Trent Telenko asks: Do heavy electronic-warfare fighters get the ability to control twelve drones as a single-space electronic warfare fighter does?
ANSWER: Rule (R1.F7A) states that heavy electronic-warfare fighters gain the drone-control capability of two-seat electronic-warfare fighters, so they would be able to control twelve drones.
Follow-up question: How do drone control pods interact with heavy fighters? With single-space fighters, a single drone-control pod raises control capability to six drones and a second raises it to twelve. Heavy fighters already can control six drones. So does the first pod do nothing for them and the second bucks them up to twelve drones?
ANSWER: A single pod would increase the control capability of a heavy
fighter to twelve, a second pod would have no additional effect.
Michael Powers asks: Where do the drones in the bay of an F-111 come from (R2.F11)? Are they all purchased as "extra" drones via Commander's Options, or can I draw them from the carrier's reload drones?
ANSWER: The drones would come from the carrier stores, which can include extra drones purchased as Commander's Options. The rules restrict figuring out how many of the drone spaces on the fighter can be used to determine "special drone" availability, and you do not have to pay drone speed costs. What goes into the bay simply comes from the stocks on the carrier.
Follow-up question: If the latter is the case, can I ignore "special drone percentages" when loading the bay? For example, a Federation BCS with the Y175 refit could conceivably have fifteen type-III drones in its reload storage. Could I load all of these into the weapon bays of the F-111 fighters and take advantage of the special type-III firing rate? (Admittedly only once, and it would strip the carrier of its entire type-III drone supply.)
ANSWER: There are several facets to this. First, if the F-111s are appearing in a scenario independent of their carrier, the bays can be configured with virtually anything they can legitimately carry, but this cannot increase the number of special drones unless special scenario rules say otherwise. For example, the squadron might have four type-III drones, and nothing stops you from putting those in the bays of two of the fighters and hanging type-I drones on the special rails outside of the bay. If they appear as part of a scenario with their carrier, their loadouts would depend to some extent on the scenario's background. At WS-III, the bays could be loaded with virtually anything they can carry, subject to what was actually available on the carrier, e.g., a Federation CVH could not load a T-bomb into the bay of each of its F-111s because it only has four T-bombs. The bays could be loaded with all available type-IIIs in that situation. At WS-II two of the fighters can be fully loaded and launched, but the other four will only have had two turns of deck crew actions by the sixteen (assuming you bought the four extras allowed a carrier) deck crews. Eight deck crew actions with four deck crews working on a given F-111 would leave you with an empty bay and one unused pod rail on each fighter at the start of the battle. (You could, of course, choose to load the bay rather than some of the drone and pod rails.) At WS-0 or WS-I you could have two fighters fully loaded, but the other four will have nothing loaded, and as noted it already takes nearly two full turns to just load the non-bay rails. (This does not even count time to start reloading the ready racks for when the fighters return.)
Follow-up question: How do deck crews reload the weapon bay when the fighter is in its mech-link? Are they assumed to be loading from a ready rack (one drone space per sixteen impulses of deck-crew work) or not (one space per 32 "crew-pulses")?
ANSWER: They are at a heavy fighter mech-link designed for their use (assuming an F-111 docked to an F-111 mech-link). Barring a specific rule saying that the F-111's bay is not reloaded from a ready rack, the ready rack rules apply.
Follow-up question: Okay; so if the fighters appear with their carrier, the bay supplies are just drawn from what is available on the carrier. What happens if the fighters appear as an independent squadron? Can I just load the bay with whatever I like (including T-bombs) as long as I pay for it?
ANSWER: Rule (FD10.64) makes many mentions of "fighter squadrons", so an independent squadron would have to adhere to the availability restrictions on drones unless a special scenario rule defines otherwise. Special scenario rules might define all the fighters are carrying as many type-III drones as they can, but if they make no mention the fighters are limited to the drone availability rules normally. Further, unless special scenario rules define otherwise, the bays are assumed to be loaded with drones of a speed appropriate to the year, but the player can freely replace the drones with any of the allowed items. (The trade-in of the drone or drones covers the costs of the replacement item.) Further, the player is free (as noted above) to move the drones on the various fighters around (giving one more type-IIIs, taking all the type-IIIs away from another, etc.) and can even swap them with drones in the bay. In such an independent scenario, it would be assumed that the extra T-bombs (if more than four of the fighters had one) were taken from the carrier's escorts or from some other source. A special scenario rule could, however, restrict the fighters from having some things in the bays. Further, this assumes the F-111s are simply appearing in a scenario with no past. If the players are playing in a campaign the loadouts of the fighters could be defined by previous actions in the campaign, up to and including having all the fighters fully tricked out with special drones outside of normal drone percentages. This is one of the reasons that campaign players have to be very careful about how drones are resupplied to their forces.