The LCS-08 (aka The Washington-class) is a newer American capital ship brought into service following the tactical and technological advances of the Forth Age. LCS stands for Littoral Combat Ship – a term originally applied to small vessels able to operate closer to shore than most naval assets – denotes the ship’s ability to manoeuvre effectively in vacuum as well as atmosphere.
The Washington is neither as agile as the Ankur or as sturdy as the Bremen; it occupies the ground between these two extremes. It fulfils a variety of roles within the USEF; anything from independent patrols to participating in larger fleet actions alongside Strike Carriers and the like. It is also used to transport VIPs and other assets through the lawless Rim territories – the firepower at its disposal is usually enough to discourage most pirates and raiders and it is quick enough to flee more powerful threats.
The ships firepower consists of two ‘Starsnipe’ flak turrets, a medium-range photonic cannon and a rear mounted warhead launcher. The latter is unusual for the ship’s size – it gives the vessel the ability to engage targets at longer ranges and hidden from line of sight. The downside of the launcher is the limited ammunition; when it is out of missiles it becomes quite useless. This renders it unsuitable for prolonged engagements.
It is these missiles which tend to give the Washington the edge against their most common foe – the Wun’Tux Clanship. The thick armour of the latter can be difficult to penertrate with photonic cannons; LCS-08s deployed on anti-Wun’Tux operations are equipped with ‘Havok’ armour piercing missiles to balance the scales.
LCS-02s (prototype precursors to the 08) took part in the USEF Fleet Action at Dronta VIII, spearheading the attack on Wun’Tux ships guarding the slave market. They were subsequently able to achieve suborbital altitudes and launch accurate against Wun’Tux armour and fortifications.
In more recent times, the Washington-class has been deployed alongside Taft-class Strike Carriers in extended operations in Wun’Tux territory. Typically the ships are outfitted with longer-ranged, ‘stand off’ missiles and able to discourage or soften up Wun’Tux targets before engaging. In worse case scenarios (e.g. a larger enemy presence than predicted) this stand-off capability can give USEF forces breathing room in which to retreat.
Engineers at Highpoint have successfully modified the base design into distinct combat variants. The LCS-ASW (aka the ‘Rhode Island’ class) is perhaps the most popular. This version swaps the warhead launcher for a launchpad capable of carrying, arming and repairing a shuttle-scale ship. This is most commonly a Vaquero-class gunship; a well armed craft bristling with sensors. This ASW (anti-stealth warfare) variant is designed to detect and defend against stealthy foes; the main ones being the Hirudin. The gunship is able to act as spotter for the LCS but is also more than capable of engaging common interlopers (like Blackfins) independently.
The Bastion is inferior to the Clanship in speed, armour and weaponry and costs 1.5 times the price to construct. On the surface, it is a poor choice of investment. And yet in recent times it has been at the centre of several Wun’Tux military victories.
Wun’Tux BroodClans traditionally fought small-scale engagements with formations of their sturdy capital ships; they could only deploy Twinfangs from their largest, most valuable ships and saved such for large scale engagements (like their invasion of Illayko territory). Their fatal meeting with humankind changed all of that.
In the beginning, the old tactics of the Wun’Tux were enough – early human explorers were unable to breach the armour of their opponents with fighter or capital-ship weaponry. As technology and tactics advanced, new options presented themselves with rockets, missiles and other explosives – including those fitted to fightercraft. The majority of Wun’Tux raiding parties operated without fighter cover of their own and found themselves extremely vulnerable to human squadrons, first and foremost Americans out of Highpoint.
The Bastion was rushed into production by BroodClan Xylos. Xylos were one of the largest and most dangerous of the BroodClans but even they could not afford to have a carrier in every place at every moment. The Bastion was designed loosely around the frame of the Clanship but modernised and updated. The most important addition came to the craft’s aft; an external fighter rack.
In the most simple sense, the Bastion allows cheap deployment of fightercraft to smaller engagements. It helped to level the playing field against human forces and beyond. More enterprising BroodClans found increasingly intelligent uses for the ship, e.g. when BroodClan Soulfront used the ships to successfully destroy USS Ranger in a coordinated ambush.
The Bastion is a valuable addition to any Wun’Tux raiding party but has obvious flaws. It is slower to manovere and the crews are generally less battle-ready when compared to their Clanship counterparts. The Clanship has an impressive covering of durillium armour plate, even in percieved ‘weak’ areas; the Bastion has gaps in the armour plate, leaving it open to opportunistic damage. The biggest weakness is around the fighter racks – even minor damage can make the equipment un-usable and rob a roving Wun’Tux group of fighter cover until repair.
Certain corporations have accused the Dawn Chorus’ manufacturers of sanctioning piracy. The ‘Brig’-class of ship is somewhere between a freighter and a warship, leading to rampant popularity with pirates and other malcontents.
The triple-drive array is solid and hard working, the armour thick and durable. Like modern warships, the Dawn Chorus has weapons on the top and bottom of it’s hull. The main armament is a single-barrel plasma cannon with built-in targeting pulse, whilst the bottom of the vessel fields photon turrets. The keel and dorsal surfaces are also covered with fast-tracking flak turrets, giving not insignificant protection from fighters.
The Dawn Chorus is used legitimately by small corporations and independent traders on the Outer Rim, to get cargo from A-to-B without needing an expensive escort. It is used less legitimately by any pirates and raiders with enough cash to buy and maintain one. Unfortunately for said pirate captains, the ship needs a lot of loot to keep running. Bounties on Dawn Chorus captains ride high and are collected quickly, by other pirates or bounty hunters both.
Manufacturer: Dutch Defence Vehicle Systems
Role: Armed Merchantmen/Pirate
– 1 x Plasma Cannon [with targetting pulse generator]
– 2 x Photon Cannon [turreted]
– 3 x Flak Turrets [dorsal and keel]
Above: The USS Kittyhawk taking on supplies at an independent asteroid base
The USS Kittyhawk is a Taft-class Strike Carrier assigned to the USEF. She is famous amongst Navy personnel for escaping a carefully laid trap and avoiding a fate similar to that of USS Ranger.
Strike Carriers often operate alone behind enemy lines for weeks at a time, gathering and acting on intelligence. The ‘Hawk had been laying low the shadow of a gas giant when its patrol fighters detected movement. Several Wun’Tux transport ships with a light escort appeared to have been pulled out of FTL travel at the edge of the system’s gravity well – a not uncommon occurrence when jump courses are plotted without due care and attention. They presented such a tempting target that it gave the US commander pause for thought.
The loss of the USS Ranger had happened only three months previously and was still fresh on people’s minds and the Kittyhawk’s commander was an enthusiastic proponent of the new tactics and ideas trained at Highpoint. She drew back her fighter patrols and initiated a wide-band jamming, disrupting human and Wun’Tux communication for hundreds of kilometres around. Nothing happened immediately, but within fifteen minutes a much larger fleet of Wun’Tux Clanships arrived – in attack formation. The Kittyhawk had forced them to show themselves, however, and the shoe was on the other foot.
The Wun’Tux ships positioned themselves to leave; to all intents and purposes appearing to believe their trap had failed. This left a hole in their formation; one the Kittyhawk gladly took advantage of. She left the shadow of the gas giant at full burn, fighters deployed and armed for bear. Scimitars from the ‘Checkmates‘ sliced through Wun’Tux Twinfangs whilst the Kittyhawk engaged targets of opportunity; scoring hits against the vulnerable hind quarters of warships and transport alike. She sewed chaos amongst the would-be ambush force and had escaped the gravity well with her fighter wings before they could react.
The incident was a great embarrassment to the would-be ambushers, BroodClan Soulfront. They had worked hard to gain the respect of the larger and more established BroodClans with novel tactics and strategy; to have an ambush fail so specatularly dealth their growing reputation a significant blow.
The USEF were left with questions of their own; how had the Wun’Tux known where the ship would be and how to plan such an ambush. Superstitious crewmen told stories of reptilian mind control but the more reasonable explanation was perhaps more worrying; Wun’Tux collaborators within the military itself.
The British Leyland Type-27 fighter became outmoded during the Third Age of humanity; it was superseded by the superior Keepsake. This upgrade programme led to an increasing amount of defunct Type-27s – a significant proportion of which were available as military surplus.
The Magpies – a notorious group of British privateers – bought all the 27s they could lay their hands on and set about retrofitting the fighters to serve in the modern age. The ships were given a shiny new coat of sensor-baffling stealth paint. Additionally, a suite of modern targeting and counter-measure electronics was installed in the white bundle, just behind the cockpit.
Although incapable of independent Faster-Than-Light travel (the Magpies transport and deploy their fighters on external racks) these Magpie-27s have proven themselves quite capable in the opportunistic pirate actions of the privateers and gained a second life and reputation after their first round of military deployment. Many of the Magpie pilots are retired British military personnel; their familiarity with the ship made them just that bit more deadly behind the controls.
The Komondor-class Destroyer was one of the many military projects spawned to take advantage of the hike in European Union defence budgets following the disastrous Pan-Eurasian War. The ageing Bulk Cruiser required a modern, effective replacement. Sequential Defence Innovations (SDI) threw their hat in the ring in the form of the Komondor.
The ship was presented as an ‘armoured destroyer’ and featured impressive defensive equipment, including overlapping armour plate and reinforced shields. It packed an array of conventional weaponry and modern command and control systems to boot.
SDI, however, overspent on their budget and overran the fiscal controls placed on design briefs by the European Union. This made the ship very expensive a prospect; cost was the significant factor in the Union’s decision not to choose the ship as their first choice. Testing footage, ship specifications and other information had been leaked during the procurement process, though, and SDI found buyers through less official channels. The Gnobo are known to have bought at least one; the European Union found this out the hard way in a rather eye-opening border skirmish.
SDI had fabricated and planted enough evidence of industrial espionage by Gnobo spies to escape punishment. A total of 20 were produced, mostly ending up in the hands of various Gnobo brigades, although – ironically – three found their way into the hands of the Free Brigades, an offshoot Union mercenary group.
The ship excels in defence; it is ideally suited to holding the line against all but the largest capital ships. The layering of its armour plate and clever construction of bulkheads means it can keep on fighting even when under sustained fire. It packs adequate anti-fighter weaponry to hold off small-scale raids and attacks without fighter cover of its own.
The ship’s flaws are revealed when its ability to attack are tested. It is one of the slowest modern capital ships; highly mobile opponents can flank, harass and otherwise escape its range too easily. This inflexibility is one reason the European Union opted for different designs, like the Bremen-class Corvette, instead.
The Yaguchi-class Siege Cruiser is the top-of-the-line warship of the Asian Coalition, packed with modern technologies and deadly firepower.
The Coalition Navy was ill-prepared for the Pan-Eurasian War; it comprised vessels more suited to customs and excise duties than warfare. This meant the Coalition spent the majority of the conflict fighting their Union adversaries with hit and run tactics and were forced to avoid protracted engagements. Several Coalition locations were kept under unbreakable siege, leading to starvation and misery for thousands of their soldiers and civilians.
Much like the EUN, the Coalition Navy embarked upon an ambitious programme of reform and modernisation following the War. The Yaguchi is the pinnacle of that development, a ship built as a symbol as to how the Coalition would never again suffer such tactics of siege and blockade.
The ship is well-armed for ship-to-ship warfare, featuring an array of turreted weaponry able to damage shields and armour alike. The cornerstone of its armament is the Starscorn Siege Cannon, mounted on the lower aspect of the prow. This mammoth weapon is able to fire metal alloy slugs at astounding speeds over huge distances. This gives the Yaguchi the ability to prey on an enemy blockade without straying into their firing range.
Although highly capable and well armoured against opposing capital ships, the Yaguchi is tempting target for formations of bomb-armed fightercraft and should be closely guarded against them. It is slow to accelerate and manouvre, meaning its main cannon can be easily avoided by a mobile force of opponents.
Crew: 200, including marines
Role: Siege, ship-to-ship, battleship escort.
2 x Dual STS Cannons
2 x Armour-Piercing Plasma Cannons
2 x ‘Longshot’ Frag Cannons.
2 x AA-Ion turrets
1 x ‘Starscorn’ Siege Cannon
The European Union Navy (EUN) is the united space-faring military of the old Earth European states. Along with the Asian Coalition, the Union were the poorer cousins to the more advanced British Commonwealth and United States, a trend which followed with their military forces.
In the belated rush for prime interstellar real estate, the EUN came into limited and then all out conflict with the Asian Coalition, cumulating in the Pan-Eurasian War. This conflict pitted the slower, heavily armoured EUN ships against the more numerous and agile Coalition forces. Both were outmatched by the modern mercenary forces employed near the end of the war and since the subsequent armistice the Union has been eager to develop up-to-date vessels of its own.
The EUN saw extensive action in the short Union-Oroso Conflict; it suffered several high profile losses until reinforcement from the Core in the form of up-to-date ships. This influx of vessels allowed the EUN to stem the tide of Oroso counterstrikes and led to the speedy armistice thereafter.
The Navy itself consists of a wide variety of people of different nationalities and cultures. Most individual vessel crews come from the same country; inter-ship rivalry is a common headache for Union Admirals.
EUN Ship Classes
The following ship designs are still in service but prioritised for replacement by modern designs:
– The Cassard-class Heavy Destroyer
– The Union Bulk Cruiser
The subsequent ship designs were commissioned post-War:
– The Baionetta-class Signal Ship
– The Bremen-class Corvette
– The Caracal-class Strike Fighter
The Pennyroyal-class Frigate is the mainstay of the British Royal Navy, filling a variety of roles throughout the Commonwealth. It was designed as a anti-capital ship craft and is thus able to go toe-to-toe with foes other frigates might shirk from. This ability to punch above their weight is a point of great pride to the Pennyroyal crews throughout known space.
The ship features a forward-placed autocannon turret and a pair of double-barrelled mass driver cannons flanking the bridge – this weapon configuration is able to dish out respectable damage to a range of capital-scale threats at medium and short range. The ship is, however, more vulnerable to fightercraft than others of its size and has only two keel-mounted flak cannons to provide protection. When faced with large numbers of fighter-scale threats, a Pennyroyal without fighter escort of it’s own often has no choice but to retreat.
It has a high top speed, although lacks the breakneck acceleration of the pirates and scoundrels it often is tasked with tracking down. It is solid and sturdily built with sufficient armour and hull structure to survive prolonged engagements.
Pennyroyals serve in Task Force Second Sword, predominantly against marauding Wun’tux BroodClans. In open combat, with the ability to manoeuvre in space and utilise it’s turret-based arsenal, the Pennyroyal is more than a match for a Clanship. If caught in the tight confines of an orbital situation or asteroid field, however, the Clanship’s forward-firing cannon can prove the deciding factor.
Manufacturer: Leyland Shipwrights, Mars.
Role: Ship-to-ship combat
1 x Autocannon (double-barrelled, turreted)
2 x Mass Drivers (double-barrelled, turreted)
2 x Flak Cannons
The Oroso Conclave have the most careful, defence-minded and tactical military forces of the known races, outside of the Vonn. Their priority lies squarely in defence, their fightcraft lack FTL ability. Instead, they need to land on a ‘mother’ ship or be stored on a rack in transport.
The T’frr is the primary fightercraft fielded by the Conclave; it is nimble, capable and well-armed against a variety of threats with wing and chin mounted autocannons.
Although reasonably small, the ship calls for two crew. In common with most Oroso, the crew of a T’frr live and exist in very close quarters. This closeness is key to their relationship and fighting ability; if one of a pilot-pair dies or is unable to fight again, the other often struggles to adjust back to military life.
The T’frr served admirably against the European Union forces during the brief Human-Oroso conflict, bested only by the late introduction of Grendel Squadron.
Manufacturer: The Astro-Oroso Naval Combine
Weaponry: 3 x Autocannons