Autumn-class heavy cruiser
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The Autumn-class heavy cruiser is a class of capital ship in service with the UNSC Navy, with members of this class given the hull classification symbol of CA. Manufactured by SinoViet Heavy Machinery, these heavy cruisers mostly fulfill attack or command roles within the fleet, though some also provide escort support when needed. Commissioned following the end of the Human-Covenant War to form the core of the reconstituted UNSC Navy’s task forces, the Autumn-class was designed to be the successor for the Marathon-class and the Halcyon-class, as most cruisers of those classes were destroyed or decommissioned in the war.
The name behind the Autumn-class is derived from the colloquialism for that of its lead ship, which in turn is named for the legendary Halcyon-class UNSC Pillar of Autumn. Adapting the improvements and modifications made to Pillar of Autumn for Operation: RED FLAG in 2552, the Autumn-class heavy cruiser represents a considerable leap forward in human warship design, a testament to the UNSC's modern technological prowess.
Superstructure and hull
As the first ships of the class were built on the recycled hulls of Halcyon-class light cruisers, the hull of the Autumn-class superficially resembles those of the Halcyon-class that preceded it. Additionally, a number of improvements and modifications tested on the UNSC Pillar of Autumn for Operation: RED FLAG were incorporated into the Autumn-class by SinoViet Heavy Machinery as a starting point.
The Autumn-class heavy cruiser is a well-rounded capital ship, striking a balance between mobility, armor, firepower, crew requirements, and ease of manufacturing. Much of the resiliency these cruisers' display comes from the installation of thick plates of Titanium-A armor. When the cruisers come under fire from plasma weaponry, the Titanium slabs boil off, sparing the internal structure, weapons, and crew from critical damage until it is eroded away. The Autumn-class is built with distinctive armor cowlings protecting the cruiser's powerful fusion drives, inspired from costly lessons learned by the UNSC Navy during the Insurrection. Naval architects at SinoViet have implemented shield-reinforced armor to this cruiser class. A novel variation of electromagnetic armor, the energy shielding of the Autumn-class incorporates a distributed array of small shield generators, which are both cheaper and easier to produce than the more advanced shielding technologies implemented on Covenant warships. When the outer Titanium hull is damaged, sensors within the armor trigger the nearest shield generator, creating an intense, transient energy shield effect localized solely on the point of impact.
The Autumn-class also features an advanced and extensive long-range sensory arsenal. Though most tactical systems utilized by the cruisers are similar to those installed on ships constructed in the late-Covenant War, the Autumn-class features reverse-engineered Covenant hyperscanner detectors, combined with state-of-the-art naval battle network relays located on its dorsal superstructure. Planetary survey sensors and probe launchers, mounted at the front of the ship, deploy microsatellite constellations and drones in support of orbital and ground operations.
Crew and complement
Crewed by a total of eight hundred sailors, the Autumn-class requires a crew size smaller than average for ships of its size. In addition, the cruiser maintains a complement of only forty-five Marines and two hundred-and-twenty Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Nicknamed "Hell's Waiting Room", there are six drop pod bays with the Autumn-class. The cruiser has cramped accommodations for an ODST company and their gear. As much as 216 Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicle and cargo drop pods can be deployed simultaneously from the bay racks after the armored doors are opened. These cruisers have two UNSC-standard airlock and cargo reception ports for crew and consumables transfer.
The cruiser class can swap out containerized mission modules and partition its hangar bays to focus on different objectives. One such module is the orbital assault and strike configuration, which adds docking cradles for D82-EST Darter cargo dropships and blast-shielded ammo storage for ODST and gunship munitions. Up to twelve D77 or D79 Pelican dropships are carried aboard each cruiser during missions, launching from two large hangars located on the keel of the ship. These cruisers also carry escape pods.
This cruiser class is heavily armed with a wide range of firepower. Because their various systems are continuously being improved, they feature modern long-range targeting matrices. The primary armament of the Autumn-class is a single Mark IX, Heavy Coil - 45J3D3/MAC, a state-of-the-art Magnetic Accelerator Cannon. Thirty-two ordnance pods are outfitted with M58 Archer missiles, which launch long-range general-purpose missiles in support of the MAC.
The class sports four Mark 40 Spitfire naval coilgun batteries, coilguns that have higher muzzle velocity, improved tracking speed, and better accuracy than their Mark 33 predecessors. These coilguns are armored with a new Titanium-A formulation that shaves several tons off each turret without compromising protection. These cruisers are also armed with a point defense network, consisting of six M66 Sentry autocannon turrets and six M910 Rampart point defense guns.
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