(UTN/UAS/ATIS) Ion Maser / Ion Maser Particle Accelerator Cannon
Heavy Anti-ship weaponry designed originally by the UTN Federal Navy as a prototype replacement for the standardised Fusion Impulse Mass Driver employed on most terran warships at the time. Original Ion Masers were first deployed to great success during the Radacri Wars on the advanced Endeavour Series 5A-class Battlecruisers but were introduced too late to make any significant difference to the outcome of the war. The modern "IMPAC" weapon systems is a further development of the Ionising pulse beam, with a radiological 'tunnel' upon which a charged particle is energised during firing. IMPAC is considered to be a hybrid kinetic/energy weapon and is the standard weapon systems employed on A-Type hardpoints on almost all Aquarian Imperial Navy warships.
|| Top left: AIN IM115 A-type Dual-linked Ion Maser Particle Accelerator Cannon (IMPAC) Turret
|| Top right: AIN IM353 A+ type dual, dual-linked Heavy Extreme Long Range IMPAC Artillery Turret
The original production variant of this technology, simply known as an 'Ion Maser' or 'Deluxe' by Old Federation warship crews (due to the acronym of Directed Energy Weapon, Light - often changed to "lux", hence Dew-lux), was a laser/maser hybrid that utilised a tightly focused beam of micro radiological radiation to superheat the surface of a target at close range and cause structural damage due to deforming or prematurely detonate munitions within the target's magazine. The 'Ion' component comes from the ionising effect of the Maser.
First trials of the weapon system revealed enormous potential as an anti-capital ship weapon. Not only was it highly affective, able to propagate at the Speed of light due to the radiation, but also was able to bypass most forms of CTM-shielding technology at close range. This was largely due to the 'tunnelling' effect created by the directed microwaves, which create magnetic turbulence within the energy crystals formed from the modulator, allowing most of the beam to bypass the shield's energy absorbtion component entirely. An effect not shared with lasers, due to the differences in photonic interaction with the shield's crystalline matrix; likely caused by the wavelength of most long-range laser weapon systems. Development of anti-shield, or shield-bypassing energy weapons based on a similar concept were explored.
Despite high damage potency and accuracy, the first Ion Masers exhibited extremely low range and damage falloff due to the extremely short wavelength of the ionising radiation. Developments in beam focusing and waveforming allowed an acceptable (but still low compared to contemporary MA-FIMD weapons in use) effective range; permitting the weapon to be considered to use as a supplement to the MA-FIMD main battery on Endeavour-class battlecruisers. The first of such warships was the Endeavour Series 5A, completed in 4003 A.D, which saw limited action during the Radacri Wars.
During the transition to the New Federal Era in 4299 A.D and the subsequent formation of the United Aquarian Systems, Ion Maser technology was further explored as a full-scale replacement for kinetic-based FIMD weapons on capital ships and cruisers. New technological breakthroughs waveforming (of which had previously been unexplored by heavy reliance on cost-effective Nuclear Impulse weaponry) allowed further enhancements to the range and potency, eventually allowing the new UAS Federal Navy to adopt the Ion Maser for some of its converted Vengeance-class Heavy Cruisers. The weapon proved highly successful in combat, despite rate of fire concerns due to the heavy reliance on the warship's capacitor grid for the energy to fire, unlike the ammunition-fed FIMD weapons which contain all the required energy in a solid-state cartridge. However, it was considered unacceptable for full replacement and Vengeance Series 4 cruisers were produced into the 44th century with the latest MA-FIMD weapons, alongside the shorter-ranged Ion Maser variants.
In 4314 A.D, a new derivative of the technology was deployed on the UAS Federal Navy's new Revolution (RV)-class Cruisers: the Ion Maser Assisted Particle Accelerator (IMAPA), this system employs the same radiological 'tunnelling' charge as the Ion Maser, but instead of relying on the radiation to cause damage via thermal charging; the weapon incorporates a heavy-particle accelerator, also known as a 'Particle Ram' which exploits the radiation stream's charge potential to reach extremely high relative velocities, upon which it breaks from the Maser and becomes a kinetic projectile. IMAPA designs form the basis for the current Aquarian Imperial Navy's Ion Maser Particle Accelerator Cannon (IMPAC) weapon system used on almost all Cruiser and Capital-class warships in the fleet.
IMPAC weapons have the unique characteristic of causing radiological (often thermal) damage at close to medium range, where the Maser 'tunnel' is most heavily charged, beyond this shorter range, the weapon relies on a radioactive charged particle accelerated to most of the speed of light (>98% C) to cause extreme damage at stand-off ranges. Beamforming is a technology based on waveforming manipulation of the wavelength of the maser over the distance to the target that allows the beam to 'shift' towards a new target trajectory, exhibiting a phenomena known as 'non relativistic beamforming'; where the relative, physical angle of the energy wave is projected along the entire length of the beam, allowing small physical alterations in wavelength from the emitter to essentially allow the entire beam to shift angle in realspace with non-relativistic potential (i.e, the beam can change 'direction' at observed FTL speeds). Such technology underpins the cornerstone of the Aquarian Imperial Navy's long-range stand-off artillery capability and allows warships such as the RT-class Dreadnought to fire upon targets with high levels of accuracy across the breadth of entire star systems, providing accurate targeting data is provided by forward scouting units.