Starship Weapons are those massive weapons designed to work in the vast reaches of outer space against other starships with their incredibly potent defences. The most common types of starship weapons are Weapons Batteries, Lances, and Torpedoes.
"Weapons battery" is a generic name for the Plasma Batteries, Laser Cannons, Rail Guns, and Missile Launchers that make up the vast majority of spaceborne weapons and can be fired in a multitude of ways, from one concentrated blast to a pattern determined by the captain. Nearly all warships are well-armed with gun ports and weapon housings for weapons batteries. While the weapons batteries of many different factions like Chaos and the Tau have a similar end effect to those employed by the Imperium, several of the starfaring races use weapons batteries that are significantly different from the norm.
- In addition to their usual weapons batteries (or "gunz"), many Ork starships are also armed with so-called "heavy gunz" that deal immense damage at short range.
- The Tyranids' equivalent of weapons batteries fire bursts of caustic pyro-acid that will melt through the hulls and innards of any ship it hits.
The idea behind lances is simple: use an ultra-heavy directed energy cannon to hit an enemy with a blast so powerful that it punches straight through its armour. Like weapons batteries, each starfaring race has its own lance-type weapons, many of which have effects that are drastically different from those technologies employed by the Imperial Navy.
- Eldar Pulsar Lances fire a barrage of potent energy beams, rather than a single powerful one, leading to multiple hits on the target. The end result is a weapon that is nearly twice as deadly as its Imperial counterpart.
- The Dark Eldar Phantom Lance is a battery of dark matter-powered lasers that can strike twice as hard as other races' lance weaponry, making them much more dangerous than their Imperial equivalent in starship combat.
- The Gauss Particle Whip, found on Necron Cruisers and Battleships, produces a flensing particle beam with an extremely tight focus, which can allow it to bypass Void Shields.
- The Tyranids use slow-moving bio-plasma blasts in a manner similar to the way that the other races dependent on inorganic technology use lances. Bio-plasma energy moves very slowly, which limits it to extremely short ranges but allows it to bypass Void Shields unhindered.
Torpedoes are large anti-starship missiles used in space naval battles. They are a highly versatile weapon, as they can be used by any spacecraft from the largest battleships to the smallest planetside missile defence silos. Up to 200 feet long and powered by a powerful plasma reactor that also forms part of the warhead, torpedoes' extremely limited tracking abilities are made up for by the sheer size of the blast they can produce, making a near miss almost as good as a direct hit. Torpedoes are made even more effective by the difficulty of hitting them, which results in fighters and point-defense turrets being the only weapons that can be counted on to consistently engage and destroy them. Larger weapons like weapons batteries, lances, and Nova Cannons can still work as anti-torpedo weapons if the situation proves desperate enough.
Torpedoes come in many forms and varieties beyond the "standard":
While the Imperium's normal torpedoes are standard weaponry, they also have access to the largest array of specialist versions:
- Barrage Bombs are highly effective at planetary bombardment.
- Guided Torpedoes are remotely guided, which makes them highly accurate but vulnerable to jamming.
- Melta Torpedoes punch through an enemy's hull and sets the ship ablaze.
- Seeking Torpedoes home in on enemy ships, but tend to detonate prematurely.
- Short Burn Torpedoes have more powerful (if less fuel-efficient) engines intended to increase their speed.
- Vortex Torpedoes implode and create a ship-shredding Warp rift.
- Rok-Buster Torpedoes are designed to burrow deep into Ork Rok's before exploding.
- Leech Torpedoes emit an electromagnetic ionisation field that drains a target's engine power, making the victim easier to chase down, cripple, and then board.
- The Tau use large volleys of smaller, drone-guided missiles fired from railgun-like Gravitic Launchers that can track enemy targets with unmatched effectiveness.
- Boarding Torpedoes are a cross between a torpedo and an assault boat that are used by many of the starfaring races. Instead of a large explosive, they deliver raiders into an enemy starship's interior.
Weapons batteries, lances, and torpedoes are far from the only weapons used in space battles.
- The Imperium's Nova Cannon is one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy. It fires a 50 metre-wide shell out to a predetermined range, where the shell detonates in a massive explosion that can cripple cruisers and wipe out entire escort squadrons.
- The Bombardment Cannon is found almost exclusively on Space Marine Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers. Despite being designed primarily for planetary bombardment, it is nonetheless a fearsome anti-starship weapon able to rip through even the thickest of starship armour.
- Star Pulse Generators create a pulse of energy that radiates outwards from the firing ship in all directions, dealing damage to any enemies within its blast radius.
- Lightning Arcs release stored solar energy as powerful electromagentic energy tendrils that envelop a target starship and probe for any weaknesses to exploit and tear apart.
- Many Tyranid bio-ships have evolved massive claws and mandibles capable of ripping, chewing, and tearing their way through any starship unlucky enough to find itself in the Tyranid craft's clutches.
- The huge tentacles used to "feed" on planetary atmospheres are also a major threat to enemy starships in space battles, as they can be used to deposit vast numbers of rampaging Tyranid combat organisms into an enemy ship.
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook
- Battlefleet Gothic Armada