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SF-38/A Raptor class Subfighter

Class:
UEO Raptor II SF-38/A class interceptor subfighter

Contractor/Builder:
Marine Dynamics Ltd.

Length:
14.0m (45.9 ft)

Beam:
3.0m (9.85 ft)

Wingspan:
6.5m (21.3 ft)

Height:
3.25m (10.6 ft)

Submerged Displacement:
15,000 Kilograms

Hull Composition:
Single-layer lightweight Titanium Alloy (Gamma-grade) over a C-65 composite hull frame

The SF-38/A's hull is made of lightweight composites derived of Carbon and Titanium. The "C65" material which makes up the core of the Raptor's underlying structural framing is an extremely strong, shock-resistant composite material that remains highly classified and was also used quite extensively in the construction of the Atlantis class DSVs. The type-three (Gamma) Titanium alloy skin that covers the craft is a common material used in hull construction on both aircraft and submarines. Combined with the composite frame, it allows the Raptor to dive deeper than any subfighter previously developed. The only part of the fighter's fuselage that remains vulnerable to pressure past 25,000 feet is the cockpit canopy which is nearly 4 inches thick, and to preserve visibilty for the pilot, costs nearly 200,000 dollars to replace if damaged. The canopy must be able to withstand pressure in excess of 10,000 pounds per square inch at this depth. The material the canopy is made out of is not glass, but a transparent metallic which remains classified.

Maximum Operational Depth:
25,000 feet

Propulsion:
Twin Rolls Royce/Boeing-Rocketdyne hydrojet turbines

Note: Statistics represent each engine...

Maximum Thrust: 56,500 pounds (530 kN)
Acceleration: 29.87m/s 2

0-100kph/0.93 seconds
0-379kts/5.67 seconds
3.05G

Weight: 3,234 pounds (1467 kg)
Length: 210 in. (5.34m)
Inlet Diameter: 37.4in. (0.95m)
Maximum Diameter 43.3 in. (1.10m)

Power source:
Primary - 2 Marine Dynamics A7(F) Taurus fusion reactor cores (integrated with the engines)
Secondary - Two Rolls Royce/Boeing-Rocketdyne hydrojet turbines

Fuel:
Primary - Tritium, Deuterium (Required for Fusion Reactor)
Secondary - Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Range: 1500 Nautical mile combat radius at a cruising speed of 280 knots

Top Speed:
379 knots (VNE - Velocity Never Exceed)

Cost per unit:
$110.0 million USD

Weapons systems (Dependant on configuration):

  • 6 Mk 95M Plasma torpedoes (Internal)
  • Dual "Hades" Supercavitating Gattling Cannons (See notes)
  • SSR-85 Short Range "Hammer" Mass-Driver Plasma Pulse Guns

 

S/GA-14A "Hades" Supercavitational Gatling Railgun:

Power source:
Marine Dynamics A7(F) Taurus Fusion Reactor

Barrels:
6

Caliber:
25mm

Feed:
Hydraulic, link-fed belt ammunition

Firing Mechanism:
2 megawatt pre-fire particle laser (primary stage)
3x200cm tungsten magnetic rails (second stage)

Maximum Rate of Fire:
4,500 Rounds per Minute (Maximum – Depends on barrel RPM acceleration and muzzle velocity)

Effective Range :
~1,500 meters

Muzzle Velocity: Variable depending on power and ammunition type:
From 2,000 feet/second (609.6 meters/second) to 5,000 feet/second (1,524 meters/second)

Cannon weight:
150 kilograms

Barrel length:
2.3 meters

Ammunition weight:
210 grams/round (Average)
(1000 rounds; 210 kilograms)

Defence systems:
Mark XI intercept torpedoes
Sonar jamming system
Intercept package: chaff, noisemakers
Model VII Stealth systems and Sensor-spoofing sonar arrays

Computer system:
IBM XI Tactical AI

Sensors:
Enhanced Tactical Hypersonar, effective range 50km
Active and Passive sensor suite, effective range 30km
Countermeasure Sensors, Effective Range 15km
Model VII Hypersonar/Laser-based Sensor array, Effective Range ; 50km

Utilitarian systems:
1 Wayland tempered steel grapple (range: 100m)

Crew compliment:
1 Pilot

 

Atlantis DSV in rough seas...  

Evolution of the Raptor class Subfighter...

When the new DSX program called for high-speed escort-capable fighters, the aging UEO SFA-2 Spectre simply could not be expected to rise to the task. By modern standards, the SFA-2 Spectre was a slow subfighter comparable only to the Macronesian Lysander class, with a light payload of weapons and limited range. For something as demanding as the DSX project, a new solution was required. The design criteria for the new sub fighter had to be able to exceed speeds of 300 knots in able to support the DSX. As a result of the need to complement the DSX's own capabilites, much of the design work and prototypes for the fighter initally designated the YSF-37/A were done during the years of 2035-2040 when the two Deep Submergence Vehicles, Atlantis and Aquarius, were being constructed at the Ares fleet yard in Pearl Harbor. It didn't come as a surprise then that the Marine Dynamics fighter prototype was being developed in the same yard as the DSX. Many design features were also very familiar as the Lockheed-owned company Marine Dynamics quickly showed that they had not lost their traditional edge and finese of fighter design. The first prototype had many of the smooth and sleek curves of fighters born of the late twentieth century, and this design was one that would change very little throughout its development.

The YSF-37 would soon become a benchmark for all UEO fighters as its design was a rapid departure from the ungainly-looking SFA-2 Spectre which was rapidly approaching its fifteenth year of service. The Spectre was a decent fighter, and it was clear that its days were far from over. Its speed of just over 220 knots was respectable against most subfighters, but the lethally agile and sleek Macronesian Lysander was still something that had no equal in terms of its combat perfomance (if not efficiency...) and many Spectres had fallen victim to the Alliance fighter's agility and deadly subduction armaments.
The YSF-37 would eventually exceed this record of speed and agility by using a scaled-down version of the drive system in the DSVs - an enhanced Hydrojet turbine propulsion system coupled to twin fusion reactor spirals that were initially capable of just over 325 knots.

Note: The gap in numbers between the SF-2 and SF-37 does not indicate a sequential progression of classes. Like the SFA-27 Barracuda, the Raptor's designation was chosen by the year in which its design was formalized - 2037.

The established concepts of submarine weaponry was another area of subfighter design the YSF-37 would challenge. for the later part of the 2020's and then through the 2030's, particle laser technology was the preferred weapon of choice for nearly all of the frontline sub-fighter designs. Marine Dynamics however, had radically different ideas.

As the base design work neared completion on what was dubbed the "Raptor" in late 2038, weapons development came to the fore of the project. One constant, fundamental problem with the SFA-2 Spectre was the laser cannons that it used for weapons: Laser weapons, while having an advantage of not requiring ammunition to speak of, were very heavy and took up so much space that room for torpedoes and other long-range weapons had to be sacrificed. Indeed, for most of its career, the Spectre barely utilized torpedoes at all. Marine Dynamics wanted to change this, and did so through the most unexpected, and even outmoded avenue - the explosive projectile.

The twin "Hades" Gattling Cannons aboard a Raptor bear many similarities to the much older 'Phalanx' close-in weapons system of the late 20th century. Its durable and effective design had proven to be lethally effective against aircraft and missiles, and Marine Dynamics sought to bring this same edge to the Hades, although it was far from the easiest of tasks.

In water, the mechanics of a traditional 'firearm' become rendered almost useless, and so the Hades was built as a solely underwater weapon. The shells of a Hades cannon eschew traditional explosive primers, and are instead accelerated by a set of electrogmanetic rails to speeds well in excess of traditional firearms. At this speed, supercavitation occurs: a physical process in which the vapour pressure of water drops to a point where the shell is enveloped by a pocket of gas as it travels, essentially removing the forces of drag that would usually cripple such a weapon.

Previously, this concept was unexplored in the UEO fleet, as no manned submarine made could withstand the sheering pressures involved in supercavitation, and previous experiments with the technology ended in destructive failure.

The weapon that came from this project would, in the simplest terms, use the raw kinetic energy of its projectiles to rip through metal like as the underwater rifle quickly got up to muzzle velocities in excess of 12,000 feet per second. (Tests this extreme generally resulted in the complete destruction of the prototype gun and its housing. Tthe power of the weapon was eventually governed in the production-models produced since then.)

The Raptor was not originally planned to be built to such a rushed schedule, but with tensions rising with Macronesia, the UEO pressed hard for Marine Dynamics to begin producing the fighter, even if they continued to refine the design over the course of its early career. (This decision would cost the UEO navy billions of dollars, but the Raptor would nonetheless enter full production and service in October 2040 and would be designated the SF-37/E.)

Other variants of the Raptor include:

SF-37/A - Trainer model derived from the prototypes, built to lesser, more fundamental specifications for use by UEO training squadrons.
SF-37/B - The "Bomber" of the class. This variant features a slightly enlarged fuselage which could carry larger torpedo payloads
SF-37/C - Ordered and employed by the Marines very early in the project, this Raptor features a few minor differences in electronics and weapons options making it suited for support.
SF-37/D - Initial export model. It's production run was very limited due to the extent by which technology had been 'stripped down' for the export market. Most foreign powers opted instead to build their own native subfighters based on their observations of the original SF-37 design.
SF-37/E - The benchmark of the class, the "E" was employed by the UEO navy in large numbers in the early months of the war against Macronesia.
SF-37/F - An "Improved" Raptor designed as a field upgrade which brings the 37 closer in specification to its larger cousin, the SF-38. Built largely for export, although the vast majority of E models within UEO service received this upgrade.
SF-37/J - Another variant employed by the Marines as a maritime-superiority fighter. Differences between the F and J are limited to more advanced electronics and avionics systems.

Sharpening the Knife: The SF-38

The SF-37/E Raptor subfighter is arguably one of the best subfighters ever built. Its conception brought about a new era in UEO subcraft design with the SFB-6/A Stormhawk Bomber following soon after its completion. But the SF-37 enjoyed only a brief history of nine months as the UEO's frontline fighter as wartime conditions meant that work was done to further refine the design. True to their word, Marine Dynamics continued to work on the design long after they had pressed the SF-37 in to service.

The improved design was designated the SF-38/A Raptor II. (Also known as the "Gazelle" by certain members of its design team.)
The SF-37 design itself was in most respects flawlessly executed. If it had one flault, it was perhaps slightly underpowered for its manoeuvrability in combat, often losing speed in tight turns during dogfights with Macronesian Lysanders, leaving it vulnerable to flanking attacks.

The new Raptor would be slightly larger than its predecessor, featuring many subtle improvements from lessons learnt of the previous fighter. While technically an "upgrade" to the basic Raptor chassis, the improvement was substantial enough that the fighter was warranted a new designation as the SF-38/A.

By early 2041, the DSVs Atlantis and Aquarius were going through their first refit to incorporate new C65 reinforced hulls in addition to large-scale improvements to their existing weapons arrangements. Many of the improvements on the DSVs were already being incorporated on a smaller scale to the Raptor II design. The main feature of this improvement was the shift from a double Titanium hull and composite frame to a newer, lighter design philosophy of single-hull made of gamma-grade Titanium which covered a new and extremely strong composite material known only as “C65” which served as the fighter's support frame. This gave the fighter a major reduction in displacement, while simultaneously providing a rigid hull that was very resistant to most forms of kinetic and energy damage.

Another design change was the SF-37's extremely compact fuselage. Despite the fighter's larger size than the SFA-2, the Raptor's engines took up nearly 70% of the fuselage, leaving very little space for many weapons beyond the twin Hades cannons. The SF-38 added a dorsal hump that expanded the fuselage to accommodate, among other things, greater weapons capacities, larger engines, improved sonar suites and extended tanks for the fighter's fusion reactors.

The expansion led to the installation of two new Type XII hydrojet aqua-return turbines - an engine developed closely with BAe for the new "Seafire" class subfighter being developed by the North Sea Confederation. A larger fuselage with these engines ultimately brought the displacement of the Raptor II back to a similar level as its predecessor, but the improvements were substantial, with a noticable increase in speed and power and greater manoeuvrability (up to 30 percent) at mid-to-high speeds.

With the old engines removed and the addition of the larger hull, the Raptor was then given a range of system improvements in both sensor and weapons technology. The Raptor began to adopt certain electronic low-visibility (‘stealth') characteristics when new Model VII Hypersonar/Laser-based sensor arrays gave it the ability to scramble enemy sensors. The array is capable of scattering hypersonar locks achieved at mid-to-long range, and drastically limits enemy torpedo effectiveness in to close range – an area of combat the fighter was designed to excel at. Harsh lessons had been learned from the SF-37 in the space of a few short weeks after many units had been destroyed by long range torpedo fire before they had even got in to combat.

To boot, the SF-38 was soon sporting almost double the weaponry of its predecessor.

Now capable of carrying additional ammunition for the awesomely effective Hades Supercavitating gattling guns, (An aspect of the original Raptor that was considered a complete success) the SF-38 could also be equipped with 2 ‘neck'-mounted “Hammer” Kinetic/Plasma Pulse Cannons – the latest miniaturised development of the larger DSV's hugely powerful laser cannon arrays.

The new pulse guns were, unlike the Hades cannon, totally free from ammunition requirements. They drew directly from the Fusion Core to create plasma mass-driver technology that, while lacking the raw hitting power of a Hades gun, gave them a limitless cyclic rate of fire that matched the best in laser technology, with medium hitting power that was well suited for work against subfighters. The new guns however came at a cost – Any SF-38 that was outfitted to carry them would sacrifice over two thirds of their available Hades rounds to facilitate the installation of the Pulse Guns. Despite all the space improvements, there was simply not enough physical room to maintain four large close-combat weapons and nearly 1000 rounds of Hades ammunition. The Raptor was thus benchmarked in several different configurations geared towards varying payloads and weapon types.

The benchmarks were:

~25,000 Kilograms, Full-Weight

2 fixed Hades Super Cavitating Cannons with 1000 rounds of ammunition
6 Mk95 Plasma Torpedoes
No Hammer Pulse Guns

~20,000 Kilograms, Mid-Weight

2 fixed Hades Super Cavitating Cannons with 300 rounds of ammunition
2 Hammer Pulse Guns

~17,000 Kilograms, Light-Weight

2 Hammer Pulse Guns
6 Mk 95 Plasma Torpedoes

While these benchmarks are outfitted as "standard" in the UEO fleet, the modular weapons give individual pilots alot more freedom to customize their weapons in any number of configurations prior to engagements.

At full load, the Raptor is able to sport 6 internally-held miniature torpedoes that can be deployed from small doors on the underside of the fuselage. While external weapons are possible, the draw back is that external mounted weapons give considerable drag on the fighter's hull, and results in a drastic reduction in speed. This configuration is rarely used, and pushes the fighter's weight past twenty seven tonnes.

By the time of the DSV's refit in early 2041, the SF-38 was going in to production with the first deliveries being promised to be made to the frontline carrier units and - of course - the DSVs themselves. In addition, many of the previous SF-37 models were refitted in the field to accommodate many of these changes with the exception of the hull materials. These retrofitted SF-37s were given the designations “SF-37/F" and “SF-37/J” (depending on configuration) and are expected to be the last of the ‘37s before the new SF-38/A Raptor II completely phases them out of production lines. The SF-37/F is largely used by the Navy, while the increased weapons payload of the SF-37/J means it is widely used by the UEO Marine Corps in support of amphibious assaults.

Other national powers, including the North Sea Confederation and European Union have shown interest in acquiring the Raptor, and it is likely that many SF-37s will be sold to the export market in lieu of this demand, although delivery could slow drastically...

Raptor production came close to a complete halt in April of 2041 when the UEO's three principle shipyards tasked with constructing the fighters were lost to the Alliance: San Diego to a nuclear attack, Tokyo, which fell to a Chaodai invasion and Pearl Harbor when it was successfully invaded and captured by the Alliance fleet. With San Francisco's shipyards still in a state of complete disrepair following a missile attack on that base at the offset of the war, only the relatively small facility in San Angeles remains on the West Coast of the United States to produce the fighter, and it could be some time before the UEO is able to restart production in other shipyards. As it stands, the Raptors which are already in service to the fleet are set to become a prized and increasingly rare posession in Carrier Sea Wings that will not be replaced any time soon should they be lost. In some cases already, UEO subfighter squadrons have needed to resort to using mixed-squadrons of Spectres and Raptors to keep their full number of pilots flying. With San Angeles only producing about two Raptors a day (amongst the other deliveries of Stormhawks, Spectre IIs and other craft built at the shipyard...) Raptor numbers increasingly dwindle, and more and more they are being assigned only to Elite squadrons.

Atlantis DSV in rough seas...

Copyright 2006-2009 James Ward. All reference pertaining to "seaQuest DSV" and "seaQuest 2032" are copyrights of Universal/Amblin enterainment and no claim is made to these titles. Atlantis DSV and all related themes are copyright of James Ward and associated writers.

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