|Type-97 Fubuki |
|Manufacturer(s)||Fugaku Heavy Industries|
Mitsuhishi Heavy Industries
|Engines||Fugaku Heavy Industries FE108-FHI-220E|
|Armament(s)||Type-87 Assault Cannon|
|Appearance(s)||Unlimited, Alternative, Total Eclipse, Faraway Dawn, TSFiA|
During the development of the Type-94 Shiranui in the TSF-X project, in the late 1980s, its developers began considering the requirement for pilots to train their skills with an advanced training TSF platform, on the basis that using a training TSF built to emulate the specifications of modern TSFs would better prepare pilots for operating an actual one.
At that time, pilot cadet training was done using obsolete TSFs; in the Empire of Japan's case, it would have been their TF-4J Gekishin, which, with the gulf in operating parameters between the Type-77/TF-4J and the upcoming Type-94 Shiranui, was considered far too obsolete to use to introduce pilots to the Type-94 Shiranui's level of operations.
Furthermore, with the deteriorating situation on the continental war front, it was considered pointless to have newly-graduated pilots, who would only have experience in operating the Gekishin, spend extra time in re-acclimatizing to the Shiranui after they were deployed. With unit delivery prioritized for to combat units, there were no spare Type-94s to be diverted into conversion training either.
At that time, the only purpose-built TSF for training was the US-made T-38 Talon. Having a TSF developed solely for training use, especially one specialized for acclimatizing pilots from an older generation of TSFs to another, newer generation, was considered an unprecedented luxury.
However, as the development of the Shiranui continued and the TSF-X prototypes fulfilled all the tests they were used for, one of them, the sixth TSF-X prototype, was evaluated and had all of its functions deemed not required for training purposes trimmed off. Due to the use of an existing prototype, further development time spent on the sixth prototype was almost nil, and parts commonality with the Shiranui of up to 60% meant that all work on the unit was lessened and simplified, leading to faster production rates as well as distribution of completed units. Once the line had produced its required number of training TSFs, it could even be converted back into a Shiranui production line. With these advantages in mind, approval for the Fubuki line was given, and full-scale production for the IJA/MDF commenced in 1997.
As an advanced training unit for pilot cadets, the Fubuki has its drive power and Jump Unit output restrained as a safety measure in inexperienced hands. Nevertheless, with its similarities to the Shiranui, as well as its 3rd generation base, the Fubuki's performance far outstrips that of the Type-77 Gekishin. In addition, the IJA has considered the strategic possibility of emergency live combat; the Fubuki is thus able to fulfill that role with a simple armament switch.
Equipped with the Type-91 Jump Units, albeit with different engines, sole spikes, and arm-mounted blade sheaths of the Shiranui, as well as anti-laser coating, the Fubuki, while lesser in performance than the Shiranui and not as visually prominent, is a rugged and hardy unit capable of handling the inept piloting expected of new pilots and is known as a well-constructed piece of machinery.
Because of its development being derived off the units that would eventually become the Type-94 Shiranui, there are some within the Japanese military who consider it a truly domestically-produced TSF based on that fact, as well as being the first actual domestic TSF produced by the Empire of Japan.
The Fubuki has been in use with the Japanese forces since 1997, prior to the Yokohama Hive Battle. TSF units of the IJA/MDF stationed on the northern front are also known to operate Fubuki in live combat.
Another Fubuki in Imperial Army colors was stationed at Yukon Base in 2001 for the early phases of Project PROMINENCE, and operated by US Army 2nd Lieutenant Yuuya Bridges, who was assigned to the base under United Nations command as a test pilot of Argos Test Flight. Yuuya used the training TSF as a familiarization unit to prepare for his actual operation of the XFJ-01 Shiranui Second.
The 207th Training Unit is the primary user of the UN-colored Fubuki stationed at Yokohama Base. Initially, the Fubuki used by them had been returned to the Imperial Japanese armed forces after Squad 207A's training was complete; Yokohama Base deputy commander Kouzuki Yuuko arranged to have Fubuki supplied to the 207th Training Unit again for Squad 207B only when they had completed their field combat evaluation.
During the 12/5 Incident, the 207th Training Unit's Type-97s were deployed as the 207th Tactical Armored Platoon; however, their primary role was not combat, but to secure an escape route for the Shogun. When the 207th and their reinforcements were engaged by Captain Sagiri's insurgent forces, the Type-97 was easily outmaneuvered in individual combat, although it is worth noting that their pilots were relatively inexperienced compared to their battle-hardened adversaries, all of whom were in the comparatively-superior Type-94 Shiranui.
The same six Fubuki were also deployed by Squad 207B, now A207, during the XM3 Trials. By then their pilots, who had been newly commissioned, were able to keep up with more experienced pilots in F-4Js with a combination of the Fubuki's technology, the XM3 OS, and their own skills. During the Yokohama Base Incident that followed, Squad A207 once again prevailed against the runaway BETA released from the base's holding area, with pilot cadet Shirogane Takeru noted as using his Fubuki to delay and outmaneuver BETA forces for some time despite a lack of weapons to retaliate with.
That the cadet pilots survived both the 12/5 Incident and the Yokohama Base Incident could be credited, in some part, to the Fubuki's innate 3rd generation-level capabilities.
The Fubuki also saw action as the rearguard during the Defence of Yokohama Base, where five cadet units of the Imperial Army 332nd Training Squadron, under the temporary field command of Cadet Nanase Rin, assisted elements of the IJA/MDF's Steel Lance Armor Regiment, Halberd Battalion, that was led by Captain Nanase.
The Fubuki served as the primary unit of the 207th Training Unit in all of their combat exercises.
A Fubuki operated by pilot cadet Tamase Miki was used to snipe down a runaway HSST loaded with explosives that was approaching Yokohama Base; the HSST had been programmed to accelerate during its descent phase instead of decelerating, and the speed, combined with the heavy armoring of the HSST, and its load of explosives, would have enabled the spacecraft to penetrate the topmost levels of the base and deal a significant amount of damage to the underground floors, if not outright destroy it. To that end, the Fubuki had its waist and right shoulder armor blocks removed to facilitate its firing posture, and was positioned with the experimental 1200mm OTH Cannon on a repair lift of Yokohama Base's linear catapult, and linked up to an orbiting satellite.
Later on, during the eruption of Mount Tengen, the 207th Training Unit was deployed to assist with the evacuation of the region. Later, in order to divert the lava flow away from entering Old Tengen Town, cadets Mitsurugi Meiya and Shirogane Takeru used their TSFs to strike a nearby cliff, collapsing a portion of it to to block the lava flow and divert it elsewhere. By having Takeru's unit, 20706, carry Meiya's unit, 20702, as an ad-hoc booster rocket, 20706 was able to achieve the required boost speed to enact the combined boost jump and boost dive required to impart enough force to the strike at the targeted segment of the cliff that was required to cause its collapse.
- In keeping with the naming theme of most of the IJA/MDF TSFs, fubuki stands for blizzard or snowstorm. Likewise, it shares its name with the Fubuki-class destroyer of the historical Imperial Navy.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Integral Works, pg. 61, 第3世代戦術機のための専用訓練機
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Integral Works, pg. 61, 実戦にも耐え得る潜在性能
- ↑ Integral Works, pg. 61, 日本帝国陸軍 97式戦術歩行戦闘機 吹雪
- ↑ Integral Works, pg. 61, 国連軍 97式戦術歩行戦闘機 吹雪