"Captain, I've just noticed something odd about those platforms."
"Don't keep it to yourself, Mister Garak."
– Elim Garak and Benjamin Sisko, 2374 ("Tears of the Prophets")

During the Dominion War, the Cardassians developed powerful orbital weapon platforms that functioned as an automated planetary defense system.

History

Designed and developed under the tutelage of Gul Damar in late 2374 as a means of defending their home territories, most notably the binary planets on the Chin'toka system, allowing fleet resources to be deployed on the offensive.

Starfleet Intelligence became aware of the defensive grid created by the deployment of hundreds of weapon platforms, knowing they were days away from final activation, prepared for an invasion of the otherwise lightly defended system.

The USS Galaxy takes on an orbital weapon platform

In the subsequent allied attack, the platforms demonstrated their superior firepower against the allied fleet, scoring numerous kills against larger starships. Their regenerative deflector shielding also protected the platforms from return fire, rendering them nearly invulnerable. However, the network of platforms possessed a crucial design flaw that the Cardassians had not expected the allies to be able to exploit, their remote power generator, located on a nearby moon.

Although a frontal attack against the power generator proved futile due to the Federation's inability to penetrate the moon's own defensive grid, the allies developed a means of tricking the weapon platforms' targeting systems into firing on their own power source by imprinting an enemy warp signature on the generator's energy matrix. The gamble was successful, and with their power source destroyed, the weapon platforms deactivated, and picked off by passing ships as they approached the binary planets. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")

Orbital weapon platforms were also deployed around Cardassia Prime. Starfleet was to engage the platforms during the Federation Alliance's siege of the planet in late 2375, but fortunately the Female Changeling surrendered before that became necessary. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")

Specifications

A schematic of an orbital weapon platform

The hulls of these weapon platforms were protected by regenerative force fields, and equipped with three disruptor arrays, and a thousand plasma torpedoes.

Individual weapon platforms were not equipped with their own power generator, but instead received energy from a large, central generator. In the case of the platforms used in the Chin'toka system, the generator was placed on an asteroid orbiting one of the planets in the system.

Accorded to a deleted line in the script, Sisko wanted O'Brien to "isolate their lower frequency shield harmonics," when they found they were unable to breach the weapons' force fields. O'Brien noted the reason for this to be because "their resonance modulations are fluctuating at an exponential rate. It'll take time to find a pattern we can lock onto."

Appendices

Appearances

Background information

John Eaves sketch of orbital weapon platform

According to the script, these were described as "a deadly-looking orbital battle station."

During the making of "Tears of the Prophets", Terri Potts commented to the sound editors about the orbital weapon platforms that "you'll have fun with them. They're Cardassian, but different from anything that we've ever done before." Ruth Adelman added, "they're state of the art." (Star Trek: Action!, p. 166)

A model of an orbital weapon platform was released as a special issue of the Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection.

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