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Aviation Monthly
MARS
post 9 Feb 2014, 8:16
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Personally, I've always operated under the mindset that the Nighthawks were refurbished and upgraded for export/service during the GWOT so that the leftovers of lost F-35s or other planes would not be sold off to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or the like by some crafty GLA merchants. Not sure if I want to treat that as an official explanation myself though. The original game had the Nighthawk because it was still in service at the time and because they wanted a visual shorthand for 'this is the American stealth plane' and we left it in for the sake of nostalgia as well as the second original reason.
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Cobretti
post 9 Feb 2014, 15:38
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QUOTE (Knossos @ 9 Feb 2014, 0:15) *
A credible explanation would be that when the F-35 was finally put to the test, it was a multipurpose stealth fighter jet that wasn't multipurpose, wasn't stealthy, and isn't qualified to be called a fighter credibly, necessitating the USAF to bring back the Hog and the predecessor of all stealth jets, the F-117.


Given that the F-35 has been performing quite well in tests (and has already entered production) it seems unlikely.

QUOTE (8igDaddy8lake @ 9 Feb 2014, 1:16) *
It might also be reasonable because the F117 is one of the few planes able to carry those bunker busters. I doubt an F35 could carry one of those...also, it could be explained as a much upgraded Nighthawk, made with more cost-effective stealth materials from other projects and better electrical systems.


The F-35 can carry every weapon the F-117 could and then some. The thing is an upgraded Nighthawk is rather unlikely...the airframes date back from the 1980s and the tooling to produce the aircraft has long been destroyed.

QUOTE (MARS @ 9 Feb 2014, 2:16) *
Personally, I've always operated under the mindset that the Nighthawks were refurbished and upgraded for export/service during the GWOT so that the leftovers of lost F-35s or other planes would not be sold off to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or the like by some crafty GLA merchants. Not sure if I want to treat that as an official explanation myself though. The original game had the Nighthawk because it was still in service at the time and because they wanted a visual shorthand for 'this is the American stealth plane' and we left it in for the sake of nostalgia as well as the second original reason.


Yeah, I know y'all didn't want to replace the visually identifiable Nighthawk with an airplane that closely resembles the F-22 for gameplay reasons plus adherence to the original game. I'm just chalking it up to the game being made before the F-35 was designed and before the F-117 was prematurely retired. If they had made Generals today, or if I was in charge of designing models for RotR or some other Generals mod, I would have used a F-35 or some fictional stealth bomber aircraft.


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Kalga
post 9 Feb 2014, 15:54
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QUOTE (DerKrieger @ 9 Feb 2014, 9:38) *
Given that the F-35 has been performing quite well in tests (and has already entered production) it seems unlikely.


Well the Generals timeline does deviate from our timeline... guess a few more things went wrong in their universe.


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MARS
post 9 Feb 2014, 15:56
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^ Right. I'd probably go for the F-35 as the US main fighter, give it decent multirole and exclusive air-to-air capabilities while adding more specialised planes for CAS, precision bombing and the like in the later tiers. The F-22 would actually be reserved a stealthy air superiority fighter used for a kind of anti-air overwatch support power, i.e. you mark an area and any enemy air units that move through it will get wiped out by off-map Raptors. They would dominate every other plane in that situation and grant the enemy player a hefty XP bonus if he manages to shoot them down.
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Cobretti
post 9 Feb 2014, 16:33
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I had decided to go with the explanation that in the Generals timeline the US didn't cut back on the F-22 orders so the Air Force ended up with the full production run and subsequently purchased less F-35s. As a result the F-22 was used more for air superiority while the F-35A was a multipurpose light fighter as designed just like the F-16. The Navy and Marines used their variants for the same roles. During the Global War on Terror the F-22 was a relatively uncommon sight, F-16s, F/A-18s, and F-15Es were more common in the skies over Central Asia and the Middle East as the GLA didn't have that much in the way of advanced combat aircraft.


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Svea Rike
post 9 Feb 2014, 16:40
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So... this... wait, now, uh... is this canon or not?


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MARS
post 9 Feb 2014, 17:24
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Parts of it can be, yes. I'll give this some proper thought at a later point in time.
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Cobretti
post 9 Feb 2014, 17:36
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QUOTE (swedishplayer-97 @ 9 Feb 2014, 10:40) *
So... this... wait, now, uh... is this canon or not?


I don't see why large parts of it can't be (I'm still not 100% satisfied about the new AWACS, but I felt given the timeline they'd be developing a new AWACS/ELINT aircraft to replace the older generation), I just tried to explain the idiosyncrasies of the Generals setting being made back when certain projects were still in development/hadn't been made yet (see my explanation for the F-35 and the Comanche/Apache) to a somewhat realistic extent. For better or worse, I couldn't think up of a reason for the F-117 to be flying around the Middle East on combat missions in the 2010s. Come to think of it though, a tactical bomber spinoff of the F-35 dubbed the "Nighthawk II" that roughly resembles the F-117 could be plausible...

There'll be a little of the same (read: questionably canon) about the other sides...I was thinking of explaining away the Chinese "MiG" as a J-20 variant rather than an anachronistic MiG 1.44, the ECA Harrier has bigger changes to the original aircraft than the in-game model may imply and the ECA has an entirely new 5+ generation Eurofighter aircraft (though the EF-2000 still remains in wide service by the time of the war), and I'm thinking of an idea as to why the Russian Air Force/Navy uses what appears to be the Su-47 as a combat aircraft (spoiler: It's a new aircraft heavily based on the Su-47 design, or I may just invent a whole new aircraft to take its place). I also had an interesting idea as to why the Paladin is referred to such in game rather than the M1A4 Abrams, as well.


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8igDaddy8lake
post 10 Feb 2014, 3:47
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To be honest, I believe the Nighthawk should be replaced with something filling a similar role, like the unmanned X-47B or something derivative of the A-12 Avenger II...
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8igDaddy8lake
post 10 Feb 2014, 3:51
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Also, some more research I did suggests that it could be an offshoot of the F117N program, which created some improved technology for the aircraft.
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Cobretti
post 10 Feb 2014, 4:07
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QUOTE (8igDaddy8lake @ 9 Feb 2014, 21:47) *
To be honest, I believe the Nighthawk should be replaced with something filling a similar role, like the unmanned X-47B or something derivative of the A-12 Avenger II...


The FQ-47C I covered in the "Fighter" section is in fact directly based off of the X-47B and would serve a very similar role to the F-117 in game (aside from being unmanned and mainly carrier based). I would have used it as a Nighthawk replacement too.

Anyone have any ideas for requests for me to do in the near future?


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8igDaddy8lake
post 10 Feb 2014, 4:22
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Ah, didn't see that about the FQ-47, thanks for pointing that out.

I'm curious as to why England still uses the retired Vulcan bombers in the mod. I know they really have no alternative, but those things would be ancient - there are only two flying right now, and those are for air shows. Did they start production of an improved variant or something?
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Cobretti
post 10 Feb 2014, 4:31
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No problem, the "X" designation is used for experimental aircraft if I recall. Should the X-47 enter service it'd most likely be referred to as the FQ-47 or AQ-47.

I had an explanation for that too. The short version is that the RotR Vulcan is an advanced delta wing bomber that has a strong resemblance to the original Vulcan, so it was named after the Avro Vulcan as an homage. I'll probably work on ECA aircraft and stuff next, unless someone else has an idea.


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MARS
post 10 Feb 2014, 7:36
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QUOTE (8igDaddy8lake @ 10 Feb 2014, 4:22) *
I'm curious as to why England still uses the retired Vulcan bombers in the mod. I know they really have no alternative, but those things would be ancient - there are only two flying right now, and those are for air shows. Did they start production of an improved variant or something?


It's not so much a matter of them using the retired Vulcans again, but rather having built a new plane that's heavily based on the Vulcan, equipped with modern day electronics and named after the original plane as an hommage. The ECA mainly has these planes in order to ensure some basic capabilities when it comes to strategic bombing and strengthen their nuclear deterrent, albeit not to the same extent as America or Russia.
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8igDaddy8lake
post 11 Feb 2014, 3:15
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I get it. It makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn't need a fantastic range as it is pretty much in range of everything interesting when based from England. I imagine the design sprouted when Russia started to act more aggressively, or maybe during the ECA-GLA conflicts.
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8igDaddy8lake
post 11 Feb 2014, 3:30
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And I wonder about the designation for the X-47. Your explanation is feasible and realistic, but the US military has had some weird naming conventions, like the SR-71 or the MQ-1. It might be called the MQ-47. But that's just quibbling over stuff that doesn't really matter.
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Cobretti
post 11 Feb 2014, 3:58
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QUOTE (8igDaddy8lake @ 10 Feb 2014, 21:15) *
I get it. It makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn't need a fantastic range as it is pretty much in range of everything interesting when based from England. I imagine the design sprouted when Russia started to act more aggressively, or maybe during the ECA-GLA conflicts.

I'd assume that it'd have the same range as most aircraft its size, the ECA would want something capable of hitting north/central Africa or Russia from bases in the UK. I believe MARS was referring to the ECA having a smaller strategic bomber fleet than the US or Russia.

QUOTE (8igDaddy8lake @ 10 Feb 2014, 21:30) *
And I wonder about the designation for the X-47. Your explanation is feasible and realistic, but the US military has had some weird naming conventions, like the SR-71 or the MQ-1. It might be called the MQ-47. But that's just quibbling over stuff that doesn't really matter.

The "SR" designation is for reconnaissance aircraft so a combat/recon UAV like the X-47 wouldn't be refered to as such. "MQ" does stand for multirole drones so it could be called the MQ-47C. The Pegasus in universe is primarily designed for close air support and reconnaissance though it is quite capable of air-to-air combat if necessary, though the US Navy generally leaves the air-to-air combat to Super Bugs or Lightning IIs.


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8igDaddy8lake
post 11 Feb 2014, 6:33
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QUOTE (DerKrieger @ 10 Feb 2014, 21:58) *
I'd assume that it'd have the same range as most aircraft its size, the ECA would want something capable of hitting north/central Africa or Russia from bases in the UK. I believe MARS was referring to the ECA having a smaller strategic bomber fleet than the US or Russia.

The B52 actually has roughly double the range of the Vulcan, but I was actually referring to how the ECA has comparatively fewer refueling areas or tankers available compared to other powers (like Russia and the USA). The USA especially has many places it could refuel and/or rearm long-range aircraft, like the seabases.


The "SR" designation is for reconnaissance aircraft so a combat/recon UAV like the X-47 wouldn't be refered to as such. "MQ" does stand for multirole drones so it could be called the MQ-47C. The Pegasus in universe is primarily designed for close air support and reconnaissance though it is quite capable of air-to-air combat if necessary, though the US Navy generally leaves the air-to-air combat to Super Bugs or Lightning IIs.


I was using the SR71 as an example of weird naming conventions - the SR stands for Search and Rescue, which the plane would be fairly useless in as it is meant to take high-speed, high-altitude photography of military bases (I know the designation was used to fool Soviets, but they kept it even after the public reveal). And you said it yourself, the Pegasus is a multirole drone, used for CAS and recon, like the MQ-1.
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MARS
post 11 Feb 2014, 8:39
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The Vulcan bombers were actually one of the first things that showed up during the forming of the ECA's military component in the early/mid 2030s because Europe's new politicians actively embraced the notion of having their own strategic nuclear deterrent. Russia or the GLA didn't really factor into this mindset, but rather the idea that they'd ultimately need something like this if they wanted to be a real player on the global stage after the termination of NATO. This is supposed to mark the shift in Europe's self-image, i.e. abandoning the pure 'soft power' approach which left the former in-universe EU dependent on America and vulnerable without them. It's a subtle thing, but the As The War Approaches update a while back had a section where a German minister flat-out stated that the nuclear weapons of France and Britain (and by extension, their delivery systems) serve as the ECA's strategic deterrent. Anyone with a passing familiarity of RL German politics could attest that this sort of acknowledgement is the expression of a -serious- geopolitical shift in how the ECA perceives itself and its role in the world.
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Cobretti
post 11 Feb 2014, 20:26
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Alright, just got to do a revised US AWACS and then I'm going to do a writeup on the new Vulcan bomber since that seems to be quite popular. I'm also going to do notes on non-aircraft as well at some point, so heads up. This particular entry is a pure lore aircraft (thus far).

SpaceX/Alliant Tech Systems X-41 Hot Eagle Hypersonic Cruise Spaceplane, Northrop Grumman/Scaled Composites Model 378 White Knight Three: DARPA's Falcon project, designed to produce a hypersonic aircraft capable of reaching anywhere on earth within two hours culminated in three working projects; Lockheed Martin's F/B-40 Aurora bomber, Boeing's AGM/RGM-214 Waverider hypersonic anti-ship/cruise missile, and last but clearly not least, the X-41 Hot Eagle spaceplane.

The X-41 Hot Eagle was not initially intended to be a military aircraft, being created by SpaceX as an optionally manned spaceplane capable of efficiently traveling to orbit and beyond without the need of an expensive atmospheric rocket booster. SpaceX was inspired by Boeing's X-37 space plane; however the X-41 was larger and capable of carrying passengers and traveling at high orbit. The atmospheric engine technology used by SpaceX came from a licensed and modified version of the ramjet engine used on the F/B-40 Aurora and Boeing's Stratobird airliner. Though the engine was powerful enough to reach sub-orbit breaking Earth's gravitational pull would require an additional rocket engine. Northrop Grumman by way of their subdivision Scaled Composites had offered SpaceX an ingenious solution to the problem of booster rockets.

Scaled Composites had tested their own suborbital spacecraft by means of launching them from high altitude from a carrier aircraft; the first such mission was the launching of SpaceShipTwo from White Knight Two in August 2013. Testing proved that the concept was indeed viable, and Northrop Grumman produced the White Knight Three carrier aircraft for the X-41 Hot Eagle. The project was a great success and the X-41 Hot Eagle soon became the premier means of travel to the Pennsylvania space station, being famous in recent years for transporting the astronauts to the Pennsylvania to prepare for their departure to Mars on the followup to SpaceX's historic 2018 Red Dragon manned mission.

As a result DARPA showed great interest in this spinoff of their own design, and the US Air Force has ordered several of these spacecraft and carrier aircraft for orbital deployment of satellites, global tactical deployment, and maintenance of the SDI network.


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Cobretti
post 18 Feb 2014, 0:14
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Since this one was revealed in Doomhammer's livecast I don't think my balls are in danger of being cut off with a rusty spoon if I post this here. And that's just about it for the US aircraft!

Boeing EAL-797 Guardian Angel: The success of DARPA's High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) mounted on the F-22X King Raptor and select other US aircraft during the Global War on Terror, as well as its spinoff the Perimeter And Local Area Defense Integrated Network (PALADIN) system on the M1A4 Abrams and AN/TWQ-1L Laser Avenger inspired the US Air Force to take a bold step with the next generation of AWACS aircraft.

As problems with maintaining the aging Boeing 707-based airframes of the USAF's AWACS and ELINT aircraft became prevalent during the first few decades of the 21st century, it became apparent that a successor was needed. Even though the Air Force had to deal with post-war spending cuts, advances in computer technology allowed for all AWACS and ELINT tasks to be consolidated in one aircraft type. The US Air Force was highly pleased by the performance of the HELLADS system during the Global War on Terror but the funding wasn't there to retrofit the entire current generation of aircraft. That said, the USAF didn't wish to leave the airfleet without the protection afforded by laser defenses. However, DARPA had a radical plan for the USAF's needs.

Boeing's EAL-797 was an innovative solution to the problem. Based off of Boeing's new 797 airliner, the EAL-797 combined AWACS and ELINT devices in one airframe, as well as a scaled down version of Westinghouse's chemical oxygen iodine high energy laser that was the competitor to General Dynamics' high amperage tritium charged particle beam SDI system. Although the Advanced Tactical Laser mounted on the EAL-797's energy output is much lower than the emplaced SDI version, the ATL is more than powerful enough to disintegrate missiles and aircraft fuselages from long range. Details are still classified but it is known that the laser has an energy output in excess of 150 kW and a range of at least 300 km, giving it longer range than Raytheon's more compact but more expensive solid state laser combat tested on F-35s.

Given the immense amount of data collected by an EAL-797 Guardian Angel while in operation an AI core is far more efficient and effective than an on-board team of human operators. The aircraft's radome contains a powerful multi-frequency phased array radar which serves as both an active and passive sensor. The aircraft also has a LANTIRN-type TERFLW kit and a Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) radar system underneath the main fuselage, and its computers can easily interact with the sensors and communication systems of friendly UAVs and the F-22 and F-35 aircraft, using them to gather information for tactical analysis which is then broadcast back to friendly forces in the area. For defense, the Guardian Angel has an AN/ASQ-184 system controlling the AN/ALQ-161 ECM block, chaff-flare dispensers, and an IR jammer in addition to the nose mounted Advanced Tactical Laser.

This post has been edited by DerKrieger: 29 May 2014, 16:27


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Cobretti
post 18 Feb 2014, 19:27
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Alright, here's a short write-up on the new Vulcan bomber. I wasn't sure what sort of designation it'd have, though. As far as I recall the original Vulcan didn't have one either so I stuck with "Vulcan II."

BAE/Reaction Engines Limited Vulcan II: The relatively poor performance of the British, Italian, and French air forces and naval air wings in Libya just prior to the Global War on Terror was well in mind of European defense strategists during the foundation of the European Continental Army. Not only did the air forces of these nations find themselves running out of munitions at an alarmingly rapid pace, it was clear that without American backing the ECA needed long-range strategic bombers of their own. During the first NATO invasion of Afghanistan and at several points in the Global War on Terror, once-thought obsolete strategic bombers made effective “bomb trucks” for extended tactical bombing as well as effective tools for bunker-buster/penetration bomb delivery.

To this end, the ECA quickly arranged a competition for a long-range strategic bomber. It wasn't long before BAE's submission was found to stand out above all others. Dubbed the Vulcan II due to its strong similarity to the Cold War era Avro Vulcan, the Vulcan II featured some design elements from British aerospace company Reaction Engines Limited, the creators of the revolutionary Skylon spaceplane. The Vulcan II is a delta wing supersonic bomber with low-visibility radar signature. Its four EuroJet Euroluft turbojet engines allow a top afterburning speed of nearly Mach 2; though not as stealthy as the B2 Spirit or Tu-424 its greater speed was seen as an acceptable tradeoff. The Vulcan II relies on an AESA radar for ground search, and a passive radar and Galileo SatNav suite for navigation. With a payload of 25 metric tons, the Vulcan II can carry any ground ordinance from dumb bombs to hypersonic cruise missiles to nuclear ordinance.


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Karpet
post 21 Feb 2014, 3:44
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The last Avro Vulcan type is the Vulcan B.2 so I guess it could be the Vulcan B.3 but I'm not sure because as MARS said it is built from scratch but heavily based on the Vulcan.


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Cobretti
post 27 Feb 2014, 21:22
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Going to switch gears here for a moment and do something that's not an aircraft. I have further plans for other future updates in the same vein, but I'm still taking requests in case any of y'all want to read about your favorite RotR/Generals units.


ZTZ-200H Overlord tank with mounted gattling cannon and Chinese infantry during a combat exercise in the Tarim Basin.


ZTZ-200 Overlord series:
Super-heavy tanks are nothing new in the field of armored warfare. However, the immense weight of such a vehicle and the difficulty of finding an engine powerful enough for these armored behemoths, not to mention the high costs of developing and manufacturing them, made them nothing more than engineering curiosities.

It came as no surprise that the (often regarded as eccentric) People's Liberation Army General Ta Hun Kwai came up with the idea of the revival of a heavy breakthrough tank to support armored columns. Kwai's idea was extremely controversial among Politburo members and PLA strategic planners, to say the least, but it narrowly managed to attain enough funding for development of such a project.

Norinco's end result of the project was the ZTZ-200 “Overlord.” It was nothing short of excessive, with obscenely thick multi-layer composite armor and mounting twin 140mm smoothbore autoloading cannons. Initial designs had it with high velocity twin 125mm cannons based on the same gun used on the ZTZ-99 main battle tank in order to simplify logistics, but the larger experimental 140mm cannon had far more range and firepower suiting a heavy assault vehicle. Furthermore, the large chassis of the ZTZ-200 made it a perfect platform for the gun. Most interestingly, however, was the modular turret design. The Overlord could be modified in field for a variety of support roles. In all, three packages were developed for the Overlord. One was a reinforced small bunker with room for an infantry squad complete with heavy weaponry, allowing them to use the Overlord as protection. The second possible configuration was mounting a loudspeaker on the turret, allowing for broadcasting of psy-ops material to either friendly troops or the enemy. Lastly, the Overlord could mount a twin 30mm auto-targeted rotary cannon AA mount to deal with attack helicopters or targets with which the 140mm cannons would be overkill.

Regardless of the Overlord's capability on paper, the tank was plagued with problems. The presence of an Overlord on a battlefield meant that it was by its nature vulnerable to enemy fire. It was a given to the PLA that the Overlord was not to be used in combat against an enemy with air superiority as it could easily be targeted and destroyed by aircraft. The Overlord was ponderously slow, even with its notoriously fuel-guzzling turbine engines. Not only did the engines require a great deal of fuel to power the Overlord, the engines were prone to breakdown and the weight of the Overlord meant that its treads had to be frequently replaced.

There was an ingenious solution to both the problem of fuel consumption and the maintenance intensive engines, however; Chinese engineers had come up with the possibility of mounting nuclear reactors to the Overlord in order to power such a beast. Despite initial concerns about the ability to shield tank crews properly from radiation, the project was given full funding. The end result was more promising than the PLA had initially hoped; the mini-reactors, fully compatible with the Overlord's turbines, could easily be retrofitted to the Overlord tank fleet and were much more reliable and powerful than the fossil fuel based turbine engine. In fact, further development made an even smaller engine that could be retrofitted to all other existing PLA tanks. The nuclear engines would be later mass produced as a kit to refurbish PLA tanks from the Type 99 main battle tank to the Type-124 “Hopper” tankette.

An additional improvement to the baseline Overlord was personally commissioned by General Kwai for his troops. Dubbed the ZTZ-200G Emperor, the Emperor was an advanced model with additional armor, improved higher velocity 140mm cannons and a redesigned turret that had a loudspeaker installed by default at the cost of the ability to install a bunker. Though extremely effective, the tactical inflexibility and additional cost of the ZTZ-200G made it infeasible as a complete successor to the Overlord. Regardless, the improved cannons and fire control systems and applique armor made it to the ZTZ-200H upgrade to the existing Overlord fleet.

This post has been edited by DerKrieger: 3 Mar 2014, 16:28


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"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."-- George S. Patton


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Svea Rike
post 28 Feb 2014, 10:07
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Hmm, MARS and DerKriger, would it be okay if we used some of these descriptions for the wiki?


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