One of the engineers from the Irish Dragoons had been reviewing a battle ROM of a little known but interesting salvage operation. Now salvage operations are not particularly exciting, but small aspect of one of the recovery vehicles caught the engineer's attention. One of the salvage rigs had its own surveillance drone. The engineer decided that was what the Irish Dragoons needed; a launch enabled surveillance drone that could travel with the regiment and be launcheded when additional battlefield data was needed.
The project became known as Fledermaus (bat). To save time and materials, a Shreck PPC chassis was used as a drone carrier. It was also decided to make the drone capable of being piloted as well as remotely controlled. An auxiliary launch booster is attached to the Bat and is jettisoned after launch.
Having proven successful, the Project Fledermaus engineers decided the next step was to enlarge the airframe and make it more combat worthy to serve as an attack craft as well as to provide the needed intel. The rail launcher was abandoned in favor of a hydraulic piston to raise the Manta into launch position. This proved very a successful modification. As with the Bat, an auxiliary launch booster is attached and is jettisoned after launch.
Finally, the ultimate configuration was attempted. Instead of launching a surveillance craft that could fight to a greater of lesser degree, it was decided to launce a full fledged aerospace fighter. This could be used as a point defense fighter, ground assault fighter, or full interceptor mode. It was decided to use a Gorgon class cruise missile as a launch vehicle. With the extra fuel load the Gorgon could be remotely piloted, landed and recovered for easy reuse. Some scientists suggested that the Gorgon could even still be launched with a reduced scale warhead. Thus following the release from the Stingray fighter the Gorgon could then continue on to a secondary target. Needless to say the areospace pilots strenuously objected to riding a bomb off the launch rails.
Gorgon launch vehicle:
Here is a picture of J.E.'s recovery vehicle which is mentioned in the opening of the story. You can see his surveillance drone very well in the upper right corner of this picture. Thanks for the inspiration J.E.
Lastly, in the first picture where the Fledermaus is being lowered onto the transport/launch vehicle, the vehicle with the crane is one of Amused Vermin’s "Salvage Crawlers" used in same game as J.E.'s recovery vehicle. You can see it in the starting line up for the game in the picture below. It's kinda fitting for it to be part of the Project Fledermaus as well.