|Brief||Recon aircraft fly over the battlefield, peeling back the fog of war in a long line.|
|Surveillance Sweep||Three Hermes UAVs sweep over the field, uncovering the territory below with their cameras. (Speed 275, Sight Radius 300, 2:00)|
|60px||Air Recon Sweep||A high-altitude SR-8 Thrush flies over the battlefield, using advanced ground scanners and high-resolution cameras to reveal hidden units. (Speed 325, Sight Radius 500, Stealth Detect 300, 2:00)|
Hermes UAV[edit | edit source]
|ASM=1352 "Hermes" Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Vehicle|
|Dev. Status||In game|
"The Hermes is the next generation in airborne surveillance. No longer do we have to risk human pilots over hostile skies in order to gather intelligence. With the Hermes, we have an intelligence gathering tool that is cheap, efficient, and can be flown from the safety of the ground."
- -Dr. Claymoore, talking about the Hermes
Reconnaissance is a vital part of warfare, and ever moreso on the modern battlefield. With the advent of heavier than air aircraft, militaries around the world ushered in an age of aerial reconnaissance.
However, the progression of anti aircraft weaponry made this an increasingly costly option. For decades, the Allies simply tried to build ever higher and faster flying aircraft, culminating ever more advanced (and costly) spy planes. However, reports of Soviet anti-air systems only grew ever more worrying. The final straw was when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in his spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960. The loss of such an expensive aircraft, up till that point believed to be beyond the reach of even the most advanced anti air weapons of the time, convinced the Allies to start exploring other options.
One of the most promising alternative proposals was that of one Dr. Bill Claymoore. What he suggested was that instead of risking ludicrously expensive spy planes (and the highly qualified pilots one would need to fly them), why not go in the other direction, and make the intelligence gathering tool cheap and expendable?
What Dr. Claymoore proposed was an unmanned aerial vehicle to perform the task that manned planes and their pilots had done previously. His proposal seemed an attractive one to Allied military officials, and soon Dr. Claymoore had the funding he needed. By 1963, Dr. Claymoore had a working UAV--the ASM-1303 Claymoore--in service, and his work in unmanned aerial vehicles had helped along German researchers working on UCAV technology.
When war broke out, the Claymoore proved an effective tool in gathering intelligence, capable of loitering over the battlefield for long periods of time without being detected. Once the Claymoore was put into production, Dr. Claymoore immediately continued on to several other projects. In 1965, Dr. Claymoore began work on the Claymoore UAV's successor. After nearly two years of development, the new Hermes drone saw its first deployment in the first month of 1967.
Compared to the Claymoore, the Hermes is faster, smaller, and cheaper. Though it lacks the extended loitering capability of the Claymoore, it is nevertheless undeniably effective when it comes to short term recon, usually operating in flights of three UAVs each. Sensor packages allow the Hermes to take footage of the area they are observing and transmit it back to base via burst radio transmission. The Hermes drones are usually operated in groups of three, allowing them to each sweep separate parts of the battlefield for maximum efficiency.
In its three years of use, the Hermes has proven extremely useful, and along with its larger brother the Claymoore has supplanted manned air reconnaissance to a large extent. Commanders have come to rely on the Hermes for intelligence, and with their low cost and expendability, practically every Field Commander will have at least one or two flights of Hermes UAVs at their command. Considering its usefulness, it is highly unlikely the Hermes will be retired any time soon in the future.
Thrush Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft[edit | edit source]
|SR-8 Thrush Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft|
The first usage of the airplane in a military role was in that of reconnaissance. The First World War saw aviators taking to the skies, armed only with what weapons they were carrying with them for self defence, in order to gather information on the enemy's movements. Since then, military aircraft have expanded into many more roles, from performing bombing missions to ensuring air superiority.
However, air reconnaissance remains. As Soviet anti aircraft systems grew ever more lethal and effective, Allied engineers pushed the performance of spy planes to the limit. The pinnacle of that effort was the SR-8 Thrush. Designed by the brilliant minds at Angstrom Defense, the SR-8 Thrush, when it first entered service, was the fastest flying, highest soaring, aircraft in the world.
With a top speed of Mach 3.3, the Thrush proved to be so fast that standard procedure in the event of a surface to air missile launch is to accelerate, since the Thrush was so fast it could simply outrun the missile. In fact, to date, the Thrush still holds the world speed record for an air breathing manned aircraft (note that the Achilles doesn’t count). At the same time, its flight ceiling is surpassed by few other aircraft, allowing it to fly so high that fighter interception becomes near impossible.
The secret to the SR-8’s amazing speed is its R/F58 ramjet/turbofan engine, an engine that works as a conventional jet engine at low speeds, but switches to a ramjet at high speeds, allowing it to achieve higher speeds than what would be possible otherwise. In addition, the SR-8 boasts a titanium fuselage, allowing it to withstand the immense stress produced by travelling at such high speeds.
In addition, the SR-8 boasts a suite of countermeasures – one of the most advanced in the world – and also incorporates some stealth aspects into its design, although the huge infrared signature produced by its engine makes this rather pointless. To facilitate its intelligence gathering role, the SR-8 is equipped with high resolution cameras, side looking radar, and a myriad host of other advanced scanners and systems.
The SR-8 has had an impressive record. Of the several dozen flights made over the Soviet Union, despite multiple attempts to shoot down the Thrush spy planes with missiles and fighters, not a single SR-8 was lost to enemy fire, save for one particular occasion. In fact, the SR-8’s perfect record and formidable performance was what convinced Angstrom Defense to design a weaponised version of the spy plane, a project that would lead to the B-9 Artemis.
Unfortunately, that one occasion sparked off World War III, and served to make pilot Gary Powers even more infamous after the last time he was shot down in 1960. Reportedly, Powers was shot down by a barrage of several dozen surface to air missiles, though some allege that Powers brought down the aircraft to 10,000 metres, which was what allowed it to be shot down.
Apart from that one blemish, however, every other B-8 built to date has survived to this day. To this day, the SR-8 continues to serve the Allied military, providing valuable strategic intelligence and frustrating the enemies of the Allied Nations to no end, though there have been some voices calling for the Thrush to be phased out entirely in favour of unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Claymoore and the Hermes.