Because of the mission of the Advance Guard to perform precise strategic strikes behind enemy lines, we need to have technology far in advance of mainstream Starfleet to support our missions. It is we who invent, develop, and deploy the newer technological wonders of Starfleet before any other ships, facilities, or Starfleet personnel even dream of such items.
As examples, some of the items that we have created previously have been tricobalt torpedoes, multi-layer shields, and ablative armor.
Tricobalt warhead devices have been around for centuries, yes. The first known use of such was back in 2151 when the NX-class Enterprise was damaged by a Romulan attack using such a warhead. The Romulans had loaded a cloaked mine with tricobalt charges around a planet that the Enterprise ran into when it entered orbit. However, over the past 200 years, technology used by the various races of the galaxy has continued to advance, so such primitive tricobalt charges definitely would not suffice for such tactics today (not to mention the very primitive cloaking technology used two centuries ago being of no use today either).
What we have done is increase the yield of tricobalt explosives, allowing us to accomplish the same potential effect with far less material. Additionally, this has allowed us to place the charges into warheads for missiles and torpedoes. For comparison, a typical Type-12 photon torpedo has a yield of 200 isotons while a tricobalt torpedo has a yield of 3,500 isotons, nearly 18 times the potential despite being in a delivery system approximately the same size. All Advance Guard vessels are equipped with a limited number of tricobalt torpedoes.
The next technological leap that we have taken is the design of multi-layer defense shield technology. Traditional shield technology is a bubble of energy that surrounds the ship, attempting to defend it from all forms of energy and projectile weapons to the best of its abilities. However, to accomplish this, it has to make certain compromises to its effectiveness. This means that the technology, while quite effective, is not operating at its most efficient capacity. This is part of why the shield's parameters can be changed so as to better defend against the attacks being utilized by the enemy during that particular battle.
With multi-layer shields, the Advance Guard has removed that obstacle. Since we most often enter battles without the possibility of backup, we need to be prepared for a long battle with overwhelming numbers of enemies. The multi-layer shield allows this by having three distinct layers, each of which protects against a particular type of attack. Each layer is physically separate from the others so that each operates independently and does not interfere with the other layers. Further, the ability to modify the parameters to adjust for the enemy's weapons is handle automatically by the computer and takes mere nanoseconds to accomplish, much faster than any humanoid--even the Bynars or the android Data--can achieve. The result is that our shields are able to defend the protected ship far longer and shrug off the weapons much more easily than those used by mainstream Starfleet ships. As a matter of comparison, three Galaxy-class starships took on a single Prometheus-class starship equipped with multi-layer shields. The single, much smaller Prometheus was able to take out all three Galaxy-class ships before they were able to penetrate even a single section of the Prometheus' shield. This was proven repeatedly over a series of mock engagements during that wargame exercise over a period of several days. This technology will eventually be passed down to mainstream Starfleet but remains with the Advance Guard exclusively at this time.
Ablative armor is the latest development of a technology that has been in use in one form or another for several centuries. One of the earliest spacefaring uses of this type of technology was the heat shield used by NASA's space shuttles back in the 20th and 21st Centuries. As the shuttle returned through the atmosphere to land, its ceramic ablative heat shields would wear away, dissipating the heat not only through the convective action of the ceramic material but also by the self-sacrificing nature of the shield itself with its material falling off during the travel through the atmosphere, carrying the heat within that material with it and away from the still-travelling shuttle.
Our ablative armor operates along the same lines: as it is impacted by weaponry or other potentially-damaging effects, the armor takes the blow and either is vaporized (such as by a phaser hit) or absorbs the concussive blow (such as a projectile weapon hit) and deforms or falls away from the ship to prevent damage to the hull. This technology has been released to mainstream Starfleet but has not been installed on any more than a few of their ships, such as Deep Space 9's USS Defiant.
The ablative armor used by the Advance Guard at this time is the next step in its evolution and is therefore more effective with lighter and thinner materials. This allows us to keep the ships lighter and nimbler as well as allows for easier replacement of the individual armor plates when necessary.
Until recently, we have had to manually control the separation and reintegration of our three hulls. Now, with the creative use of tractor and repulsor beams, we are able to accomplish in a matter of seconds what used to take as much as nearly two minutes. This allows for much faster response in times of battle or when we need to rejoin and get on with our next mission requirements.
To accomplish this, tractor/repulsor beam emitters have been placed in the top and bottom of the Beta Hull along with specific targets to ensure proper alignment as the computer controls guide the three battle hulls together. Presuming that the hulls are each ready for reconnection, the process of drawing the Alpha and Gamma Hulls to the Beta Hull, as both can take place under automation simultaneously, can be accomplished in 30 seconds or less. In our tests, under the right conditions, the process has been completed in as little as 12 seconds.
The former system of manual control still remains a viable option in case the automated system fails or otherwise is unavailable. We thank those at Utopia Planitia for designing this technology and for the folks of the USS Theurgy for testing it and knocking out the bugs.
A less-obvious technology that we have developed and are putting into the field exclusively for the Advance Guard is the power cell in devices such as combadges. Unlike mainstream Starfleet, it is very uncommon for us to have our ships in orbit around the planet or other location where we have teams in operation. It is much more common for our ships to be several lightyears away, beyond the reach of enemy sensors. However, we still need to maintain communication with our ships to arrange extraction, coordinate different phases of the attack plan, and more. So, this means that we need to have combadges that are far beyond the capabilities of those of the rest of the fleet.
Specifically, we need to have combadges that can communicate much farther than the typical 40,000 kilometers of the standard combadge. (One light-year, for the sake of comparison, is 9,467,085,600,000 kilometers, over 236,000,000 times the range of a typical combadge.) To accomplish this requires much higher energy output than can be accomplished by the sarium krellide power cell. So, we have developed a secondary power source for our combadges: miniature matter-antimatter reactors.
To determine whether to use the reactors or the power cells, our combadges test the connection to the ship periodically and keep the proper power system available for immediate use.
This also led to the need for another technology: antimatter storage. In starships and space stations, the system used is virtually unchanged from what has been in use for centuries: an electromagnetic isolation field keeps the antimatter out of contact with any normal matter. However, the equipment to generate that field--not to mention the hardware to provide fault tolerance--is massive and the power requirement to generate such a field is quite high. This is something that would not fit into a combadge, of course, so we needed to come up with a different technology.
Similar to how acids are stored in glass bottles because of their chemical inertness, we needed a material that could store antimatter and not react with it despite having no force field to keep it isolated away from the normal matter of the storage tank. Through much research, we have developed our non-reactive storage medium made from a light polymer. Currently the technology is not advanced enough to create more than just small amounts of this material, just enough to be used in combadges for the Advance Guard. Eventually, when we are able to raise our yield quantity sufficiently, we will start equipping all Advance Guard ships with this new storage tank design, thus diminishing power requirements, weight, and complexity of the Engineering systems, not to mention eliminating another potential point of catastrophic failure in our starships.
Further, we employ a multitude of new frequencies, protocols, and encryptions for use with our combadges and subspace radios. All our communications equipment can interface with standard Starfleet communications technology but it also has additional features specifically for the Advance Guard. There are many reasons for this, all of which should be rather obvious. First, we need to make sure that our communications remain secure and free from interception. If we utilize known frequencies and protocols, then any enemy can easily intercept and/or jam our transmissions and could even use that to track us back to where our ship is or find our people on the ground. We can't have that, of course. Also, we use new encryptions because we have no way to know whether those currently used by Starfleet have actually been broken by a particular enemy but we just haven't realized it yet. So, having come up with our new encryption methods, we can be certain that no one has broken them yet. Further, using encryption that is exclusive to the Advance Guard means that our communications are secured even from others within Starfleet who might be enemy spies who would compromise our missions.
The biggest reason that we use different frequencies, though, is that our combadges, when in operation, can emit such a strong power signature that we can be tracked all too easily. So, using frequencies that are not known to be used, it keeps us outside the normal scan range and helps to protect us from easy detection. This threat is diminished even more by using a frequency-hopping technique so that we don't stay fixed on one frequency for too long.
Something else that we have developed that has been seen on another ship outside of the Advance Guard already is holographic communications. This was installed aboard the USS Defiant before being assigned to Deep Space Nine.
The primary reason for the development of the holographic system was security. The holographic communications technology uses advanced encryption and security protocols (similar to our communicators) to ensure the messages are actually coming from those whose images appear in the transmission. This is partly addressed by repeated DNA scanning at random intervals during the transmission as well as a comparison to Starfleet medical records of the person transmitting the image to ensure that the biosigns being read match those on record. (This way, a Cardassian cannot put forth a false holographic image and fool the person on the other end.)
To this time, we have not used the holographic communications system for communications other than with Advance Guard Command since the only other ship to have this system right now is the aforementioned USS Defiant and we have yet to be assigned a cooperative mission with her. As the war continues, however, I am sure that will change.
We are constantly re-examining our current technologies and looking for ways to improve or supersede them to give us the edge we need to accomplish our missions. Because of this, we are always seeking new minds and fresh points of view to help us think outside the box and kick said box out of our way. If this sounds like you, then let us know today. The outrageous idea you have today could be the technology of tomorrow.