My thanks to Roger Sanger, the copyright holder, for granting me
permission to host this article on my web site. To quote him, "I was looking
for a new home for DGP's 2300 AD articles, and naturally I picked the best fan
sites on the Web for that purpose. Kudos to Pentapod's World! Enjoy!"
- Kevin Clark
- January 24th, 2000.
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In late 2297, the United States Marine Corp began production of the ASV-97 airship. The ASV 97 immediately began to replace older vectored-thrust and rotary-wing aircraft in the USMC Terra inventory, and by 2300 was supplanting older machines throughout the American Arm as well. Ten '97s were purchased by the Australians, who were impressed with the aircraft's performance in the King raid, where a flight of USMC '97s obliterated a well equipped pirate force at tempting to hijack a surface shipment of tantalum ore from American mines on King ( DM+2 3312).
With a cruising speed of 180 kph, the '97 is definitely on the slow side, but this is more than offset by the aircraft's extreme maneuverability and outstanding stability as a weapons platform at all levels of its speed range. Additionally, the ASV-97 makes extensive use of VIFF ( vectoring in forward flight), altering the angle of the thrust nozzles in midflight to make sudden changes in speed and heading. Combined with its heavy armor and versatile weapons capabilities, this makes the '97 a formidable battlefield opponent.
One of the more unusual features of the ASV-97 design is the inclusion of variable-length landing skids. With two landing gears extending from housings just ahead of the passenger bay and one from the centerline between the rear thrust nozzles, the '97 lands on a stable tripod. SMI engineers chose to increase this stability by allowing each gear to vary in length, so that when the aircraft lands on a slope, the fuselage is held level via extending the downslope gear and retracting the upslope one. Theoretically, this system can compensate for up to 35 degrees of tilt, but in practice most pilots find the variable gear more of a nuisance than a help, and have the system disconnected.
Standard armament on the ASV-97 includes the 30mm cannon in the chin turret plus a pair of pintle-mounted servo-assisted 12mm machine guns on either side of the passenger bay. Two stub pylons on either side abaft of the passenger bay provide hardpoints for additional weapons, including rocket pods, 20mm cannon, air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles, bomb racks, 4 x 7.62mm machine gun pods, and chemical dispersal canisters. The pylons can also support ECM pods, winch equipment, or sling mounts for cargo. The passenger bay can carry twelve troops in full battle dress plus squad weapons, or four stretchers with medical support equipment, or a variety of modular equipment including a self-contained forward command post and communications center.
The ASV-97 is still in production, currently as the "C" version of the
aircraft, and is expected to remain in first-line use at least until 2330.
Crew: Pilot, copilot, two gunners
Performance: 4,000m ceiling, excellent nap-of-earth handling, 180 kph cruising speed, variable hover, 500 km fuel range
Armament: 30mm cannon, two 12mm HMGs standard; 16 place 4cm rocket pod, 20mm cannon pod, air-to-air or air-to-surface missile rack, bomb rack, 7.62mm MG pod, chemical dispersal pod optional.
There are currently three main versions of the ASV-97: the standard ASV-97C, the ASV-97 LAP ( engines and thrust control modified for performance in thinner atmospheres), and the ASV-99RDP, a semi-experimental version mounting more powerful engines and adapted to breakaway ablative shield reentry.
The 99RDP was conceived as a vehicle that could be dropped out of low orbit, engaging its own engines in the middle at mosphere to provide fast troop deployment in strike situations. The 99RDP project has proven too costly and impractical, and most examples of this version have been returned to standard service.
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