The 17th Caspian Marine Tactical Operations Squadron, nicknamed the Nighthawks, is a Marine Aerospace Division unit of the Union military. Commissioned in the second year of The Crest, the 17th Nighthawks are one of Caspia's longest-standing squadrons, and have been staffed by Marine pilots since day one. They've endured a particularly tumultuous past, having one of the highest turnover rates of any flight unit. They've also been threatened with decommission three times in their nine year existence, each time saved from the axe by Crest intervention. It is this relationship with the Crest that not only keeps them active, but clouds them in the most amount of mystery.
The steel hawk patch they wear is known throughout the region — because of this, they are sometimes referred to as the "Birds on Both Shoulders" squadron. Their basic duties and mission profiles are like their brethren units, but they have received additional, specialized training in such mission types as fast reconnaissance, reconnaissance – under – duress, infiltration, and precision targeting. It is for these latter duties that they are the most well-known and feared for. Several galactic agencies have utilized the reports they bring back from their perilous missions, with some having been requested from sources outside of the CDU. They are, in short, the Marines' version of the Fates, except they rarely are contracted by Naval Intelligence. Instead, it is purported that their activity is at the behest of the Admiralty, The Crest, or the Assembly, but this cannot be officially acknowledged.
At present, 17th Tac Ops squadron relies upon the SubPro/CDMC Z-100c Strike Centurion. This variant is direct result of the squadron's input six years ago, after CDMC engineers noticed ground crew welding hardpoints and Olumic armor onto the 17th's common B-variant Centurions as well as modifying the fuel tanks for greater capacity. One in forty Centurions are factory-modified into Strike Centurions, by getting reshod with Olumic armor panels, which cut down on sensor signature return, as well as additional hardpoints, a much more capable and sophisticated sensor & targetting package, and larger fuel tanks. The Nighthawks have used their Strike Centurions all over Union space, from planetary deployment to carrier berths. From time to time, they are tapped to operate L-202 Hellhawks for particular missions. Also, since they are often deployed to remote zones, their support staff must travel along in these transports to deploy equipment to service the fighters.
Since they are a MAD unit, they are not formally assigned to an Aerospace Group, but they have been attached to the Home Fleet Group operating from the CMS Typhoon.
Because of the experiences of the Caspian Annexation Campaign, the 17th has adopted a very loose, seemingly unbalanced flying method. They do not fly in typical formation, nor do they regularly practice any rigid formation work. Since most members of the squadron usually have extensive service records with prior squadrons, the commanding officers have deduced that it was a waste of time to re-train established practices to a new set of standards. Pilots are coached and encouraged, though, to adopt a set of best practices, with emphasis on two and three ship operations. A particularly favored action formation is the "Selkathi Spear". In the majority of instances, though, Nighthawks will either be profiled or forced to operate alone.
The Nighthawks are attributed with employing a tactic known as "Attack-Peel-Run-Wheel" wherein several fighters work in concert to disrupt a larger force, often locked into a more rigid formation.
Known Operational History Edit
- Taylor Uprising
- Engagement of the Roche Shoals
- The War of Papers
- Battle of the Inner Caspian Worlds
- Siege of Trinumvira
- Battle of the Belt
- Recon flight to Selene; recording scan of the Super Star Destroyer HIMS Palpatine
- Recon flight to Dreven; recording scan of the Death Star III
- Mikassa Incident
- Covered withdrawal during initial Imperial attack; was one of the last units to vacate
- Recon flight to probe into Mikassa following Caspian withdrawal
- Reoccupation of forward field bases on Mikassa; strikes against Imperial stragglers
Combat Statistics Edit
- 806 sorties flown
- 8 capital ship kills
- 57 installations destroyed
- 412 kills
- 68 losses