The SF-1 Liberté was a non-transformable fighter designed primarily for use in space, specifically for fleet defense roles. In 2014, after some parliamentary pressure, study groups were begun to examine the feasibility of a variety of non-transformable planes, continuing the lineage of previous mass-produced space fighters.
In these studies, it was discovered that while in near-ground battles the added versatility of the Veritechs would have some added value, in space at least their anti-starship tasks could be done more cheaply by a non-transformable fighter, which could also be built faster and in greater numbers.
Technology and Combat CharacteristicsEdit
In late 2016, the craft that would become the Liberté was designed. As the main purpose of this mecha would be space defense, and because the craft need not carry the extra equipment required of a transforming mecha, the designers found sufficient room and weight to make a truly impressive aircraft. Most notably, the Vulture was literally built around one of the largest single guns ever mounted on an aircraft, the EP-100. This gave the SF-1 Liberté a very heavy forward punch. No missiles were to be mounted internally, but the three hardpoints could mount four nuclear anti-starship missiles, or up to 36 anti-mecha missiles. Typically, however, the Vulture carried a jammer/sensor pod on the upper hull hardpoint, and missiles on the others. The Vulture did have wings, and the two lower engines were full fusion turbines complete with air inlets and all. However, as the mecha was intended primarily for space duties, the two upper engines were converted to a dedicated internal reaction mass mode, forcing them to a plasma-shock expansion engine profile in an atmosphere. Furthermore, as the plane was optimized for space, the small wings and boxy fuselage made the mecha less maneuverable in an atmosphere, while the extensive reaction mass tankage that gave the Vulture an extended range in space limited its abilities as an atmospheric fighter even more 'down below'. Hence, though the mecha could develop great bursts of speed in an atmosphere, it was never utilized there in combat situations.Design, testing and production all took place ahead of schedule, with the initial service entry in 2019. In 2023 there were over two thousand Vultures operational with the Tokugawa-class Battleships and the other forces. However, four of the five battlecarriers were converted to landing ships, reducing their complement of Vultures to about a hundred each. Though many were reassigned to the Recon-1 (whose complement swelled by two hundred planes), 800 Vultures were placed in reserve storage. Those that remained in service with the REF Navy saw a major upgrade to the avionics and control systems, and were renamed the SF-1B. In November 2029, Recon-1 returned to Earth and was destroyed in an abortive attack on the fleet of the Robotech Masters. Most of her air group went down with her, and in one stroke, the number of operational Vultures was cut by almost two-thirds. After 2033, the Vultures that remained were slowly phased out of service.
The skin of the Liberté was composed of an advanced titanium-steel alloy. The armored skin stops all small arms fire, provided 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 total protection was marginally better than that on the Valkyrie. The Vulture 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 were anticipated. The internal consumables supplies could provide atmosphere for one day maximum.