The constant battling between PAEN Systems, MoA-MRAD & Stalker Dynamics for national defence contracts and even more importantly, precious RARCom developed tech, has for the most part been beneficial to the Praetorian states military procurement, however, this has led to a lack of innovation, with these companies looking to compete conventionally, rather than asymmetrically. For this reason, replacement of sub-cpaital vessels has been held back for the better part of several years (Vanguard Class frigates date back to 2011, the unmodified hull to 2010).
Finally progress was made with Stalker Dynamics development of the Dragoon
Interceptor. Below the modern Frigate classification, this vessel showcased RARComs Inertial Polarisation technology, which allows for the remote excitation of haggis bosons, essentially increasing the friction coefficient of space, stopping larger ships dead, and putting the brakes on nimbler craft.
This new vessel drew the attention of MoI, who wanted the technology scaled up. The requirements for this new vessel were hefty, it needed to have increased range on the IP, as well as multi-target capability. It needed to match the speed and agility of smaller vessels while maintaining a Destroyer profile. MoI needed compatability with there NullSig stealth technology, but also wanted to keep the low observability stealth to allow for better sig tanking, and pair it with long range intense passive scanning equipment, equivalent to those possessed on RARComs Universaerium Infinite. As a final request, MoI wanted 120 day endurance for the vessel.
The apex stealth predator MoI was after was deemed impossible, the number of techs simply too many to fit onto a hull. It was only when RARCom suggested the groups should, shockingly, work together, did the vessel begin to come together.
Enter the Apex
, a Hunter Killer built for long range stealth tracking and ensnaring. The hull maintains low observability stealth, with active jamming making the vessel invisible to standard ship scanners, before NullSig kicks, effectively removing any trace of an Apexes presence. To keep the vessel manueverable, Stalker implemented a vectoring primary engine, more radical than designs seen before, for a vessel of its size, it can effectively pull off fighter level manoeuvres with twtichy responsiveness.
PAEN produced the weapons systems necessary. The vessel was deemed too fast to allow any turret based weapons to effectively track there targets, instead, PAEN mounted a set of 6 fixed pulse lasers on the front, serving as the sole offensive weapon system. To meet the endurance requirements necessary, MoA produced its most advanced automation systems, rolling out its latest self maintenance and repair systems. It's crew just 25 compared to the smaller Deathstalkers 70.
The success of the full uncut Black-Operations variant of the hull will never be known. More than likely these vessels will, like MoI's other vessels never be anything more than a momentary blip on a short range scanner. However, like the Deathstalker before it, and the Megalodon before that, these vessels will serve in a cut down stealthless form under FleetCom.
[N.B. Very sleep deprived when I wrote this, sorry for my shocking lack of a grasp of the English language]