Plasma torpedo

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Weapon first employed by the Romulan bird of prey in 2266 against a string of Federation outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone.2 The plasma torpedo consisted of a small but powerful force field generator which fired from a standard torpedo tube. The generator would then establish a very powerful force field around itself and a much larger concentric field with a radius of about one hundred metres. The parent vessel established a field bridge through this outer layer and vented its plasma conduit system into the empty shell between the two fields. The breach was then sealed, and the vessel would break away and let the torpedo continue on its way. A high power sensor on the central body was capable of locking onto the target, and by venting part of the plasma in a specific direction some degree of control could be established over the course of the plasma torpedo.
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[[Image:PlasmaTorp.jpg|thumb|right|The Romulans launch their glowing blob of death.]]A '''plasma torpedo''' is a short-ranged, high-yield weapon used by the [[Romulan Star Empire]] in the 23rd century. First seen in the [[TOS]] episode "Balance of Terror", these weapons were extremely effective against [[Federation]] [[starbase]]s along the [[Romulan Neutral Zone|Neutral Zone]].
  
This was a very complex and cumbersome weapons system with many disadvantages - venting the main plasma system of the starship causes an almost total loss of power while firing. The ship must therefore drop to sublight speed, and whilst firing the cloaking device must be disengaged.2 The guidance system is extremely limited by the difficulties inherent in operating any sensor system through a high energy plasma field, and any degree of manoeuvring causes a significant drop in eventual yield. Because of these difficulties the plasma torpedo has therefore not been very successful when used against mobile targets such as Starships.
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==Quote==
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"We're a mile deep on an asteroid. Almost solid iron. And even through our deflectors, it did this." <br />
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--Commander of Federation Neutral Zone Outpost 4
  
Fixed installations, on the other hand, are a different matter. The plasma torpedo essentially focuses the entire energy output of a starship into one colossal discharge; when used against a Federation asteroid based outpost a single plasma torpedo collapsed the shields and caused near total destruction of the installation even through several kilometres of solid rock. This level of destructiveness was not available with any other weapons system of the time.
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==Nature==
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During a briefing following the initial attacks on Neutral Zone outposts, Spock described what was known about the Romulan weapon.  According to [[Starfleet]] researchers, the weapon was an "enveloping plasma" that caused its targets to implode. One plasma torpedo was sufficient to destroy the shields and weapons of a Federation outpost, and a second torpedo shattered the asteroid on which the outpost was built.  One torpedo also damaged the fully-shielded ''[[Enterprise]]'', even though much of the torpedo's energy had dissipated due to range.  The weapon's power is certainly impressive: the destruction of a nickel-iron asteroid of at least two miles diameter could easily require hundreds of megatons of energy,<ref>Estimated using the [http://stardestroyer.net/Resources/Calculators/AsteroidDestruction.html SDN Asteroid Destruction Calculator] for a 3200m diameter nickel-iron asteroid.</ref> which would certainly be an achievable energy yield for a space-faring civilization.<ref>[[Trektard]]s, however, often inflate this estimate to '''gigatons''', for no substantial reason.</ref>
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Even though it is capable of overtaking a [[Constitution-class|''Constitution''-class]] starship in full retreat, a plasma torpedo has a relatively limited range. Only [[cloaking device|cloaking]] technology enabled the [[Romulan Bird of Prey|Romulan ship]] to get into effective range of its targets.  As noted above, a plasma torpedo lost so much energy pursuing the fleeing ''Enterprise'' that when it finally struck, it no longer had enough energy to destroy the target.
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[[Lieutenant]] [[Hikaru Sulu|Sulu]] believed that a single [[phaser]] shot would be sufficient to detonate a plasma torpedo prematurely.  He did not actually get to test his idea, however, since his ship's phasers were off line at the time.
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==Obsolescence==
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The Romulans stopped using plasma torpedoes on their starships after a technology exchange with the Klingons.  In the 24th century, Romulan ships carry [[disruptor]]s and [[photon torpedo|photon torpedoes]].  The range limitations and high energy consumption of plasma torpedoes may have lead to their being replaced.  The ''Enterprise'' was also able to survive hits from plasma torpedoes in "The Deadly Years", indicating that Federation engineers had made some progress in improving shield performance against them.
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Plasma torpedoes continued to be used to protect ground installations and on [[orbital defense platform]]s. It is unknown if these weapons are identical to the TOS-era torpedo or a derivative design.
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==Notes==
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<references />
  
Today the plasma torpedo is still in service with the Romulan Warbird as a heavy weapon for use against fixed installations.
 
  
 
[[Category: Star Trek]]
 
[[Category: Star Trek]]
 
[[Category: ST Starship Offense]]
 
[[Category: ST Starship Offense]]
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[[Category: ST Technology]]

Latest revision as of 14:54, 24 September 2009

The Romulans launch their glowing blob of death.
A plasma torpedo is a short-ranged, high-yield weapon used by the Romulan Star Empire in the 23rd century. First seen in the TOS episode "Balance of Terror", these weapons were extremely effective against Federation starbases along the Neutral Zone.

Contents

Quote

"We're a mile deep on an asteroid. Almost solid iron. And even through our deflectors, it did this."
--Commander of Federation Neutral Zone Outpost 4

Nature

During a briefing following the initial attacks on Neutral Zone outposts, Spock described what was known about the Romulan weapon. According to Starfleet researchers, the weapon was an "enveloping plasma" that caused its targets to implode. One plasma torpedo was sufficient to destroy the shields and weapons of a Federation outpost, and a second torpedo shattered the asteroid on which the outpost was built. One torpedo also damaged the fully-shielded Enterprise, even though much of the torpedo's energy had dissipated due to range. The weapon's power is certainly impressive: the destruction of a nickel-iron asteroid of at least two miles diameter could easily require hundreds of megatons of energy,[1] which would certainly be an achievable energy yield for a space-faring civilization.[2]

Even though it is capable of overtaking a Constitution-class starship in full retreat, a plasma torpedo has a relatively limited range. Only cloaking technology enabled the Romulan ship to get into effective range of its targets. As noted above, a plasma torpedo lost so much energy pursuing the fleeing Enterprise that when it finally struck, it no longer had enough energy to destroy the target.

Lieutenant Sulu believed that a single phaser shot would be sufficient to detonate a plasma torpedo prematurely. He did not actually get to test his idea, however, since his ship's phasers were off line at the time.

Obsolescence

The Romulans stopped using plasma torpedoes on their starships after a technology exchange with the Klingons. In the 24th century, Romulan ships carry disruptors and photon torpedoes. The range limitations and high energy consumption of plasma torpedoes may have lead to their being replaced. The Enterprise was also able to survive hits from plasma torpedoes in "The Deadly Years", indicating that Federation engineers had made some progress in improving shield performance against them.

Plasma torpedoes continued to be used to protect ground installations and on orbital defense platforms. It is unknown if these weapons are identical to the TOS-era torpedo or a derivative design.

Notes

  1. Estimated using the SDN Asteroid Destruction Calculator for a 3200m diameter nickel-iron asteroid.
  2. Trektards, however, often inflate this estimate to gigatons, for no substantial reason.
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