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The Quantradyne is a heavily armored tactical transport equipped for both atmospheric and deep space flight, utilizing twin engines fed hypergolic tanks that result in plasma exhaust, said engines being capable of shifting their angles. Dropships are designed to carry anything from troops to siege tanks in both safety and speed. Landings are usually carried out conventionally—easy deployment is allowed through both aft and front ramps and its base can descend from the ship. However, soldiers can also rappel down using ropes. Side doors also exist and furthermore, dropships are equipped with extraction fields and maglev lines in case the terrain is too difficult to land on.
Early experiments to arm dropships (including ordnance packages for an air-to-ground role) were abandoned in favor of maximizing payload capacity. Still, soldiers can fire from the dropship themselves, such as from its bottom platform. Another example of getting around this was used by Captain Jack Larimer, who removed his dropship's side doors to make room for mounted weapons.
Dropships possess a number of shortcomings. They are difficult to maneuver and are prone to mechanical failures and aren't exactly the most comfortable transport craft, the interior's temperatures usually uncomfortably hot, even more so during re-entry. Cooling units are installed to offset this along with air scrubbers. Restraining bars are present for the transport of passengers and overhead racks for the transport of equipment and/or belongings. The dropship's power bus is also compatible with the CMC-300 combat suit. A user can 'jack in' to the power bus and view the dropship's surroundings via a sensor system, the image being transferred to the suit's HUD. Ammunition packs and stimulant dispensers are also featured. During the Guild Wars, dropships were apparently bereft of gravity accelerators, but this was rectified by the Great War. Dropship pilots can operate alone, although a nav/comm. console is set behind the pilot's seat.
Dropships are outfitted with a signal booster, which automatically reroutes the communications of ground forces in range through them in order to allow for better communications range. However, this process is involuntary; if the dropship's signal booster is damaged ground forces in range of the booster will be unable to use long-range communications.
Quantradynes were designed by the Terran Confederacy and were in use by 2480. The Colonial Fleet maintained high standards for its dropship pilots, the PEB (Preferred Experience Base) requiring an applicant to possess a combat pilot certification and hot-zone certification before being allowed access to a dropship. Police forces on Confederate worlds that were wealthy enough to afford them would use dropships to ferry prisoners.
Dropships are too slow to outrun aerial hunters like mutalisks, scouts, and wraiths. If destroyed any units being carried are lost as well. While it has eight slots like the shuttle and evolved overlord, the power of stimpacked infantry means a dropship can carry substantial firepower. Compared to its zerg and protoss counterparts (overlord and shuttle), the dropship has a faster speed than the overlord despite having a poor acceleration and is less fragile than the shuttle but slower.
A fleet of dropships is often used to offload units directly on top of or near an enemy base. These "drops" are a key strategy for many terran players.
During the StarCraft alpha, the dropship was much larger and could carry a lot more units inside. Their unit portrait bore great resemblance to what would become the character of Jem in the final product.
The dropship was once equipped with Vortex shock-bombs.
The dropship used to be very similar to the StarCraft version. It has been given a healing ability, transforming it into the medivac dropship; thus, the dropship can no longer be built in StarCraft II.
There was a one second delay between every dropped unit.
Blizzard was toying with the possibility of returning the dropship and making the medivac dropship an available upgrade in June 2008.
Known Dropship Pilots
- Captain Julian Byrne
- Captain Tegis Marz
- Captain Morrow
- Lieutenant Hathaway
- Graham O'Brien
- Wil Merrick
- Black Morgan
The dropship's design, pilot personality, and unit quotations are heavily modelled or borrowed from the one found in the movie Aliens.