|(Minor) faction(s)||Allied Nations|
|Type||Ground Attack Plane|
|Secondary Ability||Switch Chaingun/Collider Cannons|
|Mod Relevance||Uprising Unit, Lore|
"Wanna give them the bad news?"
- - Harbinger pilot, referring to his crew when told his plane was grounded
The Theory Edit
One popular theory about how the Allies achieved limited victory in the war says nothing of the Proton Collider, or the Chronosphere, or any of the Allies' high-tech advantages unveiled later on in the conflict. No, the theory goes that the Allies' fearless air squadrons are largely responsible. Once they asserted a decisive hold over contested airspaces, their enemies were cut off and divided, and the Allies could paradrop reinforcements and supplies wherever necessary. From that point, victory was only a matter of time. Furthermore, pilots of Vindicator-class sortie bombers racked up the single highest confirmed-kill ratio of any single division of the Allied military.
As the war neared its end, the quality of the Allies' air power was not a subject of much dispute. Even still, FutureTech Corporation openly continued working on an aircraft model that promised to usher in a new era of air support. That aircraft was the FTAC-X2, better known as the Harbinger Gunship. Dwarfing even the Allies' own Century heavy bomber, the Harbinger's advanced sensors and weapon systems would allow it to hold and secure large areas, as well as to provide heavy fire support to any surface forces in the vicinity.The Harbinger was a veritable flying fortress, and was armed to the teeth with nothing less than the power of the Allies' ultimate weapon, the Proton Collider. Although the technology used in the Proton Collider remains a well-kept secret, the Allied top brass (as directed by Allied official Rupert Thornley himself) agreed to disclose that particular secret to FutureTech Corporation in exchange for services tendered, and in order to fulfil the ambitions of the Harbinger international design team. Before this, the FutureTech team speculatively came up with an aircraft blueprint more massive any known turbofan jet to date, whose ability to fly in fact hinged on the need for an on-board Collider fuel cell -- one that was small enough to fit on such a gigantic plane.
The story goes, because FutureTech had mostly deduced how the Proton Collider works, Allied brass reluctantly agreed to partner with the corporation in order to complete a prototype of what later became the Harbinger gunship. The prototype model of the gunship featured not one but two starboard-mounted 120mm Collider Cannons, each one packing the explosive punch of a howitzer of roughly the same size. Because the fuel cell provided the Collider Cannons with their ammunition and also runs the Harbinger's four redundant turbofan engines, the thing could get off the ground and remain airborne for days.
Unlike other aircraft in the Allied arsenal, the Harbinger prototype eschewed a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) design and needed to continually orbit while trained on a target. This, together with the Harbinger's sheer size, also meant it would be incapable of landing at a standard Allied airbase. Fortunately, the Harbinger featured FutureTech's proprietary self-diagnostics-and-repair system, which made up for its inability to touch down for repairs while out in the field. Meanwhile, an elaborate array of sensors and communication equipment lets Harbinger crews keep a lock on terrestrial targets during flight.
To make up for the Collider Cannons' inability to strike precisely at a chosen destination, the Harbinger featured a nose-mounted 25mm chain gun linked to targeting systems that track the gunner's eye movements. These extremely accurate weapons could shred lightly-armoured surface threats without causing significant damage to the environs. All of the Harbinger's weaponry is directed toward the ground, however. Enemy air superiority fighter squadrons could conceivably give it a hard time, though the Harbinger's armour was shown in simulations to suffer barely a scratch from a Soviet MiG fighter's Matryoshka missile.
The Harbinger gunship's prototype crew was hand-picked by FutureTech from its private flight schools, men demonstrating the coolness under fire and whichever other rare personality traits and skills that FutureTech strictly demanded of its teams. Initially, Allied officials were publicly miffed at the idea that their ace airmen might not be qualified to get behind the yoke of a Harbinger, though Pres. Thornley himself quickly smoothed the issue over, yielding to FutureTech on that particular requirement. The Harbinger looked set to revolutionise the Allied Air Force.
After a long series of tests and evaluation by Allied officials, the Harbinger Gunship was sent on its first mission. The mission was to storm a PoW camp, rescue the Allied commander and his engineering divisions and extract, all while being covered by the gunship. A small task force of some Peacekeepers were going to be sent against Rhino Tanks and Sentry Guns, so the Harbinger couldn't afford to make mistakes. After a few seconds of calculations and adjustments, the cannon was fired. As quoted by an anonymous Peacekeeper who was in the mission; "We were tasked to observe the PoW camp from afar while the Harbinger took care of the Rhino Tanks and the machine guns. I saw it fire, and the next thing I know, there was this blinding orange flash! When I opened my eyes, there was nothing left in place of the PoW camp!"
As the Harbinger's cannons had never been previously test fired, something unexpected had happened. Just like the bigger Proton Collider, the Harbinger's cannons had a catalyst effect. This allowed it to use the surrounding air and nearby Soviet emplacements as fuel for its explosion, amplifying the effect and destroying the whole barracks along with its tanks and machine gun towers in a single shot.
The field testing pointed out that the Harbinger wasn't the precision support weapon they intended to have, but a weapon of mass destruction. The Harbinger hadn't even fully charged that shot, yet it was enough to level the entire base while vaporising every single person inside including the commander and the engineering division. While the result was fascinating for some warmongers among the top brass, the Allies always strived to keep collateral damage to a minimum, so using the Harbinger wasn't a question that could be answered positively. Harbinger simply couldn't be used by an organization which takes pride in being called the "defenders of the free world", as the Allies never wished to harm the very citizens they tried to protect. Given the urban nature of the most common battlefields and the generally defensive Allied doctrine, the Harbinger, despite being a massive success from a pure military standpoint, was shelved. The Allies simply didn't have a use for the Harbinger Gunship, and since its destructive power would be limited to the rare open field battles, employing these high maintenance aircraft would be very wasteful.
However, FutureTech had already spent billions on other projects that were not accepted, such as the Pacifier FAV and Future Tank X-1, and couldn't afford to be pushed once again when they were so close to the edge. Allied command was impressed by the warhead's performance though, and contracts for miniaturized, cheaper and more precision-oriented uses of the technology such as the Grand Collider and the Mesofortress Gunship were made. The Mesofortress, a continuation of the Harbinger Project, used a lighter and cheaper airframe and miniaturized missiles with the collider warheads instead of full-scale howitzers, and has proven to be a very effective tank hunter and support unit, the role the Harbinger was intended to fulfil.
The only Harbinger Gunship prototype was put in an aviation museum with its hydrogen fuel cell and proton collider cannons removed.
Behind the Scenes Edit
The Harbinger, as with any Uprising unit, will not be implemented in the game.