|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
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 were 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.
LARK-III Anti radiation missile,1*SLAC-188 ECM pod.
Lockheed-Mitchell SA-26N Aurora Starfury Technical Specifications
Lenght: 9.56 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 "
Endurance: Life support+economy cruise navigation: 50 hours normal space/48 hours hyperspace.
Standard mission: 3 hours+35'combat power
Weapons: (SA26 G/N)
2*Copeland JCR-266 revolver plasma pulse cannons (fwd firing) (or Copeland IKR 916 Ion revolver cannons)
2*Copeland-Westighouse CWD-205 Plasma Discharge Cannons (fwd firing)
2*Copeland PBRK-107 revolver plasma pulse cannons (rear firing)
6*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*
Typical interceptor payload: 6*Viper antifighter missiles, 2*1200 Kilograms gel-KD propellant auxiliary tanks.
LARK-III Anti radiation missile,1*SLAC-188 ECM pod.
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