Cyclonus's Armada refers to the one (or more) seemingly identical robots created by Unicron at the same time as Cyclonus in the 1986 movie. The Armada is something of a continuity headache, partly because of the question of who Cyclonus is, and partly because the single robot shown being created immediately disappears from the film, to be replaced (generally speaking) with an additional Sweep.
- CYCLONUS is CREATED and then his "armada" of similar, but smaller and similarly colored and clad creatures are formed.
The actual number of robots in the 'Armada' are unknown. While Unicron had only six Decepticons to transform at least five Sweeps are seen at one point in this scene, and the inclusion of the Insecticons, with the ability to clone themselves, makes the actually numbering ambiguous..
Opinions differ on the armada's actual "existence". Since Cyclonus's personal army was dropped in production, and the figure disappears from the film after the re-creation scene, some argue its inclusion is little more than an error, and should be ignored. The term 'Armada' or 'Cyclonus's armada' is used to refer to the continuity-headache it represents (almost like a label) without implying anything about a fan's individual belief in its/their existence/nonexistence.
The armada's fate
IDW's 2006 Transformers: The Animated Movie comic, a faithful retelling of the 1986 movie, shows a jet identical to Cyclonus being destroyed by Grimlock's fire-breath. This is generally interpreted as the comic's "explanation" for the Armada's subsequent disappearance in the movie- it was destroyed in its first combat encounter.
Grimlock does indeed use his firebreath like this in the movie itself, but the target of his wrath was unambiguously Cyclonus himself with Galvatron inside. However while Cyclonus survived that encounter with little damage- his lookalike in the comic goes kersplodey with equal unambiguity.
Five Faces of Darkness
It has also been suggested that Ultra Magnus's battle with Ramjet and Dirge (where the latter two are apparently destroyed) is 'actually' supposed to be a battle with the armada. And indeed, after this battle only two jets of Cyclonus's type are seen together. However, Dirge and Ramjet had speaking roles, and were in-character at the time. And were later seen to be alive. And Dirge was implied to be dead. And Dirge died in the movie too.*sigh* It's something of a mess.
Regardless, the general consensus is that Cyclonus's armada, whatever their numbers, no longer exist by the time "Five Faces of Darkness" ends and the 3rd season of the cartoon proper begins.
Reasoning that Armada might as well be a proper name since there's only one of him, many fans refer to Cyclonus's doppelgänger in the recreation scene by that name.
In the original movie script Unicron uses the same rote format to introduce both Scourge and Cyclonus, and the word 'armada' is used in the same place the descriptive 'huntsmen' is for the Sweeps;
|"||Scourge,||the tracker....||and his huntsmen...||the Sweeps...||"|
|"||Cyclonus,||the warrior...||and his armada....||"|
As envisioned in the original script, 'armada' is not a proper noun. However, the 2006 comic adaption (which added the destruction of a single Cyclonus-type Jet during Galvatron's raid on Autobot City) parsed things differently;
|"||SCOURGE,||THE TRACKER....||...AND HIS HUNTSMEN—||THE SWEEPS!||"|
|"||CYCLONUS—||THE WARRIOR...||...AND HIS ARMADA!||"|
So while Armada was intended to be an improper noun, at least one source has treated it as a proper noun. Since that source (the 2006 comic) is the only one to explicitly address the 'problem' of the Armada... one could argue that it should have the final word. ...or not.
Who is the armada?
The Armada's identity prior to re-creation somewhat fraught; there may be more than one of him/them, but it's also tied up in the question of who is Cyclonus?.
Traditional fan-reasoning is that Thundercracker and Skywarp were more prominent characters, and should have becomes Scourge and Cyclonus. Unfortunately every visual representation ever, spanning 20+ years, has shown Cyclonus to be created from Bombshell.
The 2007 'Masterpriece' Skywarp toy includes a 'Armada Decepticon' sticker which seems to indicate Skywarp did indeed become the Armada. Of course, a 2003 DVD profile states unequivocally that Skywarp became Cyclonus. In the Beast Era, Cyclonus and Skywarp were running around at the same time, so either Skywarp became an/the Armada, or there's some really nasty budding involved.
This may all be moot; everyone but Megatron involved in Unicrons' re-creation appears to have been dead, so neither Cyclonus nor his Armada should remember their previous existence any more than Hook, Line, and Sinker do. Several sources actually state that Cyclonus was forged from the remains of several Decepticons.
Headaches and confusion aside, the vast preponderance of sources agree that Skywarp became the Armada (or at least one of them.)
Um... kay... see, there's this one guy, who's like- totally just like Cyclonus, only he has different colors...
And I know we don't, you know, count that kind of thing, because it's always just an animation error and stuff? Like it was supposed to be Dirge, or a Cyclonus-lookalike and some colorist screwed up, and he's only in 1 frame of animation an' everything...?
...except, you know, he like, shows up again later, in the same color scheme, this time in jet mode, fully animated doing a bombing run. (This is after Dirge dies too, so it's not him.)
Soo... I know the usual standard for distinguishing a generic from a boo-boo is that it either has to make no sense for it to be a mistake, or it has to be repeated. And this one's totally repeated...
Note: We will also murder you for telling e-Hobby about the Cybertronian Empire guy who looks just like Cyclonus. Cyclonus + e-Hobby = your murder can probably be thought of as a general rule.
- Six Decepticons; Megatron, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Kickback, Bombshell, and Shrapnel were ejected from Astrotrain
- Either more than the 6 Transformers seen were present (likely in the form of more Insecticon clones) or the Sweeps (and the Armada?) retained the Insecticons' cloning abilities. Or a wizard did it.
- Four jets of Cyclonus's design are seen in a single shot on two separate occasions.
- Dirge played a prominent role in "Ghost in the Machine".
- Octane bumps into what he seems to believe is Dirge's funerary marker in the Decepticon Crypt in "Starscream's Ghost". (He does not mention Dirge by name.)
- Of course, the 2003 Australian movie DVD claims Bombshell became a Sweep, but we don't think those character profiles were approved by Hasbro, fans tend to ignore them.
- Bombshell was also at Starscream's subsequent coronation. Or maybe it was Salvo. Or maybe Cyclonus was Salvo. Skywarp was at the coronation too. *sigh* It's something of a mess.
- It also states Cyclonus and Scourge are 'Unicrons.' Just ignore it, we all do!
- That same unreliable DVD release, Cyclonus Heroes of Cybertron PVC, much more reliably.