|Stormtalon with twin-linked lascannon|
I was originally concerned that the Stormtalon would take up a Heavy Support slot. The leaked sketches of the gunship showed that it has some significant weaponry, but if I had to choose between bringing the Stormtalon and taking a Predator, Land Raider, or Vindicator, the new flyer would be out of luck. However, once a few clear photos of the model were leaked, it became obvious to the eagle-eyed that the crossed double-headed arrows on its hull and wings meant that it was destined for a Fast Attack slot. Photos of the June White Dwarf pages that list the rules for the gunship have confirmed this.
The base points value is 130, for which you get a twin-linked assault cannon and a twin-linked heavy bolter. You also get the Aerial Assault rule (you can fire all weapons even if you moved at cruising speed) and the Supersonic rule (you can move 36" when moving flat out). This non-upgraded arrangement makes the Stormtalon a glorified Tornado-pattern Land Speeder, which can have a heavy bolter and an assault cannon in a slightly slower and less armored chassis for 90 points. I really can't see myself fielding a standard Stormtalon, but the upgrades make the gunship more attractive. For 20 points the twin-linked heavy bolter can be exchanged for a twin-linked lascannon (I wish it was that cheap to upgrade a Razorback). For 25 points the heavy bolter can be upgraded to a Typhoon Missile launcher or the new Skyhammer Missile launcher (strength 7, AP 4, heavy 3). Although the new missile's strength and AP are inferior to those of Krak missiles, the new launcher gives you more shots with missiles that have a range of 60". At that distance only the Imperial Guard and the Tau could possibly reach you.
|Stormtalon with Skyhammer Missile launcher|
My only worry about this vehicle is that it's heavily armed but only has armor 11. The best description for this arrangement would be "fire magnet". While the Skyhammer Missile launcher might be able to keep your vehicle out of range of most enemies, it could take a long time for three strength 7 shots per turn to pay for your shiny 155 point flyer. However, I'm banking on the Escort Craft rule to make the Stormtalon worth it. This rule allows the gunship to be assigned to a unit that is arriving from reserve. When the reserved unit arrives, the Stormtalon automatically arrives within a short distance. Unfortunately, early assumptions that it could escort deep striking units were premature; the White Dwarf rules specifically prohibit it. Now, if the gunship were to escort an outflanking unit, then your opponent could find quite a mean little force suddenly appearing much too close to his own lines. The Stormtalon may last only one turn, but it could end up being one very effective turn.
I've started to incorporate the Stormtalon into a few theoretical army lists, particularly those that make use of outflanking units. The most effective arrangement I can think of involves Captain Sicarius, a Stormtalon gunship, a Razorback, and the close-combat oriented half of a Tactical Squad that's been divided into combat squads. With Captain Sicarius' Battle-forged Heroes rule, the Tactical Squad can be given the Scout or Infiltrate special rules. With one or the other rule, the Squad is allowed to outflank. Since the Razorback is a dedicated transport, it can also be part of the outflanking maneuver as long as the Squad is embarked in it at the time. Thanks to the Escort Craft rule, when this outflanking Razorback arrives with twin-linked heavy bolter or lascannon blazing (and containing a Space Marine captain with artificer armor, feel no pain, and a plasma pistol, as well as five power armored Marines with various weapons intended to breach armor and wreak havoc), the Stormtalon will also appear with its own twin-linked assault cannon and twin-linked heavy bolter, twin-linked lascannon, Typhoon Missile launcher, or Skyhammer Missile launcher blasting away.
Of course, you'd have to hope that the tactic is immediately successful; the following turn is likely to see a downed Stormtalon and/or a burned-out Razorback.