ACE Armour, or Advanced Composite Endurance Armour, was a type of armour used by The Royal Allegiance.
The ACE Armour system was several layers of advanced materials, combining to form an incredibly resilient composite. It was used on very nearly all of the Allegiance's armoured vehicles, as well as on most aerial and spatial craft and warships, in large amounts. It was capable of surviving devastating and extended hostile fire, and was equally effective against directed energy weapons, ballistics and explosive weapons. Vehicles such as main battle tanks were armoured in thick layers of ACE armour, allowing them extended capabilities to withstand enemy fire. Warships employed a modified version to allow them superior protection when facing enemies in naval combat. Fighters and other single ships were armoured with lesser amounts, though still able to take heavy damage before exposing the craft to danger. Slower aerial vehicles such as VTOLs and transports could be either lightly or heavily armoured with ACE Armour, allowing them a mix of good speed and powerful protection. It also offered huge advantages when engaging in combat with other spacecraft. In large enough amounts, such as on warships, it could splinter MAC rounds, shrug off high explosive and armour piercing rounds and harmlessly absorb and dissipate directed energy weapons.
When used on larger vehicles such as transports, some large armoured vehicles and warships, it was often supplementary to Energy Regenerative Armour. Together the two armour systems created a near-invincible target.
The armour could also be used in infantry armour, both as rigid plates and for flexible body suits, in thin layers.
The first layer of the armour helped hold the outer armour together, and allowed some slight flexibility yet superior density to engage various threats. Resin-impregnated carbon nanotube fabric was wrapped around the composite armour to allow the best small arms protection and structural strength. Below the outer layer was the primary round defense; a single piece poured Ceramic DCP plate.
The Ceramic Plate was sandwiched between two plates of CVT (Chromium Vanadium Tungsten) and Austenitic Steel alloy. The whole assembly then underwent a triaxial-prestressing method in which the preformed, porous ceramic material was soaked in a bath of molten metal, resulting in super-dense material. As the metal cooled, the composite of three plates (one of ceramic, and two of alloy) compressed, increasing both the density and compressibility of the composite dramatically. This process worked at relatively low temperatures and therefore was more economical than most comparative methods. The resulting compound could be molded into complex shapes and offered improved protection at significantly lower weight. This by itself was rather effective but was only secondary to the ablative layers and was superseded by other armour layers beneath.
Below the outer plate were several overlapping Ceramic chevron-shaped panels. These chevrons forced any round that happened to penetrate the outer plate to then penetrate the chevrons at a much higher oblique angle than the outer plate. This increased the armour's effectiveness not only by changing the penetrator's vector, but by increasing the thickness it had to penetrate before reaching the interior and disrupting even tandem warheads and delayed timer high explosive rounds. These chevrons were suspended in an elasticised rubber-like polymer that reduced the shock to the overall plate and transferred much of the impact energy outwards, reducing the stresses on the impact plates and feeding the energy-reactive armour layers. This material also helped break up penetrating HEAT warheads and KE penetrators by causing the chevrons to move around under the force of impact, deforming it and degrading its overall performance. In addition, it provided a reliable defence against HESH rounds, which were still in utilised despite a decline in usage.
Backing the composite materials was a second composite Alloy/Ceramic plate forcing the penetrator to again punch its way through at a different vector, forcing the round to fold or break up before it can defeat the final plate. The whole composite was then sealed in a wrap of carbon nanotube fibres to absorb any remaining spall and attached to the non-modular, base armour of the Crusader's hull in sections for easy replacement.
The underlying armour was produced using a process in which sets of inexpensive, thermodynamically compatible ceramic powders (Boron Carbide and Titanium Carbide) were blended with thermoplastic polymer binders, then co-extruded to form a fibre. This fibre composite was first braided then woven into the shape of the desired component. The fabricated component was then stacked and pyrolyzed to remove the polymer binder and hot-pressed to obtain the base preformed ceramic material for final processing.
This preformed ceramic matrix was still somewhat porous, and, though it was extremely hard and rather ductile, it was still rather fragile. The preform was then soaked in a liquid metal alloy bath. The preform absorbed the liquid metal, which then reacted with the ceramic powder to form a new ceramic compound that filled in pore spaces. The result was a plate with a larger internal solid volume, but the exact same external shape and dimensions as the original preform. This method required reaction temperatures of only around 1,300°C, compared to the 2,000°C required for traditional methods to form high melting point covalently-bonded ceramics. Because the final plate maintained the shape of the original porous ceramic, the need for post-process reshaping was removed.
Following this, the material was condensed using gravitational field manipulation, achieving a 82% smaller material for the same weight. This meant that the material was much more usable and more resistant to enemy attacks. Kinetic and chemical weapons had absolutely no effect on the material. The finished composite was extremely dense, lightweight (comparable to a similar strength material) and was ductile enough to resist severe impact stress, while providing excellent thermal properties and being easy to manufacture and replace when installed in a modular system.
Afterwards, the material was softened, or in some cases (where then material was composed of few or no individual components) liquefied by ion fusers. Then, as the resulting alloy cooled, it was bombarded by charged-particle vibrating waves. This dramatically improved the bonding strength of the molecules and gave the armor incredible resiliency. This again contributed to the sheer impenetrability of ACE Armour.
Warships mounted an extra layer to allow them better survivability in spatial combat. This was a layer of Titanium carbide, impregnated with latticed neutronium filaments, a microscopic latticework of strands throughout the metal alloy. This was coupled with a layer of boron nitride, which could withstand almost any assault and protected the ship from dangerous radiation emitted from many celestial bodies, as well as the thermal energy generated from the ship’s re-entry into atmosphere. This final dual layer increased the structural integrity of the ship and allowed it to remain intact despite any heavy bombardments or gravitational forces that the ship may be exposed to. It also acted as the base armour of the vessel, its last line of defence before the hull was breached.
- ACE Armour is an example of the fabrication of super-dense materials attributed to tier one races, as described in the Forerunner Technological Tiers system.
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