Part 3 of the Documentary series on the Battle of Montes Lumen.
With her heavy cruiser group ready to engage with stand-off range weapons, the Phoenix Veteran Admiral Urich waited patiently for the bulk of the alien force; consisting of larger SDD signitures approximately cruiser and capital in mass, to enter the accurate range of the axial 1280MM (50") SMRG cannons. A short but intense waiting game followed as the smaller groups of Radacri forces split up and moved along two axis, seemingly to flank the UTN position from the top and sides. The larger Radacri hive fleet began to de-accelerate rapidly.
Preparation for battle- 0515 (Local System Time)
At 0515 LST, the main Radacri fleet dropped from its hypercruise approximately 0.7 AU from Urich's cruiser group and the ORP; still out of effective range. Urich knew her cruisers could open fire with reasonable probability of effect, but without direct targeting it would be less efficient on available ammunition reserves, and she knew they were in for a long fight. To that end, the Admiral once again ordered her Heavy Cruisers to hold fire. Anticipating capital-on-capital action, Admiral Urich ordered the Group's vanguard, the Endeavour-class Battlecruiser UTNS Retaliation II, to withdraw from the formation and cruise on impulse approximately two-thousand klicks aft, between the two main Federal Navy fleets, linking up with the 2nd Expeditionary's other two battlecruisers, UTNS Recuperation and UTNS Restless IV.
The comparatively smaller Vengeance-class Heavy cruisers of the main formation were more able to swing into a broad-side position if the need arises, while the heavy Battlecruisers required more time, this was the reason as to why Admiral Urich had the heaviest warships assume a broadside position early in the engagement; it was calculated that the SMRGs on the CCHs would be sufficient at stand-off, and that the Radacri would attempt to rush the line, which could swing on its axis into broadside in sufficient time to open fire with their A-type turreted main batteries; while the Endeavours could unleash their enormous firepower at the same time.
Probing- 0558 (Local System Time)
At 0558 LST, two splinter groups from the smaller Radacri forces began accelerating towards the ORP at a high angle of attack, presumbly to avoid the main guns of Urich's cruisers. The aliens showed a higher degree of tactical prowess than in previous engagements of the war; leading many xenologists to believe they exhibit some form of fast 'adaption' to their enemies in battle. It was likely these lighter vessels were probing or testing the Federal Navy fleet's defences.
Unwilling to commit any CCHs from the main force, which was almost in targeting range of the bulk of the Radacri hive fleet, Admiral urich moved a Task Group, designated Group Omega, consisting of the two Cobalt-class Battlecarriers, UTNS Spite II and UTNS Spirit IV, along with an escort of eight destroyers, previously acting as the vanguard for the CB group, onto a fast impulse cruise above the main formation to interdict the approaching radacri light vessels. Within about an hour, the Task Group Omega entered weapons range, each carrier launched two squadrons of 12 bombers each, and the destroyer escorts moved into a forward screen to intercept. Moments later Group Omega's escort opened fire with short-range 250mm (9.8") FIMD batteries using cluster munitions, causing the approaching Radacri ships to scatter after initial losses. Omega group was ordered to withdraw to a defensive position while the bombers routed the frigate-sized attackers.
Admiral Urich had high confidence that her forces could stop the main Radacri invasion force in Montes Lumen, and initial success in the battle reinforced that thought, however the battle would soon take a disasterous turn for the UTN Fleets as the Radacri Hive fleet began to amass on the far side of the ice-crystal choke point near BD-1A. It would become clear that the Federal Navy was severely out-numbered.
Continued in Part 4.