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Post Reply Is it possible to make a Variable Fighter with today's tech?
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Posted 7/14/08
Mixtech and I were talking a little about this and basically, it's come down to this.

Is it possible to construct a Variable Fighter with today's modern-day technology? Nevermind the VF-25 Messiah, let's start with the basic of the basics - the VF-1 Valkyrie.

Some basic stats on the VF-1 Valkryie (pulled from the Macross Compendium):

VF-1 Valkryie: (All-regime variable fighter and tactical combat battroid)
Design Features:

Variable Wing
VTOL Capability
4x Mobility of Destroid SPARTAN
Single Axis Thrust Vectoring
2x Shinnasaku Heavy Industry Thermonuclear Reaction Turbine Engines providing 25400 pounds of thrust each
At least 20 vernier thrusters for movement in space
Canopy HUD
Various Radio Antennas
AWG-20 radar FCS
Head Turret Mounted Hybrid Sensor / TV Eye
Combat Computer
Engine Control System
Fire Control System
Anti-Aircraft Laser Cannon mounted on head
55mm 3 barrel gattling gun pod, firing 200 rounds at 1200 rounds per minute
Fuselage reported to be tougher than a tank due to overtechnology

In comparison, I present to you, the F-22 Raptor, the most advanced fighter plane in the world currently.

F-22 Raptor: (Stealh Superiority Fighter)
Design features:

2x F119 PW 100 Afterburning turbofan engines, capable of thrust vectoring, providing 35000 pounds of thrust each.
BAE Systems E&IS radar warning receiver AN/ALR-94 (passive receiver system)
Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar AN/APG-77 (capable of overloading enemy radar sensors)
1x20mm Vulcan gattling gun, 480 rounds
Air-To-Air Missiles in Internal bays (so as to not disrupt it's stealth capabilities)
Passive Stealth
Unit Cost: US$137 Million.

My verdict on this matter is that it is not actually possible to create a variable fighter based on current technology. Reasons Below:

1. Power Plant: The main issue, the powerplant are thermonuclear engines. Obviously their output power is higher than the F-22 raptor's despite the stats, because the anime was created in 1980 when 25000 pounds of thrust was unbelievable. The VF-0 Phoenix also used traditional fuel engines but had a very short service range. However it's my firm belief that to operate a machine that can transform in the atmosphere requires a high amount of power. Current technology can't provide that sort of power, save for perhaps thermonuclear fusion power, which hasn't been invented yet.

2. Transformable: Another issue that I have is the transformable ability of the VF-1. The F-22 Raptor is already packed full of stuff that's required. There's no way that there is enough space for several dozen servomotors to transform it into a battroid.

3. Density of exterior: The VF-1 is reputedly as tough as a tank. In the anime, the VF-1 repeatedly crashes into buildings and still survives, and can even fly. You can't do that with the F-22. It chips something, its gone. The tough tanklike exterior comes from overtechnology. It's not something we can achieve with current technology, without making the VF weigh like 50 tons. The F-22 itself weighs 19 tons without arnament.

4. Dexterity: In real life, we're struggling to make robots that are dextrous and speedy enough to perform everyday tasks. The VF-1 can engage in a 50-foot tall Zentraedi warrior in hand to hand combat, and not just punching either, but also throws, kicks, and trips. In addition to this, the VF-1 can also perform fine motor movements such as putting on a Zentraedi uniform (Max Jenius did this once), and grabbing civillians without crushing them.

In my opinion? No. Can't be done on modern technology. Give it 30 or 50 more years, unless a big alien ship with easily reverse engineerable technology appears.
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Posted 7/14/08
Perhaps with the Powerplant, armor and other components aside, it just might be feasible to create a functioning Variable Fighter that can transform itself from Fighter mode to Gladiator mode but it might only be able to perform such in mid-air (but even then it might lose stability and end-up crashing) An initial powerplant alternative could probably be the current Hydrogen engine. Although it might have to be extensively modified to increase its power output. Perhaps a hybrid is foreseeable.

As far as dexterity is concerned, I would think that humanity is capable of engineering humanoid arm manipulators. Honda and Mitsubishi have created pretty good robotic arms controlled by human hands.

In regards to new metals/alloys, scientists have began looking into what they call "memory metals" which could have a number of potential applications. As armor technology continues to improve, I suppose using something akin to the construct of a bulletproof vest is feasible. If scientists could find something more durable than Kevlar and use layering and laminating technologies, then they just might create some kind of sturdy armor that's light-weight.
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Posted 7/14/08
I give it 300 to 500 yrs to attained that kind of technology ^__^
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I don't think it would be possible. Even if the aircraft survived the transformation without ripping itself apart, the sudden change of its aerodynamic profile would most likely send it hurtling toward the ground like a brick. Many fighter craft today are inherently unstable as it is (eg. F/A-18). Making an aerodynamically feasible VF would require a revolution in aerospace and computer technology in my opinion... but I'm not an aerospace engineer, so this is all speculation!
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Posted 7/14/08 , edited 7/14/08
Honestly, I don't see building a Veritech fighter as being impossible with today's technology....BUT I doubt that it would perform the same as a VF-1, nor do I think that such a craft would be pilot-able by anything other than a computer system. That said, it would also easily put the price tag on a F-22 or a JSF to shame...Anyways, that said, let me go into my speculation on what the biggest problems to overcome would be...

1) Powerplant: As already stated, a VF with its added bulk (armor, servo motors, and such for GERWALK and Battroid modes) would require a rather substantial propulsion system to still perform the way that one would hope for it to perform. I don't see this particular portion as being a problem...There are various forms of engines in existence that could serve one portion of each of the necessary roles. A conventional turbofan could serve the majority of atmospheric flight role, as with today's technology (afterburners and all) this could generate a large enough amount of thrust to keep a VF operating in an atmosphere. RAM jet, SCRAM jet, or pulse detonation would serve for high altitude / high speed flight, even reaching into space if an internal supply of oxygen and kerosene or hydrogen was used with a PDE. For most space flight, you could then have the craft switch over to an ion propulsion system (currently under development by NASA). Thrust vectoring is also a possibility and it exists to one degree or another on most of the world's top of the line fighters.

Now, that would give it essentially three different engine systems to deal with, adding weight and size to the craft. That and the need to find a way to make it operable for more than short periods of time would be a problem that engineers would have to work out, but in the end I still do think that you could make a fighter that would have the above propulsion capabilities...

2) Transformation: This is what I see as being one of the biggest problems. First of all, even if you did manage to cram in the necessary servomotors and such, and could get it to walk or fly, in-flight atmospheric transformation is pretty much out of the question. There really is one reason for this and that is the amount of force that would be exerted on the craft when it opens up in mid air. Also, the G-forces that a pilot would be subjected to in the near instantaneous deceleration would not be fun... >.< Think of it like when you are driving a convertible and you try to take the top down while driving...Now, transformation at slow speeds or in space might be plausible, but I highly doubt that you could get a smooth transformation in-flight at any significant speed that would not result in breaking the VF, blacking out the pilot, or crashing the VF...

3) Durability: It has already been addressed that this one would be a major issue. It would be quite easy to make a VF either lightweight and relatively weaker or to make it like a tank, but while adding significantly to its mass. Ideally, a VF would have to be made out of titanium, carbon composites, ceramics, and probably some form of exotic armor (silk steel from certain sci-fi realms comes to mind - practical application would be to take carbon fiber nanotubes and weave layer upon layer of a mesh-like material to create a lightweight, yet exceptionally strong and most likely VERY expensive armor).

4) Pilot Interface - Dexterity, Defense, ect: Again, this has already been pointed out as a problem, but I don't think that it is a problem for the same reason as the OP. Some modern robots are rather dexterous, BUT a VF is not a robot...The real problem that I see here is one of how to have the VF do what the pilot wants it to, the way the pilot wants it to. The problem that I see here is the interface between the pilot and the machine. How exactly are you going to control a VF that is not just a aerospace superiority fighter, but a transformable craft as well? How are you going to shoot down 20+ incoming missiles just by rapidly moving you eyes over them to target them? How are you going to control a VF so precisely that it is essentially an extension of your body, allowing you to fight in hand to hand combat, ect? THIS and this alone is what I see as being the biggest obstacle to surmount. My only solution to this is to develop a mind-machine interface that is currently far beyond what we currently have at our disposal. HOWEVER, the US military is currently researching a way of implementing invasive interfaces that would enhance the capabilities of combat troops (so at least the desire to further the technology is there)...

Conclusion: In short, I don't see it as being completely impossible with today's technology, but I do see it as being far from practical. I do believe though that it would definitely be within humanity's abilities within the next 50-100 years. If there is a desire for a VF and the money to back its development, there will be a VF developed in the 21st century. That said, though, I do believe that in many ways we are much closer to the practical development and fielding of a form of powered armor. Yes, think Starship Troopers and the Mobile Infantry, with their tank-like exoskeletons, jump jet capabilities, and immense firepower. In a sense, it is a similar concept to the Gundam/Battroid, just not nearly as large (though arguably equally powerful if it were to carry a rifle capable of launching small nukes, like it did in the book).

Anyways, to anyone who might think that timeline for my prediction is foolishly hopeful, let me just point out that at the turn of the 20th century, no one would have believed that tanks and planes and computers and robotics and many other technologies would have been possible any time in their near future. But the fact of the matter is that there were and still are some people who lived to see many of these technologies be developed in their very lifetimes...Human technology has been advancing at an ever accelerating rate and so just try to imagine what will be developed during this century. I'll bet you that it'll be beyond your wildest dreams... ^.^
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Posted 7/14/08
You make a compelling argument, sir.
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Posted 7/14/08
simple just discover Overtechnology and everything will make sense...
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Posted 7/15/08 , edited 7/15/08

sheighton wrote:

2) Transformation: There really is one reason for this and that is the amount of force that would be exerted on the craft when it opens up in mid air. Also, the G-forces that a pilot would be subjected to in the near instantaneous deceleration would not be fun... >.< Think of it like when you are driving a convertible and you try to take the top down while driving...Now, transformation at slow speeds or in space might be plausible, but I highly doubt that you could get a smooth transformation in-flight at any significant speed that would not result in breaking the VF, blacking out the pilot, or crashing the VF...

4) Pilot Interface - Dexterity, Defense, ect: The real problem that I see here is one of how to have the VF do what the pilot wants it to, the way the pilot wants it to. The problem that I see here is the interface between the pilot and the machine. How exactly are you going to control a VF that is not just a aerospace superiority fighter, but a transformable craft as well? How are you going to shoot down 20+ incoming missiles just by rapidly moving you eyes over them to target them? How are you going to control a VF so precisely that it is essentially an extension of your body, allowing you to fight in hand to hand combat, ect?


With regards to the transformation bit. Transformation would most likely be achievable but not instantaneously and definitely not in cruise speed but rather the pilot might have to slow down to a hover (Much like current VTOL planes like the Harrier Jump Jet and the X-35B but in all likelihood it might require more than just leg thrusters to to keep it aloft much less stable.

Current targeting systems already have the technology to lock-on to several objects using eye movements. The AH-64 Apache Helicopter utilizes this kind of technology and the newer RAH-66 Comanche most likely has this technology as well. Perhaps it would be feasible to make some of a Variable Fighter's technology but most of it is still quite far-fetched.
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Posted 7/15/08

mixtech wrote:


sheighton wrote:

2) Transformation: There really is one reason for this and that is the amount of force that would be exerted on the craft when it opens up in mid air. Also, the G-forces that a pilot would be subjected to in the near instantaneous deceleration would not be fun... >.< Think of it like when you are driving a convertible and you try to take the top down while driving...Now, transformation at slow speeds or in space might be plausible, but I highly doubt that you could get a smooth transformation in-flight at any significant speed that would not result in breaking the VF, blacking out the pilot, or crashing the VF...

4) Pilot Interface - Dexterity, Defense, ect: The real problem that I see here is one of how to have the VF do what the pilot wants it to, the way the pilot wants it to. The problem that I see here is the interface between the pilot and the machine. How exactly are you going to control a VF that is not just a aerospace superiority fighter, but a transformable craft as well? How are you going to shoot down 20+ incoming missiles just by rapidly moving you eyes over them to target them? How are you going to control a VF so precisely that it is essentially an extension of your body, allowing you to fight in hand to hand combat, ect?


With regards to the transformation bit. Transformation would most likely be achievable but not instantaneously and definitely not in cruise speed but rather the pilot might have to slow down to a hover (Much like current VTOL planes like the Harrier Jump Jet and the X-35B but in all likelihood it might require more than just leg thrusters to to keep it aloft much less stable.

My point was that you would not see the mid-flight transformations in an atmosphere...


Current targeting systems already have the technology to lock-on to several objects using eye movements. The AH-64 Apache Helicopter utilizes this kind of technology and the newer RAH-66 Comanche most likely has this technology as well. Perhaps it would be feasible to make some of a Variable Fighter's technology but most of it is still quite far-fetched.

As for the targeting system, the Apache has the gun tied to the gunner's helmet, but I do not know of any system that uses the human eye to lock targets. In addition to that, the Comanche no longer exists as a project - there are only a couple of prototypes, but as the project was canceled several years ago it is not likely to see a production model in the near future.

Could the US military have some advanced technologies up their sleeve that we don't know about and would this make a Veritech fighter closer to reality? Of course, its possible. I mean, none of us here know what classified technologies exist or are in development. But, the only way that anyone would know would be if they were to obtain a sufficient security clearance and the need to know, but then they would not be able to tell anyone anyways... ^.^
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Posted 7/15/08 , edited 7/15/08
Actually there is technology to do all of this in Macross concerning the VFs, especially the targeting system. (Computers can do anything and usually make things possible these days, if done with the right programming and the right nerds to write such programming.) The targeting system however is a simple matter, but also dangerous. (And the government/military has tons of technology they have not released to the public that is and is not in use, depending on what they favor. The problem is time, money, business/manufacturing, and the purpose for using such technology.) As far as the transformation capabilities, it is correct that the G-force factors will be a problem -- actually it will kill if not critically injure the pilot, simply because of momentum. Our flesh will work against us under such conditions, having scrambled brains and displaced blood and other biological complications, but this would only be a problem within an atmosphere/planet gravity as others have stated before this quote. The transformation capabilities, it would seem, could work best in a zero-gravity environment where G-force has little to no ruling factors in flight and pilot safety. As far as the speed of the transformation -- yes it would be slow even in space, but also there needs to be some kind of powerful energy source strong enough to exert the power necessary to shift those movable and transformable parts so rapidly (and do it without getting blown out of space by aliens )

But yes, it is all possible. in history, it was thought impossible for humans to fly in the first place. now we travel in jets and airplanes. We thought it was impossible to have light without fire and candles and torches and lamps, and now we have electric companies. It was thought impossible to travel in space above the planet, and now we have NASA and space shuttles. Just about anything humans put their mind to becomes possible. 'When there is a will, there is a way.'
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Posted 7/15/08 , edited 7/17/08
Some comments:

On Transformation:

What's being effectively argued here is that in-flight transformations will be impossible due to durability issues. Travelling at cruising speed and transforming would effectivly rip the mecha apart (using current technology). This is because of such a rapid and drastic change to the craft's flight profile, effectively creating a lot of drag. An analogy, although a bad one, is where you're in a rapid stream, trying to wade through it. You'll get swept away because you're providing resistance against the stream. Unless the durability of the mecha is improved (especially the servomotor joints), then in-atmospheric flight is suicide.

Sleighton has also mentioned that in-flight transformation will be impossible on the pilot due to G-Forces present during deceleration. When the flight profile of the craft is radically altered while in-flight, a tremendous amount of drag will effectively cause a huge amount of deceleration. As of such the pilot is likely to either pass out or become reduced to a pile of goo during the process.

On G-Forces:

I'm not a scientist, but it's to my understanding that G-Force is not reliant on the planet's gravitational effects, but rather it is the effect simulating gravity caused by acceleration and deceleration. It is measured using the planet's gravitational acceleration. 1G is 10m/s, while 3G is 30m/s. As of such G-Force will continue to apply even in space, so long as there is acceleration and deceleration. The human body will still feel G-Force badly even in space.

I'm not saying that creating a VF is impossible. I'm saying that it's just impossible with modern technology. I said 30-50 years to get that sort of technology. It's probably a bit fast, but at the rate technology is improving, perhaps 30-50 years isn't that long after all. But that's just the minimum amount of technology. Still will have a long way to go before having the ability to just put it into production.
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Posted 7/15/08

brennan wrote:

Mixtech and I were talking a little about this and basically, it's come down to this.

Is it possible to construct a Variable Fighter with today's modern-day technology? Nevermind the VF-25 Messiah, let's start with the basic of the basics - the VF-1 Valkyrie.

Some basic stats on the VF-1 Valkryie (pulled from the Macross Compendium):

VF-1 Valkryie: (All-regime variable fighter and tactical combat battroid)
Design Features:

Variable Wing
VTOL Capability
4x Mobility of Destroid SPARTAN
Single Axis Thrust Vectoring
2x Shinnasaku Heavy Industry Thermonuclear Reaction Turbine Engines providing 25400 pounds of thrust each
At least 20 vernier thrusters for movement in space
Canopy HUD
Various Radio Antennas
AWG-20 radar FCS
Head Turret Mounted Hybrid Sensor / TV Eye
Combat Computer
Engine Control System
Fire Control System
Anti-Aircraft Laser Cannon mounted on head
55mm 3 barrel gattling gun pod, firing 200 rounds at 1200 rounds per minute
Fuselage reported to be tougher than a tank due to overtechnology

In comparison, I present to you, the F-22 Raptor, the most advanced fighter plane in the world currently.

F-22 Raptor: (Stealh Superiority Fighter)
Design features:

2x F119 PW 100 Afterburning turbofan engines, capable of thrust vectoring, providing 35000 pounds of thrust each.
BAE Systems E&IS radar warning receiver AN/ALR-94 (passive receiver system)
Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar AN/APG-77 (capable of overloading enemy radar sensors)
1x20mm Vulcan gattling gun, 480 rounds
Air-To-Air Missiles in Internal bays (so as to not disrupt it's stealth capabilities)
Passive Stealth
Unit Cost: US$137 Million.

My verdict on this matter is that it is not actually possible to create a variable fighter based on current technology. Reasons Below:

1. Power Plant: The main issue, the powerplant are thermonuclear engines. Obviously their output power is higher than the F-22 raptor's despite the stats, because the anime was created in 1980 when 25000 pounds of thrust was unbelievable. The VF-0 Phoenix also used traditional fuel engines but had a very short service range. However it's my firm belief that to operate a machine that can transform in the atmosphere requires a high amount of power. Current technology can't provide that sort of power, save for perhaps thermonuclear fusion power, which hasn't been invented yet.

2. Transformable: Another issue that I have is the transformable ability of the VF-1. The F-22 Raptor is already packed full of stuff that's required. There's no way that there is enough space for several dozen servomotors to transform it into a battroid.

3. Density of exterior: The VF-1 is reputedly as tough as a tank. In the anime, the VF-1 repeatedly crashes into buildings and still survives, and can even fly. You can't do that with the F-22. It chips something, its gone. The tough tanklike exterior comes from overtechnology. It's not something we can achieve with current technology, without making the VF weigh like 50 tons. The F-22 itself weighs 19 tons without arnament.

4. Dexterity: In real life, we're struggling to make robots that are dextrous and speedy enough to perform everyday tasks. The VF-1 can engage in a 50-foot tall Zentraedi warrior in hand to hand combat, and not just punching either, but also throws, kicks, and trips. In addition to this, the VF-1 can also perform fine motor movements such as putting on a Zentraedi uniform (Max Jenius did this once), and grabbing civillians without crushing them.

In my opinion? No. Can't be done on modern technology. Give it 30 or 50 more years, unless a big alien ship with easily reverse engineerable technology appears.


wow you know your machines!
i dont think we can yet...maybe in the future but not right now cause everyone is worrying and stressing about nuclear weapons and such...
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Posted 7/15/08

brennan wrote:

Some comments:

On Transformation:

What's being effectively argued here is that in-flight transformations will be impossible due to durability issues. Travelling at cruising speed and transforming would effectivly rip the mecha apart (using current technology). This is because of such a rapid and drastic change to the craft's flight profile, effectively creating a lot of drag. An analogy, although a bad one, is where you're in a rapid stream, trying to wade through it. You'll get swept away because you're providing resistance against the stream. Unless the durability of the mecha is improved (especially the servomotor joints), then in-atmospheric flight is suicide.

On G-Forces:

I'm not a scientist, but it's to my understanding that G-Force is not reliant on the planet's gravitational effects, but rather it is the effect simulating gravity caused by acceleration and deceleration. It is measured using the planet's gravitational acceleration. 1G is 10m/s, while 3G is 30m/s. As of such G-Force will continue to apply even in space, so long as there is acceleration and deceleration. The human body will still feel G-Force badly even in space.

I'm not saying that creating a VF is impossible. I'm saying that it's just impossible with modern technology. I said 30-50 years to get that sort of technology. It's probably a bit fast, but at the rate technology is improving, perhaps 30-50 years isn't that long after all. But that's just the minimum amount of technology. Still will have a long way to go before having the ability to just put it into production.


Yeah... thanks for clearing that up. G-Force in space? I guess so because now that you mention it, the astronauts in our world still experience it. I say its all possible though, if we really want fighter jets that transform into robots. But honestly, on a scientific level, that is simply a waste of energy, mechanics, and space to have robots running around killing stuff. now the robots used in Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed and Code Geass; those would make more sense and have a more practical use in our world... not robotic giants like VFs and Voltron and Gundam and uh... whatever else is out there.
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Posted 7/15/08 , edited 7/15/08
yes. if u have enough money then just about anything is possible.
if u dont belive me look at some of the custom fab work thta can go into restoring a car. also ppl are actually tring to make a scale working gundam.they figure by the time they're complete they'll have something to fight.

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/01/real-life-gunda.html

http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2008/st_gundamsuit

and mixtech like the avatar.
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Well, with today's technology, I'd say a Variable Fighter is still quite impossible.

First is the transformation. As pointed out brennan, airborne, high-speed transformation would rip the craft apart (and knock-out or kill the pilot in the process). Aside from that, the parts necessary for transformation, and the parts needed for the motion of the limbs would occupy a lot of space, leaving no place for internal weapons bay and less room for fuel. Transforming would also mean that the pipes that carry the fuel to the engine would have to move as well. Lots and lots of movable joints just on the fuel system alone. Of course, the wires would have to be rather flexible, given all the twisting and stuff done by the limbs.

Second would be the engine problem. If, theoretically, we are able to come up with something powerful enough to power a VF... and by some miracle, the pipes are resistant to wear and tear, and have become very flexible, what do we do after it transforms? The engines themselves would be pointing downwards. There would be stress of large proportions on the engines just to keep that thing airborne. Sure, the F-35 could stay airborne under the same concept of a downward-pointing engine, but the thrust in those things are lifting up a relatively light load compared to an armored VF. We don't see a hovering A-10, do we?

Third would be the power of the legs. Sure, it has two legs and can stand properly, but with all the moving parts, would there be room for a rigid interior that can support the entire weight of the VF? Theoretically, the engine would have to be inside the legs as well, so that leaves even less room for support.

Fourth would be the controls. Fighter and humanoid-robotics controls don't fit together, at least, not in this era. There's barely room in there for cable TV (though I understand why they didn't put it in there in the first place, but that's not the point), so another control system would not work. Maybe a two-seater configuration where the front seat controls the fighter mode and the rear seat controls the Battroid mode would be more possible. But then again, the degree of control on the fingers of the VF would still be quite hard to attain, let alone putting it into a simplified control system.

Then there's that weight problem. With all that armor, moving parts, transformation parts and stuff, pilots would be lucky if they at least get off the ground.

All in all, it's pretty impossible with today's technology. Maybe the engineers should give it a shot in the second half of the 21st Century.. But for now, they should focus on non-transforming robots, like Mobile Suits... but for easier balance, 4-legged Zoids.
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