M-9b Crocodile Grav IFV
This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue.
M-9b Crocodile Grav IFV;TL-15;5.15MCr
The M-9 was developed as an infantry fighting vehicle grav carrier that could be used as a standard IFV for both battledress and light infantry. Originally, the specs were for the M-9 to be able to land on a world through re-entry on its own, but while in theory it can do it (and on desperate occasions it has), in practice the design ended up being too difficult to control for making re-entry operations standard procedure. Soft-landing as a required method of transport was the beginning of a lot of teething problems and cost overruns that started with a streamlined combat car similar in size and speed to the M-8 Bulldog grav MBT it was imagined it would descend en mass from orbit with to the bulky, squared-off bullet-shaped IFV with tac missile rails, communications pods, and about everything including the kitchen sink added to it.
Still, it has proven itself in countless battles as highly versatile, deadly if used by commanders who didn’t treat it as a minitank but as the infantry close support fighting vehicle it is, and since you can carry three of them in the same space that one M-8 MBT takes up in a transport they have been very popular as a rapid response combat vehicle, especially with the Imperial Drop Troop regiments who use them exclusively as their infantry combat carrier.
The “B” model was revised after the last war ended and was part of the MBT ULUP (Unit Lifespan Upgrade Program) for all grav combat vehicles. The program also streamlined the diversity of those vehicles and now the two heavy front line vehicles are only the M-8c Bulldog MBT and the M-9b Crocodile IFV and their artillery variants, which merely involve swapping a standardized turret system out of either vehicle.
The Crocodile requires a crew of 3 (commander, gunner, and driver) and can carry either 6 battledress heavy infantry or 8 combat armor equipped light infantry. A turretless ambulance version will carry 10 casualties (8 if in battledress). The Command & Control version carries 3 communications and ELINT personnel and 3 command staff (w/out battledress); the rest of that version is stuffed with communications and ELINT gear. A light artillery variant was developed but hasn’t proved to be a successful design due to requiring too much power for the mass driver systems so that version was re-designated as a variant for the Bulldog MBT chassis. Cargo stowage, including various nooks and crannies that crew can find, is 2 tons.
The Crocodile is 9m long, 4m wide and 2m high at the chassis. The turret is 2m long, 3.5m wide and 1m high and masses 64.4 metric tons. For purposes of shipboard transport it requires a volume of 7 tons if stowed in non-combat ready configuration, 9 tons if ready to deploy to combat immediately upon landing.
Using a 72MW fusion power plant, the IFV can reach a maximum speed of 950kph in flight, a cruise speed of 650kph, and a nap-of-earth speed of 190kph using terrain-following ladar. The combat range with 2592 liters of fuel is 24 hours with a rate of consumption of 108 liters/hr at max output.
The M-9b is heavier armored than the original with slabs of bonded superdense equaling the following Striker values:
|Chassis||Front Glacis (50)||R/L Sides (42)||Rear (29)||Deck/Belly (34)|
|Turret||Front Glacis (42)||R/L Sides (37)||Rear (37)||Deck (34)|
The vehicle has active countermeasures using prismatic anti-laser aerosols and extensive active ECM, and is a sealed environment with life support for the crew and passengers whose endurance is limited only by available power for the vehicle when operated on a world with at least a Thin atmosphere; in Very Thin or Trace atmospheres, or in Vacuum, life support duration is 24 hours.
The Crocodile carries a new communications upgrade for better battlefield datalink integration with other forces and for coordination from orbital as well as ground C3I centers. A 500 power meson communicator system with an integrated battlefield mapbox/computer system is backed up by a 500 power radio and laser communication unit.
Image enhancement with a back up thermal imaging target acquisition weapons guidance system is available to both the commander and the gunner. The driver has image enhancement and thermal imaging for vision.
The turret is equipped with an electric powered 2cm hyper-velocity autocannon with a rate of fire of 160rpm and a single barrel. Direct fire control and full stabilization allows the weapon to be used by either the commander or gunner while the vehicle is on the move. Up to 16 targets may be engaged at once.
The weapon fires kinetic energy armor-piercing fin-stabilized ammunition with an effective range of 3km. The magazine is equipped with an automatic linkless feed loader and holds 4800 KEAPER rounds (30 shots).
|2cm KEAPER||3 km (22)+5||4 km (20)+4||5.5(18)+2||16|
The commander’s hatch is equipped with a cupola-mounted RAM auto-launcher and there is a coaxial mount VRFGG with a 30-shot magazine for use by the gunner. The RAM launcher has storage for 16 magazines.
The primary anti-vehicular armament of the Crocodile is a turret mounted Bushmaster ATGM box launcher with 4 ready to fire ATGMs. Two spare 4-round disposable box reloads are stowed behind the launcher and are automatically reloaded when the empty “magazine” is ejected after firing the last missile.
|18cm HEAP warhead||PEN=50||Target Designation guidance|
|Range 3km||wt.= 22kg||844 Cr. Price tag|
The commander also has a laser target designation system for marking heavy target threats for artillery and ortillery support.
The chassis of the current model is now equipped with 4 tactical heavy missile launchers that can fire either the SADARM-2 ATGM that can be equipped with either a standard HEAP warhead or tactical nuclear one. The launchers are rails protected inside closed box firing units and armored. They can be fired by either the gunner or commander, but for use of the nuclear missiles the commander must use his command override key. In practice this is available to the gunner as well.
SADARM-2 ATGM (Search And Destroy ARMor model 2)
A “Fire-and-Forget” homing missile that is designed to be a mini-cruise missile for the battlefield containing imaging and electronic output profiles of enemy vehicles so that the ATGM can be launched from cover and then “search” the battlefield within its 6-km combat radius for a suitable enemy target. It then engages the threat with a pop-up dive that allows it to attack the thinner deck armor with its 23cm HEAP or .5kt nuclear warhead. The nuclear warhead is primarily used for bunker-busting and against dispersed, but dug-in armored targets.
|HEAP penetration = 57||wt. = 61.75kg||1032Cr. Cost|