airframes); its three tons of fuel give it an admirable degree of loiter time, letting it outlast many ASFs!  :o  Armoured 7/6/5 with an SI of 6, the MSF will set no records for toughness, but it can stand up to a couple of whacks from an AC/5 (as found on the Partisan SPAAG), so it can afford to chance its hand (on a limited basis) against light defences.
  Those purely interested in the ‘sharp end’ of combat aircraft will find the MSF an odd duck: while its external payload is some five tons at 5/8, its onboard weaponry consists of an LRM-5 mounted in each wing, complete with Artemis fire-control module and sharing a ton of ammunition.  Some might argue that there isn’t much point in putting Artemis on something as light as a five-rack, but it does offer fractionally better chances of thresholding enemy ASFs for a mass-cost that isn’t overly egregious, so BYO NaCl on that one.  ;)  One might note that the price-tags - 582K C-bills and 253 BV1 per article - might also do much to make the MSF a little more palatable.
  With most ballistics and beams impractical for reasons of mass and heat, the Defender naturally resorts to missile-racks for its internal-weaponry, and it chooses... interestingly.  A nose-mounted SRM-2 and a single ton of ammo don’t make for knock-out punch, but it let you carry Infernos for vehicle-popping under the old rules (and can still worry ’em under TW), and it’s a secondary system anyway.  The primary weapons are the LRM-5s in each wing, sharing a single ton of ammunition and allowing the MSF to stand back and pepper an opponent with warheads for a goodly while.
  It’s also intriguing to note that at twenty-five tons, the MSF family hits a ‘sweet spot’: five tons of external ordnance slows you down to only 5/8, meaning you can carry your ‘max’ warload for minimal impact on performance.  It also means that you can lay on the RL/10s for armour-busting, carry a mix of TAG/bombs/fuel on bombing raids, sling a pair of LAAM’s for scaring the bejeesus out of enemy ASFs... or bring along a single Arrow-IV missile to really get some point-target’s attention.  Those of you who couldn’t give a toss for the Ares Conventions have undoubtedly realised that this would also let you toss an Alamo at the other guy.  }:)

  It’s little surprise that the MSF complements the LSF quite well: the Mediums hang back a little and pepper the targets with LRMs from long range, while the Lights swarm in and get to grips with their SRMs.  Indeed, whether or not LSFs are actually present many of the rules that apply to use of the LSF are also germane to the MSF: swarm targets, stick-and-weave, avoid concentrations of defensive firepower, and if it isn’t redundant to say so remember your mantras.  If one has access to Thunder munitions (IIRC, the updated ruling is that Artemis on an LRM rack doesn’t aid Thunder rounds, but doesn’t preclude their use), sowing patterns of minefields throughout the enemy’s Area of Operations (especially his rear areas) can really cramp his style.  Once the technological rennaissance begins, one is also intrigued by the possibility of TAG-equipped infantry units (guerrillas, perhaps?) spiking a target for a dose of Semi-Guided LRMs or laser-guided gravity bombs....  }:)
  Note that if the other side throws other conventional fighters up at you to protect his ass(ets), Defenders will pay for themselves in a couple of salvoes: few conventionals can carry meaningful armour, much less enough to avoid being thresholded by a pair of LRM-5s, so MSFs’ combination of range and punch will let them carve a wide, bloody swathe through formations of defending CFs.  }:)

  Defensively, again the advice that stood for the LSF stands for the MSF: one is a pest but dozens are a deadly threat, so don’t be afraid to use industrial-strength deterrent.  Friendly interceptor cover would be a great thing; a lance or two of SL-21 Sholagars will savage an MSF unit in short order.  Well-emplaced AAA and SAM ’Mechs or vehicles will make your life easier as well, but in all honesty, if you note what I said just above, the cheapest cure to enemy MSFs might be a couple of squadrons of your own.  :o

  As noted, the Lyrans produced Defender-derivatives in incredible numbers.  Their version of the base model was dubbed Steinadler, or “Golden Eagle”, and naught more need be said about it other than that it often teamed up with, and provided long-range fire-support for, the slightly more interesting Kaiseradler (“Imperial Eagle”).  Operating off of ‘short runways’ and surface-navy carriers like the Luftenburg CV which spawned fourteen(!) pages of spirited discussion during its VotW run several years ago, the Kaiseradler swapped out a ton of fuel for VTOL gear, the LRM racks for SRM-4s, and backed them up with single MGs in each wing with a half-ton of ammo so it could shoot up enemy squishies.  Obviously meant for militia-support and guerrilla operations from dispersal strips, the Kaiseradler needs every bit of the support provided by Steinadlers, but it can eagerly tear into tanks or armour-stripped ’Mechs with crit-seeking SRM and machine-gun goodness.  }:)  (Those of you who hate squishies just that bit more will no doubt take the chance to load up on napalm and fragmentation warheads.  :o )  Any CF letting a Kaiseradler get too close to him is begging for trouble, too - while the TW aerospace Cluster rules are a little wacky, they do give the Kaiseradler a pair of ML-equivalent whacks to throw at someone who gets careless....  }:)
  Mujika Aerospace Technologies on St. Ives complement their own Guardian Jump Fighter with a variant of the MSF called the Crane, which the CCAF is more than happy to accept.  Offloading the SRM-2 and ammo for a third LRM-5 (all three racks sharing the same single ton of ammo), the Crane is possibly the ‘best’ CTOL variant of the MSF going, especially for air-defence against other conventional fighters, and presumably cooperates with the Guardian as the Steinadler does with the Kaiseradler.
  Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, ImStar took eager advantage of the FWL’s 3035(!) rediscovery of Artemis-IV technology to overhaul their original defender, with the Defender-II coming out in 3038 and soon supplanting the original layout across much of the Inner Sphere.  (Indeed, this is the ‘MSF’ we all originally met in AT2 and long took as the ‘base’ variant.)  Offloading the SRMs and ammo for the Artemis modules takes away what little close-range hitting power the type had, but at range it’s arguably deadlier than the Crane: while the Crane offers three chances to threshold something with its triple LRM-5s, the twin LRM-5+Art-IV mounts on the Defender-II have better individual penetration, letting it deal with slightly tougher targets.

  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread:,3788.0.html

  Be advised: the attached .txt transcript(s) of previous runs of this thread contain numerous reader-proposals for variants.  I’ll try to change those out for ‘sanitised’ versions of those threads when I can, but I can’t promise it’ll be soon - that’s a lot of ground to cover.  ;)


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Something that occured to me while reading this, what's the ruling on Conventional Fighter taking hits in Athmosphere? Control rolls or not?

That said, the MSF's with 2 or 3 long-range hit chances can actually worry ASFs in atmosphere because sooner or later the ASF is going to lose a control roll and end up doing something that needs full attention to recover.
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I kind of like the MSF as a low-cost platform.
Looking at the latest record sheet, the only thing I find to add is that the Kaiseradler's machine guns has been moved to the nose.

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It's another one of those cheap, simple platforms, but simpler and cheaper without the fusion engine.  I like it.

I would note two things.  First, to the best of my knowledge, Crocketts are 5 slots while Alamos are 10.  Second, special munitions (other than Artemis) out of fighters remains a bit of an open question under TW/TO rules and probably one that needs to go to the rules section.  In general, Artemis does nothing to affect other ammo types one way or another for what that's worth.

Something that occured to me while reading this, what's the ruling on Conventional Fighter taking hits in Athmosphere? Control rolls or not?

Yes, they make control rolls just like everything else does.

That said, the MSF's with 2 or 3 long-range hit chances can actually worry ASFs in atmosphere because sooner or later the ASF is going to lose a control roll and end up doing something that needs full attention to recover.

Eventually it's bound to statistically, but the amount of time it can take depends heavily on the ASF's condition, chance, and the quality of the pilot.  LRM 5s don't generate enough damage to really make the control rolls complicated unless they're deployed in swarms.  I wouldn't rely on this happening in a timely fashion but it's certainly going to get the ASF jock's attention.  (Getting shot at usually does.)