The ASX-123 Arondight Air Superiority Experimental is a super advanced experimental air superiority fighter used by Shane Hale.
The design schematics for the Arondight was first devised during The Belkan War in complete secrecy and under the name Project Legacy. The goal of this project was to create a fighter so capable it would secure air superiority for Osea in not only The Belkan War, but in every other war that followed. However, due to escalations in the war, the project was delayed, and the schematics were never completed. It would remain like this even after the war until Project Legacy was scrapped in favor of building the Arkbird. Throughout and after the Circum-Pacific War, Project Legacy was next to dead until the original plans were uncovered and the government enlisted its best designers and scientists to continue the project with government grants. Eventually the schematics were finished, with them being adapted with newer technologies, and in 2012, construction on the first prototype began under Actis Incorporated and was finished in 2013.
Due to the builders not having enough resources or funding to make another full-fledged non-prototype version, they were forced to build on the airframe they currently had to modify it and make it fully operational. Throughout the years until 2018, Project Legacy recieved various upgrades, including the replacement of its original glass canopy with the COFFIN system, replacing it's original afterburning turbofans with new Plasma Fission Drives, increasing stealth capabilities, and adding the FINS System, among other upgrades to everything from avionics to airfoils. Eventually, the aircraft was deemed fully operational, and was named the ASX-123 in 2019, where it was christened Arondight.
At the time, however, the designers and builders failed to realize that, due to the extreme complexity of the technologies involved, no pilot alive would have the capability to fly it. It would be until 2026 when a pilot with enough skill to fly the aircraft came along: Shane Hale.
The Arondight was also kept secret from the rest of the world, labelled as the highest level of classification by the Osean Federation's government. The entire project from start to finish was kept under wraps, and all aspects of its development, from funding to design aspects was kept a closely guarded secret. This was due to the fact that, should such a weapon be revealed to the world, it could trigger another Cold War, where other countries would scramble to create their own such aircraft and deterrents to such aircraft, escalating into another arms race capable of shifting the entire geo-political scale.
The Arondight is designed mainly for engaging air targets, but it fills ground attack roles as well, destroying any type of target without a second look. The aircraft incorporates a sleek and conformed semi-variable airframe with forward swept wings that shift in accordance with airspeed, as well as having a design with a very low radar cross-section giving it high stealth capabilities, even compared to modern stealth fighters.
The Arondight features a powerplant of two Actis SF-123/X Plasma Fission Drives with omnidirectional thrust vectoring. The Arondight features no air intakes, as the Plasma Fission Drives are capable of operating without airflow, allowing for speeds far in excess of other air-breathing engines, as well as allowing it to operate at incredibly high altitudes. The unique design of the airframe gives it unsurpassed speed and extreme maneuverability, and the lightness of the airframe improves on that, with the cost of some protection. This, along with the unique design of the airframe and the variable wing geometry, allows the plane to fly an excess of mach 5.0, hypersonic speed, the only fighter aircraft able to do so other than the ASF-S20 Schleifen. The Arondight is also a VTOL aircraft allowing it to take off from many different locations, and this ability also allows it to pull off near impossible maneuvers using the downward and even upward thrusts from the VTOL thrusters mid-combat. The engines are also equipped with the Aurora System, allowing the aircraft to exceed Mach 8.0 on straight and level flight at high altitude. Mach 8.0 flight is possible at lower altitudes, but is not recommended as the air resistance would be massive and could possibly shake the plane apart.
The Arondight utilizes solid fuel rods to power the electronics and the PFEs. These fuel rods are specifically designed for the Arondight, and while inside the aircraft, they emit energy in the form of ionizing radiation within the engines in order to power the PFEs as well as convert into electrical energy to power the rest of the aircraft (by the time the radiation is passed through to power the engines, enough energy has been spent to make the exhaust non-ionizing). These rods provide high energy with excellent fuel efficiency, and to further increase the time it can fly before needing to replace the fuel rods, the Arondight is equipped with three pairs that are cycled internally when one runs out, the spend fuel rods being ejected from the aircraft itself. In normal sortie parameters, this allows the Arondight months of flight time without needing to refuel. However, the Aurora System has been noted to have an incredibly high fuel consumption rate, burning through an entire pair of fuel rods within five minutes. As such, the Aurora System is disabled if there is only one pair of fuel rods to power the aircraft.
Due to it not utilizing conventional air-breathing jet engines, as well as having thrust vectoring and use of VTOL thrusters underneath the aircraft, the Arondight is also capable of operating in space. In space flight, it foregoes the use of its control surfaces and is instead controlled exclusively by thrust vectoring.
The Arondight utilizes a new version of the COFFIN system for the pilot to control the aircraft. The main difference between this version and others is the installment of a Combat Artificial Intelligence named ARAI that further enhances pilot abilities and is also capable of piloting the aircraft itself. This AI is unique in that it is fully sentient and self aware, interacting with the pilot, which is necessary to completely synchronize the aircraft to the pilot to achieve its full potential. Also the pilot does not need to be unconscious to pilot the aircraft if combat ability is high enough.
The HUD of the Arondight features special digital interfaces and features full 360 degree range of vision, allowing the pilot to look through the aircraft down and behind them. The HUD displays weapons, fuel, ammunition, engine output, speed, altitude, angle of attack, variable wing position, and features a ring radar, showing enemy locations via arrows around a ring that also displays heading. There is also a map display on the bottom left that can be expanded to show the general area or the mission area. When damaged, the HUD also displays damaged areas and systems, allowing a mid-flight self-diagnosis and possible repair of vital systems, at least enough to fly back to base for full repairs.
In the case of an emergency in which the pilot is unable to operate the aircraft, the Combat AI is able to take control of the plane and fly back to safety. It is also able to override pilot inputs that it deems unsafe or unnecessary to complete a mission.
The Arondight was, at its time, designed as a deterrent; a weapon capable of engaging and destroying any target at a moments notice from any method and any angle of attack. Its VTOL capability and speed allows it to quickly sortie and immediately meet up with any opposing force, and its weaponry allows it to quickly engage and destroy any conventional weapon thrown at it. Its stealth capabilities also allow it to slip through enemy radar nets to destroy targets before the enemy knows it's even there, and its space-faring capabilities allow it to engage space-borne enemies, a design aspect necessitated by the threats posed by the Arkbird and the SOLG in the Circum-Pacific War.
The Arondight is able to carry a vast amount of weaponry, from air to air missiles to precision bombs, stored in 4 internal weapons bays. Additionally, the Arondight features 4 external weapon pylons on the wings and 4 on the underside of the fuselage to carry additional armaments or external fuel tanks for long range combat operations. Twin M61A1 Vulcan Cannons are fitted to the sides and behind the cockpit. Furthermore, the Arondight features six FINS (Flight INtegrated Support) in its wings that can provide offensive capability while attached to the wings by firing lasers frontward, and can also separate from the aircraft and fly with it, assisting in both offense and defense with its lasers. However this system can only be used once the pilot and the battle AI of the aircraft achieve synchronicity due to them each being controlled individually by the pilot with little help from the AI. The FINS system is capable of both air and ground strikes, by easily slicing through enemy planes, as well as flying underneath the aircraft and performing wide area laser strafing runs on ground targets, or by picking them off individually.