Beam weapons come in two types, Chemlasers and Grav Lasers. Both are used for short-to-medium range direct fire on enemy capital ships. Smaller Chemlasers also can be used for point defense mounts, although these have been replaced by more effective particle phalanxes on newer vessels.
These are standard high-power chemical lasers. Nearly every ship mounts at least one laser with the exception of newer vessels which mount G-Lasers. There is a necessary cool down period between shots to let the lenses cool. A classified mix of liquid chemicals is injected into a synthetic-diamond chamber where they undergo a hypergolic reaction. The chamber is then superheated and mechanically compressed to increase the energy density, before the mixture is sparked by a laser diode. The resulting concentrated superheated plasma thus releases its energy in the form of coherent laser light. The frequency of the laser light ranges from the visible through the ultraviolet over the duration of the pulse, as several secondary chemical reactions take place. After about 5 seconds of firing, the chamber must be evacuated and cooled for several seconds before cycling again. Chemlasers come in a variety of types, from the giant 2-meter models on the Avalon-class dreadnoughts to the smaller 250-mm models on corvettes to the small 10-mm versions mounted on some power armor suits. The measurement is the diameter of its primary focusing lens. A larger lens allows the beam to stay focused at longer ranges and for a more powerful beam.
With technological jumps made in the area of gravity devices, newer refocused lasers using gravity lenses were designed. These weapons are much more powerful but use more energy and require a longer cool down period due to the massive energy involved with the gravity lenses. But the weapon has a much longer duration. A regular laser could fire for about 5 seconds. A grav laser could be held for twenty seconds plus. A grav laser can fire as a regular laser if necessary. The largest grav lasers additionally inject small quantities of antimatter into the reactant chamber to superheat the plasma beyond the limits possible with simple chemical reactions. The size of the machinery around the breech needed to generate the gravity lenses and containment fields mean that most grav lasers can not be mounted in turrets, and thus have a very limited field of fire. However, the use of antimatter superheat and gravity-focusing lenses allows the production of gamma-ray beams, which are extremely devastating even at long ranges.
Particle-based weapons come in two sizes. Smaller particle phalanxes are found on all newer ships as point-defense weapons. Larger Particle Cannon are only found on those ships that mount a large ring accelerator to feed the weapons.
These are high-speed rotary particle cannons. A cluster of several thousand small-diameter nanotechnology superconducting magnetic railguns, these weapons accelerate subatomic ions to near-relativistic velocities. The weapons fire alternating pulses of electrons and protons created by stripping electrons off of hydrogen gas molecules with a laser, then magnetically accelerating them down the tiny barrels. These weapons are usually either as a single or twin mounting in a turret on a warship. While they are ineffective against major warships (due to magnetic shielding and/or armor), Particle Phalanxes are a devastating point defense weapon against missiles, fighters, railgun shells, and torpedoes.
Basically an extremely large version of a Particle Phalanx. These weapons, however, are fed directly from large super-conducting ring accelerators and can fire a variety of charged particles, including antimatter. Although they tend to be short-ranged and the particle stream can be deflected by magnetic fields, the ability to fire multiple types of particle beams can be used to compensate for enemy shielding and cause massive damage. Like Grav Lasers, these are only found on larger warships, due to the need to fit the powerful ring accelerator on board.
Despite the introduction of lasers and particle beams, there is still a place for projectile weapons. Their high rate of fire, ability to carry an explosive warhead, and capability of maneuvering after firing make them a deadly addition to the Earth Fleet arsenal.
Fusion Warhead Pulse Cannon:
These magnetic railguns fire rocket-boosted shells with fusion warheads. The accuracy of this weapon is suspect at long range but it makes up for it with its high rate of fire and devastating affects at close range. Larger versions are used in turret mountings on warships as a powerful short-range anti-ship weapon, while smaller versions are mounted on some fighters.
Orbital Bombardment Mass Drivers:
Extremely large and powerful gravitic accelerators are used to hurl small asteroids or slag-metal projectiles onto the surfaces of enemy planets. This weapon can be used to bombard enemy cities as a terror weapon, or to reduce fortified enemy strongholds and ground-based anti-orbit weapons and industries prior to a landing by TI Marines.
These are long range missiles launched from heavy fixed railgun "tubes" and armed with various fusion warhead payloads. They are the longest-ranged weapons available to Earth ships. However, ships with an operating Gravity Drive field are essentially immune to all but the longest-range proximity hits from these weapons. Warheads can include proximity, fusion mine delivery, MIRV, booster equipped light warhead, laser heads, and a standard payload.
Old-style missiles not launched by magnetic-induction railgun are being phased out of service as shipboard weapons. However, a large variety will remain in service as weapons for fighter craft, and some older ships still mount missiles as defensive systems.
Onslaught Short Range Cluster Missile Delivery System:
Designed to deliver tremendous firepower at short range in such quantities to overwhelm any type of missile defense. The design is based around a separate scanning device surrounded by 20 small short-range fusion missiles. The system can be mounted to any ship with modular capability and only power need be supplied. The weapon is very effective if the range can be dropped to less than 100 KM. Considering the difficulty in that task the weapon's value is suspect.
Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS):
An older point-defense system based on interceptor missiles with kinetic-kill rod-penetrator warheads. Only found on transports, older warships, and as strap-on packages for modular-capable ships.
Plasma weapons come in two types, although one is no longer in service. One is for shooting enemy capital ships, and one is a type of point defense weapon.
Plasma Phalanxes are an obsolete type of point-defense weapon, but it remains in service on smaller ships that are not large enough to contain the long linear particle accelerators used to feed particle phalanxes. Plasma phalanxes are basically large rapid-fire versions of the plasma carbines used by TI ground forces, and are used for short-range defense against enemy fighters and missiles. Because of the low velocity of plasma bursts compared to particle phalanx beams, plasma phalanx accuracy falls off rapidly as range increases. However, the impact of a cloud of superheated helium gas can actually do more damage in some circumstances than the proton/electron beams used by particle phalanxes.
Plasma Cannons were a very unsatisfactory attempt to copy K'Nes technology for Earth Fleet. They were installed on a few classes of ships, although a few of these ships remain in mothballs with the ready reserve fleet. Plasma Cannons are basically greatly enlarged versions of plasma phalanxes, and were used as a substitute for chemlasers. Although initially capable of a greater rate of fire than chemlasers, later advances in chemlaser technology made them obsolete, since chemlasers have a much greater effective range.
Although the Gravity Drive, Grav Laser, and Artificial Gravity systems have been in service for over a century, gravity-based weapons are still fairly new. Only the Gravitc Ram has been deployed in any numbers, and the sheer size of that weapon prevent it from being used on anything smaller than a dreadnought.
An experimental weapon mounted only on the EFS Stornoway so far, but intended to be included in the new "Copernicus" class Heavy Cruisers. It is a powerful particle-beam weapon dedicated to producing a high-energy beam of Gravitons. It will fire a short burst of "push" gravitons followed by an equally short burst of "pull" gravitons, alternating several hundred times per second. The result is a plug of gravitic energy, with fields alternating in opposite directions with a pull of several thousand G's a few feet apart. The result will be an intolerable strain that will literally tear enemy ships apart. The weapon is incredibly powerful, but it is very short-ranged and takes up an awful lot of room.
An experimental gravitic weapon mounted on the Alexander-class Dreadnoughts and the Ares-class Star Control Ships. It fires a concentrated pulse of gravitic energy that creates a temporary singularity, then hurls this singularity through the enemy vessel. The result is to blow a sizeable hole through any enemy vessel. This weapon is the most mass-intensive and energy-intensive weapon ever mounted on an Earth Fleet Starship, but also the most powerful.
Another experimental gravitic weapon, the Grav Lance has only been mounted on the new "Revenge" class Battlecruisers so far. The Grav Lance is basically a scaled-up Graviton Cannon, which also can be used to disrupt an enemy hyperspace jump point or gravitic drive shield and cause the engines of the enemy vessel to go into overload and explode. It is the only known weapon that can reliably destroy a ship using its gravity drive as a shield.
To every weapon there is a counter. Missiles and other projectiles can be intercepted short of the target, as can fighters. Beam weapons can be diffracted and absorbed. And all weapons can be spoofed and fooled by electronic jamming and stealth systems.
Chaff: Long, thin reflective metal strips that are fired in canisters that disperse them alongside the ships. Chaff reflects and confuses both Radar and Lidar search and targeting systems. Some chaff canisters also include small immobile active decoy transmitters to spoof passive sensors.
Dust: Tiny clear plastic beads that refract laser fire. Fired in clouds like chaff, they are used to bend and dissipate enemy chemlaser beams. Unfortunately, the gamma rays from Grav Lasers are too short a wavelength to be affected by dust.
Smoke: Finely powdered carbon black, dispersed in clouds like dust. These clouds also absorb and dissipate enemy laser and particle fire, and make optical targeting systems less effective.
Decoys: Small drone spacecraft the size of a repair pod, these devices can emit the same electronic emissions signature of any Earth Force and many alien starships. They are used to fool the enemy into firing at or chasing a non-existent target and for training exercises.
Armor: All warships were built with a covering of several alternating layers of ablative and reflective armor to absorb long-range beam weapon fire. Close-range fire will still get through, so the main aim of the armor is to simply force the enemy to come closer before their weapons become effective. Beneath this is a layer of dense metal to absorb penetrating radiation such as gamma rays and to absorb explosions from projectile weapons and missiles. However, no armor can withstand a contact blast from a multi-megaton fusion warhead on a lance torpedo.
CIWS: Close-In Weapon Systems such as Particle Phalanxes are used to intercept incoming missiles, torpedoes, and fighters. Lidar-targeting systems allow accuracy to a level that can intercept and destroy even incoming fusion cannon shells. Older ships often use light chemlasers or even small railgun autocannon to intercept incoming projectiles.
Jammers: Powerful transmitters can either blanket enemy sensors with a wave of static, or send "ghost" images that mimic real return signals but in the wrong place, or even fry enemy receptors with an overload of white noise.
Cloaking Device: No, not a true invisibility cloaking device like in ancient movies. This device senses the unavoidable electronic emissions from a vessel and sends out an inverted-phase mirror image of the same signal, this canceling it out and making the ship much more difficult to detect. This device can compensate for the infrared blackbody radiation that the ship emits simply from being warmer than absolute zero, stray electromagnetic noise from the internal electronics, and even some of the emissions from the engine systems. While it cannot totally mask such signals, it can greatly reduce them and thus allow a ship to move in much closer than otherwise before being detected. Engaging the cloaking device is informally known as going into "stealth mode".
Stealth Coating: Most warships are coated above their armor with a thin layer that absorbs incoming lidar and radar signals, preventing detection by such means. This layer also vaporizes under incoming chemlaser fire, and the vapor disrupts the incoming beam and spreads it out.