The Asimov-class Battlecarrier is a class of eight space-warships that serves as the primary capital ship of the Grand Imperial Space Force. The end result of a decades-long military megaproject, the Asimov-class was perhaps the most ambitious technological undertaking of the time, and many of the technologies that were designed throughout the project went on to form the basis of 22nd century spaceflight.
Combining both unmatched firepower and power projection capabilities, the Asimov-class is among the largest and most technologically-advanced space warships used by humanity in the early-mid 22nd century. The Asimov was (and in many cases, still is) noted for breaking many records at the time of its introduction. For the time, the Asimov was the largest war machine (much less the largest warship of any type) humanity had ever produced, only being beaten out by the Lunar Tranquillitatis-class carrier several years later. While the size record of the ship itself was destined to be broken, the massive Tenenbaum mass-driver (of which the ship is built around) remains, by-far, the largest weapon ever made.
With the establishment of permanent human colonies on the moon by the 1970s, the governments of Earth were quick to hit the drawing boards, brainstorming ways to either protect or attack these special new interests, as well as use the new technology that these developments brought for military benefit. "Space warships", though non-existent until the dawn of the Third World War, were often designed and even prototyped (primarily) during the two Cold Wars.
Early examples include the Soviet "Proyekt Katyusha" (c.1979), which outlined a concept for a "missile carrier" based around a heavily-modified Buran orbiter hull to attack NATO Lunar colonies from standoff distance. The American "Battleship Orion" (c.1985) was another such concept. Taking cues from a similar 1960s-era concept, this one was to have its own hull and specially-designed armament (including a Cabasa howitzer). Theoretically, the Orion could desolate entire continents with its nuclear armament within an hour of deployment. However, with the end of the early 1980s tensions and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, no proposed warships made it past the design stage.
However, the Sino-American Cold War of the 2020s and 30s saw the first prototype warships (little more than rudimentary orbiters with weapon hardpoints) appear. In 2026, the Chinese introduced the Type 098 Missile Orbiter. Though only roughly the size of a seafaring corvette, this was the first ship of its type. However, it never left the prototype stage, and in the interest of preserving world peace and averting further militarization of space, the UN convinced the PRC to dismantle the ship.
With the outbreak of WWIII in 2050, however, the UN's dissolution gave the opposing parties the chance to pursue the outer space arms race the organization had kept at bay for the past decades. The first innovators, it was discovered the Chinese never held to the UN deal - a terrifying new warship, Battleship Zhu De, was unveiled on the first day of the war. Lacking any military designation or design details beyond rudimentary statistics, the enigmatic warship served the PRC as a propaganda weapon. Coming it at over a hundred meters and boasting a wide variety of guns and missiles, Zhu De was eventually unleashed upon the moon during the failed 2051 assault on the Lunar territories. It is generally agreed combat deployment of the battleship (which was only deployed with the invasion force for propaganda purposes) was a desperate move made once it was clear the battle was lost. However, the ship managed to destroy three satellites and bomb several significant ground positions before a volley of anti-satellite missiles managed to destroy it.
Though primitive by modern standards, Zhu De was perhaps the chief inspiration for the Asimov's predecessor projects. Though the Chinese warship did not significantly affect the outcome of the battle for the moon, it did prove itself an effective (albeit crude) weapons platform in the brief time it was active in combat. Paired with implications of morale and pride, the United States Provisional Government really felt it had no choice and they started work on their own space warship in earnest. Harvesting the brightest minds it could get its hands on, designs were rapidly churned out with the aid of the West's top physicists, engineers and military minds.
The most promising (and by-far the most ambitious) of these early drafts was the "Battlecarrier Eagle One" design. Over three times larger than the Zhu De and packed with advanced weapons systems (including laser and electromagnetic-based guns), it also doubled as an assault carrier, presumably learning from the mistakes of the Chinese ship. However, perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the design was its propulsion systems - it was to be single-stage and would utilize antigrav technology (which had never been utilized on such a scale to that point) to make easy transitions between orbit and the atmosphere. Though it was projected that the first ship would be ready no earlier than 2070, the implications of such a design were revolutionary, and would guarantee the edge in any future solar operation. With the complete and utter failure of Dark Night, the security of the moon was guaranteed - most materials, resources and personnel were relocated there in 2054 to take part in the most secretive military project since Manhattan.
However, with the nuclear exchange taking place not three months after the project's commencement, and the associated unrest in Luna, much of the information on Battlecarrier Eagle One was destroyed, lost or hidden away. It would not be until years later that, with references to the project discovered in the ruins of Washington D.C by revolutionary forces together with testimony by Lunar fugitives, what remained of the USPG project would be reignited by its successor states.
The deployment of the Asimov is a somewhat storied tale, involving much fighting between the upper-echelons of the GIM and Emperor Jonathan Stark himself. The brass wanted the ships deployed immediately. WIP
The FIS Asimov, along with her first sister ship the FIS Clarke, were launched and formally introduced into the (then) recently-established Grand Imperial Space Force on Empire Day; November 11th, 2112 - the fiftieth anniversary of the New Frenco Empire's founding. Though the exact details of the Asimov's completion remain classified, most sources indicate that the first ship was complete by 2110 and simply waited in drydock for the special festivities - luckily, the Clarke was also complete by this time, allowing not just one, but two brand new ships to make their special appearances.
Weapons and Countermeasures
As can be expected from a ship of its size, the Asimov is an extremely powerful war machine in individual terms. The ship's most notable weapon is the Tenenbaum cannon, the largest gun ever made and possessing enough power output (two-ton depleted uranium slug fired at about twenty kilometers per second - impact energy is roughly equivalent to a hundred tons of TNT) to destroy very large targets in a single shot - capital ships, space stations and even entire cities. Aside from the actual ignition system, the Tenenbaum is controlled entirely by AI systems, and in combat, the systems will "guide" the ship towards targets for optimal accuracy.
However, due to the sheer power output required to fire (equivalent to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant), the Tenenbaum requires a fifteen minute charge before ignition. In special circumstances, this can be lowered to three minutes by powering down all "non-essential" systems, though this is exceptionally risky considering the vulnerability of such a state, and is forbidden by Space Force doctrine except in "situations of dire importance".
While the Tenenbaum is the Asimov's symbolic primary weapon, its general usefulness is generally limited however. After all, there are very few examples of enemy capital ships for said gun to snipe out of orbit as intended. Instead, the system that sees the most use is easily the 250 VLS missile cells scattered all around the hull. With each cell holding four cruise missiles, the Asimov carries no fewer than a thousand missile-launched weapons into battle. These can range from anything to basic anti-air missiles to heavy standoff munitions with MOAB warheads to even VLS-launched UAVs.
Aside from the Tenenbaum and the missiles, the ship also comes equipped with sixteen railguns, which have been given the appropriate reporting name "Hellfire" for their terrifying rate of fire. Not much is capable of surviving sustained bombardment from these weapons, and like the Tenenbaum, they are capable of eating previously unfathomable amounts of power.
Though the hull of the Asimov is appropriately strong and adequately shielded to protect against energy weapons, the main defense lies in its potent mix of ECM suites and close-in weapon systems. Several of the ship's VLS cells are dedicated to housing interception missiles, and CIWS systems (including an interdiction laser grid and sixty-four point-defense guns) are scattered all throughout the hull.
Though sacrificing much of its potential as a carrier in favor of weaponry, the Asimov-class' role as an assault ship is arguably its most important task in modern Imperial doctrine, and it's certainly how the ship is most often used given the lack of any meaningful opposition in the fleets of rival nations and alliances. Regardless of its complement and land warfare capability being dwarfed by purpose-built ships (such as the Lunar Tranquillitatis-class carrier), it is more than adequate for the GIM's primary task of quick-response warfare against the various insurgencies and the piracy that plagues the Empire's space colonies, and Asimov assaults (which often combine the ground complement with the ship's firepower) enjoy very high success rates when deployed against these enemies. To the Trinity Knights in-particular, the Asimov is regarded as the Empire's "terror weapon" (particularly the FIS Heinlein - the command ship of Colonel Fred Harrigan) and it is often depicted in their propaganda as a tool of oppression in their attempts to sway Solar civilians to their cause.
A single Asimov is capable of sustaining an "assault battalion" of about eight-hundred troops, pilots and support staff (said unit designation being designed by the Vanguard marines specifically for organizing operations from an Asimov) for roughly six months assuming light-to-moderate combat operation. The Asimov can comfortably house and support forty aircraft. Its standard complement includes:
- Twenty UH-40 Harrier Tiltwing VTOLs - standard workhorse utility craft, used for everything from moving supplies to airborne troop insertions to light ground attack.
- Eight UV-55 Albatross superheavy dropships - these aircraft are mostly used to ferry large amounts of cargo and troops to and from the ship, and they serve as the main logistical lifeline from the ship to the ground forces.
- Twelve AV-6 Super Comanche gunships - the "Super Comanche" is a specialized Vanguard gunship based on the GIA's standard Comanche attack VTOL. Upgraded and optimized for combat on both the ground and the vacuum of space, the Super Comanche (coupled with direct fire support from the Asimov when necessary) serves as the main direct ground attack element for the infantry.
The main ground assault element aboard any given Asimov is, of course, the infantry - more specifically, the power armor-clad superheavy infantry of the GISF Vanguard Corps. Each ship carries roughly two hundred combat-ready marines, each possessing their own suit of M4 Tigress powered-armor and each four-man fireteam possessing an M990 support drone.
Additionally, a number of light recon vehicles are kept aboard, often being airlifted onto battlefields to give the troops some rapid movement capability.
One of the primary advantages of the assault battalion system is the rapid response time it is capable of, with the entire battalion being on the ground and fully engaged with the enemy in a matter of hours, the nearby battlecarrier able to back them up with overwhelming firepower. However, the Asimov must be in the atmosphere of any given body for the troops to deploy. While its advanced engines are capable of quick, safe reentry, it is not instantaneous. Additionally, planetary scans, air screens and other precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of the ship before entering potentially hostile territory - all eat into the response time, which is all-too crucial when fighting terrorist and insurgent attacks.
It is for this reason that the Asimov comes equipped with a very unique feature that it alone pioneered - orbit-to-surface drop pods. Every ship carries ten, each capable of dropping a fireteam of Vanguards (four troops + drone) along with adequate supplies for several hours of intense combat operations directly onto a body's surface while the ship lingers in orbit. This feature cuts immediate response time down to minutes, depending on the immediate position of the ship at the time of the incident.
Though most prominently used in the rapid response role, they are sometimes used in creative manners by commanders. For instance, it is not uncommon to use drop pod troops to deploy behind enemy lines in preparation for a large-scale land invasion.
The pods themselves are little more than steel-alloy frames centered around a central pylon housing a targeting computer, chaff dispenser and reentry module. The pods are sealed just prior to launching once all the troops and supplies are loaded, only un-pressurizing upon making landfall.
Predictably, drop pods are very dangerous to the untrained. Despite the pressurization in both the pod and an individual's power armor, the shaking and intense thrust of the pod is enough to subject passengers to intense forces. It is not uncommon for blackouts to occur. Feelings of fear and peril are also very common for passengers, with the adrenaline produced during the drop pairing with the claustrophobic environment of the pod. Even the most hardened of soldiers can become debilitatingly stressed and panicked during drop pod deployments.
Though the safety systems of the drop pod system were reportedly tested for four years until a base system survival rate of 99.9% could be achieved, fatal accidents have been reported on more than one occasion. Targeting computer failure is always a possibility, sending pods wildly off-course. Additionally, although the pod does have protection against anti-aircraft fire in the form of chaffs and the sheer speed in-which it plummets, it is otherwise defenseless, and pods have certainly been destroyed before they even had an opportunity to land.
To top it all off, the sheer nature of drop pod operations are dangerous, even ignoring the unorthodox method of deployment. Often, the soldiers taking part in deployments are going in blind, not knowing if their foe consists of anything from a few rag-tag rebels to an entire enemy army regiment. Though fire support from the orbiting Asimov is available, the nature of space-to-ground weaponry (especially with the bomb yields often loaded onto the ship) make the weapons imprecise and risky. The forty or less Vanguards deployed during these operations are more-or-less on their own until the rest of the battalion can come and reinforce, which can take hours or even days depending on circumstance.
To mitigate risks, only Vanguard marines who have received proper training and certification are allowed to deploy from pods. The GISF runs a special jump school for this purpose, and training is notoriously rigorous. Peak physical fitness is a necessity, as well as a strong mental state, some technical skills and a proficiency for combat and special operations. Ergo, even among the rough-and-ready Vanguard marines, the designated drop troopers of the Asimov assault battalions are considered the cream of the crop.
Ships in Class
- FIS Asimov
- FIS Clarke
- FIS Bradbury
- FIS Gernsback
- FIS Heinlein
- FIS Verne
- FIS Wells
- FIS Herbert