Disclaimer: The Muv-Luv and Macross franchises are the intellectual property of their respective creators, Uchiyama Kouki and Kawamori Shouji. Any persons mentioned herein are fictional, and any resemblance to any person living or dead is accidental.
My thanks to sasahara17, whose snippet collection and Muv-Luv:DYRL fics inspired me to return to writing, and inspired this piece, and who was gracious enough to share his universe with me.
This story is a sidestory to "Anchors Aweigh", which is part of Muv-Luv: DYRL - Snippet Collection -, by sasahara17.
Muv-Luv: Do You Remember Luv?
- Evaluation -
By Wild Goose 01
The VF-8 Crusader II is a potent weapon. With its three-phase transformation, it can adapt to any combat environment. Possessing greater speed and maneuverability than a conventional TSF, it can dictate the terms of the fight, as was seen in combat exercises during Blue Flag '02. While the Crusader's Battroid mode is not as adept as a TSF at close quarters combat, that is a weakness that is easily overcome by transforming into Fighter mode, breaking contact and returning to continue the engagement at a more favorable angle of attack. It is a true jack-of-all-trades aircraft, able to perform every role demanded of a TSF, and then some...
... the VF-8 lends itself easily to the laserjagd role, or "Wild Weasel", as the US Navy's aviators term their mission. Lasers strike at the speed of light, but even a Magnus Lux must first acquire its target before firing. The survivability afforded by the Pin-Point Barrier system and the speed and agility of the VF-8 give it a not-insignificant edge in the suppression of enemy air defenses. However, the qualities that make the Crusader a superb hunter-killer - speed, agility, payload, survivability - are also qualities that make it an extremely effective anti-TSF weapon, as Blue Flag demonstrated. The author was privileged to observe several exercises in which US Navy and US Marine Corps Crusaders were pitted against UN test flights; despite being non-stealthy designs, and Battroid mode being less capable and maneuverable in close quarters, Lt. Commander Fokker's Skull Flight and Captain Collins' Devil Flight easily defeated their opponents, taking full advantage of their VTFs' strengths to compensate for their weaknesses. Captain Collins' overall victory, especially the Red Devils' defeat of the Infinities and their F-22 Raptors, is further evidence of the Crusader's prowess, confirming that its achievements at Blue Flag were not a fluke...
...the Crusader's defenses are near-perfect; it has the same basic defense of speed and maneuver that all TSFs rely on, but this is merely the first of its defenses. Armoring is greatly reduced in comparison to a conventional TSF, but this is counteracted for by the employment of the Pin-Point Barrier system and Energy Converting Armor. The former is a regenerating energy shield that intercepts attacks, and is capable of absorbing fire from Laser-class BETA in limited quantities; it is hardly stressed with receiving incoming fire from a 36mm assault cannon. The Energy Converting Armor likewise ably protects the Crusader; while the exact limits of this system are not known (the Navy, Marines and Project Valkyrie keeping such details close to the chest), the level of protection is presumably equal or greater to current armoring measures employed on 2nd Generation TSFs...
...In terms of combat endurance, certain inferences can be drawn; the magazine for the Crusader's 3-barrel gunpod holds 800 rounds of caseless 36mm, and the Crusader carries two spare magazines, giving it 2400 rounds total. A maximum loadout for the F-15E Strike Eagle, for example, would be in the region of twelve (12) spare magazines of 2000 rounds, or 24,000 rounds of 36mm. This would by default render the Crusader ill-suited for Hive Infiltration missions, or sorties that require a prolonged time on the field; the Crusader is more of a stiletto blade, while TSFs are great swords. Furthermore, the Crusader is the next generation of tactical fighter, and thus requires the next generation of mechanic - this is a machine that appears ill-suited for the realities of operating from forward bases, particularly in regions where highly skilled personnel are at a premium, such as the South Thailand front. This is, obviously, not an issue with the United States, the primary operator of the Crusader, as this is a nation with a strong educational base, with highly skilled personnel, and close to a century of institutional experience in carrier-based naval aviation...
...the author believes that even the Raptor, Takemikazuchi and the Berkut, the strongest 3rd Generation TSFs, would have great difficulty in defeating the Crusader, given the outside context nature of the Crusader, and this is before we consider that Crusader pilots train to a high level of teamwork that is rarely seen in standard TSF squadrons: Crusader flights are not four pilots working together, but four fingers of a single fist. In the author's experience, such level of teamwork is rarely seen in COSEAN forces, with the exception of some elite units...
...in conclusion, the VF-8 Crusader is a powerful new weapon in American hands, and promises to bring a new revolution in warfare; operating in concert, a force of TSFs with VTF support would be near-invincible, particularly once Wild Weasel missions have been successfully executed, allowing greater freedom of movement. At the same time, the phenomenal performance of the Crusader in anti-TSF combat has unfortunate implications for the regional strategic balance, as it is all but guaranteed that the Crusader will eventually deploy to Yankee Station and the Far East region...
-Excerpts from "VF-8 Crusader II: Observations and Performance Evaluation Report", by 1st Lieutenant John Davis, UN Army. Reprinted with the permission of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.
1st Lieutenant John Davis enlisted into the Royal Malaysian Air Force in 1991 and was commissioned from OCS in the same year. He qualified as a Tactical Surface Fighter pilot in 1992, and has served in various TSF squadrons throughout his career, with over 4000 flight hours in the F-5E Tiger II and F-18C Hornet, and was among the cadre for the formation of No.18 Squadron, the first F-18 Hornet squadron in COSEAN. He is currently serving as the Commanding Officer of COSEAN's Garuda Test Flight, under Project PROMINENCE, UN 3rd Army, a position he assumed in 2000.
"COSEAN officials today denounced the US Navy's newest fighter, the VF-8 Crusader II. COSEAN officials claim that the Crusader is intended to serve as an anti-TSF weapon, pointing out that it lacks the combat endurance and payload of conventional TSFs, citing it's phenomenal performance against TSFs in this year's Blue Flag exercises, and that it has been evaluated as a factor that could destabilize the Far East region..." – CNN.
"The Imperial Japanese government views with concern the development of the Variable Tactical Fighter, specifically the VF-8 Crusader II. This is a weapon which is not meant to kill BETA. Unlike our Takemikazuchi or Shiranui, it carries an absurdly low amount of ammunition - not even achieving the basic load of a Japanese TSF - and lacks the combat endurance to hold ground and fight to the last breath. This is a weapon referred to as a stiletto blade by a distinguished and expert evaluator: a blade meant for backstabbing, not for direct combat..." - Imperial Japan spokesman.
"I see this as more proof that the Americans are not interested in actually fighting the BETA, and are too focus on the wrong targets. What is the use of a TSF that does not carry enough ammo? Also, the lack of melee weapons does not sit well with me. A TSF that does not carry a blade is a TSF that does not intend to stay and fight." - Imperial Royal Guard officer.
"The Crusader's performance in Blue Flag '02 speaks for itself. We can definitely see the potential for operating a highly versatile aircraft of this nature on our carriers, and the Royal Navy is quite interested in this aircraft." – Captain Andrew Wales, Royal Navy.
"The Crusader brings an entirely new paradigm to the Marine Air Ground Task Force. It'll give us more options in supporting the ground combat element, allowing us to employ a wider range of air to ground munitions and better exploit our amphibious assault ships. We're glad to have it." - Captain Wilbert D. Collins, Commanding Officer VMFA-232 Red Devils, United States Marine Corps.
0800 hours local (1700 hours Zulu)
Garuda Test Flight offices
Yukon Base, Alaska
John Davis turned on his lights, sat behind his desk, and smiled contentedly. He'd come a long way since those early years in Malaysia. Enlisting, joining the RMAF, going through Officer Candidate School, earning his TSF pilot wings. It had been a career full with challenges and ups and downs, from his time in Tiger IIs to setting up No. 18 Squadron "Lipan", writing the book that would later be used by No.22 Squadron "Tebuan", occasional brushes with brassholes and getting busted down to Sergeant, before laboriously working his way back up the ladder...
And all of that effort had paid off: he was approaching his second year as CO of Garuda Flight, doing operational evaluation on the F-18E Super Hornet for COSEAN. In addition, his flight was also experimenting with techniques and equipment to improve COSEAN's TSFs and give them a greater edge, meaningful work based entirely on results. He had a solid team of pilots who he loved dearly, as though they were his sisters; their bonds forged in the fires of Kamchatka and the RLF's abortive attack. And best of all: out here, away from all the COSEAN brass, he was his own boss, beholden to no one, and could ignore military politics and focus on getting the job done and speaking the truth.
His friendship with Project Valkyrie was the icing upon his cake. It was one of the things that John Davis treasured most, this friendship that had started in late 2001, after Captain Yui Takamura's declaration to retake the skies had captured his imagination, her passion watering the seeds of hope that were buried deep in the dried ground that was his cynical heart… seeing the fruits of Vincent Lowell's labour, and indirectly inspiring the Over Hornet…
Looking through his battered and worn organiser, the smile on his face grew as he confirmed that, for the first time in a long time, his day was essentially clear. Everything urgent had been taken care of, his to-do pile was all clear... all that was really left to do was observe a flight sortie by his girls, debrief them, write up some reports, and then he'd probably let everyone go home early. In fact, they had the weekend off - perhaps he ought to arrange something? A cookout, maybe; it'd been too long since he'd had a proper barbeque: where the barbeque pit was an oil drum cut in half, where it was done under the stars behind the hangars, where the pilots and maintenance crews all got together to eat, drink and be merry...
And then the phone rang.
Still in his good mood, he lifted the phone, cheerfully responding. "Good Morning, Garuda Test Flight, Lieutenant John Davis speaking."
"What the hell did you write?!" demanded a familiar and angry voice, and John winced as he pulled the receiver away from his ear.
"Yuuya, it's far too early for all of this shouting," he said mildly. "Especially when it's from someone I outrank."
"Check your newsfeeds. COSEAN and Imperial Japan are denouncing the Crusader. And they're using a report written by you to do it."
"Don't bullshit me. We trusted you. We thought you were a friend. You promised Yui you'd help her if you could. And you turn around and you screw us over!"
"What the hell," said John, slowing his breathing, trying to stay calm and keep his voice level. "What're they saying?"
"That your evaluation states that the Crusader's an anti-TSF weapon, is proof of America's skewed priorities and untrustworthiness, and that it'll destabilize the region."
"...well, that's partially true," admitted John. "I was at Blue Flag, remember? I saw your babies in action – hell, Focker's crew wiped the floor with my girls! The Crusader is a phenomenal anti-TSF weapon and it will affect the regional strategic balance. But I think I've been taken out of context. Check your mail - I sent two copies of that report to Dover. I was ordered to do an evaluation of the Crusader by COSEAN brass and I did write an honest evaluation. No holds barred, the good and the bad. That's how I am. You know me."
"I'll reserve judgment until I read your report," said a cold voice with a light Japanese accent, a new person joining the conversation, and John winced again.
"Good morning, Yui-"
"That's Captain Takamura to you, First Lieutenant Davis. You lied to me and stabbed me in the back. You can forget about that Argos-Garuda exchange you were asking about."
"I suppose this would be a bad time to tell you that I've heard rumours the Sumeragi family intends to adopt you and make you their candidate for the shogun's throne?" asked John hopefully.
There was a gentle click, the sound of a telephone handset being put down, oddly incongruous with how angry Yui was, and Yuuya sighed.
"Yeah, she's pretty pissed off right now. This week's been pretty rough for Yui. You'd better lie low for a couple of days."
"Thank you for the warning, Yuuya. Again, please read the report that I sent you."
Replacing the phone in its cradle, John buried his face in his hands, his good mood completely destroyed, and groaned.
I was inspired to write this within about 30 minutes of seeing the original draft of the VF-8 Crusader II writeup. At that point, lightning struck, and I hammered out what became the first draft of the above short. "Anchors Aweigh", the first part of Muv-Luv: DYRL - Snippet Collection, was then written after I'd first shared this snip with sasahara17.
Garuda Test Flight exists in the Light Novels of Total Eclipse (and were excised from the anime): during Blue Flag '01, they go up against Yuuya and Argos Flight, before Chinese Miku and Bao-Feng's match. Garuda are easily felled by Shiranui Niigata's manuverability; after that, there are no further mentions of them. I've thus chosen to borrow the name... and pretty much invent wholesale for everything else, given they're a blank slate. On the other hand, as far as I know there is no noble house named Sumeragi; the only noble houses confirmed are Takatsukasa (Kyoko, Yui's mentor), Ikaruga (Takasugu, Tsukuyomi's CO) and Koubuin (Yuuhi, the current shogun).
The John Davis who shows up here is the same John Davis from my other Muv-Luv work, Tropical Thunder, albeit about seven years older (if not wiser :p). I'm trying something new for me; two separate fics, with separate stories and foci, but interconnected.
Thanks for reading! Till next time!