ROBOTECH Technical Files
by Pieter Thomassen, with Peter Walker


Pioneer Class Super Dimensional Fortress (SDF)

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SDF-3 Pioneer
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Name and disposition:

SDF-3   Pioneer  2023  Missing 2044  

The Pioneer was built in the Robotech Repair Factory.

Ship's complement:

Note: a far larger number of personnel could be carried in temporary embarkations. The SDF-3 was capable of providing life support for almost a million humans for three weeks, though in crowded and unsanitary conditions.


Propulsion systems:

Endurance and mobility limits:

Weapon systems:

Air group and mecha complement:

Fleet Air Arm

Planetary Forces mecha (in storage hangars))

Individual infantry and pilot emergency vehicles (from 2029 onwards)

Electronic and special purpose systems:

Design notes:

The SDF-3 Pioneer was primarily designed to be the flagship for the Terran expedition, named after the SDF-3 as the Pioneer Mission, to achieve a peace treaty with the Robotech Masters, or, alternatively, to ensure that the next Robotech War would be fought thousands of light-years away from Earth. As such, it would be necessary to open talks with the Tirolians. This would be difficult, since, according to Zentraedi descriptions, that race had become, after many centuries of war, prone to shoot first and sift through the wreckage later.

To approach the Masters, it was decided that the SDF-3 would have to appear as normal as possible to the Masters, at least until messages rather than weapon salvos were exchanged. Thus, the decision was made to model the exterior characteristics of the SDF-3 not on the rare Macross-class of battle-fortress, but on the Sian Dereta-class of improved monitor, a Border Fleet design. It was hoped the Masters would be more trusting of a ship they believed was under the command of some of their clone Triumvirates. The internals of the SDF-3 were however not based on the Border Fleet vessel, but were newly designed by the Robotech Defense Forces, to as advanced a technological standard as Earth was capable of. At that time, the technological standard of Earth was based on the Macross's systems, which had by now been mostly deciphered. The SDF-3 was first constructed with only a light exterior hull. Once completed, exterior hull plates scavenged from Zentraedi ships were mounted on the Pioneer, giving the ship an almost authentic exterior.

As designed, the central hull section, which served the same function as the central hull section of the Macross (although the Sian Dereta, and by extension the SDF-3, were not transformable in nature) was the smallest, most important and best shielded part of the ship. It was flanked by the two engine sections, which contained the reaction engines and most of the special equipment on the SDF-3. These three sections were all mounted behind the twin cannon booms, receiving additional protection. The two engine sections were themselves shielded by what were dubbed the 'outriggers' of the ship; large and heavily armored outer hull sections flanking the engine sections. These outriggers contained several laser turrets and long range sensors. On top of the SDF-3 was a conning tower, a rather low and stretched-out design compared with the conning tower of the refitted SDF-1 Macross. It contained the navigation bridge and several key sensor installations.

An unique feature of the Sian Dereta class were its twin Reflex Cannons. As the original Zentraedi vessel was designed for the Border Fleets, and thus to operate for extended periods without external maintenance, two Reflex Cannons were provided in order to save wear and tear on a single cannon by repeated firings. In addition, the two cannons could be fired in sequence, giving the Sian Dereta the power of two Monitors -- though only for one salvo as the ships could not recharge more than one cannon at a time. As a near copy of the Sian Dereta class, the Pioneer also carried twin Reflex Cannons. After the numerous, and at most inconvenient moments, failures of the single Reflex cannon on the SDF-1, this was another reason for the Terrans to choose the Sian Dereta template, as it would ensure that at least one cannon was operational. However, as the Tirolians found the advantages of twin cannons specious, so did the Terrans find that their new designs for Reflex cannons were more reliable and robust than expected, and later battlefortresses reverted again to a single Reflex Cannon.

As stated above, the capabilities and internal systems of the SDF-3 differed considerably of those of the Sian Dereta. The Reflex cannons on the Macross class were more powerful and smaller than those on the Sian Dereta, and the Macross-style Reflex cannon had to be slightly redesigned so as to conform to the resulting longer beam-generation area, as well as to the fact that the inner sections of the cannon booms no longer rotated. The additional space between each cannon and the outer shell was partly filled with four large particle beam cannons. These four were mounted in the outer forward corners of the cannon booms. Another six, for a total of ten, were mounted in the normal Sian Dereta heavy weapon mountings; four on the engine pods and two in the dorsal main cannon booms. The ubiquitous Zentraedi laser turrets of the Sian Dereta were replaced with a Terrestrial two-barrel design, also used on the other ships of the fleet, with a higher rate of fire and a larger yield. The missile batteries too were fully Terran in design. In addition to this heavy weapons suite, about as powerful as on a Zentraedi Flagship, the SDF-3 carried a 1330 Naval fighters, and had space for a large contingent of Planetary Forces troops and mecha. In effect, the SDF-3 combined the capabilities of the Tokugawa-class carrier version with those of the Tokugawa class landing ship version. Unfortunately, there was insufficient hangar space to allow the Planetary Forces mecha to operate from the SDF-3 as additions to the Fleet Air Arm group. The SDF-3 had one of the best balanced fighting groups in the Terran Robotech Forces, not to mention the most powerful.


The Pioneer was completed in December 2022, and soon folded for what was thought to be Tirol with most of the Home Fleet of that time. Upon defold in the Oort cloud of their target, the Pioneer left its obviously non-Tirolian fleet trailing behind and proceeded to the target planet. However, it soon became apparent that the target system was not Vallivarre, and that the position of Tirol was still unknown. The Expeditionary Forces were then reinforced with the needed logistic train and personel to sustain their search for at least a decade. This in effect created a mobile colony of humans and Zentraedi away from Earth, another reason for the large number of personel transferred.

During the next seven years, the Pioneer was worked hard in the front lines of the Expeditionary Forces reconnaissance missions, and several times the ship was damaged in combat. In early 2029 she paid off for a nine month, long overdue, yard availability period for refit and modernisation. However, it was discovered that repeated, multiple folds in combination with neglected action damage had caused tears and cracking in the primary structural hull members, and repair would last an additional nine months. It was during this period, with the most powerfull Terran ship in dock, that the Robotech Masters arrived at Earth. Priority was then given to the ships that could be finished in time to contribute in the war, and the Pioneer was consequently not ready for action again until several months after the Invid invasion of Earth.

The military situation of that moment precluded the Pioneer from folding to Earth, and the battlefortress served as the core of the fleet that warred against the Invid in deep space. This lasted until 2043, when the Pioneer was refitted again and equipped with Shadow cloaking technology. In 2045 she folded from Space Starion Equality to Earth, as the flagship for the final offensive against the Invid. however, she never arrived at her destination, and was listed several weeks later as missing. Several investigations in the performed refit, centering on the work on the fold engines, have been held, but none has given any conclusive answer as to what has become of her.

See additional design notes.

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Content by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker
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Copyright © 2001, 1999 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker