KSP New Prototype Testing Report
Client: Flash Avionics and Aerospace (FAA)
Model: Type 1 Star-Gnat Mk1
License: NAKSA Performance Testing and Proofing (2014)
Vehicle Registration: FAA-GNT-XF100
Crew Capacity: 1
P.S.C: BETA Former
Please find attached raw testing documents from which this report was compiled.
Total Lift Rating: 2.8
Powerplant: 1x Spartan Turbofan @ 175kN thrust
Fuel Capacity: 150 units/liquid fuel (effective for 15-20 minutes of flight at full throttle)
Maximum / Effective Service Ceiling: 30,000 / 18,000 m
Top Speed at Sea Level / Sub Orbit (approx): 200 m/s / 2300 m/s
Effective Manoeuvring Speed: 150 - 200 ms
Minimum Takeoff Speed: 80 m/s
Minimum Takeoff Run: 75 - 100 m
4x Nose mounted ‘Jackhammer’ 30mm ballistic cannons. (300 HE rounds at 10 rps, staggered fire)
2x Internally hull mounted ‘Streamer’ Infra-red missiles
The Star Gnat was initially conceived as a small, cheap, maintainable and effective sub-orbital interceptor fighter craft, tasked with policing the skies for any unauthorised atmospheric entries. The tiny craft later proved perfect for this role as it was capable of near instantaneous scramble from an airfield or launch station. Capable of both standard and vertical launch, the Star Gnat can be deployed anywhere on the planet, and thanks also to its blunt but effective ‘Shortstop’ landing system, can also land anywhere on land.
The Shortstop landing system quite simply is a collection of high drag parachutes, initially deployed for safety purposes to protect the pilot from catastrophic loss of control during test flights. should the pilot feel as if he has lost control of his aircraft, deploying the Shortstop system would instantly and uncomfortably bring the craft to a near midair halt and subsequently leave the craft hanging in a slow and safe descent. Upon nearing landing, the pilot would increase throttle to the main engine, slowing the descent further and levelling the craft onto all three wheels for a safe touchdown.
The Star Gnat’s power/weight ration is greatly weighted in favour of power. Able to launch in less than 150m or from vertical standstill like a conventional space rocket. The strengths of the Gnat lie solely in speed. As an interceptor this is considered a necessary quality which the Gnat holds. However, with exchange for sheer speed, the Gnat suffers in turning performance and is not considered primarily as a dogfighter. Combat tactics for piloting the Star Gnat consist heavily of boom and zoom techniques: Flying fast at the target before they are detected and firing as they pass before speeding off from any prospective pursuers. Its turning performance is however more prominent the lower to the surface the craft is flying, though at such low altitude the compression systems for the Spartan powerplant suffer greatly from the higher air density at lower levels. At low level, a besieged Star Gnat’s primary course of action is to go full power into a vertical climb, where its engine system will gradually begin to spin up faster at the degrading density of air and spin faster, delivering more power with more altitude.
At what FAA engineers refer to as the ‘Pyrosphere’, being the point at which re-entry to the planet’s atmosphere causes the craft to flare and flame with the heat of the air resistance, the Star Gnat can be seen flying along at cruising altitude, comfortably appearing as a burning meteor when cruising at sub orbital altitude. Whilst being extremely cool to see, this effect is also intended (now that they know about it) to be used as a fear tactic to any target craft. In theory, the visage of a flight of flaming interceptor fighters homing in on their target is enough to demoralise and deter any possible offenders. However, the effect is most widely respected as a beauty of science, and an effective way of warming a pilot flying at the sub zero temperatures of sub orbital flight, and contrary to popular belief, this state of flight, whilst appearing highly hazardous, is actually very safe.
The weaponry of the Gnat is where the small craft is said to truly succeed all first impressions. Thanks to a lightweight and hollow cockpit and fuselage, small weapon systems such as light machine guns were implemented into early prototypes. Whilst these were considered effective for its role. FAA’s CEO and Chief Engineer both agreed that the Gnat needed an even greater sting. Later iterations of the prototype were outfitted with a terrifying array of high velocity cannons. Once thought to tear the host craft apart with recoil upon firing, the small sturdy frame of the Gnat proved to accommodate the devastating weaponry quite comfortably. Naturally and consequently, the CEO and CE slap-dashedly requested more of the craft, if it could take it. Which it could. The Gnat was outfitted with two inline mounted ‘Streamer’ Infra-red missiles. Using IR over Radar tracking for these missiles was dictated on the fact that any craft entering the atmosphere that was to be targeted by any Gnat aircraft was going to very very hot after reentry, laying the foundation for any solid IR lock. As for the cannons, their practicality was simply to give the Gnat a loud bark with a powerful bite to follow up with, mainly as a backup, should the missiles not perform. At a sub orbital level, the cannons are also extremely accurate thanks to the lack of resisting air, making them long range as well as powerful.
Whilst primarily a short ranged fighter tasked to defending individual installations, variants of the Mk1 have been designed to extend the active range of the aircraft for roles in long distance patrols. The most successful variant being the Mk1-LR, a heavier variant laden with two additional fuel tanks, which can fly at speeds and heights greater than the standard Mk1, however sacrificing much of the small craft’s agility in favour of a greater fuel load and range. Able to circle the planet once fully without a refuel, the Mk-LR has proved itself as an effective long range scout and patrol craft. Still, the LR has much capability as the interceptor it was always intended to be, but it is much more of a deterrent escort craft than a straight up fighter.
Newer models of the Gnat are being developed at present, such as an unmanned variant, the Cyber-Gnat, as well as more widely versatile variants such as the Mk2 and Mk3, focussing on the fronts of higher agility or flat out speed. The Mk1 still remains the most successful and efficient variant of the Star Gnat to date, giving testament to the old saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.