The AL-61 Valiant Interceptor was a starfighter introduced in 2751 by The Royal Allegiance.
Since the Swarm War started in 2733, the Royal Allegiance mainstay starfighter, the AL-56 Flashfighter, performed poorly against the smaller, faster and much more numerous Swarm craft. Though they had better armour and armament than their insectoid adversaries, this proved surplus to requirement when dealing with weak but fast Swarm vessels and so, Flashfighters were inadequate for dealing with such enemies. The immediate response from the Navy was to merely increase fighter complements onboard ships and increase anti-starfighter armaments; this eased the situation somewhat but mortality rates for pilots still remained perilously high.
In 2739, 6 years into the war, designs began on a small, extremely fast and maneuverable interceptor class which would meet the Swarm's starfighter hordes on relatively even terms. As a result, in 2751, Allegiance hangars were augmented by large squadrons of Valiant Interceptors.
Valiant Interceptors were regularly deployed to counter or destroy Swarm fighters. On their own the battles were pretty even and both sides took similar losses. However, the small and fast Interceptors coupled with the slightly slower but much better armed Flashfighters created a potent force for destroying enemy fighters with few casualties.
Because of this, their role in combat was usually to support Flashfighters in battle, to help them engage enemy starfighters, and to defend large warships from fighter and bomber attack. They were also used to defend allied bombers from hostile craft.
Valiant Interceptors were capable of operations in atmosphere. They were too small to mount anti-grav engines but their numerous lift surfaces proved effective enough to provide lift, similar to the Flashfighter.
The Valiant was quite sleek and angular in construction, more so than the Flashfighter. The cockpit took up a large portion of the ship's space, with very little besides. Similar to the AL-56, two wings swept forward on either side of the cockpit, lined with one rapid-fire Particle Cannon each. These wings were quite large and continued to a large degree behind the cockpit. Like the Flashfighter, the large wing surfaces were essential in dissipating excess thermal energy which would otherwise impede the starfighter's effectiveness. With the Valiant, this was imperative due to the large heat produced by the rapid-fire energy weapons. Located directly behind the cockpit, inside the fuselage, was the engine, highly exposed to enemy fire but maintaining a small target. On top of this were two tail fins, which provided critical stability and maneuverability in atmospheric operations. To either side of the fuselage the wings extended sideways to provide large heat radiation and also lift surfaces. Underneath these were the Valiant's most potent weaponry, six air-to-air missiles. Extending aft out of each wing were the two thrusters, powerful Royal Dynamics X22 Thrust Units which gave the craft its extraordinary speed. The fuselage protruded somewhat from the rear of the wing surfaces, and housed the maneuvering jets that made the craft so agile. Further jets were located around the craft, such as above and beneath the Valiant's nose, and on the outer edges of each wing, both ventral and dorsal.
The primary armament of the AL-61 was its complement of twelve INTERCEPTOR air-to-air missiles. These were extremely adept at destroying enemy single ships, also being fire and forget meaning the pilot did not need to manually direct the missile. They were equally effective in atmosphere or vacuum but useless against larger vessels and warships. Most of the time, a payload of twelve missiles would guarantee twelve kills. Fragmentation warheads were also popular for their ability to destroy or critically damage every craft within a 50m radius from detonation.
AL-61s could, of course, be fitted with dumb drop bombs, HEAT missiles, anti-ship torpedoes or most other starfighter armaments (with the exception of nuclear warheads). However, given the Valiant's very specific mission profile, to destroy other single ships of even or greater numbers, it was often not wise or practical to arm them with such weapons. For example, arming a Valiant with anti-armour torpedoes and sending them into battle against cruisers would not be an effective strategy, as the craft would have to fly in linear paths to loose their payloads towards the target vessel. This would result in them being easily destroyed by the capital ship's point defense weaponry as they were not designed to withstand such fire. The Valiants in such a position would also lose the tactical advantage of their extreme agility. As a result, payloads other than air-to-air missiles, fragmentation missiles or perhaps more infrequently WASP air-to-ground missiles were almost unheard of.
However, AL-61s were expected to face daunting numbers on a regular basis. To provide a powerful weapon to fall back on without weighing down the fighter, expensive, rapid-fire Particle Cannons were fitted in pairs to each craft. Mounting such valuable weapons to ships with such high mortality rates was considered by some to be foolish, but by others to be necessary. Weapons of similar potency, such as the 65mm cannons of the AL-56, could have been added to the Valiant, but they were far heavier than the energy weapons, not least because of ammunition that needed to be carried. The Particle Cannons were rotary to avoid overheating of barrels, and had a rate of fire of eight pulses per second, which equated to continuous fire of 480 pulses per minute.
The Valiant was extremely vulnerable to anti-starfighter vessels such as anti-air frigates and point-defence ships. This was because they lacked neither the protection in terms of shielding and armour, nor the weaponry to withstand such foes. Occasionally, heavy Swarm fighters in numbers could defeat AL-61s because of their increased tolerance to damage. The Valiant was vulnerable to any fire and so easily destroyed from hits by virtually any weapon. However, its superior speed and agility negated this for the most part. As a result, however, pilots were required to be trained exhaustively on how to operate the craft and not to expose themselves to any amounts of hostile fire. The speed of the Valiant necessitated inertial compensators, which dampened the effects of inertia. However, these were only effective to around 85%, meaning the effects could still be felt when performing high-G battle manoeuvres or large aerobatics.
|Naval ship classes of The Royal Allegiance during the Swarm War|
|Vehicles of The Royal Allegiance during the Swarm War|
Close Air Support and Transports