Missile Attack Laser Defense (MALD) drones were at one point converted mining drones that had missile pods attached and which used their mining lasers as weapons to fight the enemy with. However that was only the first generation of drones, the second were purpose built with smarter AI designed to safely herd other drones around, these drones were not yet well developed enough to be used in an offensive manner. Now into the third generation the drones are well known technology defense of asterid mining stations and habitats, the MALD-3a, and configured for carrier based operations, the MALD-3c. A third model was planned but the need for a drone capable of independent operation was never noted and it was never developed past the prototype phase.
All information listed here is based on information gained at the testing and based on simulations of the ship under many conditions that have yet to be tested in reality.
Mass and Size
The MALD-3 series drone is a flat toped cylinder twenty meters in length with a diameter of six meters at its widest end and four meters at its narowest end. It uses a though it uses a thinner skin than even one layer of capital scale armor and uses weight saving measures the craft still weigh in at 4,000 tons, fuel only, model a weighs 4,046 tons loaded and model c weighs 4,092 tons loaded.
Power Plant & Fuel
The MALD-3 drone series is powered by a minature matter/anti-matter (A/AM) reactor located at the drones center of mass and protected by an armored shell. This reactor is a three meter sphere and designed to power only the craft's engines. Each is rated to burn sustain a reaction at a combined total of one-fifth of a gram of of deuterium and anti-deuterium per second. Such a reaction theoretically produces 9E16J of energy, but in reality only 50% of that energy is produced and captured. The poor efficiency is due to the reactor only being able to process some of the neutrinos that large systems capture and create power from.
Fuel is stored two tanks each molder around the reactor. Each tank has a volume of 19.4m^3. They all store the fuel by means of compressing it in a crushing field of artaficial gravity that allows for fuel to be stored at five-hundred kilograms per cubic meter.
Sublight Engines and Manuevering
The MALD-3 drone series is accellerated by a rear mounted set of four engines arranged in a square shape. These engines are all of the VASIMR type. Each engine cluster is rated to draw the full output of the reactor or 9e12 W. The highest rated acceleration of the ship is 500,000m/s^2 this is less than the theoretically maximum accelleration of over 2 million m/s^2. However this allows the craft more endurance at full burn allowing it to burn it's engines at that rate for a full forty seconds. It also mounts a smaller forward engine equal in size to a single rear engine as the engines never burn at their theoretical maximum rate this engine is enough to slow the crafte down swiftly.
Maneuvering sixty-four thrusters the ship can turn end to end in a tenth of a second, this is often used to bring the lasers to bear or to add even more speed to a launcher missile via centrifugal force
MALD-3 drones have no faster than light engines.
The MALD-3 series of drones has two main sensor nodes a third away from the main engines of the craft. Another third of the way down the ship in the forward end another group of four equally spacednodes can be found. The main nodes have many sensors including radar, LIDAR, visual detection, ECM, ECCM, and a specialized faster than light sensor suite (the workings of which are classified at this time) all are run by a powerful strategic computer. The smaller nodes have less powerful versions of all systems.
The MALD-3a series of drones are mainly armed with lasers having four missile bays replaced by forward firing lasers and four limited traverse lasers mounted just fore of the secondary sensor nodes. Each laser is powered by a high capacity capacitor storing 2.092e13 J of power but each laser is only rated at 4.184e12 W (1 kiloton) these lasers are thus able to release five seconds worth of power. This places a drones maximum laser output at 8 kilotons per second.
The missiles are where these drones find a real offensive punch and each drone carries four such missiles. Each missile is 6.5m long with a diameter of 0.5m, they have a bulge just under two-thirds of the way from the rear, this bulge where the capacitor is held. Each missile weighs 500kg and most of that is due to the fuel used to power them. These missiles are propelled by a capacitor powered VASIMR engine that uses Xenon gas as a propellent, the capacitor is the same as the one used to power the drone's lasers. The warhead carried is a 50kg matter antimatter charge with these fuels being stored at a density of five-hundred kilograms per cubic meter. When triggered the energy released is captured by a system not unlike that used to power starships and used to pump a single use solid state laser that puts out an estimated 2.7e18 J (647 MT) of energy. The main weakness of these missiles is that they have vey weak sensors and unless synched to a firing ship they have a low range.
The MALD-3c series is much the same as the MALD-3a series, but instead of four extra lasers it carries a full load of eight missiles.
The MALD-3 series has a many layed system of defenses starting with the passive ECM and ECCM systems, then into active ECM and ECCM systems, and last is the ships armored hull.
ECM and ECCM
These systems include things such as the stealth coating on the ships hull, heatsinks, anti-spoofing systems, radar chirping, frequency hoping, sidelobe blanking, polarization, radar homing, and many other systems not the least of which is a pair of AI hacking brains that attempt to exploit exposed networks in other vessels while keeping the ship itself safe.
The hull is protected by a combination of super dense hull plating layered over explosive reactive panels against another dense plate that rests against a layer of gel. Each layer when taken as a whole is known to be a half meter thick. The outer layer on a undamaged ship also has a stealth coating designed to absorb radar and LIDAR. Each ship has a single layer of armor.