|This article, D-79I Pelican, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "Hard to believe you could actually improve this old girl anymore, isn't it?"
- ―Captain Scott Gillott
The D77I-TC Pelican is the ninth iteration of the venerable Pelican Dropship/Gunship. The I has changed little from the H previously used by the UNSC but what few changes increased its capability heavily. The I is the second time a 'quad-service' Pelican has been adopted by all four branches of the UNSC to support all their roles, thanks to its modular load out.
Over previous models it is both more heavily armoured, faster, capable of carrying heavier weights and a much more potent vessel.
The D77I is crewed chiefly by three crew members. A pilot, responsible for piloting and direct fire weapons, a weapons officer/tactical officer, who is responsible for the nose gun and a number of other weapon systems, along with sensors, electronic warfare systems and guidance and a crew chief, who operates the rear doors, troop bay, vehicle latch, rear guns and watches over loading and unloading. Alternately, the whole pelican, par the rear gun, could be operated by a single AI. The Pilot and Gunner can alternate flight and weapons control, allowing continued use if one is incapacitated or on long flights where one is required to sleep.
The primary flight control is powered by triple redundant fly by light fibre optic controls ran through flight computers. It is completely auto-assisted due to the unstable nature of the profile of the D77, preventing the pilot from disabling it and loosing all control. The Computer controls and adapts all the engine nozzles to allow optimum VTOL flight and stability. The flight computer is a self-learning neural network, being capable of learning the individual flight characteristics of the craft, as well as being capable of adjusting the flight characteristics to adjust for errors. Should one of the many on board sensors report damage to a control surface, the flight computer can adapt and adjust the flight characteristics of the craft to compensate and retain it's agility and lift. This system allows for a single flight computer to be used, without adjustment, across an entire range of aircraft, both civilian and military.
The controls for the pilot are relatively conventional left control stick and right throttle, with both containing appropriate command and control buttons for activation self defences and avionic systems.
The pilot is supported by a wide, high visibility holographic Heads Up Display, providing all flight information, sensor feeds, weaponry check listing and other support features, along with a direct voice interface system with the where with the thumb of a control stick button, the pilot can input direct commands to the onboard computer, which will preform the function, with a 99.99% reliability, by reading through the pilot's boom microphone.
Its communication gear consists of a wideband and encoded radio and SATLINK communication gear, with wide range, frequency hopping, adaptive spectrum frequencies and anti interception systems, giving high quality video and audio links.
Its navigation is handled by a advance GPS system, inertial guidance and laser operated gyroscopes.
The D77I, like older models, is fully compatible with A.I.s, allowing A.I. programming to be transferred to the onboard processor and exert command and control over the vehicle. The holotank serves for visual communication, but any A.I. in the WarNet can interface with it.
The Pelican is outfitted with a Generation 3 Flight Assistance Intelligence (Gen. III Valkyrie FAI) produced by JOTUN Intelligence Engineering. The FAI is a Flight Assistance Intelligence, designed to speed up the reaction times and improving the sensory awareness of the crew. The FAI is a autistic intelligence unit, dedicated solely to aiding the crew. The FAI is directly linked into all the flight systems, but is incapable of receiving or delivering digital outputs to other craft outside of the conventional datalinks or analogue systems. The FAI has a number of roles with the crew, its first be increasing the sensory awareness of the pilot, using the onboard flight systems to track threats such as enemy craft, weapon systems or projectiles and prioritising then displaying this information in holographic feeds on the HUD to the crew and advising on the best possible course of action, providing augmented reality adjustments to the HUD to display threats and evasive course action, as well as attune the settings of the on board countermeasures to allow optimum deployment and protection. Its next function is flight control, being used as an auto-pilot. By utilising the on board sensors, topographical information and mission parameters it can navigate close terrain to preform landings or return to base commands (RTB). As well as that, during flight, it can advise on routes and manoeuvres, using GPS, topographical, meteorological and sensor assets. Its last function is autonomous control of the craft. Should the pilot or tactical officer be incapacitated in combat, the FAI can take over their roles, using the on board systems to either pilot the craft, use the weapon systems or deploy the tactical systems. Should both crew members be incapacitated, the FAI will then take control of all the Pelican's systems, allowing it to autonomously operate the entire craft. The FAI will then preform a advisory check with the nearest commanding AI and decide on the best course of action, whether it should complete it's given mission or preform an RTB. In this mode, it can operate all the combat systems and defend itself, being a capable combatant. The Last feature of the FAI is as a data management system, managing the flow of data to and from the Pelican, prioritising targeting information and command data, as well as providing sensory data to ground side units and airborne units. As well as this, it can control the Pelican's cyber protection systems, allowing it to protect the Pelican from cyberwarfare attack through a variety of methods, both aggressive and passive, legal and outlawed. The FAI is entirely autistic, meaning the only way to preform a successful hack attempt on it is to manually interface with it via a hardwire link. The FAI is equipped with a limited self learning neural net, allowing it to grow in experience and control. The FAI is fitted with a two way Direct Voice Input Control, allowing the pilot to verbally command the FAI, as well as allowing the FAI to verbally respond and alert the pilot. FAI's usually develop a 'surface' persona in the first two weeks of instalment, with a limited visual avatar and self awareness, but little depth, being no match for a full fledged AI.
The primary armament of the D77I is the nose gun slot. Whatever the weapon loadout, it is fed with a dual feed on either side of the gun, allowing for any mixture of ammunition, allowing multi-mission use. The nose gun is targeted by the TADS/PNVS, giving the user a range of options for identifying and engaging targets. When not in use, it is kept in a unfolding canopy on the nose, Along with that, it has four pylons, two pylons to a wing, capable of taking a rocket, missile or gun pod. Rocket pods include heavy and light rocket pods, anti-tank missiles, anti-electrical missiles, self-defence missiles, extended fuel tanks, weapon pods and other systems. Its final weapon is a rear mounted door gun system, mounted on a bracket and hidden in a recess on the roof of the cabin at the rear entrance. It folds down allowing the Crew Chief to deliver cover fire to embarking or disembarking troops or allows the gunner to preform close range gunship operations.
Despite its somewhat slab sided and rounded features, efforts to increase it's stealth properties have been made. The engine intakes have been shielded, cold air bleeders on the exhausts help in hiding emissions, laser absorbent skin coatings provide some defence against LIDAR and laser targeted systems and lastly, it possess radar absorbent paint. This has reduced its overall RADAR cross section to 3.6 meters from all directions, a miracle considering its shape.
However, despite this, the airframe naturally heats up, especially during atmospheric entry or reentry, meaning it produces a highly visible infrared signature after long flight durations or during transatmospheric trips.
The primary countermeasure of the D77I is the 3 DECEPTION Countermeasure launchers it carries, which fires a range of smoke, aerosol, RADAR, chaff and flare countermeasures, hoping to confuse all possible tracking systems. It also possess a CARAPACE Dual Active Protection System for close in defence against Fuel Rod Guns and direct chemical munitions. Lastly, the BELLIGERENT ECWS, while largely for aiding ground forces, acts as a protective system for the dropship itself.
It's last defensive system is a pair of M980 Weapon Anti Ordnance/Anti Material Defence Weapons, one close to the nose, one close to the tail. These are kept within the airframe in receeding hatches when at crusing speeds and transatmosphereic travel and deploy manually when the speed lowers, allowing them to counter ground missile systems. All are operated autonomously from the Area Defence and Interception System.
The primary sensor of the D77I is a AESA RADAR in the nose of the aircraft, which operates both as ground reading and forward facing, allowing it to identify aircraft directly ahead and targets on the ground, along with mapping them and provides fire control. This is supported by two flat pane AESA RADARS on each side of the aircraft which scan to the sides and rear, giving a roughly spherical view of the aircraft. All RADARs can operate doppler and pulse, against ground targets and air targets respectively. These allow it to map its surroundings, detect aircraft 200km away, detect missiles up to 100km away and provide threat detection and target acquisitive for missile ordnance and on-board weaponry. This information can be directed to marine ground teams, providing support and early warning. The forward RADAR also acts as the fire control, though that can be passed to the other RADARS in situations where it may occur. For advanced combat operations, the D77I has a AN/ASD-90 PAVE CROW, which is a magnetic array using a phased antennae. This can detect magnetic signatures up to 20,000 metres away.
All these systems are fed into the ADIS and flight computer, providing the pilot with defensive options when threatened, early warning and mapping of the combat area.
Optics wise, the main optical viewing system, outside of mark 1 eyeballs of the pilots, provided by the wide window, is the Target Acquisition and Designation System/Pilot Night Vision System linked directly to the 20mm gun, hidden in the nose canopy and slaved into the weapon officer's helmet, providing a holographic image fed from the camera, controlled through his head movements and targeting system changed by a simple press of a button on his control stick. The system has a thermal imaging system, a laser ranger finder, a full colour TV camera, a LIDAR system and a night vision camera. It can identify almost 300 targets, infantry and vehicle, and engage them. The TADS/PNVS also functions as a air-ground targeting pod for directing missile, bomb and rocket ordnance.
Along the sides it carries several AN/ASQ-144 FINDER Distributed Aperture Systems. These act as a missile warning system, reports missile launch locations, detects and tracks approaching aircraft spherically around the aircraft and provide additional navigation systems. They consist of pairs of short range thermal and monochrome TV cameras with steadied autotracking and display systems. It can lock onto multiple targets designated by the weapons officer and by passing from one camera to another, maintain a optical lock.
All optics can be switched through the weapon officers HUD, put on one of the screens in the cockpit or put on the main HUD.
Electronic Countermeasures and Warfare
The role of the D77I was expanded to full support of ground operations, including Electronic Warfare. It could guide and direct ground combat units while simultaneously hampering enemy units. This was all done through the BELLIGERENT Electronic Counter/Warfare System. This on-board computer, directed through the weapon officer along with onboard system, feeds the Pelican's information into the UNSC War Net and gives ground teams access to the information of the RADAR, LIDAR and optic results of the TADS/PNVS. This allows Pelicans to direct and help Marine combat teams in engaging the enemy, providing more than just gunship support. Along with that, it is provided with a RADAR tow, a small snub winged, aerodynamic and armoured RADAR held on a long tow cable, forty nine meters in length. This acts as a target for RADAR and jam homing missiles, providing a RADAR to replace that of the Pelicans, protecting it. It beams out a RADAR and radio jamming signal, but also, feeds in false coordinates and 'laser dazzles' from a onboard LIDAR, severely effecting enemy missiles.
Armour and Airframe
The D-79I Pelican's airframe is constructed from a basis of superplastic-shaped diffusion-adhered metal matrix composites. These light, oxidation resistant light-matrix composites are formed from high modulus and high strength gold doped zirconium oxide fibres and a titanium/aluminium laminate matrix, formed by heat bonding layers of titanium, aluminium and titanium aluminide, forming high strength crystal matrices, the results forming a high strength, yet flexible and light airframe. The skin is formed from four layered plates attached to the frame. The inside layer is a high strength carbon nanotube nanobud mesh composite, which does not melt on re-entry and protects the ship and occupants. Above this is a environmental layer, which regulates internal and external heat, preventing layers from outright melting or freezing, and protecting the occupants. The third layer is a resin bonded layer of structural titanium aluminide with a titanium mesh insert. The fourth layer is a outer layer of AEGIS tiles, built on a non-newtonian shock absorbing layer, providing thermal and oxidation protection. The cockpit and troop bay are situated in titanium-AEGIS compound armoured 'tubs'. These give limited protection against enemy fire. The windscreen is bullet-proof diffusion-bonded self-regenerating stretched-acrylic, with a coating of liquid glass, with a variable electronically controlled gold tinted setting, which protects it from solar rays, laser dazzles and electronic interference. These give limited protection against enemy fire. The skin is painted with thermal diffusing paint, heat controlled hull to generate a black body exterior, infra-red suppressors on the engines, RADAR absorbent paint, liquid glass composites and LASER absorbent laminates, which when compounded with its stealth design, gives it excellent stealth abilities.
The survivability of the airframe is legendary, as it was for it's predecessors. It is capable of surviving crashes relatively intact at low speed and low altitude. The ruggedness of the Pelican is legendary, with it being atmospheric flight capable even on one engine and only the crew on-board, or even with a whole entire nacelle of wing or both missing. As well as being hardened against electromagnetic effects, it its covered in a sensor network that reports directly to the pilot's damage computer, meaning any and all damage is immediately detected and analysed. This prevents the pilot from unwittingly attempting to take a transatmospheric trip or exceed Mach 2 with hull damage that could sheer the craft apart.
Powerplant and Engines
The Pelican features two powerful UAE made X-133 Turbines, providing the majority of the forward thrust. These powerful variable ramjet engines feature a variable inlet spike. During atmospheric flight, these are left open, allowing air into the engine, where fuel is injected under pressure and combusted in the chamber. The inlet spike can move to make the inlet narrower or wider, conversely making the speed higher or lower. However, to achieve transatmospheric travel, where air is not available, it closes the inlet spike then adds a oxidative to the fuel, turning the jet engine into a rocket engine. This is not fuel efficient but allows it to travel in vacuums and at high speeds. The four UAE XV-177 VTOL engines provide tilting engines with variable inlets, with vectored thrusting in eight axis. This gives it excellent hovering ability, excellent upwards thrust and upwards, sideways back wards VTOL motions. All engines are fitted with Multi-Axis Thrust Vectoring nozzles, giving excellent control. Each turbine has a main engine and a nozzle that bleeds some of the thrust down to the VTOL engine, that gives it downwards thrust. Each engine has the ability to tilt the main out take up or down then further tilt the up and down nozzle, along with the variable thrust which varies by forcing more thrust downwards by a steadily rising shield inside the engine, with the VTOL engines being capable of vectoring from left to right.
The engines are triple redundant and by the sheer number of them, allow the aircraft to fly with half of them disabled.
The sheer power of the engine enables travel at mach 3 at ramjet mode. It is quite capable of travelling at supersonic speeds with good stability and through engaging scramjet mode and full afterburners it can exceed Mach 12.
The Pelican can carry twelve marines, along with plenty of spare gear, using the unfolding seats, overhead storage and storage nets as standard, however, it can carry up to 26 marines, with equipment, using centre aligned seats, to 36, with some standing though with only their weapons and basic equipement. It can carry a two Mongoose ULATVs or a M17 Weasel Fast Attack Vehicle series vehicle. Along with that it can carry six M84 Wolf All Terrain Armoured Assault Suits internally. Internally, it can also carry towed artillery and crates of cargo for parachute drop. Externally it can carry nearly every ground vehicle in the UNSC arsenal, but not including M1000 Tiger Heavy Battle Tank, M1055 Polar Bear Anti-Super Walker Vehicle and the M451C1 Elephant Armoured Repair and Recovery Platform and it's cousins, along with naval vehicles, excluding the M54 Barracuda Rigid Inflatable Boat. It can also cabins, buildings materials and defensive structures externally and internally. Along with that it can carry up to eight Type-D Resupply Canisters for supply drops from vary altitudes and even orbit. The powerful rear magnet, which deploys a magnetic field, keeping a vehicle locked in it, can be enabled and disabled by the crew chief. The entirety of the crew bay is adjustable, allowing it to be modified to feature an airlock, a docking cover, removable seat racks, drone launching platforms, cargo trays, vehicle launching or any set up of medical beds.
The D77I possess a number of other small features that are critical to it's design. It features a pressurized cockpit and sealed door, meaning a hull breach in one section protects the other. Conversely, it allows the rear section to become a airlock, with the right set up of modular equipment. The cockpit also features a holotank and AI interface with a super conducting weave, allowing a AI to be installed and interface with the craft. It features triple redundant hydraulic landing gear which can be activated by a 'gravity drop, where they are released and allow a mixture of gravity and wind resistance pull them into position, where they lock. The back door, complete with bullet proof window, is sealed and driven by hydraulics and can be released by pulling the locks with the emergency cord or pull the emergency release that releases the whole entire door. It features a emergency release hatch on the roof of the cabin and ejector seats for the pilot and weapons officer, though the crew chief and any occupants in the rear must ditch manually.
At the rear of the Cabin, the Pelican, like it's sister variants, the Merlin and the Hornet, feature 'Jump Lines'. These consist of 100 feet of resin aggregate soaked carbon-fibre weave cable around a liquid crystal lattice core, looped around a motorised pulley. At the end is a motorised rapid transit system with two grips and variable speed up and down gears. these allow Marines to descend rapidly from the back of the Pelican at high heights. After deployment to the ground, these wind back up. The Pelican features three on the back ramp. These can be controlled by the crew chief, allowing them to move and extract Marines with ease and without needing to land.
The D77I still provides the Marines, Navy and Army within their main airlift capability. With advancements in its weapon technology and its electronic systems, it can provide gunship support and direct electronic countermeasures to infantry units, making it a versatile support vehicle. The Army also uses it as a combat search and rescue, or equipment recovery aircraft. It can preform air assault missions, close air support, surveillance, medical evacuation, cargo transportation, troop transport and limited electronic warfare missions.
List of air and space craft of the UNSCDF