The Shaar-Tol Interceptor
Due to their specialty of high risk, high reward missions, The 2nd Special Tactics & Operations squadron, better known as the Fists of Heaven, demand the absolute cutting edge of military technology in order to better their odds of success. FoH pilots readily adopted the Blade Mk.5 interceptor despite slow general acceptance throughout the fleet and readily trained other squadrons in maximizing the craft’s capabilities. By the time the rest of the Kushan Navy was confident and capable with the Mk.5, the Fists of Heaven felt restricted by the interceptor and desired an upgraded space (and atmospheric) superiority craft.
Shortcomings of the Mark 5 ‘Blade’ Class Interceptor
Lacking a background in R&D and engineering, FoH pilots approached Fleet Intelligence with concerns about the Mark 5’s ability to succeed in the medium and long term as a mixed-role interceptor. The Mk. 5 had shown shortcomings in the roles in which FoH was currently deploying the fighter, and this was not something the pilots believed to be acceptable given the seriousness of their current situation. Unbeknownst to the 2nd SpecOps squadron, Fleet Intelligence had also already seen the need for such a craft and were in the very early design stages, and more than willing to listen to the input from some of the fleet’s finest combat pilots.
Knowing full well the arduous design history behind the Blade, the Fists of Heaven were nevertheless adamant about developing a strike craft with improved weaponry, range, and atmospheric flight capabilities. Fleet Intelligence believed that this was potentially feasible due to knowledge gained from both captured vessels and received via trade with the Bentusi. In coalition with the Fists of Heaven, Fleet Intelligence approached Fleet Command regarding their proposal for a rework of the existing Blade Mk.5 interceptor.
The Proposal was based on the FoH’s squadron’s desires for a strike craft that would perform well in a variety of roles, and that had increased range and firepower over the current Mk. 5. Due to the difficulty (and ultimately, failure) of earlier attempts to produce an interceptor that excelled at multiple roles, Fleet Command was hesitant to approve what they considered a similar undertaking. In order to allay their understandable concerns, a design for a modular interceptor was presented by a joint committee of Intelligence and FoH personnel.
The modular design allowed for both space and atmospheric capabilities without unduly sacrificing performance and durability in either scenario. This was accomplished by utilising laterally folding wings and a large forward hardpoint with interchangeable modules. Three hardpoint modules would be manufactured alongside the interceptor: an extended range fuel tank, a missile pod, and an additional cannon. Depending on mission requirements, the interceptor could be configured for significantly increased range with the fuel tank module, additional firepower with one of two weapons modules, or improved speed and maneuverability with no module attached. To save on research & production costs, the same large cannon from the Blade class would be installed, albeit with approximately 20% increase in rate of fire due to improved plasma cooling technology. The engine would also be repurposed, with a 10% increase in speed due to the same cooling improvements.
Command agreed, and granted permission to begin work in secret on what would eventually become the Shaar-Tol Mk.1 atmospheric-and-space superiority interceptor.
I’ve brought you this brief history of the Shaar-Tol as this strike craft will have a key role in an upcoming project that we’re working on here at FoH. If you enjoyed this bit of fan fiction, by all means let me know!
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