|Fenspace Infinities material. Fenspace Infnities material hasn't "happened" by the current timeline, though it's already been referenced in future-history or alt-history Fenspace stories and discussion. Here there be dragons of questionable canonicity, you have been warned. --The Mgt|
|Base Hull||Rockwell International B1 Lancer|
|Drive Type||4 x Quad helix ion drives|
|Drive Rating||Atmosphere: Mach 2.2|
Vacuum: 0.08C - 0.11C
|Armament||Varies. 3 internal bays |
6 external hardpoints.
|Flag of Record||Roughriders/Various customers|
|Primary Crew||6, including 1 AI shipmind|
The Lancer Project began in mid 2016, with the aim of developing a high speed spacecraft capable of combining some of the carrying capacity of a Peacemaker, with some the speed of a Blackbird. The end result was the Lancer, a mouldline copy of the original Rockwell B1-B.
To save development time, the Lancer team re-used several components from the OV-200 series shuttles, notably the flight control computers and the sensor arrays. The main engines are based off the cores of the quad-helix ion thrusters fitted to Blackbird-series spacecraft, with modified intakes and a unique continuously variable geometry drive field allowing the spacecraft to dash up to .11c on a light load, with a normal stable cruise of .09.
A pair of winglets at the nose of the spacecraft mount sensors for monitoring the changing distortions at the apex point of the drive field, before calculating the optimal wing geometry to continuously re-stabilise the field, and delay the onset of the power-sapping distortions which normally limit the top-speed of a spacecraft of this size. The system, and the triple-redundant control computers behind it were the result of 2 years of hard research by HERL. The system requires a clean-surface spaceframe behind the nose to operate at its maximum efficacy, external stores or open panels/hatches introduce significant new distortions that cannot be easily compensated for.
The Lancer is a compact spacecraft internally, with most internal space given over to three reconfigurable internal bays. It has space for five human crew; Pilot, Co-Pilot, Flight Engineer, Bombardier and a Navigator. Lancers also carry a single advanced AI shipmind, who is capable of taking full control of the spacecraft in an emergency and is normally responsible for the information security of the spacecraft.
As standard the Lancer comes unarmed, but the internal bays can be re-configured to carry a combination of Vulcan cannon, coilguns, vertical launch missile systems, or anti-shipping, anti-installation or anti-spacecraft missiles. The internal bays can also be re-configured to carry cargo provided it’s not too bulky, autonomous reconnaissance drones or power-armoured troopers with certain extensions. Six external hardpoints can carry additional weaponry, though adding anything bulky like missile pods or gun-turrets limits the top speed of the Lancer to just .8C due to the drive field distortions this introduces. The Lancer is unable to carry any Zig fighters.
Like their namesakes however, the Lancers are notoriously complex spacecraft, costing at least four times as much as a Peacemaker. Not only this, but they are maintenance dogs, often spending more time under the spanner then in-flight. Quad-helix engines have been known to drive mortal mechanics insane on their own, before the variable geometry drive-field systems were added on top of them.
While a capable spacecraft, there is very little they can do that cannot be accomplished better by a Peacemaker with escort, or a squadron of Blackbirds. Still, there are some missions that call for the ability to deliver several tonnes of ordinance at speed, and they excel at these missions. With a Blackbird escort, there is very little that can keep up, or stop a raid.
Lancers have also found themselves taking somewhat unusual roles. With the internal bays equipped for cargo transportation, the Lancer makes a competent exploration craft, with a strong AI and a full sensor suite. While not as outright reliable as a Space Shuttle and requiring more maintenance, the Lancer is faster, slightly cheaper, and can carry more external stores. The Lancers themselves don’t appear to mind. HARDES are working on a number of externally mounted scientific modules.
Although a rare bird, they’re popular amongst those who require a true do-anything spacecraft with more of a combat orientation than a Space Shuttle, or who want something larger inside than a Blackbird, and are more likely to be bought singularly as a personal spacecraft, rather than as part of a fleet.
Zoom to the Moon: Almost capable of keeping up with Blackbird Class aircraft. 4 Quad-helix engines will do that.
Hangar Queen: Maintenance intensive. Extremely maintenance intensive. 4 Quad-helix engines will also do that.
Hole in the Sky: With all primary systems shut down, Lancer-series aircraft are difficult to spot, provided the paint is clean and undamaged and no external stores are being carried.
Graceful cousins: Lancers are well aware that they have a shared heritage with the Shuttle orbiters. In general, the enjoy taking exploration and non-combat missions in their downtime and are by nature, more more curious than combative.
Not without my mustache!: If the mustache winglets on nose of the spacecraft are damaged, speed is limited to .08C until repaired.