[ Freelance Traveller Home Page | Search Freelance Traveller | Site Index ]

*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

Fire Arrow Assault Fighter and Karve and Dragonship Assault Carriers

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2015 issue.


The role of the Fire Arrow assault fighter is to insert a four person fireteam from an orbiting ship to the surface, provide fire and logistical support for those troops in the field, and then extract them back to orbit at the end of their mission. In that respect, it is similar in capabilities to an interface-capable Grav Infantry Fighting Vehicle (G-IFV), except that it has evolved from ship design rather than from grav vehicle design. This means that, unlike a grav vehicle, the assault fighter can be employed in a close orbit or space combat role if necessary.

Conventionally, when assault troops are deployed from orbit in small craft, they are carried in sections or larger. While this may be cost effective in terms of the investment required, it exposes the assault force to ground fire that could lead to the loss of a significant proportion of its strength. In addition, if the craft is not armoured, it tends to be withdrawn from the battlefield after dropping the troops, thus leaving them without any transport on the surface.

The assault fighter concept attempts to address these issues. They are faster and more agile than normal small craft so they are less vulnerable to ground fire while in transit, and they expose a smaller proportion of the assault force to being lost. Once they have deployed their troops, they stay in the vicinity to offer direct fire support where they can provide more firepower per head than most G-IFVs. When the area is secure, they can land and provide the fire team with shelter either inside or under the cover of the armoured wings. The troops can also recharge equipment using the power plant, resupply from the small cargo space and take advantage of the onboard comms and sensors aboard the craft. They can also provide rapid transport for the fire team around the operational area.

If the troops are equipped with grav belts then the assault fighter does not even have to land to deploy or recover the team. It can fly over the battlefield at treetop altitude and the troops can exit from the rear door using their grav belts to land. Conversely, to recover troops, the craft flies low over the battlefield and the troops use their grav belts to fly up and into the craft. This cannot be done while the fighter is travelling at full speed but it does prevent the craft from having to stop and land, thus reducing its vulnerability.

When they are not on the ground, the fighters can be deployed in a space combat role to protect their assault carrier. While they do not carry as much punch as a dedicated space fighter would, they can still be effective against other ships if necessary. Alternatively, they can be used to deliver their troops for boarding actions.


The Fire Arrow assault fighter is a product of the Dimorphic Design Bureau (DDB) on Respite (Glimmerdrift Reaches 2620). It is principally aimed at the TL12+ military market. Ironically, creating an assault fighter was not the original goal. The original design was a collaboration between DDB and Respite ZGE (Zero Gravity Engineering), the local shipyard. A couple of years previously, during a lull in orders, the shipyard had created a disc-shaped heavy fighter prototype, but had not been able to bring the project to fruition before rising demand caused work on it to be cancelled as resources were needed elsewhere. The partially completed spaceframe was consigned to a corner of the yard and would have languished there until it was eventually broken up for scrap. However, one of the ZGE designers moved to work at DDB and found that they were working on a similarly shaped small craft. Consequently, the two companies joined forces with ZGE providing the spaceframe and DDB the additional design work.

The initial aim was to create a vehicle with which to study the flight dynamics of this type of spaceframe and to act as a testbed for various flight systems. Therefore, the spaceframe was adjusted to accommodate a module holding a Model/5 computer for data collection and analysis along with seating for a pilot and two technicians. Positioning the attitude drive elements in many clusters around the rim of the disc gave the craft superior agility in both space and atmosphere and increased survivability in case any were lost.

Morph23 - Experimental Flight Platform
     FZ-0606F02-000000-00000-0 MCr 81.920 23 tons
Batt bear                      Crew=3
Batt                           TL=12
Cargo=0.240, Fuel=0.863, EP=3.450, Agility=6,
Fuel scoops, 1×Model/5 computer

322 cubic metres, flattened sphere, maneuvre=6G,
jump=0, powerplant=15, no bridge, model/1 computer +
model/5 computer, 7 days endurance, 3×acceleration
couches (pilot, 2 technicians),
arch fee=MCr 0.819, build=MCr 65.536 in quantity

The craft was extensively used for testing in the Respite system until, by chance, it came to the notice of a Major Tallow who commanded a mercenary unit, Ishorien Support, which provided logistics and intelligence services to mercenary combat units. Feeling that it would make a good mobile analysis or command centre, he ordered two units. Two years later, Tallow’s unit was in trouble as the mercenary operation they were part of crumbled around them. Forced to make an emergency evacuation, Tallow pulled the Model/5 modules from both craft and packed them with as many bodies as physically possible.
When the mercenaries regrouped, they found that a small group had become isolated by the fighting. Tallow’s craft were the only air transport immediately available and the mercenary colonel in charge commandeered them immediately. Using their high speed and agility, the craft were able to evade the enemy forces and make the recovery. They then subsequently served as general air transport for the remainder of the operation. When the fighting was finally over, the mercenaries involved passed an after action report back to DDB and ZGE praising the performance of the craft. It was the discussion caused by this report that eventually resulted in the Fire Arrow assault fighter.

Fire Arrow-class Assault Fighter
    FT-0606F02-200000-04001-0 MCr 40.635 23 tons
Batt bear              1  1   Crew=2
Batt                   1  1   TL=12
Cargo=0.260, Fuel=0.863, EP=3.450, Agility=6, Fuel scoops

322 cubic metres, flattened sphere, armoured hull (factor-2),
jump=0, manouvre=6G, powerplant=15, 1×fusion gun (factor-4),
1×missile rack (factor-1), 1×foxhole charge launcher (0.1 tons, MCr0.2),
no bridge, model/1 computer, 7 days endurance,
6×acceleration couches (pilot, gunner, 4×troops),
arch fee=MCr 0.406, build=MCr 32.508 in quantity

The Fire Arrow still has the 16m diameter, disc shaped hull of the Morph/23, but the nose section has been cut back to accommodate the weapons package consisting of a fusion gun and missile rack mounted under the chin. On the underside is a launcher containing 8 small rockets with grenade sized warheads. These are fired ahead of the craft and are designed to create a shallow man sized foxhole in the ground in preparation for the troops to use. The foxhole rockets are unguided and are of marginal offensive value. The topside of the disc curves up over the engines and crew compartment to a point 2.5m above the rim while on the underside it curves down to 0.75m below the rim.

The crew of pilot and gunner sit side by side with the four man fire team seated sideways in a line behind them, ready to exit through the rear doors. On the wall facing the fire team are storage lockers and two fold down bunks. The lower bunk obstructs the foot space and can only really be used when no one is seated. The upper bunk can be used when the fire team is seated because it is above knee level. However, it does obstruct entry and exit via the rear doors because it blocks the standing room. In practice, troops in the field seem to prefer to dig a foxhole under the landed Fire Arrow so that they have good protection over their heads. A ceiling hatch is fitted just behind the crew seats and has been known for someone to stand head and shoulders out of the hatch firing personal weapons, even while the craft is in flight.

The avionics are mounted either side of the cockpit and the engines and powerplant are in two pods either side of the troop compartment. The rear doors swing outwards to give troops exiting or entering the craft while it is in flight protection from the engines. The craft has a tricycle skid undercarriage and when landed there is about 1.25m between the floor of the troop compartment and the ground. The undercarriage also lowers a step below the rear doors to make entering and exiting the craft easier.

If necessary, the fire team seating can be removed from the craft to increase the cargo space. Some owners have also modified the fighters to replace seating with computers, comms equipment or stretcher racks for casualty evacuation. The use of extra avionics is facilitated because the original connection provided on the original Morph23 for its Model/5 is still present in the Fire Arrow wiring.

One notable user of the Fire Arrow is the mercenary company Hagnar’s Guard. This large outfit has developed two types of assault carrier which are used for delivering and supporting forces using the Fire Arrow. The Dragonship carries a 328 person unit with 55 Fire Arrows and the smaller Karve carries a 63 person unit with 10 Fire Arrows. Hagnar’s Guard are known to operate one Dragonship and at least two Karves, but the carriers are usually dispersed in different operations, so are rarely seen together. The finance required to setup and operate such a force is considerable and the rumour in the industry is that the Guard are supported by the Sorenson Group, an engineering mega-corporation. A direct link has never been substantiated but the Guard have certainly been employed by Sorenson on a number of occasions.

The details of the carriers and the organisation of the units follows.


Dragonship Class Assault Carrier
    CT-K4226F4-351000-06805-0 MCr13279.828 13ktons
Batt bear       6      64 5   Crew=523
Batt            6      64 5   TL=12
Cargo=429.5, Fuel=3380, EP=780, Agility=2
55×23T Fire Arrow Assault Fighters, 4×40T Pinnaces, 1×23T launch tube
Fuel scoops, Fuel purifier

182000 cubic metres, close structure, manouvre=2G, jump=2, powerplant=6,
main bridge with Model/6fib, backup bridge with Model/3fib,
4×100T particle accelerator bays (factor-8),
30 triple missile turrets in 5 batteries (factor-5),
30 dual fusion gun turrets in 6 batteries (factor-6),
12 triple sandcaster turrets in 6 batteries (factor-5),
meson screen (factor-1), armoured hull (factor-3),
fuel=3380 tons (2 parsecs, 28 days endurance), 300 staterooms

Crew Sections:
Command:      7 officers and  4 ratings
Engineering:  4 officers and 30 ratings
Gunnery:      3 officers and 27 ratings
Flight:       2 officers and 76 ratings
Service:      3 officers and 23 ratings
Medical:      1 officer  and  2 ratings
Security:     1 officer  and 12 ratings
Marines: 328 (see organisation notes below)

MCr 11380.088 singly (incl. arch fee MCr 112.674),
MCr 9013.931 in quantity, plus MCr 1899.740 of small craft -
165 weeks singly, 132 weeks in quantity

For smaller operations there is the Karve-class assault carrier.

Karve Class Assault Carrier
    CT-D4226E4-251000-05403-0 MCr 4306.333 4.5ktons
Batt bear       3      42 4   Crew=147
Batt            3      42 4   TL=12
Cargo=132, Fuel=1170, EP=270, Agility=2
10×23T Fire Arrow Assault Fighters, 2×40T Pinnaces, 1×23T launch tube
Fuel scoops, Fuel purifier

63000 cubic metres, close structure, manouvre=2G, jump=2, powerplant=6,
main bridge with Model/5fib, backup bridge with Model/2fib,
2×50T particle accelerator bays (factor-4),
8 triple missile turrets in 4 batteries (factor-3),
8 dual fusion gun turrets in 4 batteries (factor-5),
6 triple sandcaster turrets in 3 batteries (factor-5),
meson screen (factor-1), armoured hull (factor-2),
fuel=1170 tons (2 parsecs, 28 days endurance), 90 staterooms

Crew Sections:
Command:     7 officers and  4 ratings
Engineering: 2 officers and 10 ratings
Gunnery:     2 officers and 18 ratings
Flight:      2 officers and 25 ratings
Service:     1 officer  and  8 ratings
Medical:     1 officer
Security:                    4 ratings
Marines: 63 (see organisation notes below)

MCr 3925.353 singly (incl. arch fee MCr 38.865),
MCr 3109.190 in quantity, plus MCr 380.980 of small craft -
146 weeks singly, 117 weeks in quantity

Task Force Organisation

The Dragonship Task force consists of four infantry platoons and a support platoon, each fully-manned at 60. There is additionally a headquarters (HQ) section of 18 and a carrier party of ten, for a total strength of 328. 55 Fire Arrows are assigned.

HQ section Fire Arrow (FA) assignments:
One FA: Unit CO, Intel Officer, 2×Trooper, Pilot, Gunner
One FA: Unit XO, Ops Officer, 2×Trooper, Pilot, Gunner
One FA: Unit Senior NCO, 3×Trooper, Pilot, Gunner
Support platoon Fire Arrow assignments:
One FA: Platoon CO, 3×Troopers, Pilot, Gunner
One FA: Platoon Sgt., FlightControl/Fwd.Observer, 2×Trooper, Pilot, Gunner
One FA: 4×Comm Techs, Pilot, Gunner
One FA: 4×Medics, Pilot, Gunner
Two FAs: Each 4×Combat Engineers, Pilot, Gunner
Four FAs: Each 4×Heavy Weapons Trooper, Pilot, Gunner

Infantry platoons are arranged into a command group and three infantry sections, with Fire Arrow assignments as follows:

One FA (Command Group): Platoon CO, Platoon Sgt., Medic, Comm Tech, Pilot, Gunner
Three FAs Each Section: Section NCO, 11×Troopers, 3×Pilot, 3×Gunner

The carrier party are not normally assigned to Fire Arrows, except for one pilot and one gunner to each of two designated “backup” craft. Manning of the carrier party is as follows:

Quartermaster SNCO, 2×Comm Techs, 2×Technicians, 1×Medic
Two FAs (backup): 2×Pilots, 2×Gunners

The Karve task force consists of one infantry platoon, theoretically assigned as above, and a carrier party of three. There are ten Fire Arrows assigned; the carrier party consists of the quartermaster SNCO, a communications technician, and a general technician, for a total strength of 63.