The official translation of the name is "Tactical Surface Fighter". However, this terminology was only first seen nine months following Alternative's release in promotional materials for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. It was never used in the trilogy games as the story was set in Japan and therefore use the Japanese terminology. That said, senjutsuki should be read as TSF, due to it being the closest acronym equivalent of the Japanese term.
TSF action figures are currently produced by Volks (in their A3 =Advanced System of Action Arms= and Tactical Surface Fighter Model Collection lines) and Kaiyodo (in their Revoltech line). Model kits for TSFs are produced by Kotobukiya.
In the alternate timelines of Unlimited and Alternative, the invasion of Earth by the BETA began in 1974. To circumvent the overwhelming anti-air superiority of the Laser-class BETA, TSFs were thus developed as all-purpose assault units, able to fight in urban areas, on uneven terrain, and 3-dimensional combat within the interior of BETA Hives without their maneuverability being constrained in the heat of battle, following the successful deployment of bipedal mechanized units such as the Feedback Protector and NCAF-X1 used in the preceding First Lunar War. Since their first deployment in 1974, TSFs have become essential to humanity's survival over the 30-year war.
TSF movement is a combination of bipedal locomotion and thrust from their Jump Units. Their legs and arms are moved with carbon actuators, superconducting bands of carbon-based material that expand and contract based on the electrical current passed though them; the electricity to power the carbon actuators come from a combination of batteries and magnesium fuel cells. Jump Units produce thrust by processing specialized jet fuel, usually stored in the Jump Units themselves or in storage tanks in a TSF's legs. External tanks can be attached to a TSF for increased operational time and distance.
TSF mobility is further enhanced by their joint construction; the combined usage of carbon actuators and multiple joints structures in a single joint segment impart TSFs with high operating limits and shock-absorbing capabilities during battle. One example is the wide-ranged rotational capability of a TSF's shoulders and elbows, allowing them to engage targets directly behind them even without gun-equipped Mount Pylons. Sub-arms positioned underneath the shoulder-block armor allow TSFs a wide range of arm movement without interference.
Mobility is not just all that TSFs have, however; they are also armored in an anti-projectile and heat-resistant composite that has been further treated with anti-laser coating. Armor on the upper body segment also aids in maneuverability by improving the active instability aspect of a TSF; a higher center of gravity improves the execution time of maneuvers during combat. However, with the immense power wielded by the Laser-class BETA, armor protection for TSFs remains a low-return concept compared to attack avoidance.
Most if not all of the American, Soviet, and European TSFs are based on real-life fighter jets (e.g.- the F-22A being built by "Lockweed Mardin", a clear reference to Lockheed Martin). However, the people responsible for the design and manufacture of the real world's various fighter jets are not necessarily the same people who were responsible for the design/manufacture of TSFs in Muv-Luv Unlimited/Alternative.
TSF development can be split into three distinct generations, with each generation an indicator of their technology level and advancement. However, the generation standing is not a direct indication of combat strength in any capacity.
Early on, 1st generation TSFs such as the F-4 Phantom were envisioned as mobile tanks, and were sent into battle with heavy armaments and armor plating while operated by retrained former military aviators. The results were disastrous; BETA combat strength easily bypassed any amount of armor, and pilots struggled with the conceptual differences between piloting an airplane and a TSF. Specialized TSF training was quickly established and taught to officers early in their careers to improve and advance TSF combat doctrines throughout the years.
With the experiences gained from fighting the BETA, later 1st generation TSFs began a shift towards lighter, more agile units. Examples include the F-5 Freedom Fighter and its derivatives, the Tornado IDS and Mirage III. Nations that adopted the F-4 also upgraded their TSFs for improved close-quarters capabilities; examples include the MiG-21 Balalaika, J-8, and the Type-77 Gekishin.
Starting from the 2nd generation, manufacturers shifted their focus to improving the agility and maneuverability of TSFs, as the numbers and offensive strength of the BETA in a war of attrition assured that pilots fared much better by avoiding attacks, rather than withstanding them. One of the means by which improved performance was achieved was active instability - 2nd generation TSFs had their center of gravity located in their upper body segment, using the inherently unbalanced design to reduce the time needed to commence maneuvers during combat. Otherwise, the TSF is kept upright by its own OS.
These TSFs resemble modern fighter planes ("sentouki") in performance, rather than tanks.
During the 2nd generation of TSF development, tactics such as the High-Low Mix were developed, resulting in TSF designs built around exploiting this strategy; examples include the F-15 Eagle/Su-27 Zhuravlik as "heavy" TSFs, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon/MiG-27 Aligatori as "lightweight" TSFs. Numerous 1st generation TSFs also underwent extensive upgrading into 1.5th generation TSFs, their upgrades vastly improving their mobility and evasion capabilities. 1.5th generation TSFs were still constrained by their physical frames, however, and some, like the Type-82 Zuikaku, were unable to reach a level of performance comparable to 2nd generation TSFs of that time.
Not counting the United States, most nations attempting to enter the 2nd generation of TSF technology often found themselves outmatched, mostly due to the pressure on their infrastructure and industry from the advancing BETA, or from a lack of specialized knowledge on TSF construction; examples include the quasi-2nd generation MiG-23 Cheburashka, the poorly-developed MiG-25 Spirt-Voz, and the troubles experienced by the Empire of Japan during the development of their own TSF, forcing them to acquire the F-15J Kagerou as a stopgap measure.
By the 1990s, the development of TSFs had shifted into the 3rd generation. TSFs of this tier boast superior maneuverability, mobility, and firepower compared to 2nd generation TSFs, due to the input of combat data over the past two decades, which helped shape the vast improvements in the technology, hardware and software used as their components; their resultant designs clearly reflect the strategic needs of their nations. The Type-94 Shiranui, the world's first 3rd generation TSF, remains a high-performance unit nearly a decade after its introduction, and late 3rd generation units like the Type-00 Takemikazuchi focus on overwhelming close-combat advantages, while the F-22A Raptor uses stealth and superior mobility to not only outmaneuver BETA, but human and TSF opponents as well.
Even with the superiority of 3rd generation TSFs, development, production, and procurement difficulties for most of them have resulted in renewed improvement and experimentation projects involving 2nd generation TSFs. Some, like the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-18E/F Super Hornet, have received upgrades with tried-and-tested technology originating from the 2nd generation of development, but others, such as the F-15ACTV Active Eagle and MiG-29OVT Fulcrum, have been partially upgraded with technology developed for 3rd generation TSFs. Heavily upgraded TSFs are known as 2.5th generation TSFs, while TSFs extensively upgraded with 3rd generation technology are known as quasi-3rd generation TSFs. Depending on development and performance, a quasi-3rd generation TSF (such as the F-15SE Silent Eagle) may be reclassified as a full-fledged 3rd generation TSF.
8 Minutes of DeathEdit
The average survival time for the first pilots of early 1st generation TSFs was 8 minutes, and surviving the "8 minutes of death" has become a rite of passage among modern pilots, even when using 2nd or 3rd generation TSFs.
See: Unit Organization
As TSF tactics and technology were developed cooperatively across the world, they share a similar aircraft-derived unit organization pattern in most armed forces, yet retain some aspects of tactics not commonly found in aerial formations; a unique melding of both army and air force command structure.
See: Combat Doctrine
In the past two-and-a-half decades of war with the BETA, both anti-BETA and anti-TSF combat tactics developed for the exclusive use of Tactical Surface Fighters have appeared, honed, and refined over the years. However, in a strategic sense these tactics are truly useful only when combined with other military forces.
Tactical Surface AttackerEdit
Tactical Surface Attackers are a variation on the Tactical Surface Fighter concept that have been adapted to carry massive firepower and armor volume, usually by sacrificing speed and maneuverability in their design. TSAs excel in clearing operations and establishing a beachhead in contested regions, where their immense volume of firepower can easily stop the advance of the BETA head-on.
Out of their niche area, however, TSAs suffer from low speed and low maneuverability, making them unsuitable for close-quarters combat, or tactical actions that require speed and precision.
Tactical Surface Fighters By NationEdit
Varying in design from mundane to highly ornate, most Japanese TSFs focus on high speed, maneuverability, and close-combat tactics, due to a need to fight in crowded Hive conditions to cleanse Japan of the BETA, as well as strengthened joint systems to overcome the issue of the uneven and rough terrain of the Japanese mainland. With improvements in TSF technology, Japanese TSFs have become more maneuverable, with some bearing weaponized armor and parts for greater defense against certain BETA; most TSFs have limiters installed, however, to improve joint and frame durability and uptime during combat.
Being the nation that spearheaded TSF development and production, American TSFs are highly advanced and efficient at both ranged and close-combat warfare, using their powerful armaments to keep the BETA out of reach. Several TSFs were also the bearers of pioneer technologies and weapons that would later become standard equipment on future models.
Like the Japanese, the Europeans are faced with the problem of having to counter the BETA on their home ground, and as according to their thinning strategies have gradually developed TSFs that have various methods of countering close-contact combat with the BETA. Their TSFs focus on two fighting methods; one is suppression of enemy forces with heavy firepower in areas unreachable by conventional indirect fire, and the other is high mobility for a highly-adaptable force. With the two methods becoming one as European TSF technology continues to mature, modern European TSFs are highly mobile fighters with the capability to direct heavy firepower wherever they go.
Similar to Japanese and European TSFs, Soviet TSFs have a distinct close-combat-oriented design for combat conditions in a BETA Hive, with high-speed deployment and usage of melee capabilities via arming their TSFs with built-in melee armaments and well-placed reactive armor plates, as well as high-mobility capabilities to multiply their effectiveness in the crowded conditions of a BETA-dominated battlefield. Their TSFs are well-known for their ruggedness, especially in the harsh Russian weather, and on the frontlines where repair and resupply schedules are, at best, irregular.
Focusing on high-mobility tactics like those of the other frontline nations, TSFs of the Unified Front of China emphasize mobility and speed over other aspects. UFC TSFs, especially those of the People's Republic of China, have adopted a rounded-head sensor module to feature wider sight range, as well as to provide redundancy for optics failure during high-intensity combat.
People's Republic of China
Republic of China/Taiwan
Harsh desert conditions and years of constant warfare have shaped Israeli TSF doctrines to be similar to those of other frontline nations. Their TSFs have been modified to last in the endless sands, accentuated by the BETA's indiscriminate strip-mining of the region. Despite their long-standing defense partnerships with US industries, growing dissatisfaction with product performance and foreign politics have forced the Israelis to look to other countries for assistance in developing their own TSFs.
Battle-tested and proven in combat over nearly thirty years, most TSFs use weapons that operate on similar principles to their human-wielded/vehicle-mounted counterparts, but differ in their manufacturing and operation. Humanity is also developing new weapons daily, seeking to even the playing field in any way possible.
Hardware attachments for TSFs. While not a permanent fixture, some of this equipment have, over the years, become an essential part of TSF combat doctrine.
A machine is nothing without its operators, and the best pilots of the world are nothing without a machine that can keep up with them. Over the years, both man and TSF have improved their performance, setting the bar higher and higher in their pursuit of the ultimate fighting machine.