by Pieter Thomassen, with Peter Walker
edited by Tim Wing
- SDF-3 reference file
- SDF-3 gallery
Designation: Pioneer-class Super Dimensional Fortress (SDF)
Name and disposition:
- SDF-3 UES Pioneer, commissioned 2022, missing 2044
- The Pioneer was built in the Robotech Repair Factory.
- Ships’ crew (2,500 men),
- Fleet Air Arm (3,400 men),
- Reinforced Combined Planetary Forces corps (19,600 men)(not always embarked),
- Life support limits are for a full combat complement and about 90,000 supernumaries (116,000 men total).
Note: a far larger number of personnel could be carried in temporary embarkations. The SDF-3 was capable of providing life support for almost a million humans for three weeks, though in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
- Length: 1403 m (main hull), 1721 m (over all)
- Height: 330 m (main hull), 461 m (over all)
- Width: 324 m (main hull), 518 m (over all)
- Mass: 31,800,000 metric tons, operational (typical)
- Fuel Mass: 3,320,000 metric tons, maximum (typical)
- Main power system: RRG Mk13 protoculture-fueled Reflex furnace cluster. The powerplant of the Pioneer-class vessel can deliver up to 80.2 Petawatts of power, and can operate for eighty-seven minutes at maximum power before overheating initiates an autoshutdown.
- Maneuvering thrusters (12): Fusion-plasma reaction thruster clusters mounted on the main hull; located on the port and starboard top, sides and bottom halfway forward and aft.
- Reaction-mass thrusters (4): Rolls Royce CSRE-3 fusion-plasma reaction thrusters with protoculture energizer, mounted in the upper and lower corner of the aft port and starboard halves of the ship.
- Secondary reaction thrusters (15): Six Turbo-Union EECS-2 fusion-flasma reaction thrusters with protoculture energizer mounted in two vertical rows of three between the main engines, eight Turbo-Union EECS-1 fusion-plasma reaction thrusters with protoculture energizer mounted in two vertical rows of two flanking the two upper EECS-2 thrusters, and one Turbo-Union MMFG-12 fusion-plasma reaction thruster mounted at the aft end of the command citadel.
- Anti-gravity System (1): 32 RRG Cyclops anti-gravity pods.
- Space Fold (1): RRG Mk3 spacefold. This system generates a spherical fold bubble and can transport 30 to 40 subluminal ships in its fold radius.
- Planetary Capabilities: The Pioneer-class has atmospheric capabilities through its reaction thrusters and anti-gravity system. The ships’ lower body has sufficient strength to let the ship land on it, although the landing ground should be as firm as possible (granite is recommended). The ship would float in an ocean, and this is the preferred method of landing.
Endurance and mobility limits:
The dry stores endurance was limited to about 5 years with a full crew complement. The on-board life support and recycling system was based on that of the Macross-class, and the very extensive recycling installations ensured that only incidental biomass losses needed to be replenished. Water stores were recycled almost completely. The hydroponics installations on board provided the crew with a steady supply of fresh foods, and much was exported to smaller ships in the fleet.
The mecha consumables supplies (mainly missiles) were very extensive, and could sustain continuous combat operations for over forty days against the Invid by the Naval forces alone, and the entire Planetary Force complement could be supplied for another forty days of continuous combat operations.
The ship-launched missile magazines sufficed for three large battles or five or more skirmishes.
The Reflex furnace could function for about 35 years at normal usage levels before before an energizer rebuild was necessary.
At full power, the main propulsion systems can produce up to 810 Giganewtons of thrust at a minimal reaction mass efficiency profile, or as little as 35.2 Giganewtons of thrust at a maximum efficiency setting. At lower power levels, these thrusts are commensurately smaller.
At full power, the Pioneer-class can achieve a maximum delta-v of 224 kps at the cruising acceleration of 0.1g, a maximum delta-v of 44.7 kps at the battle acceleration of 1.0g, and a delta-v of at most 12.5 kps at the flank acceleration of 2.5g. At lower power levels, these ranges are commensurately smaller.
The fold systems were not navigationally guaranteed for any single jump beyond 10 kiloparsecs. If longer voyages were required, the ship had to conduct multiple fold jumps.
The maximum sustained atmospheric speed was limited to Mach 3. A higher speed could be attained while accelerating to orbit, or in emergencies, but this stressed the engines to above their sustainable heat tolerances. The maximum hover time on the anti-gravity systems was limited only by the protoculture supplies and maintenance requirements.
- RRG Reflex cannon Mk.3 (2): As in Zentraedi Monitors, the front section of the Pioneer is formed by the twin booms of the main battery, in her case twin Reflex Cannons. In order to fire, the cannons slide apart horizontally, then open vertically, the beam being generated between the two vertical booms. The weapons are identical to the very powerful Reflex Cannon of the Macross Battlefortress. The effects of these weapons against planets equal the heat and blast effects of the detonation of fusion weapons of 65 MT, if fired at full power. If utilized against starships, the largest vessels can be destroyed by a single direct hit. The weapon can also be set to a wider dispersal. In this setting, it is capable of clearing a wide area of fighters and other mecha, although starships in this area would only be blinded. The cannons have an effective range of 300,000 km. Each cannon requires 40 seconds to charge to full power, and the generating capacity of the Pioneer is such that it requires 80 seconds to charge both cannons simultaneously. These weapons, like their Zentraedi counterparts, are more suited for planetary bombardment than for ship-to-ship combat.
- Oto Melara MBPC-2 heavy particle beam (10): A heavy weapon firing 2.5 TJ of particle energy per shot, equivalent to approximately 500 tons of TNT, out to an effective range of 300,000 km. The capacitators can charge and fire each weapon six times per minute at maximum capacity. Four of these cannons are mounted behind conformal covers in the spacious bow halves, two are located in the dorsal surface of the cannon booms, and the final four are mounted in blisters on top of and directly underneath the engines. Unlike the cannons mounted on the Sian Dereta battlefortresses, these large particle beams resemble the more advanced weapons of the Macross-class in design and firepower. LT-15 Turret – Top View
- RRG LT-15 Double laser turret (40): The secondary anti-ship weapons of the Pioneer, these turrets have a range of 300,000 km, and deliver 1500 MJ of laser energy every two seconds at the highest rate of fire. Twenty of these turrets are mounted forward in the main battery booms, the other twenty are dispersed over the Pioneer’s other hull areas. It was proposed to replace these weapons with 25 of the particle cannon turrets as mounted on the Garfish- and Izumo-classes, but this was not carried out before the ship was listed as missing.
- RRG RG-2 Point defense turret (8): The RG-2 mount is designed to deliver heavy firepower on very close targets. A double barrelled rail gun with a round sensor between the barrels, the RG-2 is stored inside the hull, but elevates upwards from under movable panels into firing position. The RG-2 fires 0.227 kg KPI rounds at 25 kps, giving the rounds a kinetic impact energy of 141 MJ. The maximum effective range for this system is 20 km against mecha sized targets, the maximum rate of fire is 120 rounds per minute. Eight of these cannons are mounted in the cannon booms and main hull.
- Oerlikon PD-2 Point Defense turret (8): The PD-2 is a double barrelled laser cannon, with an on-mount multi-spectral sensor. Designed for point defense against mecha, missiles and small vessels, the PD-2 delivers 50 MJ of laser energy four times per second. The Pioneer mounts these in the main hull (4) and the side bodies (4), behind movable panels.
- VLR-1 Skylord launch tubes (12): The launch tubes are mounted in the main cannon booms and angled to fire a rocket horizontally away from the hull (6 launchers to each boom). These launchers fire the SLBM-sized Skylord, a rocket with a special 3 MT nuclear fusion warhead that accelerated at 10g throughout its flight and had a delta-v of 8 kps. A conventional warhead was also available. Each launcher had sixteen rockets in the ready magazine.
- Mk.253 MLS missile systems (14): A conventional vertical launch missile installation with 10 individual launch silos. The silos each contain 6 ready missiles in a rotating mechanism, which can be reloaded while other missiles in the rotating structure are fired. The ready magazines store 400 missiles per launcher. These launchers typically fire defensive Warhawk and defensive or offensive Spacehawk missiles. Typical versions are anti-mecha cluster munitions, nuclear reaction anti-ship and nuclear reaction re-entry capable weapons. Four launchers are located near the engines, four amidships and four in the bow. The final two launchers are located near the bridge.
Air group and mecha complement:
- 1330 combat mecha (Veritechs, fighters and fighter bombers),
- 60 support mecha (AEW craft, recon planes, fast couriers/SAR planes),
- 40 transport and cargo shuttles (SC-32 Gossamer and RC-4 Rabbit).
Planetary Forces mecha (in storage hangars))
- 1750 combat planes (Veritechs, fighters, bombers),
- 940 Destroids (strike, battle, AAA and artillery).
Individual infantry and pilot emergency vehicles (from 2029 onwards)
- 9000 Cyclones.
Electronic and special purpose systems:
- DS-2 Barrier Defense System: An advanced forcefield system which covers the full four pi steradians around the ship with a yellow-greenish forcefield (or if desired, only part of the ship). This field will reflect all solids and directed energy weapons (except lasers through a narrow band). However, excess energy which cannot be deflected from the field will be stored in the main armament capacitators. The storage wattage is high but not infinite, and should the capacitators overload the field will discharge the stored energy particles. This discharge will have maximum yield of a main armament salvo (>125 MT). However, as the discharged energetic particles’ vectors will be away from the field and its generating vessel, the Pioneer will survive, though she will suffer severe damage to its internal electronics and power systems, and will not be battleworthy until repairs are made. In addition, the ships’ own armament cannot be fired through the field.
- DS-1 Pinpoint Barrier Defense System: A smaller system which uses four movable forcefield disks, conformal to the ship’s surface, to repel light torpedo attacks, or directed energy weapons. It serves as a back up to the DS-2 system.
- The Pioneer was fitted with a Shadow cloaking device in the months before the final attempt to liberate the Earth from the Invid occupation.
The SDF-3 UES Pioneer was primarily designed to be the flagship for the Terran expedition, named after the SDF-3 as the Pioneer Mission, to achieve a peace treaty with the Robotech Masters, or, alternatively, to ensure that the next Robotech War would be fought thousands of light-years away from Earth. As such, it would be necessary to open talks with the Tirolians. This would be difficult, since, according to Zentraedi descriptions, that race had become, after many centuries of war, prone to shoot first and sift through the wreckage later.
To approach the Masters, it was decided that the SDF-3 would have to appear as normal as possible to the Masters, at least until messages rather than weapon salvos were exchanged. Thus, the decision was made to model the exterior characteristics of the SDF-3 not on the rare Macross-class of battle-fortress, but on the Sian Dereta-class of improved monitor, a Border Fleet design. It was hoped the Masters would be more trusting of a ship they believed was under the command of some of their clone Triumvirates. The internals of the SDF-3 were however not based on the Border Fleet vessel, but were newly designed to as advanced of a technological standard as Earth was capable of. At that time, the technological standard of Earth was based on the Macross’s systems, which had by now been mostly deciphered. The SDF-3 was first constructed with only a light exterior hull. Once completed, exterior hull plates scavenged from Zentraedi ships were mounted on the Pioneer, giving the ship an authentic exterior.
As designed, the central hull section, which served the same function as the central hull section of the Macross (although the Sian Dereta, and by extension the SDF-3, were not transformable in nature) was the smallest, most important and best shielded part of the ship. It was flanked by the two engine sections, which contained the reaction engines and most of the special equipment on the SDF-3. These three sections were all mounted behind the twin cannon booms, receiving additional protection. The two engine sections were themselves shielded by what were dubbed the ‘outriggers’ of the ship; large and heavily armored outer hull sections flanking the engine sections. These outriggers contained several laser turrets and long range sensors. On top of the SDF-3 was a conning tower, a rather low and stretched-out design compared with the conning tower of the refitted SDF-1 Macross. It contained the navigation bridge and several key sensor installations.
A unique feature of the Sian Dereta class were its twin Reflex Cannons. As the original Zentraedi vessel was designed for the Border Fleets, and thus to operate for extended periods without external maintenance, two Reflex Cannons were provided in order to save wear and tear on a single cannon by repeated firings. In addition, the two cannons could be fired in sequence, giving the Sian Dereta the power of two Monitors — though only for one salvo as the ships could not recharge more than one cannon at a time. As a near copy of the Sian Dereta class, the Pioneer also carried twin Reflex Cannons. After the numerous, and at most inconvenient moments, failures of the single Reflex cannon on the SDF-1, this was another reason for the Terrans to choose the Sian Dereta template, as it would ensure that at least one cannon was operational. However, as the Tirolians found the advantages of twin cannons specious, so did the Terrans find that their new designs for Reflex cannons were more reliable and robust than expected, and later battlefortresses reverted again to a single Reflex Cannon.
As stated above, the capabilities and internal systems of the SDF-3 differed considerably of those of the Sian Dereta. The Reflex cannons on the Macross class were more powerful and smaller than those on the Sian Dereta, and the Macross-style Reflex cannon had to be slightly redesigned so as to conform to the resulting longer beam-generation area, as well as to the fact that the inner sections of the cannon booms no longer rotated. The additional space between each cannon and the outer shell was partly filled with four large particle beam cannons. These four were mounted in the outer forward corners of the cannon booms. Another six, for a total of ten, were mounted in the normal Sian Dereta heavy weapon mountings; four on the engine pods and two in the dorsal main cannon booms. The ubiquitous Zentraedi laser turrets of the Sian Dereta were replaced with a Terrestrial two-barrel design, also used on the other ships of the fleet, with a higher rate of fire and a larger yield. The missile batteries too were fully Terran in design. In addition to this heavy weapons suite, about as powerful as on a Zentraedi Flagship, the SDF-3 carried a 1330 Naval fighters, and had space for a large contingent of troops and mecha. In effect, the SDF-3 combined the capabilities of the Tokugawa-class carrier version with those of the Tokugawa class landing ship version. Unfortunately, there was insufficient hangar space to allow the Planetary Forces mecha to operate from the SDF-3 as additions to the Fleet Air Arm group. The SDF-3 had one of the best balanced fighting groups in the Terran Robotech Forces, not to mention the most powerful.
In 2044, the SDF-3 received a major refit. Most notable was the replacement of the out hull with a completely redesigned “second skin”. The overall design of the new outer hull was very similar to that of the SDF-4 UES Liberator. The reflex cannons were replaced by synchro cannons and a shadow cloaking device was fitted. Lastly, the outriggers were deleted and in their place two Crusader-class Landing Ships (SLVs) were docked.
In December 2022 the UES Pioneer was commissioned and took its position as the flagship of the REF, marking the official start of the “Pioneer” mission. The Pioneer Mission departed for Tirol, with four Battle Groups: the Mercury Battle Group consisting of the UES Pioneer and five Valivarre class ships, and the Mars, Jupiter and Saturn Battle groups which consisted nearly 200 warships. The plan was for the Mercury Group to fold into Tirol Space first and make contact. If hostilities ensued, the battle group would immediately re-fold to link up with the Main Fleet (Mars, Jupiter and Saturn Battle groups). Things did not exactly go to plan, with the Invid immediately attacking the SDF-3 and the rest of the Mercury Battle Group upon de-fold into Tirol space. A complete lack of tactical coordination delayed the SDF-3 and the rest of the battle group from folding to the Main Fleet Assembly Point, giving the Invid enough time to damage the SDF-3’s fold generators. The battle group did eventually carry the day with the capture of the Robotech Masters home world from the Invid, by the end of the fight the SDF-3 was so badly damaged that it would be several years before she was fully space worthy again.
The SDF-3 was again damaged during the mutiny by General T. R. Edwards. At this point, what with the ship being due for a major overhaul anyway, the UES Pioneer departed Tirol-space for the dry docks at Space Station Liberty where new synchro cannons, fold drives, reflex furnaces and a shadow cloaking device fit.
On July 5th 2044, while testing the Neutron S warhead in the Omicron sector, the SDF-3 sustained heavy damage yet again when the warhead caused the collapse of the planetary target onto itself, creating a small black hole. Though an attempt was made to recover the SDF-3 by the UES Icarus, the Pioneer failed to defold in Earth space and was never heard from again. Naturally, conspiracy theories abound, owing to the fact that Admiral Richard Hunter was later wanted to stand trial for war crimes (ie: his authorization of the use of the Neutron S missile, which would have resulted in the destruction of the Earth itself). The editor would like to point out, however, that these charges were made well after the disappearance of the SDF-3, thus discrediting these theories. Regardless, the SDF-3 UES Pioneer is presumed lost with all hands.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd.
Acknowledgement is extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized in this publication.
Images from – Robotech II: The RPG, Robotech Expeditionary Force Field Guide (March 1989)
Content by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker, edited by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2001, 1999 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker; 2016 Tim Wing