History of WM/TDs in Aquarius.
Weapons of Total Destruction, or 'WTD' in Old Terran terminology, refer to weapon systems capable of unleashing a destructive potential that transcends Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), such as those that scar human history - from the first Nuclear bomb deployed in war by humanity in the Second World War on the Old Earth, to the proliferation in the following years, eventually leading up to the almost complete destruction of civilisation on earth during the Fossil Wars, and the subsequent exodus that followed.
Often believed to transcend the scope of any conventional military objective, Weapons of Mass Destruction served as a deterrent and insurance of Mutually Assured Destruction that kept great nations in check for hundreds of years. When Humanity conquered the stars, bringing with it its wars and conflict, it soon became clear that Nuclear Weapons were no longer capable of filling the role of providing MAD, as the scope of civilisation became much greater. The destruction of an entire city, while still capable of extreme devastation, would not be sufficient to deter an opposing nation state from initiating a first strike against the Old Federation in Aquarius.
Born through humanity's ever insatiable need for greater destructive power, the Old Federation sought to protect itself from foreign powers, by creating a weapon system that could not just destroy a city, but an Star System - by causing the star to violently go supernova by utilising an unusual element apparently unique to Aquarius, discovered not long after humanity arrived.
The Hammer of Aquarius
The Hammer Aquarius was the result of a hundred cycles of planning and development, taking approximately 30 cycles to complete: a 120-strong network of Weapons Platforms spread across the core of Aquarius, to act as the first strike capability of the cluster's most powerful nation, the UTN.
It would never have been believed that the Hammer Network would ever have to be deployed, much less that the results of its use would be the ironic, and somewhat karmic harbinger of the collapse of human civilisation in Aquarius.
When civilisation rebuilt, during the New Federal Era, the development of such weapon systems was banned under directive of the new government - such extreme destructive power could not be contained effectively, and the risk to human survival in Aquarius was deemed too high. However, under the cover of secrecy and black operations throughout the cluster, the UAS Navy maintained the remaining Hammer platforms and their payloads, should they ever be required again - the check-mate capability of the Network was apparent as a strategic advantage for the United Aquarian Systems. UAS Navy Task Forces maintained strict quarantine zones around the systems which harboured a Hammer Platform; for many of them had decayed into vast clouds of deadly radiation from the deterioration of the Element X-1 containment systems within the warheads. Indeed, this provided a convenient cover for the Navy's true intention of maintaining the platforms in a combat ready state.
The Imperial Era
When the cluster's political and governmental power transitioned into an Imperial State in the early 45th century, the newly formed Imperial Navy immediately recognised the need for a weapon system capable of acting as the Imperial Power's 'outreaching iron fist' - officially, a deterrent.
As such, the Imperial Government reversed the, now civilian, government's ban on the development of WTD-class technology, and immediately began directing almost limitless funds into what would be known internally as 'Program E' - a project to upgrade and refit the Hammer Network with upgraded and modernised weapon systems developed from lessons learned during the Fall of the UTN.
Initiated by the Imperial Navy High Command as a solution to the perceived threat of external WTD attacks upon the expanding Imperial States, Program 'E''s development was essentially an upgrade package for the Hammer of Aquarius Network. The Program called for a modernisation of the 'HARBINGER-P'-class ELR-ISBM (Extreme Long-Range Inter-Solar Ballistic Missile, Polarytic Warhead), allowing the warhead to be upgraded with new technology developed specifically for the program by the Imperial Navy Institute for Military Research and Development (INIMRD). The ability for existing HARBINGER-P class launch platforms to be used for 'Program E' was deemed advantageous due to the extreme costs and time required to deploy such a weapon system. Furthermore, the existing SPARTAN Missile System deployed on Imperial Navy warships retained full launch-compatibility with the HARBGINER-P system; essentially allowing Imperial Navy cruisers to launch the new 'Program E' weapons from a mobile platform - acting as a second strike capability, something that Imperial Navy high command required from the program.
The requirement submitted to INIMRD by the Navy called for a "highly versatile Sub-space capable ELR-ISBM, meeting or exceeding the yield of the HARBINGER-P and capable of using existing launch facilities deployed on both static (Hammer) and mobile (SPARTAN) platforms.".
One of the main challenges of the requirement was creating a Polartic Warhead that was both compact and of a sufficient yield to meet both the requirements of compatibility with the HARBINGER-P system and having a yield similar to the Hammer Network's customised, (but significantly larger mass) ELR-ISBM known as "CONQUEROR". During development, several prototypes of CONQUEROR-class projectiles were trailed including one capable of delivering a hypothetical Polarytic Warhead that almost doubled the destructive yield of the original used on the Hammer Network. While incapable of being rolled out to existing HARBINGER-P/SPARTAN Missile systems; the new warhead dubbed "Checkmate-E" was transferred to a separate project requested by the Chairwoman of the ATIS Council personally, for the development of a static or planetary based launch facility.
Despite the development of "Checkmate-E", 'Program 'E' remained in the research phase for 3 cycles before INIMRD made a breakthrough in Polarytic Containment that also yielded advances in JSA technology built upon similar principles. The breakthrough was kept top-secret, with only the ATIS Council's leadership and the Board of Admiralty of the Imperial Navy having knowledge as to the details
In 16 I.D.S (4417 A.D) the first prototypes of 'Program E' were trialled. The newly developed ISBM, codenamed "Checkmate-EL" would be fitted to existing RV2M-class Missile Cruisers, with designation 'E' on their Naval Registration, indicating their arsenal includes the Navy's WTD deterrent. The Navy intends to equip at least 100 of the 350 RV2M-class cruisers in service, with Checkmate-EL systems.