The D-54 Valkyrie Assault Boat is the ultimate conclusion of dropship technology, possessing enhanced carrying capacity and excellent range and speed. It also has one rather unique ability - it can deploy soldiers to the battlefield via drop-pod. The design of the Valkyrie utilises the remarkable strength of hardened alien alloys to create a cavernous hull that weighs a fraction of what it would if it were made from aluminium. Once combined with a pair of powerful turbines and the A-23 Alenium Pulse reactor, we have a craft that is capable of carrying a full twelve soldiers (or equivalent) into battle. Considering the sheer weight of our more advanced vehicles and personal armour, this is a remarkable achievement. The fact that the Valkyrie can cruise at nearly 2,000 km/h while doing so is simply a bonus. Launch tubes based on the electromagnetic launch tracks found in Carrier UFOs allow Xenonaut units to be dropped anywhere in the landing area (though not the entire battlefield) at the start of the battle.
The drop pods themselves may not look much, but are actually remarkable pieces of innovation. Once launched, each will generate an invisible plasma field that protects the user and slices a path through the air at several times the speed of sound. Once the pod drops to within a few hundred metres of the ground, landing rockets fire and slow the descent to a safe speed. The plasma field dissipates the moment the pod touches the ground and allows disembarkation. Your soldiers may find the experience of being fired towards a combat zone at nearly a thousand miles an hour a little discomfiting, but I'm afraid they will have to get used to it. I see little scope for further innovation where dropships are concerned; the Valkyrie will be the final design we produce.
Upon arriving to the battlefield, soldiers are inserted via drop pods rather than by landing and disembarking. Meaning you essentially get a grid view of the landing zone and nearby area and can manually deploy all your soldiers in the area.
In practice, this means deploying in the same manner as a base defence or base assault mission. This has its advantages and disadvantages. It allows your men to space out on deployment, reducing the effectiveness of grenades and Reaper rushes, as well as placing your soldiers in strategic positions. However, on open terrain, this leaves your men completely exposed, as there is no ship to take cover inside.
A UFO ground combat mission that is launched from a Valkyrie can be aborted by returning to the drop pods.
The utility of carrying 12 soldiers or 10 soldiers and a support vehicle cannot be underestimated. However the fact that you will lose out on any form of initial cover may make it less useful than the Shrike for ground combat operations.
18 Alien Alloys