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The CL-3 Hecate was developed by UNETCO as a scaled up version of the laser weapons designed for ground troops and armored vehicles. While a laser suffers increasing beam diffraction at extreme range in an atmosphere, the advantages of relativistic target interception and high burst damage potential are undeniable. Due to effective differences in interception, compared to ground combat, the CL-3 is designed to dump laser energy into a target as a single large pulse rather than as a dwelling beam. This makes the CL-3 less energy efficient than its smaller cousins, but far more powerful.

Once within range of a target, an illumination laser is used to determine range, speed and bearing as well as provide lock on. Following deactivation of the weapon safety, the laser designator takes over for the radar system, and automatically adjusts the aim of the laser cannon and fires given a high hit percentage. This means that the human pilot can concentrate on navigation and evasive maneuvers, while the weapons automatically track and engage. A higher degree of accuracy is achieved using this system than is otherwise possible when reliant entirely on human reaction speeds.

The CL-3 Hecate is also notable as one of the most important weapons produced by X-COM for sale to its allies. While the UNETCO Charter forbids the use of "exotic or alien technologies" by one member nation against another Earth based non-alien power or agency, it can be expected that once the war is over and the Charter expires that a great many "next generation" fighter craft will be refitted to use laser weaponry. There are already post-war plans for the use of X-COM laser technology in ballistic missile defense systems.

When a CL-3 Hecate's automatic targeting is activated, X-COM pilots use the brevity code "Beam Active" in radio communication, to announce the activation of beam-based automatic targeting and engagement.

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