Dhole Interceptor

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Tactical Analysis

  • Indian airman's best friend: The Dhole Interceptor is not a particularly astonishing aircraft. In a-one on-one fight, it is inferior to both the MIG and the Apollo. It is however, superior to the likes of the Hawker and Nosferatu in terms of raw capacity. Armed with unguided rocket pods, the Dhole relies on getting right in an enemy's face and swarming the skies with warheads. It is however, affordable at least. However, due to being a CTOL aircraft, it is surprisingly fast for it's cost (one of the fastest aircraft around in fact) and is vicious against bombers, especially as it can carry more munitions than most of it's competitors.
  • Tail behind its legs!: Unlike the air forces of most other great powers, India does not have VTOL craft in great supply, and rather than hurt it's load capacity by trying to jury rig some sort of V/STOL system, the Commonwealth has deigned to have it's aircraft operate in proper, full sized airbases behind the lines. But like other aircraft, it can activate afterburners to return home, leaving the battlefield until it's repairs are complete.
  • Dogged fight: The Dhole's rockets are not rated for anti-ground usage. It's airburst munitions do virtually nothing to armored vehicles, diving in an aircraft built for speed and not maneuverability is incredibly risky, and it is not tough enough to soak up a great deal of ground fire, thus Dhole pilots are not permitted to engage in ground attack. In addition, the Dhole can be outmaneuvered by VTOL aircraft in a dogfight, and must rely on sheer speed and weight of fire to compete.
  • Old dhole, new tricks: Experiences in operations against India's many enemies shows that the focus on single weapons in modern aircraft is perhaps misguided. Apollos have often been swatted out of the sky at long range and MIGs struggle at close ranges, and the Dhole itself risked damaging itself in close attack runs. The weapon suite upgrade passed to aces offers twofold upgrades, one; "smart" rockets that while not quite as dogfight capable as true missiles, can realign themselves to hit a target, and two; a 20mm gatling cannon for a bit of extra firepower, especially at close range.

Background

"Scratch one African plane and scratch one kill tally onto my side."

- Dhole interceptor pilot being pleased with himself.

No serious great power in today's world could get very far without an air force. Even revolutionary movements such as the Guild and the Confederates maintain substantial air fleets. Even the likes of the GLA could scrounge up planes to strike at enemies from above. The Commonwealth has thus sought to build a uniquely Indian air-fleet to win the skies in the Lion of Asokha's hunt for more land and power. However, the Skyfortresses, Curtis Ramhawks, Rattlesnakes, Shortbows, and Hawkers of yesteryear were already starting to show the rust on their paint. While certainly still acceptable for the reservists and national defense forces, the Frontier Corps needed something newer.

India knew it didn't have the resources to make aircraft that could compete one on one with the MiGs or Apollos of the superpowers, and the designs being tried out by the Contingent were certainly also beyond their ability to measure up to. But India could make planes superior to the likes of the Combine, Indonesia, or the tinpot dictatorships of Arabia and Africa. While the initial proposal called for a VTOL aircraft as was all the rage, the Commonwealth's engineers reported that such a thing could not be done with India's technology, at least, not with the specifications asked for But the brass reasoned that speed, firepower, ease of maintenance, and range mattered more than the advantages offered by VTOL anyway, and asked that they just throw out the VTOL capacity if it really was a problem.

Not quite capable of affording guided missiles en masse for the sheer number of Dholes requested, the designers instead went for "bee-hive" rocket launchers that would fill the air with small rockets, believing that at a reasonable range, enough rockets would hit to cripple enemy fighters, gut helicopters, and devastate the bombers that India dreaded. Though some flights were made against the communists as the first flights were unveiled to the world, the Rising Sun's tsunami of aggression forced India to largely bow out of the war against the Comintern to save itself from Yoshiro's dream of a world under Japan; starting with Asia.

The Dhole found itself against the might of the Imperial Air Force, which while agreed to be weaker than that of the Soviets or Allies, was a truly formidable enemy. Initially poor training and tactics and the Empire's advantages in technology, force concentration, and surprise proved to reap a sorrowful toll on the Commonwealth's air force. Though the Frontier Corps' Dholes certainly fared better than the poor bastards still operating WW2-era jets or even inter-war propeller planes in the national defense forces and reservists, Indian control of airspace was pushed farther and farther back until Imperial aircraft were able to attempt to attack the interior of India herself.

But as India rallied against the Empire, the Dhole's reliability and India's pilot replacement programs meant that the Commonwealth was able to drive back the Japanese tide through sheer attrition and improving tactics and training, along with the Commonwealth's advantage of radar. By the war's end, the Dhole was now a well respected aircraft, and the Commonwealth only grew stronger from the conflict. Where they had once dueled the air forces of the Emperor, the Dhole would now see action in Africa against the mysterious armies of the African League, the hellscape of China to support Allied interests in the region, and in the skies of the Middle East (on occasion.)

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