"The secrets of the Fire Raptors' construction were lost sometime after the Horus Heresy, but Fire Raptors are now being fielded in increasing numbers across the countless war zones of the 41st Millennium, suggesting that an as-yet unidentified Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World or Adeptus Astartes Chapter Forge has come into possession of a complete STC imprint."
- – Forge World, showing that gaming trends can have an effect on the fluff
Suddenly Forge World guys realized that people run Storm Eagles empty more often than not, being more interested in using them as a fire platform than as an extremely risky transport (because S10 AP2 autohit for every passenger if it explodes in midair sucks), so they cut out the transport capacity, armed it with a twin Avenger Bolt Cannon (AKA the "fuck marines gun") instead of nose twin Heavy Bolters, and replaced the missile pods with two sidegunner sponsons with 2 twin-linked Heavy Bolters each, and named it the Fire Raptor. This thing is a flying rape machine against any infantry lighter than terminators. Think of it as a combination of an A-10 Thunderbolt II and an AC-130u Spectre gunship.
On the Tabletop
Rules are out, and they're hectic. It has the 'Independent Turret Fire' special rule, which basically means "Shoot these weapons at anything in range, and they don't count towards the total number of weapons it can fire". It also has the 'Relic of the Armoury' rule - this means you can only take ONE of ANY type of Relic vehicle in your army, unless you have a Keeper of the Relics as a HQ choice (or compulsory HQ in secondary detachments). What's a Keeper of the Relics, you ask? They are:
- Space Marines: Master of the Forge (which no longer exists RAW, just use a Techmarine, which is the same RAI thing until you see an update, Forge World encourages this)
- Dark Angels: Interrogator-Chaplain
- Blood Angels: Reclusiarch
- Space Wolves: Rune Priest with Saga of the Beastslayer (which now only exists as a Warlord Trait, emails from FW suggest just ignoring that part and house-ruling a basic Rune Priest)
- Chaos: Abaddon, Warpsmith or a Sorcerer rolling on Malefic Daemonology
You have one of these, you can take as many of these flying rape machines as you want (within reason).
Blood Angels also get a unique weapon - the Revelation-class Warhead Battery. Unlike every other Blood Angels weapon ever, this has a STR and AP value of -. Why? Because it's Heavy 4, Barrage, Large Blast, Blind, One Use and Descent Beacon. Which raises another point - what's a Descent Beacon? It's more Deep Striking goodness: "After the Revelation warhead battery attack has been fully resolved, the controlling player may place a beacon marker at the center point of any one of the Large Blast markers placed as part of the weapon’s attack. This marker remains in place until the end of the Blood Angels player’s next turn, and any friendly unit with the Descent of Angels special rule that deploys using the Deep Strike rules within 6" of the marker will not scatter."
Oh, and you can swap the two quad heavy bolters (S5/AP4/Heavy6/Twin-Linked) with two twin-linked Autocannons, or a double Reaper autocannon (S7/AP4/Heavy4/Twinlinked), in case you don't worship that rotting corpse on th*BLAM* HERESY! Anyway, the side sponson weapon still benefit from the Independent Turret Fire rule.
In 8th Edition, the Fire Raptor has become even more of a flying machine of moving death than it has in previous editions. It becomes nearly as tough as a lander raider at T7, 16 wounds and a save of +3 but with a few more perks, namely the Hard to Hit and Airborne. One adds a -1 to hit against this model and the other make it so that only units with the key word Fly can charge it but it can't charge itself. Not only that, your two hellstrike missiles are no longer single use, so enjoy that 72" range or switch them out for two twin-las cannons. While very expensive, it's gotten a price cut due to chapter approved and now it's definitely worth it to see orks and nids cry. With the April FAQ you probably forgot about it and put it back on the shelf, but you might want to dust it back off again because its price went back down in the 2018 Chapter Approved! Goddammit, GW, decide on something for once! In any case, at this moment in time (though its price will probably be changed again soon) it's a very nice anti-horde option, while also being quite survivable itself due to high toughness and wounds statistics, and a -1 to hit against all shooting attacks, while the sheer size of the model also makes it a good fire magnet and distraction carnifex. A solid choice for any Chaos or Loyalist Marine army.