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The Storm class Fast Transport was an experimental class of ship designed to deliver specialised cargos and military surveillance packages into medium to low threat environments.

Commissioned by the Naval Specialised Systems Directorate, the class was originally envisaged as a cheap and relatively expendable asset, particularly as wartime expenditure has faced considerable pressure in recent years. Unfortunately, conflicts between stakeholders on requirements and the navy's insistence on a modular design soon caused costs and technical problems to quickly escalate.

The modular approach was supposed to allow faster and easier field maintenance of damaged components, as well as enabling construction of components at various facilities before final assembly. In this regard, the Storm class was much more ambitious that previous attempts. In practice, trials of the prototypes showed that the connection and disconnection of components was complex, and often failed in forward operation facilities. The first two vehicles produced, Storm FT-71X and Lightning FT-72X, both had to be returned to space dock after botched field tests. In the worst case, an engine partially detached after a faulty assembly test and severed fuel lines, resulting in an explosion that badly damaged Lightning FT-72X.

Contradictory needs for cargo capacity and ambitious performance targets resulted in above average combat capabilities against local patrol craft, commerce raiders and civilian craft, but inadequate outcomes against first line military ships.

Another technical innovation of the Storm project was the Juno J-17 manoeuvre drive, capable of idling at minimal power to avoid detection while the ship loitered in enemy territory, but then able to warm up fast to maximum thrust should the need arise. While successful in its objective, the J-17 was plagued by reliability problems, which were only solved by a hastily redesigned J-17A model fitted towards the end of the short production run. Even this model required a much higher maintenance to operational hours ratio than standard.

Ultimately the Storm project was a failure, combining too many new and unproven technologies with a poorly managed procurement process. The design never really achieved its goals, and the unforeseen cost escalations caused procurement to be continually downgraded. Only the J-17A went forwards to form the basis of the much smaller J-25 engine now used in a variety of infiltration craft.

Production run details:


* FT-71X Storm (in storage at Vestia Proving Grounds)

* FT-72X Lightning (damaged during testing, scrapped)

* FT-73X Tornado (Stricken from list, awaiting disposal)

* FT-74D Hurricane (Naval Reserve Force, currently deactivated)

* FT-75D Typhoon (damaged in combat, scuttled to prevent capture)

* FT-76D Zephyr (destroyed in combat)

* FT-77D Blizzard (Naval Reserve Force, currently deactivated)

* FT-78D Hailstone (sold for scrap, scrapyard went bankrupt, hulk still intact)


* FT-06A Thunderbolt (sold for scrap, but sold on again intact to private buyer. Vessel and crew lost and presumed destroyed)

* FT-07A Twister (sold to Space Weather Agency, now used as instrument platform)

* FT-08A Cyclone (Naval Reserve Force, currently deactivated)

* FT-09A Ice (partially completed at war end, scrapped)

* FT-10A Sirocco (cancelled)

Source: Jaynes Naval Register.


Thunderbolt is an original model created in Cinema 4D. Background image created in Vue 8 Complete.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R15 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 20 December 2013

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2018