While humanity accumulated a wealth of data from their early engagements with the BETA and used it to refine their tactics, Tactical Surface Fighter manufacturers slaved to improve their fighting machines both in software and hardware. An army can have the best tactics and pilots in the world, but a better machine undoubtedly forms the other half of the equation, and the hardware and software components listed here, while not used directly in combat, have been refined over years of attrition warfare with the BETA.
Anti-laser countermeasures can either refer to a warning system for TSFs, a surface coating on its frame, or, in the cases of offensive uses, a grouping of different technologies that aim to reduce the effectiveness of Laser- and Heavy Laser-class BETA in the heat of combat.
Most modern TSFs have an anti-laser warning system that will allow them to detect when they are being tracked by a Laser-class BETA which has begun the low-energy laser phase of its firing cycle. The short window of time that the system allows is the difference between a successful dodging maneuver by the pilot, or the TSF being shot down. This detection system is supplemented by the two physical technologies listed below.
Physical anti-laser countermeasures can be grouped into two main groups:
- Heavy metal particulates (also known as AL warheads)
All TSFs, several types of naval warships, and certain combat vehicles are outfitted with anti-laser coating to improve their durability against laser attacks. However, even the latest of such a technology is only viable for three seconds, and any exposure longer than that will burn through the coating; a disastrous result to be avoided at all costs, considering that no armor material known to humankind can currently withstand a Laser blast for even a fraction of a second. The coating will also wear down from repeated short-term exposure to Laser blasts, resulting in damage from Laser attacks during long periods of continuous combat.
Anti-Laser WarheadEditAnti-Laser (AL for short) warheads are munitions that contain heavy metal particulates, manufactured to neutralize the threat of Laser-class BETA. They are an example of offensive-use anti-laser countermeasures; these are commonly found as warheads of various make and sizes, and can be equipped in built-in launchers on TSFs, as warheads on TSF-deployable platforms or as rocket/shell warheads of the weaponry found on larger vehicles to improve the effectiveness of artillery fire, and can even be deployed by orbital spacecraft as a prelude to Orbital Diver operations.
For most of them, their effectiveness as a countermeasure depends on the Laser-class successfully intercepting such shells, which are usually not equipped with explosives, to vaporize their material into a dense metallic particle cloud, diffusing further laser attacks and vastly reducing the range and power of the Laser-/Heavy Laser-class BETA. Shells that survive Laser fire will also deal kinetic damage to anything at its point of impact on the ground.
Due to the effectiveness of AL munitions in crippling Laser range, any operation against the BETA will almost certainly begin with a barrage of AL shells. These are not foolproof, however; heavy metal particles will disrupt communication, and sensor equipment once of a certain density, and as the cloud diffuses with time, the power and range of a fired laser will increase. Should a particle cloud prove to be of insufficient density, a laser can still burn through to hit a target behind with lethal force. The cloud is also susceptible to local weather conditions. Wind and precipitation can cause the cloud to shift or even disperse entirely, necessitating supporting artillery to go through their stocks of AL munitions much faster to keep the cloud at an acceptable density. This has the effect of reducing the feasible operational limit of a heavy metal cloud in an active laser environment. Long-term effects of the usage of AL munitions also concern the environment of Earth greatly. In particular, some environmental groups in North/South America and Australia, as well as other locations, have raised the environment issue as a point of contention, as the world, in its current state, has no policy for restricting the usage of AL munitions, and many are of the view that such a restriction is, at best, an unaffordable "luxury".
For an example of an unorthodox anti-laser countermeasure, refer to the Rutherford Field.
As its name suggests, TSFs can engage in autonomous combat and action. However, their reactions in close-quarters combat are well below TSFs operated by skilled pilots.
Artificial carbon materials are part of the Unlimited/Alternative world's space exploration program. Such materials have been the base of many of humanity's technological breakthroughs, allowing for a vehicle to be constructed lighter than similarly-sized contemporaries while having equal or greater durability. Even the internal systems of TSFs use advanced carbonic actuators and electricity-powered malleable carbon bands combined with traditional joint systems to provide greater power, speed, and durability during movement.
Super CarbonEditA specific offshoot of this is Super Carbon, an advanced construction and armor material developed by the United States in 1956 as part of the "Hope II" large orbital station program. This ubiquitous material plays a key role in the construction of vehicles and technology such as spacecraft and TSFs; it has been used in the construction of TSF frames to Jump Units, external and supplemental armor, bladed weapons, and the aerodynamic control surfaces and armor components of modern TSFs; artificial carbon materials used in the construction of TSF frames and weapons are also known as Super Carbon.
Although impressively strong compared to conventional construction materials, super carbon is still susceptible to damage from BETA physical and laser attacks and typical human weapons, such as Assault Cannons.
The capability to share important information, such as data logs, allied units' status readouts, terrain information and meteorological data, between allied TSFs. Data linking is especially important on the battlefield, as it allows incoming troops to gain an understanding on what is happening on the front lines, and to change and modify their tactics and strategies accordingly.
Jamming CapabilitiesEditJamming capabilities are part of a TSF's radar and sensor systems, with such abilities being more prominent in TSFs produced after or upgraded from first-generation models. Apart from breaking up wireless communication and tracking capabilities of enemy units, variants of this technology exists that allows a TSF to mask its electronic signature by introducing radar noise, preventing the enemy from accurately detecting its opponent.
As an example, the F-22A's electronic systems can jam communication lines that have not been registered as those of allied forces, and the F-4J is equipped with the Noisemaker, an ECM device that clutters the area with radar noise to mask allied approach signatures on enemy radar.
Operation By WireEdit
Operation By Wire (OBW) is a system that introduces a computer processing system with coded presets into the operating system of the TSF's controls to prevent accidents and help stabilize the TSF during operation; the system's name is a reference to the significant amount of additional wiring. OBW allows TSFs to auto-correct unintended maneuvers that would otherwise cause the machine in question to crash, fall down, or impact a surface/obstacle unintentionally. This system is not foolproof however, and should not be treated as a substitute for actual combat maneuvers.
Operation By LightEdit
An evolution of OBW, Operation By Light (OBL) is a system whereby inputs by the pilot are converted to light signals transmitted by optical fiber cables rather than the electronic signals transmitted by wires used in OBW. The advantages of OBL over OBW include greater speed and bandwidth of data transmission, reduced weight, increased resistance to electromagnetic and heat damage, and greater ease of maintenance.
OBL is a defining characteristic of third-generation TSFs; its resistance to electromagnetic interference allows a TSF equipped as such to operate near or directly use advanced weaponry, an example being a charged particle cannon.
As its name suggests, any such system is a hypnotic suggestion program, using spoken words in formulated tones designed to evoke certain emotions. Hypnosis is widely used in the world of Muv-Luv Unlimited and Muv-Luv Alternative, from being a combat enhancer to medical treatments and memory manipulation.
This version is a software function installed into a TSF and can be remotely activated by other pilots of greater rank that the receiving person, allowing senior pilots acting as unit leaders to affect the mental state of others.
Usually used in conjunction with drugs and stimulants injected into a pilot's body, this can cause pilots to calm down and/or become more aggressive in combat. While there may be advantages to the system, hypnotic suggestion has its own downsides, which includes impaired capability for long-term/strategic judgement, loss of perception of reality to a certain degree, and an overly-aggressive, almost animalistic and anger-fueled instinct-based behavior detrimental to the hypnotized pilot's safety.
The translation of the phrases used for the Combat Hypnosis program in Japanese TSFs are as such:
O soldiers under the rain of blood, the black mist, the night rainbow,
O soldiers whose souls are guided by the white water's surface, the drops of the moon,
Sing the praises of those names carved into a steel grave,
and sound all the thousands of bells on this rotting land.
May we all one day go with joy to the promised land of death and victory...
Empty spaces in a TSF or external carried stores, used to house either spare ammunition, combat daggers or other items. Such components can be found on the F-15 Eagle, F-18 Hornet, and F-22A Raptor in the form of empty cavities in their knee block armor, while the Type-94 Shiranui uses its hip block armor to store extra ammunition.
Blade SheathEditA specialized storage pod used exclusively to store Close Combat Daggers, which contains a sub-arm for automated deployment of the dagger housed within; the sub-arm has a wide motion range which is used to bring the blade out, thus ensuring that the blade can be quickly brought into position in any emergency. The F-4, F-16, YF-23, MiG-21, Type-82, Type-94/-97, MiG-23/-27, and the Su-27/-37 all have this design trait; the size of the Blade Sheath depends on what kind of blade it can store within.
For the Type-94 and Type-97, the Blade Sheaths are also shaped to act as secondary control surfaces along with their head sensor masts, which allow a pilot to maneuver more quickly during nape-of-earth flight, normal flight, and boosted jumps by moving these surfaces, thus increasing their maneuverability.
An extra-large storage block mounted on the back of a TSF in lieu of its Mount Pylons, drop tanks can be used to carry spare fuel for TSFs. This allows a TSF to operate for a much longer period; even if there was easy access to a Supply Container, refueling still requires time. However, the lack of both Mount Pylons means that a TSF's weapons capacity and offensive capability are decreased in exchange for extra weight; the drop tank is therefore most ideal for long-ranged combatants who do not need to burn through ammunition quickly.
Slave ModeEditA system for Tactical Surface Fighters that allows a pilot to remotely control one or more TSFs.
This mode is not commonly used on the battlefield due to slaved units having less ability than properly-trained pilots. The data links from the control unit to the slave units can also be disrupted by heavy metal particles and enemy jamming capabilities.
Slave mode is not autopilot, where the TSF is capable of making decisions for itself.
Sub-ArmEditA distinct system from the Mount Pylon, the Sub-Arm is a blanket term used to describe an additional system to a TSF for added mobility of its parts. They differ from the TSF's limbs and the Mount Pylon in usage, as they serve very specific roles depending on where such a system is installed.
The Type-74 Mount Pylon, for instance, is equipped with a sub-arm system on its end to allow it to reload mounted guns without a TSF having to manually reload the weapon by grabbing an ejected magazine from the TSF's ammunition holster. A TSF's shoulder armor blocks are also operated by sub-arm systems, which allow the TSF to move its limbs with greater flexibility or enter storage in a more compact form, and most improved 1st generation TSFs onwards use sub-arm systems for their Jump Units to allow for greater mobility by using thrust-vectoring. All Blade Sheaths have a sub-arm system to accelerate and streamline the deployment of the Close Combat Dagger stored within.
XM3EditA new general production TSF Operating System based on the prototype OS and computer processor upgrades developed by Kouzuki Yuuko, Shirogane Takeru, Yashiro Kasumi, as well as various Alternative IV developers.
The idea was brought up by 2nd Lt. Shirogane based on concepts implemented in video-games from the Extra-verse. Professor Kouzuki Yuuko initially worked on the XM3 as a proof-of-concept of her research into Alternative IV.
By completely overhauling the old OS, any TSF using the XM3 is granted an extra 30% increased performance over similar TSFs. In other words, it practically turns the TSF into a new unit and makes it a generation ahead of other TSFs using the old OS. It uses 2nd Lt. Shirogane's piloting data as a base, and as such, each TSF operating the XM3 for the first time will look and operate (from the outside) as though it were being piloting by 2nd Lt. Shirogane, until the pilot accumulates enough data to leave his own footprint on his machine.
The XM3 also allows Eishi to perform movements and maneuvers that are usually impossible due to the restrictions placed on the TSF to prevent damage. This is done by providing the option to circumvent automated posturing or reactions to things such as falling, boosting, or landing recovery; a technique named Move Canceling by 2nd Lt. Shirogane. Additionally, it records posturing commands the pilot tends to favor, compares them against thought patterns normally recorded by the pilot's armored suit, and automatically selects and executes statistically suitable commands from this data set (analogous to video game adaptive "combos"). This integrates with the standard TSF data link such that, in addition to sharing regular telemetry and communications, TSFs within a squad now sync their posturing analysis; effectively sharing input combos as well as an individual pilot's skills and control mannerisms. TSFs using the XM3 are easier to operate according to Professor Kouzuki, presumably referring to its accumulating and automating a library of posturing recorded by other users, while still managing to increase the sensitivity of the TSF's Pilot Systems for finer movement control. In other words, the XM3 makes training fresh pilots to an elite level much faster and easier than before.
A common misconception is that XM3 is a miracle OS which can make anyone into a skilled pilot. This is an exaggeration; while the XM3 does indeed allow anyone to copy 2nd Lt. Shirogane Takeru's mobility and maneuvers, as well as offer more freedom and ease of movement, it is no substitute for skill. As an example, two players could be playing Shogi: the first person (old OS) has two rows with nothing but pawns and one king, whereas the second person (XM3) has a complete set of Shogi pieces as well as automatic access to strategy guides (that are constantly updated) on the best possible movement. The second player has an overwhelming advantage over the first, but it is still possible to lose if the second player isn't careful.
To borrow another real world example, the XM3 could be compared to a functional predictive text feature long sought after in word processing devices: analyzing a user's habits to speed up text entry, overwrite mistakes while maintaining the option for manual override, and syncing with other devices to expand its accumulated library of textual data. It will not however, automatically make the user an instant Shakespeare. As further proof that the XM3 is no substitute for skill, Professor Kouzuki Yuuko mentioned to 2nd Lt. Shirogane Takeru that even though the XM3 test pilots were equipped with the new OS, they still disappointed her with their results when facing the BETA during the XM3 trials - she remarked that only the Shiranui pilots of A-01 and Shirogane produced satisfactory results.
The XM3 does not come without his downsides. As a result of all the extraordinary mobility and maneuvers, TSFs now wear at a much faster rate than before. However, this is a trivial problem - alleviated by more inspections and repairs - considering most engagements with the BETA will be much safer with the XM3 installed. Additionally the alternative would be losing pilots and building new TSFs from scratch.
The XM3 was traded to the US government in exchange for the XG-70d while it was given to the Japanese government for free because of the latter's support for Alternative IV. It is not clear what the other nations traded in return for XM3, or if indeed, anyone besides the US, UN and Japan operated the OS.
- Anti-Laser Countermeasures are similar to the various anti-beam technologies found in Gundam, such as various methods in the Universal Century, Cosmic Era, and the Anti-Beam Depth Charge.
- Alternatively, the reflective nature of heavy metal particles also parallel real-world chaff countermeasures used by fighters to evade long-range radar-based anti-air missiles, particularly those used for beyond-visual-range combat.
- MKUltra is an actual experiment on human behavioral engineering; that is to say, mind control, done by the CIA.
- The real-world equivalent of Operation-By-Wire is Fly By Wire.
- The real-world equivalent of Operation-By-Light is Fly By Optics.