"Just imagine the possibilities, airships carrying passengers across the nation and towards all the others! Able to fly low over the sea to give their passengers a wonderous view! Or even flying over our cities to spread advertisements or even serve as luxurious getaways as they look over the skyline of some of our most wonderous cities!"
- Kanan Akron, during a meeting with Highmoon Aerodynamics to receive funding for the Orion Project, 1941
Originally conceived by Dr. Kanan Akron in 1944 but was unable to receive the funding necessary for a prototype to be built. However, with the restoration of the Royalist regions well underway in 1979 the Order was looking into a way to show their colours more constantly throughout these unstable regions. Thus Dr. Akron, now well into his 80s, returned with his idea for the Orion-class and this time pitched his idea to the Command of Military Technologies. The meeting was a success and his design, having been changed significantly since 35 years prior for this meeting, still had significant shortcomings. Thus another lengthy design process ensued. Over the next two years the certainty of the project was once again called into doubt as it no longer could serve as the quick solution to the Order's problem. However, under Ranger-Commander Alerah Shield the project continued despite objections from members of Military Technologies within Technopolis. It took another 3 years before the project was completed and the first airship was built and sent on her maiden voyage, the OSCS Orion's design was considered a complete success.
Being primarily an aerial command and patrol vessel, the Orion-class has a relatively significant armament dedicated to this role. Being a target of its size, the Orion-class has 3 "Dome" CIWS turrets, these turrets were designed specifically for this vessel and are able of quick 360° firing arc, making it perfect for the defense of the vessel and these 3 turrets are capable of fully defending the vessel from all angles with 2 of these located on the lower sides of the vessel with the last one being positioned near the front on top of the structure. The threat of fighter craft attacking the vessel has made it necessary for the installation of several Anti-Air Launchers located on the upper sides and the belly of the vessel, once more giving it a full 360° defensive view against threats. Last but not least, the Orion-class possesses a single Air-to-Surface Missile Launcher located on its belly, providing it with an aerial strike capability against ground targets from a height of 6 km should such a need arise.
Being 266 meters long, the Orion-class has a length comparable to the Prometheus-class Battlecruisers but with a width of 53 meters is significantly wider and with its height of 62 meters is the largest vessel by volume ever built by the Order Military. On the inside the Orion-class has a crew of 71 and space enough for a total of 55 passengers along with storage for food and water allowing a continuous voyage of 7 weeks when fully staffed and stocked, although its regular passenger amount of 103 (including crew) allows it to remain airborne for 8 and a half weeks with a typical patrol lasting at most 8 weeks when resupply is not practical. The Orion-class sports a powerful communications array alongside a LIDAR and RADAR setup, allowing it to scout and patrol ocean or harsh terrain such as the colonies in Aegia. For movement the Orion-class possesses 3 1206YT-Y air-fed turbofan engines, these powerful engines are intended to assist the vessel's lift and with a single engine on the vessel's fore section and the other two further back, these to being able to rotate 45° to assist the two 416A turboshaft engines to propel the vessel forward.
Using its powerful sensors and communication array, the Orion-class is perfect to patrol the lightly populated by expansive borders of the Order, where infrastructure is still lacking whilst it scopes out possible resource deposits. The most notable of regions the Orion-class patrols are Pelor, the Attica, Kirkwall and southeastern Wandermere. Furthermore this vessel has been known for being used as aerial command centers for colonial officials from where they can govern their lands from within the clouds.
After the maiden flight of the OSCS Orion in 1984, the vessel's design saw several revamps, upgrades and variants since. Currently, there are 2 non-military variants and a single military testing variant currently being used across a total of 33 vessels.
The most numerous variant of the Orion-class and the oldest, the Orion Civilian-class is the variant of the vessel lacking all armaments and started production in 1985 by Highmoon Aerodynamics after it leased the design from the Command of Military Technologies and adapted it for civilian use. Currently 17 vessels of this class are maintained with most of these being used in the Northern Bay with some of them being used to give high class voyages between the Northern and Southern Bay.
The second most numerous variant of the Orion-class, the Orion Prospector-class was also created by Highmoon Aerodynamics for usage in Aegia. Sporting a reduction in weaponry, crew size and total passenger capacity (although it has room for 60+ passengers in case of emergency. With the bottom turrets removed, the Orion P-class is able to land within open fields and should it be unable to there is a platform built into the belly of the vessel, this can be lowered to a total height of 42 meters, although it is common not to lower it more than 30 meters. With this it can lower personnel and passengers to the ground and pick them up without the need for a dedicated dock or wide open area. This variant is used extensively in Aegia as an exploration and patrol vessel and the Command of Colonial Intelligence and Administration maintains a fleet of 14 vessels.
The last and only non-civilian class is the Orion Strike-class, this class of vessel is used by the Command of Military Technologies in cooperation with Skyguard Aviation to test new sensors and weaponry onboard the two testing vessels, one for each system. Alongside with testing sensory and weapon systems, these vessels also serve as testing platforms for engine prototypes and further automation to lower crew size. Talks have even been had to allow for fully automated steering and control whilst the crew size is significantly reduced.