The Dropship 77-Troop Carrier, abbreviated D77-TC, or more commonly known as the Pelican, is an extremely versatile aircraft used by the UNSC. Used mainly for medium-lift operations of various personnel, vehicles and equipment, it can also be used as a powerful support gunship.
The D77-TC Pelican is mainly used for the rapid insertion and extraction of ground troops. They may deliver vehicles and vital equipment to the battlefield when required. The D77-TC has been in service for over fifty years, and is the primary tactical support aircraft of the UNSC. The Pelican is a multi-role aircraft; it is fully capable of atmospheric flight and can land almost anywhere without difficulty.
The Pelican is also capable of limited spaceflight, which the UNSC uses as a primary method of delivering troops to the surface from orbit. Standard armament consists of one Class III externally powered projectile weapon at the bow of the craft, and one Class I gas-operated projectile weapon mounted at the rear, in the extended crew area. More heavily armed variants do exist, with multiple and more powerful weapons.
Standard armament consists of a chin-mounted 40mm rotary cannon which was common prior to 2525, but was later superseded by a 70mm chaingun. These weapons are usually controlled by the pilot's helmet so that it would aim in the direction of the pilot's view, similar to the 21st-century TADS/PNVS found on Apache gunships or the HUD system in a SPARTAN's armor. Some dropships boasted twin chainguns firing depleted uranium rounds.
Missile pods, each holding eight ANVIL-II ASMs, can be mounted under each wing to engage more maneuverable or better protected targets. Fire control is typically delegated to the copilot, who is assisted by a helmet-mounted display. An M247 GPMG or a 25mm grenade launcher can be mounted facing out of the rear cargo hatch; the weapons can be folded flat against the roof of the internal bay when not in use by the crew chief or a passenger.
The main engines are mounted in pairs in four nacelles, one on each wing and two at the rear. The nacelles can articulate independently, thus altering (i.e. vectoring) the direction of thrust and improving the dropship's low airspeed maneuverability. Six ventral thrusters, two on each wing nacelle and one on each aft nacelle, allow the Pelican to land and take off vertically. These engines are capable of both space and atmospheric operation. The D77, although fully capable of orbital insertion, is too small to be equipped with a Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, and thus is incapable of slipspace travel.
The wings mounted on a Pelican seem extremely small, too small to support the weight of dropship and payload alone. It is speculated that it incorporates at least some lifting body principles, its own hull providing most of the lift necessary.
The Pelican is capable of carrying passengers and cargo using a combination of internal and external methods.
The large aft overhang gives an attachment point for additional cargo and ordnance. Possible payloads include a Troop Deployment Pod, a Scorpion Tank, a Warthog, eight Resupply Canister Type-B Capsules, or a Portable bridge.
D77s are not rated to carry combat vehicles in whole from space to the surface of planets. Instead, if they are needed to make such deliveries, they must carry down crated portions of the vehicles and reassembled near the operational area.
The main compartment of the Pelican (sometimes called the "Blood Tray") has capacity for 15 people (10 sitting, 5 standing). Other variants have displayed the ability to hold considerably more as demonstrated. For example, the SPARTAN-II's were assigned a specialized Pelican, which was able to hold an entire team of twenty five, as well as fitting cutting gear to board a Covenant warship. Three Pelicans used for the SPARTAN-III Program carried 300 children, though this may have been because of numerous trips back and forth from the surface.
The maximum payload of a Pelican is seventy tons.
|D77H-TCI Pelican Dropship||In many ways the D77H-TCI is similar in appearance to the plain D77, except for being more angular. Internally, though, the craft has been renovated and it can store equipment in overhead netting. The cockpit has been altered, and instead of the side-by-side positioning of the pilot and copilot, the pilot now sits at the fore of the dropship, with the co-pilot behind him/her, and at a higher position, in tandem.|
|D77C Dropship||A paramilitary variant for use in urban areas.|
|D77C-NMPD Pelican Dropship||A variant of the D77C, operated by the New Mombasa Police Department, it is differentiated from its military counterpart by a black and white colour scheme, "POLICE" replacing the traditional "MARINES" on the external hull, and a noted lack of armament. Under the craft's chin, where a machine gun turret or autocannon would normally be installed, are various interchangeable sensors used by the police for aerial surveillance and crowd control.|
|G77S Gunship||A combat oriented gunship design present on the UNSC Spirit of Fire in 2559.|
Ships of the Line
Pelicans receive serial numbers to be identified by during radio transmissions, particularly in combat situations. Each serial number consists of a letter from the Phonetic Alphabet followed by a number. Though a few Pelicans have this number inscribed on their cargo bays, most have no distinguishing mark on their exteriors. It is unclear how the numbers are chosen, but with their spread across the alphabet and numerals, it can be inferred that a very large number of Pelicans are in service, perhaps as many as 26,000.
Generally the D77 can not be piloted or operated by the player, but often delivers ordnance during battle or is the starting point for the mission. However, it is possible through Glitches or Easter Eggs.
There is a glitch in the Halo 2 level Metropolis where the player can ride the Pelican. It will take the player out of the map, flip, and eject the player. If the player attempts to right the flipped Pelican, the script will read "Hold X to flip Banshee," because Bungie never intended for the Pelican to be operable by the player, and therefore did not make a unique message. The Pelican's in-game physics will make it impossible to correctly and permanently flip the Pelican, as it will always reposition itself in an upside-down position.
In Halo Wars it is possible to summon a Pelican to transport cargo in order to avoid units that take too much time to get to your destination if they travel on foot. Select the 'Spirit of Fire' menu, then use the left analog stick to choose the 'Pelican' and get the forces you want transported into the cargo ship. However, the Pelican can sometimes be destroyed if its HP is too low, so you might need to quickly unload the cargo before it goes down. All your units onboard will be lost if the cargo transport is shot down.
In Halo: Reach you are able to pilot the Pelican on the campaign mission New Alexandria through an easter egg. To do this, you must go to the level New Alexandria and deactivate all the jammers, then go to the building on the right side of Club Errera and press a switch located on the bottom of the building's overhang. Then take your Falcon through a building with a large circular hole in it nearby and your Falcon will be replaced with a Pelican. Doing the same with a Banshee will give you a Phantom.
The above information combined with the fact that one can enter the turret of the Pelican on the level Long Night of Solace seems to indicate that Bungie intended for Pelicans to be flown in game, during Halo: Reach but decided against it later on, or were experimenting with including it in a future release. Certain in-game models of the Pelican (there are many) are near completion, only missing entry prompts, having the Pilot position "locked," the bugs with the turret that prevent one from seeing out of it and it continuing to fire after destroyed, and also not being destructible. The Pelican in Long Night of Solace actually has a landing and take off animation if you hack yourself into its cockpit, where the ramp and gear are retracted upon entry and extended after one gets back out. No model of the Phantom has a similar animation.
- All Pelican dropships in Halo: Combat Evolved bear either the numbers E419 (Echo 419) or V933 (Victor 933). This was likely done to save resources during the development of the game.
- The Pelican shows clear inspiration from the UD-4L Cheyenne dropship from the movie Aliens, which inspired Halo in many ways.
- All Pelicans in Halo: Reach have "NOBLE" written on both of their wings, and have a machine gun added, similar to the Falcons. This likely implies that Noble has one or several Pelicans serving as dedicated transport vehicles.
- Although the Pelicans in Halo: Reach are D77-TC Models, the cockpit's seating is just like the Halo 3-era's Pelican, the D77H-TCI Model, with the pilot in the middle up front and the co-pilot just a little to the left of the pilot's seat as well as the cockpit no longer being separated by a door. This appears to be a retcon of the original as the D77H-TCI model was seen to have a much wider interior and separate compartment that closed off the cockpit from the troop bay. In Halo: Anniversary all Pelicans have the new cockpit layout as can be clearly seen showing that this is indeed a retcon of the original Halo CE and Halo 2 Pelican design.
- The version in Halo: Reach is indeed a D77-TC due to the recognizable more angular shape, but since the game features mostly the UNSC Army's equipment and not the Marines, it's possible that the version seen in game is the Army version that features a TCI style cockpit. It's also possible that the Army version's cockpit was later incorporated along with other new features into the D77H-TCI seen in Halo 3.
- On the level Exodus in Halo: Reach there is a hidden Pelican that you can ride in the back of, revealing that this pelican has no interior model. Also on the level if one waits long enough for the Pelican to arrive that evacuates the civilians one can ride in the Pelican's cargo bay by getting in it then pressing X. Oddly you can not see the other people sitting in the seats after you are riding the Pelican and the AI will glitch sometimes causing the Pelican to crash.
- The Pelicans in Halo: Reach seem to be stronger than the newer Pelican model, the D77H-TCI, because in the mission The Pillar of Autumn, the Phantom that shoots down the other Pelican near Keyes' Pelican uses a weapon similar to the Light Plasma Mortar. While in Halo 3, the two Pelicans in the mission Sierra 117 are shot down by two Banshees' Fuel Rod Cannons. It is possible that considering the Autumn was to transport the Spartans to capture a Prophet to attempt to force the Covenant to the negotiating table, the Pelicans were modified to be tougher due to the extreme importance of the mission.
- The Pelican that was used to transport Carter-A259, Emile-A239, and SPARTAN-B312 doesn't seem to have a hoist because during the final cutscene in the Halo: Reach level, The Package, it shows the Pelican having some sort of UNSC Ammo Crate/Container in replacement of the hoist.
- All Pelicans in Halo: Reach have single-engine thrusters, rather than their future counterpart Pelican that has twin-engine thrusters. It is possible that the UNSC have upgraded their Pelicans to twin-engine thrusters by the time of the events of the Battle of Earth because they knew that the Covenant were going to attack Earth much harder.
- Another possibility is that the UNSC were going to use Pelicans much more often then before so that they could get to locations and objectives faster. They probably will also use it for more space battles.
- Despite this, the ones in Halo Wars have twin thrusters; the game having been set 30 years prior to the discovery of Halo, and before the Battle of Reach itself.
- In Halo: Reach, most Pelicans, if not all, have breakable nose turrets.
- If you look at the cockpit of a Pelican in Halo: Reach, you can see that windshield is solid grey instead of glass, meaning that the pilot cannot actually see through it. The same applies with AI-controlled Falcons.
Concept Art and Pre-Release Images
Overviews and Size Comparisons
- Halo 3 - Promotional Material: Halo: Arms Race
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Collectible: Kinect Voice Library
- Image Comparison
- Halo: Reach - Bonus Item: Instruction Manual
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, Page 450
- Halo Wars 2 - Collectible: Phoenix Logs - UNSC Units - Pelican
- Halo Wars - Level: Alpha Base
- Halo Wars - Level: Arcadia City
- Halo Wars - Level: Anders' Signal
- Halo: Combat Evolved - Level: 343 Guilty Spark
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Page 40
- Halo Wars 2 - Collectible: Phoenix Logs - UNSC Buildings - Garage
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - Chapter 23, Page 203
- Halo Waypoint - Universe - Pelican