"Are those ... fucking VTOLs? Great... Jon, what did you do to piss them off so bad?"
~ Smalls, to Jonathon Rollins
The Mil and Kamov Aerospace Plant VTOL Pattern 64 Shershen (Hornet), better known as the Mi-64 Shershen, is an attack VTOL aircraft in service with the Mecharussian Armed Forces. Famous for its distinctive sleek, shark-like appearance, the Shershen is heavily-armed, well-armoured, manoeuvrable and highly versatile. It is able to perform a wide variety of combat roles from tank-busting to air-defence suppression and even air superiority: while it is nowhere near as fast or as agile as a true air superiority fighter (such as an F/A-74 Goshawk or a Helix MJK-AF Fighter), it will still give other VTOLs and even slow attack jets a hard time.
The Mi-64V, the production variant of the Shershen, is most typically armed with a nose-mounted, turreted 6V48 Uragan heavy Gatling laser, a powerful weapon system capable of exceeding 4,000 rounds per minute and shredding through lightly-armoured targets as though they are made of butter. It also possesses two rocket pods, containing fifteen unguided rockets per pod, underslung beneath its stubby main aerofoils, along with four external hardpoints for guided missiles to be attached. The other production variant, the Mi-64P, eschews the Uragan weapon system in favour of a powerful plasma cannon, strong enough to demolish bunkers and threaten vital systems of even airships.
The Mi-64V2 variant, which enters service in 2168, equips a nose-mounted turret again, but it mounts a heavy ion repeater to pierce thicker armour and eschews the missile hardpoints altogether in favour of the PSOP-2 guided plasma launcher system.
The Shershen is often considered to be a 'flying tank': as well as a variety of soft-kill measures, such as ECM jammers, infrared flares and anti-radar chaff, all variants possess explosive-reactive armour plating to defeat incoming flak artillery. Later variants, such as the Mi-64V2, replace the ERA with an anti-missile laser defence grid, a light energy shield and anti-plasma magnetic armour.
- The Shershen features in To Struggle in the Way of Allah, providing fire support for Mecharussian troops in Syria and Erbil.
- It also makes an appearance in A Blood Debt; the Mi-64V variant is observed escorting the 11F50 Pegas jump-shuttle prototype carrying the Imperial delegation to Sunikagrad.
- Zinoviya Marilova steals one to escape from the SHM headquarters; the same gunship is used again to try to kill Victor Golovkin. Marilova's gunship is, interestingly, mentioned as possessing a ballistic rotary cannon as well as its Gatling laser: it was most probably an undesignated experimental model.