McDonnell-Douglas F-203 Dragon II Jet Fighter
|Total Length:||17.3 m|
|Total Height:||5.5 m|
|Total Wingspan:||13.6 m|
|Total Dry Weight:||18.8 metric tons|
Typical set for F-203E variant:
The skin of the Dragon is composed of treated steel plate. The skin provides excellent protection against small grenade and shell fragments, good protection against small arms fire, and poor resistance to heavier infantry weapons, such as the 12.7mm machinegun round, as well as from fragments and near misses from higher caliber weapons. The Dragon provides full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated. The internal consumables supplies can provide atmospherefor eight hours maximum.
The F-203 Dragon II was designed soon before the Third World War by McDonnell-Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15 Eagle fighter-bomber. Because the Eagle was getting rather old for combat in the GCW, and its successor, the F-22 Talon, was costly to produce in both money and time, McDonnell- Douglas designed the Dragon to complement the Talon and to replace the venerable F-14 Tomcat Naval fighters. Since the Dragon was intended for fast production, as many of-the-shelf components and technologies were used as possible. The front of the Dragon is therefore a marginally smaller version of the F-15 cockpit, and the engines are modified versions of those on the Talon. The exhausts are vectored-thrust nozzles. In addition, the Dragon possesses secondary exhaust vents, giving it STOL capability. The original electronics suite also utilized standard components. However, the wings were unique to the Dragon, and incorporated the newest in aerodynamical science when first designed. The armament fit was a new type of hypervelocity flechette cannon in each wing root, and a large number of small conformal pylons as pioneered on the F-16XL projects for external loads. However, it soon turned out that the new low-caliber flechette cannons were less effective than was hoped, in addition to being mechanically unreliable. The manufacturers' solution of mounting a redundant pair was less than ideal, and the guns were soon replaced by Swiss KCN single barrel 25mm cannons.
The F-203 A and B versions were mass produced by the United States, and saw much use in combat. However, the major disadvantage of the A and B versions was that the plane was not in the least 'stealthy', given that part of the fuselage was designed in the early '70s. This was improved in the C/D versions, however, with the application of a skin covering that absorbed, to an extent, EM radiation. This covering would later be developed into a major part of the Shadow Fighter's stealth systems. Even so, the covering only decreased the typical detection ranges of the craft, but especially when countered by UWB radars, it was less than perfect. After the Global Civil War, the Dragon was updated with Tirolian technologies. This updated version was known as the F-203E. The improvements involved the installation of a far more powerful radar/EW suite, with new radar systems, active missile jammers, and so forth. This suite became standard equipment throughout the UNDF, being used on craft ranging from the Commanchero to the VF-1. In addition, bypass air from the engines could be ejected through exhausts under the fuselage, giving the Dragon full VTOL capabilities.
The Dragon saw some service in the Zentraedi Uprisings, but being a chemically propelled fighter, it could not sustain high Mach speeds the way the Fighter Pods could, and it was far inferior to the Quaedluun-Rau Power Armor at the sub-Mach speeds which the Zentraedi mecha could reach. It was therefore quickly replaced in the front lines by VF-1 Valkyrie Veritechs, but a small number saw service until 2019.
Dragon Cockpit View:
See additional design notes.
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