The VFC-10J Auroran, offically designated as the Armored Gyro Assault Chopper (AGAC) and pronounced Ajax or A-jacs, was a mass produced, although unique multi-role veritech fighter design. It was originally developed for the Army of the Southern Cross, prior to the Second Robotech War, for the purpose of replacing the VF-8A Logan. The Ajax had three primary configurations much as with other veritechs, the first two being a transatmospheric fighter and a battloid mode, and the third, a guardian mode based on a slightly different design philosophy, was a rigid blade x-wing circulation and thruster VTOL transatmospheric gyro-chopper, often mistaken for a more conventional an atmospheric helicopter. This version had more advanced avionics, and was used by squadron leaders.
The Auroran, much more commonly known as the Ajax, was developed to fulfill two different specifications: an air cavalry mecha for the Army of the Southern Cross' (ASC) Tactical Corps (TC), and as a medium atmospheric and space fighter for the Tactical Armored Space Corps (TASC).
The Ajax was not required to reach high Mach numbers, later time and effort was devoted to improving the relatively slow-speed near-ground characteristics of the Auroran. The modest Mach 1.6 that the fighter configuration could achieve sufficed for engagement with its intended enemy, the Zentraedi Power Armor and Stinger variants used by the Malcontents and Space Pirates. The missile armaments were specially designed for this task; the AGACS could be equipped with the most lethal medium-range missiles developed to that date, the Lightning missile, in addition to the more conventional Hammerhead and Diamondback. The Lightning released cluster warheads at near proxemity to its targets, and was capable of taking out several battlepods or power armors per missile, the Southern Cross hoped this would offset the numerical advantage the perceived Zentraedi threat at the time. After missiles had been fired, the AGACS was supposed to use its impressive mobility and powerful lasers to destroy any remaining mecha or incoming missiles. During the Invid Invasion, the Invid mecha struggled in combat with the AGACS due to its powerful weapons.
The Auroran was designed to offer a small, highly maneuverable target profile, especially in space, that was extremely difficult to hit. Within the space theatre, the advanced missiles would also be very effective, and the laser, unhindered by atmospheric conditions, would offer a long range in addition to its high rate of fire which both increased delivered damage and increased chances of a hit.
Technology and Combat CharacteristicsEdit
The Ajax's fighter and battloid modes followed standard veritech design principles while guardian utilized a x-wing rigid blade vertical propulsion system rather than the usual legs down method. General three-fold vertical motion impartation for the Auroran's guardian configuration was similar to those employed by the transport arrangement of the VHT-1A/J/S Spartas Hovertank, a combination of anti-gravity generators, high efficency forced air pumps and concentration thrusters.
A vertical propulsion system dependant upon four rigid blades attached to a central hub, which was part of the air circulation and thruster systerms; the two aft blade attachment points were fused and the two fore blades were connected to pivot points that slide aft to allow blade stacking and storage in fighter mode. The end of each blade that's attached to the central hub has a three hundred sixty degree axial joint, the opposite end having an elongated variable thruster nozzle along one side, and the span between housing a flap seated inside a series of forced air nozzles.
Compressed air is expelled from the blade edge over and under the flap, creating a "virtual" wing surface that acts in a manner much like a twisted rotor blade, these could be angled and flaps adjusted to alter flight characteristics. The Ajax acted very much like a conventional copter, using the blade's free-end thrusters to further add to an already extremely responsive and manuverable craft, many pilots felt guardian mode was on par with if not superior to other veritechs. The blade thrusters allowed the Auroran to lift off and land on low atmosphere bodies and crusier/carrier decks with ease, further flight efficency was obtained while operated in lower gravity environments. Addition of the blade thrusters to the other battloid engines and thrusters provided exceptional close quarters space combat, they allowed spins and rotations difficult for mecha such as the VF-8A/J Logan, not to mention a similar performance capability inside an atmosphere due to coordinated thruster and compressed air burst.
The craft was able to quickly and easily transition from chopper to fighter configuration while manuvering continued, conversely the AGAC was successfully able to start conversion from fighter to chopper mode while still moving at relatively rapid speeds. Even with blades stored aft and below upper engines for fighter operation, blade surface and compressed air utilization together generated additional virtual "wing" lift, and firing of free-end blade thrusters could temporarily increase the figher's Mach 1.6 speed and already excellent manuverability.
Since the transformation sequence required only minimal modifications from the Fighter mode, available internal space was increased. The additional room was used to boost the number of protoculture cell energizers, then the extra power allowed a substantial increase in the delta-v through boosting of the engines' magnetic bottling so as to increase engine temperature and reaction-mass-to-thrust efficiency. The increased power also benefited the lasers, which eliminated ammunition difficulties and vastly improved the rate of fire, which was significant because neither launcher package carried near as many missiles as the AF-01 Thunderbolt.
Due to certain minor differences in the required sensor and electronics fittings of the AGACS between the TASC and the TC, two different versions were procured, although the differences were minor enough that either version could function almost as effectively in the environment of the pther. Indeed, many VFC-10A/J (TC) AGACS were pressed into TASC service in the latter stages of the Second Robotech War. The differences were mainly the deletion in the VFC-10A/J (TC) of the nose-mounted high-definition, narrow-angle IIR sensor, which was of dubious advantage on Earth given the relatively close horizon there and the Allview medium range system also installed. Instead, the VFC-10A/J (TC) mounted an EU-23 laser cannon in that space. Further minor differences concerned the Veritech's climtae control system, which was more geared towards atmospheric operation in the VFC-10A/J (TC), though still quite capable in a vacuum, and in other environment-specific systems such as a more robust brake system for the more common unarrested landings.
The armor on the AGACS was a new development in low-mass composite-materials Chobham plating that became the standard for all Terran mecha. Aside from the respectable protection provided against projectiles, missiles, and other kinetic weapons, this armor was also resistant to plasma globes (annihilation discs), lasers, and to a lesser extent, particle guns, owing to the fact that the armor could flake off and evaporate in layers under fire from such high-energy weapons, taking much of the weapon's energy and converting it into the latent heat of sublimation in the armor. The armor stopped all small arms and heavy infantry weapons fire, provided good resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round, and poor resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie's 55mm APFSDS round.
The AGACS 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 for one day maximum.
The REF had begun testing the VF-6X as a possible replacement for their veritech forces, the ASC had decided to also replace the VF-8A/J Logan and YF-7 Slyphide but had chosen to develop the VFC-10X design.
The leadership of the Southern Cross were very impressed with the Auroran, and by late 2028 the YFC-10A/J (TASC) was issued to the Tactical Armored Space Corps' for operational testing in space. As fate would have it, the TASC fleet with the evaluation Ajax would be called into action on a rescue mission when an unknown alien assault force cut communications between Space Station Liberty and Moon Base Luna fleet which shortly came under heavy attack. The AGACS performed well in its baptism by combat, following this first clash with the Robotech Masters' Bioroids, the VFC-10 and its munitions were ordered into full production.
Thousands of AGACS were produced during and after the Second Robotech War, they were deployed against the Robotech Masters' and Invid forces. This mecha was used mostly in space, where the maneuvering thrusters in the adjustable rigid blades gave the Ajax somewhat more agility than the VF-8A Logan it was replacing. The heavy cluster missiles especially came in very handy against the Masters' mecha, which were far more heavily armored than those of the Zentraedi, the envisioned opponents against which the Auroran never saw action.
Transformation sequence Edit