Technical Article: Apex Class Battlecruiser:
2.2km Long. 7 Million tons.
At the End of the first Interstellar War the military forces of both the Confederation and the Terran Navy had been drastically depleted. What was not known to the Confederation at the time of the ceasefire was that Terran manufacturing base had also been significantly crippled and the majority of the Terran Navy's heavy starships were now out of commission awaiting repairs with any new vessels years away from completion. Meanwhile Confederate industry was replacing their losses at a steady pace. With no capacity to make any meaningful strike against enemy stronghold Terran high command realised that any renewed conflict with the Confederation in the next twenty years would result in almost certain defeat. In addition Confederate members states were currently debating the legitimacy of the cease fire agreement and many were arguing for a return to war as soon as was feasible.
Terran High Command's response was to consolidate technical and technological resources to create a new generation of weapons combining the latest innovations in warfare made possible by the new freedom of movement now that direct travel between governed worlds was no longer under the direct threat of enemy action.
In addition to a massive campaign of disinformation and counter-intelligence operations this would give the appearance of a Terran military force much stronger than existed in reality hopefully preventing any enemy military action.
The culmination of part of these efforts was the Apex Class battlecruiser. Moving away from conventional battleship configuration It's design principles were based on extreme mobility and range and accuracy over brute force firepower and thicker armor.
With the latest advances in Terran Inter Stellar Drive technology the Apex class did not have to conform to conventional 'tight profile' hull limitations, allowing for the vessel to have extended pylons which housed multiple redundant sensor arrays giving the vessel a vastly superior targeting system compared to any other ship of it's day. In addition this allowed structural engineers to modify the vessel's design to be sleeker and sharper giving it an a much fiercer appearance with the restriction that any aesthetic choice would not impact functionality. Again this was to help emphasize the technological superiority to the craft compared to the more rugged and utilitarian designs of contemporary battleships.
Running 9 helix type reactors parallel to it's core and with vast amounts of ship's internal space taken up with hydrogen fuel storage required for long range operations, the Apex class still managed to install an exceptional amount of firepower with 2 forward firing EVC Capital class Laser cannons, 9 Heavy Grav Accelerator cannons and 30 Medium high velocity cannons for long range combat. The Apex was also outfitted with external ordnance pods mounted along it's extended pylons and a ventral hanger bay which could house a half squadron of Scimitar class fighters. The venteral bay could also be converted mid flight to act as a hydrogen scoop, allowing the Apex class to gather fuel from the atmosphere of Gas giant making it's effective range practically unlimited.
Defensively the Apex was outfitted with actively cooled ceramic based composite armour over a flexible carbon nano-forged steel frame. With armor 80 meters thick at it's strongest point, designed to reflect or dissipate heat rapidly and based on a compartmentalised system of armour plates allowing entire sections of the ship to deform with the impact of kinetic weapons without damaging internal components. Weapons mounting were outfitted with heavily armoured gun ports allows the ship to make jumps into hostile systems with exposed components protected against any initial attack. Point defense was covered by 72 overlapping kinetic and laser based turrets. The Apex was more than capable of withstanding the heavy thermal damage of Confederate
plasma based weapons but it's point defense system combined with superior sensor and tracking capabilities made it all but untouchable by long range ship to ship missile base weaponry, at least on on to one combat basis.
The pathfinder vessel Apex was rapidly completed, leaving dock 5 years after the signing of the Terran Confederate peace accords with three others within months of completion. Shortly after after initial trials the Apex was assigned to a combat mission to destroy the Confederate Battleship 'Mount Seline'. An aged vessel that had disregarded orders and continued a guerilla war on the fringes of Terran and Confederate space where a handful of systems secretly supplied its crew with supplies and safe port for repairs.
The impressive jump range of the Apex vessel soon proved to be it's greatest advantage. Able to quickly respond to reports of the Mount Seline's whereabouts and shadow it's movements. After discovering and destroying one of the Mount Seline's support craft, the confederate ship was forced into a confrontation with the Apex. The battle was entirely one sided with the Mount Seline bisected into it's prow and stern sections far before it entered effective weapons range. A complete recording of the battle was soon released demonstrating the Terran Navy's new technological superiority.
This was the only major engagement the Apex ever took part in. Shortly afterwards it was assigned under the direct command of the Intelligence services where it posed as multiple different vessels and along with a web of other disinformation fed to the Confederacy, gave the appearance of nearly thirty operational battlecruisers at a time when only four were in service. The Apex, Admiral Taylor, Blade of Reason and Interceptor.
With the Terrans possessing the apparent ability to rapidly redeploy heavy firepower in direct response to any possible confederate attack and with the extensive combat range of their heavy fleet able to reach deep into Confederate space, along with an extensive defense force of planetary bound fighter squadrons, the Confederate military war council agreed on redirecting resources away from rebuilding their fleet and into shoring up defenses for their newly threatened worlds and developing new countermeasures to their opponents sudden technological advantage. By the time intelligence caught up to the true state of Terran capabilities 30 years later, the Terran Navy had successfully built an entirely new fleet based on the principles of rapid deployment and extreme range firepower capable of combating the more numerous, and technically more powerful but less mobile Confederate forces.
The initial Apex design is retrospectively considered an incredible success by military historians despite flaws which became apparent after extended operations. Combat engagements with renegade Confederate forces and treaty limited battles showed the practical advantage for highly mobile long range weapons platforms. The extreme operational capacity of the vessel was also considered essential at the time of it's initial deployment gave the Terran navy the capacity to respond to the limited threats to security across a large portion of their territory despite a small number of ships available.
Design flaws with the Apex class were relatively minor. The launch bay which was originally designed with older model Scimitar class fighters in mind was only capable of housing 4 of the Next Generation Nebula class multirole fighters and lacked space for the extended maintenance facilities those fighters required. It also proved to be a structural weakness which could be exploited and it's positioning reduced point defense protection along it's ventral axis. The first revision to Apex design removed the launch bay and focused on improved armour and firepower as a dedicated battleship, with Terran fleet then focusing entirely on specific gunship, electronic warfare or carrier roles after this point.
The second revision improved access to ship components for reactor maintenance. During the first interstellar war few ships ever reached the point that they required reactor or engine overhauls. Most being destroyed in battle or being rapidly replaced by new more advanced ships. In peacetime the extended patrol operations caused extensive wear and tear on reactor and engine modules which were hard to replace due to the inaccessible and layered internal bulkhead structure. Over 600 Revision 2 Apex class Battlecruisers were built until they were replaced with the next Generation Pinnacle class battlecruiser design.