Saleza Aeronautics is a small independent design bureau specialising in military assault craft. It is currently best known for its Orion series of ships, which are seeing service with a number of governments and private security organisations.
Saleza Aeronautics first made its name during the Corporate Wars. Supplying the belligerent states with cheap but serviceable combat vessels, Saleza gained invaluable experience in materials and engine technology, using each battle as a proving ground for its latest designs. With the onset of peace, the company invested its considerable profits into weapons development, and over time the company grew into a fully-integrated design and manufacturing concern specialising in assault and defence vessels.
This unique history has made the company a particular favourite amongst private security organisations, who tend to avoid the larger manufacturers because of their close affiliations with GalCop.
The Orion Series
Through its experience of interplanetary conflict, Saleza had identified a clear need for a series of dedicated planetary assault craft. Despite being equipped with all the latest space-capable combat vessels, the warring factions frequently found themselves in a stalemate because of a lack of atmosphere-capable combat ships. Hastily-modified shuttles and transports, sent without escort the surface as landing craft, fell prey to modern planetary defence networks, resulting in the loss of hundreds of troops and thousands of tons of equipment. In a bid to break the impasse the corporations attempted to modify some of their existing ships for full atmospheric, in-gravity flight, but all attempts were unsuccessful. Saleza Aeronatics, having been squeezed out of the conventional market by larger competitors, spotted the window and offered its solution.
The Rigel is an assault vessel designed to operate against space stations, large cruisers and planetary defences. Its wide, flattened body is designed to present a small cross-section to incoming fire while providing adequate capacity for missiles and shield boosters. The Rigel was originally intended to be fitted with a pair of uprated heavy mining lasers optimised for penetration against armour and embedded surface targets. However, this approach did not deliver the desired rate of fire, even with the use of the latest heat sink technology, and so the production version is equipped with a standard military laser armament.
Although possessing good speed and manoeuvrability for a ship of its size, during combat operations the Rigel is usually deployed with an escort of Saiph Interceptors. This allows the Rigel to focus on its close-support role and avoid being distracted by enemy fighters.
The Saiph is a super-agile fighter-interceptor developed in parallel with the Rigel. Built around a large fuel-injecting engine unit, the Saiph relies on speed and manoeuvrability for defence, its small size preventing the installation of the kind of energy units and shield enhancements usually found in military ships. The Saiph’s unusual control surfaces serve to provide stability during atmospheric flight, while in space they are used to deflect thrust from retro-rockets to further increase the ship’s agility.
Despite being developed as a fleet combat craft, ex-service models are occasionally seen in private hands, where they have become an attractive option for wealthy bounty hunters. Saleza frowns upon the use of any of their ships for acts of piracy or murder, and rumours abound that the company will pay handsome rewards for any information about the misuse of their intellectual property in this way.
The Bellatrix is a heavy cruiser designed to act as a command and control vessel, spearheading battle fleets in large-scale assault operations. Its flying wing design offers maximises the ship's internal stores capacity while at the same time minimises its fronal cross-section, making the Bellatrix a difficult target for enemy defences. The main armament is a slow-repeating heavy disruptor laser capable of destroying planetary targets from positions within the upper atmosphere; in space the weapon is used against stations and enemy cruisers. The upper-rear fuselage is fitted with a turret mounted plasma cannon, which can by used to break up enermy formations and act as a last line of defence against incoming missiles.
A typical Bellatrix battle group consists of the cruiser itself, two Rigel bombers and an advanced fighter sweep of four Saiph interceptors. Such groups are currently in service with a number of high-tech Corporate States, where they are used by the security forces to patrol the outer reaches of GalCop-controlled space.
Rumours persist that a fourth ship in the Orion class, the Betelgeuse, is in development; however this has consistently been denied by Saleza’s press officers, and the role that such an additional ship would have is unclear. However, the company has confirmed that it is currently working on a set of next-generation munitions, with a test programme involving large laydown bombs and stand-off missiles already under way.
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