Weaponry

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Combat Equipment - Starship

Antimatter Mines

These explosive charges used as proximity bombs in space. These mines can be equipped with magnetic targeting capabilities to seek out starships or other such targets.


Gravitic Mine

Free floating weapon used against space vehicles.


Heavy Graviton Based Plasma Driver

This weapon was originally Designed after the Wolf 359 incident and is specifically designed to do extreme amounts of damage to Borg vessels. Based around a plasma weapon it uses a Heavy Gravity field.


The basic theory is as follows. Shields use a subspace harmonic to create their cohesion. It has been found that a shield can be rendered useless in Heavy Graviton fields and Starfleet recognized this as a potential weakness. If the frequency is correct you can distort another ships shields without affecting your own. In essence this is how the Heavy Graviton Plasma driver works. The actual Plasma weapon is a very crude, high power phaser of sorts which, although not as highly tuned as the type X phaser array, can do awesome amounts of damage. If the ship it is firing at has shields, it does very little damage. However in conjunction with a Heavy Graviton distortion driver the result is very similar to a Quantum Torpedo. The tuned plasma goes straight through the outer shields of the ship and tears into the hull to do massive amounts of damage.


Starship Phasers

Starship Phasers are much like the regular hand-held Phasers, except bigger. Much bigger. For more information, see below.


Phaser Cannon

Starfleet has been playing with the idea of Phaser Cannons for well over 50 years. Numerous test prototypes have been produced and unfortunately failed. A Phaser Cannon, or most commonly known as the Disruptor Cannon takes a large amount of phased energy and bundles it in a cohesive shell. This shell is either magnetic or graviton based, however over distance it does dissipate, leaving the phased energy to escape into space, rendering it harmless. The Klingon, Romulan and Breen Empires all have developed disruptor technology and developed it to a point where it is a very effective weapon with an excellent range.


Phaser cannon

The Federation however took a different path in the design of its phased energy technology, opting for a more refined singular beam. This Type X array has severed Starfleet well, however it does have its downfalls. Helm to Tactical response times were highly unacceptable with a mobile, very powerful attack force. This factor, in combination with phaser array refocusing time forced Starfleet to develop the new Phaser Cannon. This development project was also pushed into being by the first Borg Encounter in system J-25. Previously all test projects had failed, however this time, with help from Malz, a renown Klingon scientist the highly unusual Federation style Phaser cannon came into being. The cannon uses a pulse modulated graviton shell to hold the phased energy together, the energy itself being fed directly from the Warp engines (instead of from batteries supplied by the warp core). Once fitted to the Defiant these cannon (four all together) proved to be excellent in simulated wargame exercises, the Helm to Tactical response time nearly flatlined. However problems arose with the amount of energy being channeled from the Defiant's oversized warpcore. There was massive recoil problems with the ships warp nacelles threatening to be torn off, the SIF not able to cope with the extra stress.


The problems were, over time, cured by designers, but not before Starfleet had officially closed the project after primary testing. When the ship came out of storage engineers already had a blueprint of how to modify the SIF so the Cannons were no longer a problem.


Photon Torpedoes

Photon Torpedoes are another offensive weapon of Federation Starships. They are considered to be Matter/Anti-Matter "missiles"..


The launch tube induces a warp field in receptor coils in the torpedo casing. A sustainer coil augments the induced field using warhead matter/antimatter components as propellant and provides for mid-flight course and speed corrections.


The warhead consists of a few kilograms of matter and antimatter. Before launch the reactants are stored in different areas of the casing. Approximately one second after successful launch, the warhead arms and the reactants are brought into proximity separated by force fields. At detonation, the fields drive the reactants quickly together.


Minimum safe target range is 15 kilometers. Maximum range for nominal warhead yield is 3.5 million kilometers.


Galaxy class starships carry 275 torpedo casings.

Up to 10 torpedoes can be launched as a single unit. After traveling for 150 meters, they separate into distinct delivery systems.

Starfleet tactics include simultaneous discharge of phasers and torpedoes. The phasers locally weaken the target's defensive shields allowing the torpedoes to penetrate and detonate within the shield perimeter, usually resulting in complete destruction of the target.

A "Photon" torpedo is a torpedo casing (with a *very* small warp engine which has enough fuel for a few seconds of "power-assisted" flight), fired from a huge rail-gun. The casing carries a warhead of a few hundred grams of antimatter in a magnetic "bottle". Upon impact, the magnetic bottle disintegrates, and the anti-matter impacts with the inside of the casing, providing a *very* powerful explosion, with a blast of mega doses of broad-spectrum radiation, with "extra" energy in the X-ray and Gamma ray range... *THAT* is what does all the damage.

Also included in the torpedo are target acquisition, guidance and detonation assemblies and a warp sustainer unit. The latter is charged by the launching vessels own drivefield at launch, boosting the torpedo speed up to Vmax = Vl + (0.75 Vl / c), where Vl is the velocity of the launching vessel. If launched at low impulse flight the torpedo will accelerate to a 75% higher sublight velocity; launch at high impulse speed will not push the torpedo into warp. If launched during warp flight the torpedo will continue at warp until the sustainer is exhausted. Torpedo range can be extended by utilizing the matter / antimatter warhead to power the sustainer, although this causes a corresponding loss of warhead yield. For a mid-range yield the torpedo can achieve ranges of some 3,500,000 kilometres at sublight speeds.

The photon torpedo can be set to fly a ballistic trajectory, be steered by the launch vessel, can home in via its own guidance systems, or use a combination of these methods in a single flight.

So why is it called a Photon torpedo? When electrons and antielectrons (positrons) collide and annihilate each other photons are emitted.


Plasma Torpedo

Weapon first employed by the Romulan bird of prey in 2266 against a string of Federation outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone. The plasma torpedo consisted of a small but powerful forcefield generator which fired from a standard torpedo tube. The generator would then establish a small but very powerful forcefield around itself and a much larger concentric field with a radius of about one hundred metres. The parent vessel established a field bridge through this outer layer and vented its plasma conduit system into the empty shell between the two fields. The breach was then sealed, and the vessel would break away and let the torpedo continue on its way. A high power sensor on the central body was capable of locking onto the target, and by venting part of the plasma in a specific direction some degree of control could be established over the course of the plasma torpedo.


This was a very complex and cumbersome weapons system with many disadvantages - venting the plasma system of a starship causes an almost total loss of power while firing, which means that the ship must both decloak and drop to sublight speeds while firing. The guidance system is extremely limited by the difficulties inherent in operating any sensor system through a high energy plasma field, and any degree of manoeuvring causes a significant drop in eventual yield. Because of these difficulties the plasma torpedo has therefore not been very successful when used against mobile targets such as Starships.


Fixed installations, on the other hand, are a different matter. The plasma torpedo essentially focuses the entire energy output of a starship into one colossal discharge; when used against a Federation asteroid-based outpost a single plasma torpedo collapsed the shields and caused near-total destruction of the installation even through several kilometres of solid rock. This level of destructiveness was not available with any other weapons system of the time.


Today the plasma torpedo is still in service with the Romulan Warbird as a heavy weapon for use against fixed installations.


Pulse-wave torpedo

This is an explosive device used by the Vulcans. The Vulcans are pacifists, therefore, such a weapon is only used in defense.


Quantum Torpedo

Starfleet for some time now has been worried about the well established photon torpedo, which although highly effective in combat has been known to 'backfire', some times wrecking starships in the process.


The major difference between the quantum and photon torpedo has to do with the warhead.


Quantum torpedoes

Photon torpedoes use a mixed matter/anti-matter reaction as their warhead. This can create a powerful explosion, but is unsafe. Anti-matter is very unstable and must be kept in a magnetically-sealed container. You often hear in a battle situation, that before torpedoes are launched, the weapons officer has to arm them. Armed meaning that the torpedoes must be filled with anti-matter before they can be fired. This process is relatively fast, a matter of seconds, but seconds can be a bad thing when in battle. A malfunction in the arming mechanism can ignite the anti-matter and blow a hole in the hull of the starship. For this reason the Starfleet weapon designers came up with the quantum torpedo.

Designers had to find a power source for the warhead that was stable and powerful. Something that could be loaded into a torpedo when their made and remain stable throughout a mission. The designers found such a power source in the form of the Quantum Filament. You will recall that the Quantum Filament is a natural form of energy in space. It has no mass and if triggered just right can release almost astronomic amounts of energy. Using reading taken by science teams studying natural filaments, the designers created small artificial filaments. What makes a Quantum torpedo so powerful is that the warhead contains 50-100 small artificial filaments. These can be loaded into a torpedo before they are put on a starship, and remain stable. The filaments can then be made active by a cascade reaction activated when the torpedo is launched from a starship. Up on impact the filaments spread out and explode, ripping any starship hull apart.

Overall the Quantum Torpedo is one of the major advances in weapons technology for over 100 years and has aided in keeping both the Borg and Dominion at bay since its inception.

The Cardassians are known to have developed a version of the quantum torpedo which equips their Dreadnought class drone missile. It is also known that the design schematics of the quantum warhead developed by Starfleet were scanned by unauthorized personnel at least once during the development of that weapon, and it is now thought that an operative of the Obsidian Order was able to copy this data and escape with it. The Cardassian version of the quantum torpedo was apparently developed by replacing the matter / antimatter tanks of a standard photon torpedo with a ZPE warhead. Although this does confer the increase in warhead effectiveness on the weapon, it is at a cost; without the matter / antimatter tanks to fuel the sustainer engine, the flight performance of the Cardassian quantum torpedo falls well below even that of a Mark 6 photon. This makes the weapon unsuitable for use as the primary torpedo armament of a fleet vessel while still leaving it suitable for the short range defence system of a device like Dreadnought.

The Cardassians were working on creating a device similar to Starfleets quantum torpedo to equip their fleet units, but during the war with the Klingons many of the Cardassians main weapons research centres were destroyed and their personnel killed. Today the Cardassians lack the resources to mount a major weapons development project and are continuing to use standard photon torpedoes. It is not known if they have shared the ZPE technology with the Dominion, but so far the Dominion vessels have not been known to employ quantum torpedoes during their war with the Federation.


Shields

Deflector shields are focused spatial distortions resulting in a deflective graviton field. This field effect is generated by waveguides on the outer hull of the ship.


Deflector shields have a significant fratricidal effect on the warp fields. Neither system can be operated at optimal efficiency when both are in operation.


Like most forcefield devices, the deflector system creates a localized zone of highly focused spatial distortion within which an energetic graviton field is maintained. The deflector field itself is emitted and shaped by a series of conformal transmission grids on the spacecraft exterior, resulting in a field that closely follows the form of the vehicle itself. This field is highly resistive to impact due to mechanical incursions ranging from relativistic subatomic particles to more massive objects at lesser relative velocities. When such an intrusion occurs, field energy is concentrated at the point of impact, creating an intense, localized spatial distortion.


Basically all this says is that the shields are a set of reversed gravity screens. if anything 'hits' the screens, the shield system reverses the gravitational acceleration in that zone, counteracting the force of the photon torpedo or whatever. To the torpedo, it will seem like it hit something solid.


In combat, the shield frequency is modulated at random to prevent opponents from matching a weapon frequency to shield frequency. During the frequency change, sensor operations are performed. Such deflector "windows" can sometimes be used to transport to a ship whose shield are operating. Although normally the transporter requires more bandwidth than the window allows.


Tri-Cobalt Device

During the initial scare in System J-25 with the Borg one of Starfleet's many projects was the Tri-Cobalt Device. It was the predecessor of the Quantum Torpedo but in effect had ten times the destructive capability. Again, this project used three of the most powerful explosives know to Starfleet: Tri-Cobalt, Antimatter and Quantum Filaments. As mentioned above the Quantum Torpedo uses Quantum Filaments which arc out over the targets hull ripping it to shreds, however the principle with the Tri-Cobalt device differs from this. Tri- Cobalt is normally a reasonable stable compound unless it is broken down at the molecular level. In the past Starfleet had tried to use it as an explosive, but failed due to impractical methods. However with the discovery of Artificial Quantum filaments the situation changed drastically.


The design of the Tri-Cobalt device is highly unique in the Alpha Quadrant. It uses a three tier warhead. One compartment is loaded with Antimatter, one with around 200 Quantum filaments and an appropriate amount of Tri-Cobalt. Upon impact there is a number of things that happen inside the warhead. Firstly the Quantum filaments are released into the Tri-Cobalt chamber creating a cascade reaction, mixing the Tri-Cobalt into a highly volatile mixture. A millisecond later the magnetic containment field around the antimatter is released and the active Tri-Cobalt and Anti hydrogen mix together creating a lethal explosion. The weapon is capable of disabling starships with one blow, as Starfleet unfortunately found out.


Initial testing of the weapon took place just before Wolf 359. Designers were panicked and rushing the project through under Starfleet's hasty gaze. USS Keel, an Excelsior class ship was the test vessel. The first few barrages in the Asteroid field in the Terran system proved to be massively successful. However in the final day of testing an accident occurred. One of the devices lodged itself in its launching tube and the warhead went critical. The resultant explosion tore the saucer section clean off the Keel and the minutes later the warp core in the drive section went critical. A total of 40 lives were lost in the accident and only weeks later Wolf 359 Occurred.


Designers eventually figured out what had gone wrong. The Tri-Cobalt device was in theory much heavier than a standard photon torpedo, and although the designers had taken this into account when modifying the launching tubes on the Keel they had not been sufficient. After the disaster at Wolf 359 Starfleet was still interested in using the Tri-Cobalt device on Starships. Quantum Torpedoes were now in development, however the sheer destructive capability of the weapon was seen as a possible defense against the Borg, whose vessels were very large targets. The designers took the launching system back to the drawing board and eventually came up with a highly safe system. From that point on Starfleet orders all new ships to be fitted with this kind of launching system and a steady retrofitting of the defensive capabilities of the other ships in the fleet (Note the Lakota). The standard ship compliment is for four Tri-Cobalt devices. Any more would pose great danger to the ship. In addition, ships on diplomatic or internal missions have the warheads removed for safety reasons.