Geth Ringship class combat vessel
One of the results of a rapid research program by the Geth Consensus during their Emergence Phase into advanced technology, the Ringship was an impressive piece of lateral thought created specifically as a high efficiency, primarily defensive, weapons system. The Geth leveraged their own technological knowledge, innovative new thinking techniques, and data retrieved from the famous Tralket incident via surreptitious surveillance of their Creators. Fortunately unable to reverse engineer WIMP theory from first principles, they rapidly realized that to duplicate a gamma laser of the magnitude of the one used on that occasion was impossible. However, they concluded that an exact duplication was unnecessary for their purposes, which were threefold:Protect their Creators, the Quarians, as despite the conflict now known as the Morning War, they still considered them a parent figure and bore them no malice. Attract the attention of what they termed at the time the 'Unknown Faction' as they wished to enter into a dialog, but they had so little information of this group that they were working with excessive caution to avoid a provocative encounter. While achieving both the above, avoid alerting the planium-tech species to their actions and far more advanced weapon technology to prevent the inevitable arms race they predicted would be the end result.
Point (1) was achieved to great success. Geth Ringships were produced in sufficient quantities to shadow the vast majority of Quarian long range missions and interdicted significant numbers of hostile actors during their operation. Due not only to the unique design of the craft, which was based initially on a popular fictional entertainment series to give plausible deniability of Geth origin and provide a suitably 'alien' ship class, but to the results of significant and groundbreaking research into active camouflage stealth systems, they were successful in almost every case in disguising their origin.
It is unnecessary to explicate here on the ultimate outcome of point (2). Vast amounts of data are easily available on this subject and the reader is directed to that for more details.
Point (3) was successfully achieved although with caveats, as while none of the planium-tech species managed to come to the correct conclusion at the time, the disappearance of so many illegal actors caused significant upset in various governmental areas. The end results of that are still in play to this date.
Later analysis of the Ringship design by Commonwealth scientists showed that the Geth had come up with a system that was in many ways a logical outgrowth of technology that many species used, and had used, for a very long time. For reasons that are still debated, no evidence has ever turned up to suggest any prior art showing such a design was even contemplated by the many species who used planium-tech, although in theory it could have been done by a significant number of them. The design was also informed by a deep knowledge of the weaknesses of planium-generated 'kinetic barriers' as it was specifically designed not only to produce an effect as closely replicating the outcome of a high output gamma laser strike on the common hull designs used at the time, but to actively turn the barrier system against itself.
It achieved both with great effectiveness and is a testament to how innovative the Consensus could be when they had sufficient motivation.
In principal the design was fairly straightforward; It consisted of three concentric circular assemblies, the eponymous 'rings,' which were each arranged with pivot points perpendicular to each other. This allowed them to be rotated into a single plane for normal travel, reducing the cross-sectional area enormously, but enabled them to also swing out to form a three dimensional shape with each ring at up to right angles to the others. Conventional and planium superluminal drives along with Geth program support computational systems were in a heavily armored and self-contained module suspended inside the inner ring.
Each ring assembly consisted of three parts; an inner 'loading' section which consisted of multiple high capacity ammunition storage areas, transfer equipment, sensory hardware, power supplies, and associated systems; an intermediate 'storage' ring which would accept ammunition from the loading ring and cycle it up to approximately 80 percent of the final firing velocity, to act as a live store of nearly ready to fire rounds; and an outer 'firing' ring which brought the rounds up to full speed and contained the output apertures and guidance systems to allow final firing to be achieved. The firing ring could be loaded directly from the storage ring even while in operation, while the storage ring itself could be resupplied by the loading rig sufficiently quickly to allow continuous fire until all ammunition stores were depleted. Each ship carried more than half a million rounds per ring so in practice there was little likelihood of ammunition depletion before target depletion occurred.
Power was provided by triply redundant anti-proton annihilation reactors backed by high voltage hypercapacitor banks to allow the highest possible acceleration from rest of the ammunition. Each ring generator was self sufficient, but could also power all three rings if required.
The outer ring had a full three hundred and sixty degree firing arc in its plane, while the inner rings could fire in two or four arcs filling up to eight five percent of this depending on elevation relative to the outer ring and each other. The mechanical structure of the ring gimbals would obviously be responsible for the maximum figure specified. The rings could be tilted and the entire ship moved in all three axes to align the ring cannons to the targets.
Each ring could engage up to thirty two targets simultaneously, giving the capability of firing in one barrage at ninety six targets if they were suitably positioned. This was thought to be a good compromise between effectiveness of fire and ammunition supply although the design would allow for either larger or smaller numbers of outputs in subsequent craft. As each ring could rapidly reorient, within two seconds to cover a ninety degree sub-arc, this in practical terms allowed the weapon to engage a near-unlimited number of targets within a time too short for most organic intelligences to compensate for. It additionally allowed anti-missile and kinetic round counterfire to be used as a defense, which combined with the Ringship's highly advanced sensory systems made them very hard to defeat as long as their ammunition supply held out.
The ring cannon itself was basically a very large extremely powerful cyclotron heavily dependent on the mass-altering effect of energized planium for stable and safe operation. By using very low mass (~10 grams) spherical projectiles, and a far more efficient version of the same general method used in planium-tech mass accelerators, the ring cannon could 'spin up' a large number of rounds to just over eighty percent of c and keep them there for some time. As stated above, this was done in two stages to allow for continuous feed and mid-battle ammunition changes. Each round at the point of firing represented approximately 6.338e14 joules of kinetic energy, close to four times that of the vastly higher mass but much slower round from a typical large Citadel dreadnought-class spinal cannon.
As the ring cannon can fire at an ultimate repetition rate equal to the transit velocity of the rounds in the outer ring past the relevant firing aperture, the entire load can be released if required in a matter of milliseconds at any given target. The end result of even inert rounds on any kinetic barrier ship ever fielded is catastrophic. The barrier generators normally overloaded on the first hit, often dropping entirely before the third impact, leaving the hull completely unprotected for all subsequent shots. Normal practice was bursts of between one and two hundred rounds per target, released at one millisecond intervals, to simulate the damage caused by a powerful gamma laser.
To further this effect, the Geth designed an inertially-detonated pure fusion round consisting of a thin shell containing a highly compressed payload of lithium deuteride. At near-relativistic impact velocities the payload would immediately fuse, releasing 1.118e14 joules of energy from the reaction. While massively outclassed by the kinetic energy of the round itself, a significant amount of this yield was in fast neutrons, with much of the rest as high energy x-rays and gamma rays. This irradiated the target so much that the radiation alone would typically account for at least thirty percent of fatalities, although the destruction of the kinetic bombardment seldom if ever failed to complete the task.
A point of interest is that such a round will in fact operate quite satisfactorily if fired from a traditional mass accelerator cannon, but at the much lower velocities produced by these systems, detonation is highly unlikely to occur unless impact is against a kinetic barrier due to overpenetration and subsequently extended deceleration times. The round is in almost all cases shattered rather than successfully detonated. The effect of the kinetic barrier in producing an effectively instantaneous deceleration is required for successful fusion. Because of the ability of the high radiation flux and thermal output to easily penetrate the kinetic barrier even if the kinetic energy itself fails to, resulting in a near-guaranteed mission kill of the target if not outright destruction, this raises the question as to why none of the planium species known had ever fielded one up to that point. Research is ongoing into this subject at the time of publication but to date no answer has been accepted as definitive.
Visually the impact of a Ringship barrage does look surprisingly similar to a high powered gamma laser strike, although there is far more light output. Crucially though it appears completely unlike any normal kinetic round impact, and succeeded in masking the technology for the duration of the operation.
Due to the high fractional-c velocity of the rounds, evasion was essentially impossible, even if the target detected the incoming fire before impact. As planium-tech craft did not possess superluminal sensor systems, the only practical limitation preventing a one shot kill capability of any vessel within detectable range was the ability to predict the motion of the target sufficiently accurately to ensure a successful strike. The normal operational procedure was to fire at a distance of between two and three light seconds, which was comfortably outside the range of the bulk of long range sensory systems available to the Batarian forces, and indeed almost all others, but close enough that the transit time between Ringship and target was too small to effect accurate motion prediction and compensation. One hit kill probability under ideal circumstances approached very closely to one hundred percent, while extreme range operation on multiple targets from the least effective perpendicular relative motion reduced to no less than eighty six percent in all operations combined. Secondary shots invariably resulted in successful target destruction in such cases.
For further technical details, refer to chapter 8.
From 'An Analysis of Emergence Period Geth Consensus Technology, third edition, Science Council Publications, Hivehom, 6986'