Interstellar Warfare is the 5th millenium equivalent to the naval battles of old and the most important theatre of engagement for any battle. An Army cannot effectively invade a planet without the support of an orbiting navy and, once control of that planet's gravity well is secured, the assaulting forces may call upon the unmatchable power of orbital bombardment. With an enemy Navy in orbit over a planet, the defender's only way to prevent being annhiliated by fire from the sky is to have something important enough that the attackers will want to keep it intact.
The Directorate Navy is the largest interstellar warfare force in the known universe, and easily the most powerful military force conceived of by humanity [or anyone else]. Its vast fleets of humungous, 300km battleships are each capable of taking on dozens of potential hostile vessels, are essentially indestructable [although they can be crippled] and carry enough firepower and onboard ground combat forces to singlehandedly wipe out life on a planet in but a single broadside or conquer it by conventional means in short order. The cornerstone of makind's greatest Navy is overwhelming firepower. The Directorate - and indeed, humanity in general - shows a marked preference for projectile-based weaponry even in the 5th millenium, with the majority of armaments composed of magnetic accelerator weaponry, although the Directorate has also mastered laser- and plasma-based gunnery. What follows is a list of the different types of weapons technologies employed by the Directorate Navy:
Short-range / Point-Defense WeaponsEdit
Autocannons form the lynchpin of any Directorate warship's active defensive systems. They are universally rapid-fire railguns loading self-propelled, missile-like shells with extremely dirty thermonuclear warheads. Although the explosive power of atomics is vastly reduced in a vacuum - becoming little more than a bright, blazing white "puff ball" - the huge amounts of highly-radioactive material thrown out by these projectiles plays havoc with enemy sensors, especially those of the biologically-based Mortis. Directorate autocannon shells are capable of limited course-correction in flight due to their variable-thrust ion engines, and are more than capable of damaging enemy vessels at close range as well as small craft.
Dual Purpose [Medium-to-Short Range] WeaponsEdit
All Directorate warships mount a huge number of multiple-launch missile systems in batteries. These are useful as point defense weapons, capable of intercepting incoming enemy munitions, but also form a vital part of a warship's arsenal in short range "knife fight" combat. Each missile is the size of a 20th century ICBM and carries multiple thermonuclear warheads along with electronic jamming penetration aids, and some missiles in a launcher are entirely devoted to confusing and scrambling an enemy warship's sensors. This enables even a relatively small vessel to deliver a devestating punch to an enemy once its shields have been dropped or decimate whole shoals of attacking smallcraft.
Directorate ship-board lasers take the form of "Free Electron Lasers", or FELs. These are not conventional lasers and do not emit a beam of coherent light, but rather are particle weapons: firing streams of highly concentrated electrons using magnetic acceleration principles similar to a coil gun. Of all the various types of laser weapons, these have the most controllability over their power, allowing a ship to choose between either low-output rapid fire or devestatingly powerful beams. Lasers are used in their low-powered settings as point-defense weapons but are mounted in batteried rows as broadside weapons, and on higher charge settings are positively deeadly against any enemy vessel. They are particularly deadly at ripping through shields and, being directed energy weapons, cannot be intercepted by point defense systems.
Medium Range WeaponsEdit
The Plasma Driver is one of two principle medium-range Directorate Navy weapons, the other being the Broadside Railgun. Plasma Drivers are near-universal fixtures on most Directorate warships, although they are less common on smaller vessels. Plasma Drivers use principles similar to that of a coilgun or Free Electron Laser to fire beams of concentrated, highly unstable Hydrogen plasma. Unlike lasers, they are equally effective against both shields and hull armor, packing considerably more punch, but cannot be effectively used as point defense weapons.
A broadside railgun is the heaviest weapon not mounted axially on Directorate Warships, although many smaller vessels have what are essentially axial equivalents of a capital ship's broadside guns. Railguns typically only begin firing once an enemy warship's shields have been lowered, and at shorter ranges their prodigious velocity - about 33% lightspeed, or more for a non-capital ship's axial guns - make them difficult for point defense systems to deal with. Railgun slugs are universally solid projectiles with an outer portion of Tungsten and an inner core of Depleted Uranium, and their power is sufficient to do destabilizing, permanent harm to the ecosystem of a planet if used for orbital bombardment.
Long Range Weapons / Main GunsEdit
The line between torpedoes and missiles can be somewhat blurry, as Directorate Capital Ships mount vast arrays of missiles that are nearly equivalent to the torpedoes of lesser warships. However, all torpedoes are multi-stage jet-propelled weapons with powerful warheads relative to the size of the vessels they are launched from, and are almost always propelled through axial magnetic accelerator tubes exiting through the warship's bow. The most infamous type of Directorate Torpedo is by far the Neutron Field Torpedo: a massive munition - essentially a spaceship unto itself in size and complexity - equipped with an extremely powerful Tannhauser-Orpheus pseudogravity generator. The torpedo uses a gravimetric singularity projected in front of its bow, basically a black hole, to "pull" it through space and reach extremely high velocities. Upon entering its terminal, or "attack" phase, once it is closed to the target, the Neutron Field Torpedo's singularity becomes a sheathing bubble of hyper-dense simulated gravity that allows it to plow through the gravimetric shielding of enemy warships and makes it impervious to enemy weapons' fire. This Torpedo detonates in close proximity to the enemy warship, creating an extremely powerful short-duration black hole that literally tears the vessel apart. The power of a capital ship grade Neutron Field Torpedo is sufficient for a single one to destroy most lesser enemy ships.
A Hyper-velocity Cannon - or HVC - is any axial magnetic accelerator mounted on a Directorate warship: the name is simply to dinstinguish it from a vessel's other, lesser, mass driver weapons. HVCs form the main armament of any Directorate warship. Only Destroyers - which carry clusters of small-end capital ship grade Neutron Field Torpedoes in launch cells on their external hulls - have another armament that is more powerful than these railguns. A Directorate battleship's main guns run through essentially the entire length of its gargantuan hull and propel the massive tungsten/depleted uranium slugs to 99.99% of Lightspeed [0.9999C]. Such is the power of these cannons that, even if they are not always a guarenteed kill shot against larger enemy vessels, the rounds will blow a hole completely through a fully shielded hostile capital ship and still retain prodigious momentum. Thus, it is possible for a volley from a Division of battleships to cause significant damage to multiple targets, if they are properly aligned; fleet combat formations must be specifically designed to guard against this eventuality. However, such massive warships are not at all maneuverable, and there is little a capital vessel can do to move out of the way of these huge unguided slugs.
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