Hale VTOL Transport/Assault - 33 'Thundersnow II' as used by the Escean Military.
Year of Service Entry: 2113.
Updated image and design. This design no longer corresponds completely with the image 'Kite Fighting', but includes features from that take on the aircraft.
The Hale VTOL Transport/Assault – 33 ‘Thundersnow II’ was commissioned by the KHA Aerospace Division in 2110, entering full production and operational service by 2113 with the Escean Army and Air Force. The Marines, while offered, eventually settled on the heavier HVT/N-20 ‘Sealion’ instead.
Developed from the airframe of the Thundersnow I, the Thundersnow II is designed as a larger and more powerful aircraft, with greater passenger/cargo/weapons capacity when compared with its smaller brother. Unlike the A-32, the A-33 is capable of supersonic flight in all weather conditions and can achieve a much higher operating ceiling. The aircraft is built with composite materials for strength and protection from enemy fire. Aluminium oxynitride windows also offer superior protection to the crew. Chaff/flare dispensers mounted on the fuselage offer protection against thermal- or laser-guided weapons, while AA-operated ECM units disrupt guidance and locking signals.
For an aircraft not strictly designed for attack, the A-33 has a substantial suite of weapons. These include four 25mm K-1B Gatling Canon mounted in pairs on the outer weapon nacelles, twelve-round AA Missile Pods containing AIM-129 ‘Whiplash’ missiles, belly-mounted internal bays with a capacity of up to 4,000kg, and a rear-mounted K-1B Gatling cannon capable of 180˚ degrees of lateral traversal and 45˚ degrees vertical. A pair of 11mm K-12 Miniguns are mounted in windows behind the cockpit, with each weapon feeding from 1,500 ceiling bins.
Like the Thundersnow I, the A-33 uses large retractable landing pads, but with the addition of built-in wheels to allow taxiing. Flight control surfaces consist of nacelle-mounted canards and fins, and canted fuselage-mounted fins with a connecting horizontal stabiliser. The squared-off nacelles, which serve as the wings of the VTOL, act as a lifting body to improve fuel economy.
The four Pyotr-T BX47 Pitch Thrust Vectoring Engines of the Thundersnow II, which are modified variations of the same line used in the A-32, HG-64/Z and HRT-28/B, allow it to succeed the speed of sound, with a maximum speed of mach 1.8. Four Skylark L622 Hovering Engines provide redirected thrust for takeoff, landing or maintain position. Air intake vents are built into the dorsal surfaces of the engine nacelles to provide cooling.
Fully crewed, a Thundersnow II has a pilot, co-pilot and two crew chiefs, who also serve as the doorgunners. An artificial assistant program, MONA (Military Operating Network Assistant), aids the pilots by reducing workload and providing tactical and situational awareness. With MONA operational, a single pilot can fly the aircraft quite easily. As with all Escean aircraft, haptic flight controls activated by either CIT or SST cards are installed, with physical backups in case of catastrophic failure. The collimated display is projected across the entirety of the windshield, allowing the crew to easily locate allies or marked enemy locations, and read the terrain and potential hazards. The windshield may polarise to protect the crew or for covert flying, or enhance outside light for night flying. The aircraft has 40 seats in its rear cargo/passenger compartment, but can carry up to 70 personnel in full combat load if standing.
An A-33 has two cockpit doors, two cockpit emergency hatches, two ventral cargo compartment hatches, two fuselage emergency hatches amidships, and a large rear cargo ramp.
Like its predecessor, the A-33 has been delivered to both military and civil organisations, and numerous variations of the aircraft exist. Although not the heaviest VTOL in Escean service, it is the largest in use with the 6th Air Corps.
Crew: 4 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, 2x Crew Chief/Doorgunner)
Capacity: 40 Troops (Seated), 70 (Standing), or 10,500kg of Cargo
Empty Weight: 17, 892kg
Loaded Weight: 25,573kg
Max. Takeoff Weight: 47,746kg
Powerplant: 4x Pyotr-T BX-47 Pitch Thrust Vectoring Turbofans, 4x Skylark L622 Hovering Engines
Maximum Speed: Mach 1.8 (Level Flight)
Combat Radius: 700nmi
Ferry Range: 2,500nmi
Service Ceiling: 50,000ft
Rate of Climb: 14,000ft/min
Armament: 4x 25mm Nacelle-Mounted K-1B Gatling Cannon w/2000 per, 1x 25mm Tail-Mounted K-1B Gatling Cannon, 2x 12-Round Missile Pods, 2x Internal Bays w/ up to 4,000kg each, 2x 11mm door-mounted K-12 Miniguns.