The New BlasTech E-15 Heavy Blaster Rifle brings unprecedented combat capabilities to the Stormtrooper in contact. Longer range, better fire control, stabilized optics, a thermal detection suite, and improved armor penetration are all combined into a tactical package that is 10 grams lighter than the legacy E-11 that it replaces.
By Will Dabbs, MD
Photos by Sarah Dabbs
The venerable BlasTech E-11 Blaster was an undeniably tried and true weapon system. Striking a tactical balance between power and portability, the E-11 armed the Stormtrooper Legions throughout the Galactic Empire’s sphere of influence. Whether the area of operations be the jungles of Kashyyyk, the desert wastes of Tatooine, the frigid arctic plains of Hoth, Boarding/Search/Seizure missions aboard captured vessels, or in the vacuum of space itself, the E-11 has rendered yeoman’s service. However, as is the case with perhaps every weapon known save the Jedi Lightsaber, there is always room for improvement.
The popularity of the E-11 arose predominantly from its portability. At its heart a particle beam projector, the E-11 included an integral optical sighting array as well as an infinitely adjustable power setting. When used in areas of limited visibility and away from the image intensifiers built into the standard Stormtrooper armor, the optical sight of the E-11 allowed respectable visibility independent of illumination. The controls of the E-11 allowed instant fire selection ranging from stun settings selectable for the physiology of the target all the way up to full power bolts adequate to burn through up to 5cm of tempered iridium armor.
The BlasTech E-11 was itself a development of the warhorse DC-15 Blaster that saw widespread usage during the Clone Wars. The E-11 was purpose-designed to address the combat shortcomings intrinsic to this effective but bulky Infantry combat weapon. While operational DC-15’s still turn up from time to time in the hands of terrorists, criminals, warlords, and thugs, this antiquated weapon has been completely supplanted in the armament stores of the Legions.
While there are countless veteran Stormtroopers now mustered out of the Legions who would no doubt take issue with the claim, the E-11 has always suffered from a few serious deficiencies. Among them, the E-11 had a limited range due to its abbreviated beam focusing array as well as spotty accuracy beyond CQB (Close Quarters Battle) distances. Any Stormtrooper who saw service on Hoth and had to face Rebel Irregulars armed with their antiquated but powerful Mk 47 Blaster Rifles will recall the range advantage Rebel forces held during these operations in open terrain.
Now armaments engineers working under the auspices of the First Order have finally developed an adequate replacement for the standby E-11. As is well known, the First Order arose from the chaos that befell the Empire after the untimely demise of our Emperor, may his dark soul find eternal peace, at the hands of the renegade traitor Darth Vader. It is the turmoil that spawned from these sordid events that set back the development schedule of the new E-15 until now.
BlasTech—A Legacy of Armament Innovation
BlasTech, short for Blaster Technologies, began life as a consortium of arms manufacturers maintaining its corporate headquarters on Coruscant. BlasTech’s primary production facility has always been located on Geonosis for its responsible and industrious workforce combined with ample raw materials. When BlasTech production could not keep up with demand, the E-11 was produced under license by both the Soru-Suub and Merr-Sonn corporations on their respective home worlds as well as the Terran concern Anderson Manufacturing. E-11 Blasters may be found in Legion arms rooms bearing markings from all four companies. Unsubstantiated scuttlebutt notwithstanding, subcontracted Blasters are truly interchangeable with the original BlasTech variants. License-produced versions meet the same stringent standards of quality, reliability, and effectiveness as the original BlasTechs.
What is not so commonly known is that BlasTech produces larger caliber weapons as well. BlasTech has filled contracts for the Turbolaser space defense systems used on fixed Imperial facilities as well as the fast-firing powerguns used on both TIE fighter as well as TIE interceptor platforms. With this established legacy of quality and innovation in weapons design and production, BlasTech was uniquely positioned to develop and produce the new E-15 Blaster Rifle that will itself eventually supplant the E-11.
The E-15 Heavy Blaster, the Next Generation in Stormtrooper Small Arms
The first thing any seasoned veteran notices when he hefts the new E-15 for the first time is that, compared to the E-11, the E-15 is big. Where previously the E-11 could be hung from a belt carrier when a Trooper was in garrison or performing maintenance or administrative tasks, the new E-15 must be managed on a sling. However, widespread use of cutting edge polymers and ceramics in its construction gives the E-15 a paltry weight of 3.1 kilos. Any Stormtrooper who has force marched with an E-11 will note with satisfaction that this is actually 10 grams lighter than the smaller weapon it replaces. While the extra length has been a cause for concern, particularly among units requiring operations in tight spaces like built-up areas or airlocks, the additional capabilities that the E-15 brings to the table more than offset its size penalty.
The E-15 Heavy Blaster has a markedly more advanced beam focusing system that allows the Stormtrooper so equipped to bring lethal and effective fires on target well beyond what would typically be considered line of sight limitations. This feature alone results in markedly more effective applications in areas characterized by mist, dust, or vegetation that might otherwise disperse the beam of the less powerful E-11. The maximum effective range of the E-15 is actually almost twice that of the E-11 with commensurately better armor-piercing and anti-aircraft/spacecraft capabilities. The E-15 Heavy Blaster allows the individual Stormtrooper access to man-portable firepower adequate to down light attack and fighter craft as far as his sensors might allow detection.
To take advantage of this increased long-range lethality, BlasTech has partnered with NCStar to produce an integrated targeting suite for the new Heavy Blaster Rifle. NCStar has an established reputation for innovative illumination, sighting, and target designation systems. Additionally, their reliable combination of effectiveness and reasonable cost is always appealing to First Order comptrollers.
The NCStar ECO (Enhanced Combat Optic) sight combines 4-power visible spectrum magnification with an onboard focused-beam target designator and dual-mode visible illumination options. All systems operate off of a common power supply and there is mounting space on the top for an additional piggyback CQB sight for use at bad breath ranges.
The clubfoot polymer stock is the brainchild of Choate stocks, a Terran company with a long history of producing rugged Blaster components. Their stocks and accessories have been used on a variety of combat-proven weapon systems. The Choate clubfoot stock provides a reliable cheek weld for accurate fire as well as a handy gripping surface for applications wherein the E-15 is employed from fixed emplacements in the heavy fire support role.
Magazines for the new E-15 come from X-Products. X-Products produces ammunition feed devices for a wide array for small arms in both solid and skeletonized versions. Skeletonized drums allow the Stormtrooper in contact a quick reference to ammunition remaining while simultaneously reducing weight. X-Products is at the very cutting edge of ammunition feed devices for directed energy weapons.
Integral forend rails, also from NCStar, allow easy mounting of any standard Imperial accessories ranging from navigation systems to less-than-lethal attachments. Inteliscope produces an applique thermal sighting system for the E-15 that allows tracking and targeting of homoeothermic targets in any environment independent of battlefield obscurants. The Stormtrooper so equipped remains markedly more capable than his forebears.
Controls are simplified over the E-11 to allow faster manipulation while under stress. The basic E-15 comes in a white ceramic finish composed of the same near-indestructible composite that makes up modern Stormtrooper armor. For operations in jungle, desert, aquatic, or space environments the E-15 may be oversprayed with alternative colors as necessary.
The integral power selection rheostat allows the BlasTech E-15 Heavy Blaster Rifle to be configured for available range facilities. When used by recruits in the training Legions lockouts prevent the E-15 from operating at lethal power levels. In a combat environment the individual Stormtrooper can manage plasma levels quickly and easily. Maximum settings should be reserved solely for combat. On standard range settings accuracy and recoil mimic combat power without so much collateral risk to range facilities. In our case we ran the E-15 through basic combat protocols for both accuracy and maneuverability at ranges from contact out to 1,200 meters using the ECO image enhancement suite.
For starters the E-15 Heavy Blaster is indeed a much more stable platform than the stubby E-11. There is no more fumbling with collapsible stocks or craning to utilize the weapon’s sights. The E-15 lends itself to a repeatable cheek weld both within the standard Stormtrooper helmet and without. The E-15 is responsive and maneuverable during MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) scenarios and the new high-capacity drum magazine will power the weapon for literally hours on moderate energy settings. While the E-15 Heavy Blaster is an effective and formidable close range weapon, where it really shines is against more distant targets.
The Enhanced Combat Optic makes for first round hits out as far as sensors can visualize. As the E-15 is a directed energy weapon it is immune to gravitational and wind effects. The new smart technology built into the NCStar ECO sight allows the Stormtrooper to lock the E-15 Heavy Blaster onto a target and clear the weapon for firing. The E-15 then instantly calculates an optimal firing solution and actually fires a bolt automatically when the weapon has clear line of sight to the target. This feature alone is sufficient to keep an enemy occupied at distance such that indirect fire weapons and air support may be employed. When properly utilized, the E-15 Heavy Blaster eliminates the need for the close fight, something about which Stormtroopers of campaigns past could only dream.
The new BlasTech E-15 Heavy Blaster Rifle is a true combat multiplier that allows the contemporary Stormtrooper to do more with less. Thusly equipped, modern Stormtroopers are more agile, more precise, and more lethal than their predecessors armed with the legacy E-11. The fall of the Galactic Empire and the pyrrhic rise of Rebel authority in so many diverse systems have made the peacekeeping mission of the modern Stormtrooper markedly more complex than was previously the case. In today’s fluid battlespace, Stormtroopers must remain flexible and seize the initiative. With the E-15, modern mobile Stormtrooper Legions are poised to do just that.
The Stormtrooper legions are all that stand between order and chaos. When properly trained, equipped, and led, this versatile force can enforce the will of the government anywhere and anytime in any environment. More than any other piece of equipment, a Stormtrooper’s individual weapon is his constant companion, his measure of authority, and the single most critical component of his survival. Now that the BlasTech E-15 Heavy Blaster Rifle is seeing general issue, the Stormtrooper Legions are finally positioned to enforce tranquility throughout the galaxy.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V20N2 (March 2016)|