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Space Weapons Technology

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A variety of space weapons technology was used by the star nations of the Post Diaspora era, including missiles, laser weapons and advanced electronic countermeasure systems.

Starship and space weaponsEdit

Small craft such as shuttles and pinnaces did not use starship weapons, but rather larger versions of ground forces' weapons. They were not intended to fight starships. Pinnaces were equipped with an equivalent of starship point defense lasers which could be quite deadly to unarmored merchant ships at close range. (SI1)[1]

LaserEdit

Lasers were the most common energy weapon. Anti-ship lasers had lenses that ranged from several decimeters to over a meter in diameter; they had effective ranges of about 1,000,000 kilometers (500,000 km against targets with sidewalls).

A majority of ships also mounted clusters of smaller, point-defense lasers for the anti-missile duty, but were powerful enough to destroy shuttlecraft. In some navies, point-defence lasers had replaced older point-defense projectile guns.

A ship's broadside lasers and grasers would have been physically shifted forward through the hatch in the surface of the ship and locked their lenses into holes in the sidewall.[2] This was because the lenses were not optical but gravitic, and the emitter head needed some clearance in order to be safely activated. (HHA3:MMH)

Lasers and grasers fired in "pulses", which normally allowed a mount to "fire" two-to-three times in the amount of time it took a normal-sized ship to rotate enough to intersperse its wedge.

Each mount also featured its own independent lidar, in case the mount was cut off from main sensors or CIC. The lidar had a very narrow field of view, but made a sufficient backup. (HHA4:TSotS)

Lasers Used by the Republic of Haven Edit

GraserEdit

Grasers were lasers operating in the gamma ray range.[3] Considered vastly superior in both strength and size when compared to lasers, grasers were often only seen in small numbers in smaller ships, due to their larger mass. The newer Shrike-class light attack craft (LACs) of the Royal Manticoran Navy carried a single graser, about the size and power of a battlecruiser's graser.

Missile Edit

Missiles came in varying masses, depending on the ship class that fired it, with larger vessels capable of firing missiles that had slightly more acceleration and heavier warheads. Missiles may have been tipped with various heads, including contact fusion warheads, bomb-pumped laser warheads, sidewall penetrators, and ECM to help missiles breach defenses. Some smaller missiles may even have been purely kinetic. Anti-missile defenses included rolling a ship's wedge, electronic countermeasures, countermissiles, and point defense.

Missiles may have been launched from ships, forts, platforms, missile pods, or hand-held launchers.

Energy torpedoEdit

Not actually torpedoes of any kind, they were self-sustaining masses of plasma that could be projected against targets at ranges of up to 300,000 km. They were very destructive, capable of rapid fire, and were nearly impossible to intercept since they traveled at near light speed. However, they were direct fire weapons and completely stopped by sidewalls, so they were never used as the primary energy weapon of a vessel.

Grav LanceEdit

Grav Lance in the RMNEdit

The grav lance was a gravitic weapon that allowed an attacking ship to take down a target's sidewall. It did this by "pushing" the target's impeller wedge out of alignment, which overloaded the sidewall. The grav lance was huge, short-ranged and required almost all the firing ship's power. The grav lance utilized the firer's drive nodes, so only a starship could mount it. No LAC, missile, drone, or buoy had enough power generation, internal volume, or node strength necessary to utilize it. Admiral Sonja Hemphill promoted this weapon. (HH1, OBS)

The Crippler (Gravitic Heterodyne)Edit

Similar in effect to and longer ranged than the grav lance, the 'Crippler' could bring down a target's impeller wedge by causing a resonance in the target's wedge frequency. The effect induced a current in key drive components, in effect overloading the electronics and causing a blowout in the drive. This removed the ship's primary passive defense (the impeller wedge) and leaving it unable to move. Highly effective against merchant ships, the Crippler was ineffective against warships due to the pair of impeller stress bands generated for both the roof and floor of the wedge. Attempting to overload one stress band would simply flow back into the other band, preventing resonance. The effect could be mitigated by installing breakers at key junctions, which would reset once tripped, restoring the wedge.

DefenseEdit

Weapons technology was hugely capable, and starships were required to carry similarly impressive defenses.

Gravitic & Energy Based ShieldingEdit

See: Sidewall

Starships were immune to attack from above or below due to the impeller wedge. As long as the impellers were powered, a ship could project sidewalls, weaker versions of the wedge, as shields on either side. Sidewalls were non-ablative, gravitic stress bands, and thus weaker lasers and grasers were bent away, or refracted like light is when it passes through denser mediums. In this instance, the focused light was bent by the intense gravity in the sidewall. Sidewalls were invulnerable to non-massless/lightspeed weapons as they would be destroyed by the gravitic shear caused by the sidewall.

For the longest time it was thought to be unacceptable to close the bow or stern of the wedge with a wall; to do so would prevent any acceleration. The Manticoran Shrike-class LAC was fitted with a bow wall, since it was deemed acceptable to lose the ability to accelerate in order to use the powerful spinal weapon the Shrike mounted. Later, some creative engineering built a stern wall capability into LACs. The idea proved so successful that newer construction, such as the Edward Saganami-B-class heavy cruisers, were equipped with bow and stern walls. Further refinements to the bow and stern wall system could be seen in the Edward Saganami-C heavy cruiser class. The bow and stern walls were of a special "two-phase" type. A smaller, inner wall could be raised independently of the main bow wall. The smaller wall did not completely seal the forward aspect of the wedge; it only protected against attacks from directly ahead. However, it did not interfere with thrust or maneuvering.

The next layer of defense was the anti-radiation and anti-particle shielding that existed between the sidewall and hull. While not nearly as strong as a sidewall, it did help attenuate any incoming attack, especially if they had already been weakened by the sidewall.

Physical DefenseEdit

Ships were also protected by many layers of armor that alternated between ablative composites that absorbed energy from energy weapons and solid anti-kinetic layers. Since the impeller wedge was impenetrable, the armor of a ship on the sides and hammerheads was considerably thicker than the back and belly armor, the side armor of a superdreadnought was well over a meter thick. Inside, there were more armored bulkheads. Even with this tremendous defense, at close range, the energy weapons of any starship were more than enough to destroy a larger ship.

Superdreadnoughts, dreadnoughts, and (to a much lesser extent) battleships also used their own internal structure to limit damage. These ships were so massive that huge reinforcing framing structures and internal compartmentalization could be built in. This allowed any damage that got through the other defenses to be limited from reaching too deep into the ship.

Starship hulls were 'grown' using nanotechnology, and could be repaired in similar fashion. Using nanotech growing also helps reduce potential breakpoints as the hull became a seamless whole.

Electronic Warfare SystemEdit

Warships also utilized a complex suite of electronic warfare systems. These systems utilized jammers, decoys, and stealth in order to help defeat or confuse incoming missiles. Warships had massive computer suites and emitters built into them that allowed them to confuse incoming fire and help conceal and stealth the ships emissions.

Warships also utilized specialized drones and decoys that were deployed outside of the ship. The power requirements for these were so high that it was impossible to have them run on internal power; instead, they had to stay close to the ship on a tractor beam and receive beamed power. As a result, a warship could deploy only a handful of them at a time.

Keyhole Edit

During the Second Havenite-Manticoran War, the Royal Manticoran Navy developed and began deploying the Mark 20 platforms, also known as Keyhole, which were dedicated sensor platforms for use with coordinating countermissile fire. Extended on either side of a ship beyond the wedge via tractor beams, they allowed a ship to "see" past the interference of the CMs impeller wedges. This allowed a ship to control more than one wave of CMs at once, even when "rolled", giving them finer control, allowing them to fire and control more countermissiles simultaneously, and extending the range at which CMs could engage incoming missiles. (HH10) Keyhole platforms were even studded with their own point-defense laser clusters. (SI2)

Keyhole II platforms were later developed, adding FTL communication capability instead of light speed transmissions, allowing them even faster response times (due to the decrease in communication lag). They were also able to be used as FTL links to the Apollo anti-ship missile control systems, even when a ship had rolled wedge. Keyhole II platforms massed around 20,000 tons. (HH11)

Point DefenseEdit

A warship's active defense was two layered.

Countermissile Edit

The first line of active defense was the countermissile. Countermissiles were used to intercept incoming missiles at ranges of 1 to 4 million kilometers. Countermissiles had no warheads; they merely attempted to overlap their impeller wedges with those of the attacker's missiles. This overlap was mutually destructive as the gravitic stress vaporizes the nodes of both missiles. Countermissiles were much much smaller than ship-killers.

Laser cluster Edit

If an attack missile managed to break through the countermissile engagement zone, the last line of active defense was the point defense laser cluster. A laser cluster was a grouping of a number of individually weak lasers, much weaker than an anti-ship laser. While this reduced the range, it allows for a higher refire rate per cluster. A laser cluster typically had enough time for 1 shot before the attack missile could engage the ship. Supplementing the point defense clusters was the ship's energy armament. Lasers and grasers could also be tasked to engage incoming missiles.[4]

Manticoran clusters as of 1920 PD contained eight emitters, each capable of firing once every sixteen seconds. This resulted in one shot every two seconds from each cluster mounted on a ship.

Offensive Use Edit

Clusters had an additional use, that of low-power offensive weaponry, mostly for use against vessels that decided to resist while boarding parties approached. Edward Saganami-class cruisers had an automated program which took control of the clusters, targeting them at weapons, sensors and impeller nodes. This allowed a ship to be crippled, without resulting in the devastating damage that a shot from a regular broadside weapon would entail, which could nearly destroy an average merchant vessel. (SI1)

Broadside Energy Mounts Edit

It has been known for vessels to use their Broadside Energy Mounts such as Laser and Graser mounts to support the Laser cluster defences.

Laser cluster systems of the Republic of Haven Edit

Other SystemsEdit

Recon DroneEdit

A recon drone was an automated probe that extended the sensor range of a ship. The drones had a drive system, ECM emitter, and passive and active sensor arrays.

Other Related TechnologyEdit

  • Tractor Beam – A tractor beam was used to tow objects and other related purposes. Havenite Sultan-class battlecruisers were equipped with tractor beams. (HH2)

References Edit

  1. Manticore Astro-Control Service frequently used lightly-armed pinnaces to handle merchant traffic during customs inspections and emergency situations.
  2. Honor Harrington though it amusing that modern space navy weapons had to "run out" their guns like the muzzle-loaded cannon of Ancient Earth wet navies. (HHA3:MMH)
  3. the name is an abbreviation of Gamma Ray Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
  4. the Republic of Haven Navy's doctrines encouraged the use of broadside weapons to supplement laser cluster defenses

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