Name/Type: Hephaestus-class Walker
Designer/Manufacturer: Emmer Walkers Ltd / Contegorian Confederation
Combat Role: Modular Military Walker
Length: 12 Meters
Propulsion: 6 legs.
Speed: 105 km/h
Shield Rating: 100 SBD
Hull Rating: 250 RU
Weapons: 6 Leg-mounted Light Repeating Blasters (without Modules).
Passengers: None (up to 24 Troopers when using transport module).
Cargo Capacity: 2 Metric Tons (up to 200 Metric Tons when using transport module)
Other: Hephaestus Modules, Modular Shielding
Description: Originally designated the All Terrain Modular Platform by its Emmerian engineers, this ant-shaped walker is a synergization of the durable AT-TE with the agile MT-ST designs to produce a well-rounded walker platform capable of excelling on any number of terrains. Unlike either of its predecessors, the role of the Hephaestus is not that of a traditional personnel carrier, but as modular battlefield support platform like the earlier Mobile Defense Units. The vehicle's abdomen acts a completely independent module, capable of holding everything from troops and cargo to a variety of weapons and defensive systems to protect other Confederate forces. Because of the many roles it fulfills, the Hephaestus consequently is ubiquitious across Confederate worlds, even during times of peace.
Cost: Moderately Low
Cost: The very basic Hephaestus, without any modules, is a fairly cheap platform to build, particularly since it doesn't have much high technology or any unusually expensive components. Sharing various components with existing Confederate craft, such as the Prowler's shields, keeps maintenance and logistics costs down even more. However, this otherwise budget vehicle is somewhat offset by the costs of the modules themselves. Some of them, such as the widely used transport module, is little more than an armored shell, cost very little. Other modules, such as the theatre shield projector or the electronic warfare variant, costs many more times than the actual base Hephaestus itself.
Armor/Chassis: The basic frame of the walker is based on the standard Imperial models, with much of its internal superstructure being similar to that of the earlier AT-TE. With Emmer's introduction into the Confederation, the heavy layers of durasteel armor were quickly replaced with the more common Quadanium Carbide, a refractory Hard ceramic, favored by the Confederation. Quadanium Carbide is more lightweight than traditional metal armor, which helps with the Hephaetus's fuel economy and speed, but the armor isn't as effective against projectile weapons as typical metallic armors. Like the Ares tank, the Hephaestus uses non-energetic reactive armor. Two thin quadanium carbide plates sandwich an inert liner, usually synthetic rubber. When struck by a shaped charge's metal jet, some of the impact energy is dissipated into the inert liner layer, and the resulting high pressure causes a localized bending or bulging of the plates in the area of the impact. As the plates bulge, the point of jet impact shifts with the plate bulging, increasing the effective thickness of the armour. Because this armor does not prematurely detonate the weapon, it is safer for nearby infantry. Because of this innovation, the Hephaestus is capable of withstanding some, but not all, direct hits from missiles, shells, and similar weapons even without its shields up. Like other Confederate vehicles, the Hephaestus is a fully sealed environment with its own air supply, which allows the vehicle to operate in vacuum, toxic atmospheres, or even underwater.
Shields: In order to cut down on costs and ease maintenance, the Hephaestus reuses the same shield generator systems found on the S16 Prowler and other Confederate ground vehicles. While not unsubstantial for an armored transport, this does give the walker half the sheilding as battle tanks slightly smaller than it. The designers originally did not consider shielding to be a significant problem because the Hephaestus is not designed to face such tanks head on and was originally viewed as being more a combat support unit. Nevertheless, some Hephaestus do find themselves fairly close to the front lines, where they end up relying on the walker's unusual maneuverability, good planning, and average armor to survive encounters with their heavier enemies.
Propulsion: Moderately High
Propulsion: While the chassis of the Hephaestus is based on the AT-TE, its propulsion systems are actually based on earlier Imperial experiments with its mountain terrain walkers, with the propulsion sysem occupies the thorax of the vehicle, along with its fuel and power supply. Its six legs are double jointed affairs that allow the vehicle to efficiently scurry across terrain like an ant or beetle, where is thick-armored legs are capable of brushing and pushing away most natural obstacles the walker encounters.
Weapons: The only default weapons of the Hephaestus are a set of light repeating blasters mounted on the apex of each of the walker's legs controlled by the walker's droid brains. These weapons are used to primarily to attack significantly smaller targets, such as enemy infantry, smaller unarmored vehicles, missiles, battle droids, etc. This leaves the default Hephaestus rather vulnerable to other fighting vehicles. The Hephaestus's designers did not consider it to be a problem as they always envisioned it working with other craft, particularly as their AT-MP concept firmly placed the vehicle in a combat support role; one which many Confederate commanders are relunctant to embrace.
Modular Secondary Shields: As Confederates place a high value on adaptability and maintaining their forces, the designers of the Hephaestus at the last minute incorporated a similar modular shield system as the Dhothil starfighter into the design. This second set of shields is situated behind the crew compartment with its own dedicated power supply. Like the Dhothils, the secondary shields are meant to supplement, not replace, the man shields by providing a focused defense against certain types of attacks. The walker's secondary shields can be focused, dispersed, and otherwise manipulated by the commander or one of the droid brains as needed.
Photon Scattering Field: This module produces photons and hi-jacks naturally occurring particles of this nature to form and hold them in a field surrounding the vehicle, just overlaying the walker’s standard shielding. When this shield is hit by ion and EMP weaponry hit the field, the photon particles interfere and collide with the energized particles, ions, and other radiation, thereby reducing or annulling the effects of those weapons on the vehicle itself. This module is heavily used when facing Reavers because of the Confederation's prospensity for using area-wide electromagnetic attacks.
Anticoncussion Field Generator: Widely used on Confederate naval vessels, the Anticoncussion field on the Hephaestus is not as powerful, nor does it cost nearly the proportional of energy as used on the Confederate vessels either. The generator creates an umbrella-shaped magnetic field around the walker that absorbs and disperses kinetic energy from oncoming projectiles, much like ray shields work against laser cannons. Like ray shields, the magnetic field eventually will fall under sustained enemy fire.
Heat Dissipation Field: This module creates a complex maze of particles that interlock with the walker’s shields, but also jut in and out of them. When a thermal attack collides with the walker’s shields, this maze of particles acts like a superconductive radiator which uniformly disperses the heat or cold evenly all across the surface area of the walker’s shields; thereby reducing the effects of such weapons. It is commonly used to protect against laser cannons and other like weaponry, or to provide the craft with additional protection for unusually hot environments, such as volcanic worlds or against enemies known for using thermal attacks, such as flamethrowers and some plasma weapons.
Hephaestus Modules: The rear section of the Hephaestus is designed to accept various modules much like the Mobile Defense Units used by the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire during the early stages of the Galactic Civil War. This allows the Hephaestus to fulfill a variety of roles as needed, from anything from a basic personnel transport or tank-like munitions launcher platform to a mobile theatre shield generator or a combat engineering vehicle. This wide diversity has made the Hephaestus the most popular and widespread Confederate armored vehicle in use.
Anti-Air: The main feature of the anti-air module is a turret with a pair of fire-linked CCA RX-9 Medium Laser cannons augmented by a pair of Krupx MG-3 Proton torpedo launchers. Typically, the MG-3s are equipped with advanced concussion or flechette missiles to destroy enemy aircraft at range, while the laser cannons are used at closer ranges to down low-flying aircraft or oncoming missiles. To prevent aircraft from targetting the air defense Hephaestus itself, the module comes with a decoy beam based off of the Imperial model to prevent aircraft from specifically targeting it. Below the turret and its gunner, the rest of the module holds spare ammunition as well as the bulk of the sensor equipment and a sensors operator, who aid in targeting/selecting enemy aircraft for the gunner to fire upon. While not designed for ground attack use, sometimes Anti-Air Hephaestus are pressed into service to attack lightly armored opponents or ranks of infantry.
Artillery: The artillery module contains a semi-automated proton cannon and links it with modern sensors including an omniprobe for improved fire control. The proton cannon is actually CIS surplus from the Clone Wars found on various Confederate worlds and reproduced on the old Techno Union world of Metalorn. It is a powerful, single shot design capable of destroying a LAAT gunship in one hit and previously has been capable of destroying ships up to the Acclamator-class when used in a battery. Aside from the the typical modern fire control systems, this old cannon is linked to an omniprobe. An omniprobe sensor beam is magnetically keyed to the local gravitational field(s) to “hug” the ground with its scan. While this ensures that the sensor can pick out targets otherwise hidden by terrain features, it also misses targets that float over two meters from the ground, such as high performance repulsor craft. This limits the artillery module's use against many mobile targets, but makes it well-suited to finding and bombarding fortified or static locations.
Command/communications: This module turns the Hephaestus into a miniature command post with a central holo-projector, extensive communication array, and several wireless data terminals. It is typically only advanced and large enough to handle the tactical and logistical flow of at company or smaller level of military elements. Like the Tréville-class Cruiser, the module uses a smaller version of the Erebus array for its communications, using its own highly-encrypted comm signals to jam other comm signals present. While only a single Erebus array present is likely to foul up personal comlinks in an immediate area, multiple Hephaestus' with the module acting in concert can blanket an area to jam almost all wireless communications.
Electronic Warfare: This module contains a Miradyne 4-x Phantom sensor jammer, famous for its use on the A-wing, a sensor blind, and a communication's interceptor. The sensor jammer blatantly distorts sensor signals in the area by flooding the area with false readings. While it is exceptionally easy to detect such jamming, it usually takes a while for opposing sensors to properly cut through the jamming to accurately discover what the jamming is hiding. The sensor blind takes an opposite approach. Instead of attempting to overpower opposing sensors by overwhelming them with additional signals, the sensor blind co-opts any sensor scans it detects into the area and adds subtle additional signals to disguise the true nature of what it's hiding as something more natural to the environment. For example, a platoon of infantrymen would still show up as organic life, but would instead appear to be various wildlife. In a more urban area, several large Confederate vehicles might appear to be civilian speeder trucks according to distant scans. It's important to note that the blind only works at a distance and does nothing to visually disguise them. Additionally, the environment typically is the deciding factor if the blind's attempt is successful. It's fairly easy to disguise where there are a lot of objects present giving off other readings, such as animals in a forest or normal life in a city. However, in the middle of desert wasteland, there typically isn't much to scan or confuse it for. The sensor blind typically is not effective in those types of environments. The communication's interceptor is a long-range comm scanner combined with a decryption programming for listening in on enemy commuciations and data feeds.
Engineer: This module contains semi-automated machinery, such as a plasma beamdrill and cutting saws, and droids (including a 11-87) to build rough structures, and clear obstacles such as mines. Hephaestus using this module are typically used to hastily throw up fortifications such as earthen trenches or clear areas such as thick forests for rough roads and starship landing sites. Occasionally, the Engineer is used in a more offensive role to lay down landmines or to help demolish existing structures. Sometimes work begun by Engineer Hephaestuses are further refined for more permanent use later on by dedicated construction crews and equipment.
Medical: This module turns the Hephaestus into a level 2 critical care platform (much like a mobile ER), complete with a small bacta tank, 2-1B droid, and beds for up to eight patients. Typically the medical module is only successful in stabilizing critical patients or fully treating more minor injuries. Once a more critical patient is stabilized, the patient is moved to dedicated care facilities for their full recovery, such as a physical therapy facility or an intensive care unit in a full-fledged hospital. Medical Hephaestuses are also commonly used as field ambulances.
Munitions Launcher: This module, designed by a group from Metalorn, gives the Hephaestus six energized shell projectile launchers, like those on the old AAT, mounted in ball mounts forming a vertical line around the upper half of the Hephaestus's thorax. Various shells fired by the projectile launchers include high explosive bunker-busters, armor piercing shells, and high-energy anti-vehicle/anti-infantry shells. Walkers equipped with this module tend to be used very similiarly to medium tanks used in other armors. This Hephaestus variant is capable of carrying a mixed load of up to 110 shells, but it isn't uncommon to see such walkers backed up by a transport Hephaestus carrying even more shells for resupply.
Repair: This module is an adaptation of the module of the same name on the Alliance's MDU. The embedded repair droid is used to fix vehicles, battle droids, and other Confederation equipment as needed. Several repair droids, including the automated repair droid used on the original MDU model, as well as LE-series repair droids, provide the labor and skills to keep the Confederation's vehicles running. Rather than lugging around a supply of various parts that may or may not be used for any number of items, the module contains a nano-vat to precisely manufacture spare parts as needed. Typically, if a Hephaestus is assigned to support a particular unit, it will often manufacture commonly needed spare parts ahead of time and store them until they get used.
Scout: This module adds a copy of the Neuro-Saav 9954/I sensor array and a sensor mask to the vehicle to turn it into a forward scout. The Neuro-Saav sensor array provides highly detailed information about the environment, with its scans even capable of reaching low orbit. This is linked to a basic fire control computer to provide targetting information for other Confederate forces. The sensor mask hides the vehicle from enemy observation by using a series of electro-magnetic and holograph transmitters to seamlessly blend the vehicle into its environment.
Mobile Shield Generator: This module consists of a smaller hypermatter generator powering a top-mounted copy of the Merr-Sonn Guardian-class shield generator. This allows the Hephaestus to project a shutter-type deflector shield that can adjusted to either increase or decrease its field (and correspondingly decrease and increase its shield strength) in order to provide extra protection to the area nearby, typically from long-range artillery strikes, orbital bombardment, or air strikes. As with all deflector shields, the area shielded by the module disrupts energy sensors like DERs, albeit units under the umbrella of the shield can still be identified and targetted visually. As with the original Guardian-class shield generator, this light capital-grade shield generator requires two more additional crewmen to effectively operate it.
Transport: This module turns the central pod of the Hephaestus into a heavily armored room with collapsible benches on the sides of the wall. Up to twenty people with their personal equipment can be comfortably transported like this at time. Alternatively, the Hephaestus can fit up to 200 metric tons of cargo in its hold if no passengers are being carried. Occasionally, the transport module is used to transport various combinations of passengers and cargo, but this is rarely done because it typically is discomfortable to the passengers and its harder for them to escape the vehicle in something happens to it.
Peacetime Role: Modular Support Vehicle
In times of peace, Hephaestus fulfill a variety of roles as needed depending on what module it is equipped with. It's not uncommon to see Hephaestus's outfitted with transport modules crawling around mining shafts transporting ore to processing refineries, or even to see them used a government shuttle vehicles, especially on Emmer. Hephaestus's outfitted with the medical module are commonly used as regular ambulances on many of the poorer Confederate worlds, or even as supplemental units on larger ones for MASCAL situations. Engineer Hephaestus's are commonly used for various infrastructure projects, whether it be building bridges or laying down pipes.