“She may be slow, but that plasma cannon kicks like a damn mule!” –
Flight Officer Franks of Knighthawk Squadron, following the Drona IV US/Union Wargames.
The Caracal was the European Union‘s late entry into the Strike Fighter arms race. This class of ship was only made possible with the miniturisation and sophistication of FTL technology that sprung out of the Fourth Age: enabling jump capability in ships previously too small to support a drive. The Americans and British navies were quick to sieze onto the idea of fightercraft able to operate independent of a mothership and deployed their own designs over a year before the Union military could.
The Caracal Project rose – as did most modern Union military initiatives – from the ashes of the Pan-Eurasian War. It was during this conflict that the outdated vulnerabilities of the Union’s varied military were exposed with often fatal consequences. The more ‘hawkish’ members of the Union Council voted in a tripling of budgets for all things military, none more so than Research and Development. The R&D departments were extraordinarily busy through the closing stages of the War and beyond, designing and innovating so the Union military would never be so outmatched again.
Even with the extra funding, the Union remained some way behind their American and British rivals. For example, the Caracal is larger in comparison to either US or UK models. It is slower and less nimble at sublight speeds. It also requires a on-board navigator to operate the jump drive. To make up for it’s size and sometime sluggishness the ship has thick armour plating across critical surfaces. Furthermore, it is highly armed with a potent plasma cannon mounted on the chin and 8 warhead mounts, giving it the versatility to be outfitted for myriad mission types. The first few prototypes saw action in the limited Union/Oroso conflict where they managed to destroy three capital ships with minimal losses.
Above: A German Caracal from their elite squadron: The Grendels.
Role: Long-range strike, hunter/killer.
* 1 x Plasma Cannon (underslung)
* 5 x Warhead hardpoints (variable loadouts)
FTL: Capable (short jumps)
Above: a Caracal undergoing remote drone repair