Starship Ice Armor:
While uncommon, in some cases crews will add ice to armor a ship to enable it to survive greater damage. Water is commonly available in space especially in the outer parts of a solar system. The ice simply has to be melted on the ship, in some cases purified, and then re-frozen. While plain ice is often used for additional armoring, it can also be mixed with other materials such as carbon nano-fibers. This forms something very much like a material known as Pykrete.
As a general rule, ice armor is 20% of the M.D.C. of the main body / and or major hit locations (Minor hit locations such as weapon mounts cannot be protected effectively.) Pykrete armor is 50% of the M.D.C. of the main body / and or major hit locations (Minor hit locations such as weapon mounts cannot be protected effectively.) The Ice / Pykrete armor must be destroyed before the hull is damaged. It is easily patched compared to the hull as well. It does have some down sides.
The ice armor reduces acceleration due to additional mass of the Ice / Pykrete. Penalties for larger ships, such as battleships and cruisers, are a 10% reduction in acceleration and faster than light speed. For smaller ships, such as destroyers and frigates, is a 20% reduction in acceleration and faster than light speed. Ships with Rifts Jump Drives are unaffected as far as their jump distance.
Nothing smaller than a destroyer can be armored in this manner (cannot effectively use ice armor with fighters, heavy fighters, or corvettes) and it is very uncommon with destroyers. One reason is because the ice armor reduces the acceleration of destroyers below that of larger capital ships. One of the more common ships to be armored with ice are ships operating as mine sweepers. They are not expected to need to maneuver rapidly and the ice gives them additional protection against the mines.
While the ice will slowly sublimate in what is considered the “Life Zone” it is extremely slow and can take years for the ice to fully evaporate in space. This does not stop the ability to form ice armor on a starship and this can be done just about anywhere in a star system except extremely close to a star. The "Ice Line" in the Sol system is about half way through the asteroid belt. Close enough to a star, the ice will evaporate and the ship will effectively have a comet like tail of water vapor if they are not moving at more than a fraction of their normal speed.
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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
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