|Timeline : Superpowers|
|Legatus Caelus||Sextus Carulus Corvus|
|Aircraft|| 10,900 Fighters|
6,000 UAV Fighters
1,400 UAV Bombers
|Motto||Pugnare et Merere, semper (To fight and to win, always)|
|Men|| 1,864,000 Active Airmen|
600,000 Reserve Airmen
350,000 Operators and Mechanics
The Legio Caelis Custodiae (Eng: Aerial Legion for Defense) is the Air Force branch of the Roman military. Founded in 1831 by the Emperor Alexander IV, the LCC was intended to improve the reconnaissance capabilities of the Legion. The original force consisted of tri-planes outfitted with radios to relay aerial photographs to the ground. Dogfights between planes were unheard of for the first one hundred years of its history. It wasn't until the Second World War that Rome's enemies finally developed the power of flight and could truly attempt to combat Roman aircraft. Nevertheless, the first Deliquium aircraft (Bombers) were invented in 1854, allowing enemy fortifications to be assaulted from above.
By the time of the Magnem Cruorem, aircraft were a staple of the Roman Military and it would have been inconceivable to fight a war without them. Today this is even more strongly the case. The Roman Air Force employs more than 1,864,000 active airmen and is the second most highly funded branch of the military after the Space Legion. A position as an airman has become nearly as prestigious as Legionary, particularly after the Second World War. Most modern armies are very aware of the importance of maintaining a powerful air force, but no one does it as well as the Romans.
However, it wasn't until 1867 that the Aerial Defense Legion formed its own military branch, and prior to that time air force personnel usually worked for one of the three main branches of the military (Legion, Classis Or Praetoriani). Since the organization's inception, the head of the LCC has been the Legatus Caelus (Sky Commander). Starting off as an honorary title for skilled pilots, the Legatus became the highest commanding rank once the Air Force was officially created.
Like all branches of the government, the Legio Caelis Custodiae has its own ministry, and it is known surprisingly as the Ministry of Defense. This reflects the perceived role the Air Force plays for Rome, namely the defense of its borders and assets. The ministry's supervisor, the Praeministrum Custodium, is also in charge of the affairs of the Roman National Guard (Castellanae). The Air Force's highest CO is of course the Legatus Caelus. Though the Legatus is headquartered at the Castrum Italium near Mediolanum, he is an important public figure and appears in most addresses by the military to the people. A Nuntius Caelius also represents the Legatus at all Gathering of Legates for when he himself is not able to attend. This makes him very strongly involved in high-level military matters at all times.
Given the unorthodox nature of an Air Force when compared to the other armed forces, there are only three commanding ranks under the Legatus. Under him are the five Continensae (Continentals); Area Commanders for the Five Bodies (La: Corps) of the Air Force. Within their continent of jurisdiction, a Continensa has total control over all pilots and operators. They are usually based in an important capital within their jurisdiction, such as Colona or Khaliorum. The most unique one is the Continensa Impetua who leads the Assault Corps. This group operates directly in concert with the Navy through its aircraft carriers. Although it is the smallest Corps of the Air Force (1,800 planes), the Assault Corps is typically its most active one, and has been used in nearly all major offensives in the past century.
The Air Force officers that govern all pilots and operators in a base are known as Castrensae (Eng: Fort Commanders). This places LCC personnel outside the jurisdiction of the Praefecti Castrorum of the National Guard. On average, an Air Force base contains 100-500 aircraft. The largest, the Castrum Italium, has nearly 1,000 craft, while the smallest, the Praetorium Melita, houses only 14. Most bases have an even mix of fighters, bombers and their unmanned counterparts.
Squadron leaders are known as Primae. They lead battle formations as well as relay information from Command to the standard pilots. Usually, Primae fly the most advanced ships in a formation, typically an A-138 or SC-40, depending on the type of squadron. Those below the Primae, the grunt pilots, are known as Aurigae and serve as the very base of the Air Force. They are great in number but not the least bit expendable. Over ten years and $1 million US goes into training the average pilot, and five years of flight school are even required before anyone's allowed to fly in a battle situation. Unsurprisingly, the Roman Air Force has the lowest casualty rate of any armed forces branch in the world.
There are currently 19 different types of aircraft and 4 different types of Melista (Eng: Helicopter) used by the Roman Air Force. Specifically there are five classes of fighter, five classes of bombers/gunships, five classes of unmanned aerial vehicles and four classes of special role aircraft. The most advanced class of each variety of airplane is usually referred to as the Hornum (roughly translated as "The Current", literally "this year's model"). The current Horna are the A-138 Manned Fighter; the SC-40 Heavy Gunship; the A-150 Unmanned Fighter and the SC-48 Unmanned Attack Gunship.
Though the current Hornum is the A-138, which can be read about more on the Technology article, only 1,200 are in service and so other varieties of fighter are equally if not more important to the LCC than those. 1,800 A-132 Stealth Fighters are currently fielded as the only existing stealth aircraft in the entire Roman Air Force. To act as a stealth fighter the A-132 cannot use a nuclear battery like many of its contemporaries and is limited to using a plasma pulsed engine, which it can rapidly shut off to fly "cold". It is outfitted with 10 Air-to-ground missiles and can instantly fire them at selected targets before reactivating its engines and losing its stealth. Alternatively, CC missiles can also be outfitted on the A-132 so it can make a preemptive strike before the main segment of the enemy air force before an aerial battle occurs, giving Roman forces a substantial leg up. The material used in the plane's construction gives it the approximate radio-profile of a dove and an almost non-existent signature on thermal cameras, aided by internal cooling mechanisms.
Other models are not referred to with the "A" prefix as these two are, its use being usually limited to the "foremost military aircraft in the Corps". The current backbone of the LCC's fighter complement is the FG-41 "Falcon", of which nearly 5,600 are currently in use. Invented in 1964 in the midst of two wars, the FG-41 is generally classified as one of the two "Old Boys" of the Roman Air Force (Pueri Veteris). Thousands of pilots report that the solid design of its carbon nanotube frame even in recently made models gives it less internal vibrations and cuts off more external noise than any other aircraft. As well, its use of rapidly fired explosive rounds from its four turrets is a favorite weapon of most pilots. Despite having nowhere near the speed, range or firepower of the newer classes of plane, the FG-41's ease of use, maneuverability and comfort have kept it as a favorite in the Air Force for nearly forty years.
The two most advanced manned bombers in use by the Roman Empire are the SC-26 Atmospheric Bomber and SC-40 Heavy Gunship. Though both are discussed in detail on the technology page, the SC-40 deserves special mention here for its astounding capabilities and important place in Roman psychological warfare. The bomber is armed with 40 laser guided rockets that when activated release 40 more internal rockets that allow one missile to blanket an area of one sq km. Given the plane's ability to release its entire payload in less than a minute, it is capable of completely wiping out 40 sq km of a city within seconds of emerging into a hover. The deafening explosive sound created when it decelerates can be heard from miles away, and is recognizable enough to strike fear into the souls of any who hear it. The Empire fields 1900 of these aircraft and so, in a concentrated effort, is theoretically capable of obliterating 76,000 sq km of enemy territory, an area only a little larger than the island of Hispaniola, in one minute.
The favorite bomber among Roman pilots is the DC-150 Gunship, the second of the "Old Boys" and the popularly known Angel of Death. The latter name originates from the tactic of releasing half of the gunship's payload of anti-infantry white phosphorus missiles at once, which makes the plane appear as if it is sporting angel wings. The fact that this action is visible from the ground is just another classic example of psychological warfare on the part of the Romans. Its main role though is long distance assistance of troops on the ground, providing cover fire and protecting soldiers from enemy vehicles and massed troop formation. Furthermore, the DC-150 is very effective at destroying buildings and enemy emplacements and so is useful in assaults on an enemy base.
Armament on the DC-150 varies greatly throughout the Air Force, and with 12,900 models still in service, it is the most widely used and widely modified aircraft in history. In the standard design though there are six emplacements on each side that can be outfitted with artillery pieces, usually in varying combinations that maximizes the flexibility of just one plane. The most common anti-infantry weapon besides the missiles, which nearly every DC-150 is equipped with, are 10 mm Gatling Rail guns with a rate of fire of 8,000 rpm and enough ammo to fire continuously for one whole hour from each gun. A 40 mm cannon that fires two shots per second is another common addition as it is useful against high-troop concentrations, fast vehicles and helicopters. One of the favorite turret emplacements though are 160 mm ballista pyrobolum that can take out enemy battleships with just one shot. The DC-150's support role has not yet been superseded by any modern Roman aircraft, though a re-evaluation of its effectiveness is scheduled for 2008.
The other two Roman bombers are the DC-174 Supersonic Bomber, which can deliver its payload at speeds higher than Mach 3, and the VL-80 Heavy Bomber which can carry a payload of 50,000 lbs of bombs that are dropped on the target with no guidance systems. Unlike the two "SC" type bombers, none of these make use of nuclear batteries for their power supply and run either on ultra-capacitor banks which can last them a little under ten hours, in the cases of the VL-80 and DC-150, or use standard jet fuel like the DC-174. Although many Air Force commanders prefer the newest models due to their near perfect flight records, most pilots prefer older VL-80 and DC models because of their on the fly reliability and lack of reliance on complicated Roman space systems and satellite networks to work properly.