The AV-401 Pyromancer, or “Pyro” for short, is a series of single-seater multirole aerospace fighter planes in service with the Terran Union. Built to succeed the aging AV-305 Vigilante, which had formed the backbone of Earth’s orbital defence force for over fifty years, and to compliment the AIR-39 Griffin jet fighter, the Mark I Pyro was the first fighter plane built on Earth to be capable of both atmospheric and space operations. Development began in 2494 by Quinsiccan Aviation under contract from GUN, who requested a vehicle operable in both atmosphere and space that was capable of taking off from sea level and gaining orbit under its own power. However, by the time the AV-401 was ready for mass production in 2504, GUN had lost interest in the project and pulled its funding in favour of extending the service life of the AIR-39; the latter years of the AV-401’s development were funded by a handful of national governments – primarily Britannia, in which Quinsiccan Aviation is based – for their own local defence forces. As a result, only very limited numbers were built, with the Britannic Royal Air Force as the primary buyer. GUN showed no further interest in the plane until nearly two years later, when, during the Union-Imperial War, the AIR-39 Griffin became obsolete against the Imperial IF-102 Devastator. GUN then called for huge numbers of the AV-401 to be built and assigned them to both the Aerospace Force and the Navy. The AIR-39 was quickly phased out in favour of the much more advanced Pyro, which became GUN’s principle fighter plane and participated in every major engagement of the Union-Imperial War, as well as the Six Day War in April 2507. After the Six Day War, when GUN was abolished and the new United Nations Defence Force was established in its stead, the AV-401 continued to serve the Union in its ongoing struggle against the Imperial Federation. A new model was introduced in 2507 to take advantage of recent technological innovations, and the Mark II variant would go on to serve in the Earth-Mars War of 2510, albeit somewhat overshadowed by the more advanced AV-501 Starblazer. Nevertheless, the AV-401 Pyromancer remains in service to this day and is expected to continue its service for many more years.
With a length of just under 9.3 metres and a wingspan of 8.8 metres, the AV-401 Pyromancer is a relatively small fighter plane, much more compact than the AIR-39 Griffin and considerably smaller than the IF-102 Devastator, its principle opponent of the Union-Imperial War era; but what it lacks in size it makes for in performance, with unparalleled speed and agility prior to the introduction of the Starblazer. The Pyromancer is well known for its “oversized” engines, which allow it to cruise at speeds of mach 2 in atmosphere and to easily accelerate to escape velocity in order to attain or, if necessary, break orbit for space operations – although it is more common for the Pyromancer to be carried into space aboard a capital ship. In space, the Pyromancer has a top speed of approximately 0.9 percent light-speed. Because the Pyromancer was developed prior to the perfection of mass effect technology in lifting engines (a feat accomplished in 2502 by the criminal scientist, Doctor Robotnik with his Egg Carrier), the Mark I variant was outfitted with conventional VTOL engines, whereas the Mark II variant is outfitted with a mass effect generator. Not only does this enable vertical takeoff and landing without conventional VTOL engines, but space is also freed up aboard for additional instruments and greater fuel capacity; the Mark II variant is also capable of more extreme aerobatics and, with less moving parts involved, maintenance costs are considerably lower. However, although the latest advances in mass effect technology have made it possible to outfit Terran spacecraft with non-reactive maneuvering drives, there are no plans to create such a variant of the AV-401; given its low mass, its existing RCS thrusters are considered to be sufficient.
The AV-401 Pyromancer may be small, but it is well-armed for its size. Both variants are armed with two medium particle accelerator cannons mounted on the wingtips and can carry up to four FM-14 Claymore guided missiles. The Mark I variant is armed with two 20mm rotary cannons with a firing rate of approximately 5,400 rounds per minute, whereas the Mark II variant is instead armed with two railguns. Although the latter have a slightly lower rate of fire, they can accelerate bullets to much higher velocities, and they are less susceptible to jamming or reduced performance in vacuum. Neither variant of the Pyromancer is outfitted with kinetic barriers, but its agility and armoured hull compensate for this.
The AV-402 Pyromancer was created by me for my comic. It is a retcon of the Pyro-GL from my comic’s universe, which was based heavily on the Pyro-GX from the game series ‘Descent’. This updated version draws on inspiration from the original Pyro-GX as well as the Colonial Viper from ‘Battlestar Galactica’, the Z-95 Headhunter from the ‘Star Wars’ expanded universe, and the real world fighter planes, the F-35 Lightning and the Su-47 Berkut.