- "When Ork blood falls like rain from the sky then shall I be satisfied."
- —Colonel Zandus, XIV Kathargo Armoured Regiment
The Praetor, also known as the Prator Armoured Assault Launcher, is an armoured assault missile launcher used by the Astra Militarum for direct infantry fire support. The Praetor is a modified variant of the Crassus Armoured Assault Transport, and is named after the unique weapon it mounts known as the Praetor Heavy Assault Launcher. The Praetor, the Crassus and the Dominus Heavy Siege Bombard are all designs recovered from the recently re-conquered and re-consecrated Forge World of Zhao-Arkhad. The Standard Template Construct (STC) data for the Crassus, Praetor, and Dominus were found deep within the vaults of this Forge World. The design for the Praetor Heavy Assault Launcher actually predates the introduction of the Crassus and it is believed that the last time the Praetor saw widespread use by the armed forces of Imperium was against the Land-Leviathans deployed by the Tellarite Rebellion forces who had forged their a pocket-empire in their little corner of the galaxy during the dark years of the Nova Terra Interregnum.
After the re-discovery of the STC data for the Crassus, the manufactora of Zhao-Arkkad introduced a new mobile platform for the Praetor weapon based on the Crassus chassis that transformed the Heavy Assault Launcher into a form of mobile rocket artillery. Since its introduction, this Praetor Armoured Assault Launcher has spread swiftly through the ranks of the Imperial Guard's front-line regiments, especially those currently deployed in the Segmentum Tempestus. However, due to the vehicle's complexity, it has not been as widely distributed as the more basic Crassus assault transport. While the Praetor's sophisticated systems and relatively high materiel cost makes it unlikely to replace or supplant the existing Imperial designs for mobile rocket artillery pieces, its durability and sheer versatility have already ensured it a valued place amongst those Imperial Guard units facing the most deadly adversaries of the Imperium.
The Praetor is named after the main weapons system it deploys, known as the Praetor Heavy Assault Launcher. The weapon is a sophisticated, multiple heavy missile launcher akin to the Whirlwind Missile Launcher of the Space Marine Whirlwind tank and Helios Pattern Land Raiders, although it is much larger and more powerful. The weapon is capable of firing several types of missiles distinguished by their use of different warheads, such as the Foehammer, Firestorm, and Pilum. The weapon takes up the space the Crassus uses to transport its precious cargo of soldiers, and its missiles are fully capable of engaging both land and air targets. The Praetor is also armed with two front-mounted Heavy Bolters for defence, and these can be replaced with Heavy Flamers, Autocannons, or Lascannons. The Praetor can also accept the following enhancements, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a Dozer Blade, and a Pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber or Storm Bolter.
- Sky Killer Aerial Supression Force - First used extensively in the wars to recover the Lyrax Sub-sector from the grip of the Ork empire of Huruk Eyerippa, the Praetor "Sky Killer" Aerial Suppression Force formation was used to counter the Ork klanz's massive and unexpected superiority in air power. Under the direction and ministration of the Adeptus Mechanicus, dedicated Praetor units were used to systematically destroy the Ork Fighta-Bommer wings and Kill-koptas, neutralising their threat. As the wars of the Southern Sabre Arm of the Segmentum Tempestus continued and the armoured regiments that had helped topple Eyerippa's empire were redeployed, the use of the formation quickly spread. Each Sky Killer formation consists of two to five Praetors armed only with Pilum warheads, one of which is designated a command vehicle. Sky Killer formations are also always attended to by their own Adeptus Mechanicus support chantry, which blesses the machines with sacred unguents of the Omnissiah and athremetic prayers of destruction and purity; both appeasing the Machine Spirit of the vehicles and allowing them to better target their enemies, whilst also granting their weapon systems an additional resistance to damage from enemy fire.
Known Users of the Praetor Armoured Assault Launcher
- Imperial Guard - The Praetor has spread to many of the front-line regiments of the Imperial Guard in the Segmentum Tempestus and beyond.
- 8th "Vengeance" Company, 6th Cadian Armoured Regiment - During the major Eldar incursion by the forces of Craftworld Mymeara on the Imperial Mining World of Betalis III, the crews of the few Praetors that were deployed on that world distinguished themselves greatly at the Battle of Alnitac against the Eldar Corsairs who attacked Battle Group Empteda at the Bregan Glacier. The Praetors received very little damage during the attack, but using both Foehammer and Firestorm warhead-equipped missiles, they managed to account for the majority of confirmed kills against the attackers, but were all destroyed in the detonation of the facility.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
The Technical Specifications of this vehicle have yet to be released by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Imperial Armour Aeronautica, pg. 24
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse Second Edition, pg. 14
- Imperial Armour Volume One Second Edition - Imperial Guard, pp. 8, 129-130, 132, 267
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp. 90-93
- Forge World Website - Praetor 'Sky Killer' Aerial Suppression Force Datasheet