While the US went full steam ahead on manufacturing a number of humanoid mechanized units like the Chromium Guardsman and the Silver Eagle Samas, they did not let their conventional forces lag behind.  Even though the American NEMA and the USAF had an excellent close air support unit in the Silver Eagle Samas, it filled more of an Attack Helicopter roll than fixed wing close air support.  With that in mind researchers and military developers took a page from the past to come up with a new aircraft to fill this need.

The new craft showed it's definitive lineage in both design AND name, taking on the moniker of it's predecessor and parent aircraft design.  The A-40A Thunderbolt III was a new era of ground attack craft using all modern technologies at it's disposal.  MDC construction, increased firepower utilizing armour piercing ramjet ammunition to lower maintenance time as well as a wide assortment of hardpoint options allowing the craft to eliminate any variety of ground and even air targets.  While not as fast as it's more fancy and pretty sister planes, the new Thunderbolt could break the sound barrier though not by much.  It also had a VTOL capability unheard for a craft of it's design but with the new technologies and a similar tried a true swivel engine design reminiscent of the V-22 osprey, it allowed such a thing to be added.

Overall it was an excellent ground attack and close air support air craft with no peer for it's time that served in the late 21st century right up until the coming of the Rifts.

Model Type - A-40A Thunderbolt III

Class - Close Air Support and Ground Attack Aircraft

Crew - 1

MDC By Location

Nose/Cockpit - 110

Reinforced Pilot's "Bathtub" - 100

Main Body/fuselage - 275

Wings (2) - 140 ea

Tailplanes (2) - 100 ea

Engines (2) - 165 ea

GAU-8AV - 70

AR - 14 (vehicle AR)

Armour - Stops upto and including the equivalent of standard 30mm rounds (2d6+3md). Explosive and ramjet rounds can still be effective.


Flying - Mach 1.2/1480kph (925mph) maximum at 3000m (10000ft) and higher. Also VTOL capable.

Range - Combat Radius Effectively unlimited limited by pilot endurance.

Altitude - 15000m (50000ft)


Height - 4.6m (15ft 1in)

Length - 16.5m (54ft 2in)

Width - 17.7m (58ft 1in)

Weight - 25 tons maximum, 11.1 tons empty

Cargo - Minimal survival gear

Power System - 2× GE TF55-GE-775A Fusion Powered Turbofans with a lifespan of 15 years.

Cost - Millions of US dollars


Weapon Type - GAU-8AV 40mm gatling cannon

Primary Purpose - Anti-vehicle

Range - 3000m (6000ft)

Damage - 4d4x10md per burst. Only fires short bursts.

Rate Of Fire - equal to pilots attacks

Payload - 70 bursts of 40mm armour piercing ramjet rounds (1d4x10md per round)

Bonuses - +2 strike

Weapon Type - Hardpoints (10, 3 per wing, 4 fuselage)

Primary Purpose - Anti-fighter, anti-installation, anti-tank

Range - As per missile type

Damage - As per missile type

Rate Of Fire - 1 at a time equal to pilot attacks

Payload - each hardpoint can carry: 3 light HE air to air/air to ground missile or 3 HE air-to air/air to ground missile or or 2 Heavy HE Air to air/air to ground or 1x19-shot HE mini-missile launcher or 1x8-shot A/P mini-missile launcher or 5 Light HE bombs or 3 HE Bombs or 2 Heavy HE bomb or 1 HE Cluster bomb

Bonuses - +1 strike

Bonuses and Penalties

Use vehicle combat training and combat flying if applicable

+1 attack at level 5 and 10

+1 dodge at level 4, 8 and 12

Systems of Note

Nuclear powered - Life of the power supply 15 years

Combat Computer - Calculates, stores and transmits data onto a HUD (heads up display) of the pilot's (or other crew members) helmet. Typically tied into the units targeting computer. Can hold hundreds of entries about various enemies and robots/power armour/aircraft/vehicles.

Ejection System - Ejects crew or crew module out from the robot in emergency circumstances. System typically ejects the occupants about 300m (1000f) to parachute safely away.

Complete Environmental Pilot and Crew Compartment - A completely computer controlled life support system that includes: internal cooling and temperature control, air purification and circulation systems (gas filtration, humidifier/dehumidifier) that engages when needed and can recirculate breathable air for upto 2 days if necessary, computer controlled independent oxygen supply and purge system that has upto 18 hours of breathable air that automatically engages in low oxygen or contaminated air environments, insulated high temperature resistant shielding for upto 400 degrees centigrade (normal fires do no damage though nuclear, plasma and magical fires do full damage), radiation shielded upto several hundred rads, and polarized and light sensitive/adjusting tinted viewport.

Standard instrumentation - Speedometer, altimeter, distance traveled, inertial mapping system (zeroed on your deployment location/home base), power system temperature, ammunition counters, damage assessment indicators.

Motion detector/Collision Warning System - Range 1500ft

Smoke and Chaff/Flare Dispensers - 18 charges of smoke each create 60ft area of smoke behind the craft. Chaff and flare (18 charges each) give the craft a 75% chance of confusing radar guided (chaff) and heat seeking (flares) causing them to lose lock and miss their target.

Fly by Light Control systems - If the craft takes more than 50% damage the systems may fail (60% chance). Loss of the control system gives a penalty to the pilot of -50% to all piloting rolls to maintain control of the aircraft. While functioning the systems give a bonus (+20% for fly by light) to all piloting rolls.

Radar - Can identify and track upto 96 targets simultaneously to a range of 450km (297 miles)

Radar Warning receiver - Informs the pilot/crew of possible radar lock. Range - 450km (297 miles)

Advanced Infra-Red Imager – Forward looking infra-red imager that detects and identifies targets based on their heat signatures. Range – same as Radar.

Targeting Computer - Assists in the tracking and identification of enemy targets to a range of 450km (297 miles)

Laser Targeting System - Assists in selecting and locking on to enemy targets. +2 to strike using ranged weapons. Smart Missiles are excluded from this.

Multi-Lock capability - Unit can lock on to and fire at 8 targets using semi-active radar homing and passive infra-red homing missiles at one time through it's radar tracking system.

Look and lock capability - Unit can lock on to and fire at 10 targets using semi-active radar homing and passive infra-red homing missiles at one time through it's helmet mounted eye movement recognition cuing system.

LIDAR/LADAR - This system uses lasers to detect and image items as small as 10cm (4in) at 5km (3 miles), as small as 200cm (2.0m6ft 6in) out to 15km (9miles) and as small as 1000cm (10.0m/33ft) out to 25km (16 miles). This system also assists the other sensors in detection and identification.

Radio Communications - long-range direction communication systems out to a range of 960km (600 miles) that can be boosted if proper signal towers or relay systems are in place. Also a directional short-range radio with a range of 24km (15 miles). Both radios have full encryption capabilities.

Self destruct System - Systems that destroys the unit and all of its internal components. Blast is relatively contained however to a radius of 9m (30ft) doing 3d6x10md to anything within the radius. Also a 75% chance the nuclear power supply is leaking radiation.

Voice Actuated locking System - Units hatch is locked by a voice actuated system that is programmed to a specific voice (upto 8 can be programmed at once) that must recite a 8 digit access code. There is a manual over-ride keypad in case of systems failure.

Limited Electronic Countermeasures Capability - With a Electronic Countermeasures skill roll (or Sensor operations at -20%) the pilot/crew can impose a penalty of -1 to strike and a -20% to all sensor skill rolls of any opponents within radar range depending on terrain.

References Used

Wikipedia A-10 Thunderbolt entry

Chaos Earth RPG

Rifts RPG

Various Aircraft reference books.

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