In the early days of space colonization ground forces were carried by either Navy or civilian liners leased specifically for the operation, this proved effective only when actions were limited and the landings were uncontested. As nations came into conflict over interplanetary real-estate the need for purpose built landing ships became apparent. Most countries that had a colonial presence began building Orbital Assault Ships in the early 2200s, some countries such as the United States designed ships that would operate in conjunction with other ships providing protection and clearing the way into orbit, other countries where budget constraints were an issue designed ships that could both fight and land troops.
The Australian Army needed a ship that could fight its way into orbit around a planet then once there support at least a battalion sized task force for an extended period operating on the surface and hold off any counter attacks in orbit.
A big job called for a big ship and in early 2243 work began in Mars orbit on the 65000 ton Kapyong designed and constructed by the German engineering firm of Thysen-Benz. From the outset the ship would be one of the largest of its type eclipsed only by the Chinese landers (brigade size task force but unable to operate alone). The ship was designed to accommodate a full battalion of mechanized/mobile infantry plus supporting elements such as tanks and mobile artillery. To land these assets quickly and safely on a planet a fleet of landing craft and interface vehicles was needed along with space to house the myriad of vehicles and equipment associated with a modern combined arms unit. The design took this into account by the addition of a huge docking ring which had a larger diameter than the two accommodation rings, large doors could open into space on each of the fourteen docking bays to allow craft to come and go, the outer ring holding the docking bays could have its rotation stopped during operations while leaving the cargo and staging areas underneath still rotating un under gravity. The wheel within wheel configuration enabled easy launch and recovery of landing craft while still enabling normal operation under gravity for the rest of the ship.
The offensive weapons consisted of a spinal mounted 240cm rail gun/launcher system with the ability to launch both smart and dumb payloads; this included the AGM184 standoff anti-ship missile and the newly developed HAS12 long range area denial weapon. Defensive weapons were similar to any modern warship with multi-barrel point defense rail guns and energy weapons. An extensive command and control suite for the landing force interfaces with the combat control centre to enable the ship to fight in orbit and control its forces on the ground. The large phased array RADAR/LADAR system is augmented by a passive all-spectrum tracking system which enables identification and targeting of ship sized objects out to extremely long range. In essence the Kapyong class is a landing craft wrapped around a missile frigate giving the best of both worlds.
In operation Kapyong and its now four sister ships; Long Tan, Gallipoli, Tobruk and Kokoda have provided sterling service in both national and UN operations, initially the main fear was that by combining a warship with a landing ship would give an enemy an easier target, in actual operation that has proven to be unfounded however to this day there has not been an engagement between a Kapyong class and a like sized dedicated warship so it is yet to be determined who would win out.