The Lightning fighter craft is mainly used by the Imperial Navy for establishing air superiority due to its increased maneuverability over the Thunderbolt. It is often seen and heard plummeting from orbit or being scrambled from naval bases.[1a]
The STC data for the Lightning was discovered during the Saint-Saen Crusade, which liberated twelve worlds in Segmentum Obscurus. They were found on Karnak II by an Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator team and the designs immediately given to the Mechanicus Lords of Cypra Mundi. It would take over five hundred years of research and trials, including readings of the Emperor's Tarot and cross-referencing with the archives of Mars, before the designs were finally approved for production in supplying fleet carriers and cruisers of Battlefleet Obscurus. Since then the designs have slowly been disseminated to the Navy worlds of Bakka and Hydraphur and Lightnings are now commonly seen alongside the Thunderbolt in both Segmentum Tempestus and Segmentum Pacificus.[1a]
The main role of the aircraft is to engage enemy craft and establish air-superiority over a battlefield, with a secondary mission of providing air escort for Marauder Bombers. For this reason they are often based on orbiting ships or forward air bases, where their rocket booster allows them to quickly take off and engage enemy air forces.[1a] Ground-based Lightnings can also benefit from hydraulic "fast-launch" ramps which, in combination with their rocket booster engine, provides better acceleration and faster take-off time than conventional VTOL craft. Standard practice has three to four Lightnings so poised in a constant state of readiness. Although not their primary function, Lightnings may also act as a ground attack aircraft, with free license to attack targets of opportunity. This role however is better suited to the Lightning Strike.[1c]
The Lightning uses a swept-wing design and twin F100-XB afterburning turbofans to give it superior speed and better rate of climb and dive compared to the Thunderbolt, although it is lighter, less rugged and more demanding on maintenance crews. Like the Thunderbolt, it also features a rocket booster engine which allows for quick take-offs when using a "fast-launch" ramp and for limited operational capability in space, although it is not a true "starfighter" like the Fury Interceptor.[1a]
Standard armament for the Lightning is a long-barrelled, ventral-mounted Autocannon and twin-linked Lascannons on the wing tips. Four wing hardpoints allows it to carry up to four Hellstrike Missiles, Hellfury Missiles, Bombs or six Skystrike Missiles. Other standard systems includes a pair of Parallax tracking augers located in the nose section, while many will mount additional equipment.
|Type||Air Superiority Fighter[1b]||Operational Ceiling||36,000m, with jet engines|
|Vehicle Name||Lightning||Max Speed||2400kph|
|Forge World of Origin||Cypra-Mundi||Range||8000km|
|Known Patterns||III-IX||Main Armament||2x wing-mounted Lascannons, ventral-mounted long barrelled Autocannon|
|Crew||Pilot||Secondary Armament||4x Hellstrike Missiles|
|Powerplant||2x F100-XB Afterburning Turbofans||Main Ammunition||30 shots from battery packs|
|Weight||10 tonnes empty||Secondary Ammunition||100 rounds|
|Height||3.4m with landing gear down||Hull||30mm|
Voss Pattern Lightning Strike Fighter
Also called the Primaris Lightning Strike Fighter, its design dates back to the Great Crusade where it was created by Archmagos-Arbiter Sykosk Thule. Originating from the Forge World of Voss Prime, the 'Strike' variant of the Lightning is designed for a fighter-bomber role. It is normally equipped with a potent armament of twin-linked Lascannons and six Hellstrike Missiles or Rad Missiles.
At the time of its introduction, the aircraft represented a new paradigm in aerial warfare for the Imperial, being powered by a forced-plasma ramjet drive and optimized for the most sophisticated munitions available. However the pattern proved extremely costly to produce and could only be handled by the most experienced pilots.
The Lightning Strike is a dedicated close air support variant of the standard Lightning air superiority fighter.[1a]
- 717th Imperial Navy Fighter Wing - Warhawk squadron
- 2774th Imperial Navy Fighter Wing - Wyrm squadron
- 3035th Imperial Navy Fighter Wing - Firedrake squadron
Though it is stated in Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy that it took over five hundred years of research and trials to approve the Lighting Pattern, in Imperial Armour Volume One - Second Edition: Imperial Guard (pg. 12) states that this period took nearly half a century (so 50 years).
- 1: Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy
- 2: Imperial Armour - Apocalypse II, pg. 25
- 3: Forge World Voss Pattern Lightning Strike Fighter (last accessed 7 September 2015)
- 4: The Horus Heresy Book Two - Massacre pg.199