|This article, MD-91 Harrier, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "Two of them came in, over the horizon. Just saw the silhouettes against the sun. The Insurrectionists there and then dropped their guns and surrendered. Not even putting up a fight."
- ―Anonymous UNSC serviceman
The MD-91 Harrier is a heavy combat dropship used by the UNSC for close air support missions usually too dangerous for the Pelican or Merlin-class Dropships. The Condor is well known for flying at low altitude with all weapons firing on multiple targets for highest fire effect.
The crew consists of eleven crew members, a large number for a dropship, but allows it to operate smoothly and at maximum effectiveness. In the cockpit, the pilot sits at the front right, with access to the flight systems and a multi-port access system. sat next to him is the Combat Systems Officer. The Combat Systems Officer controls the electronic warfare and defensive systems, ensuring the protection of the aircraft through deployment of countermeasures, aerial mines, short-range air to air missile attack or preforming electronic attack missions against enemy sensors, communications or electronic capabilities. The CSO can also operate the cruise missile and pylon mounted weaponry against hostile targets. Sat behind him is the gunner, controlling the heavy cannon on the nose, and controlling both the pylon mounted weapon systems, and the 12 AGM-404 Ronin cruise missiles carried by the Condor. The nose gun is slaved to the pilot's head and eye motion, allowing pin-point accuracy in engaging targets. Sat beside the gunner is the fire control officer, with a station that links to all external sensors and exo-vehicular sensor assets, allowing him to monitor and track targets, then direct fire of all seven gunners accurately against multiple threats. For operating the 6 gun turrets, there are 6 gunners with electronically slaved weapons and weapon stations.
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 MD-91, preventing the pilot from disabling it and losing all control. The Computer controls and adapts all the anti-gravity systems and 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 MD-91 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. This Holotank is positioned between the Pilot and CSO.
The Condor 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 more crew members be incapacitated, the FAI will then take control of all the Condor'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 Condor, 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 Condor's cyber protection systems, allowing it to protect the Condor 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 Condor has a wide variety of weapons to allow it to engage multiple targets at once, even without line of sight. Given maximum weapon coordination, it could effectively fire on over fifty independent targets, depending on weapon set ups.
The primary armament is the Heavy Nose gun, which can fit weapon systems such as a 40mm autocannon, 70mm autocannon, 30mm rotary cannon and a TITAN LASER, which allows the Condor to wreak havoc on infantry and armour. This gun slot is primarily for taking out close to mid range priority targets and engaging targets just outside of the dropzone, to prevent friendly fire.
The secondary armament consists of six turrets, carrying two 30mm guns. These 30mm autocannons have a high rate of fire, their own independent targeting systems and high capacity feeds, consisting mostly of a mixture between armour piercing and high explosive rounds. Two guns cover the front firing arc, mounted vertically on the forward flanks of the Condor. Two guns are mounted on the port and starboard midship, giving a firing axis on both flanks. Two more are mounted on the rear nacelles, facing rearward. These guns cover the rear axis, and are the only ones capable of engaging targets directly underneath the dropship. These allow the gunners to cover all aspects of the dropship for fire support. The canon is extremely powerful against infantry and light armour, but struggle against larger targets.
Mounted under the two canards are two medium pylons, capable of taking a variety of missiles. These can take short range anti-armour missiles, cruise missiles, bombs, rocket pods, beyond visual range air to air missiles or other support weapons. Mounted on each side of the troop bay are six AGM-404 Ronin cruise missiles, capable of engaging targets beyond visual range. These give it exceedingly accurate and powerful fire support options, at short to medium range, allong it to support ground teams or destroy armour. These missiles must be cold launched at low speeds, to prevent potential accidents. For close range defence, it mounts two turrets on the upper area of the dropship, each carrying 7 AIM-34B Ramhorn missiles. These are controlled by the CSO and the ADIS system and can be used to engage interloping air threats in a 360 degree area at short to medium range.
At the rear door of the dropship, there is one single door gun, mounted on a shock absorbing armature. This can be fitted with a M247H2 Heavy Machine Gun, AIE-486I Heavy Machine Gun or M460C Automatic Grenade Launcher for landing zone suppression and fire support.
Despite the size of the MD-91, efforts have been made to lesson it's sensor profile against sensor mediums such as RADAR, ultra-violet and Infra-red. The Condor is covered in RADAR absorbent materials, LIDAR absorbent paint, infra-red suppressive resin and liquid glass to protect against radiation and render it near invisible on the ultraviolet spectrum. The Condor has had a stealth-minded design, with sloped profiles, diverterless engine inlets and other features.
The primary countermeasure of the Condor is the 4 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 five M980 Weapon Anti Ordnance/Anti Material Defence Weapons, covering the vehicle in a 3 60 circle, with minor blindspots directly underneath and directly above the aircraft. These are kept within the airframe in receding hatches when at cruising 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 Condor 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 Condor 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 all 7 of the gun systems 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 hybrid 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 Condor 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 Condor'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 Condors to direct and help ground 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 Pave 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.
The Condor is fitted with more advanced electronic warfare systems operated through the BELLIGERENT system. The Electronic Warfare systems consists of two pods, the AN/ALQ-57 VANGUARD jamming system, capable of intercepting and deciphering radio systems, intercepting RADAR transmissions and intercepting MASER transmissions and then tracking the source and jamming it through low detectable directed narrow ban jamming or wide area jamming, at the cost of stealth. It has the added functionality of being able to feed false information to any of the above sensor or communication systems, further confusing enemy forces or preform active cancellation, sending out directed, well timed signals on the correct wavelength to 'cancel' enemy RADAR, Radio or MASER signatures, resulting in a 'silence'. The second pod is a Electronic Protection Pod, the AN/ALQ-61 PACK RAT that interferes with enemy attempts to intercept and jam communication and detection systems by producing narrow beam 'burn outs' that confuse and jam enemy attempts to jam them. Along with that, it uses a CPU driven decryption system that protects against attempts to intercept communication systems or preform cyber warfare attacks, usually through vicious back hacks and maze barrier systems. It has a trio of lightweight, low observable RADAR receivers.
Armour and Airframe
The MD-91 Harrier'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 single crystal quartz, 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 Condor's airframe is immeasurable tough, being capable of handling high speed atmospheric exit and entry. This airframe can take significant punishment and survive high speed crashes. The aircraft can even operate when reduced to only two anti-gravity engines, though with greatly reduced mobility. 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.
The Condor is fitted with a PANTHEON Mark XIV Electromagnetic Shielding System, which provides heavy shielding against threats, usually the same level of shield employed by medium fighters such as a Katanas. This shield is capable of taking significant damage, allowing the Condor to operate for much longer periods of time than normally capable.
Powerplant and Engines
The majority of power for the Condor is provided by two linked Centurion fusion reactors. The Reactors, buried under numerous levels of plating, gain redundancy from their numbers and provide more than enough power for the Condor to operate. This powers the shields, anti-gravity systems, electronic warfare systems and other high power systems.
For forward movement, the main engines are two X-13 Series engines. These are large and powerful, giving it a high top speed, at the cost of large amounts of fuel, making range a consideration in usage. While they can cruise, it is not an ideal situation. For short range manoeuvring, it uses four turbofan jets on variable geometry canards. Underneath the Condor are eight boosted anti-gravity propulsion drives, grouped in twos. These each have the ability to vector their directional capabilities in multiple axis, allowing it to have surprisingly good agility, despite its size and bulk.
The gravity engines produce a distinct and high pitched hum, earning the nickname of the 'wub-wub' for the Condor, the mere sound of which can provoke forces into surrender. This sound is particularly prevalent when operating in close support missions, where the anti-gravity engines are operating at their maximum output and the forward thrust engines are operated at minimum output.
The Condor is fitted with a troop bay of equal size to the Pelican, with capability for 12 or 26 personnel to sit, with more standing. It can also carry 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. The rear magnetic plates can carry a single vehicle, despite being larger than the ones typically found on a Pelican. It can also carry two M5 Ogre All Terrain Armoured Battle Walker. Along with that it can carry up to twelve 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 Condor 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 four crew members in the cockpit, though the secondary gunners, FCO, crew chief and any occupants in the rear must ditch manually.
At the rear of the cabin, the Condor 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 Infantry to descend rapidly from the back of the Pelican at high heights. After deployment to the ground, these wind back up. The Condor 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 Condor is a multi-role dropship, having a variety of tasks it is capable of preforming a wide variety of missions. It's primary role is high priority dropship, escorting troops and vehicles to extremely dangerous combat zones, where Merlin and Pelican dropships couldn't survive. It is also used as an escort for smaller dropships, since it can provide heavy fire power in support. Its commonly used for suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions, where it's electronic warfare capabilities, high endurance and heavy fire power become exceedingly dangerous to any attempts to stop it. It can also be used to preform more wide purpose electronic warfare missions to limit adversary communication and battle management. It can also be used as a gunship for close air support, using a wide array of cannons, missiles and rockets to decimate large amounts of hostile air and ground forces.