- "Remind me why it took so goddamned long for this thing to enter service."
- —Captain Marcus Snow, OMDF, referring to the F/A-19A Tomcat II c.2013
The F/A-19A Tomcat II was a product of the Advanced Strike Fighter program of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which is best known for producing Osea's premier fighter, the F-22A Raptor, along with the lesser-known but still deadly YF-23A Black Widow II. Few are aware, however, that the Osean Navy, later the Osean Maritime Defense Force, was involved in the project as well, with their aircraft intended to replace some of their F-14A and B Tomcats, while the remainder would be upgraded to F-14D standard. Plagued with problems in development ranging from technical difficulties to bureaucratic red tape, the story behind this aircraft is often used as a shining example of how NOT to develop a next-generation fighter aircraft.
Early Development (1987-1994)
The Advanced Strike Fighter program was first announced in 1987, with the intent to create new fighters to counter the latest in Yuktobanian fighter aircraft, the Su-37 in particular. Initially, proposals were fairly modest, consisting of upgrades to existing designs, such as the F-15S/MTD (originally a technology demonstrator, then pressed into service with the Osean Air Force as an interim fighter), but in 1991, before any serious development could begin, Osean intelligence discovered that the Yuktobanians were working on even more advanced aircraft barely a year after the Su-37's introduction, a pair of next-generation stealth fighters known at the time as project MFI (this later yielded the MiG-1.44 and the Su-47). Because of this, the requirements were revised again, and top priority was given to development of new fighter aircraft to counter them, particularly when it was discovered that the neighboring country of Belka had acquired some of the first production Su-47s for several of their elite fighter squadrons. Eager not to lose the contract to the Yuktobanians entirely, Osea rushed the F-22 and F-35 into production, as it was the closest to being a viable fighter aircraft. This left the Navy without a fighter, and it was decided that the F-22 wasn't adequate for the Navy's needs in the strike fighter role, and so they continued development of their own fighter. Unfortunately, the development of the aircraft was put on hold in 1994 when Belka started to invade its neighbors, as all resources were poured into getting Osea's war machine into motion.
Delay after Delay (1995-2013)
The Belkan War ensured that development of new craft would be put on hold until the war was over, but much to the Navy's dismay, the F-22's stellar performance on both sides of the war led the Osean government to consider another fifth-generation fighter to be unnecessary. The Navy had the F-35C, but it wasn't available in the numbers that they needed, and it was sorely lacking in the air superiority role. The major cuts to the defense budget didn't help matters either, due to a new wave of pacifism washing over the nation and leading to an era of disarmament, and the reorganization of the military into a purely defensive force. With all of these factors combined, development of the new fighter ground to a halt.
This continued until 2001, when the Federal Republic of Erusea contacted North Osea Grunder Industries, having apparently heard of the Naval ASF and expressing interest in the project. They provided funds to continue development of the aircraft...for all of a couple of years, until they were forced to cancel it again because of a crisis created by the impact of fragments of the Ulysses asteroid. This put development on hold yet again, or so it seemed (Erusean industrial spies stole some of the data from North Osea Grunder Industries on the project, and incorporated some of the data, along with data from their own XFA-27, into the aircraft that eventually became the X-02 Wyvern).
At this point, North Osea Grunder Industries continued development under the orders of the Gray Men, to create a new fighter to equip Belka's Navy once Osea and Yuktobania had been dealt with, although it was made clear that it was to be an interim project until the ADF project reached its final stage and would be ready for production. With this funding, a new fighter, codenamed "Kormorant", was successfully built, and first flew on December 1st, 2011. The aircraft was kept airworthy up to the end of the Circum-Pacific War, when the prototype was found by Osean troops in the Grunder Industries plant in Sudentor during the final stages of the conflict. With most of the work done for them, President Vincent Harling reluctantly gave the go-ahead to carry on development from where Grunder Industries had left off, and thus the new fighter, now redesignated the YF-19, began trials with the Osean Maritime Defense Force in 2013. After a few more months, the aircraft entered service as the F/A-19A Tomcat II.
- F/A-19A: Standard variant, used by Osea
- F/A-19B: Export variant for Belka and Emmeria
- F/A-19B-2: Belkan upgrade to the F/A-19B, optimizing it for the air superiority role. Used extensively in the Second Osean Continental War
- F/A-19C: Modified F/A-19 used by the Armed Antarctic Alliance during the Antarctic War of 2019. Adapted for service in extreme temperatures.
- F/A-19E: Upgrade to existing F/A-19As in Osean service
- F/A-19F: Experimental variant fitted with v1.0 COFFIN
- F/A-19G: Production variant with v2.0 COFFIN, used by the General Resource Limited Defense Force