SF-5 Starling Light Starfighter (HAFN):

While the SF-9 Vixen Light Starfighter is better known and was produced in much larger numbers, the Human Alliance operated the SF-5 Starling prior to the Vixen’s introduction in the light fighter role. Built around the same time as the Tiger IV, the design was only produced in relatively limited numbers and was retired from front line Human Alliance service after a comparatively short period. After being retired from combat duties, the Starling continued to be operated as a training craft. For various reasons, it was not as well suited to ground attack roles as the Tiger IV.

While only limited numbers remain in service, along with the Tiger IV, the Starling remains one of the oldest fighters still in service. A few military forces, mostly in non threatened backwater areas, operate these fighters. As well, a number are still operated in the training role and there are a number of civilian operated versions of the fighter as well.

One advantage the Starling has over the Vixen is that twice as many Starlings can be purchases as Vixens.

Unfortunately, there is no real manufacturing of repair parts for these fighters so it is much harder to get components for these old fighters than the Vixen. One choice is adapting systems to fit the fighter, either civilian or from other military craft. A second is cannibalizing systems from other Starling fighters, usually one that are no longer operational. The final is to fabricate new components. This can get expensive in some cases.

The fighter has a compact fusion plant that is outwardly similar to more modern fusion plants but only has a very limited life span between refueling and produces limited power in comparison. The Starling uses a contra grav propulsion system similar to the Tiger IV with a slightly greater acceleration. As with the Tiger IV, is also has a plasma / ion drive to give bursts of greater acceleration. Even with the thruster active, the Starling is still slower than the Vixen which replaced it. Duration of the thruster is limited to fifteen minutes before it runs out of fuel. While most modern fighters do not mount an auxiliary thruster, the system is showing something of a resurgence in popularity. The light fighter was designed to be aerodynamic and is capable in an atmosphere.

Unlike the Tiger IV, the Starling never mounted a defensive shield. The Tiger IV mounted a forward only force field although few remain operation. The lack of this shield is one of the reasons why the light fighter was not operate as much in the ground attack role as the Tiger IV. The light fighter does have radiation and particle shielding but are not up to modern standards. Some remaining fighters have had the shielding upgraded but there is no ability to mount a full force field. Some have actually suggested mounting a force field generator in place of the capital missile.

A second reason why these light fighters generally were not operated in the ground attack role is that they are considered fragile. A history buff might compare these fighters to the World War II Japanese Zero. Fast and heavily armed but lacking in protection. Pilots in general never liked the fighter due to high casualty figures in combat. Still, those that survive combat have often been patched a great many times often with more modern composites and alloys than the fighters used originally.

As far as weaponry, the Starling carries the same 10 mm electromagnetic rail guns as the Tiger IV. The rail guns were designed to be both simple and easy to maintain. Still, the rail guns are much larger than modern gravity rail guns and comparatively short ranged. Compared to the Tiger IV, the Starling carries a bit less ammunition, a total of sixteen hundred rounds vice two thousand rounds for each rail gun.

In the centerline of the light fighter, the Starling can carry a single capital missile. None of the wing / side mounts are strengthened for the anti-ship missiles. Inner wing, there are two missile hard points which are rated for a single long range missile. Finally, there are outer wing hard points which are rated for a pair of medium range missile. In most cases, a mixture of lighter ordnance can also be carried. There was a special lighter mini-missile pack developed for the Starling which could be mounted in place of the long range missiles.

fighter was retained in the Human Alliance Military after being retired from front line service. The packs were never produced in large numbers.

Trainer versions of the fighter remove the rail guns and the missile hard points. In place of the guns, the fighter general mount a camera system to record hits. Modification also includes modify the cockpit for two crew. Many trainers also have the auxiliary thruster removed. Since not many fighters mount the thruster, it was not seen as needed and simply increased maintenance on the fighter.

This fighter / trainer uses modified starship speeds and weapon ranges. See Revised Starship Rules for Phase World for more details.

Model Type:


Starling Light Fighter


Starling Light Trainer

Vehicle Type: Light Fighter / Light Trainer



One (Pilot)


Two (Student and Instructor)

M.D.C. By Location:

10 mm Electromagnetic Rail Guns (2, Nose):

25 each

Missile Hard Points (5, on the Underside):

5 each

[1] Wings (2):

120 each

[2] Auxiliary Engine


[3] Main Body:


Cockpit / Reinforced Pilot’s Compartment:



[1] Destroying a wing will cause the fighter to crash if it is flying within an atmosphere. Destruction of a wing has no effect on flight / propulsion in space.

[2] If the auxiliary engine is destroyed, the ship’s acceleration is reduced to 1.0 percent of light per turn.

[3] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will put the starfighter out of commission. All internal systems will shut down, including life support and internal gravity. The fighter itself will be an unsalvageable floating wreck.


Driving on the Ground: Not Possible.

Sublight: Has a special sublight engine that allows the ship to travel up to 20 percent of the speed of light (some have had their particle shields upgraded to allow for speeds up to 40% of the speed of light). Fighter can accelerate/decelerate at the rate of 1.0 percent of light per melee maximum. Fighter has auxiliary thrusters which can be used a maximum of 15 minutes before fuel is exhausted. On auxiliary thrusters, the fighter has a maximum acceleration of 1.4 percent of light per melee maximum.

Atmospheric Propulsion: Maximum normal speed is Mach 5.5 (4,078.0 mph / 6,562.9 kph), can enter and leave atmosphere because flight system is by contra grav. Missiles on hard points reduces performance to Mach 4 (2,965.8 mph / 4,773.0 kph) in an atmosphere.

Maximum Range: Effectively unlimited by internal fuel (4 year duration) although auxiliary thruster range is limited to approximately 15 minutes. Fighter uses a fusion cell system for power systems. The fighter carries eight days of consumables for fighter’s crew.

Statistical Data:

Length: 35.76 feet (10.9 meters).

Height: 13.78 feet (4.2 meters).

Width: 26.90 feet (8.2 meters) wings folded and 34.45 feet (10.5 meter) wings unfolded

Weight: 6.83 tons (6.2 metric tons) unloaded and 10.36 tons (9.4 metric tons) fully loaded.

Power System: Fusion power supply with a 4 year duration.

Cargo: Minimal Storage Space, place for a rifle, handgun, small survival kit, signal flares, and food rations.

Market Cost: 12.5 million credits for a fighter in reasonably good condition. Poorly maintained fighters can sell for as low as around 8 million credits. Well maintained, unarmed trainer versions cost around 10.5 million credits with the auxiliary thruster and around 9.5 million credits without the auxiliary thruster. (Fighter is no longer being produced.)


  1. Two (2) 10 mm Electromagnetic Nose Mounted Rail Guns: Mounted on the nose of the fighter. Unlike rail-guns mounted on most newer Three Galaxies / Phase World star fighters, the rail guns work through the use of electromagnets instead of through gravity. The rail guns still fire projectiles at incredible velocities compared to rail guns on Rifts Earth and projectiles are fired from rail guns at a significant fraction fraction of the speed of light in space and when used in an atmosphere are fired at a slower but still at hypersonic speeds. It is used as an anti-Starfighter and missile weapon and against targets that are impervious to energy. Both rail guns generally fire together.

    Maximum Effective Range: 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) in an atmosphere and 150 miles (240 km) in space.

    Mega Damage: Both rail guns firing together (40 rounds) inflicts 4D4x10+20 M.D.C. Single rail gun (20 rounds) inflicts 2D4x10+10 M.D.C., one round inflicts 2D6+2 M.D.

    Rate of Fire: Equal to the pilot’s combined hand to hand (usually 4 or 5) - firing both rail guns together costs one attack.

    Payload: 1,600 Rounds (80 Bursts) each rail gun (1,600 rounds total.)

  2. Five (5) Hard Points: The fighter has a total of eight hard points which can mount missiles or mini-missile pods. The fighter has one hard point in the center of the fuselage, one on each wing in a inner wing position, and a single one on the outer wing position of each wing. Individual hard points must carry all the same type ordnance but each hard points may carry different types of ordnance.

    Centerline Hard Points (2): One Cruise Missile, two Long Range Missile or four Medium Range Missile each.

    Inner Wing Hard Points (2): One “Light” Mini-Missile Pod, one Long Range Missile or two Medium Range Missile each.

    Outer Wing Hard Points (2): Two Medium Range Missile each.

    1. Missiles: Cruise missile are normally carried when on an anti-capital ship role and long and medium range missiles when fighting other starfighters. Cruise Missiles have a top speed of Mach 25 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 10% of light per turn (far faster than any starship.) Long Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 20 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 8% of light per turn (faster than any starship.) Medium Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 15 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 6% of light per turn. Whether weapons can be shot down is calculated from the speed of target, launcher, and missile. When drive goes dead, missile will continue to travel in a straight line unless set to self destruct but has very low odds of hitting starships (Great for hitting bases and planets because target does not move and missile when dead at -25% to detect.) Cruise missiles have minuses to hit small targets but are all considered smart missiles. Missiles can be launched on multiple targets simultaneously.

      Maximum Effective Range: Cruise Missile range is 8,000 miles (12,875 km) in an atmosphere and 4,000,000 miles (6,437,376 km/ 21.5 light seconds) in space, Long Range Missile range is 3,400 miles (5,470 km) in an atmosphere and 1,800,000 miles (2,897,000 km/9.7 light seconds) in space, and Medium Range Missile range is 160 miles (257.5 km) in an atmosphere and 80,000 miles (128,750 km/0.43 light seconds) in space.

      Mega-Damage & Properties: See Revised revised Phase World missile tables for details (Cruise Anti-Matter warheads inflict 4D6x100 M.D.C. each and Long Range Fusion warheads inflict 2D4x100 M.D.C. each.)

      Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2) missiles.

      Payload: Varies by hard point.

    2. “Light” Mini-Missile Pod: In place of long range missiles, two pods of mini missiles can be mounted on the “wings” of the starfighter that can be used against ground targets, infantry, and against starships. Missile has a top speed of Mach 10 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 2% of light per turn (slightly faster than any starship except if it is exceeding it maximum safe acceleration). Mini-Missile in the Phase World setting are normally guided.

      Maximum Effective Range: Mini-Missile range is 2 miles (3.2 km) in an atmosphere and 100 miles (161 km) in space.

      Mega Damage: Varies with mini-missile types (See Revised revised Phase World missile tables for details.)

      Rate of Fire: Each pod can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), or four (4), and can be linked with other mini missile pods for greater number of missiles (Counts as one attack no matter how many missiles in a volley)

      Payload: Each pod carries 8 mini-missiles (16 mini-missiles maximum)

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2013, Kitsune. All rights reserved.