"There was a light.   A bright light, searing, like the sun.  it split the night landscape and licked over the shattered concrete shapes, etching razor-sharp shadows.  There was wind, too, blasting straight down, and a screaming sound, like metal dying, that she realized was a jet engine or engines.

The down-blast whipped the ash drifts, exposing a jack-straw heap of bones.  Ash was blasted from the sockets of skulls, and shadows from the searchlights tracked across the empty orbits in a parody of life.  The machine was like an enormous wasp except that where the wings would be, at the center of the thorax, there were two turbojet housings aimed straight down.  The thing hovered and dipped, scanning on visual and infra-red frequencies.  Then it banked, nosing down and picking up air speed ...  its under-slung gun fired once into a burned-out building and then retracted into the belly nacelle as the craft continued its patrol."
- Randall Frakes, TERMINATOR









The highly successful T400 HK, also known as a Model A4, was SKYNET's version of a fully automated aerial close support and area suppression gunship. The A4 model provides SKYNET with air superiority, close air support / escort of ground forces and installation defense capabilities. With the Resistance limited to simple ground assault, SKYNET quickly achieved both tactical and strategic air supremacy in all theaters of operations.

Some Resistance units have even referred to the A4 as a "fighter," though it is not a fighter in the Pre-Awareness definition of that term. The A4 is a semi-autonomous combat unit, self controlled by a battery of four redundant tactical microprocessors which share the load independently as well as collaterally.  A high capacity fiber optic relay network that rivals the human nervous system.  it has no 'pilot' onboard, the Aerial being the ultimate advancement of a dedicated close air superiority and ground support UPV (Un-Piloted Vehicle).  Early human data on the idea that the A4 was piloted by a model of bipedal machine were found to be false by later investigation by Tech-Com personnel and post War analysis of SKYNET's designs showed that at no time were any of the Aerial units under the physical control of any other machine (other than SKYNET via remote interface).

The A4 is powered by a high capacity, high efficiency compact nuclear reactor and maneuvers on vectored thrust provided by two large variable output, high pressure hyperfans as well as several body mounted swivel thrust dispersal nozzle ports.  This setup allows the A4 to function as a full VTOL unit, switching from hover or VTOL mode into full flight at speeds.

Main directional thrust and sustained hovering capacity is provided by two huge reactor driven electric hyperfans mounted in wing tip armored cowlings. The body of the A4 was streamlined to the point of being insect-like, gaining a psychological advantage against the Resistance units and generating such descriptive names as "Dragon-Fly", "Wasp", and "Mosquito" but SKYNET never referred to the unit by any of these names or designations.   Such romantic nicknames for any of SKYNET's units were strictly the realm of its human foes.  SKYNET had no need to name its units nor was it prone to doing so, they were simply weapons and referred to by a complicated system of data including type, model number, series, production run, allocation, serial number, and status.

A hyper-alloy airframe was constructed with honeycombed / blown enduralloy, similar in design to the skeleton of a bird.  The airframe was connected to three separate engines. The first engine was an advanced design and provided primary VTOL and stationary/hover maneuvering using a series of twelve vectored, rotating nozzles mounted along the fuselage. The new engine, designated NED-VPR25A according to post-War data analysis, was slimmer, lighter, and easily fit in an airframe that didn't have to worry about the G-force limits of a weak human being. Electronics could be hardened against acceleration forces that would normally kill a human pilot and the A4 could maneuver with inhuman precision which resulted in such superior performance being recorded for this unit throughout the span of operation and production.

The two main engines are housed on servo powered body stub mounts. These servo mounts can rotate the engines through a full 90 degree forward or aft rotation, allowing superior maneuvering and massive acceleration or deceleration. The engines are protected by a armored cowling with not only keeps debris from entering the compressor assembly, but also protects from small arms fire up to 25mm HE, HEAP, KE and KEAP.

The whole air frame of the A4 is armored in a light layer of hyperalloy, able to withstand small arms fire and to survive large caliber hits up to 40mm including HEAP rounds. A retractable tripod configured claw landing gear assembly is installed as well as a upper docking clamp for gantry docking at advanced bases.

The A4 possesses a sophisticated navigation system, using TERCOM along with satellite GPS and a host of radar, ladar and NOE navionics. Target acquisition relies on visual target identification, and includes a larger, though not more powerful version of the same sensor and communication suite found in the 1200 Series Scout. Advanced optics and range systems allowed the A4s to isolate individual Resistance units on the ground and engage them with surgical precision. Advanced motion video was capable of picking out movement among the ruins and the liquid optics could identify anything that the motion sensors could track.

The main armament of the A4 series aerodyne consisted of a reactor fed, very rapid fire General Dynamics Model 25D3 phased plasma cannon mounted in a remote electric drive ventral mount turret. The M25D3 had a throughput range of 250 kilowatts with a practical rate of fire of 2000 pulses per minute. Payload, feeding from the reactor waste, was for all tactical purposes, infinite, but required periodic refueling of its magazine cell, limiting the operating time of the unit. The remote electric drive mount rotated on frictionless bearings and was universal, allowing the A4 to engage targets not only to the front, sides, and rear, but also targets almost directly below the unit. Slew rate for the RED-T mount was +/- 180 degrees a second. Secondary armament was in the form of a configurable, modular internal bay which could hold up to 1 metric ton of equipment, electronics, additional self contained plasma gun pods, or free fall ordinance in the form of chemical, biological, explosive, or even tactical thermonuclear devices on rotary launchers.

Some early production models of the A4 were equipped with modular sling rails on the underside for the addition of scatter pack rocket pods, smart bombs, NBC ordinance, and Air to Air (AAM) or Air to Ground (AGM) advanced precision guided missiles. With the destruction of most forms of Resistance armored vehicles (tanks, APCs, from Pre-Sentience stock piles), the need for these units dwindled and most were eventually modified back to the original A4 series (higher aerodynamic efficiency). The types of 'armored fighting vehicles' (AFV) that the Resistance could field in 2019 were easily dispatched with the power of the mounted plasma gun.

The performance of the A4 Aerial was exceptional; with a combined thrust output of 35,000 kilograms and an airframe weight of just 5000 kilograms (unloaded internal bay), the A4 could pull up to 20 Gs of sustained thrust with a top speed in excess of Mach 1.4 in level high altitude flight and a high subsonic NOE speed.  Due to its advanced power plant and electric ducted fans, the A4 could also maintain indefinite VTOL and hover / loiter conditions. The A4 could reach a service ceiling of 18 kilometers in altitude and had a operational life of 3 months of constant operation, more with routine power conserving protocols enacted, before the mini-reactor required scheduled maintenance and periodic refueling.

A4s were housed in underground armored hangers, brought to the surface by a heavy elevator through heavy armored doors. Each A4 had a separate 'pit' for refueling, rearming, and maintenance. Some advanced bases were equipped with gantry docking, allowing the A4s to maneuver up canyons and dock on existing free standing gantries. Other A4 units were kept on hardened concrete and pourstone tarmacs, out in the open, ready and on stand-by alert for instant take off and defense of their assigned critical installations.  Advanced bases with many A4s were referred to by the Resistance as 'Aerodromes' and were often protected by high walls, automated gun turrets, and even dedicated ground units.  The nomenclature has been traced to early 20th century centers for civilian air transportation.

The Aerial was SKYNET's platform for air power, and various designs as well as airframes grew from the data collected from A4 field use.

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