Friday, October 3, 2014

Arms & Armor

Soundtrack: [1]


It didn't take long for warfare to spread into space, and with the first space battles, an arms race began. Early ships used a combination of lasers and projectile weapons, the latter of which were far more devastating. But as technology advanced, lasers grew cheaper, lighter, and more powerful until they all but took over as the weapon of choice. Be that as it may, missile weapons still have a place in attempts to overwhelm ship defenses, since a single hit can tear any ship to pieces.

Directed Energy Weapons

High energy lasers are the weapon of choice in both space and atmospheric combat. Their incredible precision and extreme range make them idea for battles amongst the stars, and even with reduced atmospheric ranges, they are still more than capable of hitting targets miles away.

Civilian lasers are typically mall arms that fire in the far and near infrared, where they pose less of a risk of accidental blinding. As a result, they tend to have lower ranges than military-grade weapons. Military lasers have adjustable wavelengths that span from far infrared through UVC, although the violet and ultraviolet wavelengths are typically only used in vacuum where there isn't any air to absorb the beams. In atmosphere, blue and green lasers are preferred for their long range, but because they are visible, care must be taken to protect the vision of troops.

In space, extremely high powered free electron lasers typically emit lasers in the x-ray wavelengths. These incredible weapons have ranges measured in thousands of miles (and in extreme cases, even more) and are capable of burning clear through unarmored starships. When engaging in orbital bombardment or blockade missions, ships often tune these weapons to UV or blue wavelengths so they can fire into or through the atmosphere.

A new and highly controversial weapon has been developed recently that utilizes a beam of relativistic hydrogen nuclei – or atoms – excited into a plasma to burn through and irradiate targets. These particle weapons are extremely hazardous in atmospheres where the firer often irradiates himself, but in vacuum, their extreme range is often measured in millions of miles, and their armor penetration is unmatched. The controversy, of course, stems from the use of directed radiation against people. Still, with the ever present threat of cosmic radiation, solar storms, planetary radiation belts, and development of treatments for radiation exposure, people have grown more inured to nuclear threats. Currently the only ban on such weapons limits their use within the atmosphere of any inhabited world.

Kinetic Weapons

While kinetic guns have lost their place in combat, missiles still see regular use. Ships often carry multiple launch tubes loaded with homing missiles who usually function by exploding a short distance from the hull, spraying the ship with high velocity projectiles, much like a shotgun. The lower mass, high density projectiles punch through armor, tear through interior structures, and shred anything that isn't made of hardened steel. Other more dangerous – and expensive – missiles use a high density shell casing and delayed charge to punch through armor before detonating inside the ship, where it cannot withstand the overpressures. No less deadly are shells similar to 20th century flak guns that detonate in the proximity of the ship and spray the entire area with high velocity shrapnel that can damage anything in the vicinity.


Every advance in weaponry drives advances in defensive technology. Currently, weapons are outpacing defenses, but defense contractors are working feverishly to bridge the gap.


Modern armor utilizes complex matrixes of hyperdense crystaling structures grown in orbital factories. This exotic armor is often refered to as diamondoid or diamond skin, since it is often compared to diamonds. Its particular structure has proven resilient against both lasers and missiles, but no more effective against particle beams than any other armor of similar mass.

While such hyperdense armor can be fashioned into small enough plates for use by infantry, its weight is prohibitively high in all cases where powered armor is not in use. To that end, custom nanocomposites and special metamaterials are typically used as armor by foot soldiers. These are often optimized for specific wavelength ranges, giving extra protection against certain wavelengths at the expense of protection against others. For instance, military armor is often optimized for blue and green lasers but is particularly vulnerable to the shorter range infrared lasers.

Point Defenses

Most ships who anticipate hostile encounters outfit a number of automated low-power anti-missile lasers slaved to a targeting computer and dedicated sensor suite. These relatively small laser batteries are capable of tracking and destroying hundreds of missiles, small meteoroids, projectiles, or other objects. Currently work is also being done to create smaller scale particle beams that can target hazards even further afield than lasers.

No comments :

Post a Comment