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The F/A-440 was a multirole fighter designed by Mustang Aerospace in the 2500's in a bid for thenewest strike fighter to combat the rapidly growing . The first prototype of the fighter flew on May 6th, 2509, and the UNSC accepted the design that same year. However, in January of 2510, the launched an assault at Mustang Aerospace's housing area for the F/A-440's, stealing both combat ready prototypes, as well as munitions and a small amount of the aircraft's plans.
Despite this breach in security, the UNSC took the aircraft anyway, and began sending it to organizations such as theand , where it performed superbly against rebel ground forces on colonies such as and . However, this very same effectiveness was wielded by the rebels who had come into possession of the F/A-440's in their raid in 2510.
Although the aircraft had been a game changer againstforces, it was utterly ineffective against the new alien menace known as the , with nearly a hundred of the aircraft being shot down in a span of a month and a half during the .
With the F/A-440 now dropped by the UNSC due to its ineffectiveness, Mustang Aerospace became another producer of aircraft such as theand other aircraft that had proven far more effective against the new alien menace. Despite this, the F/A-440's service life was not up. During the evacuation of one of Mustang Aerospace's plants on in 2528, rebel elements on the planet raided the production facility and procured a veritable treasure trove of information, including full blueprints for the aircraft.
Once the blueprints and other materials were gotten off planet in rebel controlled freighters, they were brought to one of thehighest officers, on the colony of . Although Graves was unable to build the aircraft, he stored it in his base at , keeping it safe, even during the on the base in , which ended in the General's death.
Soon after Graves' death, the colony of Karl Afeld, having put the cell undercover, sold the plans and all related materials to the Venezians, who, after two years of planning and smuggling, began to build their own mass produced imitations of the aircraft.finally declared its independence, and with the declaration, came at least an amount of industrial capacity. The new commander of the rebels on Victoria,
These mass produced variants were not only used to equip the rebel air force on the planet, but were also sold to other groups to use against the UNSC. Due to the sub par materials and corner-cutting on construction, the Venezians' F/A-440 replicas were far inferior to the originals, as well as to contemporary UNSC aircraft, but their ability to mount theproved to be their biggest advantage, along with morale boosting for rebel fighters.
The final rebel controlled F/A-440 prototype was destroyed during the UNSC reclamation of Venezia in the late 2550's, but the plans were still circulating around the galaxy, and rebel groups continued to make their own imitations for decades more.
Origins and Development
The F/A-440 was born out of the beginning of the, that had begun in with the , and its rapid expansion during the 2500's. The , having not fought a conflict on such a scale in decades, began rapid rearmament of its forces. The atmospheric air forces, in particular, needed a fighter that would be able to deliver strikes quickly and effectively against forces, and would not be as cumbersome and large as the . To this end, Mustang Aerospace entered in a bid to create an aircraft that would meet the UNSC's needs.
Development and UNSC Acceptance
Development of the F/A-440, then known as the X-440, began in earnest in 2507 at Mustang Aerospace's main R&D facility on the colony of. For two more years, the company's engineers worked on the fighter to both meet and go beyond the UNSC's needs, hoping to beat out their rival, , after their loss to them to build the UNSC's heavy multirole fighter, which Misriah won in the form of the GA-TL1 Longsword, putting the company in heavy debt due to the large chunk of funds spent on the project.
In their desperation to beat Misriah in the race, Mustang Aerospace resorted to corporate espionage, hiring agents to spy on their rival, and report back any useful information. Modifying this ill gotten info to serve their needs in building the fighter, the first working prototype of the X-440 flew on May 6th of 2509, two years later, and it was presented to the UNSC for review less than a month later. With Misriah's fighter still in the conceptual stage, and the Insurrection quickly becoming larger and more dangerous by the day, the UNSC accepted Mustang's design.
To arm the new fighter, the UNSC also went with one of the company's multiple proposals, to line the fuselage with five of the newly operational, as well as two twenty millimeter rotary cannons and .
Although Mustang had tried all it could to keep the project secret,plants within the company reported of the new aircraft, as well as its capabilities. Interested in this, the planned to mount an attack to steal the working prototypes. Using their spies within the facility, the rebels were able to insert three teams of commandos into it, breaking into the storage area housing the two combat ready examples, and getting them aboard a rebel freighter, the Peace Walker, and exfiltrating the aircraft to safer locations. Along with the aircraft, the rebels also were able to procure some of the plans and munitions.
Despite the theft, the UNSC decided the aircraft's pros for outweighed any potential breach in security by the rebels, and approved production of the aircraft to begin immediately, believing that even though the rebels had procured two of the aircraft and some of the plans, what they would be able to glean would not aid them in any major way. The first fifteen F/A-440's were delivered to the19th Attack Squadron on in June of 2510.
Within a month of the F/A-440's first combat operations on the planet, both the aircraft's pilots and those it supported praised its ability to carry out almost any types of missions assigned to it quickly, effectively, and with minimal collateral damage. Even during a year of heavy combat on the war torn colony, not a single F/A-440 was shot down by rebel forces, yetlosses attributed to the fighter numbered in the thousands. By the end of 2510, three squadrons had become fully equipped with the aircraft, and by the end of the decade, that number had rocketed to almost twenty five.
Despite its effectiveness in the hands of the UNSC, it was also used to inflict heavy losses by rebel forces, who were still in possession of the two combat prototypes, and, with their rapidly increasing capabilities, had become able to arm them. The first known use of the F/A-440 by rebels was onin 2518, when the rebel group there that had procured the prototype used it to destroy a supply convoy, almost completely obliterating it and inflicting almost two hundred and fifty casualties, by far the greatest single loss of military life and property on the planet at one point up to that time. Although the UNSC continued to try and recapture the two prototypes, the aircraft rapidly changed hands as rebel groups traded them with each other for needed supplies and aid, making it near impossible to pin down their exact location.
However, the F/A-440's illustrious career for the UNSC would meet an abrupt end in, with the beginning of the against the new alien menace known as the . Despite its effectiveness against human forces, the aircraft's weapons and general capabilities, both offensive and defensive, were utterly useless against the Covenant's superior technology, with ninety to one hundred of the aircraft being shot down in a month and a half during the campaign against alien fighter craft.
With the F/A-440 proving to be completely useless against this new enemy, the UNSC retired the fighter, and with it, Mustang Aerospace's main source of business, and it too became a subsidy of Misriah Armories in 2529, along with all the F/A-440's still intact and their related materials.
Glassing of and Blueprint Theft
But, before Mustang finally was absorbed into Misriah in 2529, the rebels obtained full schematics a year before, during the glassing of the colony of Madrigal. In the chaos of the Covenants fleet's arrival, the rebels raided the facility that had been producing F/A-440's, and stole as much as they could, loading them into freighters and bringing them to the asteroid bases that would later become known as. Looking for favor amongst the URF, the cells gathered their collective materials, and sent them to one of the organizations's highest officers, , at his base at on the colony of .
Although Graves had no F/A-440's of his own, let alone the capability to build them, he kept the plans anyway. Even during Karl Afeld, decided to sell the plans to the rebels on that colony in an attempt to help strengthen the Victorian Independent State again.raid on the compound in , the UNSC did not procure the plans, mainly due to their lack of knowledge that Graves even had the plans. Two years after the raid, in conjunction with the colony of going rogue, the group's new commander, Colonel
ImitationsAfter they procured the plans, the Venezians, much like Graves, had no idea what to do with them. However, in 2542, the rebels had the last working prototype, flown by the renowned rebel ace Robert Elim, come to the planet. Now with a working example, the Venezians began to procure the materials and machinery they needed, with the intent to build their own imitations. Retrofitting old industry on the planet, as well as pirating and smuggling needed materials, the rebels finally began building their own F/A-440's in 2545.
These imitations, however, were terribly inadequate when compared to the originals, due to the sub par materials and machinery used in their construction. Despite this, rebel groups on other planets such asbought those that the Venezians built and did not integrate into their own military. Even though the aircraft were terrible, they acted as a morale booster, and some skilled rebel pilots, usually veterans of the UNSC, used them to great effect.
This production of the imitations came to an abrupt halt in 2561, when the UNSC launched an assault to reclaim Venezia. The rebel imitations, horrendously outdated as compared to their UNSC counterparts, only lasted about a week before they were almost completely wiped out, however, they were able to inflict some damage upon the UNSC's air and ground forces, with about twenty UNSC aircraft destroyed, along with another thirty or so damaged. Despite their great losses, the schematics still survived, and F/A-440 imitations were reported in rebel hands as late as the 2590's.
The internal structure of the F/A-440 was mainly composed of a honeycomb of both composite materials, as well as, the latter of which was used to protect the vital parts of the aircraft such as its delicate fly by wire systems and engines. The craft, although it was almost entirely electronic, was still protected from electromagnetic pulse bursts via a type of Faraday Cage worked in beneath the tiny amount of Titanium-A that protected it from types of weaponry such as anti aircraft guns and shrapnel from anti aircraft artillery.
Despite these innovations, the F/A-440 was still quite delicate, and its armor, designed to protect it from small amounts of kinetic weaponry, was completely useless against theand plasma weapons, which quickly melted through the thin armor that protected the systems, sending the aircraft out of control at the first or second hit.
The rebel imitations of the aircraft had almost none of these features, with only a thin skin of ceramics and various other materials used in aircraft construction covering the metal skeleton. The imitations also lacked other features. For example, in the originals, there was an ejection seat for the pilot. However, in the imitations, there was no ejection seats, but the aircraft had a canopy that had to be opened and closed manually, so pilots would have to stand up and jump from their aircraft in an emergency. The one feature left intact by the rebels was the aircraft's ability to carry the MITV.
The F/A-440's main weapons systems was its five MITV pods that lined the center of the fuselage, each holding aboutmissiles apiece, along with the two wing mounted . Although the latter had been used before on aircraft such as the , the MITV pods had just come out of the experimental phase, and the F/A-440 was the first aircraft to wield them. The F/A-440's targeting system allowed for each missile in the pods to be aimed at and fired at separate targets. This, coupled with each missile's explosive power and ability to be used against either ground or air targets, made the F/A-440 able to take out large groups of targets at once with one barrage.
Along with these two weapons, the F/A-440 also had two twenty millimeter rotary cannons mounted inside either side of the fuselage for close range engagements with other aircraft or in support of ground forces against lightly armored targets.
Heads Up Display
The F/A-440's heads up display was very streamlined, with the pilot's helmet relaying much of the the needed information to him or her, and the touchscreens inside the cockpit gave the rest of the information without interfering with the operator's field of vision. The helmet mounted HUD was also hooked into the PRAETORIAN target system and the FRUMENTARII sensors, allowing the pilot to mark targets quickly, decreasing the amount of precious time fiddling with the weapons systems, and decreasing the chance of enemy troops being able to hold a steady bead on the aircraft.
- The F/A-440's picture is that of the CFA-44 Nosferatu from the Ace Combat series, and its ability to fire the MITV is also based off the Nosferatu's All Direction Multi Purpose Missiles