Officially categorized as the 'Quest Corporation Global Rapid Infantry Deployment Craft, Mark II', the Gridrunner is a ultratech recon/transport craft with V/STOL/trans-atmospheric capability, a top-rated speed of Mach 10 and a cruising speed of Mach 7. It is able to place or retrieve troops anywhere on the planet within ninety minutes.
With a estimated cost of one billion dollars per craft, the Gridrunner can carry (in its original configuration) one hundred troops and their equipment. The Gridrunner has a special interior modular design that allows ground crews to quickly swap out interior sections according to specific mission profiles.
The specialized avionics package aboard the Gridrunner is priced at roughly two hundred and fifty million dollars: this includes a liquid-based, onboard artificial intelligence hardened against outside interference and EMP’s, which can act as an autopilot and complete a flight without a pilot (but optimally requires a passenger in the pilot seat to give simple instructions). The designers were able to circumvent several major problems in the design process (such as metal fatigue and temperature variants in flight causing extreme wear on aircraft parts) by using Secondary Adamantium for the craft's outer skin, many of the aircraft parts, and as a coating for many other aircraft parts (to increase their lifespan). As part of the deal which allowed the Quest Corporation access to the creation process of Adamantium (among other things), The U. S. Government received thirty-four of the aircraft free of charge; four of those aircraft have been turned over to DELPHI for the organization's needs.
There are four standard variants of the Gridrunner:
- Mark I - the third-scale prototype (three in existence).
- Mark II - standard troop transport with specialized seating for high-G maneuvers at transonic speed.
- Mark III - standard vehicle transport with specialized brackets for two vehicles.
- Mark IV - multi-role assault craft; modified with a specialized weapons-bay that can be deployed at trans-sonic speeds (not above Mach 6). Can carry strategic ordinance if required.
Two additional craft are in development using Gridrunner technology. One is a heavy transport with approximately twice the capacity, 200 troops or four vehicles (Gridrunner-H). The other is a smaller personal transport along the lines of a Gulfstream or Learjet, proposed to cruise at Mach 3.5 and maximum of Mach 5 (Gridrunner Slipstream).
There are two special versions known:
The Gridrunner tasked for Legion use is an advanced version of the Mark I. Reverse-engineered and upgraded by USAES engineering and aviation cadets in cooperation with Quest Corporation technical staff, the ' Gridrunner-A ' is the most advanced version of the craft to date. At an estimated cost of one point five billion dollars, she is faster (cruising speed of Mach 8), has a more advanced onboard A.I., sensory/communications-electrical countermeasures and electrical warfare package, and comes with the capability to operate outside the Earth's atmosphere. Among the enhanced capabilities of the Gridrunner-A:
- Ease of operation: any pilot with experience in flying military craft can easily learn to handle the aircraft. (This enhanced capability was retrofitted to include all versions of the aircraft class.)
- The aircraft has the capability to carry 2 conformal fuel tanks, allowing extended range.
- An exotic 'power conversion chamber' has been created for installation, which will allow Legionnaires with the appropriate abilities to act as a 'power source' to allow the Gridrunner-A to operate even without fuel. Due to the nature of the chamber, Legionnaires with appropriate abilities can channel them into/through the vessel, allowing the Gridrunner-A conditional defensive measures/functions such as cloaking, invisibility and energy shields.
- The craft has inertial dampening field generators, which can counteract 90% of the force imparted upon the craft's occupants due to acceleration. The IDF generator uses a great deal of energy, and thus is used only when necessary (ex. on takeoff, landings, and in case of emergency maneuvers).
- The Gridrunner-A is equipped with a unique 'atmospheric processor unit', which can create breathable gases and regulate the environment within the craft.
- The craft can carry up to four 'compliance chambers' - phone booth-sized chambers that have the same function as the Mark 40 compliance bands (in that they fully dampen the powers of anyone placed inside). If necessary, the prisoner can be kept in a sleep-state by the use of specialized sonic emitters, or restrained by the use of 'confinement mist' canisters inside. These chambers can be used to transport rogue metahumans to secure holding facilities.
- Unlike any other models, the Gridrunner-A is armed with two forward-mounted internal dual maser emitters (which can be used even at trans-sonic speeds). The masers have an effective range of 6000 meters (or just about three and three-quarter miles) and a maximum range of 8000 meters (or just under five miles). The masers are designed so that they are recessed into the craft and are not readily visible as weapons. The craft are also equipped with two rear-facing internally-mounted single maser emitters. These have an effective range of 2500 meters (or just over one and one-half miles) and a maximum range of 4000 meters (or nearly two and one-half miles).
In a move to capture some of the potentially lucrative commercial space market, a 'Gridrunner-A' variant was built that is capable of achieving low Earth orbit, the Gridrunner-OTS (Orbital Transport System). This variant uses a combination of mid-air refueling, CFTs and the Cradle booster system. Unlike most CFT systems, the Gridrunner's CFT's can be ejected once orbit has been achieved.
- Theoretically, with the 'power conversion chamber', the craft has the ability to make a trip to the Moon and return to Earth. However, this is expected to generate serious exhaustion in those the provide energy. To complete such a journey, upgrades would be needed to the navigation system to operate outside of Earth orbit.
- The craft uses a standard Water Recovery System of the same type used on the International Space Station. When in use,the PCC, APU, and WRS give the craft an effectively unlimited operational capability (based upon the nutritional needs of the crew and passengers).
- The craft also has a small Salazarium-based artificial gravity generator installed aboard. The AG-generator works by artificially stimulating the Salazarium inside the device to generate a localized field of graviton particles that act to simulate a near-Earth normal gravitational field throughout the craft. As with the IDF generator, the energy drain is such that it is used only when needed. (Because of the nature of her powers, Quinn Morgendorffer can interface with a Mark 5 modulator cuff, attached to the generator and provide the device with a conditionally unlimited energy source; also, the cuff allows power to be absorbed from Quinn even when she is asleep or unconscious.)
- The craft can carry a 'universal transfer chamber' - a chamber the size of a phone booth, which can either allow the Gridrunner-OTS to connect with a spacecraft or the International Space Station, as well as serve as a 'lifepod' that can be attached to the distressed craft so that three persons at a time can be rescued and brought aboard the Gridrunner.
- The Gridrunner-OTS has two additional coats of Secondary Adamantium coating over the hull to further protect the craft from the heat of re-entry caused by friction, and a force-screen emitter designed as the craft's primary heat shield during re-entry. (In addition, the on-board systems are all hardened against EMP so that if necessary, Jane Lane could use her own magnetic force-fields to protect the ship - although, in such a circumstance, she has the ability to return the craft to Earth under her own power. Likewise, Mack Mackenzie's solar powers could easily absorb or dissipate the heat build-up during re-entry.)
- To remain in compliance with international treaties, the Gridrunner-OTS is not armed.
- At the suggestion of Quinn Morgendorffer, the prototype vessel was named the Sally Ride in honor of the first United States woman to fly in space.
The Legion has two Mark II and three Gridrunner-A aircraft at its disposal for official uses. One of the Gridrunner-A aircraft was destroyed in an attack by Doctor Regulus (Janet Barch, who had begun to use her maiden name and was on a vendetta against Mack Mackenzie). It has since been replaced.