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Fleet Admiral's Guide to the Inner Sphere (Katherine-verse)
Product information
Publication information
Content
Content Analyst of Warships and Tactics Using them.
Era Civil War Era
Jihad Era
Timeline 3072-3090

Description[]

Fleet Admiral's Guide to the Inner Sphere, a Compiled by 2SLDF Fleet Admiral Juhan Dubravka (retired) and Star Admiral Ciri McKenna. is a in-universe publication written by fan writer, AlphaMirage. This is essay of in-sight of proper use of Aerospace-based assets used by the Inner Sphere.

While the in-fiction reflects the current state of the Inner Sphere in AlphaMirage's Katherine-verse AU, it does convey information on game play usage of Aerospace side in BattleTech as a tabletop game.

Canonicity[]

The book is not canon in sense of the Katherine-verse AU's version of the events after 3050. It differs greatly with historical events past that date. With various of the Civil War, the early/shorter Jihad, 2nd Star League surviving beyond the Jihad. Additional AU-exclusive Warships mentioned are not canon. Most Warships aside from the Katherine-verse AU units are in fact canon. However, their number any named ships should be doubled checked.

However, game play analyst is valid and considered to be functional correct for game play use for any setting. Tactics and roles in using the aerospace aspects of this are correct.

Why Fight in Space?[]

Humanity has been fighting in space since the mid-20th Century fortunately for all of us without the ICBMs. Like many things this all changed during the Age of War following the Age of Exploration that saw humanity spread to the stars. The Terran Hegemony based its power on its vast War fleets and their ability to reach any colony with sufficient force to bring them inline with its goals. This trend reached a zenith during the Reunification War and since then almost all knowledge of Warship combat has been lost except among the Clans.

The most recent large scale engagements occurred during the Jihad as the 2SLDF and Clans fought against the FWLN and Blakist White Fleet. The Free Worlds League adapted to the threat environment of the Clans and transferred tech and personnel to the Word of Blake after Huntress and Irece. These commanders devised new strategies to counter a huge disparity in arms and defeat the Clans on their own terms. It is a tragedy that many such tacticians were lost during the conflict. These efforts could not have been won without the Clan's large Naval Toumans and experience, particularly among Clan Snow Raven.

Many of the newest tactics will inform the third and later generation of Warships that will hopefully serve to keep the peace. Nevertheless there is a need to prepare for emerging interstellar threats. These could take the form of the Trinity Alliance or Blakist remnants from the Deep Periphery or even from some lost empire. The SLDF disappeared and returned so a similar event, however implausible occupies the best minds of its successor.

So we fight in space to project power, police and enable trade, and deny the high ground to our enemies. How that happens changes dramatically depending on capabilities of the individual craft. The Jihad's aftermath has given the leadership of the Successor States many obligations to restore the damage done. At the same time we have a unique opportunity to unify efforts under the Second Star League.

Jump Points[]

The most important area of space to concern oneself with are the Zenith and Nadir Jump Points. These are the primary and only legal zones of entry to a star system and are occupied by any number of transiting spacecraft. While not a point per say space stations, dropships, and warship in that area are close by to respond to any raid.

Since the KF drive requires a certain extremely low gravitation threshold jump points are best though of as a large open sphere. This sphere intersects the planetary disk in areas occupied by large gas or ice giants. These Non-Standard Points can be a faster way to more quickly access these outer planets but requires more time and detailed charts to avoid asteroids clustering at the Lagrange Points and ensure you jump ahead of the orbital ellipse so that the planet is coming toward you.

Pirate points are another important consideration, every planet in a system has a small number of pirate points where gravitational effects are effectively reduced enough to allow a successful translation. These areas are time sensitive and require a truly detailed chart and additional time to plot. They do however bring a jump-ship to within a day or less of planet-fall which can easily be to fast for a planet to mount concerted defense against a raid. However, the short distance also brings Jump-ships, or more commonly Warships, within range of planetary defenses exponentially increasing danger to these expensive assets.

Day to day Fleet operations are traffic control and customs enforcement in these areas. This is best accomplished with small craft carrying law enforcement and a few small guns sufficient to deal with smugglers or armed merchantmen. More restricted systems often have an fast assault dropship, carrier, or bastion station to immediately intercept threats.

Almost all systems, even uninhabited ones, have a cheap beacon satellite on station for navigational purposes in system. Most of these have some basic observation equipment keeping a log of jumpship and dropship activity. These logs are regularly transmitted to a planetary database or patrolling military vessel and compiled by fleet headquarters or self-defense commanders for better intelligence.

Often interplanetary communications services maintain a data satellite storing messages to be later accessed by an appropriate user outside of the HPG network. These could be goldmines for intelligence operations but are more likely to be status transmissions, memos, or voice mails.

Other satellites exist but the two most basic deep space ones are of the beacon, observation, and data types. These are simple and inexpensive machines powered by solar panels with slow microwave or radio links to a ground or space station.

Little Birds[]

Satellites are a much neglected aspect of space combat. Intelligence gathering, accurate navigation, and early threat detection are critical to modern operations. These are things that satellites do in a compact almost disposable fashion. The vast array of satellites can be broken down to passive or active but the exact construction and capabilities are either classified or incredibly diverse.

Passive satellites watch and listen until they receive the necessary signal. An advance team using a Scout-Class Jumpship can send out a number of these into hostile space traveling months long ballistic trajectories. These satellites will just listen and wait for the right signal to send their findings without the enemy realizing it.

Ones orbiting a planet can also be hacked or jammed by electronic warfare gear to deny the enemy an asset while giving you one they might be hesitant to shoot down. Recon and Interceptor craft are the biggest threats to these devices and preparation for an invasion or occupation can involve hunting them to blind and degrade recon and coordination between ground elements. Specialized SkiTTers (Sub-Kiloton Transport) or small craft can rapidly redeploy satellites however so orbital superiority needs to be continually secured.

The second are the active kind and while the weight and expense of installing weapons on a fragile and effectively immobile object is high it is still sometimes done but normally only in very crowded space. More commonly they are equipped with orbital mines or light weapons (rarely more powerful than a large laser) to destroy other satellites and threaten thinly armored dropships. These small devices actively home in on incoming vessels and damage them. Many are required to be effective however and the low thrust ensures they are only a major threat to other satellites or space stations.

Modern Aerospace Fighter Tactics[]

Conventional wisdom classifies Aeropace Fighter into three different categories but there are really four based on thrusters and firepower. Accelerations over or around 4 Gs (7+ cruise) are used in recon and interceptor roles which differ principally in their armament. Recon, if armed, is equipped only for self defense while an interceptor has at least some heavier weapons for attack. Around 3Gs (6 cruise) are used for fighters as this is faster than most common dropships although the larger ships have bigger fuel tanks and can maintain a lead longer than a fighter has legs. Less than that are typically ground attack or boomers as they can be outmaneuvered by most drop-ships and some Warships particularly newer Gen III versions.

Standard carrier launch procedure is to send out the 'slugs' first on the mag rails. Boomers and Gunships typically have the slowest acceleration curve and need time to 'build up steam.' These are followed by their fighter escorts, then interceptors and assault shuttles, followed by Remassers and SAR craft.

Dogfights take a long time to set up and are not necessarily as fast and furious as in the holovids. Most fights rapidly devolve into what is known as the 'bait ball' or 'merge' where fighters, gunships, and fast attack dropships move in a roughly spherical area outside their objective.

The other common arrangement is known as the 'psycho cylinder,' and is the space between Warships. Inside this cylinder an aerospace fighter could be taken out by naval gunnery but are often fiendishly difficult targets for anything other than missiles to hit. At the same time these craft can attack or protect the ships slightly outside the engagement envelope as getting close to a warship or arsenal vessel is incredibly dangerous for all but the most armored.

Recon craft are used in planetary invasion or orbital control operations as a more capable satellite that can make low fast passes and scan for threats. In an actual fight they are too light and flimsy to survive and are better off hitting afterburners and hope the enemy can't or is unwilling to keep up. They do however have key advantages against conventional air-breathing fighters where their light armament is enough for a mission kill on even less capable craft.

Interceptors are high speed high firepower machines with light armor and poor endurance. These are principally meant to fight as harassers or pursuit craft. They lack the armor to take a hit and are better off using thrust to defend against enemy attack if threatened. This combined with under-wing ordnance can give them a quick and sometimes decisive punch. Interceptors almost always fly in two ship formations originating from the outside of a formation making quick passing shots at difficult angles.

Multi-role Fighters combine all aspects of aerospace combat they don't typically have overwhelming firepower but what weapons they carry are enough for aerospace combat where criticals are just as likely to mission kill a fighter as ripping through all the armor.  They are paired with similar fighters but a squadron contains a mix of weaponry designed to support each other at various ranges. Common armament are typically heavy on lasers or PPCs and they carry extra fuel for maneuvering.

Boomers are heavily armed and sent to combat dropships or warships. These are very heavy fighters (70+) mounting thick armor to protect from common anti-aerospace weapons. Often their wings are fully loaded with ordnance making them incredibly slow yet powerful combatants. A boomer strike can threshold or kill even the hardiest of assault ships and seriously damage light warships. These are almost always deployed in matched squadrons supported by a fighter squad equipped for escort.

Ground Attack is an extension of the Boomer role. These are more likely to be striking moon bases or space stations than contested ground where they are ill suited. Aerospace fighters can execute a suborbital hop to rapidly deploy and support elements from ground bases or launch from orbiting carriers. Most planetary assault forces don't bring conventional fighters in their vehicle complement so it is up to the ASFs to provide bombs or guns in support of a ground assault.

These craft are typically on the middle end of the mass scale (around 50-60 tons) as ground fire is not as devastating as something a Warship or Fast Attack Craft could manage so less armor is needed. Instead the ground itself is your biggest potential threat as any damage could upset the careful balance of the fighter and result in a control loss at low altitude and high speed.

Modern Small Craft Tactics[]

Assault Shuttles are are frequently aerodyne, and many are based on the S-7A Bus, but typically a 150 ton vessel with increased armor and thrust. Most of that armor is added to the nose and their weapons are dispersed and mainly for self-defense. Often there is a heavy nose gun, either a Heavy Gauss Rifle, UAC/20, Thunderbolt 20, or a Heavy PPC to breach armor for the on-board troops and cripple slow moving (or damaged) dropships that are its preferred targets. The real power however lies in the troop bay where often two or more platoons of unarmored Marines or two Squads of Armored Marines grapple onto the hull of an enemy spacecraft and force their way inside to take control.

Boarding actions are high risk high reward ventures. Spacecraft have narrow corridors and although most pressure doors are fairly flimsy the ones leading to sensitive areas are reinforced. Layouts are often confusing, and the nature of any spacesuit even armored makes them vulnerable to attack. Nevertheless, the late Khan Xander Drake, Colonel Devlin Stone, and others have found optimal ways to engage in these actions using modified battle armor.

Gunships are small craft, often spheroid in nature, that carry heavy ordnance and electronic warfare equipment. The larger platform and dedicated crew improve the electronic warfare assets of a small craft compared to a similar equipped aerospace fighter. These vessels thus serve as forward air control and advanced sensor platforms.

Having a dedicated gunner improves anti-missile systems such that they can negate many incoming non-capital grade missiles and with enough depth can even eliminate capital ones before they reach their target. This makes spheroids effective defensive platforms. Gunships often form the forward edge of a picket protecting warships and aerospace squadrons from such attacks. Unfortunately, most are lacking in thrust so they need to be protected from enemy Interceptors and are easy prey for capital missiles if lacking enough coverage.

Another class of small craft are Search and Rescue and Remasser craft. These are typically spheroid and of similar construction operating in support of a Fighter Wing. Drifting aerospace fighters can be remassed and returned to their carrier after the battle. During a battle these craft will take up a position within the protective envelope of a larger combatant and move forward to fill re-mass tanks with liquid ammonia or methane. Once remassed the craft can reengage as long as they have ammo and armor improving endurance.

Combat spacesuits and Aerofighter pods (the whole cockpit assembly is ejected not just the pilot) have at least 48 hours of life support and a week of beacon time (to recover the body). If they remain attached to the fighter that can be extended to almost four days by using the APU to recharge the batteries. SAR craft and Remassers share the same larger remass bunkerage although SAR trade extra fuel for a larger passenger space.

Space Stations[]

Castles in the Sky[]

Space Stations when well-designed one can force an opponent to plan accordingly and pose a major threat to small raids. Against a proper Warship they can endure slightly longer than nothing, but the lack of mobility and weak structure hampers them greatly. However, they force an enemy to slow and plan for aerospace defense which can reduce incoming threats and provide time to improve fortifications or call for reinforcements.

They come in two types, carrier or weapon platforms. Carriers like the Bastion or Drake often host an entire wings of Fighters and Fast Attack dropships. Weapons platforms, like the Dragon's Breath, Capitol, or Battlesat battlestations. These platforms carry long ranged weapons, often an abundance of capital or sub-capital missiles and light cannons or lasers to give them stand-off capability against their most common foes, such as aerospace fighters and fast attack dropships.

What is common on a space station though are sensor, EW, and communication arrays that can guide tele-operated missiles and direct ground-side fire or aerospace assets within a complex planet-moon system. The Word of Blake used Drake SDS systems to control drones and the Trinity Alliance has acquired some of that tech according to 2SLIA (Too Sly). These floating fortresses can be particularly troublesome as the Hellions could attest after taking Aphrodite Station, a M-9 Pavise SDS station, an effort that cost them most of their remaining Warships.

Unbreakable Moon Bases[]

A planetary defense force's space assets are rarely based at the bottom of the gravity well. Moons serve as islands in otherwise empty orbital space and often house first strike capability in defense of their planet. Fortified bunkers protect aerospace fighters and heavy weapon turrets capable of engaging warships and other spacecraft around capital worlds. Most modern shipyards are built around moons with corporate assets designed to defend the facility itself in addition to serving an industrial purpose.

Luna's defense were so thick and deep that Clan Ghost Bear expended most of their Touman and almost all of Zeta and Valkyrie Galaxies taking it during the Battle for Sol. Luna's Heavy Mass Driver was also responsible for the destruction of the last Leviathan. Ignoring these bases is done at your own peril as Aerospace fighters operating with Remassers can easily span large distances to reinforce their planet.

Modern Dropship Tactics[]

Fast Attack Craft are the classic assault dropships and almost all are relatively light aerodynes and laid out like large fighters. Designs such as the Avenger have not aged well over the centuries as more capable sub-capital weapons and the proliferation of large missiles pose major threats to them.

However, all are in the process of undergoing upgrades meant of capitalizing on their strengths. Upgraded versions are a deadly threat to modern aerospace fighters which are still the most capable ton for ton space combatants. Electronic warfare systems have seen the largest improvements to degrade drone, naval C3, or tele-operated missiles. They use high speed to close quickly on hostile fighters and engage with their powerful yet lightweight armaments like larger Interceptors.

Fast Assault Transports are relatively uncommon designs that serve as a larger more powerful version of the assault shuttle. Assault Shuttles are far to small and slow to close with a warship or bastion station and survive. Even if they could carry enough Marines to overpower the crew. FATs can however and back these Marines up with Battlemechs modified for microgravity combat.

The FWLN Hamilcar is one of the more modern designs and underwent several major alterations after weaknesses were highlighted when fighting against the Word of Blake. Classic designs like the SLDF and Clan Elephant and 2SLDF's Octopus Tug DropShips also fall under this classification although they too have undergone major changes to mitigate modern threats.

Arsenal Ships are the newest addition to the Aerospace combat paradigm because they are a solid middle ground between larger Warships and their much smaller cousins the Fast Attack Craft. Arsenal ships use sub-capital weapons and capital missiles providing almost light warship firepower into a larger dropship package and even the smaller ones are spheroid. These Arsenal ships provide long range standoff firepower against Aerospace fighters and to threaten hostile warships.

The Word of Blake designed these vessels to efficiently produce something that could threaten Clan Warships. They were successful enough that many of the early losses of Clan Warship losses were to masses of nuclear tipped missiles which the crews could not efficiently intercept with their vintage SLDF warships.

A lesser known version of the Arsenal ship is the Siegebreaker. Instead of using capital missiles these, often aerodyne designs, are equipped with cruise missiles or artillery only capable of firing while landed. These were typically Triumphs re-purposed to carry missiles instead of tanks and meant to support large combined arms operations against powerful defensive structures like Castles Brian. Many of these were deployed by all powers throughout the Jihad to dig out fanatical Blakist elements as Warships that would otherwise be used for bombardment were needed elsewhere.

Assault Carriers remain the largest classes of combat dropships in modern use. Vessels range wildly in size from the lightly armed Leopard CV to Titan which itself is a powerful assault craft. They often carry no more than a Wing of Trinary of Aerospace fighters and often lack their full complement when operating as part of a fleet (with the excess going to the larger warship carrier) to allow for additional berthing in the event of a loss or more efficient SAR and salvage operations.

These ships are very commonly found employed in area denial operations serving as range extenders and service depots for their fighter craft. Another common use for them is power projection operations, Clan Snow Raven in particular enjoys deploying their Titans in this fashion as they less costly in both resources and diplomatically to deploy a dropship than a warship, particularly in the post-Jihad era where many have been damaged or destroyed.

Introduction to Warship Generations[]

Warships have seen a major evolution from the armed jump vessels of the Age of War. They continue to prove necessary to secure interstellar empires despite their often-astonishing expense. Over the years paradigm shifts have occurred within the Inner Sphere and each time naval architects have adapted just as the old ships of the line were replaced by dreadnoughts and then aircraft carriers and submarines. In fact, many of the same things occurred over the years for warships.

Generation I Warships include all warships built prior to the Reunification War. These are still the most produced vessels in existence, a testament to stunning efficiency and wealth of the Inner Sphere during the Terran Hegemony and original Star League. The Clans and COMSTAR maintained many of these over the centuries making only minor alterations and few real improvements. Most were destroyed during the Jihad and War of Sundering with the few that remain kept principally as a stopgap by the Clans until they can rebuild their shattered naval industry, a task they are rapidly closing on.

These vessels were designed with dominant tactics of the SLDF at the time. Broadside weapons bays laid out for long range bracketing, large cargo bays to support massive troop formations, relatively thin armor, and a small number of anti-aerospace defense to handle anything that made it through the screen. They were designed to be operated as part of the large fleets of that era with abundant friendly fighters and fast attack ships.

Generation II Warships are typically much smaller than the Gen I ships and were never produced in large numbers with only the Fox frigate and its Eclipse clone having around 20 in their class. These were more focused designs and include the Clans' new Warships and all those produced in the Inner Sphere during the pre-Jihad era.

Fox-Class Corvette, with Solar Sail deployed

The designs have smaller cargo bays, larger engines, thicker armor (most of the time), more anti-aerospace weapons, and capital bays laid out for brawling at closer ranges as the techniques for bracketing were lost during the Succession Wars to the Inner Sphere.

These Warships were meant to be a threat to smaller formations (a Thera task force consists of only three ships and remains the largest deployed till the Jihad) with comparably little endurance as they would not be sent on years long expeditions supporting divisions of SLDF troops beyond the Hegemony instead they were meant to combat Clan Warships in close space.

Thera-Class Super Fighter Carrier, underway in deep space.

With the reintroduction of sub-capital weapons and deployment of drone fighters, fast attack, assault carrier, and capital missile armed arsenal dropships took precedence over larger Warships. These were created to asymmetrically deal with the Clan's larger fleets by leveraging inherited weaknesses in both design and tactics from their Gen I warships while negating the superior weapons of a Clan Aerofighter.

Their existence has dramatically changed naval architecture and engineering as well as tactics. With dropships able to bracket fire, drone fighters armed with nuclear bombs, and heavy use of tele-operated missiles there was pressing need to adjust designs to combat increasingly dangerous small foes rather than larger ones. These small vessels combined with powerful SDS systems and sabotage were responsible for the almost complete destruction of the Clan Warship fleet during the Jihad.

Generation III Warships are presently under construction throughout the Inner Sphere. These designs find themselves having to improve mission capability while reducing cost. This means that many lack LF batteries and jump collars which is seen less of a detriment than it would have been to the ancient SLDF where interstellar power projection was key to the Terran Hegemony.

Aboard these ships capital and sub-capital weapons are mixed with greater anti-missile defenses, HarJel, reinforced internal structure, and advanced armor composites. These vessels are less than 850 kilotons with two to six jump collars and more powerful engines than their SLDF counterparts to improve strategic positioning while being able to pace attack vessels and place a greater emphasis on medium to long range combat at higher velocities.

The first Gen III Warship, the battlecruiser DCA Yamato launched in 3068, the Black Dragons worked with the Word of Blake to replace all standard anti-aerospace weapons with sub-capital weapons. It was heavily damaged during the Invasion of Sol in 3070 and had to be returned to Midway for repairs, which are still ongoing. The old Gen I Tharkad-Class battlecruiser, LCS Invincible captured from the Word of Blake has been laid up over Alarion for about as long undergoing repairs and upgrades until its successors can be constructed.

Mjolnir-Class Battlecruiser

Presently (in 3072) the Durendal (an improved Whirlwind-Class Destroyer) and Caspian (an improved Agamemnon-Class Heavy Cruiser) classes are just finishing construction in the Lyran Alliance and Free Worlds League respectively. The Trinity States and Council Clans have focused their efforts on more effective fast attack, assault carrier, and arsenal ships as well as tighter coordination between their fleets of heavy cruisers. Clan Snow Raven has concentrated its efforts to repair and reactivate its already large fleet while building up self-sufficiency within the Outworlds Alliance to support their Touman and civilian industrial aims.

Warship Engagement Profiles[]

There are four principal forms of engagement profile between large craft including combat dropships. They are High Speed Closing Engagement aka “Jousting,” Brawling, Bracketing Broadsides, or Stand-Off. Each has their own inherent advantages and disadvantages and a craft can overlap but rarely does as compromise designs are not able to leverage key points.

Warship design has certain symmetries built into its construction as yawing, rolling, and passing are all things that warships are capable of doing in their 3D environment and so architects design with these in mind. Jump collars are typically located on the dorsal and ventral planes as are launch bays to take advantage of the long design and vectored thrust. All Warship engines are capable of a limited amount of vectored thrust to twist and roll but the faster they are moving the longer this takes to accomplish.

Almost all engagements happen at reasonably 'slow' velocities and often on parallel courses except for jousting which happens are very high speed and 'point on'. A High-Speed Closing Engagement is defined as when a Warship is moving fast enough to close its full weapon range in a single minute. This extra velocity is imparted into ballistic and missile weapons making them hit harder although the warship will get only one chance coming in and another departing to connect.

A warship designed to Joust like the Great White Fleet's Suffren destroyers and Clan Fredasa corvettes have enormous ballistic firepower in its fore and aft bays with less in the broadsides. This often takes the form of a NAC/40 which is the single most powerful cannon capable of being mounted on a Warship. In larger vessels the forward three bays will be mirrored on the aft although when leaving at high velocity the ballistic weapons are not as powerful, so it is just as often NPPCs.

These engagements are incredibly fast and leave little chance to intercept by the target. However, they also take a potentially long time to set up as the jousting vessel must accelerate continuously to build up that velocity. By adjusting your own acceleration, one could avoided and potentially expose the jouster to a hit on their broadsides from your own nose or aft weapons bays.

Brawling encounters occur when two warships close gradually with the intention to pass, turn, and expose all quarters to enemy fire over time. The engagement begins with the brawlers opening fire with their nose bays before coming in at a slight angle and decent velocity to give their nose, quarterdeck, and broadside to the enemy and rotate through hoping to wreck an enemy with medium range firepower before moving out of range and giving their broadsides maximum time on target.

This form of combat is best exemplified by the Mjolnir-Class Battlecruiser which effectively uses its acceleration, thick armor, powerful forward array, and withering medium range fire broadsides to devastate smaller warships. The FWLN's Agamemnon has the right weapons mix but not enough armor to perform it as adequately as the Black Lion Battlecruiser it attempted to emulate, the new Caspian Cruiser is meant to fix that deficiency.

Blacklion II-Class Battlecruiser

Bracketing broadsides are as mentioned broadsides encounters at very long ranges. This is accomplished by using computers to adjust the firing angle of each weapon to threaten a larger area. The size of the bracket is calculated, and the Warship Captain loses some of the direct effect for a greater change of hitting with something. At closer ranges the bracket doesn't need to be as wide, so more firepower reaches the target.

Long range broadsides are often used by slower and particularly large craft. Quad weapon turrets are common with the McKenna's Heavy NPPCs being the gold standard as they remain capable of dealing enormous damage at long range. Lighter weapons like MNPPCs and NAC/10s are adequate for handling combat dropships or swarms of Aerospace fighters. NAC/20 and 25s are devastating at closer ranges for all combatants but are more common on brawlers.

Stand-off Warships engage their enemies with capital missiles or similar long-range weapons. This class also includes carriers as at the warship level they carry many although most Warships carry a squadron or two for defensive or projection purposes. The FCF's Avalon or SLDF's Quixote are the standard bearers for the class with their heavy missile ordnance. The FWLN's Thera super-carrier and its escorting Eagle frigates with their Naval Gauss Rifles and Aerospace Wings are also included.

These Warships can be devastating for smaller warships or swarms of lesser craft as each missile's high velocity kinetic warheads has a chance to inflict critical damage and Naval Gauss rifles while not as efficient as NPPCs are powerful enough to threaten many lighter ships. The real warship killer threat in this class however belongs to Santa Ana and Alamo nuclear weapons which can disable or destroy even the largest of battleships.

Many destroyers also adopt this profile as their lighter weapons and weaker armor means that distance is their best protection. Destroyers typically mount their longest-range direct fire weapons in the forward bays with capital missiles or single or dual mounted shorter ranged ones in the broadsides where they can still be brought to bear to fire fore and aft to threaten anything that gets past. Gen III Destroyers like the LCA's Durendal class are incorporating sub-capital cannons to supplement this 'goalkeeper' role.

Stand-Off Warships are vulnerable to McKenna type battleships with heavy quad mounted weapons as they often lack sufficient armor or mobility to endure that amount of firepower or escape it. Although improvements are being made, they are also threatened by fast attack craft that can close the distance and engage the lighter vessels. With cheaper arsenal ships also capable of carrying missiles and more 'mobile' (as they can use jump command chains while Warships cannot) they might find their role changed by the 3100s.

McKenna-Class Battleship

Construction of Warships[]

The goal of a warship is to bring powerful weapons to bear across the stars projecting power just like the great ocean going fleets of Terran Empires reaching all the way back to antiquity. Everything from architecture to operation revolves around this singular task. Warships are unique in that they utilize a compact KF core that takes up much less of their mass than the more economical standard version used by jumpships.

While some jumpships carry weapons their primary design consideration is moving dropships efficiently. This ability is shared with their larger cousins though at a much higher expense with Warships costing many times more to build, maintain, and operate.  The SLDF derived their loose classification system based on how many dropships a vessel held but modern designs are more based on equivalent masses and thruster power.

There are four key systems in a warship that allow them to accomplish this mission. The aforementioned compact KF core and its attached solar sail, large interplanetary thrusters to move the great mass of warship through space, a thermonuclear power plant capable of powering a metropolis, and its weapon systems capable of transforming that power into offensive force.

Almost 45% of the vessel's total mass is taken up by the compact core which is the first component constructed in the cage. This system and its supports help form the spine of the ship just as they do for jumpships. Similar to jumpships giant solar sails recharge their drive although it can fast charge using the reactors or recharge station is available.

A lithium fusion 'jump battery' can allow incredible strategic mobility by giving the warship (or some jumpships) two jumps instead of one. These were popular at the end of the first generation of Warships and most Clan refits or Gen II Inner Sphere vessels have one to maximize limited vessels. They are incredibly expensive however and a Warship can only recharge one system at a time via one method. In wartime recharge stations would keep a battery and main drive topped off for quick response. This strategy was used to great effect by the Duke of New Syrtis during OPERATION:THUNDERSTRUCK during the Jihad to deal with incursions by Blakist and CCAF warships into his domain.

With larger numbers of fast attack craft and pocket warships strategic mobility has improved in the dropship corps. Increasing numbers of jumpships and recharging stations for them will continue to give these smaller vessels the option to command circuit to distant battlefields faster than any warship could possibly respond. Gen III Warships are thus less likely to bother with the additional expense and mass of a battery when a squadron of assault dropships could adequately accomplish many tasks with less risk to an expensive strategic asset.

The reactor and thrusters are then installed completing the functional Triad of a Warship. Naval Architects spend thousands of hours figuring out how powerful the engines need to be to complete the designated mission as each 0.5g of thrust consumes almost 6% of a vessel's total mass. An idiom accredited to Illium Shipyards CEO Shankur Phan boiling it down is, “When capacity is key the slower it should be, but combat is fast so don't be last.”

Naval Gunnery[]

The lack of innovation in large weapons are concerning to strategists but it is agreed that recovered Lostech will continue to rule for the foreseeable future. There is still room to improve targeting packages, EWAR, and sensor suites to use them more effectively. Tactics rather than tech will continue to dictate success.

There are many questions regarding the layout of weapons in a warship. We will quickly answer common ones heard by every incoming naval academy cadet.

Why not use all four Warship sides for guns? 
Warships have at least four long sides that could be used to mount weapons but only two are dedicated to guns. That is because the dorsal and ventral surfaces of a Warship are used for radiators, grav decks, drop collars, and hanger bays. Also guns are heavy and most warships would have to reduce their broadsides arrays ensuring that even fewer weapons were on target at a given time.
With only so much internal volume these exterior facing components need to go somewhere and putting them in the line of fire is certain to see them damaged. The fore and aft quarter decks provide overhead and underneath coverage of these areas as their weapons are more flexibly mounted than those in the broadsides and nose/aft arcs.
Why not use turrets to traverse guns onto targets across the centerline? 
This is the most common question I hear at Olympia, many cadets come in with romantic notions of ancient ships of the line. They lack a fundamental understanding of space efficiency much like the four broadside question. The casemated guns of a Warship are integrated into the superstructure and fuselage protecting their inner mechanisms from harm by enemy action or malevolent physics.
Barrels, targeting pods, and mirrors stick out, on turrets hidden by dome shields and protrusions, with an almost 135* firing envelope. The bulk of a weapon lies safely behind armor with the least expensive components exposed to enemy fire. A warship's RCS system can be used to adjust aim beyond that envelope. During a roll there is only a short period of time before the opposite side comes into firing position.
Without gravity to hold it in place a turret and its feed mechanisms would have to be engineered to endure high gs in unusual vectors that will constant threaten to pull it out. A dorsal and ventral hard mounted turret was attempted in the early days of Warships but it could not be independently actuated so early aerospace fighters just boosted past it faster than it could skew and struck a large blind spot. Fighters could also freely strafe beneath the turret guns safe from return fire.

Present arrays of independently actuated, controlled, symmetric, and isolated gunnery compartments comprising the majority of external cells has proven quite successful.

Standard weapons include the armament of fighters and fast attack craft with Warships mounting some for close protection. Fast moving fighters are difficult for heavy weapons to track particularly if they are using evasive maneuvers to ruin firing solutions. They are ton for ton more efficient than larger weapons systems but lack sufficient power and range against the heavy armor of Warships. Not that you would want to or even could endure getting close enough to use them.

With fire control circuits and gunnery deck space limited these are frequently heavier versions in dual mounts packing the combined firepower of a heavy or even assault mech. Large lasers and PPCs are common alongside Gauss rifles, and all types of class 10 auto-cannons. Pulse weapons are typically used to protect the aft as rear attacks while closer ranged are more difficult to intercept due to angles of attack. Heavy auto-cannons are used to deliver crushing blows to heavy bombers and fast attack craft daring to come close.

Sub-capital weapons formed the basis for modern designs seeing use all the way back to the Age of War's armed Jumpships and earlier. A prototype Light SCC was added to the Soviet Union's Mir III space station and primitive SCL/1s were used by the Reagan Star Wars program all the way back into the 21st century. Fortunately both were not used in an actual conflict until much later.

Middleweight missiles of this type are commonly used to provide heavy strike power to fast attack craft as their effective range meshes well with longer ranged standard weapons. Lighter ones such as the Piranha and SCL/1 are used principally as anti-aerospace weapons. Sub-capital cannons are as popular as their NAC equivalents providing good firepower even against Warships.

Before we move onto the largest weapons we will discuss the advanced use case for them. These advanced techniques are what gives the capital class weapons their unique efficiency and flexibility.

Anti-Aerospace Targeting Mode 
While viable offensive weapons for light warships sub-capital and capital lasers were initially designed for defensive purposes. Since the only moving component of a laser is the mirror they can rapidly track fast moving small targets as nothing moves faster than light. When placed in this mode tracking a small target (<500 tons) is easier (reduce to hit by 2) at a slight penalty to targeting larger craft (increase to hit by 1) as the tracking burn pattern is less effective against heavy armor compared to the normal focused pulses.
Bracketing Fire 
Developed early on by the SLDF bracketing fire was inspired by Terran artillery tactics and shotgun hunting. These old school tactics are as simple as they are engaging. In a bay with two or more guns you can fire ordnance in such as way that the area of effect is overlapping.
This overlapping fire partially negates range disparity and evasive action on the part of your opponent. Bracketing fire was the engagement profile of SLDF battleships but that classic interpretation now sees more use on destroyers whose lighter Naval Auto Cannons and Medium Naval PPCs are sufficient to kill off all but the toughest assault dropship or pocket warships at a standoff distance. Brawlers like the Aegis and Black Lion used middleweight NACs in tight brackets at medium range to great effect.
Called Shots 
Called Shots are more commonly used by fast attack craft or corvettes during a pursuit to damage the engines of a warship by digging out aft armor or hoping for criticals with sub-capital missiles. There are plenty of other targets though and fortunately this technique is difficult to execute. Warships are big yes but they also move fast, shoot well, and are heavily armored. The risk is worth it sometimes as degrading a warship to put it at a disadvantage could be the intended goal of an attacker in order to lead their force to greater victory.
The following show the remarkable flexibility of missile systems, while heavier weapons are rightly feared for their raw power missiles can be tricky and sometimes carry nuclear warheads. Normal warheads are kinetic kill devices and the missile is a two stage rocket system. The first stage detaches halfway through to reveal a sleek maneuverable terminal package.
Within a minute or two of launch the rocket can be ordered to adjust its heading. This is normally done to allow missiles launched from the broadsides to support the nose or aft arcs. These adjustments need to be done early on however while the missile has not engaged its full thrust potential yet.
Teleoperated Missiles 
These missiles are effectively drones that are controlled by a gunner aboard a warship. As long as the vessel can maintain radio contact an operator can guide the missile to its target. They are commonly launched just before the engagement zone of an enemy with the craft instead veering off to arrive at an unusual angle of attack. Sub-Capital missiles due to their small size lack the same sophisticated guidance units needed for such a use.
Bearings only launch 
Missiles are often programmed to find and seek out a target before leaving their tube. However, a missile can instead be launched bearings only. The warhead will wait until it reaches a single predetermined point before engaging its terminal guidance package. Once the package locks on the missiles streak toward the target.
Pre-programmed Waypoints 
Further taking advantage of guided missile technology an operator can give a missile a path to follow rather than the straightest line to its target. There are a number of reasons why this mode can be activated but it is often to dodge screen launchers and hostile AMS gunships.

Capital weapons are massive, heavy, and powerful pieces of equipment capable of directing energy at incredible ranges. The PPC, the beloved heavy weapon, was first deployed as a capital weapon. Naval lasers were the original heavy weapon of pre-Reunification warships and saw widespread deployment throughout the proto-Succession States along with missiles and autocannons.

Naval lasers come in three distinct sizes, the smallest 35cm laser is a good anti-aerospace weapon but lacks a lethal punch even for medium aerofighters. Their intermediate and heavy version are good lightweight weapon systems and most warship carry a few to provide flexible secondary batteries to engage dropships and aerospace fighters.

Autocannons are powerful and efficient weapons systems but suffer from strange mismatches and ammunition reliance. NAC/40s are the most powerful capital scale weapons to date but are short ranged and often used in a way similar to the Clan's Fredasa Corvette/Raiders, high speed slashing runs with big guns. The NAC/20 and NAC/25 are what makes the Aegis cruiser such a truly harrowing foe to face. NAC/30s and 35s are brawling guns used by ships like the Black Lion to rip into their enemies as quickly as possible. NAC/10s see use in lighter destroyers providing them with killing power that few dropships can withstand while reducing over-penetration.

Naval PPCS and N-Gauss Rifles find themselves tightly contesting primacy in capital combat just as their smaller versions do on land. Heavy N-PPCs are capable of fully bracketing at extreme ranges in quad mounts which is something the N-Gauss rifles cannot do as well. They can however provide solid medium to long range fire support. This fire support is what designs like the Eagle and Thera carrier groups use to great effect.

Capital missiles are larger versions of the sub-capitals, if they were cruise missiles the capitals are ICBMs and that is before they have a nuke on-board. Nuclear armed missiles were responsible for the loss of many warships during the Amaris Crisis and Jihad. Like the smaller Piranha the Barracuda is designed as an anti-aerospace fighter missile although it does so better (-2 instead of 1) and at a slightly longer distance.

Attached to this entry is a cursory document that will provide numbers to the weapons talked about today. Our next entry is on Warship roles and specific tactics they can employ in combat. {EDIT- Updated attached file to include my normalized (10x Heat and Damage for a fair comparison between energy and not)}

Modern Warship Roles[]

Over the centuries many types of warships have been constructed but they all ultimately fall into a rough category. Each of these vessels is used differently but all have their place in a well built fleet. Most Warships operate in at least a two ship formation as a lone warship is easy prey for Fast Attack Craft and Pocket Warships no matter how larger they are.

Assault Frigate 
These destroyer sized ships share that designs light weapons but have drop collars and large cargo holds to support other combatant craft. In modern times they carry FACs and Pocket Warships, before and during the Jihad it was troop transports. They are the only warships that still practice using their weapons as ortillery, a risky maneuver unless you have secured orbital dominance.
Carrier 
Carriers use large numbers of aerospace fighters to deny an area to the enemy and strike beyond effective engagement ranges. Their gun decks are focused on extreme range fire support and anti-aerospace weapons softening hostile warships before their fighters engage and protecting themselves. The consumption of so many Aerospace fighters and crew ensures they never operate far from safe territory.
Cruiser 
Cruisers are versatile craft sent out whenever the Fleet is expecting serious trouble of some kind. The largest cruisers, known as battle-cruisers, are fearsome solo combatants and many serve as the spine for most modern Fleets from Terra to Strana Mechty. Cruisers also typically have more jump collars and the ensuring expense rivals their Fleet Carrier (and its Air Wing) in cost. A Cruiser however brings enough concentrated firepower to over match most challenges by itself.
Corvette 
Corvettes are lightly armed and armored warships optimized for long distance patrols. Most have no docking collars relying on a squadron of small craft for resupply limiting their options during deployment. They have high safe accelerations of more than 2G (5/8) with crews trained to utilize it and plentiful fuel reserves. Fragile but speedy they function as tougher fast attack craft.
Destroyer 
Destroyers are optimized to destroy small craft and missiles and so are often assigned as escorts for larger craft although they can stand against more powerful foes in numbers. Their weapons can engage larger warships at greater risk and standard protocol is to at least pair up to withstand incoming weapon fire from a heavier warship. Most lack drop collars of their own as a cost saving measure and this inexpensive nature ensures they are plentiful in fleet operations with Warships like the Lola III and Essex being among the most produced ever.

Building a Fleet[]

With the return of Warships to the Inner Sphere in the late 30th Century there have been massive changes in a quite short period of time. The last time Warship tactics changed this much was the Age of War. Most Clans had to relearn the realities of large conflict after using their Warships as armed transports for so long. Some adapted better than others.

In the 31st Century there is a chance to build back better with harsh lessons learned during the Jihad and Wars of Sundering. Building a Warship Fleet starts with three (technically four) goals that are familiar to any military planner.

What are you going to be fighting? and how?

How many resources do you have?

How many do you want to use?

We will briefly touch upon the answers for each of these questions for the modern factions.

The Clan States[]

The Clans of the new Grand Council on Kerensky's Vision (Sea Fox, Wolf, Jade Falcon, and Stone Lion) are in a strong position to capitalize on gains made during the Jihad. With shared control of Terra, most of their old Occupation Zone planets, and strong backing of the Second Star League they have a chance to fundamentally change Clan identity and perhaps unite then 11 remaining Clans.

However, Clans Thunderbird, Star Adder, and Blood Spirits are rebuilding in the Homeworlds.

Snow Raven expeditions reconnect and expand into the Outworlds Wastes.

Goliath Scorpions have seized a Deep Periphery Empire and eye more.

The Spirit Cat Collective grows in the Irece Prefecture with their Azami allies as a SLDF protectorate.

All the while the Smoke Jaguars have been reborn in the Trinity Alliance and occupy a Canopian/League border world. From 20 there are still 11 that vie for supremacy undaunted and in fact encouraged by continued conflict.

This conflict over Clan identity will be their future battlefield and will be conducted according to their own ways. Most Clans have refused to acknowledge a new Council so it will take time and more than a few skirmishes for one to rise above. Future conflicts will require concentrated firepower as populations are not large nor spread out enough to support a number of smaller craft.

Rumors has it that Quatre Belle, the Dark Nebula, and Syrstart are being rebuilt with the potential to resurrect the now extinct Texas or McKenna class battleships. Clan industrial might is restricted by small populations, lack of scaling, and widespread devastation from a disastrous war. The Homeworlds are now temporarily unable to construct or repair vessels greater than 350 kilotons due to damage to their cageworks.

The Goliath Scorpions made smart choices prior to leaving the homeworlds and assuming control over the Umayyad Caliphate and its vassals. Trading in their Potemkins Transports netted them a fully equipped jumpyard from the Diamond Sharks and a few small Warships. Their neighboring Hansa Fleet stands little chance against even the smallest modern destroyer.

Without Katherine Fox (Steiner-Davion) in charge the Lyran Commonwealth has returned to a cool hostility on the new Clan Council. Archon Reinhardt Steiner has to run interference preventing a full LCAF assault on “occupied” worlds that the grandchildren of dispossessed lords want returned. From Arcturus he sits under a Sword of Damocles with the new Council a mere 15 light years away.

With a specialization in starship construction, their Loremaster's advance planning, and cooperation from the Outworlds Alliance the Snow Ravens are likely to win a naval arms race with a large lead on the others. The old SLDF shipyards around Quatre Belle are humming once more due to their diligent efforts.

All Clans are still burdened with a large number of vessels critically damaged during the Jihad. While they lack materials and technical professionals they started at a higher level than the Inner Sphere before them. Thus they only have to renovate, repair, and modernize their SLDF legacy hulls another time to match any Successor Fleet, for now.

Like many smaller states the Clans are more interested in expanding and solidifying their dominion after the disastrous loss of the Rasalhague Dominion. Presently new Warship construction is a low priority and repairing and modernizing existing hulls is somewhere in the middle. Capturing the experience of combat proven Clan Warriors is the highest priority and will possible pay the most dividends for all involved.

Draconis Combine[]

The Draconis Combine Admiralty (DCA) was reconstituted in a time of great peril during the earliest days of the Clan Invasion. Coordinator Theodore Kurita swore that an event like Turtle Bay would never happen again in his realm. Despite his sponsorship it grew in fits over the years as Samurai demanded the lion's share of the Combine's limited resources. COMSTAR losing Terra and its Titan Yards to the Word of Blake crippled the well regarded Tatsumaki class while also forcing major outlays to Stellar Trek and Midway to replace lost capacity. When the Federated Commonwealth split the DCA became the 3rd largest active warship fleet in the Inner Sphere although it was and remains a fragmented one.

Despite its fragmented organization the classes within were well thought out and have a degree of synergy, although not as tightly as the FWLN. Most ships made prior to 3067 were lost during the Black Dragon Civil War and the Coordinator's reorganization (and purges, five of which that SLIC knows about). Those that survived are in the process of repair and modernization to keep the cageworks active and worker's skills sharp.

Advanced Warships like the Yamato (900 kton) and Ryu (600 kton) were meant to form the backbone of the Clan Counter Fleet facing the Ghost Bears. However, high Clan Warship causalities during the Jihad leave these expensive vessels without their primary mission thus are likely to remain lonely. Both lead ships are destined to become Flagships for the Spinward and Anti-Spinward fleets when they finish repairs and upgrades around Midway but will likely remain a rarity.

Realistically the Combine has little need for such ships and more pressing issues to spend its Yen on after almost a decade of bloody civil war. The future DCA will thus likely to be filled with Gen III versions of the Kyushu, Tatsumaki, Inazuma, and Kirishima, an unfinished hull of which was shared with First Prince Peter Davion and completed around New Syrtis. Commissioned the SLS Covenant it is operated by a joint crew in Star League service where it serves the SLDF in the Grand Tikonov Republic.

Due to the vulnerable state that the universe is in the Draconis Combine must look forward to what might be in the next twenty or so years. The most obvious foe they are likely to encounter are their own rebellious internal elements this fact is why the DCA's Armored Marine Corps are now among the best trained in the Inner Sphere capable of rapidly deploying to stomp out rebels.

Coming in from the New Rasalhague Republic any foe would have to pass through the Spirit Cat Collective. Their Azami Caliphate allies occupy a long yet slender portion of the Grand Tikonov Republic and Isle of Skye border. With these two vassals holding the Anti-Spinward line and no threat from the Core the DCA has refocused itself on everything Spinward of Terra.

First Prince Peter Davion holds no ambitions or enmity toward New Samarkand. Peter has empowered Tancred Sandoval, Duke of Robinson, to normalize relations a tall order for the Draconis March Lord. Despite a history of harsh rhetoric concerning Dracs from every Davion prior to him except Victor.

With Draconis Rift based pirates eliminated (or co-opted) during the Hellions' first operations in the Inner Sphere the Snow Ravens and their Outworlds Alliance “hosts” have become their primary concern (and an ambitious one, no one defeats the Snow Ravens in our home element – CM).

While we cannot know precisely how Grand Admiral Daijiro Kurita plans to counter the Ravens there are options. Large numbers of destroyers could eliminate the fighters that the Ravens and OAM favor before they can attack the warship. The more concentrated Raven fleet leaves openings that assault frigates could use to raid worlds defended by OAM auxiliaries. With some planning these raids could damage the infrastructure the Ravens depend on. It would have to be a very offensive campaign which fits Franklin's ambitious reforms for his Warriors.

Federated Suns[]

When the first Fox-class corvette slipped out of Galax Cageworks in 3058 the second renaissance of Warships was just getting underway.  With joint production in the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth over the years it and its CE equivalent Eclipse are the most produced class still active in the Inner Sphere.

The Federated Commonwealth at that time was unique in that they were mostly self-sufficient. Other states were heavily reliant on COMSTAR (DCA) or the Word of Blake (FWLN, CCN) to set up and manage their warship programs. Instead of trusting either organization, with totally valid reasons, the vast Federated Commonwealth empire was capable of and willing to muster their own engineers and technicians to complete every portion of the small ship in house.

Since late 3049 Hanse and Melissa were building up design bureaus, cageworks, and prototyping facilities in the process expanding and improving their own jumpship yards. Hanse Davion did not live to see his ambitious project to completion but the Federated Commonwealth Fleet would not be what it was without his initial investment.

His children carried on that legacy with Katherine Steiner-Davion (Fox) doing a lot of heavy political and economic lifting for the Avalon program while she and First Prince Victor were on good terms. Their split in 3057 rent the vast empire in two leaving the Federated Suns under Victor in a poor strategic position.

His death in 3060 left the inexperienced Yvonne as regent while Arthur was completing his term of service. Arthur's subsequent death in 3063 resulted in the Reagent's War with Archon Katherine heading a invasion of New Avalon to liberate her sister and assume the mantle of Regent.

Without orbital fire support from the fleet she helped build the invasion would have failed. Katherine likely wouldn't have escaped the ambush of her personal command without the Battlecruiser LAS Yggdrasil or Missile Cruiser FSS Alexander Davion. Although it was a stain on her name the invasion included the first use of tactical orbital artillery strikes in centuries.

The present First Prince is quite different than his siblings however; Peter assumed command of a Federated Suns under siege and searching for identity. He embodied many of the honorable aspects of his father, leading the fight to free Crofton from the Hellions, and chased the Word of Blake all the way to Terra where he was wounded in the final Battle of Vladivostok.

Unfortunately he lacks the same ruthless cunning of his father and sister. (Peter may look the part but re-watch Katherine's reveal of Vlad and their secret family during the Whitting Conference and compare it to Hanse and Melissa's wedding on Terra and tell me you disagree – JD) This trait has metastasized into a strengthening Trinity Alliance.

Angela Hasek, Duchess of New Syrtis, a fierce Anti-Capellan, and no friend of Steiner-Davions, has been strident in her condemnation of Peter the Peacenik's attempts to keep the peace with the Snake of Sian (Sun-Tzu Liao) and Shogun 'Sepukku' (Franklin Sakamoto). Her brother George Hasek II almost succeeded in crippling the man crippling the Capellan Confederation permanently during the Jihad's Operation:THUNDERSTRUCK. The Duke narrowly lost the First Princedom to Peter before his own untimely end in a dropship 'accident' on Talon.

With three major Cageworks around Galax, Kathil, and New Syrtis and an abundance of resources due to investments in the Outback it is in a prime position to rebuild after the Jihad. Due to the weakness of the Capellan Confederation and Taurian Concordat little damage was done to these critical production centers. Thus Warship production restarted without much fanfare beyond the First Prince and Shogun personally commissioning the FSF Covenant.

Unlike most states though the Federated Suns does have the greatest chance of engaging in a near-peer battle with the Trinity Alliance, and its vast frontier requires an effective patrol craft. The Trinity Alliance favors fast raids by their Feng Huang (Phoenix) heavy cruisers and squadrons of fast attack craft. While not a superb or numerous ship it has evolved into a more capable combatant over time and those delivered now are completely different ships than the original from 3058.

The Fox (or Eclipse), Avalon, and Zodiac (Robinson) warships remain in production along with a number of attack dropships. These create a solid fleet although one lacking a heavy ship capable of dealing with Clan Snow Raven's large warships. The medium weight formation requires pairing up against their most likely foe to ensure victory at reasonable cost.

FedSuns naval architects have laid down plans based on the old Defender-Class battlecruiser from the Age of War to combat the Feng Huang and Snow Raven capital vessels. Through a working relationship with the DCA and CWK they have access to limited plans for similar but modernized vessels such as the Yamato and old Tharkad, CWK Seth Marsden. Such a vessel is unlikely to come into service prior to 3085 unless conditions change. Until then nuclear armed missiles will remain the Avalon's go to weapons when fighting heavier warships and more of the Feng Huang's focus will remain on protection from these than attacking Avalons.

Free Worlds League[]

As Operation:REVIVAL raged between the Clans and the Federated Commonwealth and Draconis Combine the Free Worlds League, then a neglected side player in the Inner Sphere politics, quietly turned into an industrial juggernaut. For a realm so riven with discord and regionalism there was something that always united them, the almighty C-bill. Billions of which flowed into the treasury greatly enriching and expanding its military-industrial complex. With this wealth and relative safety from the Clans the FWL a major player in the Aerospace technology field leaped ahead to even beyond COMSTAR in volume if not capability.

Post-Tukayyid the Word of Blake, then just fanatical COMSTAR dissidents, were allowed to settle on Gibson. Little did Thomas Halas know that they would ultimately almost bring about the complete destruction of the League. The former COMSTAR technicians brought long lost Star League tech to the state exchanging knowledge for security. When the Word of Blake reclaimed Terra during ODYSSEUS the League reaped massive benefits from tech exchanges with it and the Capellan Confederation.

Like the FCF's Fox the FWLN's rebirth started with a humble corvette, the Zechetinu, developed as a convoy raider and proof of concept in early 3051 before the first entered service in 3057. This was an impressive achievement and unfortunately began the subversion of the fleet by the Word of Blake. New designs came rapidly, the Impavido destroyer, Agamemnon cruiser, and even included old SLDF era warships like the Aegis FWLN Olympic and Black Lion FWLN Xanthos were rehabbed around Titan. Ultimately these advances culminated in the Thera-Class super-carrier, and its Eagle-Class Frigate escorts, a formation that could only exist due to the vast inflows of money from the rest of the Inner Sphere and technical aid by the Word of Blake.

This new fleet was seasoned during the Battle of Irece where they stalled a Ghost Bear offensive against the exiled Nova Cats after a raid on their capital, Alshain, by the DCMS. SLDF Rotation through the St Ives War and simulated battles against the Word of Blake's Great White Fleet made the FWLN the best trained and equipped fleet in the Inner Sphere. Indeed the Star League Defense Fleet would not be what is without them.

Unfortunately for the Free Worlds League the Word of Blake had subverted many warship crews and a number of parliamentarians. Their agents acted quickly once the Jihad began immediately deploying against the Federated Commonwealth and the Archon-Princess' Clan allies. SLDF Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik was almost killed on Wolcott and only with his return with the Nova Cats did they begin to fight back effectively. Caught between the Commanding General, the Clans, and Commonwealth Fleet most of the warships of the FWLN were destroyed during the Jihad, an unfortunate blow to the pride of the Free World's League.

What remained however was enough to rebuild and despite the damage to the League's infrastructure during the Word of Blake's 'burn and turn' campaign on the way back to Terra its shipyards remain operational. Captain-General Corrine Marik however finds herself in a difficult position, post-Jihad distrust in the Free World's League remains high so a massive rearmament campaign is politically infeasible and competing priorities for parliamentary funds and attention are numerous.

However there are plentiful reasons to rearm. The FWLM and FLWN are merely a fifth of what they were pre-Jihad. Compared to that the Trinity Alliance grows steadily having harvested a number of Word of Blake loyalists with offers of sanctuary. These loyalists retained some of the advanced technical knowledge that made the organization so effective. Thus the Feng Huang and future dropship raiders will grow more capable as the Alliance's industry matures and expands.

These industrial worlds however are positioned closer to the Free Worlds League due to a perception of lesser threat compared to the Federated Suns. Unfortunately for Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao, Corrine Marik harbors a deep and understandable enmity to the Word of Blake he granted succor to. As SLDF members she and Archon Reinhardt Steiner have reduced tension with one another allowing her to focus on the growing threat.

The Free Worlds League like the Federated Suns maintains a large border with the Trinity Alliance. Their Rimward neighbors, the Magistracy of Canopus, are not as hostile to the realm as the Taurian Concordat is to the Federated Suns but unlike the Taurians the Jihad only cost them their capital city rather than their industry.

Magestrix Naomi Centralla-Liao is seen as a moderating influence on her husband but the Magistracy still blame the FWL for grievances dating back to the Reunification War. While this remains mostly rhetoric recent behavior is worrying some of the Strategios High Command. Growth in the Fronc Reachs and Concordat Colonies increases the Alliance's prosperity and just as the Word of Blake once aided the League that gave them sanctuary their survivors are doing the same elsewhere.

Anti-Spinward threats like the Marian Hegemony, a now rogue once client state to the Federated Commonwealth, are still capable of conducting raids on the frontier and opposing the depleted FLWM. This small state will be a persistent threat until the FWLM/N can grow large enough to conduct offensive actions once more. As long as they do not strike a crucial worlds this threat is likely to be left to private contractors (under Alys Rousset's new Mercenary Guild) and regional Lords to manage.

With their shipyards mostly intact and a versatile array of Warships there a several key factors preventing the regrowth of its fleet. First among these are perception, fighting on the wrong side of the Jihad ruined their reputation and trade contracts with other states (except the Capellan Confederation until later). It will be a long time before FWL manufacturers can export their products throughout the rebuilding Inner Sphere once more. Increasingly visible deployments with the SLDF and widely broadcast Truth and Reconciliation committees have helped re-mediate this image.

Despite headwinds the future remains bright for the FWLN. Corrine Marik's efforts to push or bypass parliamentary opponents have been successful enough that the Caspian, an upgraded Agamemnon, will begin construction around Atreus next year (3073). It will be joined by the Pagan, a Gen III version of the Impavido, and new Zechetinu Block IIIs over the next few years. All new FWLN vessels will be adjusted based on hard earned combat experience from both sides of conflict.

Thera carrier groups, that filled the Inner Sphere with fear of darkening skies will remain on the back burner for the foreseeable future, at least until the 3090s. SLS Fort Verdun, the only survivor of its class, can barely fill its hangers with League operated fighters. Its flight academies will take time to replenish the number of pilots for super-carriers to be viable once more. However, the efficacy of these formations is well earned as the Jihad has proven that defeating a Thera is a costly ordeal.

Lyran Commonwealth[]

Archon Reinhardt Steiner is a return to the mean for the Lyran Commonwealth now once more split from the Federated Suns. The young Archon hails from the same illustrious family line as Caesar Steiner, Seen as a source of stability after a tumultuous period of growth and unrest under Katherine Steiner-Davion. He is blessed with an excellent cadre of advisers and the greatly matured Heather Fyhne, Duchess of Arcturus, as fiance. Upon the temporary capital on Arcturus he commands a well seasoned and equipped army and fleet backed by the most productive economy in human space.

Unfortunately heavy is the head that wears the crown. As part of the Asta Accords and New Vision Compact the Clans were granted permanent rights to their remaining occupation zones on Lyran worlds after aiding in the protection of the realm from the Word of Blake. Even now they rebuild their strength for the next step in their destined final Trial to determine or establish the ilClan. While the former General of the Armies has earned their respect and forces are mighty the New Vision Council will rapidly know of any misstep from their own nearby capital.

With the Lyran economy off war footing the Commonwealth is once more floating normally thus the Weltraum Kreigsflotte (Space War Fleet) is once more suffering from a lack of funds. Katherine Steiner-Davion was the champion of the expensive formation under unification but the Lyran half of her empire was always lacking in shipbuilding capacity due to the sensible choices of her predecessors to keep such assets far away from the Clans.

CWK Seth Marsden (Tharkad), Yggdrasil (Mjolrnir), and Valhalla (Mjolrnir) are laid up above Alarion for at least the rest of the decade, at current funding levels, undergoing repairs. All were lucky to survive the Jihad and its fateful Battle of Sol. Were it not for their rugged construction and the Snow Ravens they would have been lost combating the Terran Defense Fleet.

Unfortunately this leaves the CWK with only a half dozen Foxes in active service and reliant on Clan Warships should a threat emerge during this gap time if the ships even return to service. Thorny complications with the Durendal destroyers threaten to shelf the entire program a second time at the cost of nearly a billion kroner. A deal could be explored with Captain-General Marik to share development and production costs for the Pagan program as the League's treasury is dangerously low. Such a program could see Tamarind and Technicron Naval Engineering rise in significance even more assuming Duke (and retired SLDF Commanding General) Photon Brett(-Marik) agrees.

With Alarion occupied conducting repairs and Gibbs servicing the Lyran jumpship fleet there is no extra shipbuilding capacity available in the Commonwealth. There is however lots of idle capital that can be invested elsewhere and there are many places to invest. Jade Falcon Merchants are regular visitors to Arcturus so there are rumors that there might be a purchase deal in the making.

Another option (in addition to the FWL one) would be to buy Warships from the Draconis Combine which is in desperate need of cash to finance rebuilding efforts after their disastrous civil war. The most visible actions on Reinhardt's part to this end are Adam and Rachel Steiner's frequent diplomatic visits to Franklin Sakamoto. Additionally there is an existing option to purchase new Warships from the Federated Suns.

Without an urgent need for Warships however the Estates General has pushed back against the Commonwealth Naval Command's funding demands. Representatives see greater profits by investing in additional clan-tech manufacturing. The CNC's most likely path for growth is thus increased production of clan tech fast attack craft and pocket warships. With the largest jump fleet in the Inner Sphere these vessels suit the defensive mindset of the old guard are once more asserting themselves.

Star League Protectorates and Small States[]

The Second Star League has two protectorates in the Inner Sphere relying on member states for protection and aid. The Tikonov Grand Republic contingent consists of FWLM and AFFS peacekeepers with DCMS and GSC {Gepanzerte Streitkrafte des Commonwealth, “Commonwealth Armored Forces”) contributions to the defense and stability of the Spirit Cat Collective.

The Grand Tikonov Republic suffered mightily with much of their territory serving as the Jihad's main battleground. Their narrow strip of territory adjacent to Terra was ruined in a way not seen since the original Successor Wars. Fortunately for its Prime Minister the industrial worlds were heavily reinforced during their time as Capellan Confederation fortress worlds. A hasty and piecemeal occupation of their territory by the WOBM and Shadow Divisions was short lived. With FCF's 3rd Fleet protecting the space lanes between the Federated Commonwealth no large invasion forces could be massed to besiege these forts except late in the war when their numbers were lessened by the Coalition's counter-offensive.

Since they are a protectorate the Republican Guard and SKO (Russian “Space Defense Force”) can barely reach out of their gravity wells. Due to the immense damage caused to their populations and industrial concerns these are very low priorities. Both are token defensive forces limited to their fortifications but with large reserve capacity. Blockade running Trojans are the extent of their armed spacecraft but they are very good and will serve as an excellent seed for future growth. What they do have is excellent intelligence capabilities with many Republic citizens serving in SLIC.

On the other side is the Spirit Cat Collective formed from the remnants of the Nova Cats and Cloud Cobras. While it is early in their history already there are many evident changes with Spirit Cat Warriors acting more like ancient Warrior Monks than their Clan counterparts. They are fully capable of rearming but with the New Rasalhague Republic as little threat have no desire to do so. Instead they like the Goliath Scorpions have taken a different path in their journey than their Council counterparts.

The small Dharma Hyperspace yards around Schyuler are the only jumpship yards in their territory and through expansion by the Cloud Cobras can make Comitatus carriers but remain incapable of repairing larger warships. With a strong Aerospace tradition the Spirit Cat's naval touman will center on Aerospace fighters with a mix of poorly maintained Cobra warships and assault carriers.

The New Rasalhague Republic is the newest addition to the Inner Sphere although its rebirth was not an easy one. Elected Prince Ragnar Magnusson's takeover of the former Ghost Bear Dominion still has Trials of Grievance pending from Ghost Bears absorbed into the Stone Lions. Thus far the Council has little appetite for a large scale offensive against the rogue state instead solidifying their alliance and rebuilding industry.

Such a Clan threat likely gives Ragnar nightmares, the former Bondsman was treated well but he like his father always looked for ways to capitalize on outside forces to help his realm. Sensibly the NRR refuses to give SLIC details on their military power so we can only speculate at what they are developing on Skandia. Based on interviews with Ghost Bear spacers that world was used to old mothballed SLDF assault dropships and Pentagons, which with some modification make solid pocket warships.

WOBS Eriynes was seen last within the realm during the Razing of Alshain, then Ghost Bear capital killing most clan civilians. This has fueled speculation that the NRR could also have offered sanctuary to WOB war criminals escaping Odessa's hidden Ruins of Gabriel shipyard. If these are true and should the Eriynes be hidden within its territory the NRR could rapidly develop small warships using the old yardship as a prime assembler. Of course based on conservative estimates the NRR is likely never to grow beyond a small dropship and fighter fleet optimized to combat the Clan's SLDF warships and ensure their sovereignty.

Much like the NRR the deep periphery state of the Hanseatic League faces threat to it sovereignty from Clan Warships this time in the form of the Scorpion Empire. The Goliath Scorpions mostly managed to escape the Wars of Sundering and in the process recently absorbed two small micro-states to serve as a new base of operations. Thus Bremen's ruling council and its many Guilds have increased their trade links to the Lyran Commonwealth hoping for options. Their agents on Galatea and Solaris VII have offered lucrative mercenary contracts for Aerospace and Naval trained Commands no questions asked which has seen many probably dirty commands escape justice.

With little shipbuilding industry they are at the mercy of the export market from the Lyran Commonwealth and perhaps Dark Caste contacts that hid away Clan vessels during the Sundering. Their convoy protection force however has a pair of Titans and a number of Leopard CVs with native industry being capable of manufacturing limited numbers of Aerospace fighters. These fighters and their assault carriers will form the rapid response force that might respond to a Scorpion incursion likely with nuclear bombs and anti-shipping missiles.

A rising power on the Rim the Marian Hegemony has seen its station rise over the Jihad. Once a client state to the Federated Commonwealth the Hegemony has gone rogue and utilized all the aid given to it to improve their own industrial base. They achieved their objective occupying former Circinus Federation worlds and contested territory along the Trinity Alliance's border territory. Since the Circinus Federation was once a Blakist client state the Hegemony like others probably offered protection to the Black Warriors and their Blakist allies.

Like other small states the Hegemony refuses to share military information with SLIC so we are once more speculating. While FedCom aid was typically old mechs and armor there were a number of aerospace fighters, small dropships, and battle armor. Given that the MHAF is little more than pirate force they prefer to take slaves from their enemies. Always looking to expand there is a high likelihood that they will insist on crippling hostile ships (even a warship if they can) and send in marines on raider craft to seize them and their crews intact. Since the FLWN has yet to contest the MHAF's raiders on their own turf and they prefer to run we cannot know how they will act.

The Outworlds Alliance is a small 'independent' state on the coreward borders of the FedSuns and Draconis Combine. During most of their history they had a proud aerospace tradition although they don't make many instead trade for them with their larger neighbors. Now with the Snow Ravens as allies (or overlords – JD) they can trade inside their territory with the Clan.

Their traditional opponents have been pirates and raids from the Draconis Combine so they have developed a flexible fighter force but lack assault carriers to project them effectively and have to transport them as cargo. This is changing rapidly as the Snow Ravens have provided their auxiliary forces with Clan upgraded versions of the Leopard CV which can carry marines to conduct inspection and boarding operations.

These carriers will give the OAM the ability to more effectively patrol their territory and with the Snow Ravens nearby they have warship support available if needed. Such a scenario is hard to imagine however as neither the DCA or FSF are capable of launching an offensive that could survive even the partial power of a damaged Snow Raven Naval Touman based around Quatre Belle.

Trinity Alliance[]

It is said that in every crisis there is opportunity, one cannot find a more crisis prone nor opportunistic realm in the Inner Sphere than the Capellan Confederation. Sandwiched between powerful neighbors and lacking strategic depth it has cunningly managed to survive and even thrive when its enemies’ vigilance falters. This siege mentality ended with Sun-Tzu Liao's Xin Sheng movement in the late 3050s that saw dramatic growth while the Federated Commonwealth devoted its efforts to the Clans.

Sun-Tzu Liao will no doubt go down in history as the Confederation's most influential Chancellor rising from the ashes following its bleakest moments. From the ruins of the Fourth Succession War the Confederation have gained allies and power unlike any time prior. How this happened is a mystery and when the truth is uncovered will make a fascinating read.

The Confederation and other Trinity States grew rich and acquired advanced technology by providing mineral resources to fuel Free World's League industry. Post Jihad we have confirmed that every Trinity Alliance state held large interests in the Blakist affiliated industrial design firm, Vicore Industries. Careful investigation through databanks on Terra by 2SLIA show signs of Blakist influence at all levels within leading some to think that the Confederation and Periphery states were core targets for subversion from the beginning.  Of course, this could be Maskirovka as each state's internal politics and resource allocation are so byzantine and secretive that they are not well understood from the outside. With the complete loss of Taurus, damage to the state archives on Liao, and destruction of the Canopian treasury in Crimson City all records are likely lost even if outside access could be achieved.

What is understood however is that the Trinity Alliance is a force to be reckoned with and growing stronger. Both the Federated Suns and Free World’s League find themselves in weak strategic positions post-Jihad with limited resources and substantial damage to their industrial and economic ability. Much of their industrial and population centers remain intact with the only large offensive, George Hasek II’s THUNDERSTRUCK aimed more at “cutting the head off the snake” by killing the Chancellor then destroying his realm or occupying its worlds.

The Taurian Concordat and Magistracy of Canopus' fleets (Quixote-Class Frigate TCS Vengeance, Vigilant Mk 39-Class Corvette, TCS New Vandenburg, Impavido-Destroyer, TCS Iron Bull, and Samarkand II-Class Aerospace Carrier MCS Diana Centrella) and CCS Zhenjiang, one of the three Impavidos operated by the Confederation, were not confirmed destroyed by coalition forces so they are either in hiding or were destroyed in secret. Following the Jihad, the Trinity Alliance filled in their military gaps well enough that the Coalition forces already busy elsewhere could not enter uncontested. This was done with reserves of Canopian troops as both the Concordat and Confederation forces were depleted by war's end needing time to rebuild.

Freedom of movement between member states and growing trade ties ensure that the Alliance is an elastic target. To do lasting damage an attacker will require a major multi-point deep offensive to ensure success. Reinforcements will be moved and sabotage or counter-strikes will be launched from its long border territories or its well-developed irregular forces. This method of war extends to their Fleet as the Trinity Alliance's goals are disruption and delay of enemy action rather than supporting offensive actions. Their procurement is unusual in that LF batteries are a necessity despite their extraordinary expense to the otherwise financially insolvent realm.

With only one known active Warship class, the Feng Huang-Class multi-role heavy cruiser, with probably a half dozen produced since the first arrived on the scene in 3058, the Trinity Alliance Fleet is one that is easy to simulate. There were suspicions that this number was incorrect and that the threat was misunderstood post Battle for Sol. However, post battle analysis by Snow Raven and Diamond Shark technicians determined the Caspar II drone warships WOBS KT and Harbinger, misidentified as Feng Huangs by Clan forces, were in fact modified Dreadnoughts dating back to the Terra Hegemony. These were perhaps even the originals later modified for production into the Thera and Feng Huang.

Originally Feng Huangs were firepower anemic vessels constructed in the same vein as the Sovetskii Soyuz cruisers of the SLDF with thick armor, large cargo holds, and an undeserved fearful reputation. These originals were designed as raiders using their vast cargo holds to support a regiment or so conducting a limited raid and to maximize limited cagework space. While terrifying for an armed freighter it stands little chance one on one with its likely foe the nuclear missile armed Avalon cruiser as it lack missile defense. This oversight is corrected somewhat in the upgraded version though it was perhaps designed with the same SLDF general doctrine of large supporting arms although the squadrons of protective gunships have yet to appear.

CCS Ilsa Huang, the first second generation Feng Huang, was spotted in 3067 at the dawn of the Jihad utilizing technologies stolen from the Thera (technically both used Blakist tech). Additional capital weapons, 120 aerospace fighters, and two squadrons of small craft make it a formidable battle carrier and use up a large portion of the nearly 100 kiloton cargo hold. These formations are massive drains on limited fighter assets but strategic mobility makes them a superior basing platform than a group of assault carriers. When combined with an assault dropship squadron this would seriously threaten most escorting warships ability to protect their jumpships from incoming contacts.

The Battle of Sol revealed previously only speculated on Blakist CASPAR II tech integrated into warships such as the ARTS (Advanced Robotic Transport System) bays and more capable C3ISTAR suites like DTACS (Direct Tactical Analysis Control System) drone control link. The next flight of vessels are likely to use more mass and volume intensive equipment. It remains to be seen whether this will be added to the original long range raider/command ship (Franco Martell, Elias Jung, and Sundermann Rhys), the upgraded battle carrier versions (Kossandra Centrella, Ilsa Hyung, and Aleisha Kris), or if it will be added to new hulls (Sun-Tzu?, it will probably happen – JD)

Combing incremental improvements with a willingness to experiment with alternate tactics has caused no shortage of consternation among the FSF and FWLN Admiralty. The Trinity Naval Command knows the vulnerabilities of their own ship well and have an advanced understanding of their enemy's psyche. Thus their peers must plan to take on many different group permutations as a battle carrier with assault dropships is combated differently than a raider with troop transports.

During conflict large jumpship formations will have to move with heavy escorts on the off chance they are targeted in theater or “behind the lines”. At the same time pirate point jumps without escorts will obliterate troop transports unless covered by another warship going “down the well,” an uncomfortable place for warships, to ensure force protection.

These Fleets need to adapt to fighter swarms, heavy capital weapons, slashing attacks by FAC or FAB droppers, or station enough defensive assets to protect against ground or aerospace raids on crucial worlds. All of these could occur at the same time in multiple places and the secrecy and competence of the Trinity Alliance's intelligence assets makes it difficult to predict where these might happen. Thus, a Feng Huang and its attached squadron has become the default opponent in all Star League member state Naval Academy simulators.

Presently the only thing that could reasonably take on all such permutations is the Thera, SLS Fort Verdun, with its many fighters and powerful capital weapons capable of destroying a drone swarm and dropship squadron from afar. With its striking arm extended against the escorts though it would be heavily damaged and could even be destroyed should the enemy close with their own weapons. Even the Tharkad, Mjolnir, and Yamato warships would be hard pressed to close with and destroy the ship. Due to their inferior speed and sensors they will always be at a disadvantage.

While the Feng Huang is the sword the Trinity States have many shields at their disposal. Due to close previous and perhaps ongoing cooperation with the Word of Blake SDS systems are being constructed around strategic worlds (Detroit, Victoria, New Vandenburg, Sterope, etc...). The goal of these assets is to slow or blunt an incoming attack providing more time for reinforcements to stream in from elsewhere.

Combined with a large fleet of capable raiding craft the Alliance can control battle tempo and disrupt strategic logistics and crucial command and control nodes. Forcing the opponent to think about defense ahead of time allows spies time to spot a massing force, the Trinity Alliance is wise to false maneuvers (such as those launched to start the Fourth Succession War) and that trick is unlikely to work again for many years. Once spotted defensive commanders can then strategically re-position assets ahead of time ensuring an even more rapid response.

The Trinity Alliance is among the most complex foes that you are likely to engage.

Engagement between LCS Yggdrasi & Clan Battleship Pain Killer[]

Lang Zhenzu, Pentagon Protectorate, 3090

LCS Yggdrasil drifts about the jump point, its gigantic solar sail capturing the powerful rays of the Blue-White supergiant, Lang Zhenzu. PPS Painkiller, the storied Monsoon battleship, appears nearby in a flash of electromagnetic radiation having used its LF fusion batteries and superior navigational database of its home system to catch Captain Ludwig Mueller by surprise. In a rush Captain Mueller orders the sail detached, “Kampf Stationen!” Red lights come on and Klaxons blare as the crew readies themselves for combat.

On the other side Captain Zhou Tae-Young orders the massive battleship forward at max thrust to intercept the presumably ‘hostile’ battlecruiser hovering in his home system. Its ancient thrusters had been renovated during the latest overhaul, but they still only provide a meager 1.5Gs of thrust which the newer Mjolnir can do without even passing cruise efficiency.

The enemy’s guns are individually powerful but laid out inefficiently while his own are more focused while remaining flexible following the trend set by such greats as the Aegis and Black Lion II, The broadsides bristle with heavy Naval Autocannons powerful enough to deliver punishing blows capable of knocking out lighter warships with ease. His crew seasoned by the Wars of Sundering grew up living eating and breathing on SLS Shanghai, a former SLDF Yardship, down the well of this very star.

WeKrs (Weltraum Kreigsflotte) have no such advantage but they do have a formidably armored and reinforced hull that no warship had ever penetrated without using nuclear weapons throughout the Jihad. Even the incomplete Svaltalfheim had more armor than the veteran Painkiller during its emergency activation to combat the marauding Marik Thera-Class Supercarrier, FLWN Thessaly.

Both ships moved to intercept one another, the Painkiller firing open patters from its Rand-3 MNPPCs maximizing the chance to hit the Yggdrasil but still failing. A pair of White Shark missiles fired from its AR-10 launchers impacts the Painkiller damaging an attitude thruster while it was attempting to rotate forcing NAVcontrol to compensate.

As they close more fire erupts from both ships, the Yggdrasil scoring several major hits with its Gauss rifles, paired NAC/35s from the Ygg crush armor in the aft right portion of the Painkiller. The Painkiller scores hits but they are mostly superficial against the hide of a Mjolnir-Class WarShip.

LCS Yggdrasil, Mjolnir-Class Battlecruiser

Rotating into broadsides the Painkiller erratically adjusts its course to throw off the Yggdrasil’s heavy guns. Salvos of shells and missiles cross space between them. The evasive maneuvers help Painkiller evade the firepower streaking around it, but its own firing solutions are fouled with only scattered damage on each vessel despite their proximity.

As the ships turn toward one another the thrusters flare to life spinning the vulnerable engines away from the enemy’s firepower. The opposite side nose and forward quarter bays flash shells and particle beams crash into the battleships. Yggdrasil takes a hit to its forward sensor array as particle beams surge transmitter/receiver dishes. Painkiller gets struck once more from the powerful bow mounted gauss rifles of the Yggdrasil a crushing blow that once more damages its ability to turn and vector. Captain Tae-Young maintains control of his craft rerouting thruster power to accomplish the necessary maneuvering to preserve his ship. Damage control crews respond to the affected area to contain multiple electrical faults threatening to damage the gunnery bay.

As the enemy drifts away, the Painkiller fires its port broadside at the Yggdrasil which attempts to return fire with missiles as most of its own guns are out of battery. The Painkiller’s guns strike true splashing ordnance and hyper-accelerated particles along the Lamella Ferro-Carbide plates. Both ships attempt to rotate their primary thrusters back online to reengage.

Killer Whale missiles fired from the Painkiller crash into one of the Yggdrasil’s bow Naval Gauss Rifles, the electrical surge is contained with plasma and coolant for the magnets vented to space rather than into the gunnery bay. Still far away and out of effective range for his guns Captain Mueller slams his fist as the Painkiller’s MNPPCs knock out the B gun of his nose turret HNPPCs while he is unable to respond.

The fight pauses for a few minutes while the Painkiller and Yggdrasil maneuver against one another setting up another line of attack. Captain Mueller deploys his damage control to the nose gunnery bays to ensure the A guns are undamaged. Captain Tae-Young fires his forward quarter bays at long range scoring scouring shots against the Yggdrasil’s armor. As the Painkiller returns the Yggdrasil conducts an end-over flipping the ship over several minutes to adjust his vector and readies his port weapons bays.

Both the Painkiller and Yggdrasil accelerate toward one another, the Painkiller’s broadside guns narrowly miss the Yggdrasil once more as the battleship must use evasive actions to protect itself from the short range threat. The elite Newt crew rotates themselves into a favorable position scoring heavy strikes against the Yggdrasil in the next salvo. Each impact of the NAC/35s reverberate through the battlecruiser’s sturdy frame shaking the teeth of its Commonwealth crew. Captain Mueller’s gunnery crews are foiled by the evasive battleship as their own heavy guns fail to impact the enemy vessel.

The advantage is short lived however as a kinetic warhead of the Yggdrasil’s Killer Whale missile punches through the damaged armor and into Captain Tae-Young’s CIC. Its heavy tungsten and depleted uranium core severing wiring and crushing the principal computing node. Black Hargel secretions seal the breaches of the already evacuated compartment. Critical systems need to be rerouted through their distributed processing centers introducing more lag to the transmissions between gunnery decks, their weaponry, and fire control within the CIC affecting accuracy in an already tense battle.

With the CIC critically damaged and already at a disadvantage in endurance the Painkiller fights desperately against the Yggdrasil. Captain Mueller and crew disengage to adjust their approach before vectoring in on the wounded battleship. The Yggdrasil endures withering ordnance while closing with their own big cannons like an overweight Corvette. Unable to outmaneuver the battlecruiser Captain Tae-Young attempts to capture it in a daring short range death spiral. The Newt’s only hope is that his heavy broadside guns can punch through the thick armor of the Yggdrasil before his own is ripped apart by the Ygg’s devastating short range ordnance. He almost succeeds but the Ygg’s nose mounted NAC/40s tear massive holes in the Painkiller’s frontal armor exposing and smashing the ancient skeleton while disabling its thrusters.

Already fighting with reduced thrust capacity now made non-existent Captain Tae-Young strikes his colors and accepts a boarding party of armored marines from the victorious Wekrs. The Yggdrasil does not make it out unscathed from its encounter with the Painkiller. With its thick frontal armor severely compromised and ship beset with electrical fires and sensor ghosts Captain Mueller deems it impossible to continue on with such damage. He accepts the Painkiller’s surrender before sending out a salvage party to retrieve the jump sail so he can get out of this system before additional Newt warships arrive more willing to use nuclear weapons.

After Action Report for LCS Yggdrasi & Clan Battleship Pain Killer Engagement[]

“Alright Class After-Action Report time, what have we learned?”

One of the cadets in the stadium seating raised their hand and a spotlight traced down to them. “Don’t engage a Mjolnir unless you have nukes.” A few of the cadets laughed although some caught the glaring attention of Star Admiral McKenna and quieted down.

She chimed in, still awaiting her portion of the presentation, “A new Overlord A-Three Commander in the making I suppose. Well Cadet I think you are both wildly under and overestimating the effectiveness of nuclear weapons against Warships, particularly tough ones like the Mjolnir.”

Three diagrams appeared behind them on the screen, one of a 5 kiloton 'A-class, (Alamo, Annihilator, etc...)' bomb, the 50 kiloton 'S-class, (Santa Ana, Savage, etc...)' and 500 kiloton 'P-class, (Peacemaker, Poseidon, etc...)' warheads. “This is a Proton warhead, a five hundred kiloton thermonuclear device light enough to fit in a Killer Whale’s missile. It costs about 40 million c-bills making it about as expensive as a Dire Wolf. Whatever it hits short of the Astartes or one of the former Ghost Bear Leviathans will likely die in a fiery inferno. Unfortunately like all nukes in space it is a contact weapon and if you start lobbing nukes you are liable to get some in return. The battle will rapidly devolve into what we call rotag.”

The images faded away and Juhan returned to the fore, “Just like Russian Roulette you don’t want to play Rocket Tag. If our fictional Captain Tae-Young were to start lobbing Peacemaker nukes at the Yggdrasil the gloves are off and there wouldn’t be a Painkiller at the end of this encounter. He would have failed at his primary mission, protect his home system from enemy attack, and critically since Captain Mueller would be fully within its legal limits to counter-strike Lang Zhenzu.

That is a reason the FedCom's ARCLIGHT and FWL’s AZURE conditions are rarely authorized. Particularly since we all lived through a free fire battlefield during the Jihad. The DCA is even more unlikely to use them, as far as we know they only have A-class bombs due to doctrinal difference.

Only during times of elevated danger would you want to have nukes on-board and even then, only on a few platforms. A S-class warhead, the most common used type, does have the potential to do tremendous damage but most modern ships can take the hit. Unfortunately for us, this does give capital missile equipped dropships a tremendous advantage and this is why we don’t build giant warships anymore, we cannot reliably protect them the Jihad has proven that time and again the missile will get through.

You don’t even need a nuclear weapon to cause tremendous damage to a warship. In our scenario the Painkiller took a hit to its CIC with a regular Killer Whale. This single event cause them to rapidly lose control of a situation in which they were doing everything right. Were it not for that damage there was a valid chance of inflicting enough harm on the Yggdrasil to drive it off.

This is the preferred resolution of an engagement, both sides accomplished the mission and managed to preserve their strength. Do not forget that Warships are best used as deterrence against enemy action. Fighting till your dying breath is foolish if it does not further the goals of your Fleet. If it does then by whatever god you believe in do everything you can, ram them if you must.” the cadet finished.

Juhan drank from the tea thermos, “Any other observations.”

Another cadet spoke up, “For such an elite crew both warships missed far more attacks then I expected.”

“An astute observation, Cadet. We have to remember that there are many factors working against a warship's weapons at the same time. Both warships are moving targets and their weapons are incredibly heavy objects with a great deal of inertia.

The basic Armstrong LN-ten naval cannon (NAC/10) weighs almost 2 kilotons with a large portion of that being the aiming apparatus. Lighter naval PPCs and lasers are a little handier but particularly large guns are even worse. This is reflected in their difficulty aiming with all capital grade weapons against smaller targets and is partially offset by bracketing for effect. The best hit ratio during the Jihad was little better than batting two hundred. Much like baseball, you have to accept a single sometimes rather than going for home runs every time.” said the Admiral

He drank more from his thermos, “This is why all big gun broadside Warships are dangerously unbalanced as massive guns such as a Zeus Forty and Armstrong Twos can rarely be used to best effect in practice as their ability to hit their targets at close range is compromised. Although these do make solid nose guns for swifter craft such as corvettes particularly in a chase scenario as evidenced by the Yggdrasil's final rush against Painkiller.”

An animation appeared behind him showing the Yggdrasil and Painkiller engaged in close range battle followed by one demonstrating the Line of Battle tactics of the Snow Ravens and Jade Falcons Warship Trinary during the Battle of Xian against the Steel Viper Astartes super-battleship. “Now of course we don't expect a Warship to operate alone, even one supporting unit changes the dynamics dramatically. From Arsenal ships and fighters to destroyers and corvettes each has their own capabilities that a cunning commander can exploit. For this I hand it over to Star Admiral McKenna.”

Ciri McKenna stepped forward her platinum blonde hair shining under the lights beneath her light blue beret. Concept art of the Gorgon-Class Strike Carrier DropShip appeared behind her, “This is a Gorgon Strike Carrier, the FWLN's new base unit and most likely vessel you will be serving on. With another five hundred tons from the original to add Stingray missiles and light sub-capital lasers it is almost capable of acting like a lightweight Titan which we will use as its opponent, although my Snow Ravens will be using lighter fighters compared to the Lancer standard of the FWLN to make it fair.”

Naval Action: A Duel between two DropShip Fighter Carriers[]

Dante, Outworld’s Alliance, 3087

An angular white Carrier class dropship passed over the green world below its ventral surface complete with the Snow Raven crest whose wings reached across its fuselage. A world afflicted by ‘The Double Cobra’ that had effectively killed off its low-tech population decades ago. Their livestock and its Terra equivalent ecosystem were thus off-limits to any new settlement or even expedition. Clan Snow Raven, deemed the most skilled in space interdiction, was responsible for enforcing the quarantine.

Beyond its moon, Beatrice, a bone white dropship loomed utilized the moon’s gravity to sneak up on the quarantine zone. Eighteen Lancer Aerospace Fighters deployed from its extended wings silently launching ahead of their carrier and toward the patrolling Carrier. Their rounded wings carrying deadly pulse lasers to complement laser guided missiles.

Commander Hendra detected the dropship as it cleared its orbital ring with its powerful thrusters aimed right for her vessel. The Ravens launched into action; lithe pilots hurriedly translated to the carrier’s launch bays. Their technicians ordered the ARTS system to fuel and arm their ten Ogotai interceptors. Robotic hoses filled the fighters with their ammonia fighter fuel and cylinder of long-range missiles were deposited into their nose mounted launchers. SPARC units activated to power up the fighter’s thermonuclear core that would soon accelerate ionic propellant at incredible velocities.

Four launch doors opened on the Carrier’s extended hanger as the helmsmen centered the launch cylinder on the diffusing enemy formation. Within two minutes all ten of the flying wing Ogotai, the Clan’s omnified Hellkite (Hellcat II), sped out divided themselves into a six and four ship squadron against almost twice their number.

Both carrier dropships accelerated toward one another, the Raven Carrier’s weapon bays, an envy of most Inner Sphere assault dropships, came alive awaiting a chance to destroy the interloper. With half the fighters and a Clan confidence the Ravens, all veterans of the Jihad, engaged this latest line of unknown opponents.

Long range weapons fired at one of the Lancer squadrons, their evasive maneuvers however ensured that little damage occurred at such ranges. The Gorgon Fighter Carrier fires its frontal weapons dominated by a large sub-capital missile launcher and light sub-capital lasers. One of the laser tears into the Carrier’s port side to little effect.

More effective were the Carrier’s medium range weapons, short range missiles and lasers shredded the Gorgon’s nose armor and critically damaged its thruster assembly. Inside the Gorgon space-suited crewmen watched in horror as their allies suffered severe laser burns from the Clanner’s ultimate weapon, the Extended Range Medium Laser. Medpacks auto-injected painkillers while the damaged sections were automatically reassigned to alternate consoles. Their Stingray missile was shredded as the Carrier’s Anti-Missile Systems activated, flechettes ripped into its casing causing the powerful missile to break up. Parts of it bounced harmlessly off the armored fuselage.

Outside Raven fighter pilots engaged in high g maneuvers to get their lasers on target scoring hits on the weaker spheroids. Angry red circles appeared on the Lancers as the 7cm lasers found their mark. Two Lancer squadrons fired everything at the Carrier assault ship that was tearing into their ride home. Pulses of incandescent red streaks like those of a flogged man tore into the port and aft armor of the ship but found no point of weakness. Raven gunners attempted to bring the enemy into arc.

(Dropship) Commander Hendra ordered her fighters to channel the enemy into the Carrier’s heavily armed rear arc. Both squadrons complied harrying enemy fighters although their inferior numbers show even against the inferior fighters of their enemy. Another heavy round of fire is exchanged between the two dropships. Another Stingray missile is shredded at close range spreading debris that burns up in the Carrier’s thruster wake.

However, the enemy fighter’s take advantage of the Carrier’s singular focus positioning themselves to take advantage of its already damaged portside. Their pulse lasers rake across the fuselage tearing deep into subsystems. Synthetic Hargel, imported from the Federated Suns, fills the gaps just barely maintaining integrity.

The Gorgon shutters with the impacts of the Carrier’s vast array of weapons. Autocannons, Gauss Shells, Lasers, and Missiles fill the empty space between them. Additional hits from hyper-accelerated Gauss rounds cause a containment breach requiring an immediate shutdown of its primary thruster pack. Streak SRMs damage the forward sensor array shattering it under the combined might of thirty-six armor piercing missiles.

Behind that engagement Snow Squadron and Amethyst Squadron exchanged ferocious fire. Long range missiles circle toward targets exploding in silent orange explosions on impact. Pilots bring their wing mounted lasers into alignment triggering powerful blasts of light that rake across their enemies’ wings.

With so much damage to the Portside Commander Hendra braced herself as the Carrier angled its thrusters to flip end over end. The Gorgon did the same utilizing its meager thrust to flip and hope to slow its outward velocity and keep its heavy weapons on target. Now that her rear guns were on target and the enemy was in pursuit the Ravens used their incredible firepower to erase half a Lancer squadron within a minute.

Enemy squadrons wasted no time to pursue and utilized their pulse lasers to best effect. Their weapons fire tore into the already savaged aft and port side armor almost completely penetrating its integrity to avenge their fallen comrades. Simultaneously Raven dogfighters were unable to score more hits against the interloping Lancers who concentrated their fires on a Point of Ogotais.

As both dropships burned against their fate the enemy stayed on target as a four ship Squadron of allied Ogotai couldn’t stand against nine Lancers even with the Carrier’s weapons. Although it erases a complete squad of Lancers their weapons found its weakened hide. From their port side the enemy squad punching through into critical systems.

With its integrity compromised the Carrier lost all power drifting while flipping end of end as severed parts of it began flew out in uncontrollable velocities. Although certain death awaited them the crew utilized chemical thrusters to stabilize their spin. Escape pods hurtled outward rather than be captured as Abtakha by likely terrorists.

With no home base to return to and strict orders to maintain quarantine and their honor the Raven fighters continued. Within minutes all that remained of the two formations were quickly cooling wrecks and nosy radio beacons for S&R craft already en-route.

After-action Report - Free Worlds League Taskforce clash Snow Raven Taskforce[]

Helpful Stats

Free World's League Standard Task Force
18 Lancers divided into 3 Squads (2448 Armor) / 26 pts Alpha damage (Sustained 18)
Gorgon Carrier / 946 Armor / Highest Arc Damage 131

Snow Raven Carrier Task Force
10 Ogotai Prime | 1760 Armor / 26 pts Alpha damage (Sustained 16)
Carrier / 840 Armor / Highest Arc Damage 217

The Ogotai Prime is the standard Snow Raven fighter until they can rebuild their industrial base and training programs which were lost during their escape from the Homeworlds following the War of Sundering and Jihad. Presently it is built by the United Outworlder Corporation on Alpheratz and Ramora.

-Quick Summary and Useful points-

Additional fighters are good, you don't want to have to rely on the fighter carrier to be an assault ship as well. In a formation environment something like a Gorgon is more useful as it has sub-capital weapons although the Carrier is capable of holding a solid picket against Strike Craft. However it is not fast enough to reasonable chase fast Aerofighters.

Review with Class: A Duel between two DropShip Fighter Carriers[]

Dante, Outworld’s Alliance, 3087


The Holotank went dark as the light shone on Admiral McKenna again who looked crestfallen while Dubravka was clearly pleased at his subordinates’ tactics. She tapped her nails and long talon like articulated rings popular in the Jade Falcon and Snow Raven Clans for both sexes on the lectern and gazed harshly at her junior officers behind their consoles.

Juhan drank more from his cup of tea. “Isn’t a fair fight the Clan way, Admiral?”

Her stare was like lighting between them, yet her voice was kept slow and measured. The Snow Raven’s prided themselves on their naval prowess, but the home (Spheroid) team kept winning.

“For this example. I suppose it is.”, McKenna commented

“Your Ravens accomplished their objective. That Gorgon didn’t make it to the surface.”

“Indeed, they did. My fictional Raven’s loss was regrettable, but the mission and our honor was satisfied.

As you can see having a more distributed force can exploit more avenues of attack on your enemies’ weak spots. Ten vs Eighteen was always going to be dicey unless those ten are particularly potent dogfighters capable of disabling an enemy unit with a single volley. Both the Lancer and Ogotai are not this as each is more of an interceptor than a true dogfighter.

If you will remember from earlier this distribution is why no one has a true battleship anymore. Concentrating your firepower into one platform limits your strategic options. Utilizing multiple units synergistically is your best option in modern combat.” Star Admiral McKenna finished

A formidable hulking machine painted Snow Raven colors, appeared from stage right. Its hunched insectile form, shoulder mounted rotary cannon, and wicked claws appeared alien to the Free Worlders who had never seen a Clan Elemental in person or armor.

Behind Admiral Dubrakva a smaller but no less formidable battle armor appeared in white and purple, Fleet Armored Infantry colors. Raised circles on its knees, elbows, and feet marked it as the magnetic clamp version used by Fleet Espatiers. Both units turned to the side revealing the spherical maneuvering units that would allow them to adjust trim and position without adjusting their point of inertia by reaching out with the claws that each suit carried.

He stepped forward as technicians appeared from off-stage to remove the carapace units from the Armored Infantry. Both operators inside were stocky men wearing a soft cap with display band in front of their face. Their incredible musculature accentuated by their tight cooling and sensor embedded suits. The Raven Elemental was slightly taller than the Leaguer but neither looked like someone to be trifled with.

“Now we move onto Marines and their use in space combat. Some of you are destined to join Fleet Armored Infantry Corps. I would like to honor your courage in this matter as you will be facing hostile threats throughout your career that naval crewmen like myself never will.

Some of my best friends during the Jihad were Armored Infantrymen and their names will forever adorn the names of memorials to that conflict.

Let us take a moment of silence for Khans Xander Drake and Santin West as well as for all those lost during the Jihad without whose sacrifice we would not be here today.”

Within the Amphitheater all slightly bowed their heads in silence. The Jihad and retaking of Terra from the Word of Blake resulted in almost complete destruction of the Clans’ Warrior Caste. Millions, innocents and soldiers alike, were casualties in the worst conflict since the Second Succession War. The true total might never be known but if the Shadow Divisions had been allowed to execute their true capabilities every world would have become like Tharkad or Atreus.

After the moment Ciri stood next to the giant Marine, a stoic pale man that seemed alien to the Leaguers compared to the already odd-looking McKenna. A woman who looked more like a stylized character with her slightly larger eyes, long slender fingers, and fine bone structure. Her people, the Trueborn of the Clans, drew attention wherever they went for their uncanny looks and unusual practices.

“This is the CAMU (Clan Armored Marine Unit). Based on the Salamander anti-personnel suit. It comes equipped with heavy battle claws to brace itself during maneuvers in addition to the standard maneuver-thruster unit and additional life support. Utilizing Hargel it can take multiple slugs from a David Rifle without losing integrity. Its Bearhunter Autocannon is a formidable close quarters weapon, very reliable even in vacuum conditions. However, this unit lacks sufficient ground-based capability for the modern battlefield instead being optimized for space operations.”

She walked over to the other suit, “This is a Hecate, closer in capability to the original space Elementals. Although it lacks Hargel the advanced armor composite provides greater protection than the CAMU. The lack of an additional claw and necessity to utilize magnetic clamps to attach itself to a fuselage or mech limits its abilities somewhat while opening others. It can attach itself to any mech, not just omnis, for mobility purposes. Very useful when deploying from drop pods in support of an Orbital Assault.

Equipped with the standard issue Magshot rifle to provide superior long-range fire and can be replaced by a heavy machine gun for close quarters battles within five minutes. It retains jump jets which allow it to make long leaps on low gravity or airless worlds. Although you only have one claw it is sufficient for stability when using the weapon in microgravity and a fearsome close quarters weapon on its own.”

Juhan triggered the slideshow once more showing off the capabilities of other state Marines.

DCMS Raiden Battle Armor in Jet Black and Gold with a Claw, Tsunami Gauss

FedSuns Voidseekers in Red and Gold with Claw, Grand Mauler Gauss

Gray Death Standards in Blue and Silver with Claw, Small Pulse Laser

Asterion Astra of Trinity Alliance in TAF Jade and Burgundy with a Claw, Man-Portable Plasma Rifle

Juhan answered questions regarding armored infantry from each realm in turn. “Before we go on to a combined task force combat. We will discuss logistics and integrating orbital and ground power.”

Groans emanated from the students. Their protests went unphased by the aging Admiral who adjusted his glasses.  “I know its not nearly as exciting as a major warship fight, but it is just as important.”

Examination of the WarShip[]

Juhan Dubraka stood before a daunting display of the resupply tables for the 2SLS Fort Verdun during the Jihad. “I hope everyone enjoyed their lunch, because I have a lot to say about the logistics of the contemporary black fleet and you will have questions.”

“While aboard a ship of war you have four main supply concerns.”

Several rows illuminated as he spoke. “Chief among them are ammunition and fuel as without either of these you are in big trouble as a warship. Followed closely behind are spares parts for the ship or its onboard vehicles, and finally crew sustainment.”

“We will start with that since it is the easiest to understand.”

A pallet consisting of foil packed food in paperboard boxes, metal gas cylinders, and an empty polymer water bladder was rolled onto the stage. “This, when full, weighs approximately one metric ton and will provide one day of normal rations to two-hundred individuals on board a Second SLDF Warship. This palatalized configuration is something that you would see aboard a shuttle or perhaps a Merchant auxiliary pressed into service or relief efforts. Large ships have more specialized containers for the components that take up less volume per unit of good.

Each crewman receives three kilos of rations and one kilo of miscellaneous goods and toiletries. Two kilos are dedicated to these gas bottles and the atmosphere contained within. Most of this gas is oxygen with about forty percent nitrogen. Finally, four kilos of water are added which combined with the Oh’two/N’two replace mass lost in the recyclers.

When complete this pallet costs about as much as the hydrogen dense fuels we feed the fusion power plant. Most of the expense is obviously in the food and miscellaneous goods.”

Juhan shrugged as he tossed the envelope back into the box. “It’s not bad for military food, but I might be biased as I have eaten this stuff longer than my mother’s cooking.”

“They like everything we are going to talk about are ordered by the logistics office in containers which are then stockpiled at naval bases where they can be broken down and shipped out as needed.”

He tapped the pallet signaling the operator to take it away. “Speaking of the logistics office, it is the most important component of any contemporary space fleet. For every ten crew there is at least one person at that vessel’s base ensuring you get paid, trained, stay healthy, and are properly and promptly supplied with whatever you and the ship require even across the Inner Sphere.”

An animated line graph appeared showing a precipitous drop in free cargo space between the First and Third generations of Warships. “Since the latest generations of Warships have less mass available for cargo and more firepower, they are more reliant on a complex web of suppliers than the old SLDF. This web needs to be protected and will gradually be expanded as finances and needs require.”

Behind him a picture of the Illium Shipyards, pride of the Free Worlds League, appeared. “Presently every Successor State has at least three major naval bases. These are typically centered on their primary shipyards but not always. Our Fleet, for example, is based around Loyalty, Tamarind, Oriente, and Marik. Oriente and Marik lack shipyards, but house jump capable repair and resupply stations and tugs to move them if needed.””

“Were it not for these stations, my ship the SLS Fort Verdun would have been destroyed before it could be fitted out around Alarion before gallantly serving throughout the Jihad. In fact, every fleet would have had to scuttle at least one of their anchoring combatants after the war which would have been a major blow.”

“These are supplemented by small patrol bases located near border territories containing stockpiles and state arsenals supplied mostly by merchant spacers. These always have a recharge station and cargo station at both Z/N points. This saves Fleet assets from having to spend time and fuel burning toward the surface during an emergency and allows twice the throughput.”

“The largest of these in the League is on and above Cole Harbor utilizing much of the leftover infrastructure from the original SLDF’s buildup for the occupation of the Magistracy of Canopus. Something Magestrix Naomi Centrella often reminds her followers of during speeches.”

A bird’s eye view of the scattered facilities of Cole Harbor Groundside Station appeared behind him. “As you can see it is quite extensive. We will focus here, on the magazines.”

A new image appeared of containerized racks of missiles and shells stacked neatly in their own individual cells. “Ammunition is obviously one of the biggest needs of any Warship. While a Naval PPC might be one of the best weapon designs ever created. Cannons and missiles have their own advantages the best of which is that they don’t fry the power and thermal distribution systems with constant use.”

“While on deployment a warship will likely need to carry extra ammunition in its stores to supply any ground side elements it might be called upon to support. Most dropships are lacking in cargo capacity for extended campaigns. This is often by design for much the same reason our modern warships are, less cargo equals more firepower. Admittingly for a shorter time hence they run out of ammo and parts during campaign unless they can salvage some.”

“Since they must support their own fighter wing and shuttle squadron this is particularly true of any kind of carrier. Having captained a Thera supercarrier during wartime I assure you that I spent many nights agonizing over ways to get my fighters and escorts what they needed. Since that remains the most common class of combatant ship in every fleet you will likely do the same and can use that to your advantage if you’re smart, which I assume you are unless the recruiters lost their touch.”

“Like I mentioned before the fleet logistics command buys ammo by the container-full and you store it by the container-full. This is often transported from its manufacturer aboard specially chartered dropships, in containers. Each one of these cellular magazines and supports for the heavier ammo carried by the ‘hundred weight’ is portioned in such a way that it may be moved by a ship’s internal elevator to its internal magazines. There it is unloaded before returning what remains to the cargo bay.”

“Keeping them in these containers increase the safety of groundside ordnance crews that must pack it into and out of transports. This is ammunition after all, it is designed to explode or accelerate quite energetically and be a hazard, to the other guy.”

Several frames later was the naked hull of the Thera carrier SLS Fort Verdun prior to being refitted. “This is what a warship looks like naked, in case you were curious.” The class smiled and a few laughed at seeing the heroic ship in such a state.

Following it was the fully outfitted version in the livery of the 2SLDF with multiple battle stars painted along its length. “This is how ships are supposed to look and operate. To keep it that way you need a constant supply of spare parts to replace things that wear out over time. This includes everything from spare structural members and pipes to reactor shielding and thruster cones.”

“The Fort Verdun consumed nearly one hundred tons of spare parts every month costing about as much as a new Stinger or Wasp Battlemech. Since it is undergoing a once in a decade stay in the Illium Yards to repair damage dating back to the beginning of said decade it’s using quite a bit more.”

“I’ll admit I roughed her up a bit, but when I saw how much damage needed to be repaired. Well, let me say I am glad I’m retired, because otherwise the Admiralty on Marik would be calling me every day complaining about it.”

One of the assistants wheeled in a cart with another heavy metal can on top of it marked with flammable and cryogenic hazard placards. “Now we get into something very interesting.”

Fuel[]

Inside this dewer flask is ten kilos of liquified natural gas kept at cryogenic temperatures by liquid nitrogen. It is marked flammable however in this state it is anything but. In fact, it is quite harmless unless you put your finger in it. Unlike ammonia or many of the other hydrogen rich liquids we use to fuel thermonuclear power plants and aerospace fighter engines. I certainly wouldn’t bring hydrogen here; it would vaporize incredibly fast and if it found a spark would badly burn everyone in this room.”

Now imagine that in your Aerospace fighter and be glad there is no free oxygen in space. Thus, we don’t use liquid hydrogen as bunker fuel. Instead, Ammonia and LNG are used which go through reformer steps that rip their hydrogens off before feeding them to fusion reactor.”

Their waste products then return to ship’s atmospheric mass, so we don’t need to carry additional living gases. Ammonia when processed adds extra nitrogen while LNG and its cousins generate either carbon dioxide which is scrubbed out normally or a fine black dust that is filtered out and off boarded.”

Since we already store nitrogen and ammonia in liquid form they might as well cool something, so they provide primary refrigeration needs. Weapon heat sinks are instead tied into the onboard water storage to a certain extent spreading out the heat across the entire ship with the rest being principally radiation.”

Now since we have gotten past that part, we will go into fuel consumption. For a given mass of fuel and reactor size there is a certain amount of delta v it can generate. Larger engines are more power to mass efficient but at lower mases they are more fuel efficient as each particle goes further.”

A ton of fuel provides a Warship with slightly less than a one minute one gee tactical burn while forty is the more reasonable daily consumption. For comparison a Union can burn for fifteen minutes at one gee and its regular daily consumption is approximately three.”

Union Class Dropship

Dropships are slightly more complicated as their reactor designs are more variable than those of Warships which vary mostly in the number of power plants installed.

Jumpships and Space Stations with their weak thrusters hardly use any fuel at all. They can expect to burn a ton of fuel per month unless they are recharging their jump core with the ship’s power plant instead of a solar sail.

Now that I mention solar sails and reactor recharge it is true that a Warship can power itself and recharge its jump core via the solar sail or use its reactor. It must do both if it wants to recharge its Lithium-Fusion battery and main KF drive at the same time.

Warship KF cores are in fact capable of a remarkably large number of recharge cycles in the short term. Their power systems are used to power surges and the like. If you are willing to accept the elevated maintenance costs afterwards a Warship can fast recharge its jump core almost four times every month and if it uses a solar sail can move three hundred light years at a heinously elevated fuel cost.

That concludes today’s lecture. We will return with the tactical integration of orbital and surface assets on a campaign.”

Seizing the High Ground![]

Supporting Surface Objectives from Orbit. Compiled from the lectures of (retired) 2SLDF Admiral Juhan Dubravka

The 31st century will be remembered as one with a great deal of disruption. After centuries of technological backwardness once more humanity finds itself in technological competition between various factions. Among them are the Trinity Alliance and New Rasalhague Republic who inherited the secret archives of the Word of Blake and COMSTAR. Secondly there is the Clan Council, competitors to the claim of the old SLDF and with their own scientific progresses made in isolation. Finally, there is the rest of the Inner Sphere whose vast populations and well-resourced research institutes have made strong progress in a short period of time.

Something that has certainly undergone a massive paradigm shift is military doctrine. With limited resources and a heavy emphasis on surface combat the Inner Sphere, Clan Homeworlds, and other realms formed a ground facing military doctrine. However, only the most foolish neglect the orbital component serving as an important force multiplier. After all surface forces from one planet need to be loaded onto a dropship and transported either via jumpship or warship to their target.

There are three types of mission support orbital and space borne assets provide their surface forces. Technical, Logistical, and Kinetic.

The oldest but still relevant support is of the technical type. During the 20th and 21st centuries Terra’s national governments deployed satellites to observe and monitor their adversaries while increasing their situational awareness. In the 31st century we still do the same more effectively.

Satellites launched on small rockets, equivalent to capital missiles, once more form useful communication constellations, maps have improved with persistent geospatial intelligence gathering. Improved prediction of atmospheric and natural phenomena have enabled greater economic prosperity and personal security.

Extended operations typically start with a spacecraft deploying cheap satellites in low orbits shortly after ensuring aerospace superiority. These low-cost satellites provide improved navigation and communication to ground units beneath them. With additional sensors they can detect units, structures, and traps hidden under difficult terrain. Reconnaissance small craft and dropships equipped with advanced imagers will do the same as they are more resistant to attack. Attacks against satellites typically take the form of an aerospace fighter or conventional fighter using advanced missiles to shoot down the functionally immobile and defenseless satellites.

Assault Frigates such as the DCA’s Kyushu and FCF’s Zodiac class and their Heavy Armored Transport dropship analogs like the FWLN’s Ajax and TAF’s Yue Fei contain extensive communication suites capable of coordinating complex planetary assaults. Additionally some warships maintain their own HPG broadcast equipment providing unparalleled capability to their supported forces. Those that didn't notably the Federated Commonwealth and Draconis Combine maintained their black box code stations within warships or modified dropships to do the same. With their mobility these vessels can position themselves to keep ground commanders updated on a chaotic battlespace. This is more important in the 3080s since the Jihad has forced a massive leap in capability for electronic warfare and large-scale deception operations.

These vessels, unlike satellites, can provide additional benefits beyond the fact that they are interplanetary or in the case of jump and warships interstellar transports. This logistical support in the form of bulk cargo, parts depots, medical and berthing facilities, fuel bunkerage, and every other essential store or services can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

During the 2SDLF’s invasion of the Homeworlds this was the crucial support COMSTAR’s Great White Fleet was meant to provide to TASK FORCE SERPENT. These stores were not used as the Great Refusal wrapped up that campaign before Total War was required. Instead, these provisions were left behind on Huntress to support the garrison and help rebuild the planet’s infrastructure while SERPENT returned with vast amount of clan isorla.

It was not until Clan Ghost Bear faced off against a Star League Expeditionary Force in the de facto Trial of Annihilation against the Nova Cats that lessons learned proved instrumental to victory. Unused to high tempo operations even so close to their home territory the Ghost Bears were forced to withdraw after running low on supplies. Later reports reveal that Khan Jorgensson may have exaggerated the stores being intercepted and sent to his Galaxy Commanders thus diminishing their clout by putting them in a difficult position.

Nevertheless, the Free World’s League’s major Fleet contributions were felt with the two Ajaxes sent along with their Thera Task Forces proving crucial to sustaining the 2SLDF’s forces throughout that hard fought campaign. We will go into greater depth concerning that dropship class later.

Simultaneously the Inner Sphere saw the first example of the third type of orbit to surface support. The Mjolnir battlecruiser LAS Yggdrasil will be remembered for many firsts in Inner Sphere warships. Chief among them will be that on its initial deployment it was the first Inner Sphere built warship to use its capital weapons in anger against a groundside target in centuries.

Its target was the rebel stronghold within the town of Bannock on New Avalon. This stronghold and the town around it was wiped off the face of the planet on the direct orders of Archon Katherine Steiner(-Davion). Detailed pictures of the utter devastation and revelation that rebel General Bishop Sortek kidnapped and tortured Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion leading to the Davion Guard’s speedy surrender. The Archon-Princess defended those orders to her last day in power.

The Jihad revealed a major weakness of some warships designed for planetary assault. This was particularly true for the Clan’s Nightlord and DCA’s Kyushu classes. These designs carried a fundamental flaw against the Word of Blake and COMSTAR’s rebuilt SDS systems, they needed to get close to deploy the Battlemechs they were designed to deliver to the ground. No Nightlord survived the Jihad each one lost during one of these deployments. Many Kyushu were lost during the Black Dragon Civil War for the same reason. Surface based SDS systems targeted their thrusters trapping them in a planet’s gravity well even if they could not penetrate armor. Stuck in a deteriorating orbit the ships and all their stores needed to be abandoned by their crews.

Contrary to this paradigm were the Zodiac and Ajax/Yue Fei instead using small craft to deliver cargo to the surface or served as orbiting storage depots for low endurance combat transports such as the Union. Only four of the thirteen Zodiacs were lost during the conflict all due to lucky hits by Alamo armed Aerospace Fighters that penetrated their fighter screen. No Ajax or Yue Fei units were lost to damage although some were disabled and later boarded by espatiers. They were just to valuable to destroy during those chaotic times.

Features of the Ajax/Yue Fei Heavy Armored Transport

Since 3060 the Brigadier Aerospace of MacKenzie has built the Ajax and its Capellan equivalent Yue Fei Heavy Armored Transports. Built on the Behemoth fuselage with heavy Ferro-Aluminum armor, a sturdier frame, and more powerful thrusters. This vessel maintains its originators five quad small craft hangers alongside a dozen Battlemech repair bays supported by 50-kilotons of cargo and 1.6-kilotons of fuel bunkerage.

Almost two hundred crew, one hundred passengers, and a reinforced platoon of Marines are housed within providing mostly technical support. Numerous anti-fighter weapons protect them from attack while light sub-capital cannons and lasers along with a dozen White Shark missile launchers are mounted aft to provide orbital fire support.

Features of the Zodiac Assault Frigate

Built in secret by Challenge Systems for the Federated Commonwealth the Zodiac represents the most produced class of Assault Frigates in the Inner Sphere and almost rivals any other warship with thirteen created. According to research it was the second type commissioned by First Prince Hanse Davion prior to the publicly known Avalon. Since they were built so far away from any major front and are relatively simple it is likely they were designed to support forces operating in the Federation’s Outback worlds.

This simple mission and focused design would serve them well throughout the Jihad. Each vessel supported campaigns in every theater of operation providing fighter suppression, orbit to surface fires, and logistical support in contested space.

With a crew of three hundred accommodations for that many more passengers and a company of embarked marines these ships provide safe berthing and medical facilities for a large ground contingent. These facilities supported advanced communication equipment and enough weapons to be a threat to enemy assault dropships and provide meaningful orbit to surface fire support.

Supplementing them are twelve shuttles in three quad hangers, two squadrons of aerospace fighters, 3.2-kilotons of fuel bunkerage, and 40-kilotons of cargo capacity combine to make the Zodiac the modern gold standard for an assault frigate.

Solving the Last Kilometer Problem – Deploying and Sustaining Troops on Planetary Ops[]

Once all the dust and scrap has been settled and done in space it is finally time to engage in some planetary operations. Your biggest hazards as a spacecraft crewman are flying in atmosphere and orbiting a planet but your bunk is right next to a thermonuclear power plant and toxic gases, so you are obviously comfortable with risk. Aerospace fighters can sally forth from hidden bases potentially causing a great deal of destruction until they break off engagement, mines and armed satellites can also be a threat to an unwary dropship typically in that final descent phase. Conventional fighters can engage dropships when low enough, and the ground itself is your largest hazard.

Before we go into landing and liftoff however, we will start in space, the comfortable black beyond the reach of most of your major enemies. Despite my previous chastisement of the Kyushu and Nightlord Orbit to Surface drops are a sound tactic. Just not with warships into a contested area. Dropships can deploy Battlemechs and along with shuttles armored infantry.

To prepare for orbital reentry (from the High Altitude or Space Map) mechs or battle armor will be encased in an ablative drop cocoon to protect them from both the extreme heat of reentry and some enemy fire. Those without jump jets will have an external jet pack attached to them in a chest harness along with a drag chute. From higher orbits the transit to the surface can take a very long time and the units inside are unable to effectively maneuver. Despite the hazards high-altitude insertion is safer for the dropship and combatants unless the enemy has Aerospace fighters on the prowl or is equipped with (sub-)capital missile.

A faster but more dangerous maneuver that limits exposure and provides a limited amount of maneuverability and greatest surprise is the low altitude or ‘Hover’ drop. This technique utilizes a drag chute and jump jets to slow descent and was perfected by the Nova Cats to protect against Cloud Cobra fighters during their frequent skirmishes on Brim. This low Altitude (10 on the Low Altitude Map or about 18km) insertion is more hazardous because there is less time for the mech to slow itself down and takes less than 5 minutes. Dropping this low also allows a formation to stay closer together allowing more force to be brought to bear faster.

Regardless of whether it is inserting high or low a dropship can only deploy a mech or armored infantry squad per door each minute. This is fine if each lance has an independent but close objective but can lead to a more scattered force across potentially dozens of square kilometers. Either deployment is particularly rough on the equipment and failing to perfectly stick the landing will cause damage. Aiming for water for battlemechs (or UMU equipped armored infantry) is thus recommended to dampen the blow whenever possible.

Much less intense for the operators but more dangerous for the dropship is a standard landing. Aerodyne vessels are more capable of maneuvering in atmosphere due to their lifting and control surfaces. They are also easier on the landing surface which should be approximately 90 meters wide by 450-600 long. Spheroids must make do with raw thrust obliterating anything soft or wet in their thrust cone to land vertically. These dropships must also move in parabolic patterns while in atmosphere as sustained hover at low altitude is incredibly hazardous and arguably a war crime. Aerospace fighters can either land vertically or horizontally but often prefer horizontal landings rather than risk VTOL flight with their open cycle drives.

Once on the ground combatants quickly disembark from the bay doors and immediately begin operations. While their charges are fully engaged the dropship should keep all doors closed, crew on standby and maintain engines at full power with all crew on standby manned (Condition – Red) to immediately move on command, recover its assault force, or for its own protection from hostiles.

An intermediate condition (Condition – Orange) should be maintained within hostile territory which keeps critical systems warm to allow a 20-minute liftoff time for most combat transports. Like above all doors should remain closed unless embarking or disembarking units, cargo stowed, and weapons powered up during this time.

Only when the dropship is in a secure and protected location should everything be allowed to go into a lower power mode (Condition – Green). Here the doors should be closed whenever possible for security, but cargo can be more freely (un)loaded and crew can get rest.

These protocol utilizes slightly more fuel and increases crew fatigue but the benefits to the safety of the dropship and its crew as well as their duty to the onboard assault force are worth it.

There are two types of invasion forces, either everything is a combat transport, or it’s not. If everything is a combat transport you have a powerful tactical advantage as you can either reinforce or dilute as needed and have plenty of firepower available to attack the enemy. Unfortunately, these types of formations can rarely maintain their strength for long, equipment will break, maintenance lapse, and supplies dwindle over time particularly when engaged in heavy combat.

To rectify this long duration operations will bring along a cargo transport and associated cargo bays, shuttles, and additional personnel. The most common type for company level deployments are the Unity (Union Cargo) or Trojan, battalions should bring a Mule/Jumbo, and multi-regimental forces a Mammoth to maintain momentum.

This cargo transport and its associated Prime Base should be as far away from the enemy as possible for protection and concealment. Combat transports needing new supplies, rest, or fresh personnel can fly here to receive them. If this is not feasible for tactical reasons most freighters carry small craft that should be loaded up and dispatched as needed. Only when the base’s position is discovered or fearing attack should it be relocated. This is true of both Prime and Forward bases.

If a dropship wants to remain in theater it will form a Forward Base and should maintain condition Orange, rotating crew if necessary. Pickets of infantry and remote sensors should be deployed to give the vessel the 20-minute warning required for a safe liftoff. If possible, these should be adjacent to a highway speeding up the assault forces’ wheeled support vehicles and long enough for an aerodyne horizonal landing.

However, if that isn’t the case it should be centered on a small craft capable of providing cargo space for the ammo, armor, and barracks while maintaining strategic mobility beyond some trucks. These should also maintain condition Orange, but their ready time is half that of their larger brothers. Such small cargo volumes however encourage high turnover.

Fleet Engagement in the Capellan March[]

FedSuns Forces Calls for Reinforcements[]

Planetary Defense Command, Jaipur, Capellan March, Federated Suns, 3086


Commander Ranveer Singh spat out his tea as the Outer Sensor Array lit up before the nearest of them went dark. "I want eyes on that KF burst. Its a heavy warship with six dropships based on signal strength. We must know what it is, Now!" He looked over to his communication officer, a cleared COMSTAR expatriot who still kept some of the decorum despite the hate they received. "Send an HPG to New Syrtis immediately. Get an Avalon here right away."

Captain Maxime Le'Aea watched the missile strike one of the FedSuns surveillance satellites confirming the newly manufactured missile guidance packages were good. The Word of Blake may have betrayed the Concordat but they did not destroy all they built for its defense. They would no longer be on the defensive now they could attack and bring the Suns down a peg or two. He watched the NCSS attached to the TAS Vendetta closely sending out small volleys of the Quixote's missiles or pairs of strike craft to further hinder the defenders ability to determine his flotilla's composition. They had to move fast before Duchess Angela Hasek could bring reinforcements to this strategic world.

At New Syrtis' Zenith charging station Captain Francesca Laurent of the Avalon Guided Missile Cruiser, FSS Morgan Hasek-Davion received an urgent coded message from the Duchess herself. "Hostiles en route to Jaipur, cleared for immediate double jump as soon as magazines are refilled."

Fleet Compositions

Trinity Fleet
 

Quixote Class Frigate, (Gen III Redesign) TAF Vendetta
12 Lightning 16L Aerospace Fighters 12 TR-13A Transgressor Aerospace Fighters
12 Ares X Gunships Smallcraft
2 Kuan Ti Fast Attack Craft
2 TIG-25 Tigress Gunships
2 Zainan (Jumbo) Pocket Guided Missile Cruisers
8 Tigress TIG-25 Gunships
2 Hei Yi (Black Eagle) Assault Carrier Dropships
12 Shiva Prime OmniFighters


FedSuns Fleet

Avalon Class (GMC Flight II) Cruiser, FSS Morgan Hasek-Davion
12 LCF-R15 Lucifer Medium Aerospace Fighters
12 RPR-101 Rapier Heavy Aerospace Fighters
6 Solar Gunships Small Craft
2 Merlin (Flight III Fast Attack Craft) DropShip
2 Aquarius-M1 Gunships Small Craft
2 Arondight (SCC) Pocket Destroyers DropShips
4 Aquarius-M1 (Gunships) Smallcraft
2 Leopard CV Flight IV Assault Carrier DropShip
12 CUT-01D Cutlass Medium Aerospace Fighters

FedSun vs Trinity Fleet Engagement Results[]

Game Observations

  • Don't take Gen III Missile Cruiser task forces against one another. Their ability to intercept other missiles with Piranhas and Barracudas makes for a very boring game that becomes a tug of war against who brought more ammo. This definitely justifies my custom destroyers carrying interceptor missiles to negate their PWS opponents and protect their task force.
  • Escorting drop and small craft gunships equipped with AMS are gold. Both Gen III designs will definitely carry small craft bays and utilize converted Aerospace Space Fighter carriers explicitly for this purpose. The Avalon's escorts managed to shoot down eight Killer Whales and 6 Krakens reasonably quickly although it was murder on the ammo supply (Clantech upgrade,).
  • The most of the Warship damage was done by the Vendetta's HNGauss and the Avalon's MNGauss bays, not their missiles which were regularly intercepted. Thus the warship captains switched to shooting each other's dropships rather than each other mid-battle.
  • Using Nukes are surprisingly unreliable, bring lots if you intend to use them and only do so in mass.
  • Once an capital ship's weapons start hitting dropships they start popping fast even if they have incredible standard armor. Naval Lasers and Heavy Sub-Capital Cannons are brutal on dropships while smaller Cannons and Sub-Cap Lasers on missiles and fighters.
  • Always have an alternate target to draw the big boy's aggro, keep your distance until your opportunity arises, and use screen launchers to protect yourself.
  • Screen Launchers are surprisingly effective, definitely a technology that will see future use and refinement. Mines we're not used, yet to to be tested for effectiveness.
  • Teleoperated Missiles are sneaky but maybe not the best thing on a Warship. Great for Pocket Warships however.
  • Deploying fighters for close combat is not the worst idea as it protects them from the full fury of a capital ship and its escorts, particularly their missiles and sub-caps, until you are within shooting range of each other.

Belters, Best at Basics[]

Historically the peoples known as “The Belters” have played little role in interstellar politics. Each Confederation was eager to not put a target on their vulnerable backs during the Succession Wars. However, they are inheritors of the legendary Swiss and Gurka warrior traditions as well as those of the Terran Alliance Global Navy and Colonial Marines where they served with gallantry until being replaced by the Terran Hegemony’s colonial troops. Throughout the centuries Belters have fiercely protected their independence via the skillful use of their Confederations’ Aerospace Security Teams {(Confederation name) ESA, or Équipes de Sécurité Aérospatiales.}

ESAs have always focused on search and rescue, long range patrols, disaster response, policing, and customs/border security. This focused doctrine has given the ESA a wide array of skills applicable to Aerospace fighter and Espatier combat. What they lacked by choice it seems was access to modern military equipment. Given the lack of a defined foe, isolation in stellar clusters, and their utter disinterest in planetary affairs this was less of an issue. Most of their gear remains Star League detritus carefully salvaged and remanufactured in roaming workshops by generations of dedicated microgravity craftsman.

Recently however, they have acquired vast quantities of modern military equipment, jumpships, and dropship freighters from the war-ravaged Free World’s League and Draconis Combine (at bargain prices) since initiating formal diplomatic relations with the Second Star League. As part of their treaty (bailout) with these states they are to provide training in their use. The Belter Confederations and their ESAs wish to become contributing members to the Second Star League and its defense forces. It is unknown why this is as they don’t often give interviews, press releases claim they wish to gain some of the recognition that the Clans have because of their valiant and costly defense against The Word of Blake and its Allies.

Since it is such a small service it is easy to cover the doctrine and operations planning for the Terran (Belt) Confederation ESA. First, to be different the AGN and thus the ESA decided to use a Triad arrangement for their organization nicely confusing the SLDF standard 4, Clan/DCMS 5, and ‘Trinity’ Alliances’ 6. Since it remains functionally a Gendearmie (albeit a well-armed one) they have doubled down in the fields where they hold the most advantages, Aerospace Fighters and Espatier/Space Marine engagements. Thus, their doctrine is focused on carrier operations, the recovery of pilots and disabled fighter-craft, situation awareness, counter-piracy, area denial, and conducting boarding actions.

Belters excel at defensive actions having adopted the former Terran Swiss policy of National Redoubt. Most of their communities are beyond the proximity limit of their parent star and remote to one another so can be readily jumped too. This is a major benefit for Belter Merchants but also a severe security threat. Extensive satellite sensor networks provide warning of unauthorized jump signatures which might precede an impending attack.

Every Belter settlement is built as a Castle Brian whether it is within an Asteroid or upon a Gas Giant’s moon. Orbital stations, which cannot be sufficiently protected, regularly rehearse evacuation procedures. Any sign of hostile action is immediately treated as a threat warranting nuclear missile salvos, swarms of Aerospace Fighters, and squadrons of Assault Dropships. This hair trigger policy deterred COMSTAR and the Word of Blake from threatening the Belters as the cost of controlling their (perceived as meager) resources and hunting down any stragglers would be dwarfed in comparison to potential losses.

Little did they know that the Belters were sitting on mountains of precious metals and megatons of salvaged technology squirreled away in derelict asteroid colonies. The true extent of the Belter’s true wealth may never be known. However, since they have revealed at least a portion of these vast assets they have inadvertently (or purposefully) made themselves a target for envious Successor States. With all nations except the Federated Suns reduced to shadows of their former power post-Jihad this threat seems distant.

Unique to the Belter Confederations their base unit is not actually meant for sustained combat. Known as a Basic Patrol this formation contains two Aerospace fighters (typically old SLDF mainstay mediums like the Gotha, Ironsides, or Hellcat). A U-12B utility shuttle (150t, 3/5, 5 quarters, 39 tons cargo with equipped Satellite IR Imager, Refueling Drogue, Active Probe and Space Mine Dispenser) tags along with the formation. U-12s have specialized attachment points that allow the Aerospace Fighters to attach securely enough that the shuttle can generate thrust with them so attached. Berths for the Aerospace pilots to use while on long patrols as well as additional supplies are inside the shuttle. While this formation disallows regular maintenance of Aerospace fighters these patrols don’t last long enough to seriously impact fighter performance.

More commonly ESAs deploy something called an Extended Patrol, it consists of a Union-B {Belter remanufactured versions of the Union-V (8 Mechs, 4 Aerospace Fighters) with an extra kiloton crew section in the middle.} These are configured to carry 6 Fighters and 2 Small Craft with the remaining mass dedicated to cargo and berthing for techs. These formations can operate for long durations with only intermittent resupply.

Beyond the Extended Patrol is the Combat Patrol. A standard Combat Patrol consists of two Extended Patrols often supported by an Assault Dropship. This vessel is typically an Avenger-EX Dropships which Belters have remanufactured large numbers of over the years. After adding 42% more mass (to 2-kilotons) the ship has a reduced max acceleration to 4Gs instead of 4.5 but gains armor protection, cargo space, and long-term crew comfort. These AEX vessels carry two Espatier Sections to serve as boarding parties. Although the AEX lacks integral boarding craft Union-Bs can carry them instead of additional U-12B cargo shuttles. When there is a need for more Espatiers rather than firepower Fury-B Dropships will be substituted for the AEX. These vessels have their vehicle bays removed and berthing added for an embarked Espatier Company although they to lack boarding shuttles.

Recently a wider variety of larger combat capable troop and carrier dropships such as the Gorgon, Okinawa, Claymore, Hamilcar, and Merlin have found their way into the ESAs as well as Battle Armor (the FWL’s Achileus and COMGUARD Tornado PA(L) suits are held in high regard and mostly unwanted by other SLDF units). These infusions of foreign military equipment have encouraged experimentation. The ESAs still haven’t figured out how or whether they should operate Battlemechs in space and the Hamilcar is being touted as a replacement for the comfortable but increasingly inadequate Union-Bs.

Above the Combat Patrol ESAs only operate Ad Hoc formations as their military is small and must cover a vast territory. Their largest deployment thus far was during the Halifax Crisis in 3079. Blakist Remnants seized a former COMSTAR Explorer Corps station and were using it as a hub for piracy in the Lyran Commonwealth’s Buena Province. To handle the far-off threat an Espatier Regiment and three Combat Patrols were dispatched by the Ender’s Cluster ESA. This deployment represented a major portion of the Ender Confederation’s available forces but went a long way diplomatically with Archon Reinhardt Steiner.

Organization of the ESA’s Espatier Corps (Ranks are the same as the SLDF)

3 Triome | 9 Equipe/Fireteam | 27 Section | 81 Company | 243 Group | 729 Regiment

Groups and Regiments are mostly administrative units with very few habitats warranting even a garrison of one Company let alone three. Since they are mostly a police forces bureaucratic needs are handled by unranked but uniformed civilian personnel while Warrant Officers oversee recruit, pilot, and specialist training at each Cluster’s ESA Depot.

The selection process is as rigorous as they can safely make it, but accidents do result in fatalities every year. However, those Espatiers, Pilots, and Crew that survive selection and the augmentation process join a vaulted Warrior Caste. This tendency unfortunately complicates relations with the Inner Sphere who have grown fearful of the Word of Blake’s Manei Domini cyborgs. Nevertheless, Belter population is low, and their ESA’s specialized enough that one can spend their entire career in the 2SLDF without seeing a Belter Soldier or their combat craft.

Since they are principally a policing force Espatiers carry no heavy weapons. Their principal kit consists of a Gauss SMGs and Space Suit when in a civilian role. However, they upgrade to Clan Pulse Laser Rifles and a Marine Combat Space Suit when deployed as boarders. Their sidearm in either case consists of a Kukri or Kora. These legendary weapons have morphed over the years to improve as breaching tools, but they carry the same distinctive profile.

Each Espatier Fireteam or shuttle crew has a trained paramedic capable of responding quickly to any suit rupture or injury as either of these events could turn quickly turn catastrophic if left untreated. This gives them a higher medic ratio than even the Magistracy Armed Forces. Many of the latest acquisitions from their Clan rivals have been of medical technology developed over the years by the wayward Children of Kerensky.

Notes[]

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