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Foam Armour Trading/Coherent Weapons Systems

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue.

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Foam Armour Trading Ltd.

Foam Armour Trading (CEO Christine Dubois-Gilbert) is a Solomani company headquartered on Tarsus , Capella subsector, Solomani Rim. Wholly owned by the Dubois-Gilbert family, its main business focus is on personal armour, fire suppression systems and, most recently, laser weapons, range finders and designators via its subsidiary, Coherent Weapon Systems. Foam Armour Trading acquired Coherent Weapon Systems in a multi-million credit deal in order to diversify its product range – or as Christine Dubois-Gilbert herself put it; “We needed to get into the small arms market and so now we are in Coherent”.

Formed less than fifty years ago as DGDC (Dubois-Gilbert Damage Control) Systems, the company initially made fire and blast suppression systems for starship fuel tanks, computers and other sensitive ship systems but a chance discovery that the foamed composite shields used for blast mitigation had very good protective qualities with respect to shaped charge (HEAP) projectiles led the company to investigate their use in personal armour – the resulting Ablative/Flak armour has been a small but reasonably profitable product selling mainly to mercenary, planetary defence and militia units.

Ablative/Flak armour

A shaped charge has the peculiar property of penetrating further through high density materials (e.g. steel armour plate) than through low density media (e.g. air or diesel fuel1) so a low density, foamed material could be made highly resistant to small (10 – 20mm) HEAP rounds such as those fired from Snub Pistols. It also had the secondary property of ablating when hit by laser fire although the resultant “blooming” was less pronounced than with a specialised Ablat Armour suit. Within three years a new armour material comprising thick (up to 4cm) plates of foamed composite had been developed and tested. The new material, although providing good protection against small HEAP rounds and lasers, had very little effect on regular bullets and gauss needle rounds were hardly affected at all and so the Solomani authorities could see little use for the new armour unless this could be remedied. Further research added extremely hard carbon/ceramic nano-tubes to the composite matrix and an inner layer of ballistic cloth, similar to a vehicles spall liner, added further protection. The new carbon/ceramic matrix had the effect of abrading and deflecting incoming bullets causing them to yaw and the resulting shearing forces would usually cause the bullet to fragment or, in the case of needle bullets, snap in half greatly reducing their penetration.

Official testing of the new armour was generally positive. The protective qualities exceeded standard ballistic cloth whilst offering ablative protection against lasers. Combat Armour and Battledress both provided superior protection but at many times the price. The main drawbacks noted were the degradation of protection following repeated HE, HEAT and Laser strikes and the extreme bulkiness of the armour itself. The low density plates and ballistic cloth under-suit weighed no more than a standard Combat Environment Suit but the material was thick and bulky. An example made by the testing board was that standard infantry rifles could not be shouldered properly as the length of pull (the distance from the butt to the pistol grip) was effectively increased by the thickness of the armour plate over the wearers shoulder. In other words the pistol grip was suddenly 4cm further away than it should have been. Since the standard infantry ACR and Gauss rifles used a bullpup configuration where the length of pull could not be altered significantly, the Testing Board would not recommend the armour for general adoption. They did, however, make their findings public and on the back of the results Foam Armour Trading decided to launch the armour commercially. Although not an immediate success, the new Ablative/Flak armour has been a steady seller to mercenary units and planetary defence units in the Capella subsector.

In game terms treat Ablative/Flak armour as ABLAT or CLOTH -1, whichever is better. Apply an additional -1 against HE/HEAP ammunition. HEAT, HE and Laser fire degrades the armour in the same way that ABLAT is degraded by laser fire. These modifiers apply to ALL subsequent weapon strikes not just HE, HEAT and Laser fire. The armour cannot be sealed from the environment and cannot be combined with any other armour except Reflec. Costs Cr 700 but is only readily available in the Capella subsector.

Coherent Weapon Systems

Originally a government weapons research establishment on Tarsus until sold off in a major privatisation drive in order to attract off-world investment, Coherent Weapon Systems is a small, Tech Level 12 producer of infantry and vehicle laser systems with a product portfolio ranging from laser pointers for small unit commanders to vehicle mounted rangefinders and target designators. It is best known, at least within Solomani space, for its highly innovative laser sniping systems and its compact laser carbine/designator.

CWS Mk8(LE) Laser Sniping System

Developed for law enforcement use (hence the LE designation) the Mk 8 is built from five main sections; laser tube, power system, sighting system and the massive two part forged alloy chassis which serves as a both frame and heat sink. The laser tube is folded once in order to keep the overall length down to 80cm and forms, along with the forward chassis, the bulk of the forward part of the weapon. The electronic sighting system is split between the objective lens and CCD unit mounted co-axially with the laser tube and the output display and transmission unit mounted on the main chassis. The power system comprising the superconductor pack and recharge unit is mounted to the aft section of the main chassis and, in conjunction with its high impact composite cover, forms the stock of the weapon. The main chassis has fittings for standard tripod, bipod and vehicle mountings but is usually issued with a bipod.

The weapon has an output of 5kj and fires a 5mm diameter beam. This is bigger than a standard laser rifle and results in somewhat lower armour penetration (energy per square millimetre of beam cross sectional area is less) but conversely greater damage to the human (or alien) body. The laser tube is mounted on the forward chassis which acts as a heat sink2 as well as providing a rigid mounting for the laser and its associated sighting system. The sighting system is a low-light capable 3 to 10 times zoom unit and uses a charge coupled device (CCD) and a mirror, lens and shutter system similar to a Single Lens Reflex camera. The upshot of this is that the sight, when aligned correctly, is centred exactly where the beam will strike. At the moment of firing the sighting mirror and lens are mechanically moved from before the laser output port for the fraction of a second that the laser pulse lasts. The main problem with the system is that the mechanical action must be perfectly aligned with the laser output and each firing operation tends to move the sighting lens and mirror ever so slightly out of alignment. The number of shots taken before the misalignment becomes too great for reasonable use varies but, if treated correctly and not subjected to shocks, as many as 50 shots can be fired before dispersion exceeds 0.05 milliradians3. Realignment of the sighting system requires specialist tools and a qualified armourer and is not something that can be performed in the field. The entire laser tube, forward chassis and sighting system can be raised on a pantograph system 50cm above the main chassis. To do this a bipod or tripod must be fitted in order to keep the weapon stable. This feature allows the operator to stay in full defilade and still view the target through the sighting system. The sight output is via a small, hooded eye-piece with a high definition, full colour screen. The weapon status data and the sight reticle is injected into the sight picture (several variations are possible from cross-hairs to rings or mil-dot types) and as befits a weapon designed for law enforcement use, the sight picture can be transmitted via a secure link to the officer in command. The secure link can also be used to make the weapon safe remotely so an officer cannot shoot until the officer in command authorises use of lethal force.

The main chassis houses the superconductor pack which stores enough energy for 10 shots. An external battery pack (50 shots) can be attached and this recharges the supercharger pack although at a slower rate than the internal pack can be emptied. The external pack can be rechargeable or disposable with the disposable pack being significantly lighter. The composite housing that covers the superconductor pack and sight output unit also features the weapons pistol grip and trigger/switch unit. The housing is supplied with multiple butt spacers, cheek pieces and grip plates allowing the user to customise the fit to his or her liking.

Range Modifiers: CWS Mk 8 (LE) Laser Sniping System
Close Short Medium Long Very Long Damage
N/A -6 -1 +4 +2 5d6+3


Armour Modifiers: CWS Mk 8 (LE) Laser Sniping System
None Jack Mesh Cloth Ablat Reflec Combat
+4 +4 +2 +1 -8 -9 -8


Type Cost Mass Notes
Mk 8 (LE) Laser Rifle 5000cr 6500g Includes data link
Power pack 2000cr 9600g 50 shot rechargeable
Battery Pack 250cr 2500g 50 shot disposable

Both battery packs recharge the internal superconductor pack at a rate of one shot per two rounds.

CWS Mk 8 (Mil) Laser Sniping System

The Mk 8 (Mil) is the military version of the Mk 8 (LE) Sniper System. Although the basic chassis and lasing subsystems are identical, the military system deletes the fragile and easily misaligned sighting system in favour of an integrated, co-axial electronic sight and marked target detector placed 10mm above the laser output port. The secure data link is also deleted in favour of a military specification interface port that can be use shielded cable or low power wireless connections to a standard military radio, laser or satellite communicator allowing real-time video to be streamed to section, platoon, company or higher level commanders. In addition, the lasing apparatus is modified to allow it to be used as a target designator and range finder which when combined with satellite or inertial navigation systems can provide highly accurate targeting data to artillery units, aircraft or ships in orbit. The Mk8 (Mil) system is also fitted with a holographic red-dot type site for short range use although the weapon is not well suited for close combat. As with the Law Enforcement model, the Military weapon comes with a bipod as standard, has fittings for tripod and vehicle mounting and retains the pantograph system for raising the laser allowing the shooter to remain under cover. In the Military version there is a system fitted which will instantly retract the pantograph upon firing if required making it more difficult for enemy units to spot the now hot laser tube and heat sink. The composite cover over the superconductor pack and sight electronics is the same as the Law Enforcement model as are the external power packs.

Range Modifiers: CWS Mk 8 (Mil) Laser Sniping System
  Close Short Medium Long Very Long Damage
Holographic sight -6 - +2 +2 -2 6d6
Optical Sight N/A -6 -1 +3 +2 6d6


Armour Modifiers: CWS Mk 8 (Mil) Laser Sniping System
None Jack Mesh Cloth Ablat Reflec Combat
+4 +4 +2 +1 -8 -9 -8


Type Cost Mass Notes
Mk 8 (Mil) Laser Rifle 4500cr 5800g Includes data link
Power pack 2000cr 9600g 50 shot rechargeable
Battery Pack 250cr 2500g 50 shot disposable

CWS Mk11 Compact Laser Designator

The Mk11 is a laser carbine/designator most notable for its short length and use of an internal ten shot superconductive storage unit which is recharged from removable, disposable batteries instead of a rechargeable power pack. Using a laser tube that is folded to give an overall length of only 65cm, the Mk11 fires 3 kilojoule pulses from a 5mm aperture. Compared to a standard laser carbine the Mk11 is heavier, less capable of penetrating armour but more damaging to living creatures. Like the Mk8 (MIL), the Mk11 is aimed via an integral electronic sight which also serves as a marked target seeker and the receiver unit when the weapon is used as a range finder. The main sight is augmented by a holographic red-dot unit for close range use. Unlike many laser weapons the compact nature of the Mk11 means it has some utility in close combat although its slow recharge rate means it is only really useful as a self-defence weapon. The weapon is fitted with a vertical fore grip that can be folded out to form a light bipod for long range shots or when the weapon is being used to designate targets for laser guided munitions.

Range Modifiers: CWS Mk 11 Compact Laser Designator
Close Short Medium Long Very Long Damage
-2 +1 +2 +2 +1 4d6+3


Armour Modifiers: CWS Mk 11 Compact Laser Designator
None Jack Mesh Cloth Ablat Reflec Combat
+3 +3 +2 +1 -8 -9 -8


Type Cost Mass Notes
Mk 11 Laser Carbine 3100cr 5150g Includes data link
Power pack 25cr 350g 10 shot disposable

The power pack can recharge the built in superconductor pack at the rate of 1 shot every 2 rounds.

These weapons was designed using BTRCs “Guns, guns, guns” third edition (3G3) supplement – http://www.btrc.net/3g3 - with some tweaks courtesy of Traveller Book 8 (for communicator weights) and educated guesswork.


  1. Though most people believe diesel is flammable, it isn’t under normal circumstances, which is why some tanks (the original Merkava springs to mind) used fuel tanks as an integral part of their protection scheme against HEAT warheads.
  2. Laser efficiency is around 33%, so for each 5Kj shot over 10Kj of heat must be dissipated—which sounds like a lot, but over 897j is required to raise the temperature of 1kg of aluminium by 1C
  3. This equates to a 5cm circle at 1000m range.