Suerniac Flight Works J-21a Nixie light strike-interceptor
(based on KSE Delta-7 Aethersprite series)
The J-21a Nixie series began with the purchase of a half dozen Delta-7 and Delta-7b fighters following the Clone Wars to supplement their defense force (at the time consisting of a single Charger 70c cruiser, two light stock transports, and a dozen LAAT/i with the missile drivers removed). These fighters, locally known as “Delta Ships,” were extensively modified, with missile racks or external cannons mounted to increase utility. During the early days of the New Order, these were the primary patrol force for Suevia, both in atmosphere and orbit. At any given moment, no less than four were to be flight worthy. The heavy workload of nearly two decades of use resulted in the fighters wearing out quickly. Sadly, the fighters were scrapped and no holographic images remain.
A year before the Battle of Endor, Suevia began the search for a new fighter. A competition was held, since some leaders were considering purchasing another half-squadron of fighters and a squadron of cloud cars. Suerniac FW argued that a single fighter type could perform the missions of both with less cost. The techs started with a stripped down frame (specifically Delta Ship-5, which had suffered a hard landing) to build a fighter to meet all the needs of Suevia. This became the prototype for the new J-21a series. In keeping the the “spirit” nature of the Delta-7's name, the craft was christened “Nixie,” a type of aquatic being from Suevian legend.
Most of the changes made were in components more than in design. Local built and “overclocked” Incom 4L4 engines were installed, allowing speeds greater than the X-Wing, and nearly on par with the TIE/IN "Interceptor". The engines are coupled with two independent starters, a necessity in the boreal climate of habitable Suevia. Though considered unnecessary for system patrols originally, a hyperdrive is included. Improved weapons, shields and sensors were installed as well. To accomplish greater atmospheric agility, especially at low altitudes, Suerniac FW a pair of retractable canards along the forward third of the hull. These allow the Nixie to maneuver within the confines of canyon-fjords common along Suevia coastlines, where over 80% of the population lives. Test pilots also found that the canards, which are designed to automatically adjust position according to speed and attitude, increased maneuverability exponentially above the already agile Delta-7. The competition officially ended with a fly-off between the J-21a Nixie prototype and a T-65B X-Wing. While the X-Wing had greater payload, the agility and utility of the Nixie proved superior and was ordered into production. Some Alliance pilots visiting the planet took time to fly the fighter, and word spread, resulting in eight planets placing orders for their own patrol fleets.
The J-21a Nixie light strike-intercept fighters are meant to be “jack of all trades.” Not only do they provide the “standard” snubfighter missions of interception and dogfighter, but they are optimised for light strike, long loiter patrols, and reconnaissance.
Regarding this final mission, they are equipped with an improved sensor suite, including mapping radar, electro-optical scanner, infrared tracking, high gain holo, and a multi-band comms detector. Many of these new sensors are fitted within or alongside the extended “hump” ahead of the droid. To aid in identifying targets during interceptions, a high-power spotlight is located ahead of the cockpit on the port side.
While the Delta-7 Aethersprite used two dual lasers, the J-21a Nixie uses two single-barrel laser cannon, mounted on the underside of the fighter. Outboard of these are two missile launchers, with three light concussion missiles each. It was this upgrade that the leaders of Suevia were most concerned about. The Delta-7 had little room internally for missiles (or anything else, such as cargo), but the missions the J-21a would perform required dedicated ordinance. The concussion missile launchers are a compromise, in that, while they provide substantial destructive power, their limited magazine dictates that, not only are there few available, but they are somewhat smaller than other models, resulting in a limited firing range. To make up for this lack of “hard hitting” firepower, Suerniac FW installed external mounting points along the hull tips for two proton torpedoes. While unconventional, this method allows the Nixie a level of destructive power to make most pirate captains pause. However, due to the external location, accuracy, speed, and range are a third less than a torpedo launched by an X-Wing. There have been experiments to fit a weapons rack or ejectable fuel tank between the engines, but as of this time none have proven successful yet.