(Dropship) Z-35 "Osprey"
A multi-purpose, orbit-to-surface capable, all-atmospheric dropship craft developed by the former Phoenix Republic in the early 4th millennium. Modern iterations of the Osprey are mostly Rockal Armaments Corporation's upgraded Z-35 variant of the original Z-30 design in use by the PR Military. The platform is reliable and relatively cheap to operate, as such has become popular with paramilitary forces throughout outer Aquarius.
Z-35 Osprey is based on the Z-30B variant upgrade program iniated by the Phoenix Republic in 3705 A.D in order to modernise the fleet of relatively old craft. The upgrade package included more advanced in-atmospheric avionics, better armour composition and more powerful engines, allowing a greater load carrying capability compared to the Z-30A series in service. After the UTN annexation of Phoenix in 3776 A.D and the subsequent dissolution of the Phoenix Republic state, Z-30s in service with the former military filtered down into the private military and corporate markets, with production resuming on Phoenix under UTN governance shortly after the annexation - due to the success of the platform it has remained a popular choice for orbital insertion and limited Close Air Support with local planetary defence forces.
The Z-35 is the result of UTN-based Rockal Armaments Corporation's venture to upgrade existing CEG-era vehicles for the outer Aquarian export market, approved by the UTN Government. The Z-35 takes most of the enhancements of the Z-30B, but integrates additional modernisations to extent the craft's service life even further. The Single-Impulse Chemical thrusters using liquid fuel were replaced with Fusion Impulse Thrusters with solid-state fuel pellets - as per most modern vehicles in central Aquarius at the time. This significantly increased the lifting capacity and speed of the craft, requiring an improved avionics frame to compensate for the increased stresses. Armour composition was improved, with lighter, stronger macropolymer low-metallic composite alloys replacing the high metallic titanium alloy plating of the Z-30B, further increasing the power-to-weight ratio. The troop compartment received significant upgrades, including an integral environment support system to complement the existing design's cabin-only system - allowing the troop compartment to be pressurised during space-flight.
Osprey's emphasis as a design is placed on direct insertion of infantry and equipment from orbital staging assets to the surface, using a soft-re entry method (atmospheric glide). As such, the frame's wings are designed to produce lift on descent to allow control and slow the craft without the use of fuel-expensive thruster burning. Due to the transport emphasis, the Osprey lacks extensive turreted projectile weapon hardpoints, using a single chin-mounted 20mm rotary FIMD Autocannon on the Z-35 variant. To compensate for this, the quartet of primary wings feature multiple external pylon hardpoints for various types of air-to-surface and air-to-air weapon systems; allowing the Osprey to perform effective Close Air Support for infantry if the need arises, though the craft's large size still makes it a fairly large target.