by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker, with Tim Wing and Rob Morgenstern
- VHT-1 Spartas reference file
- VHT-1 Spartas gallery
Designation: McDonnell Douglas Land Systems / Kraus Maffei Destroids GmbH VHT-1 Spartas Veritech Hover Tank
- Length: 6.0 meters
- Height: 2.25 meters
- Width: 2.7 meters
- Length: 7.75 meters
- Height: 4.5 meters
- Width: 2.25 meter
- Depth: 2.0 meters
- Height: 6.2 meters
- Breadth: 4.4 meters
- Weight: 26.4 metric tons.
II. Origin and type:
- Design: McDonnell Douglas Land Systems.
- Builder: McDonnell Douglas Land Systems, Kraus Maffei Destroids GmbH.
- Type: One person, all weather, three form Veritech scout mecha.
III. Service History
- VH-X Eurotas: Veritech Hovertank test bed, developed by McDonnell Douglas Land Systems, tested from 2011 to 2013.
- VHT-1: Served with the United Earth Defense Force’s (UEDF’s) Tactical Armored Cavalry (TAC) from 2019 until 2033, and with the Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force/United Earth Expeditionary Force (REF/UEDF) from 2020 until 2040, when it was retired from service.
- VHT-1A1: Served with the UEDF-TAC from 2028 until the Invid invasion.
- VHT-1A2: Served with the UEDF-TAC from 2031 until the Invid invasion.
- VHT-1A3: Served with the UEDF-TAC from 2031 until the Invid invasion.
- 4 x P&W HJ-800 hover jets, max. output 71 kN of ground-effect thrust each. Peak hovering performance at 1 meter altitude.
- Multiple gyroscopes for stability and attitude adjustment in zero gees.
- Powerplant: 2 x New Macross Land Systems RRL-2 Miniaturized Protoculture-cell energizer
- 8 Standard Canisters of Protoculture.
Battloid Jump Pack (for airborne and spaceborne operations):
- 1 x Lockheed AJP-01 Airborne Jump Pack with two TurboUnion main thrusters producing 68 kN of thrust, two small horizontal thrusters and four maneuvering winglets.
- 2 x TurboUnion RP-2S rocket pods, attached to the leg-mounted hover jets. Max. thrust, 103 kN ea, for up to 70 seconds.
- 2 x TurboUnion OMS-2 with two steerable xenon fueled gridded ion thrusters producing 215 kN of thrust each, with a total Delta-V of 0.9 kps.
- Note: In airborne operations, the VHT-1 mounts the AJP-01 and RP-2S pods. This allows the Spartas to be dropped from altitudes up to 7,000 meters. In spaceborne operations the VHT-1 mounts the RP-2S pods and OMS-2 thrusters. This system was typically used for anti-ship boarding parties.
- Max speed: 161 kph
- Max sustained hover height: 2.3 meters
- Max speed : 13 kph
- Max speed : 112 kph.
- Typical cell endurance: 200 hours continuous use.
- Delta-v (spaceborne operations): 0.55 kps
- Westinghouse TPG-144 X-band pulse-doppler phased array medium-range radar with battlefield surveillance mode
- Phillips AllView II multi-band digital spherical camera system, for medium range all attitude infra-red imaging, optical and ultra-violet band detection and tracking in Battloid mode.
- Thomson LT-8 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator.
Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):
- Selenia GroundWarrior active/passive sensor jammers.
- 1 x Rheinmetall MCR-68A1 105mm liquid-propelled smoothbore cannon, extending from the arm-shield in Tank mode. It may be used in Battloid mode, though it is rather unwieldy. The ammunition feed is automatic, sustaining a rate of 25 rounds/minute, or even faster for short periods. The cannon arm stores up to 30 shells without reload, and another 30 can be stored in the other arm-shield, but must be reloaded by hand. Enough liquid propellant is carried for 65 shots. The mix of shells is mission-dependent, but a typical anti-mecha load-out is 30 FSDS-TU, 10 HESH, 10 MPAF, 5 MAPHE-SG and 5 Smoke rounds. See the addendum for full shell listings. The maximum effective direct-fire range is 5.6 km for the FSDS-TU round, and slightly less for the HESH round.
- 1 x RRG HPW-125A1 125mm particle cannon, extending from the arm-shield in Tank mode. It may be used in Battloid mode, though it is unwieldy in the extreme. The weapon is capable of firing salvos of 22MJ maximum yield at a rate of 30 shots/minute at this maximum yield. The typical maximum range is 4.2 km, and indirect fire is not possible. The weapon uses 8 dedicated protoculture cells to generate the power required to charge the capacitors.
- 1 x Mauser EU-11 28mm Laser Gun Pod (front-mounted in Hovercraft mode, hand-held in Battloid mode). This gun pod fires laser pulses of up to 12.5 MJ energy per blast. The pod can fire up to 110 pulses/minute.
- 1 x Oerlikon MIW-20 triple-barrel 20mm Ion Pulse Cannon (arm mounted, used mainly in Tank mode, though available in Battloid as well). The weapon fires bursts of plasma annihilation discs, the typical energy expended in a burst is 5 MJ. Enough energy for ten bursts is stored in a capaciter, and the mecha can generate 20 seconds worth of sustained fire per minute. The cannon is powered directly from the protoculture cells of the vehicle.
The armor on the Hover Tank is a new development in low-mass composite-materials Chobham plating that became the standard for all Terran mecha after its application to the VQ-6A Vandal. Aside from the respectable protection provided against projectiles, missiles, and other kinetic weapons, this armor is also resistant to plasma globes (annihilation discs), lasers, and to a lesser extent, particle guns. This is owing to the fact that the armor can flake off and evaporate in layers under fire from such high-energy weapons, taking much of the weapon’s energy and converting it into the latent heat of sublimation in the armor.
The armor stops all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry, and provides good resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round, and poor resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the VHT’s 105mm smoothbore shells.
The main cannon and tri-cannon are mounted in armored housings on arms that have a thicker armor, and are often used to parry incoming fire. Here the armor resistance is better than that of almost any other mecha, except the HWR series Destroid.
The armored pilot compartment is proof against all shrapnel and environmental hazards, but can not withstand any strikes by shells (at non-perpendicular angles) larger than 30mm. Unfortunately, severe performance and reliability problems with the VR systems caused the pilot compartment to be removed from the tanks, even in combat.
When equipped with the armored pilot compartment, the VHT provides full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated. The internal consumables supplies can provide atmosphere for eight hours maximum.
The Hovertank was developed in response to a 2009 request for proposal by the UN Spacy for a new ground-effect scout vehicle to replace the M12 Centaur Veritech light tank then in service. The acquisitions department drew up the specifications for a scout mecha with far superior mobility over the Centaur, but also with the firepower to engage any Zentraedi mecha, or even mecha more heavily armored than those of the Zentraedi. The latter was drawn with one eye to the internal politics of the Earth itself, and the VHT was from the outset intended to be capable of dispatching all Terran tanks and other fighting vehicles. In addition, the design was to have an alternate form to engage in close in combat.
From the contestants, two designs were chosen in 2011 for prototype building and performance evaluation. These two were McDonnell Douglas’s VH-X Eurotas and the Vickers plc Centaur II, a heavier development of the old M12 Centaur.
McDonnell Douglas took the lead in this competition because of the superior mobility and reduced crew requirements. (the Centaur II remained a two-man mecha). In addition, the 105mm high velocity cannon of the VHT-1 proved to be a far superior weapon to the complex 152mm rocket/shell cannon on the Centaur II. More importantly, it was also far more reliable and easier to maintain. The main drawback was what were termed ‘teething problems’ with the armored compartment that protected the pilot. The electronics that created a virtual reality of the surroundings on the inside of the hood were decidedly sub-par, to the point that most of the test program was run with the compartment removed and the pilot exposed.
Consequently, in 2017, after a protracted low rate initial production period (during which the project repeatedly shifted up and down in priorities due to the demands on funds, personnel and material caused by the Malcontent Uprisings), the VHT-1 Spartas entered operational service, with full rate production following in 2019.
The vast majority of procurements of this mecha were by the United Earth Defense Force’s (UEDF’s) Tactical Armored Cavalry (TAC). Several thousands of VHT-1 were produced before and during the Second Robotech War, but their drivers were somewhat apprehensive about their mecha, for it was a victim of mission creep during the late 2020’s. In addition to their designed scout role, the VHT-1 was later designated to be part of the fast-reaction forces, and to be among the first mecha to engage alien landings. Far worse, however, were the ‘teething problems’ with the pilot compartments which remained unsolved due to limited funding, bureaucratic inertia and numerous audits and policy reviews. This forced even the front line units to go into combat with the pilot riding in the open atop the mecha in transport and tank modes. Despite this criminal state of affairs, skilled handling by the unit commanders (and timely conversions to battloid mode) made the VHT-1 Spartas a moderate success in this tasking in the Second Robotech War. One-on-one, the VHT-1 was superior to the earlier series of Bioroids employed by the Robotech Masters, and at least equal to the later Bioroid designs, including the vaunted ‘Invid Fighter Triumvirates’. The Second Robotech War saw the Southern Cross’ Spartas fighting everywhere on Earth, as well as in space.
The main armament of the VHT-1 was an extremely reliable 105mm smoothbore, which was capable of destroying any known enemy mecha with one round. The only drawback to the design was the limited payload. This was not considered a serious liability given its designed mission. The EU-11 laser rifle likewise proved itself to be a very rugged gun with a heavy punch. The ion cannon was somewhat out of place on this mecha. As an energy weapon it was merely average in yield and effectiveness. To its credit, it did have an unlimited amount of ammunition available.
However, as the VHT-1’s mission started expanding, new weapon fits were considered. Just before the Second Robotech War, the Southern Cross chose to refit some VHT-1’s with new weapons and armor. Dubbed the VHT-1A1, the upgraded tanks had the smoothbore cannon removed and in its place was installed a particle beam cannon. This eliminated all ammunition constraints on the main gun. Although many Hovertanks never had the chance to be upgraded before the Invid’s arrival, the VHT-1A1 saw service in a limited capacity as early as the first year of the Second Robotech War and proved popular with its crews, although a complaint was often heard that the troops would have preferred to get their armored pilot compartments debugged instead. During the war itself, an upgrade to the Spartas was called for, and the VHT-1A2 and VHT-1A3 were designed in response. The result was a competition between the these and the Vickers-Chrysler Robotech Systems Inc. VHT-3 Conqueror, the latter a redesigned upsized follow-up of the VHT’s old Centaur II competitor. The VHT-1A2 was a derivative of the 105mm armed VHT-1, with upgraded fire control, an uparmored crew compartment and explosive-reactive armor in key locations. Likewise, the VHT-1A3 was based on the particle beam cannon armed VHT-1A1. The VHT-3 had improved armament as well, in addition to drastic redesigns of its chassis.
All suitable factories were naturally tooled for the VHT-1, and would need only minimal retooling for the VHT-1A2/A3s. Given the war that was going on, this pushed the decision once again in the Spartas’s favor. Several dozen new build VHT-1A3 Hovertanks were completed, while a couple hundred VHT-1s were refit to A2 standard. These were issued to select ATAC squadrons just before the war’s end, but this model was never mass-produced due to the serious devastation caused by the war, and series production was planned to start on what turned out to be three months after the Invid Invasion.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising, Tatsunoko Studio and Ammonite studio. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Kogawa Tomonori, Hiroyuki Kitazume, Miyo Sonoda, Hiroshi Ogawa, Hirotoshi Ohkura and Takashi Ono
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.
Content by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker, with Tim Wing and Rob Morgenstern
Copyright © 2004, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1995 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker; 2017 Tim Wing