Though the Terran Alliance of Nations is not a unified government, having even less control over its member nations than its predecessors of SECTO and the UN did, it is a treaty and regulatory body that governs interactions between nations. Among the many regulations established and ratified by the member nations was the development of the Private Military Oversight Act, which establishes the rules and regulations governing mercenary corporations and their operations.
While not overly restrictive, per se, and being centered on common-sense (an incredible rarity in politics) rules of engagement to protect civilian populations, there are limitations on the types of weapons and vessels mercenary corporations can use within the territories of PMOA signatory nations. Nuclear and antimatter weapons with a yield larger than fifteen kilotons are required to have compression field generators to limit the blast radius, Anti-Ship Missiles (ASMs) are not to be used in proximity with civilian traffic or at launch vectors that would bring an inhabited planet or orbital into a potential target path, Anti-Planetary Missiles (APMs) are banned, etc.
Naval vessels are limited, as well. The nations who signed onto the PMOA jealously protect their right to the Big Ships- battleships, supercarriers, dreadnoughts, etc.- and refuse to allow any mercenary corporation to operate within their territories with any vessel classed larger than a cruiser. Battlecruisers are allowed by some of the signatories, on limited basis and as flagships only. This generally suits the mercenary corporations just fine, as they can build several destroyers for the price of one battleship, and generally prefer low-scale operations to open major naval warfare, but not all merc corps agreed.
Some of the largest mercenary corporations- Spartan Group, Northbridge Services, Venturi Military Services, etc.- are based in Freespace, owning their own independent star systems where they manufacture and field vessels in the restricted classifications to protect their headquarters. Other specialized firms, such as Professional Military Solutions Corporation, that are focused primarily on naval support of ground-based merc corps preferred another method of skirting the PMOA restrictions- they cheated their collective asses off. Thus was the Zweihander-class battlecruiser born.
Through careful study of the PMOA regulations by the legal division of PMSC, several loopholes were discovered. The classification of Battleship was largely a designation of size and weapons deployment, but it was written by politicians and not military planners. Thus, the limitation on weapons was largely the “Big Scary Guns”. Likewise, the PMOA was written at a time when anti-proton weapons were still in the R&D phase, and were not included in the original act.
Subsequent attempts to modify the act to include these weapons have been stymied by various lobbyist groups from the larger merc corps and various arms manufacturers- as well as the subtle reminder that every single Terran mercenary corporation had thrown in with the militaries of the Alliance against the Capellans when they invaded.
As the Zweihander was being designed, the limitations on heavy particle beam and particle projection turrets was reached quickly, and then happily tap-danced beyond by the introduction of APPCs and AP lancers. Missile bays were not restricted by the PMOA, but the types of missiles used were, resulting in the development of variable ordnance delivery packages that can carry anything from anti-fighter SRMs to the highly illegal and deadly APMs. Spinal mounts were maxed out, as were secondary weapons and point-defense turrets.
The end result is a warship with one super-heavy AP lancer, three heavy AP lancer, six APPC, and three MAC gun spinal mounts foreword, three heavy AP lancer and two heavy APPC spinal mounts aft, four AP lancer cross-spinals (two port, two starboard), 36 heavy APPC turrets, 13 heavy AP lancer turrets, 11 heavy PPC turrets (the maximum allowed by the PMOA), 48 medium APPC turrets, 36 medium AP lancer turrets, 18 light AP lancer turrets, 9 light PPC turrets, and 146 point-defense turrets.
The Zweihander does not lack for missiles or fighter support, either. It carries twenty APM silos, cleverly listed as ASM launchers on the registry, that can carry one APM each, or a four-pack of clustered ASMs. Primary missile punch comes from thirty-two six-shot Shrike missile bays and eight variable-ordnance Phalanx II missile bays that can carry 32 ASMs, 128 LRMs, or 256 SRMs. 16 fighter bays with a total compliment of 80 fighters, 4 dropship bays (one port, one starboard, two ventral) carrying four dropships each, and four shuttle bays round out the small-craft support.
Thus far, only one Zweihander-class has been produced- the Big Damned Heroes, which is the new flagship of the PMSC fleet- with the virtual keels of three more having been laid. At a little over two kilometers in length, it is one of the largest mercenary vessels ever produced, and is only twenty two meters short of the maximum restrictions of the PMOA. Eight gravitic engines, including two forward, give the Zweihander tremendous power and surprising maneuverability for a vessel its size.
The Zweihander is a brick, a solid chunk of armour with chunks taken out for weapons systems, bays, and crew quarters. Trading with the Ahrugan Tribal Confederation has given PMSC access to advanced armour, allowing them to plate the Zweihander with nanofield-enhanced atomically-bonded metallic hydrogen/carbon-tourine composite battleplate twenty to thirty-five meters thick. Between this and advanced mil-spec shields, the Zweihander is tougher than most military vessels in its class. At an equivalent retail price of 1.25 billion credits, it also costs as much.
Rounding out its capabilities are advanced electronic warfare equipment, a full network security suite with an onboard Omninet nexus generator (which also allows the Zweihander to act as an Omninet relay beacon in areas where there is no Omninet access), top-of-the-line facilities aboard, and crew quarters considered luxurious by most conventional naval crew. A small forest sanctuary with koi ponds and a small stream in the rear above engineering and full VR access in all crew quarters guarantees a high morale for the crew.
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