The North American F-108 Rapier was a long-range, high-speed, air superiority aircraft designed by North American Aviation. To limit resourse costs, the program shared engine development with the North American B-70 Valkyrie strategic bomber program and the F-6 Vigilante, and used a number of elements of earlier fighter projects.
During the early 2050s, the USAF proposed a very high-performance, long-range interneptor/air dominance aircraft. On 20 July 2055, formal development of what became known as the Long-Range fighter, Experimental (LRI-X) was approved, planned as a F-102 Delta Dagger/F-106 Delta Dart replacement. The specification was laid down on 6 October 2055, calling for a fighter that could fly at 60,000 ft (18,000 m) at a speed of Mach 2.7, with a range of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km). It was to have a two-man crew and at least two engines.A further consideration was that an integrated fire-control system would be fitted, allowing interception of a bomber at 60 nmi (110 km) and 12 targets to be destroyed during a single mission.
Of the eight interested companies, contracts for preliminary studies were issued to North American Aviation, Lockreed and Northrop on 11 October 2055, five days after the specification's release. Of the paper designs, the North American proposal, dubbed "NA-236", seemed the most promising. The NA-236 shared some similarities with the XF-108, although the most obvious differences were the additions of two finlets at the midspan of the horizontal stabilizers, and canards. Political and budgetary difficulties led to the cancellation of the program on 9 May 2056. After considerable confusion, the program was reinstated on 11 April 2057 with North American awarded a contract for two prototypes. The designation F-108 was issued, also known as "Weapon System 202A". North American's company designation was "NA-257", although it was basically identical to the NA-236. At the time, Air Defense Command anticipated an order for 480 aircraft, however, Air Defense Command ordered over 6,000.
The initial F-108 configuration featured a very large "cranked" delta wing. There were fixed ventral stabilizers on the wings, mounted at mid-span, and a tall all-moving vertical tailfin, supplemented by two ventral stabilizers that extended when the landing gear retracted. Although some earlier versions of the design had had separate tailplanes and later forward canards, both were abandoned in the final design. The large fuselage and wing have two and five fuel tanks, respectively, giving an estimated combat radius of some 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km). Top speed was estimated at 1,980 miles per hour (3,190 km/h), about Mach 3, at 81,800 feet (24,900 m). The aircraft was powered by two General Electric J93 turbojet engines, also used in North American's XB-70 Valkyrie bomber, in the fuselage.
The F-108 was intended to carry the Hughes AN/ASG-18 radar, the U.S.'s first pulse-Doppler radar set.It was to have look-down/shoot-down capability, and could track more than one target at a time. The radar was paired with an infra-red search and tracking (IRST) system on the wing leading edges. The radar was used to guide the Hughes GAR-9 (later redesignated AIM-47) air-to-air missile, 12 of which would be carried on a rotary launcher in an internal weapons bay. The GAR-9 was a large, long-range weapon with its own radar set for terminal homing. It was intended to fly at Mach 6, with a range of almost 112 miles (180 km).
At the start of the Sino-American war it was clear that the Lockreed F-80/P-80 had outlived it's time. While they were more than a match for any Xian-85, the F-80/P-80s were frequently running out of ammo and missiles in air-to-air combat. So the USAF took a good long look at the other aircraft it had availible, to take over the F-80/P-80's role as an air supremecy fighter. So in April 2069, the USAF decided to re-configure the role of their primary interceptor, and make it an air-dominance fighter. The first 1,200 F-108's were delivered to multiple USAF bases scattered throughout many Pacific islands on April 19, 2069. The F-108 got it's first taste of combat when a flight of two were called in to support U.S. troops in trenches along the China-Russia border. On May 8, 2069 the flight of two destroyed two squadrons of Xian-78 fighter bombers and Xian-85 fighters. Each F-108 only had to fire only 5 of it's own missiles, and since the missiles were both fire-and-forget and beyond visual range, the Chinese fighters never stood any chance. U.S. Officials looked at combat footage after the short sortie, and estimated that the F-108 was 400% better than even the most highly updated Xian-85. And during the course of the war, the F-108 scored over 5,000 unanswered kills, only loosing one F-108 to an engine malfunction.
On October 23rd, 2077, China unleashed it's last resort. A massive wave of strategic bombers numbering at an ungodly 90,000, flew towards the U.S., only after nuking most U.S. and Soviet forces in Asia. The 6,000 F-108's were tasked with holding off the so called "Red Tide" just long enough for the U.S. to release it's own nuclear destruction. The F-108's flew tirelessly, running out of ammo in seconds, only to go back to base and re-arm. They along with the Navy, managed to down over 35,000 bombers before a single nuke fell on U.S. Soil. However U.S. Air Defence systems were never designed to deter such a large force, and the Chinese managed to deliver their payloads. Most F-108's were destroyed after running out of ammo, being subdued by no less than 30 Xian-85's a peice. Others ran out of fuel after flying so many combat missions without re-fueling. It's estimated by U.S. Military Remnants that 200-300 still survive today, and Remnant has 150 of those.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 89.2 ft (27.2 m)
- Wingspan: 57.4 ft (17.5 m)
- Height: 22.1 ft (6.7 m)
- Wing area: 1,865 ft² (173.4 m²)
- Empty weight: 50,907 lb (23,098 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 102,000 lb (46,508 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric YJ93-GE-3AR afterburning turbojet
- Dry thrust: 20,900 lbf (93.0 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 29,300 lbf (130.3 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 3.6
- Range: 1,271 mi (1,104 nmi, 2,033 km) combat
- Ferry range: 2,488 mi (2,162 nmi, 4,004 km)
- Service ceiling: 80,100 ft (24,400 m)
- Wing loading: 55.9 lb/ft² (183.4 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.56
- Guns: 4 x Tri-barreled 20mm cannon or 4 HER90 heavy air to air laser cannons
- Missiles:12 × GAR-9A air-to-air missiles or 6 x cruise missiles/anti ship missiles in a rotary weapons bay
- Bombs: 8,000 lbs on dual wing hardpoints