Today's post isn't about the new Heavy Gear Blitz miniatures, or Jovian Chronicles Fleet Scale. It's a bit of Heavy Gear storyline info, A snippet of something we've had cooking for a while. Enjoy!
The Dreadnought Project: Landship Doctrine after the Interpolar War
After the War of the Alliance, both polar leagues began to diverge in their landship design and operating principles, driven by each nation's unique experiences during the conflict with the CEF. However, the need to rebuild, combined with continued mistrust between the nations of Terra Nova, meant that work on new ships and technologies was slow and often bound up in politics. Even during the Interpolar War, decades-old landships were fielded using essentially the same strategic and logistical principles prevalent before the CEF invasion.
The bombing of Peace River (and the subsequent negotiated peace) was the impetus for rapid and drastic change. Prompted by a newly crystallized need to strike back at the CEF and prepare for another invasion, the Terra Novan nations agreed to share an unprecedented amount of information on landship design and doctrine with each other. Both polar leagues quickly discovered, much to the chagrin of their respective intelligence networks, that previously-documented specifications and capabilities of opposing landships were often inaccurate, sometimes wildly so, and that they were woefully behind in preparing to combat an enemy that had surely spent the last several decades developing countermeasures to the tactics of the War of the Alliance. While each league wanted to maintain its own technologies and strategies (even an impending planetary conquest couldn't erase generations of trans-polar animosity), every Terra Novan understood the value of developing joint strategies and tactics for use against the CEF.
Today, old ship classifications (often centuries old) have been left behind, as both polar leagues have realized the need for versatility and combined-arms strategies in the face of an ever-widening array of possible opponents. Prewar destroyer-class ships are small landships that lack air wings or significant troop capacity, focusing instead on armor, ship-to-ship defenses, and antiship weaponry. Designed purely to directly assault other landships in one-on-one battles, the concept has lost popularity in the new schema, since such ships are extremely vulnerable to aircraft and highly mobile ground troops. Old frigate-class landships (also known as patroliers in the South) are built for speed, being designed to run quick patrol routes over vast swathes of friendly (or marginally friendly) territory. Their armament is now considered too light to effectively repel full-scale attacks, and they are insufficiently armored against penetrating hits common when fighting CEF hovertanks and more advanced opponents. Also, they lack the aircraft complement that makes the newer coursers so much more effective in combat patrol duties. Larger ship classes, no longer meant to be the center of tightly-grouped flotillas, now serve as assault leaders (known as besiegers), regional command posts (aka theater operations ships), or independent operators capable of filling virtually any role (an expansion of the old heavy cruiser role, now referred to as a ranger). Old transport landships, primarily focused on moving troops across the Badlands for putative transpolar conflicts, are now, even more than before, vessels without a purpose. Planetside, military action is now focused toward amorphous fronts against enemies dropping from orbit; for expeditionary missions, gears and armor are expected to be far more self-sufficient than they used to be. (Part of the Black Talons' mission was to develop the means for military units to travel self-sufficiently with only occasional maintenance and administrative visits to a local control landship, rather than having to be housed full-time aboard ship.)
New-generation landships do not usually need tenders or many ancillary ships, being equipped for self-resupply. Thus, even the relatively purpose-built Northern ships can operate alone for extended periods of time, sending out their trucks and aircraft for any needed parts and supplies on its route. (This was a weakness of older landship doctrine, wherein smaller landships would be reliant on a larger carrier for air transport and logistics.) That said, each landship class does have a role at which it particularly excels, and groups of varied landships operating in the same region have a greater-than-additive (if not truly multiplicative) effect on each other's effectiveness.
The Terra Novan plan for using landships offworld also requires modular construction as well as a broad mission package. It is entirely likely that a lone landship will have to serve as a base for troops in an area covering thousands of square kilometers, and the next available landship might be literally light-years away. Also, other technological advances learned from the CEF and Capricians have greatly reduced the burden of integrating disparate systems and departments aboard ship, making operating a flight deck right next to an artillery battery far easier than it once was. Air assets are now much more important as well, both because air power is less limited on other worlds than on Terra Nova, and because the latest advanced Terra Novan warplanes are far better at handling rough weather. Thus, while dedicated-function ships once served a purpose on Terra Nova, the newer landships all have some degree of multi-functionality.
Since the Interpolar War, both polar leagues have fully committed to the Dreadnought Project, a joint plan for launching large-scale military expeditions offworld. The Black Talon project was (and remains) a feeder for the Dreadnought Project, proving the concept not only of independent small-unit deployment over interstellar distances, but also of delivering extremely large cargo (e.g., preassembled ship components and mobile factory yard equipment) intact through Tannhauser gates and to a planet's surface. Though political upheavals (such as the dissolution of the Humanist Alliance) and stringent security measures resulted in several setbacks, the project has managed to stay roughly on schedule:
Stage 1: Develop and test new landship technologies in secret, using planetary data gathered during Black Talon missions to calibrate grav modules for offworld use.
Stage 2: Construct a new landship fleet, using resources from all participating nations. In the AST, this resulted in the four (and eventually, three) vassal nations being granted landship fleets of their own, along with the responsibility of defending their own lands when the CEF next invaded.
Stage 3: Landships are tested and operated under their respective national flags, publicly visible but rare; a significant portion of the new ships are held in hiding, updated and revised according to data gained from the operational ships.
Stage 4: Ready to execute. Large reserve forces remain hidden until the CEF re-invasion force is fully committed, and then implement a coordinated, planet-wide counterattack, followed by expeditionary deployments to strategic points offworld. The CEF's forces have cost Terra Nova dearly; now comes the day of reckoning.