The venerable, powerful, Ballista is a fighter/bomber entering its seventh decade of service in the Protectorate. The two-man vehicle is generally considered a strike fighter, as it is designed to cripple or destroy larger vessels. Using stealth, speed and power, the Ballista penetrates enemy defenses and devastates its targets with missiles and heavy particle beam cannons. While the Ballista does not lack maneuverability or speed, it is not an interceptor and is not meant to get into dogfights. However, it can hold its own with most space fighters.
The Ballista is operated by a two-man crew; a pilot and a bombardier/navigator (B/N). It is used by carriers, ground and space stations, and were once occasionally used on the older Stalwart-Class heavy cruisers (phased out), which carried four Ballistas or Arrows on an internal rack.
Perhaps the Ballista’s most noteworthy feature is its armaments. It has a lot of them. The strike fighter is armed with two heavy (for a fighter) particle beam cannons. These cannons are meant to be used against ships instead of other fighters, due primarily to their slow rate of fire. Dealing with enemy fighters is usually left to the twin, turret-mounted pulse lasers operated by the B/N. But the Ballista’s main punch comes from its missiles. The Ballista has an internal ordinance compartment capable of storing up to 12 anti-ship missiles. It also has concealed wing compartments that house a cluster of 10 medium-range missiles each, in addition to three external hard points on each wing. These hard points can hold a total of six additional anti-ship missiles, 12 medium-range missiles, or 18 short-range missiles.
The Ballista is well-armored for its size, has excellent range for a fighter, and stealth features that make it extremely hard to detect at long-range. Its speed is good, but nothing like the Crossbow or the Arkhon’s Clawfish II fighter. What’s more, the Ballista was designed and implemented before conflict with the Arkhon’s broke out, and its energy weapons have proven to be somewhat of a liability against Arkhon space units. Some Ballistas have recently had their turrets upgraded to rail guns, but they are few, and the ammunition needed eats up valuable space that could be used to carry more missiles.
While there are still hundreds of Ballistas in service, the strike fighter is no longer in production, and is scheduled to be retired to colonial defense duties within the next five years. By that time, the Fleet will likely have a new, dedicated heavy bomber.
Model: Sf-6C Ballista Heavy Strike Fighter
M.D.C. by Location:
Heavy Particle Beam Cannons (2) – 75 each
Pulse Laser Turret – 50
Wings (2) – 200 each
*Engines (2) – 125 each
**Main Body – 600
Reinforced Crew Compartment – 200
*The engines on the Ballista are particularly sensitive, so destroying one of them not only reduces speed by 60%, but there’s a 15% chance every ten minutes afterwards that the other engine will overheat and fail if its being used to compensate. Destroying both engines leaves the fighter adrift.
**Depleting the Main Body’s M.D.C. will destroy the fighter and set off its remaining ordinance. Ballista crews are trained to eject before that happens, if possible.
Maximum Sublight Speed: 225,000 miles per hour (Mach 303)
Maximum Acceleration/Deceleration: 8Gs per melee round
FTL Speed: Not possible. At the start of its production there was talk of a NMD booster attachment, but they could never work it out.
Top Atmospheric Maneuvering Speed: Mach 4; limited more by its lack of stabilizers than engine power. It can achieve escape velocity on a straight booster climb.
Height: 10 feet
Length: 60 feet
Width: 44 feet
Cargo: None, other than its missile compartment payload and survival packs for Flight Officer and the B/N.
plant: One 0.75 oz.
Range: Generally accepted range is 6 million miles, though can coast much further through conservative use of fuel. Has three days of consumables (air, water and food packs).
Cost: Not available for purchase.
Heavy Particle Beam Cannons (2): The primary weapon of the Ballista is a pair of anti-ship
heavy particle beam cannons. This system was the precursor to the light
anti-ship PBC sometimes employed on the
Primary Purpose: Anti-Ship
Mega-Damage: 3D6X10 M.D. each, 6D6X10 M.D. for a dual shot (standard). Dual shots take only one attack.
Range: 50 miles
Rate of Fire: Each cannon can only be fired once every 5 seconds (3 times per melee round)
Payload: Effectively unlimited, but can only fire 100 in a 10-minute period before needing 1D4 minutes to recharge from the engine. Such heavy use will cut the fighter’s range in half.
Penalties: -2 to strike fighter-scale vessels
Long-Range Missile Launcher: Located in the belly of the fighter is an ordinance bay equipped with 12 long-range anti-ship missiles. These missiles are “smart” missiles, have excellent range, and are usually nuclear tipped. This weapon system is the Ballista’s first-strike weapon and generally the first used on an attack mission. Typically, a squadron of Ballistas will use stealth to close in on their target, and then empty their long-range missile payload against selective targets. Quite often, they’re able to just turn around and go home after that.
Primary Purpose: Anti-ship/Assault
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type, but typically medium nuclear missiles that do 1D4x100 M.D. each to a 50-foot radius (See Rifts Ultimate Edition, p. 257 for details on long-range missiles of all types).
Range: Approximately 5,000 miles. (Multiply atmospheric range by five)
Rate of fire: Individually, in pairs or in volleys of 3 or 6.
Bonuses: All Terran Protectorate Long-range Missiles are “Smart” Missiles that are +5 to strike (in addition to standard bonuses), +3 to dodge, and have two attacks per melee (used to dodge or circle back at a target they missed). They have basic friend-or-foe software packages that can identify most known enemy vessels and are updated milliseconds before firing by the launcher’s link to the Ballista’s targeting computer.
Medium-Range Missile Launchers (2): Used against smaller vessels, fighters, and to pinpoint critical enemy systems, these two launchers are built into the wings of the Ballista. They are also often used to shoot down incoming missiles.
Primary Purpose: Assault
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type. Standard load is armor-piercing (3D6X10 M.D. each).
Range: Approximately 150 miles, varies with missile type (multiply atmospheric range by three)
Rate of Fire: Individually, in pairs, or in volleys of four, or 10.
Payload: 10 missiles per launcher, for a total of 20.
Twin Laser Pulse Turret: This turret is mounted on top of the B/N’s section of the cockpit and is generally rear-facing, like the B/N himself. It is capable of 360 degrees of rotation, and 60 degrees of elevation.
Primary Purpose: Defense
Mega-Damage: 2D4X10 M.D.
Range: 2 miles
Rate of fire: Equal to hand-to-hand attacks of the B/N
Payload: Effectively unlimited.
Optional Weapon Systems
Missile Hard Points (6): When expecting heavy combat or a large number of targets, the Ballista has six external missile hard points for additional ordinance. It can use these to carry either six additional long-range missiles, twelve medium-range missiles or 18 short-range missiles.
Primary Purpose: Multi-use
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type.
Range: Varies with missile type
Rate of fire: Varies, but generally individually, in pairs or in volleys of three or six.
Payload: Varies with missile type.
Special: The Ballista is equipped with an advanced stealth package that greatly reduces its mass and energy signatures, and eliminates its radar signature. A Read Sensory Equipment roll at -30% is required to detect the Ballista at a distance of greater than 500 miles, 20% at a distance of 500 to 100 miles, and -10% at less than 100 miles. A species using only radar will only be able to detect the Ballista while it is firing missiles from internal bays (-30% at all ranges). Radar-guided missiles are completely ineffective against this fighter.
Sensors: Standard Sensors with a 15,000 mile range for short range sensors. Receives a +2 to strike with ALL missiles, in addition to standard missile and targeting computer bonuses.