“The Xiphon Interceptor is a Legiones Astartes void/atmospheric combat craft with an ancient lineage. Its origins are long lost, but it shares many of its component STC patterns with craft as diverse as the Amhut Voyager and the Thunderbolt Fighter”

Legiones Astartes Army List, Forgeworld

The Xiphon. A model with clear influence from the Battlestar Galactica Viper. To some, the Primaris-Lightning Strike Fighter is somewhat off theme; being piloted by Imperial Navy, but the Legiones Astartes piloted Xiphon fits right in thematically with a Legiones Astartes army.

Narratively, it’s able to operate in both the cold void and atmosphere; at far higher stresses and is far more manoeuvrable than the Primaris-Lightning. Interestingly, this limits its use to Astartes only. It was complex, had a limited operational range and was ill-favoured by the Mechanicum. Despite the fact it was outfitted with powerful weapons that were compact versions of designs fitted to heavy void fighters; by the end of the Great Crusade, it had all but fallen out of frontline service except within Ultramarines and Dark Angels Legions.

The eruption of the Horus Heresy saw it pressed back into service across all of the Legions however.

Xiphon Pattern Interceptor, 205pts base:

Basic Rules and Core Capability:

The Xiphon is a solid performing aircraft that can fulfil a fairly wide gamut role in your army. It exists within the Fast Attack slot in the Force Organisation and is a flyer. Being a Supersonic aircraft, it must move a minimum of 18″, known as Combat Speed. It can also move to a maximum of 36″ using Cruising Speed if the player chooses.

It also has Jink and Agile. What this means is that if you’re targeted in the shooting phase, you can declare that the Xiphon is Jinking, giving it a 4+ cover save, however Agile enhances that cover save by 1, giving you a 3+ cover save. It’s a powerful rule, but you’re snap shooting in your following shooting phase.

Armed by default with two Twin-Linked Las Cannon, this gives it very effective Strength 9, AP 2, Heavy 2 (because there are two i’ve combined the individual weapon rolls) firepower at BS 4 with 48″ range. This is further supplemented by an underbelly centre-line Xiphon Rotary Missile Launcher. This is very much a good weapon. With it being 60″ range, S8, AP2, Heavy 2 and having the Cluster Warhead and Terminal Tracking rules. This means that whatever you hit, has to re-roll successful Jink and cover saves and if you are successful in penetrating, you roll D3 times on the Vehicle Damage Table and choose the highest result. It’s fairly effective in the role of Anti-tank, Anti-air or Anti-Infantry.

It’ll be able to glance/penetrate AV13 on 4+/5+ with its Lascannons and 5/6+ with the Missiles, but the flat AP2 is a nice benefit. AV14 is a little tougher to damage, especially when combined with Flare Shields however, the threat range on offer can easily be used to compensate for it. Better yet, unless you are going against Mechanicum, you’re pretty much assured to both double out and blast through any infantry you’re liable to encounter, with Terminal Tracking on the missiles adding the sublime re-rolling of successful cover saves made to the bargain. But, if you’re not using it against Armoured Vehicles or Infantry, then you can declare Skyfire at the start of your Shooting phase (but not Interceptor, despite its name) and start engaging enemy aircraft at normal Ballistic Skill. Gunships such as the Storm Eagle and Fire Raptor (AV12) will receive glance/penetrate on a 3/4+ with Lascannon and a 4/5+ with the missiles; and other fighter aircraft (AV11) on a 2/3+ with the Lascannon and a 3/4+ with the missiles; with those missiles forcing them to re-roll successful Jink saves.

Its basic stat line is BS 4, with Front Armour 11, Side Armour 11 and Rear Armour 11, protecting two Hull Points. This means that it actually has slightly better rear armour than the Primaris-Lightning, but is still weak to dedicated Anti-Air platforms with Autocannons or Kheres. You’ll need to either consider the enemy AA threat range, employ Jink or just get the brass out and risk it being downed as it attempts to arrive on the table or prosecute its target.

A Night Lords Xiphon lines up on an enemy Storm Eagle

Possible Upgrades:

Whilst it is somewhat more expensive to start off compared to a Primaris-Lightning, there are very few upgrades available for it. The three upgrades are take it or leave it depending on how you want to use the Xiphon and what sort of army you are facing.

Ground-Tracking Auguries provides the Xiphon with +1 BS when shooting Assault, Heavy, Rapid Fire or Salvo weapons at Artillery, Beasts, Bikes, Cavalry, Infantry, Monsterous Creatures of Vehicles without the flyer or skimmer type. This comes in for 10 points and is a solid bonus to its combat power. I tend to always take this upgrade as I run mine in a multi-role capability and it is quite effective at tearing open armour; however it will struggle with Flare Shields in the same way normal lascannon equipped anti tank systems do.

Chaff Launchers are a +5pts upgrade; providing a 4+ invulnerable save against missile type weapons. This is situational for me – it’s rarely taken unless i know i am facing Death Guard (with Heavy Support Missile Squads) or Iron Warriors (with Iron Havocs).

Finally, we have Armoured Cockpit. This 5pts upgrade provides the ability to shrug off and ignore Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned results on a 4+. The main issue here is that you only have 2 Hull Points – meaning that it might not even get the chance to fire again. I tend not to take this upgrade.

My Night Lords Xiphon in a previous subdued metallic scheme.

Summary:

The Xiphon is a solid platform for players who want an All Astartes army, or a good performing multi-role platform.

As with any Flyer in reserve, it’s reliant on reserve rolls to get it to the tabletop. This can be problematic at the best of times, especially when you have a critical window to strike targets in before they over run your lines as is often the case with Spartan Assault Tanks; or if the enemy gets their aircraft onto the table before you can. As such, anything that assists your reserve rolls can be exceptionally beneficial – such as Command Rhinos.

If you’re against a Xiphon or two, the best thing you can do is take advantage of Interceptor and Skyfire capable platforms. The best form of defence against a Xiphon is outright aggression before it can even take a shot.

If your opponent is playing carefully and ensuring it arrives out of range, then you need to make it Jink. That way it’s forced to snap fire on the proceeding turn, potentially saving its targets from rapid deaths. It’s also very susceptible to concerted anti aircraft fire and having only 2 HP makes this susceptibility a very real problem for the fielding player. If you’re using platforms like the Deredeo Dreadnought, then steering away from the Boreas Missiles is a good choice, considering how cheaply an opponent can fit Chaff Launchers to the Xiphon. Instead, you’re better off fitting Anvilus Autocannon Battery or just going for an instant-kill attempt with the Arachnus Lascannon Battery and its Exo-Shock rule.

Whilst it is more expensive than the Primaris-Lightning when you compare base costs, the Xiphon inevitably ends up being the cheaper of the two when selectively upgraded. I tend to field mine with everything bar the Armoured Cockpit as i’m yet to experience any situation that i’d used it. This means i have a solid multi-role flyer for 220pts. This comes out as 45pts cheaper than a Primaris-Lightning outfitted with Kraken penetrators (265pts). It’s not as outright effective at peeling open Spartan Assault Tanks, that’s for sure, but it does have better rear armour and a genuine multi-role capability.

So to end; the Xiphon isn’t the outright anti-meta that the Primaris-Lightning is, but it isn’t a weak option either. You can’t really go terribly wrong with a Xiphon as it’s able to fulfil any role you want to use it in. You just need to be cognisant of the fact that it’s down to the Dice Gods as to when it arrives.