The Ilyushin-104 is a large airborne vessel used by the military of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Designed as a counter to the Citadel-class battleship, the Il-104 is the airborne equivalent of the Kirov-class Battlecruiser, and serves as both a mobile missile platform and a command and control center for coordinating drone forces. Furthermore, it serves an integral part of the Soviet second strike program, as their stealth abilities combined with the ability to launch nuclear ICBMs allows the USSR to further diversify its nuclear arsenal, and make it exceedingly difficult for an attacking nuclear power to ensure that all possible sources of retaliation are eliminated before they do retaliate.
Though the conditions at the time resulted in the Soviet Union being grateful for the deployment of the first Citadel-class battleships against the metahuman threat, their appearance was still an unpleasant surprise from a cold war standpoint. The Citadel class was superior in terms of firepower, durability, and utility when compared to even the vessels of the Red Navy, much less the Airforce. The resulting panic resulted in the rushed creation of what was essentially a poorly made imitation of the foreign vessel, which was at best a waste of resources and material. After the highly disappointing performance of the prototype, which proved inferior to the Citadel in virtually every way, the project was canceled and the prototype was put into service as the personal conveyance of the General Secretary and would continue to serve as such until 2015.
Though the Cold War was essentially over by the mid-1990s, due to the USSRs isolationism and the USA being more concerned with bringing the metahumans within its own borders under control, the Citadel-class was still a matter of concern for the Soviet Union. It served as a concrete example of US superiority in the realm of magitech, and furthermore the fact that the General Secretary used an imitation of the Citadel as a personal transport was considered an embarrassment. As such, a design study was begun in the late 1990s to explore possible methods by which the threat the Citadel could be negated. The previous attempt having served as a resounding rebuttal of the possibility of matching the American grasp of magitech and its direct military applications, it was decided that instead of attempting to compensate for the downside of their longstanding military doctrine, they would instead adhere to its strengths, and construct a vessel entirely using their grasp of conventional technology, strengthened through their advanced RM enhanced manufacturing techniques. Initial designs were proposed by the major bureaus, including a proposal for a flying aircraft carrier, but all of them were rejected on the grounds of being impractical at best. The development project was deactivated in 2001, its recommendations archived, and the design bureaus moved on to other projects.
By 2010 however, technology had advanced at a rapid enough pace that designs once thought impractical were suddenly feasible. Having firmly achieved superiority over all rivals in the realm of advanced computing and electronics, the Soviet design bureaus resumed the design study, incorporating advanced autonomous systems to reduce the required crew count, and a modular computer core and control network, intended to be removed and upgraded as advances in technology arose. Modularity and future proofing became central tenets of the study, as the amount of resources being poured into the project made the prospect of future advances rendering it irrelevant an unpleasant one. By 2012 the bureaus once more submitted their recommendations, and the design for the Il-104 was selected to advance to the prototype stage. The blueprints and specifications quickly began to take a coherent shape in reality, the shipyard tasked with creating the prototype using computer modeling to simulate the effects of both normal operations and combat operations on each individual part before signing off on the part design. The eventual result was a base prototype that thoroughly exceeded its design requirements, and could be continuously upgraded as new equipment and technology became available. Following the testing cycle, the Il-104 design was finalized and the RM enhanced manufactories of the Soviet Union turned their attention to producing what was intended to be the latest example of the superiority of the Communist system.
Production and ImplementationEdit
The first production model Il-104 finished construction in may of 2015, its launch accompanied to great fanfare as part of the Victory Day celebrations. After the successful first launch, the manufactories began rapidly producing additional vessels at an incredible pace, with one new vessel being launched roughly once every month. They were quickly found to be invaluable tools for engaging metahuman threats from afar, and this became their primary purpose for the next decade, as the Soviet Union was too focused on restructuring its own internal economic and social system to concern itself with the affairs of other foreign powers. Their first engagement with a conventional military was during the Sino-Soviet border conflict of 2027 during which a single Il-104 proved invaluable to the defending Red Army division, its heavy missile compliment, onboard drones, and repair facilities for the aforementioned drones allowing it to support the lines from outside of the traditional engagement range highly effectively, while taking advantage of the additional intel granted by its position and that of its UAVs to precisely organize the defense of the border and prevent several Chinese breakthroughs before they could become a reality. This prompted the formation of an entirely new branch of the Soviet Armed Forces, the Red Airfleet, to handle the precise deployment and use of the Il-104 and subsequent aerial vessels, and also the further integration of the Il-104 into Soviet military doctrine. This further integration included a refit to the dorsal VLS missile tubes, replacing several with three larger ones capable of launching nuclear ICBMs.
Modern Day Edit
As of the writing of this article, the Il-104 is considered to be the premier example of Soviet military might, and comparisons between it and its American rival are frequent both inside and outside of the military. However, due to the increasingly firm alliance between the two Cold War powers, the two classes have never faced each other in combat, and have, in fact, never been seen in the same location except when they have been used as transportation for the dignitaries of both powers. Currently, there are assumed to be at least one hundred and fifty Il-104s in active service, and their presence is a common sight within the Soviet Union and its allied nations. According to analysts, this number is made possible by the relative inexpensiveness of the Il-104 compared to the Citadel, despite it being less than three quarters the size of the American vessel. This can be attributed to the low operating costs afforded by the modular systems, the extreme reliability known to be an inherent trait in most Soviet designs, and the fact that as it involves no RM whatsoever in either its design or requirements for daily operation, which drastically decreases the cost when compared to a Citadel.
Armament and Technical Specifications Edit
Weapons and Defenses Edit
The Il-104 is a prime example of the Soviet Union's dedication to conventional technology, as its base model includes no magitech whatsoever, and the only modules that include magitech to any degree are specifically designed to not adversely affect the vessel even in the event of catastrophic failure. As such, all of the weapons and defenses on the vessel are conventional in nature, which reduces the potential firepower of the vessel in comparison to its chief rival. The Il-104 does, however, possess a wide variety of runes that come as part of the standard model, should the vessel have a Type-II crewmember onboard at one point or another, and to speed repairs when in dock. These runes are mainly defensive or regenerative in nature and serve to counteract the main weakness of the vessel during extended engagements. All systems mounted on this class of airship are capable of either retracting or rendering themselves flush with the hull so as to allow for supersonic flight and a minimized radar profile.
Offensive systems. Edit
- A more advanced variant of the railgun technology used on the conventional Citadel class designs, these guns accelerate a small ferrous slug to incredible speeds through the use of a magnetic field produced by a series of electromagnetic coils. Compared to railguns, coilguns are more difficult to operate and require far more precise computer controls, but have the advantage of being more reliable and sidestepping the issue of bent rails which plagues railguns. The Il-104 possesses six mounted in socketed ball turrets, three on the ventral side, and three on the dorsal, positioned so as to ensure that at least two will be able to fire on a target regardless of its approach vector.
- Universal VLS
- A series of missile cells inset into the airframe of the vessel, these are designed to be fed by internal magazines within the airship and in fact rapidly assemble the missiles within themselves before launch. They are capable of launching a wide variety of missiles, from small MIRV missiles to the largest anti-ship missiles in the Soviet arsenal. These serve as the primary offensive weapons of the Il-104, and are the main source of its devastating effectiveness in combat. The wide variety of missile frames, payloads, and engine systems that may be launched from a single cell makes predicting the actions of an Il-104 difficult even when it has already opened fire, and add another level of versatility to the already versatile vessel. The Il-104 possesses sixteen such cells, mounted in groups of four on either side of the dorsal and ventral ridges, allowing for 360-degree coverage even when the vessel cannot maneuver for whatever reason.
- Nuclear ICBM Launch System
- The everpresent threat behind the existence of the Il-104, and the reason why no opposing force dared to down one until the Korean War, these three specialized missile cells contain nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of wiping out virtually any target, whether it is a metahuman threat, a fortified bunker, or an entire city. As of yet, no Il-104 has utilized these weapons. Several international organizations have objected to this, claiming that it risks sparking another nuclear arms race, or worse, nuclear war, and as a compromise, the Soviet Government has removed the launch cells from three Il-104s used for diplomatic purposes.
- Heavy Coil-Assisted Torpedo Launchers
- These fixed weapons are the heaviest weaponry possessed by the Il-104 aside from its nuclear payload. They are essentially large coilguns that fire large, partially guided rocket torpedoes at extremely high velocity, relying on the speed and rudimentary guidance systems to guarantee impact. They are heavily armored themselves, which makes intercepting them before impact all the more difficult while also increasing the shrapnel damage from their detonation. Due to the lack of advanced guidance systems and elaborate propulsion systems, they have a much larger payload than missiles of comparable size, and due to their armor and high velocity typically detonate that payload once they have already impacted and breached the armor of the target, not unlike the armor piercing shells of the battleships of World War II. The Il-104 possesses four of these mounted forward of its wings in the nose section, with two on the ventral and two on the dorsal facings.
Defensive systems. Edit
- CIWS Mounts
- Though termed Close In Weapons Systems, these are, to be more accurate, miniature coilguns themselves optimized for engaging incoming missiles, intercepting aerial threats that breach the missile perimeter, and firing on infantry targets should that become necessary. They are roughly equivalent in firepower to the far larger GSh-6-30 but are far smaller in size and are capable of increasing their yield at the cost of damaging their coils. The USSR is currently experimenting with using high-intensity lasers for this purpose instead, and some Il-104s have a mixed armament consisting of both coilguns and laser weapons. The Il-104 is equipped with sixteen hardpoints for mounting such systems
- Dedicated Anti-air/Anti-missile Launchers
- The primary downside of the UVLS cells that make up the primary armament of the Il-104, and indeed, VLS systems in general is that the projectiles they launch take time to accelerate to their top speed. These retractable launchers instead fire their missiles directly at their targets, to shave precious seconds off the minimum time required to intercept an incoming threat. The Il-104 is equipped with eight missile launchers for this purpose
- ECM Flak Cannons
- Coilguns that fire fused rounds that detonate and produce a cloud of smoke, shrapnel, and chaff to disrupt radar, targeting systems and to thus provide a degree of defense against targets when the vessel is stationary and thus cannot utilize its speed to evade them. Four such weapons are mounted on the Il-104.
- Electrostatic Defense Field
- A defensive system that creates a magnetic field around the ship, combined with large capacitors within the vessel and the already highly charged surface of the hull that is a side effect from the method of propulsion used. When a projectile enters the magnetic field, it is ionized, and a circuit is opened between it and the vessel. This has the outward appearance of the incoming projectile being struck instantaneously by lightning coming from the ship itself. The downside of the system is its great power cost, and the fact that it does not discern between friendly objects and unfriendly ones, rendering the Il-104 unable to launch missiles, or indeed, use the vast majority of its weapons at all while the shield is active. Additionally, keeping such an unstable defense active requires an immense amount of computational power, and would not be possible at all without the Il-104's trinary computer cores. Due to this, it is typically only raised momentarily as a last resort. The USSR is currently experimenting with potential replacements for this defensive system, but at the moment has no working prototypes undergoing field testing.
Interior Layout Edit
The Il-104, despite being a large enough vessel (approximately the size of a World War II era heavy cruiser) is not considered to be a luxurious posting, as the majority of its interior space is dedicated to autonomous systems, whether offensive, defensive or utility. The standard crew bunks are the same as could be expected on a naval vessel of similar size, though there is a modular section that can be fitted out for additional purposes, such as a scientific lab, additional barracks, or a small but comfortable diplomatic suite, referred to by the crew as the "red tape payload."
A large portion of the lower levels of the craft is dedicated to a small hanger capable of servicing and storing the drones that typically serve as escorts, and doing the same for the infantry units that serve as the battlecruiser's ground forces.
The vessel has a significant amount of external armor plating, specifically designed to resist the stress of both combat and high speed atmospheric flight, and its entire structure has been enhanced to the point that it is far more resilient than it normally would be, even considering its solid design.
Computer Core Edit
The trinary computer core of the Il-104 is in fact several independent exascale supercomputer cores linked together for redundancy, parallel processing, and ease of operation. This unprecedented level of computational capability in a military chassis allows the Il-104 to individually calculate the ideal flight vectors for each individual missile launched, even when launching micro-missile swarms, and sustain the overwhelming level of FLOPS required to operate it's offensive and defensive systems simultaneously. To prevent said computational technology from falling into enemy hands, each core is manufactured with scuttling charges and formatting subroutines to obliterate sensitive data and components should the vessel be disabled or boarded.
The reactor powering the Il-104 is perhaps the most technologically advanced component of the vessel. Using replaceable fuel cells composed of both nuclear fuel and a muon trap, the reactor is capable of creating fusion reactions at far lower temperatures than any other conventional reactor design, and produces a similarly far greater amount of power, outstripping the Il-104s rival. To reduce the size of the reactor enough to allow it to fit within the Il-104, many redundant control subsystems had to be removed, and replaced by a hardened trinary supercomputer dedicated to monitoring the conditions inside the reactor and minutely adjusting them to ensure that the reactor stays stable even while in combat conditions. Like the main computing systems of the Il-104, and every other sensitive system in fact, the reactor is manufactured with scuttling charges built in, so in a catastrophe all sensitive information and salvageable equipment is destroyed to prevent it's capture.
The main propulsion system of the Il-104 is formed by two Ionic thrusters, which run the entire length of the craft and draw air from a series of intakes spaced along the hull. These, based on the principle of Ionic Wind, allow for efficiency several times beyond what is possible with even the most advanced jet engines. By diverting the vast majority of the power produced by the vessels fusion reactor, it is possible to reach speeds in excess of Mach two, thus giving the Il-104 its infamous maneuverability. This also produces an airframe that is decidedly nonstandard, giving the vessel the futuristic look it is famous for, and the utter silence that accompanies its approach.