The Stonehenge Turret Network, more commonly referred to as Stonehenge, was a planetary defense complex created by the Federation of Central Usea in western Usea. It was one of the primary weapons developed at the end of the 20th century to address the threat of the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid, and the catalyst of the Second Usean Continental War in 2003 after its capture by the Federal Republic of Erusea.
After the discovery of Ulysses in late 1994 and the determination of its trajectory, news of the impending impact was kept secret in order to avoid widespread panic. Finally, on April 20, 1996, FCU President Robert Sinclair disclosed the existence of the asteroid to the world in a public news conference. That same day, FCU Secretary of State Stetson held a second, private conference at an emergency assembly of the Usea Treaty Organization, where various defense proposals were made, including the creation of a "National Missile Defense" system in UTO member nations.
The Stonehenge complex—known internally as Project STN (Spaceguard Turret Network)—was later conceived by the FCU under the Defense Initiative plan. Construction took place in Area 26021-3, a site in the desert region south of San Salvacion. The weapon's development was overseen by the Project STN Committee and security was provided by UTO coalition troops and a fighter squadron, whose roster included John Herbert, a veteran of the recent Usean Rebellion.Numerous governments, corporations and scientists from around the world participated in the construction effort; at least one Belkan scientist, David Hartmann, was known to have been involved. Osea and Yuktobania initially considered joining the project, but declined on account of post-Belkan War reconstruction efforts. The main site was completed in June 1998, while the rest of the railgun system remained under construction for several more months.
In the same month, the International Astronomical Union released an updated report on Ulysses' projected impact area, sparking protests in Anea against the FCU over their lack of protection against the asteroid. By that time, however, Stonehenge had reached a point in its development where no further modifications could be made.
Ulysses Day and Erusian TakeoverEditOn July 3, 1999, Stonehenge went online and commenced operations against Ulysses, successfully limiting damage across the Usean continent during the planetfall event. Although it was one of the most successful weapons of its type during the disaster, one of Stonehenge's eight railgun cannons was disabled by a meteorite impact and remained out of commission for the rest of its existence.
In the aftermath of Ulysses Day, Erusea was overwhelmed by an influx of refugees, compelling Erusian officals to close the nation's boarders. As tensions escalated with the international community, the Erusian military, without warning, invaded San Salvacion in the summer of 2003 and captured Stonehenge. (Erusea would proceed to use the weapon to attack other Usean territories.) In an official statement, Erusea declared that STN ground patrols and staff were being kept "under protection" by its troops; twelve UTO aircraft disappeared during the incident.
On August 22, 2003, Erusea sent an ultimatum to Robert Sinclair, threatening attacks against the Federation and its allies if he refused to order the withdrawal of FCU forces from San Salvacion's borders before September 9. Sinclair responded by threatening a declaration of war if the occupation troops in both San Salvacion and Stonehenge were not removed before September 14. The standoff led to the formation of the Independent States Allied Forces, which launched a desperate attack on Stonehenge performed by an elite ISAF squadron on September 14, but was defeated by the Federal Erusea Air Force's elite Yellow Squadron.
Continental WarEditISAF retreated to eastern Usea and relocated its headquarters to North Point, from which it would launch retaliatory strikes in preparation for a counterattack. Shortly after the capture of Stonehenge, the Erusian government announced its plan to produce X-02 Wyverns to serve as the superweapon's protectors, sparking debate within the Erusian Parliament over their cost and efficacy, which eventually halted the X-02's production.
During ISAF's operations within mainland Usea, Erusea used Stonehenge to attack ISAF forces with limited success. In March 2005, several engineers and scientists responsible for designing the weapon, who had been detained by Erusea under the pretext of "security purposes", escaped with their families on-board Air Ixiom Flights 701 and 702. In exchange for protection and amnesty, the engineers offered to provide ISAF with crucial information regarding Stonehenge's defensive systems. ISAF ace Mobius 1 was dispatched to escort and defend the airliners from Erusian fighters until their safe arrival within ISAF territory.
A month later, on April 2, ISAF launched an aerial attack on Stonehenge. The effort, named Operation Stone Crusher, saw the complete destruction of the facility and its railguns due to Mobius 1's intervention. Yellow Squadron scrambled from San Salvacion to intercept the ISAF squadrons, but were forced to retreat after Mobius 1 shot down Yellow 4.
DesignEditOne of humanity's foremost projects built to combat the threat of Ulysses, Stonehenge was based on a circular design divided into eight sections, each of which housed a railgun turret. The weapons, officially called the "120cm Caliber Anti-Surface-and-Air Gunpowder-and-Electromagnetic-Propelling Semiautomatic-Fixated Guns", operated on a hybrid energy principle using gunpowder to initially propel projectile shells, and then accelerate them to maximum velocity with electromagnetic energy.
The cannons were considered "electromagnetic launchers" by their creators instead of true railguns, due to the combination of propellants utilized. Capable of achieving speeds of six kilometers per second (about 17-18 times the speed of sound), Stonehenge's hybrid propellant system was chosen to prevent excess heat from melting the barrels and keep the cost of its electricity consumption down. The weapons were originally planned to be locomotive, but the idea was abandoned because a capacitor suited for such operations was unfeasible.
Stonehenge's turrets were directed by a synthesized control network beneath the facility formed by a complex of 8,192 supercomputers split into 1,024 sets of eight; each was capable of performing nine billion floating point arithmetic operations per second. Stonehenge was capable of performing a total of 100 trillion operations per second using all of its computational power. The system also employed data gathered from orbiting satellites and observatories around the globe, and weather models of Usea's atmospheric conditions to calculate an asteroid's destined point of impact. The computers aiming the cannon would then plot the asteroid's trajectory, track the target, and fire.
As a whole, Stongehenge's firing range encompassed a radius of 1,200 kilometers, spanning from Erusea's capital of Farbanti on the western tip of Usea to the Faith Park region. The cannons could launch a variety of ammunition, including Armor Piercing Explosive rounds and a special type of shell suited for large fragments, whose use was limited under a special measures act.
- Within Ace Combat 04 and its promotional media, Stonehenge is frequently referred to as a single gun.
- The Meson Cannon complex in Ace Combat X is similar in appearance to the Stonehenge facility; the differences being that the Meson Cannon surrounded a city, fired lasers, and may not have had radar jamming (depending on whether or not the player destroyed the Nevera jammer first).
- The jamming facility in the center of Stonehenge may have provided inspiration for the nuclear missile silo doors in the mission "Sanctify" from Ace Combat: Joint Assault.
- The airbase next to the turret network is a photo-exact replica of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The base's layout was transposed onto a desert-like environment to match the terrain surrounding Stonehenge.