Heavy fighters have always been a terror for ground units. When stratoyagers began to replace conventional aircraft in planetary service, they also took air support role for planetside units. With that role in mind, first concepts of heavy stratoyagers were developed in early 60’s of XXII century. Slower than their universal cousins, they made up for extra handling, increased range, and huge amounts of armaments. Many of them are still in service, but only one is fully utilized today.
When the STF-100 Sentinel reingned in the space, and when its successor, the Guardian, was still on holo drawing boards, colonial troopers were sheltered by broad wings of a STF-HF10 Vulture, first in line of heavy support ‘yagers. Latest version of it, Vulture MK III or STF-HF12 is still in active service of System Federation Forces.
Vulture is a giant among stratoyagers in the year 2230, characterized by long hull and broad wings. Designers had the task of creating a machine capable of carrying vast amounts of armament, and the main battlefield would be the atmosphere of the planet. The weight of the machine required the installation of highly efficient anti-graviti motors, as well as wide-spread atmospheric motors on the sides of the hull. The large size and long shape of the integrated pulse engines gives the HF12 the shape of a machine from the end of the 21st century. Regardless of the look, the two drive units, pulse-gravity Nova SV-502, supported by wings, make the HF12 a quite agile machine.
Unfortunately, Vulture is not as efficient in space. What makes up the aerodynamic systems, in the vacuum must be assisted by the gravity coils placed in the wings. The long shape and shifting of the mass to the rear makes the stratoyager under responsive and pilots need time to control the monster.
However, it will be wrong to see this fighter is an easy target. Another characteristic feature of HF12 equipment is its basic armament. The FDA LC325 multicoil cannons are built into the hull. In addition, the Vulture has a turret underneath the hull, with a cannon of the same type, covering the entire “lower” half. The turreted cannon as well as the rest of the additional armament is controlled by a second pilot / shooter, allowing the pilot to concentrate completely on piloting and firing from the main gun. In addition, the shooter has at his disposal twelve additional pod mounts, which depending on the configuration can change the HF12 into a flying fortress or a high speed torpedo boat.
At present, there are about 20,000 Vulture stratoyagers in the army and fleet. The latest and up-to-date version, which meets the latest standards, is the Mk III, showing that the HF12 was not often modified, mainly due to its repeatedly confirmed combat value. However, in the near future this deserving machine will be replaced by a newer type, but this will not happen soon, making STF-HF12 the longest serving model of a stratoyager in the fleet.