by Max Barry

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The Federation of
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Federation Air Force

The Federation Air Force is the best funded of the military branches of Mount Shavano. The intended missions of the Air Force are quite varied, including aerospace control, close air support, strategic bombing, and anti-shipping, and it excels at all of them. Her fighters, bombers, strike craft, and airlift capacity are all world class. The Air Force also controls all Federation military space assets.

A unique characteristic of the FAF is the prevalence of unpiloted aircraft, controlled either by remote or by onboard A.I. This is an improvement over piloted aircraft in a number of ways, including performance (due to not needing to be concerned about the effects of g forces on humans), size (allowing greater versatility in deployment), and pilot survival rate (obviously 100% for unpiloted craft, which allows the aircraft to be used extremely aggressively). Even leaving out aircraft performance, the A.I. is superior to all but the very best human pilots at landing, air-to-air combat, and situational awareness, although it does occasional make operational errors if unmonitored.

The Federation, of course, maintains piloted analogs for all unpiloted aircraft for operators to gain experience, and does posses a core group of very experienced pilots.

There is an overview of some important aircraft types below.

The F-12 Rapier is the second-line fighter of the FRAF. It is a high performance 5th generation fighter plane, featuring excellent computer systems and acceptable unit cost due to economies of scale. Navalized, V/STOL, and unmanned variants exist. Production began in the mid-90s; by now, all older fighters still in Federation service are relegated to training units or state guards. There are variants for naval service, V/STOL, remote control, and self-piloting.

The F-8 Avalanche is the stablemate strike fighter to the F-12, originally developed as part of the same program. While still a capable Air-to-Air fighter, the Avalanche is optimized for higher durability, better ground fire defenses, and a larger payload at the expense of maneuverability and speed. All the usual variants exist, and the F-8 remains in full production as the unmanned F-81 is still in the prototyping stages. The F-8 is also operated by the Federation Navy as its primary anti-shipping aircraft, and is capable of carrying Defiance IV missiles.

The F-121 Dragonslayer is the frontline fifth generation air superiority fighter of the Federation Air Force. The F-121 is a development of the F-12 Rapier program that has entirely done away with a human pilot; the plane is quite capable of flying itself but is usually supervised by a trained and experienced pilot via secure, high-speed satellite linkage. The aircraft, due to the reduced profile and performance increases from not requiring a pilot, achieves performance and range that are quite literally impossible for manned aircraft. All F-121s are V/STOL and fully automated; a naval variant exists and is the first-line pilot of the Federation Navy.

The B-7 Gunslinger was the mainline strategic bomber of the Federation for nearly twenty years and still composes 60% of the FAF heavy bomber arsenal, although less than 5% of new construction in that category. The Gunslinger is optimized for speed with minimal reduction of payload, which required reduction of defensive armament and a relatively small aircraft. Sophisticated EW and anti-missile decoy systems give it an excellent chance to penetrate even sophisticated air defense grids, and excellent targeting systems maximize the effectiveness of the arsenal.

The B-3 Cataphract is the unmanned replacement to the Gunslinger as the Federation's primary strategic bomber. The airframe is an outgrowth of the previous program, resulting in a high wingspan-to-length ratio. Most of the weight reduction is the removal of the cockpit, and the aircraft's ordinanace load is unaffected. The B-3's speed and EW capabilites are even superior to those of the B-7, although the increase in cost is commiserate. Additionally, the lack of a pilot makes the aircraft able to press home literally suicidal attacks with no casualties. Both the design and these tactics were proven over Ralkovia in 2010.

The E-11 Ponderosa is the primary EW platform of the FAF (and in also used in limited numbers at FN shore installations). It has been in service nearly 30 years, with the software and radar have been constantly upgraded. It serves both as distant EW support for combat formations and as an early warning aircraft.

The E-17 Aspen is an electronic warfare platform built on the Condor airframe, and is the largest aircraft capable of operating from a standard FRN fleet carrier. The engines are somewhat overpowered for the airframe size to get it off the deck without a heavy headwind, which also accounts for the fairly high speed (and lower ready rate). The E-17 is also surprisingly popular with the FAF, which appreciates the reduced cost relative to the four-engine Ponderosa for some missions.

The F-71 Kestrel is a relatively new addition to the Federation arsenal, part of the new generation of unmanned aircraft that includes the Dragonslayer and Cataphract. It is a high speed bomber interceptor, a role Mount Shavano did not see a need for until recently. The Kestrel is a bare bones platform to accomplish its job. It can take off fast, move in a hurry, and packs an air-to-air punch, although lacks the ammo for sustained engagements. Onboard EW systems are more than adequate to deal with most defensive jammers. The small size and (relatively) simple systems make the F-71 fairly economical.

The A-11 Condor is the primary fixed-wing ASW aircraft of the Federation Navy, and is not actually operated by the Federation Air Force. It is used primarily used for long-range patrols, with short range duties being handled by helicopters. The same airframe is used for the Aspen EW platform.

The C-77 Mule is the standard transport aircraft used by all Federation military branches. An older design, but still very efficient at what it does.

The T-82 Ranger, built on a heavier version of the E-11 airframe (and entering service first), is the primary tanker in the FAF arsenal.

The HA-91 Gorgo is the principal attack helicopter design operated by the FAF and units of the Federation Army. It is optimized for the close air support role and an excellent platform for close air support. The Gorgo is very survivable against ground fire but requires fighter support in the face of modern fixed-wing opposition. Like most modern military combat aircraft, the airframe is designed for basic stealth.

The HN-94 Sea Serpent is the primary helicopter in the Federation Navy arsenal, and is only rarely operated by the FAF. A highly versatile and cost efficient design.

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