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Exeter-class TL8 Low-Cost Fighter

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

During the 4th Frontier War several Vargr raiding bands attempted to take advantage of the general confusion to raid worlds along the coreward edge of Deneb and Corridor sectors. Whilst raids against the heavily defended worlds in Corridor failed, the raiders did hit several worlds with modest populations and pre-stellar technology.

After the war the Imperial COACC group identified a gap in their standard design provision. At TL8 the Imperium made several attack aircraft designs available but only one high priced fighter. The worlds hit by the Vargr had insufficient military budgets to by such high priced designs. By 1089, a new low cost TL8 fighter design, the Exeter, was made available.

The Exeter is a basic single man fighter armed with 4 missiles and a single auto-cannon. Its simple electronics and transonic capacity keep the costs to an affordable level. Given its lack of advanced flight aid generally considered necessary for an agile dog-fighter, the design includes an unprecedented 30% of its weight as manoeuvre enhancement, making the fighter surprisingly agile. The rakish lines of the fighter have proved popular with pilots and especially the Vargr. Limited numbers of these fighters have been sold to friendly Vargr border worlds.

Despite its low cost the aircraft is designed for all-weather operations and provides life-support to allow it to be used in a wide variety of atmospheres.

The design includes a slightly over-powered engine for the airframe, and its ready supply of weapon hardpoints exceeds its actual lift capacity. This led to several crashes shortly after take-off when the Exeter was pressed into ground attack roles and inexperienced ground crews loaded the aircraft beyond its normal capacity.

The Exeter’s standard fighter configuration includes two 100kg infrared homing missiles on the wing launch rails as well as two 200kg semi active radar homing missiles on the inboard wing hardpoints. A non-standard 1750 litre fuel tank is available to allow long range transfer flights between bases. Several worlds have developed an unofficial variant, where a standard 1000 litre fuel tank is added to the basic fighter configuration. This allows an additional hour and a half of additional loiter time for patrolling aircraft before they jettison the tank on the approach to a target.


Baseline Configuration

Craft ID: Exeter Fighter, TL8, Cr576,040
Hull: 20/50, Disp=22, Clean Weight=5 tons, Airframe=Transonic, Armor: Cockpit=8
Power: 4/10 Gas Turbine 0.1224Mw, End=1.44 hours on internal fuel.
Loco: Light Turbofan×1, Thrust=6.12 tons, Top=1100kph (airframe lim), Cruise=825kph, Min=123kph, Agility=4, Range=1192km
Commo: Radio, Regional×1
Sensors: VDist All Weather Radar, PassIR, ImgEnh.
Off: Plumb fuselage hardpoint, inboard wing hardpoints×2, wing mounted launch rails×2, 20mm autocannon fixed forward firing with 100rds (10 shots). Maximum External Stores=1.75 tons.
Control: Boosted, 1 Manoeuvre Point.
Accom: Crew=1 (Pilot), Complex Cockpit, Cockpit Armour, Ejection Seat, BasicEnv, BasicLS.
Other: Fuel=991 litres. Manoeuvre Enhancement 30%

Fighter Configuration

Hull: Weight=5.6 tons
Loco: Top=1100kph (airframe lim), Cruise=825kph, Minimum=123kph, Agility=4, Range=1192km

Transfer Configuration

Hull: Weight=6.75 tons (1750 litre fuel tank)
Loco: Loaded Top=1022kph, Cruise=766kph, Min=123kph, Agility=3, Range=1955km (tank fuel only), Dur=2.55 hours (tank fuel only)
Comment: After this period the fuel tank can be jettisoned and the fighter resumes its clean configuration allowing an extra 1.44 hours duration and 1192 km range.

Extended Duration Fighter Configuration

Hull: Weight=6.6 tons (1000 litre tank and standard missile load)
Loco: Loaded Top=1003kph, Cruise=752kph, Min=123kph, Agility=1, Range=1097km (tank fuel only), Dur=1.46 hours (tank fuel only)
Comment: After this period the fuel tank can be jettisoned and the fighter resumes its normal configuration allowing an extra 1.44 hours duration and 1192 km range.