Northrop VF-3000 Crusader Air-Superiority Aerospace Variable Fighter

Northrop VF-3000 Crusader Air-Superiority Aerospace Variable Fighter

by Tim Wing


  • VF-3000 reference file
  • VF-3000 gallery

The VF-3000 was a Veritech fighter designed by Northrop Aviation as a competitor to Rockwell Bell’s VF-4 Lightning. Both Veritechs were born from the need of a successor to the VF-1 Valkyrie. Like the VF-4, the VF-3000 Crusader (nicknamed the “Stretch Valkyrie”) was significantly larger than the VF-1, though it kept the same basic design layout as the Valkyrie. This lead to a lawsuit by Rockwell Bell, alleging that even though the majority of Valkyries were built by Northrop under contract, the intellectual property rights for the design belonged to the Rockwell team. This lawsuit failed in court, but it did manage to hold up the development of the VF-3000 significantly. This delay helped give the Rockwell Bell team the edge, allowing them to win the contract. This is a shame, as the VF-4 Lightning ended up being a flop due to obscene failure rates with its transformation sequence and its high purchase and operational costs. The VF-3000, on the other hand, used a proven and much simpler transformation sequence. Even though there were some early problems with the Battloid/GERWALK leg to fuselage interface, these were minor in comparison to the sequence of miracles needed for the VF-4 to successfully convert from fighter to Battloid. A second lawsuit was also filed by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) for the rights of the name Crusader. LTV won this case and Northrop was forced to pay them a nominal licensing fee.

The VF-3000 Crusader’s gun pod was the second-generation GU-11D. The GU-11D gun pod was originally built for the VF-1 and was a notable improvement over the original gun pod due to the detachable magazine feed system. The GU-11D introduced rocket assisted, self-guided 55mm ammunition. These rounds were effectively miniaturized anti-tank guided missiles. They extended the range and accuracy of the GU-11 significantly, at the cost of warhead wield. The removable magazine held 320 rounds. The gun pod also had provisions for a (ridicules) anti-armor bayonet, though this was a concept that was never used operationally on a Veritech. While the smaller VF-1 Valkyrie could also accommodate the GU-11D gun pod, its enormous size prevented it from being adopted.

With the VF-4 officially winning the contract in 2014, Northrop continued to develop the VF-3000 on its own dime in the hope of marketing it to United Earth Government (UEG) member states. In fact, the United States Air Force and Navy were on board to purchase the VF-3000, having signed a contract in 2016. These plans were scuttled in 2017 when the decision came down to standardize all weapons systems once the individual militaries of the UEG consolidated under the Treaty of the Southern Cross. The United States continued to hold out hope for the VF-3000, but all funding and development officially ended in 2018 when the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) was created. The VF-3000 was briefly reconsidered in 2020 as the major problems with the VF-4 Lightning became apparent. Eight final production examples were indeed dusted off and assigned to the Tactical Armored Space Corps’ VX-2 “Dancing Skulls” operational test and evaluation squadron. While the VF-3000 performed well, the UEDF decided against it in favor of the far cheaper VF/F-6.

A strike variant designated the VF-3000B was also submitted to the UN Spacy and later the US Air Force for consideration. The most obvious difference was a tail assembly that combined the horizontal stabilizers and vertical tail fins, mounted on the rear of the fuselage. Less obvious was the massively increased wing area, which would have doubled the type’s useful combat load. With no examples ever being produced, this type existing on paper only.


  • Manufacturer: Northrop
  • Development: 2012 to 2018
  • Crew: pilot plus radar intercept officer (REO)
  • Dimensions in fighter mode: length 15.5 meters; wingspan 16.1 meters
  • Mass: empty 11.95 metric tons
  • Power Plant: 2 x Shinnakasu/P&W/Rolls Royce FF-2450A thermonuclear turbine engines; 4 x auxiliary nozzles above engine nacelles and 2 x auxiliary nozzels in the aft center (fighter mode)
  • Propulsion: 22,500 kg x 2 (220.73 kN x 2); many x vernier thrusters
  • Thrust-to-weight ratio: (empty) 3.77
  • Performance: standard cruising speed at 10,000 m Mach 3.1+
  • Design Features: 3-mode variable transformation; vertical Take-off and landing (VTOL); variable main wing; two-seater cockpit; enlarged tail fins form X-shape


  • 1 x Hughes GU-11D 55mm gatling gun pod
  • 1 x large laser cannon (mounted center ventral section – right side – in Fighter/GERWALK modes, becomes head turret in Battloid mode)
  • 2 x Mauser RöV-22 anti-aircraft laser cannons (mounted center ventral section – left side – in Fighter/GERWALK modes, becomes head turret in Battloid mode)
  • 6 x under-wing hard point weapon stations


Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the properties of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.

Original artwork by: Shoji Kawamori, Miyatake Kazutaka, Haruhiko Mikimoto and Hidetaka Tenjin

Acknowledgement is extended to the work of Egan Loo and the Macross Compendium. Egan Loo is given all credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the Macross Compendium that has been utilized in this publication. 

Images Courtesy of Chad Wilson (Marchly) and the Macross Mecha Manual. Chad Wilson is given all credit for all images from the Macross Mecha Manual that have been utilized in this publication.

Content by Tim Wing

Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing