The AX-43 Hammerhead is designed for the Marine Corps requirement to provide a close air support (CAS) fighter for ground forces by attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with a limited air interdiction capability. It is the first Marine Corps aircraft designed exclusively for close air support.
Criticism that Starfleet or the Marine Corp did not take close air support seriously prompted a few service members to seek a specialized attack craft. In the Dominion War, large numbers of ground-attack aircraft were shot down by small arms, surface-to-air missiles, and low-level anti-aircraft fire, prompting the development of an aircraft better able to survive such weapons. In addition, the shuttles and runabouts of the day, which commanders had said should handle close air support, were ill-suited for use against armor, carrying only low powered phasers and micro-torpedoes meant for soft targets. Fighters proved for the most part to be ineffective for close air support.
In 2376, the Marine Corp formed the Attack Experimental (A-X) program office. The Marine Corps released a request for information to 21 defense contractors for the A-X. The objective was to create a design study for a low-cost attack craft. The officer in charge of the project was Colonel Aeon Strifeguard. An analysis of the effectiveness of current aircraft used in the role indicated the ideal aircraft should have long loiter time, low-speed maneuverability, massive cannon firepower, and extreme survivability.
Six companies submitted proposals to the Marine Corp, with Northrop selected to build prototype. The AX - 43 first flew on 10 May 2378. After successful trials, the AX – 43 went into production on January 18, 2379 The first production AX - 43 flew in October 2379, and deliveries to the Marine Corps commenced in March 2380.
One experimental two-seat AX-43 version was built by converting an AX-43. The two-seater was developed by Northrop from the first Demonstration Testing and Evaluation (DT&E) AX-43 for consideration by the Marine Corps. It included a second seat for a weapons system officer responsible for electronic countermeasures (ECM), navigation and target acquisition. The variant was canceled, and the only two-seat AX-43 built now resides at the Fleet Museum.
The AX-43 has superior maneuverability at low speeds and altitude because of its large wing area, high wing aspect ratio. The Hammerhead got his name because of its resemblance to a hammerhead shark. Apart from the main wings, the hammerhead has two smaller wings (or fins) on both sides of the fuselage and in front of the cockpit. This makes the front of the AX-43 look like the head of a hammerhead shark.
Both main wings and smaller wings point forward (which is the opposite of what you see when looking at more conventional wings). The foremost sets of small wings are also known as "canard"-wings. This configuration is known to offer better aerodynamic efficiency, making higher maneuverability possible. Furthermore, a canard wing usually stalls earlier than the main wing, causing the craft to pitch down, which in turn causes an increase in speed when flying in a gravitational field. This increase in speed immediately counteracts the stall. Also note that the leading edge of both main wings and canard are almost perpendicular to the fuselage, whereas the trailing edges still make up for the triangular shape of the wings, albeit that this triangle is reversed front-to-back, as compared to traditional wing designs.
- Category: Ground Support
- Expected Duration: 25 years
- Time Between Resupply: 1 year
- Time Between Refit: 2 years
- Officers: 1
- Enlisted Crew: 0
- Marines: 0
- Speed:[N 1]
- Cruising Velocity: Warp ?
- Maximum Velocity: Warp 4
- Emergency Velocity: Warp 6 (for 2 hours)
- Length: 11.5 metres
- Width: 12.5 metres
- Height: 1.7 metres
- Decks: 0
- Defensive Systems:
- Ablative Armour and Regenerative Shielding
- 3 Pulse Phaser Canon,
- 1 Micro-Torpedo Launcher with 15 Micro-Photon Torpedoes or Micro-Quantum Torpedoes
- 6 hard points under the wings.
- Found on:
- Galaxy Dreadnought Class Battleship
- Akira Class Assault Criuser
- ↑ TNG Scale