Excalibur (エクスカリバー Ekusukaribā) was a chemical laser weapon constructed by the Belkan Federation. Part of Project Pendragon, it was designed as a long range, anti-missile defense system. During the Belkan War, it was used as an anti-aircraft defense system with some success until it was destroyed on May 23, 1995.
In 1981, during the Cold War, Belka initiated a Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program intended to protect it from missile attacks in the event of a foreign invasion. Envisioned as a symbol of the country's strength, Excalibur was developed by the South Belka Munitions Factory in the following years jointly with Project Pendragon and the XB-0 Hresvelgr gunship.The development of the weapon began in December 17 of 1989 in the South Belkan region of Tauberg, when construction crews started to clear the site of overgrowth in order to build the concrete foundation for Excalibur. Initially, there were no restrictions for the entry of civilians, but a riot by armed wildlife conservationists in May of 1990 caused the military to declare it as a restricted area.
Erection of the weapon's cooling systems, sources and RTLS defense units took place in early 1990. The cooling towers were nearly complete by October 8, while the creation of ground facilities began two days later. In that month, the RTLS and secondary systems were declared to be ready for limited testing. The construction of the main tower began in 1991, but was delayed until June of 1993 by technological difficulties.In August 9 of 1993, Excalibur was proclaimed by its makers to be complete, with all RTLS and secondary systems said to be prepared for operations. The following year, the entire site was reviewed by a team of scientists and engineers, who affirmed that Excalibur was fully operational in July 18th. After being trained elsewhere, the personnel responsible for manning the weapon were transported via aircraft, while minor components underwent final refinements.
The early history of Excalibur was followed closely by photographer Claus Bauer, who shot various images of its construction from 1989 to 1994. A collection of his materials was released in Belka in September 1995 under the title of "Untitled Photographs".
The first wartime deployment of the weapon took place during the Allied siege of the Hydrian Line on May 17, where it destroyed an squadron of Ustio aircraft operating over Glatisant. The incident, witnessed by Larry Foulke of the Galm Team, was investigated by the Ustio military after the battle's conclusion. Days later, the weapon openly attacked Allied aircraft during the assault on the Schayne Plains, where it destroyed a flight of cargo jets and killed several pilots. Despite being its main target, Foulke and Cipher evaded its onslaught and escaped Schaye with their lives.
Excalibur was discovered by the Allied in May 23, when a strike team composed of Galm, the Crow Team and an airborne tanker launched an attack on Tauberg. The pilots overcame the local forces defending the weapon and disabled it after an intense battle, where it lost its optical projector. Having been rendered defenseless, Cipher struck the tower as it tipped sideways, causing it to split in half, destroying the entire main structure in the following collapse.
DesignMeasuring a kilometer tall, the Excalibur tower was built on a cross-shaped foundation surrounded by four cooling towers with heat vents. The weapon was powered by an underground reactor connected to four overground electric generators, which in turn were fed by a series of solar panels built around it.
The weapon fired through an optical amplifier on its radome, which emitted a total energy output of 1.21 gigawatts. After finding a target, Excalibur would undergo a brief charging sequence before generating a large laser beam from the radome, which could rapidly swivel on a vertical axis, but not sideways, limiting its ability to engage targets in close range. Were it to lose its external generators, the solar panels would continue feeding the main reactor, albeit lengthening its charging process.
For attacking long range targets, Excalibur was assisted by an array of satellites with reflective mirrors in the atmosphere, which it could use to redirect its beams; the mirrors gave it a theoretical range of 1,200 kilometers, equal to Stonehenge. The facility was surrounded by an underground railway network housing RTLS artillery designed to engage attacking aircraft.
- Excalibur was named after the mythical sword wielded by King Arthur in European mythology. The basis is emphasized at the end of the mission "Sword of Annihilation", where an allied pilot describes Cipher as having "pulled the sword from the stone", in reference to the "sword in the stone" myth.
- However, Excalibur and the sword in the stone were not necessarily one and the same in ancient folklore. An exception occurred in Robert de Morlon's Merlin, where the sword is described as being Excalibur, which can only be removed by the "true heir" of Uther Pendragon, Project Pendragon's namesake.
- The Arthurian motif is reinforced by Excalibur visually resembling a sword, with the radome and tip being the hilt and the rest of the body being the blade.
- When viewed from above, the tower and its solar panels form a radiation warning symbol.
- It is the first known superweapon to have been developed in the Strangereal continuity.
- Excalibur's energy output of 1.21 gigawatts is likely a reference to the Back to the Future film series, where it is the amount of energy required for the DeLorean time machine to achieve time travel.
- If the radome of Excalibur is hit with either ADF aircraft's Tactical Laser System, the weapon as a whole will instantly shatter in half. This may be due, canon-wise, to the feedback of a concentrated TLS beam back into the weapon resulting in an enormous overload, a scenario it was never designed for.
- Excalibur may have been inspired by the real life Project Excalibur . Part of the Strategic Defence Initiative, Project Excalibur was a nuclear defence concept in which several X-Ray laser arrays can be built around the United States and can be used as a directed energy weapon for ICBM defence during the Cold War.