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Hovercrafts serve as one of the primary transportation and defensive forces for the city of Zion. They are manned by a mixture of redpills and natural-born humans. The ships vary greatly in size, armament, crew complement and combat performance but all have one mission: The protection and freedom of humanity from the oppression by the Machines and its continued use of the Matrix to imprison and control most of humanity.
Hovercraft seem to contain a mixture of old and modern equipment and have a dubious quality of assembly. This might be explained by the fact that humanity assembled their ships from the remains of their destroyed world.
Hovercraft "fly" using pad technology that apparently leverages magnetism to form levitation. While hovercraft can practically fly, the Zion operatives that crew these ships are generally conducting operations below ground within the ancient sewers and tunnels that formed the underground of the old destroyed human cities, away from Sentinels.
Hovercraft appear to be electrically powered, using batteries or other source that allows operations for several weeks if not months. Hovercraft can also perform limited repairs if they happen to be damaged by the environment or are damaged by Machine forces, however all Hovercraft ultimately need to return to Zion for a full resupply and complete repairs.
Hovercraft are also quite heavily armored despite their insane speed and maneuverability as demonstrated by the Nebuchadnezzar when its exterior armor and interior hull took several minutes for a patrol of Sentinels to cut through. Hovercrafts stronger and larger than the Nebuchadnezzar are expected to have stronger survival capabilities.
The interior of hovercraft is very limited in creature comforts. The environment is cold, sometimes damp, and cramped with little privacy. Crews often handle some sort of repair when not jacked in or resting. Food consists of a cold, protein soup that is aesthetically unpleasing.
In a section of the hovercraft is the operator console, where a series of chairs are available for redpills to perform their second duty: Freeing human minds from the grasp of the Matrix. Each redpill sits in a chair and is strapped in for their own safety, where then a long data probe is inserted in their headjack. The operator is able to broadcast their mind's carrier and data signal into the Matrix network which is broadcasted over the span of the planet. Operators are typically natural-born humans, but some redpills such as Cypher were trained on the console.
A cockpit contains the flight controls as well as sensing devices to alert crews of approaching Machines. Hovercraft crews fear the Sentinels that patrol the tunnels, which in groups can obliterate an unprepared hovercraft. While a few heavier hovercraft have sizable gun batteries able to fight off sentinels, (such as the Icarus and the Hammer) most hovercraft have only a few light guns. Hovercraft captains invariably prefer to keep undetected, hiding in access points and collapsed tunnels until the threat passes.
If a hovercraft is sighted by a force of Sentinels, the crew attempts to flee and hide, but sometimes they are forced to use their weapon of last resort to deactivate the sentinels; the EMP. If the crew is hacked into the Matrix at the time of their discovery by sentinels; the Operator has a difficult choice with very little time to make it. He must retrieve all jacked-in crew before activating the EMP, otherwise, the pulse will not only destroy the sentinels, but disrupt the redpill's carrier signal, effectively killing them. Some bigger hovercrafts however had the option to buy time for their crew with their heavier weaponry but ultimately still preferred to hide against the Machines.
Every hovercraft captain is given access codes to Zion, which allow them to enter the city once given to the redpills plugged into the Zion mainframe.
- The Nebuchadnezzar, captained by Morpheus
- The Logos, captained by Niobe
- The Mjolnir, captained by Roland
- The Osiris, captained by Thadeus
- The Vigilant, captained by Soren
- The Caduceus, captained by Ballard
- The Icarus, captained by Ajax
- The Gnosis, captained by Ice
- The Novalis, captained by Tirant
- The Brahma, captained by Kali
- ↑ While Zion residents believe that they are continuing the old Machine War and have built their world from that era, in fact, they are likely picking up scraps from the remains of a previous Zion, destroyed cyclically by the Machines, as explained by the Architect in The Matrix Reloaded.
- ↑ Pad-equipped personal transports are seen being sold by 01 in a commercial in The Second Renaissance. Flying human bomber craft that also use pads are seen during Operation Dark Storm in this same feature from The Animatrix.
- ↑ Morpheus discusses a withdrawal order from Commander Jason Lock where hovercraft are instructed to return for recharging during the captains' meeting at the start of The Matrix Reloaded.