The BTS-A2 Long-Range Strike Fighter/Bomber, otherwise known as the H-wing, is a successor to Koensayr's famously rugged Y-wing starfighter. Because of the resounding success of their previous fighter, it was only be a matter of time before the H-wing became a part of the Rebel Alliance’s (and later New Republic’s) starfighter arsenal. Even so, the number that enter service are likely to remain low, as almost any two single-seated starfighters can be purchased for the same price as a single H-wing.
The H-Wing is a stable weapons platform capable of delivering a rather hard-hitting punch; only the B-wing is more heavily armed. The fighter's primary long-range weapon is its heavy laser cannon which is mounted in a fully rotating dorsal turret. The weapon can only be fired from the turret's gunnery chair; no fire control for the main weapon is included in the piloting cockpit; a design flaw meaning that, if the gunner is incapacitated, or indeed is not there, the primary weapon can not be used.
As with the Y-wing, the H-wing carries two Arakyd proton torpedo launchers. In contrast to the Y-wing, however, the H-wing boasts a magazine of eight torpedoes (twice that of the earlier Y-wing's). Other than that, the magazines are identical to that of the Y-wing, making heavy ordinance standard for the two craft. This ordinance is benefited by an elaborately complex, improved fire control system which is quite necessary for the craft to excel in its primary role as a strike fighter/bomber.
As well as these primary weapons, the fighter also has two light ion cannons which are fire linked for greater effect and are mounted in the starboard nose of the fighters twin-nose hull. These weapons have a maximum rotation and vertical pivot span of 40 degrees which allow the second gunner to engage forward targets independent of flight control.
The H-wing is designed to survive extended combat engagements and multiple hits by using a new heavily reinforced armored hull, with the added protection provided by strong, high-energy shields. However, weapons capability and hull integrity do both come at a great cost; maneuverability and sublight speed have been sacrificed for increased battle worthiness, creating a distinct disadvantage in the H-wing that has an extremely small chance of outrunning a numerically superior enemy or of disengaging prior to retreating.
Despite these rather obvious speed and maneuverability disadvantages, military planners believe that it has an advantage in combat due to its full combat crew of three. Pilots of advanced, single-seat fighters often complain that they can not make full use of the craft's various systems on their own; with evasive maneuvering, operating several weapons systems, and angling shields, they are simply overtaxed. However, the H-wing's three-man crew can provide extremely efficient use of the ship's systems.
The forward cockpit contains two crew stations; primary and secondary. Piloting controls are installed only in the primary station, but shield, ion cannon, and torpedo fire control are all installed in both stations, giving the cockpit crew good flexibility. However, the multiple systems, as well as full life support, are greatly reflected in the fighter’s cost. In combat, the general arrangement is to have shield control operated by the pilot while the ion cannon and torpedo controls are handled by the weaponry officer in the secondary station.
Many of the components used in the Y-wing have been adapted to be used again in the H-wing, such as an improved Fabritech ANx-y sensor package and Koensayr Ion Jet engines (complete with their thrust vectrals), though larger engines are used in the H-wing. Other components of the Y-wing are not used, however, such as the R2 unit which previously provided nav data. Instead of this, a limited main computer similar to that on the B-wing is used, although the H-wing's have a higher data storage capacity.
Additionally, the H-wing does not employ ballistic ejection seats as that option simply is not feasible due to space constraints left from all the other systems which were installed. It does, however, contain a cramped, spartan cabin which includes a bunk with a soundproof divider that can be used on a rotational basis to provide increased comfort during long hyperspace jumps.
Alliance leaders reviewed reports of the H-wing's performance from its first encounters with Imperial fighter craft, encounters that went rather favorably for the oversized starfighter. However, its limited use proved that its greatest capabilities lay in using it as a strike and anti-shipping craft, as well as a screening fighter protecting slower transports and freighters. Some of the high-ranking leaders suggested that the H-wing should replace the B-wing as the Alliance's primary assault fighter. These H-wing proponents cited that the B-wing required high maintenance and performed poorly after suffering damage. This replacement was not likely, however, for several reasons.
Firstly, many smaller, bay-equipped starships, and even some small outposts, simply did not have fighter bays capable of housing and servicing the H-wings, which limited its usability. Additionally, the fighter severely lacked in speed, even the comparatively slow B-wing was faster than the H-wing. The final reason that the replacement was not likely, however, was simply economics; not only was the H-wing a costly space vehicle, it also required a greater number of trained flight personnel than the B-wing. While this larger flight crew did provide advantages in combat, such trained personnel were always in short supply for the Alliance. What was most likely was that the H-wing would serve as a special engagement craft, used when its advantages will provide it its greatest combat effectiveness.
Even after the Rebel Alliance became the New Republic and had greater access to credits, the H-wing was not bought in large quantities. The same problems that hampered it as an Alliance fighter continued to do so as a fighter of the New Republic. The central reasoning simply shifted to the idea that the New Republic could bolster their fleet quicker with cheaper, more versatile fighters.
H-wings do still see limited use, and have been popular enough that many other groups have opted to make use of them.