The Taurian Defense Force, having upgraded their Tank forces, now realized that the Fury and Gazelle class Dropships and the various modification inflicted on them were just not good enough any more. Unable to purchase any of the current vehicle carrier Dropships from the Inner Sphere in sufficant quantity, the TDF again turned to the Ministry of Defense to commision the design and manufacture of a fleet of suitable vessels. A fleet no less. The Quartermasters' Office first inquired as to the type of narcotics the High Command was ingesting, then blearly sought out a solution. In 3033 the specifications were finalized and published for bids. Taurus Territorial Industries was the only firm that responded and only with certain requirments/guaranties in advance. After a year's haggling, threats and outright blackmail the vessel dubbed Pontiac was authorized and resources alloted.
The Pontiac would be from the ground up a design dedicated to getting the TDF's tank forces on to target swiftly and securely. It would also be manufactured with the Lostech that had finally come into production from the find on Celentaro. It was to be able to battle a Union class Dropship and win as well as out run a Leopard. It took eight hard years but in June of 3042 the TCV Pontiac completed builders trials and entered service. Since then TTI has revamped and expanded the production line so as to complete 1 Pontiac a year and 1 of the Variants every 2 years. The 'sticker shock' for these 300,000,000+ C-Bill Dropships has not dissuaded the Ministry of Defense from ordering that fleet they wanted.
The Pontiac DS was created to securely move a full battalion (40) of Light Tanks or (12)Heavy Tanks, (12) Light Tanks and (12) Platoons of Motorized Infantry. Taurus Territorial Industries was able to do this by copying the modular bays of the Seeker class DS. This tactical flexiblity allows the force commander to adjust her transport's capabilities to better match her force needs. The vessel mounts over forty tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor giving it significantly more protection than the Unions of the 3040's. Armed with 10 ER PPCs backed by a dozen Medium Lasers the Pontiac can hit very hard across a broad range. The use of double strength Heatsinks allows the firing of all weapons simultaneously.
The Pontiac is not a great raiding vessel as in either configuration the DS only has a 100 days of fuel and barely enough food and air to match. Despite these 'short' legs, the Pontiac is quite comfortable. The crew quarters are all dual occupancy rooms with their own sinks and sanitary fixtures. The captain has a luxurous cabin with ample space and aminites. The quarters for the tank crews and infantry are not quite as grand, but a good cut above the older Gazelle/Fury cramped quarters. The design even includes a fair sized tactical command suite, but not much in the way of a recreational center. In short, this is a vessel designed to pick up a local force and transport it around a planetary system to intercept raiders, not a stratigic carrier across interstellar distances. Despite these limitations the Taurian Defense Forces have been hugely satisfied with the Pontiac.
40 Light tank bays or 12 Light tank bays and bunkage for 12 platoons of Motorized Infantry with up to 12 Heavy Tank bays or cargo space (1200 tons max)
In April of 3043 the lead ship of this class the TCV Pontiac was collecting a battalion of tanks from Perdition for delivery to Burton when a pirate Invader jumped into the system and released a pair of Leopard DS's and a Condor class DS. Racing in from the pirate Jump point the incomming raiders were still intercepted by the orbiting TCV Pontiac which crippled one of the Leopard 's and followed the second into atmosphere before it could land. As the local ASF assets rose to deal with the remaining Leopard , the Pontiac held the 'high orbits' preventing either of the pirate DS or their damaged ASF escorts from escaping. As soon as the battle ended the Pontiac landed to take on a full 2 companies of marines and blasted back towards the pirate's Invader at 4 gravities. Without enough time to recharge their K-F Drive the pirates were sitting ducks, shocked to see such a rapid response to their attack. After a brief ship battle the Jumpship was captured along with most of its crew. The Jumpship was later sold to finace the constuction of PPL's Mace (custom vehicle) light tank. The captain and crew of the TCV Pontiac recieved the honor of The Taurian Brand for their couragious actions despite the damage to their vessel, which also bears the Brand.
Some variants have been made as well as older vessels being retasked for other duties. With over 20 Pontiacs in service by 3060 the TDF has grudgedly allowed Taurus Territorial Industries to issue licensing rights to Comstar in return for the creation/building of more HPGs to expand the network throughout the Concordat. The newest variant converts both spaces to hold 6 ASF bays, 2 Small Craft bays and 12 squads of Battle armor. Although highly advanced, this design was finaced/supported by Comstar. This design is geared towards space/orbital operations and also contains extra fuel and supplies allowing this variant far greater endurance. Comstar holds the majority of these 'Sky Chief' models, though the TDF makes use of at least one such vessel, the TCV Ahayuta.
A variant seen in the colony regions is one that holds 24 light tank bays and bunkage for 36 platoons of Motorized Infantry along with enough life support, food and supplies to stay in the field for at least 90 days. Both the TDF and MAF operate these 'War Party' variants. Oddly, no variant exists as a pure or partial Mech carrier.
A Deeppockets Production/Imagination