In the early 2090s the United States government was in dire need of a new, less expensive, and more capable air dominance fighter than the presently serving Rockwell Collins F-53 "Warhawk". Although fast, and of VTOL capability, it was literally draining the air force's budget dry simply with maintenance costs! Production of the still new Warhawk was unanimously voted to cease, and for a new aircraft to be developed which could still compete with the air forces of their primary opponents in the second cold war.
It was then that the US Air Force turned to the Northrop Aerospace Conglomerate, the famed producers of the S-14 & S-16 of the US Navy, for a new primary design. N.A.C. first presented the option of producing specialized Air Force variants of the S-14 under the code name of Sky Hawk and the S-16 under the code name of Black Hawk. Both of these versions would have lacked the folding wings and arrester gear of their Naval counterparts had they ever gone into production. Shortly after the N.A.C. made their initial proposal, The US Navy filed suit against the N.A.C.. This lawsuit stated that while the S-14 & S-16 was under license production for the US Navy, it was solely US Navy property. To produce this aircraft for any other military arm would be a breach of contract - and thus was ruled out as a possibility.
N.A.C. wasted no time after the US Air Force rejected their proposal to utilize the S-14 & S-16 in a new contract. They immediately set design teams to work, around the clock on a new design. It had to be as maneuverable as a hare, and so a forward swept wing was chosen for the desired maneuverability aspect of the design. Speed was of the utmost importance. An air dominance fighter had to DOMINATE a battle field, by being on one end at one moment, and then at the other the next. It had to be enduring enough to take a hit or two, and still make it back to base so as to preserve the single most expensive component in the aircraft - the pilot. Although desirable in such a design, VTOL is a terribly expensive system for any aircraft to utilize, and since that was the major downfall of the Rockwell Collins F-53 "Warhawk" it was decided that this aircraft would not use a system such as this. In a record time of only five years, the prototype N.A.C. 3421 was presented to the Air Force.
The N.A.C. 3421 when accepted for trials by the US Air Force, was given the designation of XF-56 "Lightning", and it was not without it's drawbacks. Although of excellent quality, some of it's components were of lesser grades. In the first six months of flight testing, and beefing up it's electronics suite, they lost two prototypes to crashes caused by one failure or another. Despite these failures, and it's rather arduous teething process, in 2096 12 N.A.C. YF-56 "Stiletto" entered service. These served up until the cataclysm, some actually taking part in border skirmishes with Mexican forces.
The cataclysm struck swiftly against the air forces of North America. Aircraft which are normally tossed like toys in Hurricane force winds were not only tossed but were dashed across the landscape for miles before being discarded upon the ground. Only ONE Stiletto is believed to have survived the cataclysm in any shape or form. This Stiletto is sitting abandoned near the complex of Area 51, gutted of all working components - an empty shell, and testament to the best of the US Air Force aircraft.
When S-mart first began producing pre-RIFTS military equipment, although many Pre-RIFTS designs were at the disposal of the best free thinking technical personnel in North America, technical know how was severely lacking. Much technology had not only been simplified through the cataclysm, but much had simply been forgotten. Through the course of S-Mart's meteoric rise as a technological powerhouse of corporate North America, it's tech levels have steadily increased to the level of the Coalition States - and beyond. The Stiletto is one such piece of pre-RIFTS equipment easily slotted as being above that commonly accepted level of excellence.
S-Mart produces the Stiletto in limited numbers retaining about 80 for their own personal protection, plus maintaining 80 Stiletto for each of the two ANF Dalmir Class Submersible Carriers. The only other power on Earth that has received S-Mart Stiletto, is Tolkeen. In March of 119PA, Queen Shaquela entertained the 7th Fighter Wing of Ghost Squadron, from the Royal Tolkeen Air Force, and spoke at length with them about the situation in Tolkeen. Above all - the Tolkeenites wanted better aircraft. In response to that, Queen Shaquela made arrangements for 50 of Desert Star's own Stiletto be sent to Tolkeen to assist them in the fight against the Coalition Forces. These aircraft began arrival in the beginning of July. Unfortunately, Warlord Grola, who was then in command of the Royal Tolkeen Air Force misappropriated these aircraft and sought to use them to replace those which had been lost, giving them to pilots who were already shot down, demoralized or what not, or even rookie pilots fresh out of sub standard training. A full quarter of these aircraft were lost to accidents inside of the first month of their service, while an additional half were destroyed either on the ground or in the air. By mid August only a few were left in the service of Tolkeen. The last one was lost on August 20th, when it's power couplings were shot out near CS Occupied St.Cloud, and bellied in behind enemy lines. The CS captured this aircraft, and carted it away to Chi-Town for evaluation. No others survived the conflict. Altogether 312 have been produced.
Class: Air Dominance Fighter.
Type: N.A.C. 3421, F-56 "Lightning", Stiletto.
Crew: 1; 1 additional passenger may squeeze in, but it is extremely uncomfortable.
M.D.C. by Location:
*Wings(2) - 315 each.
**Pilots Compartment - 100.
***Main Body - 420.
* Destroying one of the wings will cause the aircraft to crash.
** This target is small, and difficult to hit, and may only be done so at a penalty of -4 to strike.
*** Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body means that the aircraft's fuselage is in tatters, and for safety measures
the thrusters have disengaged. The pilot can attempt a dead stick landing, at a -30% on level ground, or can opt
Maximum Speed: With the wings clean, (ie. no under-wing stores) the aircraft can achieve a maximum level flight speed of Mach 4.25. In full combat gear, the Stiletto's speed typically drops 0.2-0.5 Mach depending on the number of pods carried.
Maximum Altitude: 65,000 feet.
Maximum Endurance: The vectored jet thrusters of the Stiletto are specially shielded, and designed to endure hours upon hours of extreme temperatures. In typical use it's maximum range is effectively unlimited, depending mostly upon the needs of the pilot. However, at maximum speed, the jets get very hot, and need to cool after a maximum of 20 hours of flight.
Height: 14' 2".
Wing Span: 42'.
Length: 58' 6".
Weight: 17 tons.
Maximum External Stores: 2.5 tons. (5,000 Lbs.)
Market Cost: It costs Desert Star, and the A.N.F. 54 million credits to produce each aircraft, not including any weapons other than the SM-433. The Stiletto is NEVER sold on the open market, or on the black market nor to any independent nations. There have been only two exceptions to this rule in the past. Selling directly to the Allied Naval Fleet, which in and of itself is sort of an extension of Desert Star's own military, has been conducted in the past as mentioned above in the description. AND on a more recent note, 50 Stiletto fighters have been Lend/Leased to Tolkeen until after the conflict is at an end. The lend lease contract reads however, that any remaining Stilettos then in service must be scrapped, or returned to Desert Star, at the end of hostilities. Additionally a sum of 2.2 Billion credits is owed by the Tolkeen government to King Ripley of Desert Star.
1. 30 mm SM-433 Rapid Fire Assault Cannon: This is the primary weapon of the S-Mart Stiletto. Mounted in the nose, it is the only truly 'built in' weapon system carried by the aircraft. (Note that pod mounted and pylon mounted weapons are still considered integral since the targeting systems of the aircraft are still utilized in the aiming, arming, and deployment of the pod/pylon weapons.) This weapon is of a newer design, combining the technology of the rail gun with the concept of the R.F.F.C.'s S-Mart has become famous for. It fires a quick, concentrated burst of electromagnetically accelerated 30 mm cannon shells at a target, after the cannon shells are fired conventionally using a solid propellant not dissimilar to that used in ramjet rounds.
Primary Purpose: Anti-Aircraft.
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Missile.
Mega-Damage: 2D6x10+10 MD per 10 shell burst.
Blast Radius: A combined burst of explosive shells has about a 5' blast radius.
Rate of Fire: 10 shell bursts only.
Maximum Effective Range: 10,000'.
Payload: 250 shells, or 25 bursts.
2. Pod Spaces: The Stiletto has 14 pod spaces of weapons distributed over it's sleek body. There is one mounted on each wing tip, typically loaded with AAMs, two under each wing, and then eight distributed along the belly of the aircraft in a 4x2 configuration. For a variety of pod weapons that may be added on at additional cost, here is a list of those Pod Weapons available through S-Mart.
The Common Desert Star Air Dominance Loadouts;
Configuration A: Speed: Mach 4.02
2 - AAMs
2 - SRM Pods
4 - LRMs
Configuration B: Speed: Mach 4.02
2 - AAMs
2 - MRM Pods
4 - LRMs
Configuration C: Speed:Mach 4.1
10 - AAMs
2 - LRMs
Configuration D: Speed: Mach 3.75
2 - AAMs
4 - SRM Pods
2 - MRM Pods
Tolkeen Air Force Fighter Loadouts;
Configuration 1: Speed: Mach 3.95
6 - AAMs
4 - SRM Pods
Configuration 2: Speed: Mach 3.95
6 - AAMs
2 - SRM Pods
2 - MRM Pods
3. Systems of Note:
1. Military Radio & Scrambler: 500 mile range operable as either directional or broad band.
2. Radar & Target ID: 100 mile range! Is capable of look-down up to 25 miles out, is programmed with most aircraft (from before and after the RIFTS on RIFTS Earth, as well as most common types of star fighters found in the Three Galaxies. Additionally, it is programmed to recognize 6,200 different species of flying monsters/D-Bees. Can track up to 44 targets simultaneously, and may attack up to 4 different targets at a time. (Can fire four different weapons at once.)
3. Advanced Targeting/Combat Computer: The advanced targeting computer allows the fly by wire system to make small adjustments in power, trim, and direction to assist the pilot in targeting providing a bonus of +5 to strike with all weapons when focusing on one target. The advanced targeting computer may also work in conjunction with the Radar to attack a target without actually facing the enemy - this type of an attack may be made, but only at a bonus of +2 to strike.
4. Inertial Navigation Computer: This system uses the gravitational forces of the earth, to plot out where exactly the aircraft is. This system, can effectively pinpoint the location of the Stiletto down to the nearest hundred yards, to the pilot. Adds a +20% to Navigational skills.
5. Laser Detector: This nifty system sounds an alarm as soon as any laser targeting system even crosses over the Stiletto.
6. Radar Detector: This system notifies the pilot when he/she has been sighted on radar.
7. Telescopic Optics: This allows the Stiletto to "see" an object, or aircraft at ranges of 5 miles or more as though they were up close, in a sort of pop up window on the HUD.
8. Chaff & Flare Dispenser: This dual system is designed to negate the effectiveness of missiles without resorting to dangerous maneuvers and such when in the process of aiming, etc. If the incoming missile is Radar Guided, the Chaff has an 80% chance of throwing it off course, if it is Optical or Heat guided, the flare has a 90% chance of knocking it off course.
9. Remote Targeting System: This system allows the pilot of the Stiletto to transmit and receive coordinates and additional data on targets beyond visual or sensor range.
10. Command & Control Computer: This system operates on the concept of the Internet on cell phones. It allows ALL the aircraft in a unit to utilize the radar and other sensors of his/her fellow pilots in the unit. This has given birth to a whole new type of reconnaissance in which a squadron will spread out, with 20 mile gaps, and literally blanket an area, searching for whatever it is they are looking for. A squadron of 16 aircraft can thus cover 640 miles of territory with look-down radar!!
11. Ejection Seat: The pilot has an ejection seat and chute for use in emergency situations.
The image displayed in reference to this aircraft is the BAC-Dassault-MBB EFA Variants as shown on pg. 92-93 of the now defunct FASA Corporation (RPG), Shadowrun's Sourcebook, The Rigger Black Book. The rights to which are now owned solely by WizKids, Inc. WizKids, Inc. has granted permission to SirTenzan's RIFTS Gallery to use the artwork but does not endorse, and is not affiliated with SirTenzan's RIFTS Gallery in any official capacity whatsoever.