Category:Ship's Weapons

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Ship's Weapons in the time of the Sixth Sun.

Ship's weapons divide into the following classes:

  • Directed energy weapons - instantaneous at short range - having the potential for delivery of significant energy to the target. Can also be used to defend against incoming missiles. Beam weapons have the advantage that they produce no recoil and so do not affect the trajectory of the user. Directed energy weapons are divided into:
    • Lasers: coherent electromagnetic radiation; divided into chemical and free-electron. Lasers are not effective against more distant targets because of the limits of focusing, and the problems of keeping the beam on the target due to the time lag and target manoeuvre.
      • A laser can be employed to:
        • Temporarily blind electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) passive sensors.
        • Permanently disable EMS passive sensors.
        • Provide reflected laser light detectable by ownship's passive sensors, either intentionally or as a by-product of a hit on the target.
        • Damage or destroy the target.
    • Particle beams: these have a shorter effective range than lasers due to electrostatic bloom, but heavy ion beams at high currents inflict much greater damage.
    • Nuclear-pumped gamma or x-ray lasers: a one shot device, best deployed from a 'missile' or bomb pod.
  • Missiles - can accelerate up to significant velocity and maneuver with a g-force a manned vessel cannot match and cannot evade. Once accelerated up to attack velocity, it can then use other motors to be directed to the target and to dodge defending fire. A missile can include ablative or mirror shielding to reduce the effects of a defending laser, and be armored to protect against kinetic impactors. Missiles deliver these weapons:
    • Nuclear/Antimatter warheads.
      In space a conventional nuclear detonation provides a localised thermal effect and a massive burst of x-rays, and some gamma and neutron radiation, limited in range by the inverse-square law. The radiation flux from a nuclear detonation is diluted as it moves from the origin of the explosion and spreads into a greater volume. Radiation is the primary kill mechanism of nuclear weapons in space, and the effective kill or destruction range is much greater than in an atmosphere.
      An enhanced radiation weapon generates an intense burst of high-energy neutrons plus x-rays, resulting in a wider lethal radius and causing short-lived secondary radioactivity; steel can remain dangerously radioactive for 24-48 hours.
      A very close detonation causes shipskin to suffer impulsive shock damage and then deform as it absorbs shock waves. X-rays cause rapid vaporization of the surface layer. Gamma and x-rays can be blocked by high electron density materials such as lead; in contrast neutrons are absorbed in light nuclei - water tanks are effective. Gamma and neutron irradiation is deadly to the crew if it bypasses shielding.
      A shaped charge is more deadly because the energy of the explosion is directed towards the target instead of as a sphere.
      An Antimatter annihilation releases half its energy as harmless neutrinos and muons, but the remainder creates a ultrahot plasma radiating across the electromagnetic spectrum including high quantities of gamma rays. The gamma-ray flux can be strong enough to transmute some elements into radioactive isotopes.
      Warhead yields are usually in the kiloton range due to the excessive radiation caused by a megaton explosion, which can be as deadly to the user as the target.
    • Detonation missiles: Nuclear-pumped gamma and x-ray lasers are deadly at close range; the stimulated emission chain reaction pumps an enormous burst of energy directed through the lasing rods.
    • Penetrators: to infiltrate shipskin to deliver either a warhead, or more exotic weapons such as hackerbots to disable ship's systems.
  • Kinetic weapons - fast, cheap, usually fired from a railgun in a cloud to provide area saturation and point-defense. The cloud disperses with range; against a ship the number of hits is critical. Hypervelocity kinetic weapons do produce recoil and if used en masse will affect the trajectory of the user.
  • Weapon pods.

Offensive Weapons

Range Preferred Weapon Secondary Weapon
Long Missile
Medium Laser Missile
Short Particle beam Laser
Close Nuclear-pumped Gamma Ray Laser Kinetic Energy Weapon

Point-Defense Weapons

Range Preferred Point Defense Secondary Point Defense
Medium Self Guiding Missile Laser
Short Directed Missile Kinetic Energy Weapon
Close Kinetic Energy Weapon
(Railgun or Gatling)
Directed Missile
  • Lasers are less effective because the target is relatively small and agile requiring a constant focusing of the beam.
  • Missiles are effective medium range point-defense weapons because they can carry a homing head to acquire the target independent of ship's sensors, reducing the time lag for acquisition and response to threat manoeuvre.
  • A hypervelocity depleted uranium kinetic energy weapon may not be adequate to destroy or change the trajectory of an incoming threat to prevent it or fragments of it from hitting own ship. This means that kew projectiles fired from larger railguns include a miniature highex warhead.
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