The exo-armor (short for exo-skeleton, armored; sometimes refered to simply as exo or XO) is the ultimate evolution of the personal combat space suit of the early twenty-first century. Originally no larger than a man, it increased in size until some of the biggest models were nothing less than small ships. This was necessary in order to carry the enormous amount of fuel, armament, and electronics necessary to accomplish their assigned missions. The first exo-armor prototype was introduced by the Jovian Confederation on July 23, 2162.
A vehicle is called an exo-armor when its control system is a linear frame; a linear frame looks like an industrial exo-skeleton and completely supports the pilot, reproducing his every movement. An exo-armor's onboard drive computer interprets the motions and moves of the pilot and moves the armor's limbs accordingly, firing apogee motors as needed. This gives exo-armor an uncanny maneuverability as well as a strangely human grace. In addition, a trained pilot can actually use his body motions to shift the exo-armor's center of mass around and change the exo's position without expending propellant. All flight information (IFF, targeting, velocity, etc.) is displayed in the pilot's virtual reality helmet or headpiece, while the view from the sensors is displayed on multiple screens inside the cockpit.
The Hermes Aerospace Brimstone is the newest exo-armor to enter service in the ranks of the Mercurian defense force. The machine is the first home-grown exo-armor entirely produced in Mercurian space. It was designed to answer to the needs of both the army and the Merchant Guild, who has ordered the Brimstone to escort its transports. The most prominent characteristic of the Brimstone is its large thrust rating. Its eight main engines, all based on PCC technology, generate enough thrust to propel the craft forward at almost three Earth gravities. Unfortunately, this is achieved at the expense of the reaction mass reserve.
Hermes incorporated a number of design elements that were specifically requested by the Mercurian government and the Merchant Guild. The Brimstone has large manipulators that are useful when handling material and ships in space docks. It also features numerous heatsinks and coolant units since it is often operating under high temperature conditions. The sensors are completely protected by a tough one-way radome. Auxiliary cameras are placed in twin pod mounts on either side of the head unit and on the torso.
The G-1Ryu is a relatively recent development of the Venusian exo-armor industry. It is a state-of-the-art, high performances exo-armor which is intended to become the main Venusian trooper unit in the next decade. The G-1 is a relatively unknown vehicle, as it was not well publicized by the Home Defense Force and its maker, Venusian Aero Corp. Hard data is hard to get, based on what little has been released about them and pictures taken at long range.
The Ryu is built alongside traditional exo-armor design principes. It uses both hydraulic and myomar technologies to move its limbs and weapon systems, and is powered by a standard micro-fusion reactor located in the rear section of the body. The standard G-1 configuration has a large thruster backpack, indicating good reaction mass reserve and good or superior acceleration.
The Syreen was hastily designed to be a stopgap measure to the recent colonial advances in exo-armor technology. Using an old OTV (Orbital Transfer Vehicule) model, CEGA technicians built a legless and crude craft capable of defending itself in hand-to-hand combat as well as carrying anti-ship missiles. Because of the original nature of its propulsion system, the Syreen is capable of high acceleration, but suffers from poor range and maneuverability. The latter was improved by the recent addition of vectoring plates to the main nozzle. These plates need constant attention however, and many technicians complain they are spending too much time on them.
The most amazing piece of equipment is surely the Active Close Defense Laser System (ACDLS for short), a computer-guided, variable range laser array composed of four independently focusing lenses. These serve as the Syreen's main ranged weapon, except when an opponent approaches the Syreen within 25 meters: the computer then automatically takes over and fires at the new threat. This is beginning to cause problems as Syreens sometimes open fire on friendly units, acting on misread IFF signals.
As the Retaliator was gradually introduced in the JAF's front line units, the CEGA Council decided they needed a new, more modern exo-armor design to face it. Although efficient, the most recent updates of the Syreen were hopelessly outclassed, so the research was oriented in a new direction. Martian Federation-bought Defenders were moved with great secrecy to the LAC base in the Tycho Crater to be deassembled and studied. Then, using the basic frame as a guide, the engineers set out to create an exo-armor which could stand against current Jovian designs and win.
The head unit was completely redesigned, scrapping the front and lateral sensor arrays of the Defender to make room for an anti-missile system as well as two massdrivers for close combat. The armor plate covering the neck unit was retained for additional protection. A large hypergolic bazooka provide the main firepower. Wargames with Venusian HDF troops have proved the soundness of the overall Wyvern design. Its only major flaw is the lack of an energy-based main weapon system, which greatly limits the operational range of the unit.
The Cerberus is the latest addition to the CEGA arsenal. It has not seen combat yet (at least not officially) although pilots have been assigned to the available machines. The Cerberus is the result of the collaboration of the engineers of CEGA, LAC and a Venusian firm (the name of which remains unrevealed at this time). Conceived as a hunter/killer exo, the Cerberus – unlike the Wyvern – is an entirely new design. The name Cerberus comes from its two massive shoulder pods in which a vast array of ECM and EWAC systems are stored, as are several sensors, scanners and stereoscopic cameras. When these systems are active, the machine seems to have three heads, hence its name.
Since the Cerberus relies more on speed, maneuverability and its hit-and-run attack capacities, its weaponry is reduced. For the first time on a CEGA machine, a plasma lance is incorporated for hand-to-hand combat. The real bite of the Cerberus is its main weapon, a LACM-11 30 mm massdriver rifle that fires depleted uranium-tungsten sabot discarding rounds. The Newton & Ewell targeting and tracking system is mostly responsible for the incredible accuracy of the weapon, which is said to be able to hit a running light on a ship from kilometers away.
The Explorer was originally a Jovian Armor Work design which the JAF sold to the Martian governments in the late 2180s. It is representative of the first true exo-armors and as such is not very sophisticated. The Explorer, original Jovian code EAL-02, was used by the JAF from its introduction in 2175 (when it replaced the EAL-01, the first EA in existence) to its gradual replacement by the more advanced EAL-04 Pathfinder. The machines still in service were gradually transfered to the Martian Free Republic army, although a few ended up as the first exo-armors of the Martian Federation.
The machine has not changed much over the years. Except for the Martian-build computers and communication systems, everything is pretty much the same as it was when the Explorer served with the JAF. The armament is still of Jovian manufacture, although a few units sport home-grown designs instead of the JAW railgun (this happens mostly with Federation exo-armors, which use the Ares RJ-3 railgun Ð a pale copy of the original weapon).
Like the Explorer, the Defender was originally a Jovian Armor Work design that was later sold to the Martian governments. It served in the JAF for the same period of time as its smaller brethren Explorer, and was also sold to the Free Republic after its tour of duty in the Jovian forces. At first, the Federation couldn't get their hands on the new unit, much to their despair, until a commando team successfully stole the plans and some test data from the Martian Metals plant in Republic territory in 2191.
The Defender is a well-rounded, run-of-the-mill machine. It was designed as a grunt unit, capable of fullfilling many types of missions in a variety of environments. Though its internal systems are obsolete and lack sophistications, they are relatively easy to repair and maintain. The tech crew is particularly grateful for the well-designed electronic bays, because the panel linings is exceptionally good at keeping the fine red Martian dust out of the delicate circuitry.
EAL-04A Pathfinder Alpha
The original Pathfinder was one of the oldest exo-armors in the Jovian military arsenal. A development of the ill-fated EAL-03, the Pathfinder was found to be a rugged if simplistic design, easy to field and maintain. About half of the JAF's exo-armor squadrons were composed of Pathfinders at the time of the Battle of Elysée, and although somewhat fragile by exo-armor standards, they performed admirably despite heavy losses.
Almost immediatly following the Battle of Elysée, an upgrade program was started to rebuild the forces of the JAF. The engineers at JAW reworked the design, reshaping the Pathfinder's complex rounded skin into something that was easier to mass-produce. The internal mechanisms were also reworked for improved performances, following pilots' advices and suggestions. The resulting machine was given the identification code Pathfinder Alpha, to distinguish from its predecessor.
EAM-03A Retaliator Alpha
The Retaliator is the standard medium interception exo-armor of the JAF. Like its siblings, the Pathfinder and the Vindicator, it has undergone an extensive redesign process in the aftermath of the Battle of Elysée. Well-armed and fast for its size, the updated Retaliator Alpha can take on opponents bigger than itself and still come out on top. The Retaliator is commonly found in strike teams along with Pathfinders because of its high speed and heavy armament.
Unfortunately, the machine is still lacking proper armor. To ensure speed and maneuverability similar to that of light exo-armors while still carrying heavy armament, compromises had to be made. To save further mass, the engineers tried to reduce the size of the thrusters by using a new plasma injector cone with pre-heating. It worked, up to a point: because the verniers have to operate at near maximum level for extended periods of time, they tend to overheat, which used to cause shutdowns. Though the problem has been mostly solved on the Alpha, green pilots still burn out the thruster array on their first sortie with a Retaliator, despite warning from the tech crew.
EAH-01A Vindicator Alpha
The Vindicator is currently the most powerful mass-produced exo-armor in the solar system. Because of its high cost, it is usually assigned to proven pilots or squadron commanders only. The massive armament and armor give the Vindicator a tremendous advantage in combat. The Vindicator program was started only two years ago, in 2208, as a direct result of the introduction of the Wyvern by the CEGA. The JAF's generals felt that since the Wyvern was nearly the equal of the Retaliator in combat, they needed an even more powerful unit to stay in the forefront of the arm race.
The Vindicator is such a machine. Although a bit slow, its massive light missile batteries can easily overwhelm most close defense systems. The heavy warheads carried on the shoulders and in the backpack can even be used to destroy or severely cripple small ships or damage large ones. A pair of Jovian Optics anti-missile turrets guard the exo against return fire. Its most impressive weapon, however, is the combination mass-driver/laser mounted on the right arm. The presence of a non-ammunition based weapon extends the combat endurance of the Vindicator, enabling it to get rid of small threats while saving the precious massdriver ammunition for more important targets.
The Minotaur is the basic trooper exo-suit of the CEGA Naval Forces. Unlike the suits deployed by the ground-based CEGA forces, it is fully adapted to the vacuum environment. The suit has built-in propulsion and life support units and suffer no loss of flight-performance due to its numerous vernier rockets. The operator of a Minotaur stands in the middle of the exo-suit, his lower body completely encased from the hip down in the thighs of the machine. The internal monitor gives the pilot an external view that shows the suit's surroundings as if the hatch was made of glass.
The Minotaur is large and impressive, a feature that is both a blessing and a curse. While it is nearly impervious to most types of man-portable weapons currently in service, its bulk makes it difficult to use within confined environments, such as human-sized corridors. Minotaurs are currently stationed on all CEGA military stations and outposts in the Earth-Moon system. The lunar model is slightly different, being equipped with somewhat larger feet, but all share the same basic frame. CEGA ships typically carry a pair of Minotaurs for security and maintenance work, though few captains keep them in a ready state.
The Sabertooth (sometimes referred to as simply "Saber") came to be in late 2184, when the Federation felt the need to replace their aging Hunting Tiger exo-suits. The Federation military design section worked closely with technicians from Ares Corporation to design the new unit in the least amount of time possible. After a mere six months of designing and testing, the Sabertooth was distributed to a few elite units of the Army. The Saber would not see mass-production before 2192 however, when it became the standard mechanized infantry unit of the Federation.
The Saber, although smaller than its predecessor, is still just as bulky, with big slumpy legs and arms. Its armor is especially thick on the lower legs, thighs, shoulders and torso, with angled plating to help deflect incoming projectiles. Articulated areas are protected through the use of heavy composite cloth, flexible yet tough, which also doubles as protection against sand infiltration.
HG-43 Sand Stalker
The Sand Stalker is the Martian Free Republic's best known exo-suit. Light and very agile, it is mostly used for border patrol and lightning strike. The Sand Stalker entered service in late 2194 at the Chryse outpost. Since then, it has seen a lot of action, being part of virtually all of the Republic's military operations. The Sand Stalker does not have any built-in life support system. Pilot must wear a standard pressure suit if the suit is to operate in hostile environments. This was a deliberate design choice – not only does it cuts the cost down, but the pilot can now exit his machine at leisure should he need to enter a location where it would not fit.
Powerful fan thrusters are placed in the backpack. The air intakes are located in the backpack itself and on both side of the torso; a heavy dust screen protects the dual turbines from the desert dust. Because they require air to function, the suit cannot operates in vacuum; the Sky Stalker variant, can, however, as it replaces the fans with liquid fuel engines.
The Falconer is the standard Jovian space exo-suit. Though it weights only a metric ton, when correctly used it can pauses a threat to units many times its own size. Its acceleration rate is comparable to many fighting spacecraft, and it carries enough reaction mass in its oversized shoulder pods to outlast many other exo-suit designs. The smaller models of guided missiles can even be mounted on hardpoints located on the shoulders. The pilot enters the suit by the upper torso hatch, to which the sensor head (often wrongly confused for a helmet) is attached. The operator's legs fit within recesses in the upper thighs, where they can activate the complex actuator and shock absorber mechanisms of the lower legs as well as part of the thruster array. The oversized slave arms are controlled through a pair of small master arms located to the side of the torso. The flight and combat controls are located on the master arms' joysticks.
The insectile-form of the Falconer is commonly seen in or around the various Jovian stations, performing patrols or security duties. JAF space ships that have built-in cargo holds carry at least two of these, especially those that cannot carry exo-armors or fighters.
Spacecraft are crucial to humanity's presence in space. Unlike the planet-bound life we all know, in space it is not possible to simply walk from one destination to another (even if the distances involved were on a smaller scale). Some kind of vehicle with life-support is required, be it a spaceship or a comparatively simple space suit with a thruster pack. As the setting for most of the action which Player Characters are likely to encounter, spacecraft are important to the Jovian Chronicles as plot devices, props and backdrops.
The following designs are but a fraction of the spacecraft currently in use in the Jovian Chronicles universe of 2210-2212.
Anopheles Mining Ship
A strange and ungainly ship, the Anopheles was designed in the early twenty-first century as a mobile asteroid prospecting and exploration unit. It hops from asteroid to asteroid, looking for valuable volatiles and water, either in the form of ice or hydrated compounds. Its drive unit is extremely efficient, capable of providing sustained thrust for long periods of time using whatever reaction mass the ship manages to find. The lower hull supports a set of three large articulated arms that are used to hold the ship in place when landed on an asteroid. Anopheles have been around for so long that many ships are available for sale at prices that even a single prospector can afford. Of course, the vessel may not be exactly state of the art , but the profits that can be made entice some despite the risks. Many Anopheles were converted into tugs or second-rate freighters.
The Atlas Orbital Transfer Vehicle, also known to its crews as a "Flitter" or "Flying Trapeze," is fairly representative of the class of short range utility vehicles designed to fulfill a variety of tasks in space. Atlases have been used as tugs, freighters, and even explorer ships. Their mechanical simplicity, as well as their low prices, have ensured their presence in the entire space-based society. Unfortunately, the OTV lacks sufficient reaction mass to undertake long-range hauling, and most exploring is done fairly close to a friendly port. The threat of unscheduled course corrections ensures that only the canny or the deranged stray too far from a refueling station.
Ebiru Cargo Hauler
Ebiru-class cargo ships share a sturdy and common design that dates back to the earliest phases of the commercial exploitation of space. It is used by virtually every settlement of the solar system, particularly by Mercury's commercial fleet. These fusion-driven cargo vessels are used whenever a cargo needs to arrive rapidly, and thus cannot go on one of the regular clipper flights. The ship has no internal cargo bay, rather, it tows a large structure called a "tree," to which various cargo pods are attached.
Inari-class Passenger Liner
The Inari-class liner have been touted as "the most efficient commercial ship in existence." Indeed, their double role as cargo and passenger liner rarely let them to leave a spaceport at less than full capacity. The spacious passenger lounges and cabins take up the whole center portion of the ship, just above engineering and before the crew section. Cargo is carried in two huge bays located on either side of the main hull, each having a separate life support system from the rest of the ship. This allows the economical transport of goods which do not necessitate an atmosphere.
Mule-class Bulk Freighter
Ships of the Mule-class are a common sight to the citizens of the solar system. The original design was based on the cargoes of the early twenty-first century, and it has changed very little since then. Its limited reaction mass capacity makes it useful for short to medium range transport only. The Mule is designed to be used as a modular cargo ship, with special hardpoints mounted on either side of the hull to attach cargo pods. These are usually tanks to carry the liquified gases used as reaction mass in modern ships.
The Scout-class exploration ship is one of the oldest ship designs still in service. First built during the exploration and colonization boom of the middle of the twenty-first century, the Scout served as a multi-role platform to map out, prospect and examine the various environments of the Solar System, first in near Earth orbit and later out as far as the Jovian subsystem. The modular design of the Scout is its greatest asset: anything from sensors to weapons to an exploration shuttle to a water asteroid can be incorporated into the design in one way or another, and this ability is considered to be what has kept the ship in service all these years. Most of this cargo is carried in the forward modular cargo bay, but some can be attached to the outside of the hull with reinforced webbings. The many Scouts that are still in service are a testament to the resiliency of the craft. Most of them are in the hands of corporations or private exploration consortiums, and are put to good use as small transports, patrol craft for claims, and of course as exploration vehicles.
The Shuttle has best been described as the "Mack Truck of Space," a sturdy workhorse designed to take off from a ground base, accelerate to high altitude and then boost itself to orbit. It is the descendent of a long line of utilitarian launch vehicles that, along with the skyhooks and their hypersonic service shuttles, have made possible the everyday conquest of space. Whereas most cargo and passenger flights are taken up by the inexpensive shyhooks, shuttles and other similar vehicles provide service in the field of charter transport and private flights. While a transorbital flight is far from pleasant, the shuttles allow civilians to travel to space without too much trouble. Only people suffering from illness or other fairly severe health problems suffer greatly from traveling with this vehicle.
The ships of the Bricriu-class actually predate the formation of the CEGA. The Bricriu, first vessel to bear the name, was launched from Dock 3A at the L5 point in 2134. It was the first patrol ship commissioned by the Orbital Colonies to defend the cylinders in case the conflicts "spilled out" of the Earth's atmosphere. The ships proved to be exceptionally sturdy and rugged, and so the design was not retired in 2160 as originally planned, but merely refitted and updated with modern equipment. The original scatter missile launchers were replaced by the now familiar kinetic kill cannon clusters when the CEGA Navy took over in 2184, lowering firepower in favor of greater range. The Bricriu-class vessels are expected to be replaced by a new, more advanced design within the next decade.
These medium-sized destroyers are the workhorses of the CEGA's Fleets. The first three Hachiman-class vessels entered service in 2194, quickly followed the year after by ten more. The Hachiman-class used to have a bad reputation among crews because of the so-called "Dark Summer" of 2197, where no less than three ships were lost due to what was thought to be a plasma drive malfunction. It was later revealed that the ships had been sabotaged by STRIKE agents working at the naval base of L2-4. Once they were discovered, the incidents stopped and the Hachiman rapidly regained the confidence of the Terran military. One more ship was lost while fighting pirate forces in the Asteroid Belt.
Tengu-class Escort Carrier
As the CEGA began to realize the tactical usefulness of the exo-armors, the Fleets' lack of adequate vessels to carry these new weapons into combat became evident. The Tengu-class was thus commissioned in 2198 and put into production as early as 2201. The primary concerns of the ship's designers were speed and range. A large twin drive assembly was mounted on the hull along with big reaction mass tanks. This left little space for the exo-armor bay, which can only handle two machines in standard, routine operations. The ship can carry more in an emergency, as proved by the CSS Pinta during the Belt Trial Accident of 2202. The Pinta's crew had to fit no less than seven Syreens (or part of) in her bay and on her hull when the exo-armors' own carriers were destroyed in a catastrophic docking accident, leaving the pilots stranded in space.
Uller-class Missile Cruiser
Developed at the beginning of the century as a heavy support frigate, the Uller class of vessels remains relatively rare in the fleets of the CEGA navy. Indeed, the Uller relies almost exclusively on guided missile weaponry, limiting its combat endurance versus vessels using particle beam or kinetic kill cannons. The frigate's flaw is made up for, however, by the lethal nature of its payload. Three types of missiles can be found aboard, including eighteen long range missiles and twelve for medium range combat. The Uller's claim to fame, however, is its standard payload of eight Harpoon III heavy missiles. The Harpoons are independent, self-guiding fire-and-forget weapons designed to take out a capital class vessel with a single hit.
The pride and joy of the Earth space fleet, the Poseidon-class battleships form the backbone of the CEGA's spaceborne might. These ships were commissioned only two years after the formation of the new Earth government and represents the height of modern shipbuilding techniques. As a concession to the rapidly spreading use of exo-armors and interceptors in warfare, the Poseidon-class was hastily equipped with redesigned fighter bays, enabling the ship to transport up to eight exo-armors in cramped conditions. The latest addition to the class, the CSS Medusa, was completed in December 2204 and was immediatly assigned to the Second Escort Fleet.
The Athena-class destroyers are a fairly recent addition to the Jovian fleet. They were commissioned by President Itangre herself in 2208, and though the first three Athenas were already in service by the time of the Odyssey, none of them was close enough to participate in the battle that closed it. Athena destroyers can only be described as "graceful," their large wing-like heatsinks above and below the main hull give them the allure of a pre-spaceflight sailing vessel. They are also unusually maneuverable for a ship of their size, a design feature made necessary by the fixed angle of fire that many of the ship's weapons are limited by. Many crewmen have said that the Athena was "a capital ship that thinks it's a fighter." There is talk among the military circles of a new class of vessels based on the Athena, the Minerva, which would carry vastly improved electronic systems.
As the Jovian Confederation grew in importance during the twenty-second century, the need for a sturdy and inexpensive defense vessel appeared. The Thunderbolt-class was the answer. Thunderbolts are now quite common in the Jovian Navy. The forty-one existing ships (the JSS Lancer was lost in 2196 to a powerplant malfunction) are divided almost equally between the three JAF Divisions, Alpha having fifteen, Beta twelve and Gamma the remaining fourteen. The ship's overall design is a departure from the standard Jovian ship design philosophy. The lack of exo-armor bays as well as the low reaction mass reserve somewhat reduces the ship's survivability, although the armament is heavier than what one would expect on such a small vessel.
Javelin-class Missile Cruiser
The Javelin-class missile cruiser evolved out of a need for a long range support ship that could still inflict heavy damage at all ranges. To that end, the ship carries the Space Dart missile in a large mount under the hull. Although each hardpoint can only carry three missiles (for a total of six per ships), the damage they inflict on the target improves the odds in favor of the Javelin. The twelve existing Javelin-class vessels have been divided equally between the three JAF divisions. Assignment to these ships is popular because of the large living accommodations; these were made possible by mounting the Space Darts in a "keel," thus saving internal space in the main hull.
Valiant-class Strike Carrier
The Valiant-class Strike Carrier was already on the drawing board when the Battle of Elysée took place. If anything, it accelerated the progress of an advanced program dedicated to supplying the Jovian Confederation with a line of vessels that could serve as roving defense outposts, accomplish long patrols on the fringes of Jovian space and still pull their weight as dedicated battle units. Once in service, the Valiant-class vessels proved to be unusually sturdy and resilient, routinely escaping damage that would have rendered any other ship inoperable. Their quadruple engine pods supply them with high thrust, though it is seldom used to save reaction mass. The ships are heavily armed and armored, and feature deployable habitat sections that are always oriented correctly for gravity purposes, increasing crew comfort on long patrols.
Perhaps the most advanced vessels in service today, the Godsfire-class ships are a perfect example of the Jovians' considerable skill in ship building. Apart from being unusually large, its considerable armament and exo-armor carrying capacity makes it capable of sustaining prolonged battles with an excellent chance of survival.
Space Fighters and Interceptors
Though not as agile as an equivalent-sized exo-armor, space fighters and interceptors are quite capable of holding their own in raiding and interception missions.
The Wraith is one of the better known interceptor designs in the Solar System. Though it is starting to show its age, it is still a reliable and versatile workhorse, capable of handling a large variety of missions both in atmosphere and in low orbit. The Wraith has been design as a multi-role vehicle, capable of handling threats both nearby and on the other side of the globe. Though it lacks a transatmospheric capability of its own, it can be mated to a fully resuseable flyback booster unit to put it into low orbit, allowing it to be anywhere on Earth within an hour of launch. The Wraith had its finest hours during the various conflicts of the late twenty-first century. Surprinsingly, it was designed and fielded by forces of the European Union under the name Spectre, flying against other well-known fighters such as the CFB-10D Gnome. After the ratification of the CEGA Treaty of Union in 2184,all existing Spectres were renamed Wraith and incorporated in the armies of the newly-formed world government.
The IM-09 Lancer is the most common Jovian Armed Force interceptor as of 2210, where it constitutes about half the total number of interceptors in service. It was designed around paired fusion drives located at the back, under the large dorsal fin. The reliable Nakasu 423M PCC engines provide the craft with good acceleration even when carrying a full combat payload, making it appreciated by pilots and commanders alike. Like all other spacecraft of its type, though, the Lancer suffers from poor range due to its limited on-board reaction mass reserve. According to standard combat doctrines, Lancers form the first line of defense, their great acceleration allowing them to be sent forward to deal with invaders as they enter Jovian airspace. The most obvious feature of the Lancer is the large payload module attached to its belly. The Advanced Tactical Mission Pod (ATMP) is a modular pod system designed to increase the mission versatility of the vehicle. Most of the offensive payload is carried within the pod, which can be exchanged for a new one within minutes by a trained crew. The large blades along the upper mainframe are an extensive antennae array, which the craft use for both sensor and communication purposes. The rear section features twin reaction mass tanks, which are armored separately to reduce the chance of a fatal leak due to combat damage. Finally, the long dorsal boom mounts two important systems, an array of heatsinks and the countermeasure launcher known as the Active Counter-Measure System (ACML).