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The X-9 Ghost was a top secret unmanned high performance transatmospheric prototype fighter developed in 2039 by the Unified Space Forces and the Macross Consortium. The Ghost was the brainchild of General Gomez, who wanted to develop a way to expand Unified Forces might while decreasing the costs of training and maintaining fighter pilots. Unmanned fighters promised to be an ideal solution to this problem. They could be mass-produced in greater numbers and were far less costly than recruiting and training new pilots, and could be sent into combat and high-risk situations without endangering human lives. General Gomez was secretly working on the Ghost fighter at the same time he was overseeing the Project Super Nova design contest, intended to develop a new manned advanced variable fighter (AVF) for the Unified Space Forces. However once the prototype X-9 was perfected he cancelled the Super Nova contest (before a winning design was selected) and planned to unveil the Ghost at the Unified Space Forces's Armistice 30th Anniversary celebration on Earth.
The X-9 Ghost was an extremely advanced combat fighter. Approximately half the size of a standard variable fighter, the Ghost mounts three revolutionary thermonuclear turbine engines and numerous maneuvering verniers that give the fighter incredible speed and agility both in an atmosphere and in space (and the Ghost can be mounted with Super Parts for additional thrust if necessary). The armament for the drone is more modest but still impressive, including five pulse lasers and 29 high-maneuverability micro-missiles. In combat the Ghost relies on its speed and maneuverability to conduct hit-and-run attacks on multiple targets, allowing it to often take out entire squadrons before the enemy has a chance to retaliate. But the most impressive feature of the fighter is its onboard AI (artificial intelligence) computer system. The X-9 can be piloted by remote control from a Unified Space Forces's starship, or can be allowed to operate autonomously in combat. The AI system is quick, clever, and almost savage in the ferocity of its attacks. The system uses bio-neural circuitry modeled after a human brain, which permits the AI both to formulate new plans and strategies on the fly as well as learn during combat to improve its performance. The combination of the Ghost's intelligence, speed, and weaponry make the small drone extremely deadly in combat, able to hold its own against even advanced VFs such as the VF-19 Excalibur and VF-22 Sturmvogel.
The prototype Ghost fighter was taken over by the renegade AI Sharon Apple during the Armistice celebration and used against the YF-19 and YF-21 prototypes which had travelled from Eden to Earth. After an extended aerial combat pilot Guld Goa Bowman managed to defeat the X-9 at the cost of the YF-21 and his own life. Although the project was not cancelled immediately after the incident, unexpected problems appeared during later testing of additional Ghost prototypes. The bio-neural circuitry of the drone possessed an erratic self-preservation tendency that sometimes caused the AI to disobey orders, even to the point of attacking other drones that were supposed to be fighting on the same side in mock combats. In addition, simulated engagements with experienced pilots in VF-19 Excalibur prototypes resulted in victory for the Ghost fighter only 55% of the time, leading to debate about whether the drone was actually superior to piloted variable fighters. Eventually the X-9 Ghost was turned down by the Unified Forces as a replacement for manned fighters. However AI research continues at the Macross Consortium, so it may only be a matter of time before a new Ghost fighter is produced that is superior in every way to combat pilots.
The Ghost AIF-9B is that model, produced prior to the year 2050, the AIF-9B is basically the same model as the X-9 but with the lack of the highly unpredictable bio-neural circuitry and a less sophisticated AI. Unified Space Forces, however, still relies on pilot judgement, but are now able to send the AIF-9B fighter into combat where it might be too dangerous to send UN Spacy pilots.
Advanced Unmanned Fighter Drone
UN Spacy/Macross Consortium
Can be controlled remotely by a pilot or operated autonomously via AI.
MDC BY LOCATION:
(1) Front Sensor Eye 15
Vernier/Weapon Clusters (3) 35 each
(2) Engine Nacelles (2) 125 each
(3) Main Body 225
Wings (3) 60 each
FAST Augmentation Packs (2, optional) 75 each
- Destroying the sensor eye of the AIF-9B will knock out the drone's major sensor systems (including infrared, night vision, and thermal). Radar and communications will be unaffected, but the Ghost will be at -4 to strike. The sensor eye is a very difficult target to hit, however; -5 to strike in addition to velocity penalties.
- Depleting the MDC of one engine nacelle will reduce the Ghost's speed by 40% and give it a -3 penalty to dodge. Depleting the MDC of both nacelles will reduce speed by 80% and impose a -6 penalty to dodge. There is a third engine in the main body that will enable the Ghost to keep flying even if both nacelles are destroyed, however.
- Depleting the MDC of the main body will disable the Ghost. If controlled by the onboard AI the Ghost will self-destruct to avoid capture by an enemy.
ATMOSPHERIC FLIGHT SPEED:
Mach 4.0+ (2680 mph/4082 kmph) max speed at 10,000 meters or less above sea level. Mach 5.8+ (3886 mph/5916 kmph) max speed at 10,000-30,000 m above sea level. Mach 25+ (16,750 mph/25,500 kmph) max speed at 30,000+ meters above sea level, for a maximum of 5 seconds.
Cruising speed is usually Mach 2 (1340 mph/2040 kmph).
The Ghost is capable of achieving orbital velocity over an Earth-class planet without additional rocket assistance.
Maximum rate of ascent is 68,000 meters/minute.
Structural G limits are +40.0 to -25.0 G.
Note: The Ghost cannot hover in place like a VF and must maintain a minimum speed of 100 mph (152 kmph) to remain airborne.
34.54 ft (10.80 m)
21.41 ft (9.23 m)
12.85 ft (5.54 m)
3,940 kg empty. Maximum takeoff weight in an atmosphere without booster assistance is 13,800 kg.
CARGO: None, unless missiles are removed from ventral missile bay. If the missiles are removed the Ghost can carry up to 1,450 kg of cargo.
- PULSE LASER CANNONS: The main weapons of the AIF-9B Ghost are five powerful pulse laser cannons. Four are mounted in banks of two on either side of the drone, while one slightly more powerful one is mounted in the bottom of the aircraft. All five lasers can be fired separately or in combination, against single or multiple targets. The lasers are semi-fixed forward, and can only fire within a 40 degree arc from the front of the aircraft.
- PRIMARY PURPOSE: Assault, Anti-mecha
- SECONDARY PURPOSE: Air-to-ground strafing runs
- RANGE: 8000 feet (2400 m)
- DAMAGE: 3D6 M.D. per side laser, 1D6x10 from lower laser. If all 5 lasers are fired at a single target the combined blast does 3D6x10 M.D.
- RATE OF FIRE: The pulse lasers can fire up to 4 blasts per round each (however, bursts are not allowed). The lasers may be fired in any combination at a single target (roll as one blast) or may be fired individually at separate targets.
- PAYLOAD: Unlimited.
- VENTRAL MISSILE BAY: For additional offensive power, the AIF-9B Ghost has a concealed missile bay mounted on the bottom of the aircraft between the engine nacelles. When launched, the doors concealing the bay open and the missiles fire downward out of the craft, where they then move to intercept targets either in front of or behind the drone. The missile bay is designed to use the new Bifors BMM-24 all-environment high-maneuverability micro-missiles, but can use any type of UN Spacy mini-missile if HMMMs are not available.
- Primary Purpose: Anti-mecha
- Secondary Purpose: Assault
- Missile Types: Any type of standard UN Spacy Mini-Missile, including the BMM-24 HMMM. BMM-24s are standard issue for the X-9 Ghost prototype.
- Range: Varies with missile type.
- Damage: Varies with missile type.
- Rate of Fire: Can be fired individually or in volleys of any number (2-29) of missiles. If necessary, all 29 missiles can be fired in a single volley.
- Payload: 29 missiles total.
- FAST PACK ANTI-SENSOR PODS: The optional FAST boosters for the AIF-9B Ghost each contain a combination chaff/flare pod that can be used disruptoptical sensors and radar on both missiles and attacking fighters. Eachbooster contains one anti-sensor pod that can be ejected at any time during combat, even if the Ghost has lost initiative for that round.
- Primary Purpose: Defense
- Secondary Purpose: Concealment
- Game effects: When jettisoned, the pod explodes and releases both chaff and flares, confusing all sensors of enemy craft. Any missiles fired at the Ghost AUTOMATICALLY MISS (regardless of number of missiles) and are lost. In addition, the Ghost AUTOMATICALLY wins initiative and gets to strike first in the following combat round. The Ghost can use the pods at any time during a combat round, even if the drone has lost initiative.
- Damage: None, other than effects described above.
- Payload: 2 pods, one per FAST pack.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT FOR THE AIF-9B GHOST:
- ACTIVE STEALTH SYSTEM: True to its name, the Ghost contains an active stealth system similar to the one used by the YF-19 and YF-21 advanced variable fighters. Unlike passive stealth systems used by the VF-17 Nightmare or the old USAF F-117, the AIF-9B's stealth system actually bends radar waves around the mecha rather than reflecting them. The Ghost's stealth system is not quite as good as the YF-21's due to sacrifices that had to be made in order to fit the system into the drone's fuselage. When activated, this system gives the Ghost a +3 on initiative (but no bonus to strike) at all times.
NOTE: Since the Ghost's stealth capability is a system and not a feature of the design, it can be damaged or destroyed. Once the drone has taken 40 points of damage to its main body MDC, there is a 50% chance that the stealth system will fail every time the main body of the craft is hit from then on. Once the stealth system has failed, it will not work again until repaired at a UN Spacy base.
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) COMBAT COMPUTER: The AIF-9B Ghost is equipped with the UN Spacy's most advanced AI combat computer available, which allows the drone to operate autonomously during missions without input from human controllers. The AI computer is smart enough to devise new strategies and use subterfuge to win battles if unexpected events happen or of the odds turn against the drone. In addition, the computer learns to anticipate and counter enemy maneuvers during combat. For every 5 rounds the Ghost is engaged in combat against a foe, the AIF-9B gets a +1 to initiative (cumulative) for the remainder of combat. This bonus is only valid when the Ghost is solely piloted by the AI; if a technician takes over remote control of the craft the bonus is lost.
- LASER TARGETING SYSTEM: Range: 100 miles (160 km). Used for increased accuracy in the striking of enemy targets and is partly responsible for the drone's strike bonus.
- OPTICS: INFRARED: Range: 2000 feet (610 m). This optical system projects a beam of infrared light that is invisible to the normal eye, but detectable by the Ghost's sensors. The system allows the drone to detect hidden/concealed objects by their IR reflectiveness. The beam will be visible to anyone with IR sensitive optics, however.
- OPTICS: NIGHTVISION: Range: 2000 feet (610 m). A passive light image intensifier that emits no light of its own, but relies on ambient light which is electronically amplified to produce a visible picture.
- OPTICS: THERMAL IMAGER: Range: 2000 feet (610 m). A passive optical heat sensor that detects infrared radiation projected by warm objects and converts that data into a false-color visible image. The system enables the drone to see in the dark, in shadows, and through smoke, and also adds a +10% bonus if the drone is trying to track a ground-based target.
- RADAR: 200 mile (321 km) range.
- SCRAMBLER RADIO COMMUNICATION: The Ghost is equipped with a long range, omni-directional communications system with satellite relay capabilities that allows it to stay in contact with a controlling UN Spacy base. The signal is encrypted so that it cannot be intercepted by an enemy (and then used to take control of the Ghost), but it can be jammed by ECM systems. If the Ghost looses contact with its controllers the drone's AI system will automatically engage. Range: 600 miles (960 km) or can be boosted indefinitely via satellite relay.
- SELF-DESTRUCT: To prevent capture of the drone by the enemy, the Ghost is equipped with a self-destruct system. When detonated, the craft will generate an explosion that will do 3D6x10 M.D. to everything within a 40 foot (12 m) area. The Ghost will be completely obliterated by the explosion and will not be salvageable. If the Main Body MDC of the Ghost reaches 0 the AI will automatically activate the self-destruct system.
COMBAT BONUSES FOR AIF-9B GHOST FIGHTER TRAINING:
As mentioned above, the AIF-9B Ghost can operate autonomously or can be directed via remote control from a UN Spacy base or starship. The stats below represent bonuses for operators trained in remote control operation of the Ghost fighter. In order to have AIF-9B Ghost combat training the controller must also have the following skills: Computer Operation
, Radio: Scrambler
, Read Sensory Instruments
, Pilot: Jet Fighter
(or Pilot: Variable Fighter
), and Weapon Systems
Untrained operators attempting to control a Ghost fighter only get bonuses equivalent to VF-11 Thunderbolt Basic Training.
ADVANCED AIF-9B GHOST COMBAT TRAINING
- Advanced training for controllers of the AIF-9B Ghost drone.
- 4 attacks per melee (plus those of the pilot).
- Add one additional action/attack at levels three, six, nine, and twelve.
- +3 to strike
- +6 to dodge.
- +3 to roll with an impact, reducing damage by half.
- Critical strike same as pilot's hand-to-hand.
- Full-speed Ram - Does 1D6x100 M.D. to BOTH the Ghost fighter and the target. Used as a suicide attack only.
If the Ghost is put in autonomous operation mode (fully controlled by the AI computer) then the AIF-9B has the following skills, abilities, and bonuses (treat as a 6th level Variable Fighter pilot):
AIF-9B GHOST AI COMBAT STATS
- Nine (!) Attacks per Melee
- +2 on initiative (+5 with active stealth), plus learning bonuses (see AI Computer entry).
- +5 to strike
- +9 to dodge
- +5 to roll with an impact, reducing damage by half.
- Critical strike on an unmodified roll of 18, 19, or 20.
- Full-speed Ram - Does 1D6x100 M.D. to BOTH the Ghost fighter and the target. Used as a suicide attack only.
- Skills of note:
- Optic Systems (80%)
- Detect Ambush (80%)
- Detect Concealment (75%)
- Tracking (75%)
- Navigation (90%)
© Aaron Sketchley