Updated: Jun 6, 2021
As of the middle of the 45th century, the Aquarian Imperial Navy's heavy strike capability still relied in the thousand-cycle old Endeavour-class hull design, albeit taken to its ultimate incarnation by the Imperial Navy as the ED-class Pattern 7. Despite the success of the class, the Imperial Admiralty expressed a requirement for a new class of Battlecruiser, of comparable size and role to the ED-class, but making use of the significant advances in weapons and systems technology available in modern Aquarius. Such upgrades could not be easily fitted to the aging Endeavour-class hull, and would require an entirely new hull design to achieve the specific balance of mass, firepower and defence that the Admiralty expressly requested.
By 4440 A.D, significant development resources were invested for a new Battlecruiser, no larger than the ED-class at just under one and a half kilometres, and no heavier at under 1.3 megatons, but was required to be significantly faster and required full integration with the Fleet's highly capable SPARTAN-E Missile System. This presented a challenge for Imperial Engineers, as Admiralty was very specific with a lofty Hypercruise target velocity of 3000 KM/s to be achievable, for a warship of such mass, it was an impossibility using existing Helium-fusion Reactive Drive technology. As such, the development program put forward data from an Imperial Institute for Naval Research (INR) project for a 'Hybrid Reactionless Gravimetric Drive technology' that was eventually finalised using breakthroughs made developing the Gravimetric Gyro for the smaller UT-class utility ships, itself having a form of Reactionless Gravimetric Drive system. Due to to the high-velocity cruise target of 3000 KM/s, the RE-II class possesses a bow-mounted counter-thrust system of the same design as the primary drive array, and allows for more effective and faster deacceleration from impulse or hyper cruise. While forward counter-thrust systems are commonplace on Aquarian warships, the size and power of the RE-II's bow thrusters are disproportionately large relative to other warships of this size, a result of the higher hypercruising speed. The final warship's mass exceeded the target reduction, at just under a megaton, and allowed for upgrade packages to be developed.
The development project also had to facilitate the new design's capability to contain an entirely internally housed SPARTAN-E Missile System with multiple launch points for ELR/BVH warfare and ISBM deployment. This presented a challenge due to the large size of the SPARTAN projectile and its ancillary systems; which were often mounted externally on existing classes such as the RV-class Fleet Cruisers and RT-class Dreadnoughts. The requirement for an internally housed SPARTAN System arised from the reduction in external 'clutter', which was intended to significantly reduce the new warship's MLADAR signature, along with a more centralised centre of mass for higher cruise stability.
Imperial Engineers were given free reign to develop the new superstructure to accommodate the strict requirements, and the result of the development project was the RE-II-class Battlecruiser prototype.
Some trade-offs were necessary for the extensive internal SPARTAN System; the RE-II-class's armour is significantly lighter than the heavier ED-class Battlecruiser, as increased thickness was unacceptable to the mass-budget and cruise speed requirements. Advancements in Nanopolymer alloy composition improved integrity by a small but noteworthy amount with superior bonding technologies during assembly and fusion; along with the standardised sloping hull panels for higher effective thickness at certain angles. The result is, though having nearly 50% lower armour mass, the new RE-II-class battlecruiser is of comparable protection along the main belt, but sacrifices protection on the secondary and tertiary belts. Given the vessel's emphasis on speed and firepower, it was considered an acceptable compromise.
The new Hybrid Reactionless Gravimetric Drive package combines an immensely powerful drive-oriented Gravimetric Gyro with improved Helium-plasma recyclers from the primary powerplant, directing vented exhaust gasses into gravity fields in a similar manner to thrust-vectoring for higher mobility. Furthermore, the gravimetric drive component is essential as a stabiliser during hyper cruise to avoid catastrophic inertial stress on the lighter hull design.
The primary turreted armament of the new RE-II class is also much lighter than the ED-class it compliments, with only four primary A-type hardpoints, down from seven on the ED-class. The secondary armament is also reduced from 11 B-type hardpoints to 8, clustered around the midships control mast. The standard equipment for both armaments remains the same, with only minor upgrades to the IMPAC Batteries and HAL2 Laser Cannons. Furthermore, the Tertiary PDS/CIWS grid is reduced to 12 hardpoints from 21, but includes compatibility with the new 'Neutraliser' CIWS; which is significantly improved from the 'Clusterfire' deployed on existing ED-class warships. Despite a reduction in the primary turreted armament (itself due to mass restrictions), the primary advantage of the RE-II-class is the fully integrated SPARTAN-E Vertial / Lateral Launch System; with an impressive 72 individual launch tubes, fully compatible with the 'Program E' upgrade package for the SPARTAN LRMS. This configuration is unparalleled in the Fleet, and also includes as standard the 4th Generation Launch System with greatly improved FCS and Extreme Long Range Target Acquisition and Tracking.
The 4th Generation (SPARTAN-4) Fire Control System is housed in the Command Tower and incorporates some of the most advanced and capable electronic warfare and sensor systems currently available to the Imperial Navy. As such, the RE-II-class Battlecruiser is tooled for Extreme Long Range warfare, with extremely capable sensor systems to compliment one of the most powerful stand-off range weapon capability in the fleet, second only to the long-rage directed firepower of the mighty RT- (Pattern 2) Dreadnought with is dual A+ IMPAC Artillery Main Battery.
In addition to the SPARTAN-E/4 System, the RE-II is also the first warship to utilise the Imperial Navy's new, B-type turreted VIPER Missile System, the plans of which were acquired by the EPF during development, resulting in their own iteration, the Archer Missile Turret. The VIPER missile systems occupy specialised B-type hardpoints on the port and starboard sides of the stern, and provide effective anti-cruiser capability without deploying strategic SPARTAN Missiles, VIPER was intended to replace the Hornet S/M/L system, but Imperial Naval Analysts suggested a complimentary role until a hull-mounted launching system was developed. Due to the fact that the RE-II lacks any form of Hornet S/M/L capability, the VIPER Missile Turrets essentially fill that role of in-system, short to medium range anti-ship capability without committing the SPARTAN.
The RE-II-class Battlecruiser's official designation with the Imperial Fleet Register is 'Revenge-II', and she is the second class to carry that name, after the pre-fall Old Federation Revenge-class Battleship. The RE-II-class is being prototyped as of 4452 A.D and full-scale assembly and deployment of production variants are expected to commence by 4460 A.D, with full fleet readiness by 4465 A.D. The Imperial Navy has requested two dozen vessels, to be split evenly between the Tempest Sector Fleet and the Angel Sector Fleet, each getting twelve warships as part of a new re-armament initiative following the fleet review after the Varal-Sol Gate incident in 4447 A.D.