The Predator auxiliaries were named after carniverous animals. A total of 227 Predator-class ships were built for the REF on-board Space Station Equality.
The Predators entered service with the REF from 2020 on through 2030 and remained in service until 2039, when the last ones were retired.
|||Length||:||98.8 m over all.|
|||Height||:||17.6 m over the hull,|
|26.3 m over all.|
|||Width||:||43.7 m over the hull,|
|58.2 m over all.|
|||Mass||:||2,131 metric tons (unloaded), 2,347 metric tons (loaded),|
|maximum cargo load 150 metric tons.|
The REF could not, like the Southern Cross, expect an extensive surface support structure on the planets they would visit. Thus, not only would the REF require shuttles that operated from any surface and not just a pre-prepared spacefield, but they would also need to take their own headquarters, repair depots, hospitals, rear area security installations and the like with them. Therefore, the Predator ship was a completely different design from the Pegasus shuttle favored by the Southern Cross.
With the requirements for VTOL operations, unassisted ascents to orbit, and prolonged atmospheric operations with heavy cargos, the Predator weighed in at 2,600 metric tons. The additional atmospheric demands mandated a more aerodynamical design, and a thick flying body with a protruding hull section was chosen. The command decks were located in an aerodynamical command tower in the extreme front of the hull, behind which the large triangular wing surface began. An upper personnel and a lower cargo compartment were located in the central and outer hull sections in front of the engines. The personnel deck did not extend fully aft, leaving enough room for voluminous cargo aft. The aft-most part of the lower deck was an elevator, and two side exits were large enough to allow all but the largest mecha to walk of the ship. Even a Thundercracker destroid could be transported, although unloading through the lower hatch/elevator was an involved and lengthy process. The lower deck could be changed into a support station by fitting it with a specialized module. For instance, a cargo version could be transformed into a hospital by replacing the cargo binders and handlers with a hospital module. The same principle applied for repair depots, headquarters and the like. Two small wings and two small fins increased the maneuverability in an atmosphere. Two missile installations were located in the hull, between the engines.
The Predator did not mount any weapons save a missile self-defense system in its standard configuration. They could be converted into a small corvette by mounting a weapons module, but these ships were vulnerable in any arc save the ventral and were too valuable for space combat roles. In practice, therefore, this option was virtually never used.
As the REF would be capable of operating ground forces, a portable surface logistics infrastructure was required. The Predator ships were designed for this role. They were maneuverable in an atmosphere, armed sufficiently to defend themselves while they made good their escape if attacked, and capable of carrying a substantial cargo load. Landed, they could operate as repair depots, hospitals, headquarters and the like, though they were more vulnerable this way as they could not lift off on a minute's notice when finding themselves under attack. However, the missile batteries provided some area air defense, and a bodyguard complement was usually send with the ship, typically comprising a fighter squad. Naturally, other forces would also respond if a Predator found herself under attack.
The Predator was also equipped with the wiring to receive a powerful armament package in the central bay, turning this landing shuttle into a small corvette. With a very powerful rail gun and an anti-ship missile load in the existing launchers the Predator could make a reasonable showing of herself in this role offensively. Defensively, the Predator's firing arcs were so restricted that this option was considered a waste of a perfectly good shuttle. The need for cargo ships and bases in the REF was always higher than the need for anti-ship warcraft anyway, as the REF spent almost all its time on the offensive. Indeed, the only recorded uses of the weapons package were during Second Robotech War, when the returning Predators were used against the Tirolian Assault Carriers, with predictable and unfortunate results for the Predators.
Of the 227 Predators used by the REF, only 23 were destroyed in action between 2022 and 2030; another 24 returned with the emergency fleets and were mostly lost against the Masters, and 32 more were send with the final wave against the Robotech Masters, but arrived too late to take part in the battles and were either destroyed in the following Invid Invasion (21) or escaped to the moon and served as general-purpose craft from there until they were mothballed in 2038. The remaining Predators in deep space were retired as the Horizonts, which could set up bases and unload cargo without landing or staying in the landing zone, entered service. These ships are now mothballed on the moon as well.
See additional design notes.
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Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.Content by Pieter Thomassen, with Peter Walker and Rob Morgenstern