Lockheed-Mitchell SA-26 AURORA STARFURY

Starfury: since the first steps of the Mankind through the stars in the second half of the XXII Century, this name is sinonymous of the Earth Alliance military might. Still today, the Starfury fighters are an essential asset of the fleet power, proportionally much more relevant than the relative weight of the fighter corps among the other navies of alien powers.

The birth of the starfuries dates back to the 2168, as one of the outcomes of the AEGIS program (started in 2161-2162). In that early period, the Earth Alliance technology lagged behind the average in many areas respect to the other alien civilzations in this sector of the galaxy, particularly in the fields of propulsion, sensors, and, in a lesser measure, weapons. Among the few strength areas was the system engineering, the materials technology, and the design capabilty for small spacecrafts.
Accepted the fact that was impossible to quickly field warships with a reasonable operational capability in sufficient numbers, and, more, to ensure a sufficient tactical mobility to the prospected task forces, was made the corageous choiche to delegate the maneuvre and long range attack to a new generation of space fighters.

The main guidelines for the development of these new fighters were some basic concepts:

  "The Five Laws of the Starfury"
1- Not an ounce shall be dedicated to atmospheric capabilities.
2- The limitating factor for acceleration and manoeuverabilty shall be the human body tolerance.
3- The weapons shall be so powerful to inflict incapacitating damages against selected targets (engines, weapons, sensors) of a warship, and to quickly destroy every known fighter.
4- The endurance shall be sacrified, to attain top performances in the other fields.
5- The survival of the pilot is a fundamental need. The design and the armor of the fighter shall be aimed to this goal.

A choiche without compromises, that produced some among the most effective fighters ever seen, and that is well implemented in the Aurora Starfury.

The Aurora is still today a mainstay of the Earthforce. Progressively replaced by new Starfury designs, it is still in service in large numbers, and will be kept operational for many years to come, thanks to its well proven, deadly effectiveness, and to the ease of maintenance. Must be remarked that now, more than 35 years after its inception (2244) and thanks to a series of upgrade programs, the actual Starfuries are not obsolescent pieces of equipment, but up-to-date, excellent fighters, well able to perform effectively the traditional interceptor, space superiority and anti-ship assault.

The Odd configuration of the Nova/Aurora Aurora starfuries, with the x-splitted winglike engine pylons and the main engines and the maneuvering thrusters placed in the four wingtips nacelles, provides an unmatched nimbleness on the six degrees of freedom, and offers the advantage of an high level standardization of the components, because the only difference betweeen the right-high/left-low and the left-high/right-low nacelles is the specular position of the side thrusters, achieved only by the change in position of the same TCC diruptor valve ring: this allows an easy building and maintenance, and lowered the production cost and the logistic load. the further advantage of the podded engine blocks is the concentration in a standard module of all the thrust generators, that allows a conceptual ease in the propellant feeding, control, and propulsion systems.
The negative outcomes of such a configuration is the high moment of inertia relative mainly to the x and z axes, the relative vulnerability of the engines and the increment of the frontal area and of the total area.
Until the Earth-Minbari war, the only known fighter able to match, at least partially, the performances of the Nova and Aurora starfuries was the Centauri Sentri, but his main advantage, the maneuverabilty, was in large part overcome by the ability of the Novas and Auroras to quickly turn on their axes, and point the nose (and the armament) against a target: there is not a favourable position abgainst a Starfury, while the EA fighters were more sturdy and with superior weapons.
The Aurora gave excellent proof of itself in the few incidents between the Dilgar war and the Minbari war, and was a feared vision (frequently the last) for all the enemies of the Earth Alliance.

Until today, the only fighter of the Younger races that has shown a real superiority against the Auroras is the formidable Nial: only the Thunderbolt was able to close the performance gap with the Minbari fighter, while overall the Earth Alliance fighters have an edge regards the armament.

It is useless here to discuss the performances of the Auroras against the Minbari: the targeting systems of the EA figters were totally unables to lock on the targets, so the pilots were made to aim manually against an elusive target, effctive auxiliary aiming systems were not available, and the Nials are piloted with the support of an advanced artificial intelligence, and almost always were present in superior numbers. The loss rate during the war was 7,5:1, and, just as an historical note, this is a much better performance than the average 16:1 of the Younger races fighters that were so unlucky or stupid enough to find themselves made to face the Minbari.

In the last thirty years, the various series of the Auroras have been on the firing line in many occasions, and each time they have fared very well: in fact, from its inception, and with the yet said exception, the Aurora has shown to be the predominant starfighter of the Younger races, performing very well in the interceptor and space superiority roles thanks to its performances, and showing an edge as anti-ship attack weapon because of the excellent armament.
Yet flanked and progressively replaced by the Thunderbolts, the Auroras, during the long, dramatic struggle against the Drakhs, have been again the long arm of the EA warships, both as interceptor to defend our units and as space superiority fighter against the enemy forces.
Even against the advanced Drakh fighters and warships, while not being as effectives as the Thunderbolts, the Aurora have shown themselves an extremely effective and dangerous opponent, scoring an excellent average loss rate of 2.45 foes to 1 Fury against the larger and more powerful, but fragile and less manoeuverable Drakh raiders


Technical Description

The Frame is a monocoque main fuselage that holds all the main systems except the engines: the fuselage itself is a pressoinjected hexagonal main body of Plasteel/ceramic whiskers composite, with sandwich structure and four internal bulkheads, and an external layer of ablative Carbonat armor easily replaceable. The sponsons are a double torsion box with stiffeners, of the same materials of the fuselage, holding internally four Gel-ES capactive accumulators acting as energy feedin buffers and as auxiliary/emergrncy power source.

The fuselage holds both the solid propellant "sticks" and the slush deuterium tank for the reactor feeding. The main fusion reactor (a small Mitchell-General Electric FRPS-5 tokamak) that feeds through plasma channels running through the structure the engine clusters and the weapons, and feds even the main propellant feeding system. As for the Nova, even the Aurora has sold propellant engines: the Solid Fuel Cartridges are sublimated in the feeder held in the fuselage, and the high temperature gas is driven to the engine reaction chambers, where it is mixed with the plasma spilled from the fusion reactor and used to generate thrust.
The engines, main and auxiliary thrusters, are plasma rockets, the main thrusters operate even as energy generators (magnetoplasmadynamic principle), and because of this the Starfuries can be always seen with their four main engines glowing in the darkness, even when they are not accelerating. Because of this double function, was needed to retain the external jet deflection plates to allow the plasma stream control.

The four square structures at the trailing edges of the uppers and lower wing are the E-Web projectors: the Aurora is the first Starfury with an autonomous defence grid, in the form of the E-Web and thanks to the interceptor capability of its forward and rear firing bolters.

The four cannons of the Aurora, clustered together around the center body are a common terminal plasma acceleration stage fed by two different devices.
The upper cannons are two
Copeland-Westighouse CWD-205, simple but effective plasma discharge bolters, with an high bolt power but a relatively low (45 shots/minute) rate of fire, a weapon suited for the anti ship roles. The two chin mounted weapons are two Copeland JCR-266 revolver plasma pulse cannons. This weapon is a plasma bolter that, instead of a single primary feeding chamber, has a five chambers revolver device. In each one of these chambers is actuated the buildup of the plasma bolt, but while the average rate of fire is 120 shots/minute for each weapon, the peak rate of fire, so the rate of fire obtained when the bolts accumulated in the revolver chambers are released in a quick burst, is an awesome 900 shots/minute: the Aurora can release on the targets a salvo-like ripple of ten powerful plasma bolts in one thirdth of second.
This is an essential advantage: the impact of a plasma bolt is an hard hit, but the impact of a plasma bolt burst on the same small area of the target is able to inflict devastating cumulative damages, while, in a dogfight, this capability allows to release an impressive firepower against the targeted fighter, in the few instants of the ballistic contact. On the Aurora, from the B series, are installed two rear firing
Copeland PBRK-107 revolver plasma pulse cannons, smaller and less powerful than the JCR-266, but still effective against a fighter, and used essentially as Interceptors for the self defence of the fighter
Actually, all the Aurora Fighters are missile capables, with six hardpoints (
Frazer-Nash MER, Missile Ejector Rack) under the upper wing frames and two more over the lower wingframes, and provisions to hold a series of auxiliary combat systems, like targeting or electronic warfare pods.

The Avionic system is centerd upon a Dell AWG-11 long range dual band phased array radar, whose conformal antennas are integrated in the forward and aft edges of the wingframes, and that gives a detection range of more than 1400 kilometers against a fighter class target and about 9000 kilometers against a warship class target. It is capable of accurate target mapping thanks to its advanced synthetic aperture technology. The short range tracking is allowed by a Westinghouse-Duffy 1018 MJS microwave tridimensional scanner. The Navigation and communication systems include a short range UHF jamproof tactical system, a KA band directional data link, a long range R band Tachyon link, a gyrolaser strapdown inertial platform, that enables autonomous navigation both in normal space and hyperspace, and an hyperspace WL 43 beacon locator/navigation system.
The electronic warfare suite includes an RWR (Radar warning receiver), an IR/Laser Warning receiver and active jammers for self protection.
The PIP-2 improvement brought to the SA-26E series: all the Starfuries issued to or in service in the Earthforce wer
e upgraded at least at the E standard before the end of 2262, while some "E's" were introduced in service in in the late 2556.

The Aurora is the first fighter that can be integrated in the defensive screen of a ship, under a centralized targeting system: it is one of the capabilities of the Interceptor MkII defense grid : essentially, there are three different control levels of the Starfury that can be actuated by the carrier ship: the first is simply a tactical fighter guidance, in which the ships long range sensors operate as a tactical control system for the long range detection and identification of the targets. The second level is a closer control, in which the single target designated to the single fighter. The third level delegates the control of the fighter and of its weapons to the Interceptor MkII (and MkIII) grid, leaving to the fighter pilot an override capability, but overall using the Starfury as a fire center totally integrated in the ship's fire control system. It is clear that such a system eliminates the most relevant advantage of a fighter, the mobility, but, in some situation, the integration of the fighters in the Interceptor grid has proven an effective tactic, cutting down both the losses among the fighters and the vulnerability of the ships.

The Aurora issued to the EFNI Figter Wings is the SA-23 N Starfury, overall almost equal to the
actual SA-26E and G of the Earthforce, except for the different communication suite and for the modification of the two addictional hardpoints under the fuselage, used as stations for reconnaissance and EW/ELINT pods. The EFNI was the pioneer of the projects and technical improvements that led to the last upgrades of the Auroras, and was the EFNI Technical Departement and Naval Service that, in cooperation with the EFRAD, started and promoted the PIP1/PIP1E and EPIP improvemets programs. The EFNI Starfuries have been the first ones equipped with the ORPHEUS optical tracker and with the "Eagle Eyes" optical stereoscopic rangefinder (whose two objectives can be seen near the engine pods of the upper wing in the figure.) From many points of view, the SA26-N is a SA 26 E/G, except for the fact that it was issued in the years 2255/2257.

Lockheed-Mitchell SA-26N Aurora Starfury Technical Specifications


Lenght: 9.56 meters
17.87 meters
Mass: 45,2 Metric tons (empty)
51,8 Metric tons (basic w/o external payload)
68,2 Metric tons (Maximum payload)


X-axis acceleration: +9,5/-4,5 G
Y-axis acceleration: +/- 2,5 g
Z-axis acceleration: +/- 2,5 g
X-axis angular acceleration
/roll rate: +/- 1280 deg/sec*2 / 180 roll in 0.75"
Y-axis angular acceleration
/pitch rate: +/- 1100 deg/sec*2 / 180 pitch in 0.81"
Z-axis angular acceleration
/yaw rate: +/- 1450 deg/sec*2 / 180 yaw in 0.71 "
Life support+economy cruise navigation: 50 hours normal space/48 hours hyperspace.
Standard mission:
3 hours+35'combat power

(SA26 G/N)

Copeland JCR-266 revolver plasma pulse cannons (fwd firing) (or Copeland IKR 916 Ion revolver cannons)
Copeland-Westighouse CWD-205 Plasma Discharge Cannons (fwd firing)
2*Copeland PBRK-107 revolver plasma pulse cannons (rear firing)
*under wing Frazer-Nash MER missile ejector racks
2*Under fuselage hardpoints
(usually, one of the hardpoints is equipped with a Caterpillar Tru-Grip grappling claw)
Max external payload:12,500 Kgs
Typical antiship payload:
6*HIVAM Anti ship missiles or 6*HIVAT torpedoes,1*
LARK-III Anti radiation missile,1*SLAC-188 ECM pod.
Typical interceptor payload: 6*Viper antifighter missiles, 2*1200 Kilograms gel-KD propellant auxiliary tanks.

Lockheed-Mitchell SA-23N AURORA STARFURY - Belonging to the 6th wing, 12th Interceptor/Torpedo Squadron of the EFNI.

The fighter in the figure is a SA 26-N EPIP - Can be observed the new chin mounted Copeland IKR 916 Ion Revolver cannons, and both the ORPHEUS optical tracker (under the forward fuselage and rear facing just bacward of the centerline of the upper wing) and the Hard Eyes stereoscopic optical rangefinder. The Starfury carries a payload of six missiles, in this case six Raytheon Viper Mk2E3 anti fighter EO/Infrared dual band homing missiles.


The PIP programs

The Aurora has been improved through four upgrade programs: PIP-1, Performance Improvement Project 1, 2247-48, PIP-1E (Evolution), 2250, PIP-2 (or "maxipip") 2256-58 and EPIP, Enhanced PIP, or "
Superpip", related to the Brightwarrior activity, 2273-75. This EA fighter is still in production, is still today an extremely valid fighter craft, and it represents about the 35% of the actual (2281) Earth Alliance fighter force.

-1 provided essentially an improvement of the targeting system, of the sensors, and enabled the use of the HIVAT torpedoes*.

The PIP-1 program in fact was the outcome of an emergency program of the EFNI and of the EFRAD brought on in the last months of the Minbari war: essentially, the radar/microwave scanners of the Auroras were unables to track and lock on the Minbari targets. An optical/infrared seeker, even if short ranged, was technically capable to overcome the Minbari stealth system, and to ensure a positive and effective targeting. The Electro-optical seeker technology was something out of use and out of production from the late 2150's, replaced by synthetic array radars and microwaves scanners, and so, while the theory was well known, the whole subsystems and tecnology involved, included the tooling, the special materials, the basic components, the whole design and production capability had to be rebuilt from zero. The time was faster than the efforts of the EA technicians, but the work was brought on, after the Minbari war, By the EFNI and by the EFRAD: the first experimental system allowed a sure and accurate automatic targeting, and the first production series of the system, the ORPHEUS, included a stadimetric optical ranging system that allowed the solution of the ballistic equation and so the effective use of the plasma bolters and of the HIVAT.
On the Badger assault fighters and on the Auroras PIP-1E (as an add on equipment) is available even the Hard Eyes/EAGLE EYE optical stereoscopic rangefinder, that allows a more accurate targeting and a better lock-on range. One of the advantages of these systems is that, while they have a dedicate interface, they can be used even with the standard Starfury target system interface and control deck, and so the pilot can use them effectively even without a dedicated training, and just after a few hours of familiarization. The further advancement allowed by the PIP
-1E project was the integration of the starfuries in the interceptor grid of the EA warships: the feature, one of the evolutions of the Interceptor grid Mk2, allows an excellent enhancement in the antifighter and antimissile close defence, and adds on to the anti-pulse capability.

The PIP-2 upgraded the avionic and the communications equipments and added the missile capabilty, lacking in the EA fighters from the Tiger Starfury: the missiles typically used are the Raytheon Viper in their two main variants, the radar homing Mk1, more ranged, and the Optical/Infrared homing MK2, that has shown to be exceptionally ECM resistant and easy to use.
The missiles are carried and launched by the same Frazer-Nash MER ejector racks used for the hivat.

The EPIP "Superpip" improves essentially the weapon systems, with the upgragding of the revolver pulse cannons, that are actually replaced by the Copeland IKR 916 Ion revolver cannons, with enhanced power, more range and superior penetration. Actually the EPIP is in its final phase, and is providing to the issue of the "Lightlance" equipment, a couple of Marconi-Selenia QSL-25F Q-Spoiling lasers that replaces the two Copeland-Westighouse CWD-205 Plasma Discharge Cannons, installed in the upper wing roots. This improvement is an outcome of the "Damocles Report" recommendations, and ensures an high piercing power and the immunity from the gravitic shielding technology, even if the terminal effect, in terms of raw damage, is inferior to the original CWD-205.


torpedo is a simple, someway rudimental weapon, a high speed rocket equipped with an armor penetrating encased nuclear warhead with a variable yield of 25 to 75 kilotons and an impact delayed fuze. It is a short range weapon, but it has some important assets: first of all, its targeting system and its proximity fuze cannot be jammed or fooled: it has neither target homing nor proxy fuze. It attains a speed of 3200 meters/sec after just an half second of flight, and it can penetrate about three or four meters inside the armor of a warship, and detonate its small nuclear warhead inside (or beyond) the armor.
These weapons, like the ORPHEUS targeting pods, were mass produced, and all the starfuries upgraded or produced in accordance with the PIP-1/PIP-1E standard can use these weapons, fitted in the MER (Missile Ejector Rack) pylons.

The term "can use" is not casually chosen: these equipments were not usually issued to the Starfury squadrons, the
Starfuries PIP-1 had aboard the interfaces, the cables and the clamps to be quickly equipped (less than two hours) with these systems so ORPHEUS optical tracker, MER missile/rocket racks and HIVAT, but the mere existance of the ORPHEUS and of the HIVAT was one of the most accurately hidden secrets of the Earth Alliance until the actual days.
The reason is obvious: these are specific Anti-Minbari equipments, and very effectives
**, and to publicly issue them a few years after the end of the Earth-Minbari war could have induced unpredictable reactions. In any case their use is simple, and were organized plans to issue them to all the EA starfuries in a matter of four or five days through a network of logistic facilities, well hidden in the deep space. Just in case some elements of the Minbari Governement or of the Warrior Caste would had the idea to close in a definitive way the "discussion" with the human race.

Actually the EA fighters have a vast panoplia of different types of missiles and rockets, and from the HIVAT has been extrapolated an effective anti-ship missile, with double band seeker and terminal adaptive homing, but the unguided HIVAT are still retained, because of their effectiveness and affordabilty.

AVCO-Thiokol HIVAT (High Velocity Antiship Rocket Torpedo)
Type:   Antiship Attack Torpedo
Length:   4450 millimeters
Calibre:   456 millimeters
Weight:   1850 kilograms
Propulsion:   Thiokol "Sunburst" solid propellant plasma rocket, capacitive battery fed
Thrust:   990000 kilograms
Acceleration:   from 500 to 710 G's, constant jerk
Maximum speed:   14500 Meters/sec
Acceleration time:   2.8 sec
Control/guidance:   Straight trajectory aimed weapon, Inertial Gyrolaser guidance system
operational range:   34000+ meters (against 500*250 meters target)
Warhead:   AVCO WR-406 Armor penetrating encased tactical nuclear device, adaptive yield, 25-75 Kilotons
Fuze:   Impact, adaptive delay



** The six prototype Auroras and the only Badger equipped with ORPHEUS pod and HIVAT torpedoes were under developement in the EFNI research facility near the Io Jumpgate Outpost, when a foreguard of the Minbari assault fleet attacked the Io jumpgate facilities, a couple of hours before the beginning of the Battle of the Line. The only available fighting units near Io were three Novas, six Hyperions and two Starfury squadrons (and the six "Rocketfury"), all belonging to the EFNI naval service, that boldly went against the Minbari task force, strong of nine warcruisers. The opening move was to detonate all the nukes of the minefeld outside the outpost, an action that at least creted confusion, jamming the communications and creating disturbance to the sensors, and gave some covering to the EA forces allowing them to line up in combat formation. In the carnage that enraged in that desperate moments, two of the six "Rocketfury" prototypes survived up to the launch distance against a couple of Sharlins, hitting them with their torpedo salvoes before being destroyed. One Sharlin was crippled, the other exploded and in the moments of confusion following the unspected blow, the combined fire of two Novas, the EAS Katana and the EAS Battleaxe, and of the Hyperion class EAS Anthigones, destroyed another Sharlin. The Fire of the other Minbari units whipped away the remaining EFNI forces, and the Katana, reduced to a burning torch, rammed and finished off the Sharlin crippled by the Starfury missiles. The whole action lasted less than five minutes, and was the particular holocaust of the EFNI Naval Service in the Day Of The Line.
The single HIVAT and Orpheus equipped Badger was brought in combat at the Battle of the Line by the actual CINCEFNI, R.Admiral Daryl Cellini, that succesfully engaged and torpedoed a Sharlin Cruiser, that was destroyed. After the end of the war turned out that the Minbari were not aware of what hit them in fights that were considered just lucky ambushes, and obviously nothing of the action was publicized by the EA, but it springed clearly how deadly can be a Starfury equipped with the HIVAT.


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