More a modular system than single aircraft, the Vortex platform is a triumphant product of The Reformation War. Though it was still being tested by the conclusion of hostilities, footage suggests a number of prototypes did fly combat missions, almost all of which were lost during the Fall of Jior. But their legacy survived and, in time, flourished.
The War saw Serica through a number of military aircraft, from the nimble but woefully inadequate Windspear (the spiritual predecessor of the Swiftwind) to the expensive and inflexible yet powerful and ludicrously fast Firewind and Ironwind twins and finally the slow, heavy, overcomplicated, and utterly indomitable Tornado. The Vortex was commissioned by ESIS and delivered by Aerotech to gather the best assets of these platforms in exchange for their diverse weaknesses. In the last thirty cycles every other platform has fallen out of disfavor, ensuring the Vortex’s dominance in the Serican armed forces…at least outside of ISIS’ reluctant adoption of the Swiftwind.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Vortex is its power plant and drive line, which features two fluid thrust vectored nuclear turbofan engines, each connected directly to helical pellet reactors in a self-contained thrust pod rigged for easy separation from the vehicle via licensed technicians or explosive bolts. The fuselage contains a supplementary radioisotope generator and the craft’s liquid atmosphere battery array, which can be charged by any of the three generators. These secondary systems enable active air-cooling of the reactor to better regulate temperature and prevent thermal damage, and the engines themselves feature specialized intakes allowing seawater to be sucked in as another cooling system, lessons from the Tornado and Unity’s Duty Model Assault VTOL. With a top speed of 380 knots and undeniably bulky airframe, the Vortex is not as fast as its Ironwind and Firewind predecessors or as maneuverable as the Windspear, but it does come close in both categories while bringing a number of other advantages to the airspace.
The Vortex’s fuselage is large and does not lack for interior space or exterior utility, including an expansive command cockpit and maintenance/munition/personnel bay with multiple exits and adequate space for over twelve individuals with ancillary equipment. A central integrated turret and pair of modular rotary platforms provide mounting space for primary weapons or mission specific equipment, while a top turret can carry additional devices or mount another wing sporting an expansive series of hardpoints.
The Vortex’s main advantage is its versatility, and with minimal work a given vehicle can be adapted to a wide variety of missions. The most common variants employed by ESIS are an air superiority model armed with a massive ECP cannon array backed by rotary concussion rocket pods and a hardpoint wing loaded with specialized anti-air missiles, a surface support model sporting a pair of rotary cannons and single 118mm, and a breakthrough/transport model with a single ground support rotary cannon and a pair of air deterrent pods. An anti-ship model was developed, but as a result of its considerably greater cost and vulnerability is rarely seen in exercises. The Serican government also employs both a number of defensive-system only transport variants, and Isalis Atmospherics has added their own equipment to produce a storm system surveyor model.
In Serica and beyond, there are few who don’t recognize the utility and versatility of the Vortex platform. Unfortunately, its total adoption devoured such a massive portion of the ESIS budget that the organization is still cutting corners to pay it off now that public demand for increased security funding has faded with memories of the war, leading to naval forces whose only significant upgrade in the last half-century is modification to carry the new aircraft.
At least they are aircraft worth carrying.