Advanced Tactical Assault Fighter
The ATAF is a CSN starfighter.
The Advanced Tactical Assault Fighter (ATAF) is the single most powerful single-seat starfighter in existence. Only five have so far been manufactured owing to their tremendous development costs (each one said to be on par with a carrier). Their existence and even those selected to participate in the training program have been a closely guarded secret within the CSN. It is the spiritual successor to the TAF upon which a great deal of its design was based.
The Honour of the Knights
3 teams of five pilots were chosen by the CSN to participate in a simulated evaluation program of the five fighters, with the team succeeding in the graded tests going on to pilot the craft in real world scenarios.
On June 13th 2617, the ATAFs were taken to the Aster system on board Griffin, where Elliott Parks intended on putting them through their paces against the enemy forces. During the course of Operation Menelaus (and in the events proceeding it), the ATAFs were proven to out perform all other fighter craft on the field.
Additionally, their strong defensive capabilities were proven when an Imperial Sphinx fighter collided head-on with an ATAF piloted by Kelly Taylor. The Sphinx was destroyed, whilst the ATAF survived without even suffering lose of its shielding.
As well as their armaments, each ATAF was shown to be fitted with a cloaking device, enabling the fighter to be hidden from both visual and electronic detection. This feature was taken advantage of by the White Knights as they travelled through the Phylent system, to Arlos starport.
Simon Dodds raised concerns about the craft, believing it not to be the next generation of starfighter, but seemingly to have been built for a specific purpose. These views, however, were not shared by his wingmates.
The Third Side
The ATAFs were aboard Ifrit when the carrier was shot down over Mythos, in the Coyote system. The White Knights, the pilots, escaped before the ship went down and Christian Hail, the captain, sealed the five starfighters in the carrier's hold. Upon hearing that Ifrit had been lost, Elliott Parks and Amanda Jenkins made immediate plans to salvage them.
The ATAFs became one of the principle reasons for the CSN's need to get to the Coyote system as soon as possible. They were eventually salvaged from the bottom of the Tanis sea, after the CSN were able to get down onto the surface of Mythos, following a difficult battle with a significant Pandoran force around the planet.
Simon Dodds became suspicious of the true intentions of the ATAFs after the combined forces of the CSN, UNF, MTG and other members of the Coalition of Independent Armed Forces staged an intense battle to rescue Kelly Taylor and Enrique Todd from confinement (utilizing hundreds of soldiers and pieces of hardware, for the sake of just two people). Natalia Grace went on to reveal the true destiny of the ATAFs - to act as the main component in Operation Sudarberg, transporting the Tachyon Star Bombs to their designated targets.
The ATAF was ultimately designed as a delivery system, and not a starfighter (although it had been filed as one, in case the Pandoran army should gain wind as to their true purpose). Every aspect of the craft had been created and implemented with the end goal in mind: the cloaking system to protect it from enemy detection, whilst transporting the TSB; the overloaded weapons systems, to enable it to defend itself during the chance of an engagement; enhanced shielding systems, for extra defence. Jump drives, however, were not factored in, as the ATAF was not intended to survive the delivery (and neither was the pilot).
The Attribute of the Strong
Throughout the Pandoran's campaign, the ATAFs remained the single most powerful weapon in the allied forces' arsenal, and the most powerful weapon available in the war (second only to Dragon's anti-matter cannon). The White Knights continued to act as the pilots during the invasion of the Independent and Helios systems.
After phase one of Black Widow, the ATAFs were dispatched to investigate the debris of the Pandoran fleet that had arrived in Temper. Cloaked, the fighters surveyed the scene, before they then began to destroy the remains. During the disastrous phase two of Black Widow, the ATAFs were pushed to the brink of their defences, each pilot almost losing their shields to the onslaught of attacks from the ambushing Pandoran attackers. The five fighters fled the Adetton system with Griffin, Leviathan, and other major warships.
In the years that followed, the ATAFs' cloaking devices gradually fell out of use as the war escalated, the constant fluxing of the shields as the fighters both fired and their shields took hits rendering them largely useless.
Parks took three of the ATAFs to the allied forces' front line, in an attempt to fight the advancing Pandoran fleet, leaving two behind the defend the inner systems. When Kelly Taylor lost her family and was removed from duty for a month, there were many volunteer to take on her responsibility as a pilot. All the offers were rejected, the CSN not willing to risk the fighters being stolen.
Simon Dodds eventually fulfilled the ATAFs' destiny, delivering a TSB to CSN Dragon and destroying the battleship in a similar manner to that which had originally been intended for the five stars in Mitikas space.