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The AV-14 Hornet, more formally known as the AV-14 Attack VTOL, is a United Nations Space Command airborne assault vehicle.
The AV-14 is a vertical take off and landing vehicle (VTOL) that has been in service since the Insurrection, at least as early as 2524. It serves as the UNSC's primary assault, search and reconnaissance, and close air support aircraft. The Hornet is an atmospheric craft and as such cannot be deployed by orbital vessels unless a ship rated for atmospheric entry can deliver it to the battlefield. It is easier for the Hornet to be deployed from an air base located on the surface than from a ship.
The AV-14 Hornet consists of a one-man cockpit and a rear section, extending approximately one meter backward. Variant models feature a tandem seating configuration, presumably allowing a second passenger to operate the aircraft's weaponry or navigation systems. At the top of this rear section are a set of wings with what appear to be advanced turbofan engines mounted on gimbals at the ends, providing the Hornet's main source of propulsion. The front of the Hornet contains a target acquisition and designation system which includes cameras and sensors. On each side of the cockpit is a jump-seat extending backward that doubles as a landing skid. These skids allow up to four passengers.
Although the AV-14 Hornet primarily serves as an attack craft, the Hornet can be reconfigured for a number of other roles. For example, some AV-14s are configured as dedicated troop transports. These Hornets lack the Class-2 Guided Munitions Launch System equipped by the standard model in order to improve airspeed.
The AV-14 Hornet is armed with both anti-infantry and anti-vehicle weapon systems. The AV-14 Hornet can be configured with one of two anti-infantry systems. The first configuration contains two triple-barreled, fire-linked rotary cannons. These are located on either side above the cockpit on the leading edges of the wing. The guns fire synchronously, and can be elevated and depressed to a small degree, without affecting the flight pattern of the Hornet. The second is a single, nose-mounted GAU-23/AW/Linkless Feed Autocannon that fires .50 BMG ammunition. The anti-vehicle system is composed of two Class-2 Guided Munition Launch Systems that are mounted on the ventral surface of the aircraft's landing skids. When triggered, each pod fires a single missile. Like the LAU-65D/SGM-151 missile pod, the Class-2 GMLS is capable of achieving a target lock. In addition the Hornet can be armed with two chaff pods to counter radar-guided missiles. These are copper nickel-coated glass fibers or silver-coated nylon fibers having lengths equal to half of the anticipated radar wavelength.
The AV-14 Hornet is known for its efficiency in combat situations; its multi-purpose role allows the vehicle to take on a wide array of missions and can perform without any major problems. In its role as an attack craft the AV-14 is very effective at hunting down and destroying armor with relative ease; the homing Class-2 GMLS can take down the toughest Covenant armor in only a few strikes, making it the UNSC's prime choice for hunting down tanks, aside from the AV-22 Sparrowhawk. Its ability to engage infantry also makes the AV-14 both an offensive and defensive aircraft; the triple-barreled rotary cannons can destroy heavily armored and heavily shielded targets with little effort, and its ability to place itself in a stationary position to lay down cover fire while a larger craft retrieves fellow infantry also allows it to perform its role as a support craft. The firepower of the craft is a major asset when escorting other aircraft which could be susceptible to ground fire into dangerous territory. Its role as a support craft is further bolstered by its ability to easily insert small strike teams into combat situations.
While the AV-14 Hornet has a wide variety of roles and advantages, its greatest weakness is its light armor — making it susceptible to anything larger than small arms fire. Although the Hornet is rather nimble, it lacks the maneuverability of the D77-TC Pelican and the AV-22 Sparrowhawk, which can occasionally be a liability in combat conditions. Infantry atop of vehicles landing skids are also at risk of taking enemy fire, as they have no protection at all, which is why the AV-14 Hornet is often used to insert small strike teams, but not to extract them, in combat operations. The risk of casualties from anti-aircraft fire mandates the use of more heavily armored aircraft like the D77-TC Pelican or the UH-144 Falcon for extraction.
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