Section 4.0: Tactical Systems
Not all other vessels a starship will encounter on its journeys will be friendly. Shootouts between Starfleet vessels and vessels from other spacefaring races with conflicting interests were common from the 2250’s to the well into the 23rd century. Starships fielded by the Federation have always been well armed ever since the years of the NX-class to defend the interests of the Federation. Vessels are usually equipped with three distinct tactical systems: a directed energy weapon system, a guided projectile weapon system, and a defensive system. The Phoenix class carries the latest advancements in all three of these fields, some of these systems having more than one subset.
Phasers have both changed significantly over the years as well as made huge leaps in power. They have been developed into collimated strip arrays for better arc coverage, and pulse-fired phaser weapons have been developed for both handheld and capital-grade weapons. They still work on the basic rapid nadion-based energy rectification principle, producing a beam with nuclear phase-disruptive properties.
The Phoenix class carries 6 Type-14 collimated phaser arrays, the most powerful arrays ever developed for starship use. They are located on the rim of the saucer, two on each of the ventral sides, and two on the front dorsal prow. Their prefire chambers are more compact than the Type-14’s previously installed on starbases. Type-14 phasers are capable of channeling up to 12,000 terawatts of power through up to three separate beams. Type-14 arrays are also capable of producing more substantial annular confinement beams, effectively tripling their range. This gives the Phoenix class excellent long-range abilities where only torpedo weapons could reach before. The ship also carries 25 secondary Type-12 collimated arrays, which are only capable of roughly 5,000 terawatts, and only two beams. These secondary arrays are meant for defense against any ships that manage to close with a Phoenix class ship, effectively making it a potent adversary at all ranges.
The technological refinements of phasers are not the only thing to improve. Some new ideas on the placement of phaser arrays have also cropped up. Several classes of starship in the late 24th century carried a special arrangement of phaser on its saucer: the “double-broadside” arrangement. The Phoenix class also carries this arrangement, though only on its ventral saucer flanks. This arrangement has two separate long phaser arrays on one side, each with separate prefire chambers and EPS power inlets. This allows the vessel to fire off twice the amount of phaser beams in the firing arcs where the double-broadside emplacements are located.
The Mark VI torpedo has been the mainstay of superluminous-capable projectiles ever since the days of the Constitution class. The standard Mark VI casing measures 2.1 x 0.76 x 0.45 meters overall; these dimensions have remained unchanged since its introduction in 2271. Their perfect balance of payload size, delivery system size, and overall casing size ensures that it will likely stay that way well into the 25th century. However, for the quantum torpedo, the shape of the casing has been redesigned to form a trapezoidal cross-section and has a tapered forward end.
The traditional matter-antimatter warhead of the photon torpedo reached its theoretical maximum explosive yield shortly before the Dominion War. The maximum amount of ordinance a torpedo could safely carry was approximately 1.5 kilograms of both matter and antimatter. Engineers were left with little else to increase the yield of the weapon. However, Starfleet R&D had already created the answer to the waning power of the photon torpedo: the quantum torpedo.
Quantum torpedoes work on the same principle as the Quantum Induction Core, through Zero-Point Energy release. The difference between the two is that the ZPE induction in a quantum torpedo lacks the benamyte crystal, thus making the ZPE induction uncontrolled in nature. In modern quantum torpedoes, the warp sustainer engine flushes the containment bottle holding the spatial fold membrane with warp plasma, detonating the quantum torpedo by exciting the membrane into quantum induction. The induced energy builds within nanoseconds, causing a violent explosion, with an energy release of 620,000 terajoules, over twice that of the maximum yield an old-style photon torpedo could manage.
The Mark VI casing has gone through some refinements with the development of quantum explosive ordinances. The unique nature of the ordinance has made the casing shaped more like a sunflower seed than the elongated elliptical tube that previous Mark VI models were. The cross-section of the torpedo is largely the same, fitting in most any breech designed for the old model. Quantum torpedoes, however, require additional hardware, mainly specialized loading systems for installing the spatial membrane bottles prior to launch. This disallows any older starships with torpedo launch systems predating the quantum torpedo’s deployment from using them, unless refitted otherwise.
Torpedoes can carry a variety of other ordinances as well. These specialized torpedo munitions use the older style torpedo casing to conserve space due to the slightly longer nose cone on the Mark VI-Q casing. Among them are chaff modules, which are a concoction of metryon gas, drive plasma, ground-up chunks of burned-out warp coils, tritanium pellets, and filaments of diluted neutronium. These defensive weapons have proven to cause great confusion to incoming guided projectiles, causing them to veer off target, or even to prematurely detonate. They are also capable of fooling shipboard sensors from afar, setting up a decoy to confuse and divert a pursuer’s attention.
Another of the specialized torpedo is the sensor disrupter torpedo, which acts essentially like a smoke grenade for starships. When the torpedo impacts the shields of another vessel, it causes the shields to oscillate and distort, causing sensor readings to become distorted much like how light is when passing through disturbed water. It provides a fleeing vessel time to escape, or a vessel on a covert mission to pass by a sensor post unimpeded.
The next type of the specialized torpedo munitions is used in orbital bombardment. Capital-grade torpedoes meant for starships release incredible amounts of energy, which if released on a planet’s atmosphere or surface would cause massive damage to the planet’s environment. These torpedoes’ casings are reduced in size due to the fact that the warhead is decreased in size, and there’s no need for a warp sustainer. The weapon free-falls to the planet, using small nitrogen-vent thrusters to guide itself to its target. 1 gram of matter and antimatter consist of the weapon’s ordinance, providing an earth-shattering explosion without really shattering the planet.
The fourth and final type of specialized torpedo is the tactical transphasic torpedo. Transphasics require an elongated casing of 3 meters, barely fitting into the breech of the Phoenix-class’s main launcher. The weapon has a heavily modified interphase generator. Instead of creating a steady phase-cloak field, it rapidly oscillates its field, distorting the space around it. Any matter unfortunate to be caught in this roughly 3 kilometer-radius sphere experiences massive phase oscillations, with entire portions phasing out of existence and back in while other portions do the same thing at a different frequency. The vessel experiencing this unstable phase oscillation almost always leaks something explosive during these throes, be it antimatter, or drive plasma from a warp core. The power of this weapon is heavily stepped up from the model brought home with Voyager, which had only a 400-meter effect radius. The space in the affected area remains volatile for some time, sometimes taking days before the phase oscillations fully subside.
The Phoenix-class vessel carries five separate torpedo launcher systems, and a total magazine capacity of 900 Mark VI torpedoes, plus 100 other devices sized for a Mark VI breech. The main launcher, slung on the underside turret on the saucer, has a swiveling launcher giving a wide field of fire. It is capable of launching up to six torpedoes per second for up to two seconds, or launching twelve torpedoes simultaneously. This launcher has access to a magazine of roughly 400 torpedoes plus 100 various other Mark VI-gauged projectile devices, such as probes and special-purpose torpedoes. This launcher is also the only one on the ship with a large enough breech to handle a transphasic torpedo.
The main launcher is augmented by a pair of supplementary launchers in the front prow of the saucer. These twin launchers are much smaller due to the fact that they are secondary launchers. They have access to a shared magazine of 200 Mark VI torpedoes.
The two aft launchers are a bit more robust than the secondary forward launchers, but still aren’t quite as large as the main turret launcher. They are both on par with a Galaxy-class starship’s forward launcher, the first truly effective burst-fire torpedo launch system. They have access to a shared magazine of 300 torpedoes.
4.4: Arc Light Long Range Ambush Missile
The Arc Light missile is a special-application delivery device, capable of intra-system warp. Its warp drive is silent and hard to detect, making it ideal for ambushing from afar. The delivery system contains its own fully-fledged warp drive and impulse drive, and an advanced guidance system. The entire weapon ranges from 11 to 14 meters in length, depending on what type of ordinance it carries.
The weapon is dropped from a launch bay directly in front of the main torpedo launcher. It floats downward a few hundred meters, then flies forward at full impulse. Once it clears five kilometers from the ship, it engages its warp drive. It flies at warp 4 to maintain a low-profile warp signature.
Upon reaching approximately two light-seconds from its target, it drops out of warp and discards its warp nacelles to reduce its mass. It flies at full impulse to its target, giving its target a usually insufficient eight seconds to evade or dispatch the missile.
The Arc Light can carry three different kinds of ordinances: quantum, transphasic, or cluster quantum. The quantum warhead is essentially a large variant of the ordinance in a quantum torpedo. The transphasic warhead is also similar to its torpedo counterpart.
The final ordinance is the most unique. It has a shotgun-like effect on its target, showering it with tens of quantum explosive packages one second before the center piece impacts. The weapon carries eighty separate explosive packages, each with roughly half of the explosive power of a standard quantum torpedo. Based on preliminary field tests an average of fifty to sixty five packages hit their target.
4.5: Defensive Tactical Systems
The defensive systems on the Phoenix class consist of two separate parts: shields and armor. The shields are standard multiphasic regenerative shields, with a primary and secondary layer. The amount of energy they can deflect is roughly 9 million terajoules before being completely depleted, and has a replenishment rate of 8,000 terajoules per second.
The armor is one of the strangest pieces of technology on the vessel. A derivative of Dominion technology, they are essentially a magnum upgrade of an archaic technology. Called polarizing reactive hull armor, the armor channels an electrical pulse through it, polarizing the electrical charge in it to deflect energy and concussion damage. The last time this technology was used was on the Daedalus-class, before the deployment of the first practical energy-based deflector shields. The cause of its fall out of favor was the limit of how much charge the hull plating could handle. The Dominion used a quitanium alloy in their polarizing armor, which could handle thousands of times more charge over the old style plating. Starfleet R&D had only recently discovered the alloy mix when the Dominion War began. When the Dominion turned over all their ships in the Alpha Quadrant to the Alliance after surrendering, they acquired the forges on board the ships used in forging replacement armor. However, Voyager returned with its deployable ablative armor, rendering the new polarizing armor instantly obsolete before it was even implemented. Starfleet R&D still saw promise in the technology, and continued to research it. Today, the quitanium alloy has been refined to the point where it can more than equal the tensile and insulative strength of deployable armor.
The advantage that polarizing hull armor has over deployable ablative armor is the mass involved. The material is very lightweight, but can handle a massive polarizing charge. The simulated density of a quitanium armor plate 4 centimeters thick when fully energized is roughly equal to 25 centimeters of old-style ablative armor used during the Dominion War. The one small price paid is that the vessel loses the full-body coverage that deployable armor provides. This, however, is counteracted by the fact the reduced mass, and inversely, increased combat maneuverability, that the ship has.
Having the armor charged all the time during a combat situation is a large burden on a ship’s power supply. Therefore, the armor is covered in a network of small ionization and nadion particle detection sensors, which commands the armor to flash-charge when a damaging force comes close. The reactive sensor grid was the final piece of technology that made the reactive armor feasible for use once again.
4.6: Personnel Tactical Equipment
Handheld weapons have made leaps and bounds over the years. Man-portable versions of isomagnetic weapons have been made available, the size of hand phasers have decreased dramatically, and small belt-attached forcefields have enough power to last more than thirty minutes. The Starfleet Security Corps and Starfleet Marine Corps have adapted to these new technologies as they become available, making them a force to be reckoned with.
The Type-3 Phaser Rifle has been drastically reduced in size, and received a marginal increase in power efficiency as well. It is now a short carbine weapon, not even half a meter long. This allows the user to wield the weapon much more easily in confined environments such as a ship’s corridors. It is capable of three different firing modes: Beam, Single pulse, and Three-burst pulse. The weapon also supports a range of attachable accessories, such as an underslung photon grenade launcher, a forward pistol grip for greater control, and a pulse silencer for covert operations. The highlight of the weapon, however, is its advanced fire control unit. The scanner on top is capable of fine-tuning the aim of the weapon through small servo units mounted on the emitter crystal. Using the retinal projector, a user can have a direct interface with the fire control unit. The rifle’s fire control can also double as a tricorder, allowing a user to scan objects without taking their bead off of their target.
Type 2 phasers have also had a radical redesign. The Type 2E phaser still retains the ergonomic wand-shape, but now also sport a fire control device capable of linking to a retinal projector. Though not as advanced as the carbine’s fire control, it still allows the user much greater marksmanship. The Type 2E also is capable of firing in single-shot pulses and has a removable power clip for rapid replenishment.
Retinal Projectors are the means which security forces utilize Starfleet’s latest hand weaponry. Starfleet R&D managed to reverse engineer the Dominion “headsets” that ship commanders wore, making it compatible with the general humanoid population rather than just a select few species. The device works by literally projecting an image directly onto the retina, focusing the light just so that the inability of the average humanoid eye’s lens to focus at such close range is not an issue. The resolution of the original Jem Hadar model worked at a resolution too high for many humanoids’ fragile retinas, often causing headaches to those who wore them. This problem was fixed by lowering the resolution down to an acceptable level. These are preferred to the eyepieces such as those used on the TR-116 projectile rifle, which relied on a very low-resolution eyepiece that was hard to read because of the eye’s lens being unable to focus. Use of the retinal projector is simple: a fourth button on the weapon allows the user to “point and click” targets to queue up into the fire control’s memory. In the event that a headset is unavailable or damaged, the fire control unit on the weapon switches to a different mode, where a small indicator light on the weapon’s display lights up when pointed at a humanoid bioform.
Personal protection gear has received numerous advancements over the years. Personnel forcefield generators have reached a size where they are both compact and effective. There are also specialized camouflage suits available that use a silicon-based biological compound to not only hide the wearer from the naked eye with camouflage, but also make the wearer appear like nothing but part of the ambient biomass on a sensor scan. Starfleet Marines’ Ranger Division made heavy use of this suit during many of their infamous surprise raids during the Sheliak War.
4.7: Rapid Reaction Force Command Suite
The most important part of effective fleet operations is command, control, and communications. A Rapid Reaction Force battle group is tied together better than any previous Starfleet battle group through a specialized network called the Command Suite. Different class ships in a RRF group have differing suites; a Phoenix-class ship has a master unit, containing all the hardware needed to coordinate others, while the frigates and destroyers in the group contain slave suites, used for receiving maneuver orders and transmitting useful data to the command ship.
The user interface for the master unit on a Phoenix-class vessel is located directly behind the main tactical station, consisting of a holographic emitter for real-time 3D display, and the control console. The station is operated by the executive officer during combat maneuvers, giving information and taking orders from the captain. Sometimes, a flag officer such as a commodore or admiral may operate the station instead of the ship’s executive officer.
The Phoenix-class starship’s suite can also act as a slave unit if another Phoenix-class ship takes the master position, or can act as a secondary master unit, commanding a smaller denomination of a battle group and taking commands from a higher-up master unit.