History and Development
The Imperial Planetary Forces of the Aquarian Terran Imperial States inherited many of the developments of the United Aquarian Systems' Federal Planetary Forces during the transition to the Imperial Era in 4404 A.D. Among these developments, was a CTM Shield-based Active Protection System for ground-based combat vehicles that had been in development with the UAS's Military Research Institute from a project originally started by the Old Federation as far back as ~circa 3900 A.D. The project called for the standardisation of Crystalline Tetra-Matrix based shield generator systems to be installed on ground vehicles as an Active Protection System, complementing the vehicle's standard armour protection.
Due to technological constraints at the time of the Project in the Old Federal Era, it was suspended indefinitely; compounded by the restrictions on resources available at dawn of the Radacri Wars at the turn of the 5th millennium. The largest limitation at the time was the inability to miniaturise CTM shield modulators down to a size acceptable to most vehicle chassis, along with secondary concerns about power requirements and their own size and mass limitations. While large starships had no problem powering CTM shielding systems due to their inherent size and capacity for enormous HBCF Reactor and Capacitor Arrays, vehicles had no such luxury.
The UAS's MRI made progress with the project until the dissolution in 4404 A.D, when the assets were turned over to the newly established Imperial Planetary Forces Department for Research and Development (DRD). Due to the rapid advancement of technologies across Aquarius, in part due to the lifting of Old Federal (Carried over to the New Federal Era) restrictions on certain experimental technology; major strides in technology miniaturisation and power efficiency were made during the early 46th century. Such advancements also included the development of a vehicle-mountable Gravimetric Gyro which would eventually allow the use of Gravity Repulsion-propelled drones and vehicles.
Despite major advancements in allowing CTM Shield modulators to be scaled down in size and mass to allow installation in a vehicle form-factor, there were still major concerns to be overcome. Power requirements remained a major concern, along with the inability for a CTM shield 'bubble' to be sustained in permanent interaction with the solid ground below the vehicle. While Gravity Repulsor vehicles allowed some tolerance with forming complete CTM shield bubbles, the inability to achieve very low ground clearance and poor obstacle avoidance ability (physical contact with the CTM shield bubble would cause rapid energy drain from the modulator capacitor resulting in collapse, for example, if the bubble was in contact with the terrain under the vehicle).
It became clear that full-bubble shielding systems were unviable based on available CTM shielding technology for ground vehicles. Instead, the system was adapted for use as an Active Protection System (APS) component for ground vehicles whereby a series of directed modulators positioned around the vehicle could project a "Pulsed" CTM bubble in the path of detected incoming projectiles, deflecting or destroying them entirely.
The system requires the use of Active Sensors to detect and recognise incoming threats in order to be effective, as the modulators must be aligned in the direction of the incoming projectile to form the bubble in the appropriate location. As such, the CVPCAPS units are directly linked to the Combat Vehicle's standard internal Battlefield Awareness System, which includes an Enhanced Logic Interface (ELI) with limited AI sub-routines for dynamic threat assessment and decision making without user input, or based on a series of pre-configured parameters set by the Field Commander or Vehicle Commander.
CVPCAPS is installed on almost all direct-contact (front-line) combat vehicles employed by the Imperial Planetary forces, including the AAV/T-4405 'Ogre' Main Battle Tank and AIV/IT-4406 'Minotaur' Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
Technicalities of Operation
CVPCAPS unit direct power requirements remained high enough that current vehicle-based Hydrogen-Helium Direct Fusion Turbine engines were unable to provide enough power for continued operation of the system. As such, the system requires the installation of a large PISC (Polarytically Infused Super Capacitor) within the vehicle's power array in order to store the large amounts of electrical energy required to power the modulators.
In this configuration, the PISC battery charges from the vehicle's engine output while there are no active threats, storing enough charge for approximately 100~ interceptions on a vehicle platform such as the Ogre MBT (though it depends on the capacity of the installed PISC unit). During combat, the Battlefield Awareness System intelligently identifies threat vectors (hostile vehicles, incoming projectiles, etc) and can made decisions based on a variety of sensors and pre-configured parameters in order to decide whether to deploy the system, dynamically.
Such parameters include baseline protection level; which defines when the CVPCAPS is deployed; for example, the threshold is defined by the levels of the Vehicle's armour protection. Vehicles with Dynamic Armour Packages include a parameter that will only engage the CVPCAPS if the BAS predicts the incoming threat will completely defeat the DAP and perforate the vehicle's hull; otherwise it will ignore threats that would be defeated by the DAP or hull, in order to conserve power in the PISC for more dangerous threats.
Alternatively, the commander can disable the CVPCAPS system entirely, or configure it to intercept all perceived threats, regardless of their priority; however this is rarely used as small-arms are easily defeated by basic hull plating, and as such would waste PISC charge.
CVPCAPS is directed by turreted sensor platforms with modulator outputs positioned around the vehicle for maximum coverage. On most ACV platforms, these optics also form the core sensory inputs for the vehicle's BAS. The sensor pods include Active and Passive sensors such as a Multi-Spectrum Electromagnetic Sensor and directed MLADAR array. The MSES component operates with an extremely high resolution to detect essentially any energy (this includes visible light). The BAS relies on a mixture of reactionary subroutines to pre-programmed conditions (for example a radiation burst) and Image-Recognition dynamic analysis (A.I Component "sees" incoming missile or muzzle flash from a hostile vehicle (i.e, one that is not registered as friendly or neutral on the Battlenet)).
The modulator projectors must then swivel into position within a 180 degree arc of the incoming projectile to deploy a pulsed CTM wave/bubble in the direction of the projectile. The width of the wave/bubble is wide enough to cover most of the 180 degrees of the projector's viewpoint, so multiple threats could be intercepted with a single burst, and the projector need not wait to swivel directly facing the incoming threat in time sensitive interceptions. Vehicles such as the T-4405 Ogre MBT have enough projectors so that in default configuration, all 360 degrees (including top-attack vectors) are covered at all times with no actuation time required for interceptions.
The modulator creates a small CTM bubble in a rapidly expanding and unstable field projected outwards towards the projectile. The Polarytic Crystals in the bubble rapidly decay without a sustained magnetic field to keep them aligned, so the bubble collapses a fraction of second after it forms; however this, combined with the relatively high velocity of outward projection, allows sufficient time for the interception of most incoming projectiles. Upon contact with the CTM bubble, projectiles experience kinetic energy release similar to hitting a physical object which in turn detonates most contact-fused projectiles. Time fuse projectiles are deflected sufficiently to avoid direct impacts with the vehicle. Kinetic penetrators deform substantially, and while some KP projectiles may continue toward the vehicle while the bubble collapses, the penetration power of the deformed projectile is significantly diminished so that the vehicle's DAP would easily defeat it.
Directed Energy Weapons such as lasers or magnetically excited plasma weapons experience dissipation as their energy contacts the CTM bubble, rendering laser-based weapons useless as their thermal energy rapidly decays after refraction, and plasma-based weapons have diminished effect due to the collapse of the magnetic field forming the projectile and the subsequent premature release of the thermal energy within.
Usage, Deployment and future Development
CVPCAPS is standardised across the Imperial Planetary Forces' combat vehicle inventory and is considered an essential component of ACVs' dynamic protection systems. The system has seen active use during the IPF's Eridonia Task Force deployment in the Ruins of Eridonia, where it has proved effective in defeating a variety of older Old-Federation era weapons, including shoulder-fired Anti-Tank weapons, and even direct fire from the 150mm FIMD cannon on older T-502 Walrus tanks salvaged by raider groups.
During the brief engagement between Imperial Marine Corps (IMC) units equipped with ACVs utilising CVPCAPS, and Tyandirric ground forces on Helia-1 in 4501 A.D, the system proved able to defeat some directed plasma weapons used by the alien forces, though some larger projectiles were disrupted, not defeated. In any case, the disruption was enough to allow the vehicle's DAP to defeat the projectile and there were numerous reports of IMC Armoured Combat Vehicles receiving multiple hits from alien ground units without sustaining any critical damage.
The IPF's DRD is currently developing an upgrade package for the CVPCAPS technology based on feedback from IMC units on Helia-1, with emphasis on protection from the plasma-based weapons used by Tyandirric aliens. After the alien defeat on Helia-1, many alien wreckages with intact weapons were recovered allowing DRD engineers to ascertain their functionality, and as such, tune the CVPCAPS units to better protect against them.