Amongst the most powerful weapons in SetDef's arsenal, SDF Carriers are massive spaceships encountered throughout the campaign by SWC-141 Retribution and her crew. Amongst the Front's ships, they are second only to the supercarrier and pride of the Martian fleet, the SWSC-1 Olympus Mons.
The naming convention of SDF Carriers is the three letter prefix "SDS" followed by a name. The ships are usually named after Martian geographic features such as outflow channels (SDS Ares Vallis) or mountains (SDS Cerberus).
A leviathan of a vessel, SDF Carriers are intended to function as both carrier vessels while also engaging in other combat roles. The ship design is suited for the vacuum of space, lacking much in the way of aerodynamics and being rather angular. The ships are quite oblong in construction, with a notable cavity at the bow of the ship, a common trait amongst SetDef ships. The dorsal rear of the ship contains a prominent superstructure, which appears to contain the combat-information-centre and has a prominent, horizontal conning tower mounted on top of it.
The front aft of the vessel seems to be taken up by its hanger, possessing eight large pressure hatches (which seem to be able to double as landing pads), which open up to allow access to the hanger bay via a large vertical airlock. The hanger can also be accessed via airlocks on the port and starboard sides. The ship also seems to have at least one vertical airlock on its ventral side as well, that allows access to a central hanger bay.
Internally, the ship possess features similar to those of terrestrial warships, as well as those required for space combat. Areas such ordnance bays, cargo holds, administrative sections, hangers, computer mainframes, conference rooms, cafeterias, crew accommodations, life support systems, armouries, medical bays and so on are all present within the ship. The ship has various bulkheads and pressurised doors that allow it to be compartmentalised in the event of a hull breach or depressurisation. The ship's CIC has windows but can cover these with armoured shutters to maximise protection during combat. The interiors are also fairly spartan, even by military standards, reflecting the SDF's focus on efficiency and functionality over luxury and comfort.
Like many spaceships in Infinite Warfare, SDF Carriers are capable of generating their own artificial gravity. While the exact method by which this occurs is unknown, it would appear that the mechanism ensures that the gravitational field generated is perpendicular to the ship's floor, ensuring that crew members are only pulled downwards towards the immediate floor and not in different directions. This gravity can seemingly be disabled quite selectively, with gravity being deactivated in one room but left on in others.
The ship has a crew complement of both sailors and security personnel. This includes C6 androids, which are often found docked at various stations when not in use.
Offensive and defensive systems
SDF carriers are heavily armed vessels and while principally serving as transport for Skelter fighters, they are also capable of engaging targets themselves. Carriers posses a variety of offensive and defensive weapons systems.
For defence, the vessel uses 30mm Grunion autocannons and MMT38 Whiplash missiles. These are often used to target anything small that might threaten the ship, such as Jackal fighters, but they can also be used in an offensive role against other warships if required. Grunions appear to be tri-barrelled rotary weapons. The autocannons are mounted in rotating turrets and distributed across the vessel's dorsal side to provide a large amount of coverage.
Whiplash missiles are located in a "bulge" in front of the superstructure, behind a pressured door. Each Whiplash launcher is actually a square pod of four missiles that protrudes from the launch bay when in use.
In addition, carriers possess four deck-mounted multi-missile launchers, resembling an over-sized RAM missile launcher though the exact name and function of these weapons is unknown.
For both offence and defence, the ship seems to use R-28 Taskmasters, which are twin cannons mounted on the sides of the dorsal centre line. The R-28 seems to be a fairly high calibre-cannon with a low rate-of-fire that can inflict considerable damage upon warships, judging by what can be seen at the end of Operation Blood Storm when Nick Reyes is trying to hold on to a hijacked SDF Destroyer. Carriers seem to be able to mount up to twelve Taskmasters, distributed evenly across the dorsal surface of the ship
The R-28 can be used either for attacking enemy vessels or for defending the vessel in point defence roles.
Tactical cruise missiles
For offence, the ship uses tactical cruise missiles. The missiles are launched from fixed launch bays. It seems there are at least three cruise missile variants, judging by what can be seen in the ship's armoury, each differentiated by their colour. The missiles seem to have their warhead type written on them, followed by a alphanumeric designation:
- Black - Fuse Class F6
- Red - Impact Class O2
- White - NCLR N15
The missiles are loaded onto mobile racks in the ordnance room, where they can presumably be supplied to different parts of the ship. Carrier ordnance rooms seem to have different racks and control systems for different missiles, with the controlling consoles having the missile type clearly marked on the floor underneath them, though different missiles have been seen on the same rack.
The missile's name seems to indicate what kind of weapon they are, with O2's detonating on impact and F6's having a delayed fuses. The N15 missiles are actually equipped with nuclear warheads, as writing on the floor in front of consoles controlling their racks clearly states "NUCLEAR", which is presumably also what the "NCLR" written on the missiles stands for. They also seem to possess yellow warning hazard labels on them which the O2 and F6 missiles lack. While the yield of the N15 is unknown, destroyers are shown to carry numerous N15 missiles, potentially granting each carrier a devastating amount of firepower.
Some carriers, such as the SDS Hellas, outfitted their missile warheads with a unknown type of chemical weapon.
SDF Carriers may be equipped with railguns, consisting of two barrels each. This was observed on the SDS Cerberus, which had two of these weapons. These railguns were very powerful, capable of annihilating the Retribution with ease. However, they required a substantial amount of power in order to fire.
SDF Carriers possess an air wing. While its exact size is unknown, it does involve at least several R-7 and/or R-16 Skelters, as well as Warden dropships. The SDS Cerberus was notably in that it carried a prototype Skelter.
This air wing can engage in a variety of operations including ship assault, ground-attack, air-to-air combat and reconnaissance.
SDF Carriers are well armoured and can withstand a fair degree of punishment before being destroyed (this may also be due to their size and mass). Jackal fighters do not seem to be able to easily destroy the ships directly, often having to rely on boarding actions or fire support from UNSA ships such as the UNSA Tigris. Jackals can destroy some of the carrier's weapons however.
Carriers also seem to be equipped with a system reminiscent of chaff/flare launchers like the SRBOC, consisting of five tubes, mounted across the dorsal surface of the hull.
The ship is propelled by massive thrusters located at the rear of the vessel. Carriers have nine thrusters in total, two sets of four on each rear side and one in the middle. Like other warships in the game, SDF Carriers are also capable of faster-than-light (FTL) travel, which occurs via a Drop Engine. SDF Destroyers are also capable of hovering within atmosphere.
SDF Carriers act as a spacefaring airbase, transporting aircraft across the Solar System. SDF Carriers may operate on their own or in conjunction with other vessels such as destroyers.It is not unusual for destroyers to operate by themselves, possibly due to the relatively low number of warships in Infinite Warfare relative to the sheer size of the solar system.
When operating with other ships, SDF Carriers often act as the primary striking force due to the amount of firepower both they and their Skelters can collectively carry, making them a key target in any battle.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of all named SDF Carriers and their current status. Note that several unnamed carriers can be seen in the Tharsis Shipyard.
- SDS Ares Vallis (destroyed)
- SDS Centauri (active)
- SDS Cerberus (out of commission)
- SDS Hellas (destroyed)