Torpedo launcher is a common term for any weapons system that deploys projectiles such as torpedoes and Probes. Such systems have been employed by the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and the United Federation of Planets.
Torpedo launchers became standard armament on many United Earth vessels in the late twenty-first century. The first torpedo launchers originally fired spatial-based weapons. Since that time, they have been continually developed and upgraded in their capabilities for greater use.
Launcher systems of the twenty-fourth century typically combine something similar to a light gas gun and a mass driver. There is a gas pressure chamber with launch-assist gas generators and an electromagnetic accelerator. The launcher tube is also strung with sequential field induction coils which give a hand-off warp field to the probes and torpedoes that are powered by internal warp sustainer engines. This allows the torpedo to achieve a faster warp speed than the ship when traveling at warp.
Classification by Type
Bolt-on Torpedo Cannon
The Bolt-on Torpedo Cannon was originally designed as part of the New Orleans-class project in an attempt to create a new torpedo launching mechanism which consumed a minimum amount of the vessel's internal volume by completely removing the launchers from within the hull. Prototypes of this launcher system were simply modified versions of those systems being designed for the Galaxy-class and Nebula-class starships. They were made up of bulky loading and launching mechanisms including multiple tubes through which torpedo fire could be rotated. This had the effect of increasing the New Orleans' immediate rate of fire rather than its overall rate of fire and was intended as a means of unleashing the greatest amount of firepower as quickly as possible.
Launcher systems of this type were updated in the late 2360s, making use of newer technologies to improve loading and launching mechanism while reducing its physical size by nearly thirty percent. This allowed for the installation of an upgraded targeting system and an advanced, short-range tactical sensor system, aiding in the launch and control of a high number of torpedoes. Overall rate-of-fire per cannon is approximately eighty percent that of the Burst-Fire Torpedo Launcher employed by the Galaxy-class.
Burst-Fire Torpedo Launcher
The Burst-Fire Torpedo Launcher allows for more than one torpedo to be launched simultaneously. Since it's inception, four sub-types have been developed for use aboard various starships and installations.
- Type 1
- The Type 1 model was originally designed for use aboard Ambassador-class starships as well as various starbases and other installations. It is capable of loading and firing a cluster of four torpedoes every 2.85 seconds.
- Type 2
- The Type 2 model was originally designed for larger starships such as refitted Ambassador-class vessels. It is capable of loading and firing up to eight torpedoes every five seconds.
- Type 3
- The Type 3 model was originally designed for use aboard Galaxy-class and Nebula-class starships. It is capable of loading and firing up to ten torpedoes every five seconds, a twenty-five percent increase over the Type 2.
- Type 4
- The Type 4 model is the most powerful Burst-Fire launching system currently in service within the Federation and is found aboard vessels such as the Sovereign-class and Legacy-class designs. It is capable of loading and firing up to twelve torpedoes every five seconds.
Pulse-Fire Torpedo Launcher
The Pulse-Fire Torpedo Launcher was originally developed as part of the Akira-class design project in an attempt to deploy a modified version of the Burst-Fire Torpedo Launcher. The loading and pre-fire stages can hold up to four torpedoes simultaneously while the launch tube itself is only able to fire one torpedo at a time. Pulse-Fire launch systems fire four rounds in one second, pauses for three seconds to reload with the next four torpedoes, then resumes firing.
Rapid-Fire Quantum Torpedo Turret
The Rapid-Fire Quantum Torpedo Turret is the most powerful projectile launcher currently in service within the Federation and can be found aboard vessels such as the Sovereign-class and Legacy-class designs. It is capable of firing a volley of four Quantum Torpedos every second.
The Micro-Torpedo Launcher is a system developed to arm auxiliary craft such as runabouts, shuttlecraft, and starfighters. It is capable of firing a compact torpedo with a much smaller warhead than the standard models. Starfleet's official designation for this system is the Mark IX Micro-Launcher.
Photonic Missile Launcher
The Photonic Missile Launcher is the primary firing mechanism for Photonic Missiles, a type of starship-mounted projectile weapon utilized by the Borg. It is considered to be less advanced than Micro-Torpedo Launchers due to the advanced targeting and associated equipment carried by the missiles themselves.
Launching systems of this type were included in armament of the original Delta Flyer as well as its successor, the Delta Flyer II. Assistance from the crew of the USS Voyager allowed Starfleet engineers to continue incorporating such technology into the Delta Flyer-class runabouts following Voyager's return from the Delta Quadrant.