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The F-41 Exoatmospheric Multirole Strike Fighter (F-41 EMSF), commonly known as the Broadsword, is a VTOL atmospheric/exoatmospheric (A/X) multirole strike fighter manufactured by Misriah Armory and used by the UNSC Armed Forces, as well as planetary defense forces. Like other UNSC A/X attack craft, the Broadsword is named after a bladed weapon.
The F-41 Broadsword is a versatile and well-armed A/X strike fighter typically used to engage equal or superior enemy craft in low- to zero-gravity conditions. As its kind has few equals within humanity's known arsenal, the Broadsword was designed to address the incredible speed and firepower displayed by a variety of Covenant fighters. It is most prominently used by the UNSC Air Force in suborbital dogfights. The AVIATOR-class Mjolnir helmet is recommended for use by Broadsword crew members.
The F-41E Broadsword was introduced in 2554, featuring an upgrade package including energy shielding derived from the FSS-1000 Sabre that covers the entire fighter and recharges when depleted, specifically conceived to withstand pulse laser turrets. However, these shields are not rated for slipspace travel. As well as shields, the F-41E features an advanced sensor and target designation suite that can process hundreds of targets, on top of reformulated Titanium-A armor panels. These upgrades were considered impossible to implement fleetwide under wartime conditions, and included a range of design improvements and deferred upgrades, such as reformulated Titanium-A panels and an upgraded fusion reactor to power the shields. However, the reactor failed to meet initial output projections, and as a result shielded F-41E Broadswords have a lower top speed and acceleration than earlier, unshielded variants. It is capable of transatmospheric operations, and can reach orbit under its own power using deuterium as a propellant . While not as maneuverable as dedicated atmospheric interceptors, the F-41E is considered unequaled among human fighters in close-orbit dogfights. As with other modern Broadswords, its cockpit comes with a full cyberlink interface for augmented pilots, inertial compensators to mitigate the effects of high-G turns, and targeting software compatible with VISR interfaces. Like the previous F-41D, the F-41E can fold up its wings when landing in confined hangar bays.
The Broadsword is equipped with two M1075 ASW/AC 35mm MLA cannons and two M6088 ST/MMP missile pods mounted underneath the wings. The pod's standard munition is the AIM-90E short-range dogfight missile. The Broadsword has a Class-III hardpoint designed to carry AAM-50XR dogfight missiles or AGM-79C anti-ship missiles. The hardpoint can also be used to carry an excavation-grade HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon. It bestows the fighter a great effectiveness at ensuring the destruction of enemy capital ships.
Although the Broadsword has been in production since the mid-2530s, it was not adopted for widespread usage until the later days of the Human-Covenant War. Regardless, tens of thousands of these space fighters were produced during the Human-Covenant War. Although intended for use with planetary defense forces and the UNSC's Air Force and Navy, the widely-distributed design plans were sent to many Outer Colonies, where they were easily adapted to fabrication facilities found there. The availability of parts and the large number of trained pilots after the War has made "demilitarised" derivations of the Broadsword extremely popular with security contractors and mercenary groups.
In August 2552, at least two Broadswords were deployed to assist civilian evacuation operations in Casbah, Tribute while entire squadrons were deployed with FSS-1000 Sabres during the Fall of Reach.
After the Infinity crash-landed on the shield world Requiem's inner surface, Broadswords were deployed to assault the Ur-Didact's Cryptum and the Zanar-pattern light cruisers besieging the ship, but not before Spartan John-117 had reactivated the ship's MAC defense turrets. Together, the turrets and fighters drove the Cryptum off and destroyed at least two light cruisers. Later, as Gypsy Company was sent on a mission to destroy Forerunner particle cannons, at least two Broadswords were deployed by the Infinity to assist.
Ivanoff Station had several F41E Broadsword fighters in its hangar bay, though they were not used during the Didact's attack on the station. John-117 armed one with a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon, intending to destroy the Didact's ship, Mantle's Approach, before he could unleash the Composer on Earth. John caught up with Mantle's Approach just before it entered slipspace, flying beneath its shields since the Broadsword's were inadequate for slipspace travel. After arriving at Earth, he used the Broadsword to destroy the ship's point-defense guns so that the Infinity could punch a hole through the ship. Flying the fighter inside the warship's hull, the walls closed around the Broadsword and crushed it, forcing the Spartan to carry the HAVOK the rest of the way to the Composer. The fighter's remains were completely destroyed when John destroyed Mantle's Approach with the nuclear weapon.
In February 2558, six months after the New Phoenix Incident, Infinity returned to Requiem. Immediately after emerging from slipspace, the ship and her complement engaged the Covenant remnant fleet orbiting Requiem. At least one flight of Broadswords was launched from Infinity's hangars, shooting down many Seraphs, clearing the path of and providing cover for the Pelican dropships landing troops on the shield world. Once Fireteam Crimson was sent on a mission to assassinate Sangheili terrorist Parg Vol at "the Gate," the Spartans were overwhelmed by Covenant forces. Several Broadsword fighters were then sent by Infinity to destroy the Phantoms and ease Crimson's evacuation. Later, when Crimson was sent to investigate Fireteam Switchback's disappearance, three Broadswords were sent to survey the area and to soften up the opposition.
On March 11, 2558, several Broadswords were used in an attempt to destroy several AC-220 Vultures and AV-22 Sparrowhawks belonging to the UNSC Spirit of Fire that had attacked the Infinity when the Pilgrims' Pride was pulled into the Infinity's docking bay. Several Broadswords were used to counter the pirate fleet in space during the Operation: WHISTLE STOP. One Broadsword was used to escort a Pelican carrying the UNSC's half of the Janus Key during the Battle of Aktis IV, but was subsequently shot down.
During the Mission to the Spartan-IV training station, Vergil temporarily shut down power so that Spartan Edward Buck could deactivate the AI Leonidas who was loyal to the Created. The brief power loss caused the force field protecting the main landing bay to be deactivated. Though no one was harmed, everything that wasn't bolted down got blasted out into space including a Broadsword that looked like it had seen better days.
During the Battle of Cassidy III, the United Rebel Front launched squadrons of Broadswords painted in the Front's colors to attack a Created Guardian. The Broadswords were able to draw the Guardian away and buy time for Vergil to repair the colony's transports and evacuate people. The Guardian destroyed all of the fighters, but they gave Alpha-Nine and the Front time to evacuate as many people as they could after which the colony surrendered.
Originally the Broadsword was going to be called the Turtle.
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