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The Confederation of the New Free Planets Alliance has long been a proponent of technological development, and one of the powerhouse developers of the known galaxy. The following list is a non-exhaustive inventory of common technologies developed by or encountered in the Alliance.

Armor & Hull Systems[]

While no longer the primary means of defense for Alliance warships, armor and improved hull technologies are still of great value for their passive protection in the rare event of a systems failure. Hence, all warships are armored as a secondary layer of protection, and additional equipment layered on top of and below the armor to bolster both defense as well as add new functions.

Electromagnetic Absorptive-Switchable Coating[]

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The Electromagnetic Absorptive-Switchable (EMAS) coating is used on the hulls of all government and military ships and replaces several separate layers and systems used previously. It is composed of a conductive, photovoltaic optical metamaterial, and replaces the previous stealth coating, color-shift coating, optical camouflage, and refractive coating used in the 'Kusanagi' laser system, while adding new features. Many civilian ships also used a variant of this coating, omitting the stealth and refractive properties for cost and security reasons.

EMAS was developed at the Heinessen Technical College's Applied Physics Department, as the result of a redesign program to rework the hull structure of government ships. It was desired that the disparate coatings and layers previously used be unified into a single coating that could be applied quickly, easily, and uniformly, without a loss of capability. The resulting design was successful, and is being deployed to all ships of the Star Fleet and all others in government service.

In its normal mode of operation, it is capable of altering the hull's reflective properties and color, allowing it to reflect laser attacks up to a maximum strength, potentially back to their source depending on impact angle. It can also darken the hull to make it absorptive, with onboard systems being able to use the absorbed energy as a supplementary energy source. It is also capable of providing optical near-invisibility in the visible and near-visible spectra, but does not provide the same level of stealth as a cloaking device, nor invisibility on the infrared spectrum. These light-bending properties can be used by the ship's 'Kusanagi' system (if so equipped) to allow the curving of fire to nearly any arc.

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Monocrystalline Nanodiamond Armor[]

Monocrystalline Nnanodiamond armor the current standard armor type of government and Defense Force ships, and is also utilized by a number of civilian combat- or protection-oriented ships. Nanodiamond armor is composed of super-compressed fullerenes, and are both denser and harder than normal diamond, while reducing the brittleness that makes conventional diamond unsuitable for armoring purposes.

In normal ship use, it is fabricated in panels which are then attached to the frame and bonded at the atomic level using picobots. This allows for the more economical production of fixed-size nanodiamond plates, while allowing easier construction of ships. They are normally sandwiched by a layer of peltier wires for use as a radiator and thermal conductive element. Hull penetrations for exterior access are kept to a minimum, but are re-sealed by picobots after use to prevent the creation of structural weak spots. The armor layer is normally bonded to a more ductile backing plate, which serves to insulate the armor from the interior as well as support the interior frame.

Computer Systems[]

Computers form the foundation and backbone of Alliance society and civilization, being responsible for everything from traffic control to fire control, and scientific modeling to communications. They, and the various technologies and infrastructures they coordinate, allow an interstellar civilization such as the Confederation to exist, and their development has been a point of pride by Alliance engineers. It should be noted that most Alliance computers operate on a ternary system, rather than binary.

Artificial Neural Network[]

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Artificial neural networks are commonly used for task and network-administration roles, being able to accept multiple simultaneous inputs and respond intelligently to them. Of great interest is their plasticity, which allows them to learn based on past experience to become more efficient in their tasks, and it is this feature that allowed them to become the foundation of modern artificial-intelligence research. An artificial neural network itself is simply a computing model, rather than an actual computational technology, and thus networks are made of component elements, usually standard quantum computers.

The development of efficient artificial neural network architecture also allowed for the current mind-machine interface system, as artificial neural networks are able to efficiently parse sentient biological thoughts by mimicking the neural structure of the humanoid brain. Conversely, it has also allowed the development of sentient-level AI, and effective interaction between AI and biological beings.

Artificial neural networks are normally employed as administration systems or supports for biological minds. Due to the complexity of the computational elements involved, they lack the same level of miniaturization as other computing technologies, but are often supplemented by a network of standard computers to boost raw processing power.

Singularity Computing[]

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First proposed by Seth Lloyd at the beginning of the 21st century, singularity computing involves harnessing the incredible energy and density of a singularity to carry out operations on data. Given the nature of a singularity, its storage capacity is exactly equal to the Bekenstein Bound, and it is an extremely efficient computational engine. Initially, data retrieval was a concern, but further work into Hawking's black hole information paradox revealed that information was radiated out from a singularity, and could be retrieved by sufficient sensitive instruments.

Singularity computers thus provide massive data processing capacity, but are restricted by their size, necessitated by the instrumentation required to maintain the singularity and retrieve information. Standard modules are approximately ten meter cubes, limiting them to institutional and ship use. Each contains a singularity suspended and fed by a small stream of matter to prevent evaporation, and contains the sensors and processing hardware to receive and decode the emitted data. Larger, more powerful models are also available for use in larger settings.

UMN Hybrid Network[]

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A theorized method of tapping into the potential of the Unus Mundus Network to dramatically boost computer power, no true working UMN hybrid network has yet been successfully created. Unlike a simple network of interconnections between isolated computer banks, the UMN possesses a computational ability of its own that theoretically is nearly unlimited, but also completely undirected. Thus, experiments have been underway to devise a way to harness this power, which would give any system with such an ability massive reserves of resources limited only by the system's ability to control this network and process the output data.

Current experiments have yielded a limited ability to manipulate the UMN's data-processing capability, but these have been limited. Despite these limits, the ability demonstrated so far already rivals that of singularity computers.

Energy Shielding Systems[]

Energy shields encompass all types of energy-manipulation technologies that serve a mostly defensive, rather than offensive, purpose. While most commonly associated with military uses aboard warships to protect them from enemy fire, they are also standard on nearly all civilian ships and stations for both basic defense as well as protection from the rigors of space travel. Most military ships have moved to multi-layer shield systems, as they already have with multi-layer armor systems.

Dislocator Shield[]

Dislocator shielding was developed as a more complex outgrowth of the old shielding systems used during the period of the old Free Planets Alliance. The older shields relied partly on absorption and partly on deflection, and these roles were later split by engineers into separate development paths. The absorption technology was developed relatively easily into metaphasic shield technology, but possessed the drawback of directly absorbing incoming energy, causing problems with longevity under fire as excessive energy loads could cause feedback in the generators. Deflection was considered a more ideal goal, as it would cause no net power change in the ship's shielding system.

Dislocator shields operate by subtly altering the spatial coordinates and vector of incoming fire, in effect 'shredding' incoming fire at the atomic level, and dispersing it in other directions. The incoming energy and mass is conserved, but it is simply redirected along another vector that is not harmful to the defending ship. Against light fire, the system can be configured to redirect back at the firing ship, although against heavier fire, this is generally impractical. As with other shielding types, however, there is a theoretical limit to the shield's ability to calculate the necessary dislocations, but the factors affecting this limit are classified.

Firewall System[]

Firewall absorbing incoming fire.

A rather unique method of defense developed by the Kingdom of the Cambrian's cyberwarfare division, the firewall system generates a physical firewall to protect installations and ships from attack. Initially developed by the Cambrian and provided to allies of the Duchy of Mascarene during the Cambrian Civil War, after the departure of the Mascarenians, development was continued in-house by the National Defense Laboratory, developing further refinements and code optimization for Alliance hardware. It is now used on all government-flagged ships, although as a protected technology, it may be authorized for use on certain civilian ships in the security industry. It forms part of the basis of the solid computing movement.

Firewalls are unique in that their strength is determined by the computing power behind them, rather than the sheer amount of energy as in an energy shield. It retains the properties of a firewall, being designed to block unwanted connections, in this case incoming fire. As such, it operates on an 'all or nothing' principle, with all incoming fire of insufficient power to breach the firewall being completely deflected, and any penetrating shots proceding through otherwise unimpeded. The exact threshold for penetration is determined by the power behind the firewall, and networking additional computers can make the field much more powerful. Unlike traditional metaphasic shields, the strength of the firewall is not diluted if it covers a wider area, allowing a fleet to network its mainframes and protect each ship with the total power of the mainframe. It is also not weakened by incoming fire, only by the loss of computing power supporting the firewall.

Fortress Shield[]

Fortress shields are a type of metaphasic shield, optimized for protecting large volumes of space around the generating ship, usually to allow the generating ship to protect ships in close proximity to it. In comparison to standard shields, they use much larger, often physically separate generators, and require large amounts of power, limiting their use to the largest capital ships and super-capital ships, and large installations. Planetary shields are a variation of this type, with even more power and larger generators to protect an area the size of a planet.

With the increasing power of weapons fielded by the Alliance and other navies, however, fortress shields are now commonly used to protect damaged ships being serviced by combat support tenders or mobile bases, as the best protection from incoming fire is the maneuvering space allowed by a distributed formation.

Lightwave Barrier[]

Lightwave barrier deployed in front of a fleet.

The lightwave barrier was developed as a potential replacement for metaphasic shielding, being stronger and possessing many of the characteristics of the firewall system, except being reliant on traditional energy generation for power. It uses a single generator rather than multiple distributed generators, making it more efficient, but requiring a network of conduits to direct the energy into a coherent shield. This particular drawback would make it unfeasible for deployment aboard standard warships, and instead the system was designed into stand-alone support modules, with enormous generators using a disconnected, mobile network of conduits to provide protection for an entire fleet. Newly-designed, extremely large super-capital ships and installations may also utilize the technology.

Metaphasic Shields[]

Metaphasic shield absorbing incoming fire.

An outgrowth of the older defense screen technology employed by old Free Planets Alliance warships, metaphasic shields are the most common type of shielding system in the Alliance, protecting all military, government, and even most civilian starships and installations. A well-developed, mature technology, metaphasic shield generators are cheap and easy to acquire, have moderate energy demands for their strength, and are easy to maintain in the field, while being effective against most threats.

Metaphasic shields operate by generating an energy field around the ship slightly out of phase with the universe, absorbing and shunting the energy out of phase and rendering it harmless to the protected ship. This applies to incoming energy and kinetic weapons, and new-model shields provide limited protection against forced temporal and spatial disruptions, although the technology is still developing and these models are used almost exclusively by the government. Incoming fire disrupts this phase, which causes the phase field to collapse if too much damage is taken, although it can be restored over time. From an efficiency perspective, an ovoid or spherical shield is most efficient in terms of energy usage, but most ships use conformal shields, sacrificing a bit of efficiency in order to reduce their volume and the chance of accidentally blocking missed shots.

Neutrino Conversion Array[]

The neutrino conversion array was developed from technology used in the phase transfer cannon, although rather than transition the target into energy, it is designed to transition incoming fire into neutrinos that will then pass harmlessly through the target ship without interacting. This technology acts like a field around the generating ship, with undesired targets passing within range of the field converted into neutrinos upon entering, but returning to their original form upon exiting the influence of the field.

Psychic Shielding[]

A developing technology, psychic shielding is a development based on work in the fields of solid computing, the UMN, and traditional shield technology. Attacks and involvement by entities using energy types off the eletromagnetic and gravitational spectrums prompted an investigation into this field to develop specialized defenses in the same way that defenses against conventional energy weapons were developed. A major breakthrough was achieved when a general spectrum for this type of energy was identified, allowing defenses to be more easily developed against it.

Psychic shielding is still in its relative infancy, although working models have already been rolled out across the fleet. Based on metaphasic shielding, but modulated by solid computing into the psychic band, the technology can absorb most incoming attacks within this spectrum, although as it is not yet fully developed, some energy leakage is observed, and unlike normal multi-layer shields, it does not yet have any supplements in this spectrum.

Space Propulsion Systems[]

For a space-faring civilization, propulsion systems are of obvious importance, and are indeed one of the foundations of modern civilization in the same way that the wheel formed the basis of early societies. Space propulsion can be categorized into two forms, either sublight or faster-than-light, and both are widespread. Faster-than-light drives are found on nearly every spacecraft, with the exception of small surface-to-orbit or intraplanetary shuttles, and in a variety of types. Sublight drives are considered a prerequisite to even being considered a true spacecraft.

Hyperdrive[]

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Hyperdrive is not an Alliance invention, but has entered the general galactic technology pool as one of the more commonly used drive types. Most interests in the Alliance have preferred the use of subspace warp drive, preferring its flexibility over the slight speed advantage of hyperdrive, but hyperdrives have begun making inroads into the civilian market due to interoperability benefits. The Defense Force has also implemented hyperdrives as an alternate means of propulsion within its warships, alongside warp drive and the UMN.

Like warp drive, it is of the transition type, using a hyperdrive module to transition the ship to hyperspace, where speeds faster than that of light in realspace are possible. Unlike warp drive, however, it is affected by strong gravity fields and mass shadows, and generally restricts a ship's ability to change heading while in hyperspace.

Mass Imaginarisation Drive[]

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A development of the Kingdom of the Cambrian, the mass imaginarisation drive is a rather novel technology whose first workings were explored by Alliance scientists shortly after the conclusion of the Cambrian Civil War. It is currently in only limited deployment for government use, and not released in the civilian sector except to special organizations assisting the government in research. The Independent Exploratory Groups have been assigned to lead the testing initiative, installing it on a number of their vessels, particularly long-range explorers.

The drive works by converting the traveling ship into tachyons, which inherently travel faster than the speed of light. Tachyons in fact travel faster with less energy, meaning that as energy is lost over time, the ship travels faster, leading to endless acceleration. While not particularly useful for extremely short-range applications, in which the tachyons will travel only slightly faster than the speed of light, this continued acceleration with no additional energy input is valuable, particularly for long intergalactic voyages. Experiments are underway to determine its vulnerability to traditional FTL interdiction.

Photon Thruster[]

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A new drive system developed as a high-performance propulsion system for fighters, mobile units, and small warships, the photon thruster offers massively increased acceleration without a need for a larger engine. Rather than expelling superheated plasma, the engine accelerates photons via antimatter reaction and uses them as a source of thrust, resulting in an extremely high specific impulse. As a result, photon thrusters, commonly nicknamed "lightrider" engines, have a tendency to glow extremely brightly and are damaging to optical sensors and biological eyes if viewed without protection. Despite promise in smaller ships, engineers have had trouble upscaling the device for larger ships, and the technology has only seen limited implementation thus far.

Subspace Warp Drive[]

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The most common form of FTL drive in the Alliance, warp drive systems are used by almost every interplanetary civilian and military vessel. Cheap, efficient, well-understood, and easily maintained, the system has been a staple of space travel for centuries. While not the absolute fastest form of FTL drive known, its economic factors and flexibility make it a staple of Alliance designs.

The drive works by creating a subspace field around the ship, distorting normal spacetime and allowing faster-than-light travel. Original warp engines required bulky and vulnerable external nacelles, but modern designs use a distributed system, wherein the warp coils are distributed throughout the ship, leading to greater redundancy and damage resistance. However, many civilian ships still use the nacelle design as it allows for easier access for maintenance and replacement.

Unus Mundus Network Gate Drive Interface[]

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The standard faster-than-light drive system used by Alliance warships, the UMN gate drive interface is a classified state secret and is in fact not fully understood by the Alliance engineers themselves. It allows the physical mass of a vessel to enter the normally abstract realm of the Unus Mundus, and use it as a conduit for faster travel. The technology is restricted to government-authorized uses as a drive form, although civilian use as a information-transmission medium is more common.

As such, the drive interface provides no motive force on its own, but merely allows access to a realm where traditional methods of transit provide greatly increased speed. Within the UMN, the output of a normal plasma reaction thruster is capable of pushing a ship to FTL speeds, and use of warp engines within the UMN can push ships to intergalactic velocities. It is undetectable without the development of UMN sensors and technology, but as any entry or access to the UMN can be detected and logged, the Alliance is willing to take military action against those who attempt to utilize it without authorization.

Warheads[]

Warheads includes any type of device used for both civilian and military demolition purposes, as well as filling or detonator uses in other military munitions.

Antimatter Warhead[]

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Now the most common warhead type in the Alliance, having superceded laser-fusion thanks to its significantly higher yields and improving handling technology. Antimatter had been known and exploited for centuries in certain specialist applications, but was considered far too cost-prohibitive for use in general warhead applications, and the bulk of early containment systems negated their mass-to-energy superiority. The development of much more economical particle accelerators, based on key advances in particle cannon technology, coupled with the downsizing of magnets and the development of natural superconductors has made the technology more viable.

Antimatter warheads are simple in principle, suspending a given mass of antimatter particles within a magnetic field. Upon impact, the field is dispersed and the antimatter comes into contat with real matter, annihilating in an enormous outburst of energy. More complicated issues arise in making this field sufficiently powerful and reliable to withstand the accelerations and general turbulence of military use, but these have been solved to an acceptable degree. A rival form of suspesion from the UPT, anti-lead fullerene technology, has been making inroads into applications where safety is considered tantamount, but military applications relying on maximum mass-to-energy ratio still rely on pure antimatter.

Laser-Fusion Warhead[]

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Laser-fusion weapons are some of the oldest weapons remaining in the Alliance arsenal, but are still retained for their reliability. Formerly the most common warhead type in service, they have been largely replaced by antimatter warheads for additional explosive yield, although laser-fusion technology is still considered more mature than antimatter technology, and much cheaper to build. The largest laser-fusion warheads can rival mid-size antimatter warheads, but their mass-to-energy ratio is still inferior. Laser-fusion is also commonly used in power applications.

Laser-fusion warheads rely on a strong gravitational field generator to super-compress a sphere of hydrogen into a metallic form, after which high-energy lasers are used to heat the hydrogen to 300,000,000 degrees Celsius, well above the necessary temperature for fusion. Warhead types traditionally use expendable chemical lasers, so as not to require the cooling or energy needs of a solid-state laser.

Protomatter Warhead[]

The most powerful type of standard warhead in the Alliance arsenal, protomatter warheads are classified as weapons of mass destruction and cannot be used without authorization by the quaestor in a state of emergency, or by the senate under normal conditions. The warheads are inert under normal circumstances, allowing them to be safely stowed and deployed without the risk of accidental detonation during battle should their secure arsenals be struck by enemy fire. Yield ranges from sufficient to vaporize a planet, to sufficient to vaporize a small nebula.

On the surface, protomatter weapons seem to violate the basic laws of the universe, being able to put out far more energy than an antimatter reaction, in theory the most efficient and energetic reaction possible. Protomatter reactions overcome this by using the transporter matrix that makes their detonation possible to weaken the boundaries between universes, allowing a major influx of energy into the reaction. This is also why the warheads are inert under normal circumstances, as without the finely tuned transporter matrix being activated, the protomatter warhead cannot detonate.

Weapons[]

Weapons are unsurprisingly a critical part of any nation's ability to project power and defend its interests abroad. Within the Alliance, it is also a booming development and sales industry for both domestic and foreign customers. The Alliance's technical specialty in this area is the development of particle beam weapons, which are the mainstay of the fleet's armaments.

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Cohesive Fused Deuterium Irradiation Cannon[]

An older weapon with a relatively low damage output, the strength of the cohesive fused deuterium irradiation cannon is the burst of neutron radiation it releases. The weapon itself functions essentially as a directed fusion reaction, with deuterium streams bombarded by lasers to initiate a fusion reaction. The reaction is contained within a magnetic field to build strength, which is then weakened in the target direction where additional magnetic fields direct the escaping plasma toward its target. The radiation effect is generally useless against shields, but is commonly used in conjunction with a frequency-modulated meson particle accelerator to down the target's shields first, then kill the targeted ship's crew with relatively little hull damage, making it ideal for capture operations.

As a neutron radiation weapon, it is generally unaffected by heavy metal radiation shields, of the sort commonly employed against cosmic x-rays and gamma bursts. Instead, neutron radiation is best shielded with light elements, particularly water and other hydrogen-rich substances.

Electron Cannon[]

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In service for centuries, electron cannons are used on almost every warship as a broadside weapon, favored for its fast rate of fire and compact size. Electron cannons predate the development of neutron cannons, their low particle mass and charged nature making them easier to accelerate with conventional magnetic fields. While neutron cannons were too long to be mounted in broadside positions or in mobile mounts, electron cannons found their primary role to be the engagement of close-quarters targets, be they other ships or attacking fighters. As such, they are considered to be a secondary weapon, their arcs normally not allowing forward fire.

The electron cannon owes its small size to the type of particles it accelerates, electrons being extremely light. Hence, the accelerators are much smaller and can be placed within the narrow hulls of Alliance warships. Using a compact magnetic field generator, the beam can be aimed at any point within a 90 degree cone. Unfortunately, as a charged particle weapon, the electron cannon exhibits beam spreading caused by particle repulsion, making it a relatively short-range weapon. Nonetheless, within this short range, they have good damage potential and modest power requirements, with a fast rate of fire. The standard firing pattern is normally a series of two second pulses with a half-second cooldown time.

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Frequency-Modulated Meson Particle Accelerator[]

The frequency-modulated meson particle accelerator (FMPA) is a relatively rare but powerful weapon closely guarded by the Alliance military. It is a powerful wide-area anti-shield weapon that uses particle accelerators to create a focused stream of mesons that are directed at the target area. Generally undetectable unless specifically scanned for, the mesons collect around the outer area of a ship's shields within the target area, focusing largely on the weakest area of the shield. Over time, the shields will build up a huge charge of meson energy, which is then subjected to a quick burst of Eichner radiation, causing the collected energy to discharge directly into the shields of the target vessel, causing major shield damage concentrated on the weakest shield face.

The original cannon-type design was developed but never deployed operationally, as it was deemed incompatible with existing ship designs. Instead, a system was developed to suspend the mesons within a missile warhead after being generated in the onboard particle accelerators used for the neutron and electron cannons. The missiles then release their warheads in the general vicinity of the target, saturating the area before the same radiation pulse is used to cause the forced discharge. Damage yield is the same, but the use of missiles allows more rapid and flexible deployment of the meson field.

Neutron Cannon[]

Neutron cannons firing. Note the red beam color is due to the atmospheric conditions. Normal beam color is blue.

One of the oldest weapons still in general use, the neutron cannon is still the foundation of Alliance tactical doctrine. The neutron cannon has been in use for nearly a century by now, originally fielded on Imperial warships before the technology became available to the Alliance. Neutron cannons possess good range, in the tens of light-seconds for mid-range shots, and reasonable power demands, allowing dozens to be mounted on standard-tonnage battleships. Their primary disadvantage is the emitter size, which is long and thin, which has influenced the narrow design of Alliance capital ships. Common employment doctrine is to engage targets at long range, utilizing massed cannon fire.

At its core, the neutron cannon is merely a large, powerful linear accelerator specifically optimized to accelerate neutron particle streams to ultra-relativistic velocities. Each array is composed of multiple accelerator tubes within a single cannon, the diameter of the cannon being directly related to the number of tubes within. As a neutral particle weapon, it has the properties associated with neutral particles, being resistant to basic shield types and causing kinetic damage on impact, although the force of impact also results in the release of other energy types, thermal being among the most obvious. Using special focusing lenses, the beam can be adjusted up to 30 degrees in any direction, but this is still considered a relatively limited firing arc.

In the time of the old Free Planets Alliance, neutron cannons came in different sizes, from destroyer, cruiser, and battleship calibers, with the Alliance favoring large numbers of cruiser-caliber guns. The New Free Planets Alliance standardized the guns at battleship-grade, to maximize long-range bombardment capability. Barrages are normally composed of five second bursts of fire, followed by a five second cooldown time.

Plasma Carronade[]

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The plasma carronade was developed relatively recently as a supplementary close-quarters weapon against both capital ships and attacking ordinance. Rollout to fleet warships has been proceeding with the newest-flight models in production, and is being retrofitted onto older ships not yet scheduled for replacement. The carronade itself is a rather simple weapon, named after the carronade of the Age of Sail, and is similarly designed to produce high damage output at short ranges, releasing a large plasma burst that can either be concentrated for maximum damage against a single target, or allowed to disperse, blanketing an entire area with a weaker plasma sheet.

The carronade is composed of a number of magnetic field emitters connected to an energized plasma stream tap within the ship, usually one of the three primary bus streams. Plasma is drawn from the stream and directed by the field emitters in either firing mode. As it draws from the ship's primary energy system, it is quite powerful, with larger ships (with larger reactors) providing greater output from the same weapon 'caliber' thanks to their higher-volume plasma streams.

Railgun[]

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Railguns are one of the most common technologies in the Alliance, used for both ground applications as well as starship armament. In their smallest applications, they have replaced conventional autocannons in ground warfare, and have become a common sight in space warfare. While possessing effectively unlimited range in space, they are hampered by an increasing lead-time at light-second ranges that allows enemy ships to easily dodge incoming rounds provided they can be detected. Hence, they are commonly relied upon for bombardment of relatively immobile targets, but can be used effectively against fleets at range when fielded en masse. These drawbacks are less obvious in ground warfare where ranges are much shorter, and weapons more limited.

Railguns operate by running a strong electric current through a pair of rails bridged by the projectile. As the electricity flows through the projectile, completing the circuit, it generates an extremely strong magnetic field, propelling itself in the targeted direction at great velocity. For space use, the most common type of projectile is a monocrystalline tungsten shell sheathed in copper, which vaporizes into plasma during firing. Other types, such as high-explosive shells, also exist. For ground use, the copper jacket is not used, and instead the standard anti-armor round is usually unitary.

Refractive Laser System[]

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The refractive laser system was developed to arm Alliance warships for general-purpose combat, the primary disadvantage to the standard neutron cannon being its extremely limited firing arc. The resulting system is capable of fire in any direction thanks to its ability to 'bend' the fired laser beams toward a target from almost any facing. The system has now been retrofitted onto every ship in the fleet, providing complete weapons coverage to all ships.

The system works my using a series of laser diodes laminated beneath a metamaterial screen attached to the exterior of the hull. This metamaterial screen, in conjunction with a series of micro-prisms released prior to firing and contained by a specialized forcefield allows the collected beams to be refracted from their normal firing path to a new one. The refraction process causes a slight diffraction of the beam, which makes it visible while bending, but this loss was considered a worthwhile tradeoff for the weapon's coverage. Early-model laser diodes had a short warm-up period before firing, manifested as a glow around the hull, but modern versions are capable of firing without external warning on a moment's notice.

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