The AFC-01X Shadow Fighter was a mass produced transformable veritech fighter used by the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF), and was featured in Robotech: The New Generation. It was the most advanced fighter craft of its generation, and possessed Shadow Technology, which made it invisible to Invid sensors.
The AFC series of veritech fighter planes were perhaps the most effective air-superiority aircraft in known space. This has resulted from the commitment of the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) to hold quality in as high or higher regard as quantity. The plane was originally conceived some time after the Second Robotech War, in large part inspired by the AFQ-01 Vandal Drone, which was originally developed by Maxwell Dynamics. With its large store of internal missiles, it served the REF as the main front-line general-purpose combat aircraft in its forces.
The Shadow Fighter was, above all, an air superiority fighter, but was also an excellent general-purpose ground-attack plane. It was acquired for these roles by the Expeditionary Mission Planetary Forces and avy. The Alpha's place in fleet defense came later, in the mid 2030's, as the Alpha/Beta combination began to replace the previous generations of veritech fighters. The Alpha was considered trans-atmospheric, but functioned particularly well in space. With its impressive array of short range missiles and cannon, the Alpha contained the equivalent firepower as a squadron of older veritechs. The Battloid mode was responsive and tough, and could easily best any other mecha, even when outnumbered.
Investigation of battle encounters with the Invid suggested they had a unique sensor device that managed to pick up Terran battle formations at strategically significant distances in situations that would inhibit normal sensors. In other words, Invid hives, troopships, and their relatively uncommon capital vessels could detect capital vessels or mecha attack groups at extreme ranges, and could locate and track the largest of them through small celestial bodies, or at significant distances below the horizon. The combination of this mixed long- and medium-range sensor capability made tactical misdirection and surprise completely impossible, and strategic approach extremely difficult.
The Robotech Research Groups in deep space immediately went to work on sorting out this sensor's operating principles and devise, if possible, a counter to it. The tight link of the Invid with protoculture gave a probable pointer to the nature of the Invid's device, and quite soon after that the RRG groups discovered that active protoculture-powered devices gave off a detectable radiation. For nearly two decades, methods to counter or mask this radiation were explored, with much frustration and little success. The first notable approach involved the Wide Dispersal Bio-Emulator, often referred to merely as a 'protoculture flare', a mine-sized device that used a single protoculture cell at maximum yield to emulate the characteristic protoculture radition of a much larger mecha. In large numbers, the protoculture emulators could act as a decoy against the Invid hive sensors. Variants of this device were also occasionally issued to Special Forces units.
Eventually, at about the time plans were being made to dispatch a fleet to Earth to investigate its long silence, the RRG groups developed a so-called 'shadow' generator, which effectively red-shifted the spectral emissions of the protoculture radiation beyond the Invid's sensor acuity.
However, because of the sharpness of the peak in the protoculture's emission spectrum, the 'shadow' generator needed only slight modifications to be made to be effective against the more sensitive protoculture sensors of the Regess' armies. As soon as the working prototypes were developed in early 2043, the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) decided incorporate this stealth feature into their next generation of combat mecha; a newer fighter, the AFC-01X Shadow Fighter, and the Shadow Drone.
Furthermore, the REF wanted to equip their new front-line mecha with more technological innovations, including the force-field disrupting Destabilizer particle beam and a virtual cockpit. The first designs for this cockpit called for a non-transparent canopy, but this led to protests from the pilots, who wanted to retain some visibility. However, it turned out to be possible to project the virtual world on the inside of a thinly gold-layered canopy, which also left some outward visibility, and prevented the cockpit from becoming a radar-reflecting cavity.
The culmination of these efforts was the AFC-01X Shadow Fighter. In addition to the inclusion of the stealth features, and the addition of the semi-virtual cockpit, the Shadow Fighter saw minor redesigns on the intakes and shoulders, as well as the deletion of some of the secondary and redundant sensor suites on the legs. In addition, the hands were replaced with three-fingered claws.
The Alpha Fighter was composed of an advanced titanium-steel alloy, except that on the wings, which was made from a low-mass Chobham armor like that on the AGACS. The armor stopped all small arms fire, provides good protection against heavier infantry weapons, such as a 12.7mm machinegun round, and fair resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round. The armor on the wings was considerably stronger, allowing them to be used as parrying shields in close quarters while in Battloid mode.
The Alpha provided full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated. The internal consumables supplies could provide atmosphere upwards to at least a week maximum.
Both Shadow Fighters and Shadow Drones were used in the Mars and Saturn Base final attack on Reflex Point, with most AFQ-01X drones remaining 'upstairs' with the fleet. The Shadow Fighters performed very well against the Invid, and only the Invid's immense numerical advantage caused the near defeat of the armada.