Technology & Combat CharacteristicsEdit
The Northrop Grumman/Bellcom VF-0 Phoenix variable fighter was an advanced prototype for the VF-1 Valkyrie which served as a flight test unit and later in 2008 as a front-line fighter, before the Valkyrie's mass production in November 2008. According to the fictional Macross continuity, the fighter was developed with overtechnology obtained from the massive alien space ship that crashed on Earth in the year 1999. In most respects, the VF-0 resembled the VF-1, although its legs were longer because the EGF-127 conventional turbofan engines used by the fighter were larger and bulkier than the VF-1's FF-2001 thermonuclear engines/ Numerous fine details also differ, such as head designs. The VF-0D's wings are very different, replacing the variable sweep wings with a canard-delta configuration; although this would perform well, it would ultimately not be adopted for the production series VF-1.
The VF-0's maximum speed is Mach 2.74 at 11,000 m (36,000 ft) above sea level altitude, using variable intake slats to slow the inrushing air to subsonic velocity, rather than a single variable intake ramp. Because it uses conventional turbofan engines and not thermonuclear turbines like the later VF-1, the VF-0 is not a true spacecraft (although it can operate for short periods of time underwater).The VF-0's armament was virtually identical to the VF-1's (although the VF-1S's laser armament was bumped up from two to four barrels), but slightly older in design: A 35mm gun pod (GPU-9) in place of the VF-1's 55mm GU-11, and AIM-200 AMRAAM IIs (a development of the AIM-120 AMRAAM) air to air missiles in place of the VF-1's AMM-1s.
Several VF-0s, under the command of Roy Focker, were deployed from the aircraft carrier Asuka II (CVN-99). Many were destroyed in combat in the South Pacific against Anti-U.N. forces piloting SV-51 variable fighters in early 2008.
The VF-0 was succeeded in service by the VF-1 Valkyrie in late 2008/early 2009. After Space War I, the idea of an atmospheric-use variable fighter would be resurrected years later to provide an inexpensive combat mecha for various planetary defense forces with the VF-3000 "Star Crusader" and the VF-5000 "Star Mirage".
- 1 x Mauler laser cannon (mounted on head turret)
- 1 x Howard three-barrel GPU-9 35mm gatling gun pod featuring adjustable rate-of-fire for 60/1,250/2,500 rounds-per-minute, driven by a 90-horsepower electric motor, muzzle velocity 1,100 m/s (550 rounds total, capable of utilizing heavy armor-piercing or AHEAD ammunition).
Bombs & Missiles:
- 4 x underwing variable pylon hard points for 12 x standard Raytheon Bifors AIM-200A AMRAAM 2 I/ALH-guided medium-range air-to-air missiles (three-missile racks, 1/point).
- or 4 x GH-28A 8-tube general-purpose micro missile launchers (capable of firing 3 volleys).
- or 2 x HAIM-95A medium-range maneuverability missile launcher pods originally used in attack craft equipment (special attack/assault specification).
- or a combination of above load-outs
- 2 x external atmospheric combat super parts/conformal fuel tank FAST Pack with 24 x Raytheon Erlikon GH-30B I/IR-guided micro-missiles each (mounted one per leg/engine nacelle); 1 x standard gun pod spare magazine stored in super part.
- 2 x augmentative pylons welded to the conformal fuel tanks of craft's dorsal surface for optional special attack/assault specification.
- 1 x QF-2200A Ghost unmanned fighter equipped with five micro-missile launchers.
Special Equipment & FeaturesEdit
3-mode variable transformation; two-dimensional thrust-vectoring engine nozzles; standard auxillary conformal fuel drop tanks (mounted on dorsal main body in Fighter mode, upper torso in Battroid mode); rectangular underfuselage air intake with semi-retractable slit-style shutters for Battroid mode/space use; triple-system digital fly-by-wire flight control system (FCS) in fighter mode; swing wing; air brake; 1 x AN/ALE 55 flare and chaff dispenser system; AN/ALQ 220A IDECM. ASS/PS 110 active stealth system; retractable shield canopy (Battroid mode); underwater capable in silent mode for up to several minutes using the electricity of the capacitors (max operational depth limit is 20 meters); option of reactive armor system or 2 x regular external atmospheric combat super parts (mounted one on each leg/engine nacelle); large energy capacitor installed in VF-0A for "mighty-wing mode" in which energy conversion armor can be used effectively for a short time in fighter mode. This mechanism, exclusive to the VF-0 and not seen is subsequent VFs, harnesses the electricity generating abilities of the EGF-127. In Battroid mode, 10% of full power is sufficient for land combat while the remaining 90% is used for energy conversion armor; aerial combat is possible in Battroid mode, but due to the leg turbines, activity is limited to 20 minutes; head unit has high-definition TV camera, night-vision, infrared laser pointer, laser-range finder, IFF-I data link and ultra-sonic motion sensor; VF-0A features compound eye system where 2 are arranged on the top and bottom of the head, unlike the VF-1 Valkyrie
During development of the VF-1 Valkyrie, the U.N. Spacy development teams found it necessary to utilize other variable fighters as test beds and trial production models for the various new OverTechnology systems. The VF-0 Phoenix was one such variable fighter begun in 2002, an experimental series of VF manufactured after inheriting the F-14 Tomcat experimental system group. Delivery of the first completed craft occurred in 2004 and in 2008 the VF-0 Phoenix was utilized in combat when delivery of the thermonuclear reaction engines delayed deployment of the VF-1 Valkyrie. Although the VF-0 was used for various tests and strategic research, it was not considered for combat until reports the Anti-UN Alliance organized a VF experiment combat group. Once the Anti-UN threat of a variable vehicle surfaced, the VF-0 was equipped for actual combat and productions increased rapidly. The transformation mechanisms, energy conversion armor and active stealth capabilities would have a major impact on later VF development and would be placed into practical use after the VF-1 Valkyrie. The Phoenix was deployed around the island of Mayan in the South Pacific Ocean that same year and many VF-0 variable fighters participated in an operation to combat Anti-U.N. forces for the purpose of recovering of an alien artifact.
The VF-0A was the primary fighter of the series, possessing many of what would become the standard variable fighter technologies including the famous three-mode variable transformation system. Unfortunately, the lack of thermonuclear reaction engines meant the VF-0A was deployed with larger conventional (but overtuned) jet engines and dorsal conformal fuel tanks. These problems seriously limited the operational range of the VF-0A and ultimately meant the series would remain a small production model. Nonetheless, the VF-0A was combat worthy and possessed a Mauler laser cannon, one standard Howard GPU-9 35mm gatling gun pod (with 550 rounds) and four underwing hard points with a variety of missile loads. For defense, the VF-0A featured the first incarnation of the energy converting armor system which utilized surplus power to triple fighter mode's armor strength in battroid mode (a similar system would become standard in all future variable fighters). The VF-0A could also be fitted with the leg/engine nacelle conformal missile/fuel tanks for increased firepower and range, these parts belonging to the VF-1 "Super Pack" that were not yet fully completed.
The VF-0A was a successfully deployed unit, but was only produced in small numbers as production resources were devoted to the more advanced VF-1 Valkyrie that would follow. The U.N. Spacy manufactured 24 VF-0A general-issue single-seater fighters, 4 two-seater fighters and 2 two-seater armed reconnaissance units. Six single-seat types and 18 two-seater types of the delta wing VF-0D units were constructed as well as 4 VF-0S commander versions. Also built was VF-0B two-seater versions of the A type for the UN Spacy produced under trial basis and VF-0C single-seat versions of the D type for testing by the Marine Corps who were struggling with aging aircraft. U.N.G. pilots Shin Kudo and Edgar LaSalle piloted VF-0 fighters as did ace pilot Roy Focker when conducting operations around the island of Mayan in 2008.
NOTE: During development of the Macross game for the Playstation 2, when the VF-0 was being considered for inclusion, it was named "Phoenix" (ultimately, the VF-0 was not included in the game). This "pet name" was then dropped only to reappear in 2008 on the official Macross Frontier website. The Macross Chronicle (2008) has since made the name "Phoenix" official.
Notes & TriviaEdit
Mechanical designer Shōji Kawamori says he initially planned the main vehicle of Macross Zero to be closer in lineage to conventional fighters such as the F-14 Tomcat. He later opted for the finalized VF-0 design which was closer to later variable fighters in the Macross setting (aside from the relatively conventional engines).
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