Monday, June 12, 2006

Book 2 Detection and Ship Tactics: The Military

Sensor Drones: IMTU, missile sensor drones typically behave just like missiles, except that instead of blowing stuff up they transmit sensor data.

Since missiles are understood to be able to home at humongous ranges, I allow basic detection-type data to be picked up at around half a light-second. For more detailed analyses, I require interception by the missile: 25mm/2500km.

A fleet jumping into a system will have several envelopes of scan about them.

1)The fleet's capital ships have their own scan, two light seconds.
2)The fleet will launch fighter patrols: slow patrols at tracking range from the fleet, (adding another threelight seconds of scan between the fleet and anybody else) and high velocity patrols sent to run scan on any fleet destinations (the gas giant, the primary world, what have you.)
3) patrols will, themselves, employ sensor drones to scan any particularly risk-laden body: basically, anywhere a ship can hide.

Essentially, if two fleets are in system employing these tactics, the capital ships should never be able to just stumble upon each other. They'll hit each other's patrols first, and even these will often be spotted by means of sensor drone.

Hunt and Seeky
Military ship encounters, then, will ideally be initiated at or beyond tracking range: any fleet proceeding cautiously will, by means of drones and reconnaissance fighters, be able to acquire targets well outside of 3 light seconds. Assuming both fleets are using such tactics, most initial targets will be the opposing fighter patrols. Each side's fighters will attempt to neutralize the others, then trace back their vectors in an attempt to target the opposition's main fleet.

Ultimately, one side will acquire the other side's main fleet as targets. A fleet wishing to attack such targets will wish to avoid lasers: any military target will certainly employ return fire software as a matter of course, and in any case laser fire beyond 500,000km is little more than harrassment. Certainly, any long range salvos will be fired via missiles: the fleet launches missiles, which boost, then coast to within about half a light second, then accelerate to adjust course, intercept, and impact. The target fleet will be able to trace missile vectors out to their detection range, but by then the launching fleet will have shifted position. The target fleet will send missiles back up the missile tracks to acquire targets, probably in concert with sensor missiles. But by the time the target fleet is able to mobilize and target its attacker (likely operating a good three light seconds away) the attacking fleet will have been able to launch several turns worth of missiles.


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