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VF-5000B Star Mirage

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In 2011 Shinnakasu Heavy Industry and Stonewell Bellcom began a joint project to design a general-purpose lightweight air superiority variable fighter based on the VF-1 Valkyrie. The project would also utilize new research into Zentradi technology to create a variable fighter that would simplify maintenance and be built in comparatively low numbers once mass production began. When Shinnakasu and Stonewell Bellcom aerospace development divisions merged to form the new company Shinsei Industry in 2012, the VF-5000 officially became the new company's first development project and mass-produced variable fighter. The first flight of the VF-5000 took place in 2018 and mass production began only two years later in 2020. To the surprise of many, some branches of the United Nations Forces complemented or replaced their main variable fighters with the VF-5000 Star Mirage rather than the VF-4 Lightning III, a decision influenced primarily by the significantly lower cost and greater atmospheric maneuverability of the VF-5000.
The VF-5000 project was a success and produced an extremely lightweight and true next-generation variable fighter. The VF-5000 began a trend in lightweight variable fighter development that continued throughout the next two decades until development of the VF-17 Nightmare by General Galaxy in the 2030's. The VF-5000 was designed primarily as a general-purpose lightweight support and air superiority fighter, but when more branches of the UN Forces adopted the VF-5000 as their main variable fighter, the Star Mirage was deployed in many varied roles. Fortunately the VF-5000 is well suited to many types of missions and features a varied armament for combat in almost any theatre. At only 8.3 metric tons and producing 25,000 kg of thrust, the VF-5000 achieves speed and maneuverability beyond the most optimistic performance of previous generation variable fighters. For combat, the Star Mirage features less direct-fire weaponry than older VF-4 variable fighters and is armed with only a single anti-aircraft pulse laser cannon and one gun pod. However, the VF-5000 is the first mass-produced variable fighter to incorporate internal missile bays, featuring four micro-missile launchers mounted in the engines/lower legs and the ventral fuselage/lower arms. This innovative armament design was somewhat ahead of its time and was not adopted for the VF-11 Thunderbolt that replaced the VF-5000. However, the legacy of internal missile weaponry can be found in the VF-17 Nightmare, the VF-19 Excalibur and the VF-22 Sturmvogel variable fighters that followed.
Mass production of the VF-5000 ended in 2029 but the VF-5000 continued deployment in ever expanding roles such as aggressor and trainer assignments after mass production ended. Eventually the aging VF-5000 variable fighter was replaced by Shinsei Industry's own VF-11 Thunderbolt variable fighter in December 2030. The VF-5000 is deployed in the Zolan Galactic Whale Patrol unit and is still in active service to this day.

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