A long-range support weapon, the Ion Beam is able to fire more and more disruptive EMP arcs through shields as the target's hard flux levels go up - at a hefty flux cost for the firing ship.
After delivery of the Ion Pulser to the Chernabog Proving Grounds, firing tests and tactical simulations concluded that the weapon system was unsuitable for the role described in the original bid won by Bhilai Exospace. A heavy penalty was deducted from the delivery fee and engineers sent back to produce a charged energy weapon with sufficient range to be mounted on combat platforms expected to be placed behind rather than on the front-line of combat. Six months later, they delivered the Ion Beam.
The long range Ion Beam employs a cutting-edge gain pattern best understood as a diffracted geometry projected into normal space. Difficult to manufacture, this unique construction nonetheless enables long-range projection of highly-ionized baryonic matter in a coherent beam known to play havoc with all manner of electronics, including sensors, fuel igniters, targeting modules, computers, etc., though it does negligible permanent damage. Operated against a high-flux target, the Ion Beam may occasionally build up a charge that may arc past the shields entirely as the cascading buildup of charged particles interferes with the regular shield diffusion cycle.
The Ion Beam is a source of EMP damage that also has a weapon-specific effect of being able to pierce through shields, with the chance of this occurring going up as the targets hard flux level goes up. The Ion Beam therefore provides constant pressure against an enemy to both keep its shield up and also not build up too much hard flux. The frequent engine flameouts caused by this can often enable a positional advantage.
Soft flux will not contribute to the Ion Beam piercing shields, only hard flux. The hullmod Hardened Shields will significantly reduce the chances of Ion Beam shield piercing although it is still possible at high enough hard flux. This weapon specific effect is shared with the Tachyon Lance but not with other EMP weapons.