Ship Closeup – The Air Group, USS Independence-A

The USS Independence-A, a Prometheus class vessel, packs a little more punch than your typical vessel of that configuration. Its secret lies in her Fighter compliment – twelve Mauls in total. From these, the Independence keeps one of the Mauls, the single “FA-150R variant”, as a Search and Rescue unit; occasionally, one or two shuttles are pressed into this role as well. The 11th Maul is given to the Marine Corps aboard the ship for their use. That leaves ten Mauls aboard the Indy and it is these Mauls form the Air Group. The few, the crazy, and the very very proud.

More can be learned about the FA-150 Maul here… but the low down is this. Four phasers in the front (generally set in quad-link arrangement), two in the back. Twin micro-torpedo launchers. Heavy shields. 2cm of ablative armour. No luxuries to speak of. Claustrophobes need not apply. Essentially a tiny, two person USS Defiant. One pilot in front, one navigator in the rear seat. A single transporter unit capable of picking up two average persons at a time. Each bird can seat an additional eight passengers, although more can be squeezed in during an emergency.

The hull of the Maul is pressured, but the crew wear self-sealing flight suits in case of an emergency egress. Pilots are equipped with a quick-action emergency transporter (typically worn on the right breast, opposite to the Starfleet combadge) and a light personal shield (in case of suit failure) which is a useful way to get home if your bird’s on fire and the SAR unit is on station. Some models carry an old fashioned chemical rocket ejection model, but they’re rare these days. Rooks (that is to say, new and inexperienced pilots) are warned that the Tal’Shiar codeword for “ejected pilot” actually translates to ” target practice”. In some cases, this is taken literally… so be warned.

Rooks are also warned that the Flight Crew tend to be fairly far on the side of crazy. They party hard, they live fast and they love their craft. After all, who wouldn’t want to be dragged out of bed at 05:00 hours to get strapped into a flying warp reactor with guns, flying dawn patrol in a stuffy, airtight suit with nothing more than fighter jocks and their sizable egos?

The Air Group is divided into two flights- Red and Blue, five Mauls each. Generally speaking the Commander of the Air Group (or CAG) of the Independence, currently Jake Hartmann, flies in Red One, while his second in command flies in Blue One. Although the CAG is technically in charge, rarely will the CAG give orders to individual units in Blue Wing. Instead, they coordinate through Blue Wing, with the 2IC having basically complete autonomy over that section.

These Mauls provide the Independence with the additional firepower, flexibility and durability through fire ablation to take on any ship out there- Borg Cubes and starbases aside.

If you’re on the USS Independence-A or any other ship with fighters, talk to your CAG (or your CO) about creating a pilot PNPC. They’re very rewarding.

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