Above: RN recruitment poster first utilised in the summer of 2297. Pictured is an 801 NAS Sea Fury from HMS Sans Pareil above the Bay of Biscay
The Mitchell Aerospace (MAe) Fury is the current British front line fighter aircraft. It is a cutting edge design specialised for air-to-air combat in the crowded skies of Europe whilst also being adept at air-to-ground combat and having a secondary ASAT role. In service primarily with British, Wellon and Alician air arms it has seen frequent action against the Kafers on the French Arm. On Beta Canum-4 it has achieved iconic status, its distinctive design making it a visible symbol of human resistance.
Thanks to David Gillon and Bryn Monnery for feedback and ideas.
'Pepper and myself were the first British pilots to kill a Kafer Hotel space/interface fighter in the skies over New Africa. The landings had begun early on the 20th, and following the Air Commodore's plan we launched our response. The Tempests and Hunters were hitting the first wave landers at the LZ, whilst the Sea Furies were off to engage the second wave with Long Lances as they came through the upper atmosphere at hypersonic velocities. This was all being co-ordinated by JTAG-2's Air Commander on board a Guardian flying low in the valleys of the Westmarch at the centre of a web of data links from aircraft and drones. The ground command centre had been smashed by a kinetic attack the day before so it was vital we protected the Guardian.
'There were four aircraft tasked for this, operating from dispersed sites across the south. Pepper and myself from 801 and another pair from 823. I can't say we were thrilled at the prospect of baby sitting but 801's AWI thought that there was a good chance of the Kafers trying to get to the commander so I accepted the assignment with just a touch of bad grace. For the first hour and a half I cursed my luck as we stooged around under the cloud base dodging mountain peaks whilst listening to the rest of the JTAG fighting and dying over the net.
'The alarm came as two of the remaining AEW drones picked up a Hotel coming in from orbit towards us some 500 clicks away. We knew from French experience over Aurore that the Hotel had a powerful laser armament that was well capable of knocking down incoming missiles. Consequently I took the Hotel head on whilst Pepper hooked around to the right. Passing smoothly through the cloud and going supersonic I went active early and fired off a pair of missiles. He pinged me back as his sensors cleared from re-entry and I dived for the deck.
'He took my pair of missiles cleanly with his nose laser and then splashed an AEW drone that was scuttling out of his way. However by that time Pepper's missiles had already locked on through that drone's sensors and were terminal. The Hotel took the hit badly and lost a lot of height before recovering and we sent another missile each to finish it. I went high to track it into the ground and saw the impact on the radar. Some local ground troops later found the wreckage and sent us some pieces from the control surfaces.
'Hotel's weren't always so easy. In fact an hour later the twoship from 823 got engaged with a pair of them. They lost an airframe and the Guardian was forced to go to ground. But generally they weren't a great threat once you closed and got behind them. Get them into any sort of manoeuvering fight and they were easy pickings. Although that required considerable balls to pull off, especially once the AEW coverage had gone.'
Extract from 'Sea Fury over New Africa' by Lt Comd P W 'Chalky' Whitehead RN, DFC
Above: MAe Project 228502 prototype 08 pictured during the fly-off with the VF P.228501
The requirement for the Fury arose from the approaching obsolescence of two aircraft types in British service. The RN's long lived BEx Sea Snake multi-role fighter had been a stalwart of the Fleet Air Arm since the late 2250's and was beginning to show its age. The RAF had chosen the proven American Cheetah for its close-in air superiority role with Fighter and Strike Command in the mid-2260's and this plane had been produced under licence by Vickers-Foss. The Cheetah was popular with its pilots but had not enjoyed great success in service mainly because of its small payload.
The British Ministry of Defence was looking to replace both of these aircraft with a single aircraft type in spite of inter-service bickering. The RN took the lead as they had the largest overall requirement for aircraft numbers. The subsequent request to tender stated a need for an aircraft biased towards air-to-air combat but with air-to-ground, reconnaissance and anti-shipping capabilities. In addition the RAF desired the possibility for the aircraft to be capable of delivery techniques utilising the Gungnir ASAT system. Due to advances in simulator technology the procurement of dedicated two seat training aircraft was not considered necessary.
The aircraft was also required to be able to outperform both the aircraft it was replacing in addition to carrying a whole range of modern self protection devices. The aircraft would also be able to operate in difficult conditions on Earth or Earth-like worlds. It was at this stage that the Wellonese Ministry of Defence also took an interest in the aircraft and took a financial stake in the project.
The key players for the contract were seen to be Vickers-Foss and Mitchell Aerospace, whilst other major international firms were seen as outsiders. Mitchell Aerospace is the leading edge aerospace design bureau of British Exospace, recently spun off under the control of the Canadian designer Veronica Mitchell. Already responsible for the excellent Mosquito long-range strike aircraft the bureau also still contained several members of the team responsible for the Sea Snake.
Mitchell took the lead in the design of the aircraft building from the basis of the single engined Sea Snake. In fact the new design was a substantial aerodynamic leap from its predecessor but Mitchell retained stylistic elements of the old fighter. This was partly to reassure the service chiefs who would might be more likely to commission a more familiar design.
Mitchell decided that the aircraft, dubbed P.228502, was to be a twin engined, single seat aircraft with forward swept wings. The twin engines allowed the thrust vectoring nozzles to increase roll rate and combat agility whilst lower output units could actually decrease the planes thermal signature whilst at low velocities. The design team also toyed with the possibility of using variable geometry wings with a sweep angle passing from half-forward to fully to the rear. This concept however was rejected after trials revealed that verification of flight software would significantly increase the service introduction times. Consequently a conventional forward swept wing was used.
The Central Asian War had proved that modern fighters required first rate sensor suites of their own. Aircraft like the Aerospatial d'Afrique Poignard II that relied mainly on the input of off board sensor drones for target acquisition came quickly unstuck once the lethal ground-based anti-aircraft defences had destroyed most of the drones. Once reliant only on its austere internal sensors they became much more vulnerable to their Manchu opponents. The upgraded Poignard III was only one of a range of aircraft rushed into service by the allies.
The P.228502 was to utilise the HS 812 radar system and the proven Australian Big Sky optics system integrated with a Black Arrow AVIS-6B presenting through a Jones Industries V-HUD. This array of sensors gave the system a range of 550km whilst being able to access a range of data through standard data links.
The P.228502 was designed to be able to carry any ordnance then in service as well as all of those on the drawing board. However the baseline of the aircraft was the carriage of 8 SRAAM and 4 MRAAM types in internal bays in stripped down configuration with minimum active and passive signature. For additional weapons and fuel a set of conformal pods were developed. For swing-role missions several air-to-ground weapons could be carried in the belly pod, but for dedicated attacks in the interdiction and CAS roles much more ordnance could be carried under the wings but with a penalty of vastly increased signature.
For long range strike heavy ordnance could be slung in place of the conformal belly pod and fuel carried on the engine pods giving the aircraft a substantial operational radius. Anti-shipping, point attack and general attack ordnance were integrated easily but the carriage of ASAT ordnance was proving more problematical.
By the Spring of 2288 both MAe and VF had several prototypes ready and were ready for a competitive fly-off. This took place in the skies over Britain, Canada and Wellon over the course of six months. The competition was close with the unconventional wedge shaped VF P.228501 being an excellent aircraft having superior speed to the MAe aircraft but loosing out in other areas. Eventually though RN concerns about the stability of the VF on approach to carrier landings was the major factor in the choice of the MAe although major changes to the defensive avionics suite were mandated.
With project won and the design modified, BEx and Rolls-Royce the primary airframe and engine contractors began to tool up for initial and then full production. Initial aircraft were produced in small numbers in Lancashire for main flight trials in the UK as well as minor trials in Wellon, Alicia, New Africa and Joi. The CFTF at Farnborough ran the main flight trials throughout 2289 finding few problems with the aircraft. Consequently full production began in Britain on 2nd of January 2290. The new aircraft was to be known as the Fury.
Below: Royal Wellon Navy Sea Furies of 1714 NAS (identifiable by the yellow canards, missile pods and conformal packs) approaching an AAR drone south of Bayview during the 3rd Liberation. This unit was part of JTAG-W, the 'Flying Devils'.
The Fury's airframe has two major components. The first is the monocoque body, and secondly the mission adaptive wings, canards and stabilators. All elements have integral passive radar and thermal emissions masking.
The body is designed as a rigid shell which contains the main avionics and weapons, engines, fuel and weapons loads. In addition it holds the pilots compartment which is doubly armoured and braced to allow for the greatest possible survivability for the pilot in case of missile strikes. The main body itself is robustly built and designed to resist single hits up to 20mm or 160 MW laser pulses.
The control surfaces are all mission adaptive powered by electrical servos with ram-air back ups for manoeuvres at high velocities . In other words are all capable of altering their profiles in three dimensions whilst in flight and have no need of flaps, slats or other trailing or leading edge powered devices.
The Fury is powered by two Rolls-Royce Wyvern engines. The Wyvern is a tenth generation engine system developed progressively from the Cockatrice series that powered the Sea Snake and Hunter. The Wyvern is notable for its exceptional power output and high cruise speeds, whilst maintaining low fuel consumption rates and thermal outputs.
The engines are mounted in two pods in the underbelly of the aircraft and seem much bigger than they actually are. The majority of the pod is actually taken up with the undercarriage and thermal masking devices. The engines are fed with air from the main intakes located on the upper body of the aircraft. However when high-G and high-alpha manoeuvres are undertaken auxiliary intakes are opened on the front of the engine pods to increase air intake in all flight regimes.
The Fury's engines are equipped with smart thrust vectoring nozzles (TVN) which significantly enhance the aircraft's manoeuvrability, close control and STOL capability. The Fury requires only a 150m take-off run when carrying a typical air-to-air load out, allowing very fast response times from QRA and no catapult assistance during carrier operations. Even heavily loaded it needs only 400m of strip with a full ASAT payload. The TVN also incorporate a thrust reverser capacity which is used in both conventional and carrier landings and can work from strips as small as 350m.
The aircraft also carries a dedicated APU to provide power for avionics and engine start-up vital for operations from dispersed landing strips. The robust undercarriage with its smart wheels developed to deal with emergency, manual carrier landings provide good rough strip capability. These capabilities were used to the full by JTAG-2's Sea Furies in New Africa.
The backbone of the Fury's avionics is the Black Arrow Air Vehicle Information System-6B. The AVIS-6B provides complete systems integration of both flight, sensor and weapons systems whilst acting as a databus for the auxiliary systems. The 6B is a development from the 5 Series developed for the upgraded BEx Lightning F.5 and it a well tested system which is not prone to failure.
Flight and engine control systems are quadruplex fly-by-light with fly-by-wire back-up systems in case of battle damage. There have been some problems with the Rolls-Royce Adaptive FADEC engine control systems in test-bed testing but these seem to have been overcome in trials. The trust vectoring control software is also from Rolls Royce's Wellon based Merlin labs and has caused few problems.
The main active sensor suite of the aircraft is the HS 812 radar unit. The system has three emitters with one at the rear of the fuselage and two in the wing roots. This gives the suite a 360° coverage around the airframe. The HS 812 has an effective range of 550km against a typical small target and 700km against large aircraft. The unit has full look-up-look-down multi-mode functionality combined with limited emission scatter tracking capability. The system is believed by aviation experts of being capable of scanning and tracking over 400 targets whilst guiding up to 16 missiles in 'soft-track' mode. The emitters are also connected to the aircraft's self-defence suite for use in active jamming.
The Fury's passive sensor suite is the AusOptronics Big Sky system. This unit combines an array of small optical and thermal sensor units located across the surface of the aircraft with a multi-spectrum main unit located in the nose. Capable of locating any target within 200km the system is also an invaluable reconnaissance and self-defence aid. It has continuously proved capable of locating incoming hyper-velocity munitions from any aspect and at considerable distance in the forward quadrant. The main advantage of the Big Sky aside from its lack of detectable emissions is its capacity to break through hostile jamming, counter-measures and deceptions and provide target confirmation.
The Fury has a highly capable autopilot system, so much so that it has developed so far from the traditional autopilot to become almost an artificial co-pilot. The RN has relied upon sophisticated autopilot in order for its aircraft to make high-probability low speed landings on carriers in all conditions especially in the South Atlantic. However for the Fury a further improvement in capability was required once it became obvious that during high-G defensive manoeuvres the aircraft had the capacity to knock the pilot unconscious. Obviously although a conventional autopilot would return an aircraft to straight and level flight the plane would become very vulnerable in the time the pilot took to recover.
A requirement was quietly launched for a unit that would be capable of continuing operation of the aircraft in line with tactical priorities and mission profile whilst adapting to the individual pilot's flying style. The best tender came from Neural Net of Montreal who had developed a system for the abortive Canadian Defence Forces Arrow Advanced Autonomous UCAV program which had floundered amidst cost overruns and inter-service bickering. The NNet F4F system was adopted, although the integration of the F4F with the AVIS-6B caused some difficulty, not least because of the long running rivalry between these two companies.
The Fury project ended up with a requirement for an impressive array of EW and ESM equipment purely to allow it to carry out its role in addition to the usual conventional self-defence suite. The HS 844 is mounted on the top of the two stabilators and includes ECM, ECCM and ESM units. It is capable of locating conventional radar up to 800km away and confirming modern combat radar track at some 450km. Its active jamming capability is also excellent whilst performance against ground targets is good enough to provide targeting for precision attacks without active illumination.
The conventional defensive suite includes two Towed Decoys attached to 2km spools of 'beanstalk' material which are housed in the aircraft's transom. Each decoy is a small aerodynamic wedge packed with electronics to enable it to imitate the passive and active signature of a Fury. The aircraft also carries a range of counter-measure dispensers with up to 80 individual rounds, each of which has EW and signature spoofing capability. In addition the Quantum Industries laser system is capable of destroying incoming ordnance should it be detected in time and be within the laser's arcs.
A vital part of any modern avionics is the capability to utilise datalinked information. The Fury has two datalink systems one for close, tight beam work for work within a package of aircraft or drones and the other for wide-footprint operations from distant AWACS aircraft, satellites or starships in LEO. The Fury also carries the CASIS-2 system developed for the later model Hunters to directly co-operate with ground force forward air controllers without having to utilise the often time-lagged Brigade or Divisional Battle Nets. To cut down on latency problems the Fury is equipped with the Black Arrow ES-15 'black box' dedicated encryption-decryption unit which then feeds the information to the AVIS-6B.
Below: Staged photo taken to mark the acceptance of the first Sea Fury F.1 into service with the Royal Wellon Navy's 1705 NAS.
The Fury has been designed to make its pilot's life as easy as possible, however the pilot still has to fly and fight the aircraft in a highly lethal environment usually as part of a highly complex and time dependent operation.
Flight controls are by fairly standard Voice, Throttle and Stick (VTAS) integrated through the F4F system. Most of the vital combat functions are controlled by buttons and switches on the throttle and stick units. The more mundane routine functions are controlled by voice inputs although there is room for some overlap according to the pilot's preferences.
The pilot no longer has to rely upon the Mark 1 eyeball, in cockpit displays or HUD. Instead his helmet contains a Jones Industries high definition Virtual-HUD through which information from the AVIS-6B is displayed. The V-HUD has four primary modes, reality, wide-angle, combat and tactical. Reality is simply an enhanced version of what the pilot could see though his visor with the V-HUD turned off and with flight data imposed. Wide-angle is similar to reality but the outside world is compressed to the pilot to scan about the aircraft with only small head movements. Combat is similar to tactical except the VHUD 'removes' the aircraft so the pilot gets the impression he is flying through the air alone. Tactical is a computerised top-down view point of the area up to 1000km around the aircraft and displaying all tactical data and vehicle positions.
In all of these modes the amount of data displayed is customisable by the pilot to avoid overloading him with information. All modes utilise data taken from all of the aircraft's sensors, uploaded mission profiles and data-linked sources. Night fighting causes no problems at all. Most long range fighting is done whilst in Tactical mode, allowing the pilot to make best use of the available data. Close in fighting is usually done in Combat mode, which when in rare dogfight situations allows the pilot to 'padlock' onto his target aircraft. The pilot's situational awareness is the main priority and all of the planes systems are accessible through the V-HUD. If the V-HUD goes unserviceable then a wide-angle conventional HUD is available.
The flight systems make flying the Fury very simple although to get the best out of the aircraft requires a well trained pilot. If the aircraft takes damage in the course of its mission the flight system will attempt to regain control and then insulate the pilot from the worst effects on the flight envelope. Sometimes a seemingly heavily damaged aircraft will regain control enough for the pilot to limp back to base or eject in safety.
The Fury's highly capable autopilot has already been mentioned above however it has some major effects on the handling of the aircraft. Terrain masking is still a vital technique in modern air warfare and the F4F allows the pilot to manoeuvre the aircraft safely to within 20 metres of the ground. In addition the system monitors the consciousness of the pilot and will take over as soon as he looses consciousness and continue with the manoeuvre he was undertaking before assessing the tactical situation. In some circumstances the F4F will take offensive action in order to ensure the safety of the aircraft. On New Africa this system had unusual effects as one F4F managed to return a heavily damaged Fury to base in spite of the death of its pilot.
Despite all of the advanced systems at his disposal the pilot still has to have excellent physical fitness to survive the high G manoeuvres the aircraft is capable of. In addition he has several aids to help him resist the onset of GLOC. This includes the standard flying suit, which combines immersion suit, shrapnel and fire protection, gel filled full-body G-suit, pressure breathing system and survival kit. The advanced Mk.7 flying suit has been on issue to certain units and includes a partial exoskeleton with graduated power response to allow the pilot to overcome the extra weight imposed by G forces.
The ejection seat is a Jordan Systems Gabriel Mk XX system capable of removing the pilot safety from the aircraft at any altitude. The decision to eject can be taken manually or can be initiated by the AVIS-6B in certain circumstances. Safe ejections are best made at speeds under the speed of sound however the Gabriel XX is capable of ejections at much higher velocities. The armoured pilot's compartment on the Fury usually allows the pilot to 'ride the tiger' until a safe velocity is reached but this depends on the tactical situation. The AVIS-6B during trials once ejected the test pilot even though catastrophic damage has not been inflicted and allowed the F4F to attempt to rescue the plane (it failed). The biggest danger comes when a pilot ejects when a plane is spinning out of control and risks hitting debris.
Above: 830 NAS Sea Fury from HMS Indefatigable climbing away from its carrier in the South Pacific
The figures in parenthesis for signature and endurance represent figures when conformal pods (fuel tanks) are in use and when under-wing pods are carried.
Quantum Industries Rapid Fire Laser System
The RFLS is a combined close range offensive and defensive weapon system. It replaces the more traditional heavy calibre autocannon used on most other nation's aircraft. Although it lacks the stopping power of the other weapon it is much more accurate and its rapid fire can place many shots on target. Even at long range against aircraft targets it can disrupt sensor and communications even without downing the target. Defensively the system can target incoming missiles and combines with other active and passive measures to protect the aircraft.
The main body of the weapon and power systems are located in the main body of the aircraft, whilst two emission blisters are mounted under the nose of the aircraft and behind the cockpit. The system can engage all targets within a 50 degree cone of the nose and across most of the rear of the aircraft not masked by the stabilators.
British Exospace Asp
The Asp is the main Short Ranged Air to Air Missile (SRAAM) used on the Fury. 8 of these missiles, carried in the distinctive wing-tip pods are carried on virtually every mission flown by these aircraft. Although quick, the Asp is classed as a high manoeuvre missile and utilises a 'pattern' warhead of 30 HE darts whose 'footprint' is altered at detonation to maximise the chance of destruction of the target. The Asp has a multi-seeker head and whilst optimised for air-to-air engagements can be utilised as an ARM or as a point attack missile.
The Aero-27 is the standard Medium Range Air to Air Missile (MRAAM) in service with the British. Manufactured under license by BEx Dynamics it is a result of French experience in Central Asia and in the war with Germany. It has a secondary ARM capability.
Dominion Dynamics Long Lance
The Long Lance is an old, but still useful part of the British inventory. It was designed initially as a long range, kinetic, point attack missile capable of taking on hardened, static command and control facilities. However the impressive accuracy of the weapon enabled it to be used against airborne targets with low manoeuvrability. Over New Africa Furies utilised this against Kafer assault craft landing from orbit, blinded by re-entry the shuttles were initially very easy targets.
Royal Masiran Defence Systems Hurricane
The Hurricane is a cheap, robust drone used for attacking ground targets. It has a limited range and relatively unsophisticated sensor and avionics systems but is adequate for its tactical interdiction role. The Hurricane is capable of carrying an impressive payload of up to 8 120kg guided bombs or a variety of other ordnance including Sky Streak missiles.
Dominion Dynamics Blue Bolt
Blue Bolt is a very long range, highly capable cruise missile with impressive stealth characteristics. A mainstay of the armament of Bomber Command's Mosquitoes and Vanguards, details of this weapon are highly classified. However it is believed to be capable of limited autonomous combat operations and a range of several thousand kilometres.
Above: RN Sea Furies from HMS Invincible on patrol over the North Sea Demilitarised Zone during the War of German Reunification
Defensive air operations are the bread and butter of the Fury. These missions are flown to protect friendly airspace. Normally the aircraft will operate in conjunction with an array of surveillance and control measures, including satellites, AEW aircraft and drones and ground based radar and optical systems. It will also be operating alongside a number of weapon systems from other aircraft, missiles, point defence drones and ground based air-defences.
Many commentators have raised questions about the efficacy of manned aircraft in such a deadly matrix of anti-air measures. However as any enemy attack would include an battery of measures against sensors, ground and air stations, the versatility of a manned and armed aircraft capable of making their own decisions is still regarded as vital. Weapons loads are usually 8 SRAAM and 8 MRAAM missiles and extra fuel.
Offensive air operations are undertaken to influence events in enemy airspace and are normally undertaken as part of a package of aircraft. In this case the Furies are normally responsible for the destruction of enemy aircraft and drones which are in position to interdict the flight paths of friendly ordnance. In such operations the aircraft must also be very aware of the presence of ground defences and sometimes carry extra MRAAM or SRAAM munitions for suppression purposes.
Often such missions can be conducted whilst flying in friendly airspace or out to sea. Sometimes the aircraft will actually penetrate deep into enemy airspace where although the risks are greater the chance of causing serious disruption to the enemy also increases. Weapon loads are generally the same as for defensive air operations.
Although not designed as a dedicated heavy strike aircraft the Fury is capable of taking on these missions within theatre. On these occasions the aircraft is usually supported both by tankers and other escort fighter aircraft. Target selection is normally by remote means, satellites, drones or human methods whilst prosecution of attacks is undertaken with stand-off stealth missiles. 4 SRAAM, 4 MRAAM and 2 Blue Bolt missiles are normally carried, although an extra 2 Blue Bolts can be carried under-wing at the expense of performance.
The tactical interdiction of the battlefield is a job normally undertaken by Tempest equipped squadrons in British service but the Fury can also undertake this mission. Attacking specific targets usually utilises Blue Bolt missiles fired from far behind the lines and bears a great similarity to long range strike missions.
When in support of a ground unit the aircraft normally loiters some 50km from the FEBA using terrain masking to conceal its presence from enemy aircraft and defences. On receiving a request for fire support it then dispatches its ordnance. Hurricane missile drones are the normal weapon of choice and a volley of four is the normal pattern of delivery and this can devastate an armoured squadron in seconds.
However other weapons can be used, heavy guided missiles can be used against point targets. Guided 250kg or 120kg bombs are an even shorter range weapon but can be even more devastating. Both weapons are normally guided by forward observers to minimise the aircraft's exposure to ground fire. In British service fast jet aircraft are used to supplement artillery in support of troops as they are not vulnerable to counter-battery fire.
Against the Kafers much older weapons have been brought back into service and guided enhanced napalm 'Hades', and fuel air explosives are used against Kafer Remnants lacking air defences. In all cases the relationship with forward observers is vital and in addition to artillery observers, divisional recce and special forces are trained to bring in Interdiction sorties.
Recce missions are probably the most difficult of all of the Fury's repertoire. They can be called upon to supplement specialised craft as its HS 844 is very competent at monitoring the positions of enemy emissions. However its real forte is the ability to get close to an enemy and identify him visually using the Big Sky system. These missions are normally flown in times of high tension over places where satellite coverage is unclear or masked. However at any time the Fury is a very effective 'eye in the sky' and produces fine oblique photography. Recce missions are more common on the frontiers, and are frequently flown by Furies of the Commonwealth Expeditionary Forces.
The orbital interdiction, or ASAT, mission is one normally undertaken by the RAF as part of fighter command, but is increasingly practised by RN personnel. The aim of the mission is usually to destroy an orbiting enemy satellite, be it surveillance, communication or defence. Additional targets include LEO objects including small stations and starships.
The weapon is usually a modified space naval submunition warhead, i.e. a small nuclear powered detonation laser, mounted on a powerful missile. Although these weapons can normally reach LEO even if fired from the surface its deployment on fighter aircraft increases the effectiveness of the weapon by allowing attacks on targets from unusual angles and directions.
Above: Alician Defence Force Fury F.1 of No.6 Air Squadron intercepts a French MPA over the Ramadenthian Archipelago in the long Beowulfian twilight
The Fury came into service with the Royal Navy in 2290 with the Operational Trials Unit based at RNAS Macrihanish. The usual array of intensive tests was undertaken over the course of two years before the aircraft was released for service with the fleet. The aircraft was first deployed to 809 NAS based on the escort carrier HMS Téméraire and then rapidly to other units of the fleet. The aircraft first saw action in patrolling the Anglo-Scandinavian declared North Sea Demilitarised Zone during the War of German Reunification when the Sea Fury was frequently called upon to warn away French and German aircraft.
In 2291 the RAF took their first deliveries of an aircraft they were never completely convinced about. (The Air Chief Marshal wanted to proceed with the VF prototype independently of the RN but was forced to accept the MAe by the Defence Minister.) The Fury's performance in operational trials soon began to win sceptics over but one major problem remained. The carriage of a single Gungnir ASAT weapon pushed aircraft centre of gravity to the design limits and there were several departures from controlled flight, a serious problem in an aircraft supposedly capable of completely carefree handling. There were also continuing integration problems between the weapons delivery software and the other onboard systems.
The RAF finally granted Controller (Air) Release to service for the Fury F.1 in 2292, after the WDS was upgraded to the Release 92 software standard, but without clearance for Gungnir carriage and without the Full Operational Clearance which represented the final payment milestone in MAe's development contract. Full Operational Clearance was finally granted with the entry into service of the Fury F.3 in 2294, the Gungnir problems being solved by moving the centre fuselage hardpoint forward by 0.2 metres (which forced MAe into an expensive re-verification of the flight envelope for all centre-fuselage mounted stores)
The Wellonese air arms also took on the Fury with 904 Squadron receiving the first airframe at Colenso on 11 May 2293 and the RWN's first Sea Fury arriving the next day with 1705 NAS normally operating with HMWS Agamemnon. Wellon benefited from the already completed British trials but still had to verify the aircraft in Tiranean conditions and with locally procured weapons. A task rapidly accomplished. Although the British swiftly moved to the F.3 configuration some Wellonese units retained the F.1 configuration.
Alician Government attempts to procure Furies were the subject to something of a debate as to whether these new fighters would alter the balance of power on Beowulf. However as only one squadron was to be procured for the defence of the East Coast cities the sale of the Fury F.1 was approved and after training in Britain the Air Wing's 6 Squadron became active near Heorot on 24 October 2296.
The Fury had a relatively easy entrance into service proving itself a simple aircraft to fly even when carrying heavy loads. The increase in stability and responsivity when making carrier landings whether manually or on automatic over the old Sea Snake was greatly appreciated. In operational terms the increased load and range carrying increased the combat effectiveness of the squadrons whilst enabling them to stage missions from bases further away from the point of contact. Obviously this increased the survivability of carriers or ground bases.
The first aircraft to see action were the Sea Furies of 801 and 823 NAS attached to JTAG-2 deployed to Beta Canum-4 in response to the Kafer Invasion of the French Arm. The two squadrons played a key role in the first days of the landings on New Africa, attacking Kafer landers as the moved through the interface. These tactics were immensely successful destroying over twenty landers of various sizes and killing around 5000 soldiers and slowing the rate of reinforcement. However attrition soon took an effect on the small force of Sea Furies and the remnants of JTAG-2 were withdrawn into reserve, although sometimes even their dispersed and remote operations bases came under alien ground or orbital attacks testing the skills of the Defence Group drawn from the RAF Regiment.
JTAG-2 was thereafter only used in support of major operations and committed only on the authority of the Commander-in-Chief. Consequently aircraft were often seen in support of major raids to secure air superiority and deliver devastating strikes before withdrawing. The sight of the distinctive aircraft was said to be such a morale booster for occupied areas that sometimes missions would be mounted solely for psychological reasons. However in the aftermath of the 2nd Liberation the unit were heavily involved in the vital battles on the German Continent which broke the main Kafer manoeuvre army. After the battle only 4 Sea Furies remained airworthy but reinforcements were on the way.
The Invasion saw the reinforcement and expansion of the Beowulf defences. Two further JTAG moved to Alicia including 4 squadrons of Furies from the RAF and RN. The ADF Air Wing was also expanded, ultimately with a further 3 squadrons of Furies mostly flown by British and Commonwealth pilots on secondment but also a notable contingent of Manchurian and Korean volunteer flyers. The 8 squadrons would have been in the front line of the immediate response to a Kafer landing, but thanks to victory in the Battle of Beowulf they were never called upon.
The human counter-attack in the aftermath of the Battle of Beowulf saw Furies being moved up to Beta Canum-4 to aid the final destruction of Kafer Occupation Forces. JTAG-3 and JTAG-4 were reinforced with the addition of the Wellonese JTAG-W who also included two squadrons of Furies. On Beta Canum the Furies were mainly tasked to interdiction and CAS duties and performed admirably. Currently there are 12 squadrons of Furies operating in the French Arm in Alicia, New Africa and on Joi.
Above: Fury F.3 of RAF Fighter Command's No.54 Squadron. RAF Furies carry their squadron identification on the stabilators and the 'Firebirds' are no exception
The Fury is now a mature, combat proven design which has not shown any major problems in service so far. However a range of upgrades are being planned in the near future. These include Rolls-Royce Wyvern II engines which have been rushed through development in near record time. These combine enhanced performance with a lessened maintenance burden and it seems that Furies on the French Arm will be amongst the first to receive these.
Avionics upgrades are currently in progress. Black Arrow and Neural Net of Montreal have created a joint venture company to produce a revised system to replace the AVIS-6B and F4F combination. Tentatively tagged as Project MICHAEL it has been dogged by delays and mishaps and the delivery date keeps slipping.
Lastly combat experience has shown the need for squadron commander's to exercise tactical control of their squadrons whilst in the air and cut off from higher commanders. MAe have consequently been working on a version of the Fury including enhanced communications and information systems. This builds on work done on the two-man Fury F.2, developed primarily for export, which has a multi-role rear cockpit for enhanced strike or UCAV control.
Larger conformal tanks and payload carriers are also in development to increase payloads for existing one-man and possible two-man versions of the Fury. Overseas sales outside of Britain's traditional Commonwealth customers have proved slow. However MAe have strong hopes of sales to two undisclosed nations.
AAR - Air-to-air refueling
AEW - Airborne Early Warning
APU - Auxiliary Power Unit
ARM - Anti Radiation Missile
ASAT - Anti-Satellite
AWI - Air Warfare Instructor - A senior pilot within each RN NAS responsible for tactics.
CAS - Close Air Support
CFTF - Commonwealth Flight Testing Facility - Farnborough, UK based organisation responsible for testing aircraft before being accepted into British service as well as training test pilots.
JTAG - Joint Tactical Air Group - British and Commonwealth mixed expeditionary air group of 4 to 6 squadrons of aircraft including ground defence, logistics and engineering elements.
F.1 - Fighter Mark 1, etc.
MPA - Maritime Patrol Aircraft
MRAAM - Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile - Hyper velocity missile with a range out to around 250km.
NAS - Naval Air Squadron
SRAAM - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile - High manoeuvre missile with a range out to around 30km
QRA - Quick Reaction Alert