Question of Honor is a short story included as part of TSFIA.
SummaryEditThe desert-- Only the strong can survive in such harsh lands, and this is applies to both man and machine.
September 16, 1989.
Above the vast emptiness of the Mojave Desert, 2 graceful metal giants began their dance in the sky. As part of making the demonstration video and military documentation for the ATSF competition. The YF-22 and YF-23 obeyed the directions given by their Ground Controllers while an F-15 followed and filmed every movement of the 2 machines. The 2 machines performed flawlessly in their demonstration of their unrivaled aerial performance. Their synchronized flight maneuvers belied their pilots' skill and caused one to almost forget that these 2 machines are locked in a struggle for their literal continued existence on a daily basis.
The ATSF----Advanced Tactical Surface Fighter program, was initially proposed in 1983 by the US military as a means to select the next generation TSF that will be used to replace the F-15 series.
As the first official TSF to be deployed in 1974, the F-4 Phantom was commonly regarded as a "critically flawed" weapon system. However, such public opinions are only to be expected for an brand new weapon platform operated by inexperienced pilots, with no real tried and true doctrine to teach them with in the most unfavorable of combat environments.
Still the undeniable truth is that with the deployments of TSF to the frontlines, the once collapsing human lines have been saved, or at least reduced, the massive losses that was once common. And as a result the TSF's image and position as the "Shield" of Humanity is solidified to even this day.
Still, from the pilots on the frontline, to the military leaders worldwide, and especially the civilian weapon firms and developers, almost none of them truly believe in their heart that a TSF should remain a "Shield", and that ultimately they intend for the TSF to become a "Sword" in the War on the BETA.
Among the US government, such ideals are believed to be paramount. Keeping the BETA off North American territory is the highest priority of the US military and as a result, massive funding has been poured into the research and development of weapons. Studying data gathered from frontlines worldwide, Americans have continued their pioneering of TSF technology. Within 10 years of the F-4's deployment, the US have introduced what would be later termed as the first of the 2nd generation TSFs. Notable examples including the F-14 Tomcats, F-15 Eagle, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Then in the year of 1982, having witnessed the world wide success of 2nd generation TSF, the "Father of the TSF", US Army Major General Ben Brugg, proposed the following:
"Due to the deployment of 2nd generation TSFs, the estimated date of BETA eradication can be numbered in years as of now. With their defeat, the priority would shift to securing the rare element deposit within each Hive. No doubt a new arms race over the rare elements will occur, and the worldly nations would once again assert dominance over their lost territory. I propose that future weapon development programs should consider both improved Anti-BETA, and superior Anti-Human capabilities."
While this proposal supported the then still-secret HI-MAERF project, the underlying issue and whether this new proposal would shift future US combat doctrine became a heated debate among US Senate and Congress. Eventually, the proposal was accepted and the debate now shifted to the development of an "adaptable multi-mission platform to continue the tried and true TSF combat philosophy" as supported by the USAF, or the concept of "Tactical Battlefield Superiority capable of dominating the battlefront of Humans and BETA" put forward by the US Army. After many more months of debates within the US Military, the US army proposal won under the reasons of a Foreseeable BETA defeat, the effective elimination of Laser threat, and a predicted increase in the global arms race and space race.
The requirement of a new TSF suited for the new battlefront is deemed necessary, with a possible future requirement and expansion for operations in Space and Other Planetary bodies, with the added consideration as a possible working platform to mount and field working conventional energy based weaponry due to foreseeable future breakthroughs through the use of the G-element. And thus the ATSF project was born.
March 6, 1990.
In the testing grounds of the Edwards Air Force Base in California, the ATSF project began its JIVES anti-Beta Simulations using Element pairs of the competing TSFs.
This phase of the 4 year long evaluation of the trials are the last which will determine the winner of the ATSF competition. The winner, once decided, will become the next generation TSF for the US military. The future fate of many project personnel, and entire companies literally hangs on the results of these trials.
Among the ATSF requirements, in addition to surpassing all aspects of the average 2nd generation TSF, the new TSF must also possess these following qualities:
1. Including anti-TSF capabilities, it must be able to dominate all aspects of an opposing human force.
2. A superior sensor package guaranteeing a successful "First Strike" advantage and unmatched "Search and Destroy" capabilities.
3. Achieving radar/electronic stealth.
4. Long-range, high-speed economy cruising, and increased operational combat up-time.
Having set forth the requirements to seven different aerial manufacturing companies, and after reviewing their proposed designs, the ATSF board selected the 2 designs put forward by Lockweed and Northrock–Mcdaell Doglam. The 2 designs were given the official designation of YF-22 and YF-23. Thus began the ATSF trials.
However, with the creation of the G-bomb, US strategy and doctrine were once again affected as the new contingency plan for anti-BETA warfare took into account the use of G-bombs. The immediate result being the cancellation and shut down of the Hi-MAERF project which Lockweed and McDaell Doglam were both involved. Even though the changes did not directly affect the ATSF trials in any way, indirectly both companies are now desperate to secure a ludicrous future development contract with the US, due to the losses of funding coming from the HI-MAERF project.
From the design concept point of view, the YF-23 had the lead, but however the YF-22 made up for its deficiencies with its simpler and more practical designs. As a result, the YF-22 had more airtime while the YF-23 spent more time on the ground being worked on.
During the Versus trials however, the YF-23 clearly had the lead. Among to 40 times when 2 YF-22s were pitted against 2 YF-23s, the YF-23 had the result of 18 wins, 14 losses, 5 ties, and 3 nulls due to unforeseen variables possibly affecting the validity of the results, and stricken from the record as a result. In its conclusion, the test board stated that the 2 machines possessed similar levels of Stealth and target finding capability. As a result, most of the battles between the YF-22 and YF-23 became a close quarter dogfight, where the superior maneuverability and advanced melee CQC of the YF-23 had the advantage. The only notable advantage of the YF-22 was its prolonged combat operating time, and its fuel economy. Furthermore the YF-23 proved superior in all its Anti-BETA simulation, including a higher kill count and deeper penetration during a standard Hive infiltration JIVES simulation when compared with the YF-22.
After all phases of trial, even the project personnel of Lockweed believed that the winner was the YF-23. It was then a shock when the ATSF board announced that the YF-22 was chosen as the winner, primary reasons being it had a cheaper manufacturing cost, longer up-time, and better ease of maintenance. And of course, the most important reason being that the YF-22 is already well suited to be incorporated into the current US combat doctrine of ranged warfare and training plans.
The surprise announcement no doubt saved Lockweed from its financial problems, but a budget cut to the YF-22 production program due to the success of a G-bomb deployment on Hive 22 have forced Lockweed to merge with Martin, to become Lockweed Martin, in order to keep up with production demand. In the end, it was not until after nearly 10 years of further trials and test flights following end of the original ATSF trials that the F-22A Raptor was officially deployed within the US military in March of 2001.
At the time of deployment, the F-22A is considered technologically superior compared to the rest of the 3rd generation TSFs used by other nations, despite being a far older design on paper. It is a testament to the ATSF project that the designs pioneered decades ago are well ahead of their time. Performance wise, it is considered unmatched and would remain so for the foreseeable future.
May 11, 1992.
A man stood outside one of the storage hangars at Dryden Flight research center in Edwards Air Base. Inside the hangar, resting on its support frame, lies the composite metal form of a giant. Years of neglect from the harsh desert has left the YF-23 with none of its former splendor. Stripped of all electronic components, the YF-23 resembled nothing short of the decaying skeletal remains of some mythological giant.
The man who was once the project head designer of the YF-23, silently and solemnly watched as the setting sun cast its last light on the once proud forms the 2 YF-23s.
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