The Northrop Grumman/Bellcom VF-0 Phoenix variable fighter was an advanced prototype for the VF-1 Valkyrie which served as a flight test unit and later in 2008 as a front-line fighter, before the Valkyrie's mass production in November 2008. According to the fictional Macross continuity, the fighter was developed with overtechnology obtained from the massive alien space ship that crashed on Earth in the year 1999. In most respects, the VF-0 resembled the VF-1, although its legs were longer because the EGF-127 conventional turbofan engines used by the fighter were larger and bulkier than the VF-1's FF-2001 thermonuclear engines. Numerous fine details also differ, such as head designs. The VF-0D's wings are very different, replacing the variable sweep wings with a canard-delta configuration; although this would perform well, it would ultimately not be adopted for the production series VF-1.
The VF-0's maximum speed is Mach 2.74 at 11,000 m (36,000 ft) above sea level altitude, using variable intake slats to slow the inrushing air to subsonic velocity, rather than a single variable intake ramp. Because it uses conventional turbofan engines and not thermonuclear turbines like the later VF-1, the VF-0 is not a true spacecraft (although it can operate for short periods of time underwater).
The VF-0's armament was virtually identical to the VF-1's (although the VF-1S's laser armament was bumped up from two to four barrels), but slightly older in design: A 35mm gun pod (GPU-9) in place of the VF-1's 55mm GU-11, and AIM-200 AMRAAM IIs (a development of the AIM-120 AMRAAM) air to air missiles in place of the VF-1's AMM-1s.
Several VF-0s, under the command of Roy Focker, deployed from the aircraft carrier Asuka II (CVN-99). Many were destroyed in combat in the South Pacific against Anti-U.N. forces piloting SV-51 variable fighters in early 2008.
The VF-0 was succeeded in service by the VF-1 Valkyrie in late 2008/early 2009. After Space War I, the idea of an atmospheric-use variable fighter would be resurrected years later to provide an inexpensive combat mecha for various planetary defense forces with the VF-3000 "Star Crusader" and the VF-5000 "Star Mirage".
- VF-0A - Standard version, single seat, single head laser.
- VF-0B - Two-seat version of the VF-0A.
- VF-0C - First conceptual prototype, single seat, fixed delta wing with canards.
- VF-0D - First conceptual prototype, two-seat version with canards, fixed wing.
- VF-0S - Single seat version for flight commanders, twin head lasers.
The VF-0 is a precursor, and thus similar to the later VF-1 Valkyrie. At the time of deployment the UN was facing limited engagements with the variable fighter of Anti-UN Alliance. This fighter, the SV-51, was first encountered in and around the Mayan Island. Since the VF-1's thermonuclear turbofans were not ready for mass production, UN Spacy commanders gave the go ahead to produce a conventionally powered VF in limited numbers as a stop-gap measure to counter the growing Anti-UN Alliance threat.
The VF-0 had a generally similar atmospheric performance to the VF-1. Its powerplant posed limits in terms of range and speed (Mach 2.74 vs. Mach 3.87 for the thermonuclear-powered VF-1). The VF-0 was limited to very short spaceflight endurance (5 minutes), which was in turn consequent to its use of modified but essentially conventional turbofans.
In comparison with the VF-1, the VF-0 had longer engine nacelles/legs to accommodate its turbofans. The engines were known for being rather touchy, as they were running hotter than the design specifications, and so were more prone to heat and stress induced fracture failures. Views of the turbofans out-of-airframe imply that they are derivatives of the F100 series engine.
The number of VF-0 fighters, of all types produced, was estimated to be less than 50 units in total. The variants introduced were meant to introduce experienced pilots to combat and tactics using variable fighters. Subsequent variants of variable fighter took their configurations from the VF-0.
The VF-0D appears to have been the primary experimental fighter - possessing delta rather than variable geometry wings, it is a fully combat-operational two-seat fighter. The VF-0D recalls the Sukhoi Su-33 in its configuration—a canard delta. This is a useful feature for student pilots, in case of an overstressed engine flame-out the fighter will still be generally controllable on its aerodynamic surfaces alone.
As technological experience with variable fighters increased, the additional sophistication of variable geometry was introduced into the VF-0A, VF-0D and VF-0S series of fighters. Their weapon and sensor configurations would then be adopted on the VF-1 series the next year.
The Legend of Zero
The VF-0 and the events at Mayan Island have been unpublicized for five decades or more, though in 2059 the events have taken on the aura of both legend and romance for an interstellar humanity. However, the Valkyrie series of fighters has remained in constant linear development, from 2008's VF-0 through to the VF-25 of 2059 and onwards.
Mechanical designer Shoji Kawamori says he initially planned the main vehicle of Macross Zero to be closer in lineage to conventional fighters such as the F-14 Tomcat. He later opted for the finalized VF-0 design which was closer to later variable fighters in the Macross setting (aside from the relatively conventional engines).
A variant of the F-14 Tomcat, the F-14Kai (a reference to the F-4EJ Kai Phantom II, the Japanese upgrade of the second most-produced Western jet fighter) also appears in the beginning of Macross Zero, in order to give viewers a chance to compare designs, and to understand the design limitations of 'simple' combat jets in comparison with far more advanced variable jet-fighter mecha. The F-14KAI variant has been retrofitted with overtechnology avionics and new radar systems, as well as GE F110-GE-400 afterburning turbofans (although it does retain the cockpit scheme of the original F-14A/B).
- Macross Zero 1/60 VF-0S (2006)
- Replica of the variable fighter piloted by Roy Focker. Comes with 12 missiles on four detachable pylons, a Gun Pod, two leg-mounted FAST Packs, adapters for Yamato Display Stands, engine intake covers, removable pitot tube and a Roy Focker figure.
- A second version was released in 2007 with a detachable QF-2200D-B Ghost fighter drone and missile pods.
- Macross Zero 1/60 VF-0A (2007)
- Similar to the VF-0S, but with a different head and low-visibility gray color.
- Macross Zero 1/60 Shin Kudo VF-0A with QF-2200D Ghost (2007)
- Similar to the VF-0A, but with a Shin Kudo figure instead of a standard pilot figure, plus a detachable QF-2200D-B Ghost fighter drone and missile pods.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0S Fighter (2006)
- A non-transforming replica of Roy Focker's fighter. Comes equipped with engine-conformal FAST packs only. Requires glue and paint to assemble.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0S Battroid (2006)
- Replica of Roy Focker's unit, with engine conformal FAST packs only
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0S Reactive Armored Battroid (2007)
- Replica of Roy Focker's VF-0S Battroid equipped with Reactive Armor.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0D Fighter (2006)
- Replica of Shin Kudo & Edgar La Salle's two seat fighter; alternate markings for a grey fighter seen on screen briefly, in dark-grey/light-grey camouflage.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0A Fighter (2007)
- Model of the VF-0A, in the colurs of a research airframe. Model is also available as Shin Kudo's VF-0A, with different markings.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0A Battroid (2007)
- Model of Shin Kudo's VF-0A. Model is equipped with engine conformal FAST packs only.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0B Fighter (2007)
- A two-seat variant of the VF-0A fighter model kit.
- Macross Zero 1/72 VF-0 Weapons Packs (2007)
- Models of weapons that can be carried by the VF-0 fighters, similar to a kit issued for Hasegawa's earlier VF-1 kits.
- Macross Chronicle Issue 15. Mechanic Sheet: Zero: U.N. Spacy 01A: VF-0S "Phoenix". We've Inc. 2009.02
- "VF-0S". Bandai Visual's Official Macross Zero Page: Mechanic Section. Bandai Visual. 2002. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- "VF-0D". Bandai Visual's Official Macross Zero Page: Mechanic Section. Bandai Visual. 2002. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- F-14KAI reference at the MAHQ
- Macross World - Yamato Toys 1/60 VF-0S
- Macross World - Yamato Toys 1/60 VF-0S with QF-2200D-B Ghost
- Macross World - Yamato Toys 1/60 VF-0A
- Macross World - Yamato Toys 1/60 Shin Kudo VF-0A with QF-2200D Ghost