Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MA-12 RAVEN Multi-role Fighter

For April, Stone Soldiers.info is celebrating the A to Z Blog Challenge with daily letter-themed entries. A separate page with a list of all these entries, plus Character Profiles and Book Synopses will appear on the right hand side of the page in coming weeks, detailing the people, places and things of the Stone Soldiers universe.

Book of Stone: MA-12 RAVEN
(A Stone Soldiers Encyclopedia Entry)

In our world, on December 28, 1966, the decision was made to terminate the what was, for its time, the most advanced aircraft project: the A-12. This amazing aircraft, which had been used by the CIA since April 26, 1962 to conduct high altitude, high-speed reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union, was to be retired, replaced by its successor, the SR-71 Blackbird. The last A-12 flight occured on June 21, 1968. The surviving aircraft were placed in storage and later transferred to museums.

In the world of the Stone Soldiers, four A-12s were saved from storage and given a new lease on life as the MA-12 Raven, a multi-role, supersonic attack fighter designed to counter supernatural threats around the globe.

Originally designed in 1959 in response to the CIA’s Oxcart program, the A-12 was intended to be a faster, stealthier spy plane to replace the U-2. The A-12’s first flight occurred on April 25, 1962, with a second, official flight on May 4, 1962, that reached speeds of Mach 1.1 at 40,000 feet. Over the following years, more aircraft were built, and the engines replaced. The aircraft were tested from Groom Lake, Nevada, flying 2,850 test flights.

On May 31, 1962, the first operational flights for the single-seater aircraft began from Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, photographing surface-to-air missile sites in North Vietnam. This first mission recorded a speed of Mach 3.1 at 80,000 feet.

By 1968, the first SR-71s—the improved, twin-seater variants of the A-12—began arriving in Japan.

In 2008, Detachment 1039 utilizes MA-12s to provide rapid deployment of stone soldiers around the world (Stone Soldiers: Catching Fire). Operating from Homestead AFB in Florida, two MA-12s stand ready to deploy soldiers by means of torpedo-shaped “coffin tubes” attached to the planes’ underbellies. Dropped at high altitude, these aerodynamic tubes break apart in the lower atmosphere, releasing the single occupants who then reach the earth by freefall and parafoil deployment.

The MA-12s of Detachment 1039 don’t just transport stone soldiers, however. In Stone Soldiers: City of Bones, a pair of MA-12s fire a volley of air-to-ground, thermobaric missiles at the elemental identified as OYA, in Nigeria, incinerating the monster and much of the surrounding countryside.

Unlike the SR-71, the MA-12 is capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, carrying ordinance on underwing hardpoints or in a single internal bay. A rebuilt airframe, the MA-12 features modern avionics and improved engines, making it faster than its earlier versions of the SR-71 itself.

Two paired aircraft operate for the U.S. SOCOM in Stone Soldiers—two at Homestead AFB, FL, and two at Hickam Field, Hawaii, performing reconnaissance, strike and transport missions as needed.

The MA-12 is supplemented by four MB-1R, multi-role aircraft that provide (slower) supersonic transport around the world, at a significantly lower cost. With the expansion of Detachment 1039 into two deployable squads, one from Hawaii and one from Florida, the costly MA-12 program may eventually be ended.

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