While the SA-128S can be controlled in virtually any circumstances, these are a few of the more efficient strategies for its operation. These modes can easily be switched in-flight. This allows fighter operation to adapt to the situation that they are placed in.
The simplest configuration. A single pilot operates the entire fighter by himself. This is identical to the operation of the SA-23s, allowing experienced pilots to quickly move over. This is not the optimal configuration, however. With the number of independent weapons it takes a lot more concentration to operate this fighter. The computer can handle large numbers of the weapons very effectively, taking a large portion of the load off the pilot. With the automatic fire systems, the pilot can simply concentrate on the motion of the fighter, target prioritization and missile fire. This system provides a pilot with the ability to operate the fighter when two pilots are not available. It also allows a Phantom fighter to shuttle a civilian in the second seat.
The first pilot operates the fighters absolute motion (ie changing the inertial frame of reference, chasing fighters, etc). He also controls missile target locking and missile fire. The second pilot takes care of the relative motion (ie small motion inside the inertial FoR) as well as the conventional weapons. He selects the direction the fighter is pointing and selected canons. The remainder of the canons are controlled by the targeting computer and provide cover fire. This allows pilots not to be distracted by worrying about two types of motion. It also ensures that the relative pilot can optimally target the weapons on the ship.
A more conventional approach is that of the pilot/weapons combination. The first pilot controls the ships motions, both absolute and relative, while the second controls all of the weapons. This requires an extremely adept pilot and good cooperation between the two pilots. It also gives the weapons operator more focus on targeting and fire. This allows him to work more of the weapons. While this allows more weapons control, the weapons operator cannot assure that the fighter is positioned optimally for assault. This method is best in situations with extremely high enemy-to-friendly ratios, when extensive manual targeting is necessary.
In this strategy, the primary pilot controls the complete motion of the fighter as well as the defensive fire. The secondary monitors weapons charging and sensors and controls the heavy weapons (two modular bays and accelerator canons). He also manages MPX burst reception and communications with command ships. His objective is to select large targets on capital ships, stations etc. This strategy is primarily a bombing run one. Waves of fighters using this command structure fly in toward large ships. The primary fights off enemy fighters, gets in close and provides cover fire. The secondary finds targets, discharges the weapons and then orchestrates a recharge of the CBPU for another run.
The sophisticated computer systems onboard the Phantom fighter provide the system with more than enough capacity to fight alone. Using advanced artificial intelligence, these systems can guide a fighter to operate quite effectively. It lacks the impulse and intelligence of a human pilot, however it can track and follow more targets faster than any human. When run in this mode the life support and cockpit units can be replaced with additional fuel cells, providing more power and/or longer run times than manned fighters. The life support module can also be replaced with additional missile storage. This allows an unmanned fighter 'drone' to be a formidable weapon. It also allows drones to go into situations where human pilots can't go. It allows these fighters to provide strategies like kamikaze assaults.
Remote Operation Mode
The final method of operation. This allows pilots to operate the fighters from the capital ships or positions even further away. The fighters are controlled via laser grids. The command vessel fires coded laser signals to all fighters in the line of sight. Each fighter then relays beams to all fighters within line of sight of it. Laser signals are precise point to point and can't be picked up unless the signal is interrupted, in which case the signal is cut and the fighters go to automatic mode until a new secure signal can be established. This allows all of the advantages of the automatic operation along with those of manual operation. Fighters can also be controlled by more 'pilots' or more powerful computers. The pilots can also be dynamically reallocated to key fighters. This allows fleets to loose fighters but not pilots while still making use of their skills. This mode is only suggested for high risk situations, as the risk of transmission interruption could cause problems in critical