Kafer Military Aircraft

By David Gillon

Introduction

The initial engagements with the Kafers on Aurore conditioned humans to disregard the Kafer air threat. Specialist anti-aircraft units on Aurore were disbanded and re-roled to take on the predominant ground threat. Indeed some analysts and military commanders theorised that the Kafers had no real air power capability and this was something they need not worry about. Although others pointed to the presence of large numbers of Snapfire SAMs as evidence the Kafers were not neophytes in the air. The argument was settled when the Invasion occurred and Kafer aircraft were deployed on Dunkelheim, Kimanjano, Beta Canum, Crater and Joi. Humanity had to scramble to revise their opinions and develop counter-measures.

Acknowledgements

The Triple-Zipper MG and Thunderbolt AVM were proposed by James Boschma.

Narrative

"What next?" Senior Lieutenant Volodya Kutuzov asked. As far as he could tell, he and the sergeant made up the entire remaining command element of 1st Militia Battalion, Novi Kiev Civic Guard, and their dozen men and two Suka weapon carriers its effective strength.

Senior Sergeant Katya Lysenko spat in the dust before answering.
"God knows, but pray it isn't another kinetic interdiction strike."

Volodya looked at the pillars of smoke and dust hanging over Novi Kiyev. Yesterday's orbital bombardment had been ferocious and he still wasn't certain how they had gotten out of the armoury and through the city to their blocking position.

"Aircraft!" Katya yelled, pointing at a rapidly growing shape that had emerged from the clouds of dust.
Volodya turned to shout orders to his air-defence element, but the pedestal mounted Arbalet system was already swinging to engage. He looked back as the first missile roared away. The alien aircraft was unlike anything he had seen, it seemed almost to have three distinct fuselages. And a point defence system, he noted as the missile exploded in mid-flight.

'Have they sent dragons to fight us?' he wondered, remembering Zmei Barynich, the three-headed dragon of his grandmother's tales. And then the dragon breathed fire.

Volodya came back to himself with hands dragging him into better cover. He blinked dust from his one working eye and stared at what remained of his command. One of the Sukas was burning fitfully, the other was just gone, chewed pieces of metal all that was left of it. The Arbalet pedestal was overturned, the crewman ripped apart by a heavy calibre weapon.

"It had rear-gunners," Katya told him, following his gaze.
"What do we do now?" Volodya asked.
Katya laughed harshly. "Now? Now we run."

Retreat to Misfortune
Polkovnik Ekaterina Lysenko
Proceedings of the Army Higher Strategic Studies Institute
November 2307

Index

Screech-Owl Counter-Air Fighter
Whirligig Ducted-Fan Aircraft
Zmei (Dragon) Strike Aircraft
Weapons

Screech-Owl Counter-Air Fighter

The Screech-Owl is uniquely Kafer in both layout and role, apparently intended solely as a low-altitude air-superiority platform. It places the pilot at the front of a short, somewhat rotund fuselage allied with a straight, low-mounted wing and a tee-tail. The aircraft is a propeller-driven pusher, with a contra-rotating multi-bladed propeller driven from a multi-fuel Wankel engine. The engine/propeller combination can drive the Screech-Owl at little better than 600 kph, at which speed the blade tips are marginally supersonic creating a wailing screech audible for some 5 to 10 kilometres and leading to the popular name for the craft.

The Screech-Owl's weapon system is also unique, a turret mounted atop the fuselage is a launcher for Snapshot HVMs, a derivative of the Snapfire with warhead and guidance traded for speed. By rolling the entire aircraft as the turret rotates, the Screech-Owl is able to fire into all aspects with the Snapshot launcher.

Unguided AVMs may be fine against Kafer Whirligigs, the assumed target of the original design, against high performance human targets they do less well. Screech-Owls encountered during the original landings on Aurore used only the Snapshot HVM, but those encountered during the Invasion proper mixed Snapshots with Snapfires and the Snapdragon multi-mode AVM.

The Screech-Owl has an undercarriage capable of rough field operation and respectable STOL capabilities. Combined with the multi-fuel engine, this flexibility means that Screech-Owls have remained relatively common encounters as the Kafers have been pushed away from established air bases. The Screech-Owl is an agile opponent, but Kafer pilots do not appear to be equipped with high technology G-suits, giving human pilots an advantage. Equally, while the cockpit does have an ejector seat, this does not equal the best available to human pilots. On the other hand it seems to work for the Kafers.

Type: Low Altitude Counter-Air Fighter
Crew: Pilot
Weight: 6250kg
Armour: All faces 5
Armament: Snapshot Missile Launcher with internal 12 round magazine. (RoF 1)
Evasion: 15
Sensor Range: 30km
Signature: +1
Max Speed: 600 kph
Cruising Speed: 450 kph
Combat Movement: 750m
Endurance: 4 Hours
Price: N/A

INDEX

Whirligig Ducted-Fan Aircraft

The Whirligig is the only Kafer helicopter analogue seen to date, but conventional rotary wing aircraft are a poor comparison for the Kafer vehicle.

Whirligigs are powered by three vertically-mounted ducted-fan engines linked into a horizontal equilateral triangle arrangement by narrow aerofoils. The fans are able to move on their mountings by up to 20 degrees towards or away from the centre point of the triangle. By moving two fans inwards and one outwards the Whirligig is able to generate forward thrust while still generating vertical lift. Fine heading corrections are generated by thrust-vectoring gear on the fans, but larger changes in
direction are handled by changing the fan arrangements so that another face of the triangle is now forward-facing. Human analysts have noted that while it would be considerably more efficient if the engines pivoted directly rearward, the Kafer solution is much simpler mechanically and not without merit.

In order to cope with the changes in forward-facing when the engine arrangement is shifted a second, circular, aerofoil is mounted within the first and the fuselage pod is suspended from this by a cog-rail arrangement that allows it to rotate independently of the outer aerofoils. Using this fan-and-track arrangements Whirligigs are capable of paralleling most helicopter manoeuvres.

It would appear from intel reports across all of the invaded worlds that the Kafers operate a family of Whirligigs, or perhaps that it is a standard design concept used by multiple manufacturers. Whatever the true situation, three Whirligig models have been positively identified by Terran Intelligence although it is by no means certain that all examples of each model seen have been of the same design.

Scout Whirligig

The Scout Whirligig is unique in mounting the fuselage pod above the aerofoil. The outer aerofoil is approximately 10 metres on a face with the engines rated at an estimated 0.25 megawatts each. The undercarriage retracts into the aerofoil in-flight. The fuselage pod houses three Kafers, these are presumed to be pilot, gunner and sensor operator although this has not been confirmed.

A sensor/weapon turret housed below the pod mounts a tri-beamer plasma gun, and a Blaster plasma gun is mounted in the nose of the pod. Missile bays on the side of the pod house four Snapfire family missiles. It appears from initial reports that the mounting location means the missiles are unable to
engage targets lower than the Whirligig. Flashfire Point Defence Systems are mounted above and below the fuselage.

Type: Ducted-Fan Scout
Crew: Pilot, Gunner, Sensor Operator
Weight: ~5000kg
Armour: All faces 3
Armament:

Sensor Turret with Tri-Beamer Plasma Gun
Flex Mount Blaster Plasma Gun in Nose
4 x Snapfire or Snapdragon Missiles
2 x Flashfire PDS (1 upper hemisphere, 1 lower)

Evasion: 8
Sensor Range: 50km
Signature: +1
Max Speed: 160 kph
Cruising Speed: 120 kph
Combat Movement: 1000m
Endurance: 2 Hours

Price: N/A

Assault Whirligig

Considerably larger than the Scout Whirligig (17 metre aerofoils, 0.75 megawatt engines) this design appears to fill the assault transport and heavy lift roles. In this design the aerofoil is mounted above the pod with long fixed undercarriage legs projecting from each engine. The pod holds a pilot, and in front of him a gunner who controls a flex-mounted Beamer, Tri-Beamer or Blaster plasma gun. Behind the pilot the pod bulges into a large troop/cargo bay. Human designers would consider the troop bay adequate for up to 20 men, but the Kafers routinely carry over 30 and 50 has been seen on occasion, although this must represent an overload situation and simple numbers hindered a rapid debarkation in this situation.

The troop bay has two pivot mountings per side for zippers or plasma guns, however no weapons are permanently mounted. A single Flashfire system provides for lower hemisphere point-defence, a second system covers the upper hemisphere. It is noticeable that the Assault Whirligig does not carry missiles. While the cargo bay is large enough to carry a Kafer Jeep or similar vehicle no rear ramp is provided, restricting the load to whatever can be hand-loaded through the side hatches. On the other hand, the Assault Whirligig does have a cargo hook and has been observed to carry Kafer Jeeps as external loads.

On several occasions Assault Whirligigs have been observed acting as conventional bombers, dropping deadfall bombs through their side hatches. There is a strong suspicion that this is a designed role rather than a field improvisation as captured Assault Whirligigs have standardised fittings for the rail system used to handle the bombs. On the other hand, there is no dedicated Nav/Attack system, bomb-aiming apparently being done by eye.

Type: Ducted-Fan Transport
Crew: Pilot, Gunner
Weight: ~15000kg
Armour: All faces 3
Armament:

Flex Mount Plasma Gun in Nose
4 Flex Mounts for Plasma Guns or MGs in Troop Bay
2 x Flashfire PDS (1 upper hemisphere, 1 lower).

Cargo: 10,000Kg or 30-50 Kafers
Evasion: 5
Sensor Range: 20km
Signature: +3
Max Speed: 120 kph
Cruising Speed: 100 kph
Combat Movement: 800m
Endurance: 3 Hours

Price: N/A

Attack Whirligig

The Attack Whirligig appears to be a derivative of the Assault Whirligig. No Attack Whirligigs was seen during the initial landings on Aurore, but they saw widespread use during the Invasion. A disturbing theory is that the Attack Whirligig is a new design produced in response to encounters with human attack helos and X-wing gunships, which implies the Kafer military-industrial complex is highly adaptable and capable of rapid response to human innovation (similar conclusions have been drawn over the relationship of the Kafer Epsilon class cruiser and Human fast missile cruisers).

The Attack Whirligig itself consists of the aerofoil and rotor system of the Assault Whirligig married to a revised fuselage pod. Even the pod appears part-derived from that of the Assault Whirligig, retaining the same pilot and gunner arrangement, but the troop bay has been replaced by a smaller unit housing two sensor operator/gunners. Each gunner controls a turret with a 180 degree arc of fire to either port or starboard and mounting a Tri-Beamer and a Triple-Zipper. Racks along the fuselage side mount six Thunderbolt or Lightning Bolt AVMs and six Snapfire family air-to-air missiles. Flashfire PDS mountings cover the upper and lower hemispheres. A small compartment at the rear of the pod appears to be able to hold up to four Kafers in cramped conditions, but has only rarely been observed in use.

Type: Ducted-Fan Gunship
Crew: Pilot, Gunner, 2 x Sensor Operator/Gunner
Weight: ~15000kg
Armour: All faces 6
Armament:

Flex Mount Plasma Gun in Nose
2 x Sensor/Weapons Turrets with:
Tri-Beamer Plasma Gun
Triple-Zipper MG
Laser-Designator
6 Thunderbolt or Lightning Bolt Missiles
4 Snapfire or Snapdragon Missiles.
2 x Flashfire PDS (1 upper hemisphere, 1 lower).

Cargo: 10,000Kg or 30-50 Kafers
Evasion: 5
Sensor Range: 50km
Signature: +3
Max Speed: 120 kph
Cruising Speed: 100 kph
Combat Movement: 800m
Endurance: 3 Hours

Price: N/A

Heavy-Lift Whirligig

A few scattered reports exist of a very large whirligig with a hexagonal aerofoil and six engines. It appears that this is used in a strategic heavy-lift role and that its large cargo bay does include a vehicle ramp. On one occasion one is reported to have disgorged two Death Sleds, on another five Floaters and one low reliability report indicates transport of a Behemoth as an external load.

No intact example has thus far been available for examination by intel personnel and it is impossible at this time to state with any certainty whether the vehicle is armed or unarmed.

Type: Ducted-Fan Transport
Crew: Pilot, ?
Weight: ~25000kg +
Armour: ?
Armament: ?
Cargo: c50,000Kg
Evasion: ?
Sensor Range: ?
Signature: ?
Max Speed: ?
Cruising Speed: ?
Combat Movement: ?
Endurance: 3 Hours

Price: N/A

INDEX

Zmei (Dragon) Strike Aircraft

First encountered by the Ukrainian colonists on Aurore, the Zmei is a Kafer strike aircraft of unique configuration (a diligent Intel Officer finally found a Terran parallel, but in one of the wilder fever dreams of the Third Reich).

The Zmei is built around a large 38.8 mm multi-barrelled autocannon, a relative of the 22.2 mm secondary weapon seen on the Death Sled, but featuring a much higher powered round. When it is fired the weapon has a significant muzzle flash, the tongue of flame and the three 'headed' configuration leading to the nickname of Zmei after Zmei Barynich, the three-headed dragon of Slavic legend.

Fitting a large forward-firing autocannon into the same fuselage as engines, pilot and systems has always been a difficult engineering task. The Kafer solution was unique in modern aircraft design - move the pilot and systems out of the fuselage. Two large turbofans mounted above the rear
fuselage power the Zmei, but the pilot is housed in a pod or secondary fuselage at the tip of the port wing, a similar pod at the tip of the starboard wing houses a second pilot presumed to function as a Terran co-pilot although this has not been confirmed. A further crewmember in each pod functions as a rear gunner, the port-side gunner controlling a tri-beamer, the starboard-side a triple-zipper heavy machine-gun. A pronounced dihedral on the wing drops the crew pods below fuselage level allowing each gunner to engage targets in the rear 180 degree arc and up to 45 degrees forward of the centreline on the same side. Elevation limits on the weapons are between -90 degrees and +45 degrees.

In addition to the rear-guns the pods mount Flashfire point-defence lasers covering the area below the Zmei whilst a similar mounting on the fuselage covers the upper hemisphere. The fuselage mounted system offers full 360 degree coverage of the upper hemisphere, but the lower systems are restricted to port and starboard 180 degree arcs for lower hemispheric coverage. No convincing reason for this limitation has yet been put forward.

In addition to these weapons the Zmei mounts four underwing launch rails for Lightning-Bolt or Thunderbolt anti-vehicle missiles and a pair of overwing rails for Snapfire or Snapdragon missiles. A fuselage bay may hold either ten 320kg deadfall bombs or a ferry tank for long-range missions.

In the event of catastrophic damage the crew pods breakaway from the fuselage and descend under ballistically deployed recovery chutes.

The undercarriage of the Zmei consists of tandem bogies retracting either side of the main weapon bay and outrigger wheels retracting into the crew pods. It appears that the aircraft is largely restricted to fixed runways and has a considerable take-off run. As the only large runways captured by the Kafers during their initial assault on Aurore were in the Ukrainian colony it is assumed, but not confirmed, that this is was the only reason that the Zmeis were restricted to Novi Kiyev until the Invasion proper. The wider Kafer assault saw much more extensive use of the Zmei. However, as the Kafers have been pushed back into outlying areas, and away from fixed runways, Zmeis have become extremely rare sights.

As a strike aircraft the Zmei falls some way short of its terrestrial analogues in terms of performance, but in terms of ordnance carried it has no equal. In air-to-air combat the Zmei is noticeably sluggish, appearing to rely on defensive armament over manoeuvre, something no Terran aircraft has done in 350 years. The air-to-ground capabilities of the Zmei are puzzling; the autocannon belongs in a dedicated low-level strike aircraft, yet the deadfall bomb-bay seems more in keeping with a high-level bomber. The only conclusions that can be drawn are that, as usual, Kafer thinking does not map one for one onto human thinking.

Type: Strike Bomber
Crew: Pilot, Co-pilot, 2 x Rear Gunner
Weight: 18750kg
Armour: Front 20, All other faces 6
Armament:

1 x Dragon Breath 38.8mm Autocannon, +1 Rangefinder
3 x Flashfire PDS
1 x Tri-beamer
1 x Triple-Zipper
4 x Thunderbolt or Lightning Bolt AVM
2 x Snapfire or Snapdragon AVM
10 x 320 Kg Deadfall Bomb

Evasion: 6
Sensor Range: 75km
Signature: +4
Max Speed: 750 kph
Cruising Speed: 500 kph
Combat Movement: 2000m
Endurance: 4 Hours

Price: N/A

INDEX


Weapons

Snapshot Hyper Velocity Missile

The Snapshot is a member of the Snapfire family, this can clearly be seen from the identical case dimensions and common control actuators, but is entirely different in detail. The guidance and sensor electronics have been grossly simplified (ironically making them even more resistant to countermeasures) and the warhead replaced by a slug of metal wrapped around the sensor head and fuel tank. The reduced volume of warhead and sensor allows an almost doubling of the onboard fuel supply and the rocket motor has been redesigned for a substantially increased burn rate. Externally the
control surfaces have been reduced in size and optimised for higher engagement speed. The result is a missile that reaches Mach Six within the first 250 metres of flight and has a peek speed of Mach 8 at 1 Km, at which point motor burnout occurs. The missile slows fairly rapidly from this point, control surfaces becoming ineffective at around 5Km after which point the missile follows a ballistic curve to earth.

The only confirmed launch platform for the weapon is the Screech-Owl Counter-Air fighter, but other platforms are theoretically possible. The warhead/penetrator is technically interesting, featuring concentric rings of tungsten on either side of a prefragmented ring of thermite. Impact with a hard target ejects hot thermite fragments from the rear of the tungsten rings. If the warhead has penetrated then this tends to send burning thermite bouncing around the inside of the target, if it fails to penetrate then the thermite is scattered over a 10m hemispherical radius centred on the point of impact. The low control authority means that the Snapshot has a very limited manoeuvre envelope, relying instead on its very short time of flight.

Type: Vehicle Mounted Kinetic Kill Missile
Nation: Kafer
Launcher Weight: n/a
Missile Weight: 20Kg
Range: 5000m
Guidance: Automatic following gunner lock-on
Homing Value: 20 (Note, target Evasion values are halved due to very low time of flight)
Attack Angle: Direct
DP Value: EP =20 to 1Km, 15 to 3 Km, 7 to 4Km, 3 to 5Km, + 1D6 EP 1 thermite fragments at all ranges
Launcher Price: n/a
Missile Price: n/a

Snapdragon Multimode Anti Vehicle Missile

The Snapdragon AVM was first encountered during the Invasion and appears to be a new seeker head and mated to the airframe of the Snapfire Remote SAM. At the same time the Snapfire warhead has been modified to allow both direct and overhead attack modes. The seeker expands the Snapdragon's
engagement modes to allow the gunner to designate the target and select the attack angle. A beam-riding mode is available for attacks against fixed structures. A launcher obviously derived from that for the Snapfire lacks the automatic engagement facilities of that launcher but adds the electronic sights and designators found on most human missile systems. An integral cable allows the control-head to be detached from the launcher and used from up to 25m away. The Snapdragon is also used by the Screech-Owl Counter-Air Fighter, which appears to mount the Snapdragon control unit as a standard part of its avionics suite. As Snapdragon was not encountered during the initial fighting on Aurore and no complete Screech-Owl became available for examination during that period it is unclear whether the
Snapdragon and its control unit are a new addition to the Screech-Owl or whether the initial forces shipped to Aurore simply failed to include the weapon in their logistics load. Several human analysts have suggested the odd weapons mix seen on Aurore may mean that the initial forces deployed were a scratch force thrown together by a culture with little experience in deploying rapid-reaction forces over interstellar distances, but this is a very controversial view.

Type: Anti-Vehicle Missile
Nation: Kafer
Launcher Weight: 14Kg
Missile Weight: 17Kg
Range: 9000m
Guidance: Automatic following gunner lock-on
Homing Value: 27
Attack Angle: Selectable
DP Value: as tamped explosion, EP = 6
Launcher Price: n/a
Missile Price: n/a

Kafer Lightning Bolt Heavy HVM

The Lightning Bolt HVM appears to bear the same relationship to the Thunderbolt AVM as the Snapshot does to the Snapfire. The existing missile has been redesigned into a HVM while retaining external case dimensions. The mixed thermite/titanium penetrator concept of the Snapshot has been retained, although the titanium penetrator is considerably more massive. The larger missile takes several kilometres to boost up to full speed and optimum attack range is at 3 to 5 kilometres.

Type: Vehicle Mounted Kinetic Kill Missile
Nation: Kafer
Launcher Weight: n/a
Missile Weight: 35Kg
Range: 10000m
Guidance: Automatic following gunner lock-on
Homing Value: 20 (Note, target Evasion values are halved due to low time of flight)
Attack Angle: Direct
DP Value: EP =15 to 1 Km, 40 to 3 Km, 50 to 5 Km, 35 to 7 Km, 15 to 10 Km + 1D6 EP 1 thermite fragments at all ranges
Launcher Price: n/a
Missile Price: n/a

Kafer Flashfire Point Defence System

The Flashfire PDS is a completely automated laser point defence system using the optics system from the Flashlight laser rifle. The Flashfire turret is not fitted for the remote control that would allow use against other targets. In use the Flashfire appears to be seriously underpowered, a result of the re-use of the Flashlight's internals rather than developing a laser system optimized for the PDS role and even a direct hit will not always stop a human missile. The system is powered from the vehicle's engines so has effectively unlimited ammunition.

Type: Laser Point Defence System
Country: Kafer
Weight (empty): 37kg
Ammunition: 0.7 Mj pulse
Muzzle Velocity: C
ROF: 10
Aimed Fire Range: N/A
DP Value: Special
Price: NA

The Flashfire may engage up to five targets per combat phase with up to two shots at each. Each shot has a 60 per cent chance of hitting, each hit will kill a missile 30 per cent of the time. The system is ineffective against non-missile fire such as MD rounds.

Dragon's Breath 38.8mm Autocannon

Type: 38.8mm Conventional Autocannon
Nation: Kafer
Weight: 190 Kg
Action: Single shots or bursts
Ammo:38.8327mm APDSDU
Magazine: 176 round Hopper
Mag Wt: 0.67 kg/round, 140 kg/hopper
ROF: 6
Aimed Fire Rng: 1500
Area Fire Burst: 10 (AFV = 1)
Area Fire Rng: 2500
DP Value: 27
Price: N/A

Kafer 320 Kg Deadfall Bomb

Nation: Kafer
Weight: 320 Kg
Range: 1Km per 2000M Launch Height
Guidance: None
Homing Value: 0
Damage: As explosion, EP=275
Price: N/A

INDEX