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An ion cannon is a fictional beam weapon described as firing beams of ions (atoms or molecules with an electrical charge). Ion cannons appear in movies and television shows that have a science-fiction based setting. Ion cannons are also present in several games: Homeworld, Homeworld 2, the Command & Conquer series, Unreal Tournament 2004, Ogame, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and StarCraft, for example.
- In the Star Wars universe, Ion weapons are quite common, ranging from handheld pistols to ship cannons. Ion weapons are primarily used for disabling electronic systems such as vehicles, droids and starships without doing any physical damage to the target. The turrets on the cockpit of Y-wing fighter/bombers hold ion weapons. In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebel Alliance uses a large ion cannon on the planet Hoth to temporarily disable Imperial Star Destroyers in the vicinity of the planet and prevent them from firing on escaping Rebel ships. Ssi-ruuk ion cannons were used to disable Rebel Alliance craft in the novel The Truce at Bakura. The Jawas used ionization blasters to disable R2-D2 in A New Hope. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Separatists unleash a new droid war ship called the Malevolence, under the command of General Grievous, that is equipped with 2 ion pulse cannons, and they are used to disable many Galactic Republic ships to make them easier targets for the ship's guns. Electromagnetic pulse weapons are also quite common and have almost exactly the same function, but they are smaller-scale and "DEMP" (destructive electromagnetic pulse) weapons also damage organics, unlike ion cannons.
- In the Ultraman series, Ion weaponry is often used by the heroic team of each series, and ranges from cannons mounted on planes and satellites, to small pistol-like weapons. These weapons have many different effects, including explosives, burning, freezing and even levitation.
- In the television series Stargate SG-1, ion cannons were used as surface to space weapons to protect the Tollan from Goa'uld attack. In this case, the intent was not merely to disable craft: one ion cannon could easily destroy a Ha'tak vessel with only one shot; however, Anubis discovered a way to render his ships invulnerable to the ion cannon. According to episode commentary Asgard warship, pulse weapons were also ion-based.
- In Homeworld, the ion cannon is a devastatingly powerful artillery weapon primarily used against frigate class vessels. When fired, it produces a glowing particle beam (in one of three colours, depending on which faction the weapon belongs to) that makes contact with the target instantaneously, but the gun can only be fired for a few seconds before it must shut down, presumably to prevent overheating. The gun itself is so large that in order to make it spaceworthy, an entire frigate chassis is required to carry it, and such a craft can only carry one. Larger ships can carry multiple cannons, with the Heavy Cruiser packing four in dual turret mounts and the Hiigaran Battlecruiser and Somtaaw Dreadnaught packing one on the top and one on the bottom for maximum coverage. Again, though, the usual fire-time limits apply. Both the Bentusi and the Kadeshi have managed to improve the original design: the Kadeshi version has much smaller size and power requirements, hence a single frigate can carry four ion cannons and still retain maneuvering capabilities while the Bentusi version can fire indefinitely and can switch between and track targets so quickly that not even fighter craft can escape the beam. The Bentusi also miniaturized their weapon to an even larger extent than the Kadeshi, being capable of loading two ion cannons onto a fighter. Despite its size, a flight of just five of these fighters are a major threat to even a heavy cruiser. It is implied in Homeworld 2 that the technological basis of these weapons are the ancient Phase Cannon Arrays carried by larger Progenitor warships.
- In the Command & Conquer Series, the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) uses a satellite-based Ion Cannon device to attack Brotherhood of Nod installations and forces; it is used at the end of the First Tiberium War to destroy the Brotherhood's command centre, the Temple of Nod. In Third Tiberium War, it is used in a different way; it forms eight ionizing beams that coalesce into a devastating blast. In the Command & Conquer series, it can be seen in the following titles: Command & Conquer, Command & Conquer: Renegade, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars,and Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. In the canonically unrelated Command & Conquer: Generals series, the United States has a variant of the weapon called the Particle Cannon, which uses an orbital mirror system to reflect a beam fired from the surface back down onto a target anywhere on Earth.
- Ion Cannons are also employed by the Eurasian Dynasty in the game Earth 2150 as a means of disabling enemy units in preparation to capturing them.
- In Unreal Tournament 2004, the Ion Cannon's official name is VAPOR WeP (Variable Altitude Phased Output Remote Weapons Platform), and is rated at two terawatts. The system is activated by designating coordinates with an appropriate laser-targeting rifle. Once locked on, it fires and annihilates everything within 50 meters of the target. Ion tanks and ion turrets are also seen in the game, which have the same effect as the Ion Cannon but is rechargeable and can be controlled by the player.
- In G-Nome, an ion strike is used when the player leaves the boundaries of the battlefield or when a target is "painted" for 10 seconds.
- In StarCraft, Raynor's faction is withheld from withdrawing because of Tarsonis' ion cannon, a large telescope-like weapon which resembles the Ion Cannon from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (see above). The weapon is destroyed as a mission objective and was never fired, leading to speculation that it may have been designed for long range bombardment. Some screenshots of the beta version of the game, however, show the cannon actually firing a beam of light-blue.
- In Star Control II, the protagonist's ship is fitted with an ion cannon by default, allowing for slow and hard to aim shots. The player has the option of adding them all over the ship for multi-directional fire, combined for maximum damage, or combined with a targeting system to home in on the opposition. They are referred to as 'Ion-Bolt Guns'.
- In the computer game Conquest: Frontier Wars, huge Ion Cannon space stations can be built and are often used as deterrents against enemy incursions. Although when the opportunity arises, they are built close to enemy territory as powerful assault weapons.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe, the Tau use smaller versions of ion cannons on their Hammerhead Gunships as an alternate main weapon. The Tau fleet - the Kor'vattra - use larger Ion Cannon as anti-ship weapons in Battlefleet Gothic. Also, Tau war engines use Ion Cannon as part of their armament in Epic: Armageddon.
- In the online sci-fi game Ferion, The Ion Cannon is one of many ship mounted weapons that can be researched. Its requirements are 'Type III Laser' and 'Time'.
- In Pirate Galaxy (video game), ion cannons are the primary weapon, commonly referred as "Ion Blasters". They are powered by specialized ion and plasma charges.
- In the video game StarLancer, the Coalition uses Ion cannons, on board an experimental fortress station and then later on board their central command for the outer solar system. Each system is a large energy weapon capable of destroying a capital ship in 1 hit.
- In Ogame, Ion Cannons are deployed as durable defensive units with low damage output.
- In Master of Orion 2, Ion cannons are used to damage ship's internal systems, bypassing armor and structure.
- In StarCraft II, the Protoss Phoenix starfighters are armed with twin ion cannons.
- The Particle projection cannon is a powerful ion cannon that is commonly seen in the Battletech universe.
- In Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal (Ratchet and Clank 3), an Ion Cannon is a giant cannon capable of taking down ships with a single shot. Clank takes control of it and destroys the otherwise invulnerable Biobliterator.
- In Machines (video game), the ion cannon is a devastating satellite-based superweapon that can be summoned to project an ion beam after being researched.
- In the Pixar film WALL-E, the robot EVE is equipped with an ion cannon in her right arm.
- Destroy All Humans! and its sequels contain a weapon called the Ion Detonator, which lobs a bomb that detonates automatically within 10 seconds or via remote detonation.
- In Dystopia (video game), the Ion Cannon is a weapon carried by the Heavy class.
- In UFO: Extraterrestrials, the Ion Cannon is a weapon for player's crafts, pinacle of whole Ion based weapon family. From pistols over rile and heavy ion for soldiers, it was one step more powerful plasma cannon (shooting orange projectiles).
- In Earth 2150 (video game), the euro-Asian dynasty faction can build ion cannons of varying yield on both buildings and vehicles. The weapon significantly depletes any shields it hits and damages the electronics of units without shields, causing them to be temporary disabled.
- In the Wing Commander series, the ion cannon appears as a common weapon in the third game, appearing on the Confed F-27 Arrow light fighter and Hellcat V medium fighter as well as the Kilrathi Vaktoth heavy fighter and Paktahn torpedo bomber.
- In Zambot 3, the King Beal has an ion cannon that is also its strongest weapon. The cannon can be detached and used by Zambot as well (as seen in many Super Robot Wars games.
- In FTL (video game), ion weapons are a type of weapon used to disable the opponent's systems and weapons.
- Watch the C&C Ion Cannon in action. (Created by Tiberian Dawn Mod team)