Friday, June 06, 2008

Detection, Targeting, Tactics.

The actual science cited kinda has me.


Ships are detected very easily, unless they are in orbit or occluded behind a planetary body. Anything in motion from point a to b, anything jumping in, is going to be spotted.

For detection, the 1.5 light second, 2 light second and 3 light second ranges of LBB2 don't really make sense. The much shorter detection ranges for ships in orbit running silent should apply, however.

That's for detection.

For targeting, I'm sticking to LBB2 ranges. Because you still have to deal with time lag when you're firing at range, and the chance that your predictions of your target's location are wrong increase more and more the farther away the target is.

I'm ruling that military/scout sensors are those which are produced at tech 13 plus. So any military ships produced by lower tech worlds are going to have targeting range of half a light second.

If you jump in, you've been spotted by anyone already there. EVENTUALLY. If you jump in close to 100d of the mainworld, you'll appear on scan more or less immediately.
If they're lying doggo in orbit, you won't see them until you are well, well within missile range and the first evidence you will see of this is their first missile salvo.
However, anything that isn't running silent is going to be visible, and that's going to be most ships unless they're prepared for trouble.
If recon ships jump in to the outer system they'll have the advantage: they'll see the native ships where they were two hours ago, but they won't be seen until they've been in system, scanning, for those two hours. That's enough time to jump in, scan, and jump out. It's also far enough that they'll spot ships coming after them long before they'll arrive. If the recon ships are fast enough, they'll be able to stay in the outer system for as long as they have fuel and supply.
Defensive fleets of whatever speed will need to have an element of fast pursuit ships - fighters at minimum, System Defense craft or fast cruisers - for the purpose of harrying spy ships or small fleet elements in the outer system.
Since ships can always be spotted, engagement is a matter of choice - if you are the faster ship. A fast fleet can always avoid a slow one, unless there is some reason to pin it down: Generally, a planet to defend, or a convoy. Invading ships with speed at least equal to their opponents can hang around the outer system indefinitely, and essentially remain a permanent threat as long as they have supply. If they are steadily pursued and harassed by defense forces, however, they can be prevented from receiving resupply.
Lasers, for military craft, are primarily defensive. It takes too long to get within effective laser range for them to be primary attack weapons. Ships will definitely need them, though, unless they are fast enough to consistently evade incoming salvos. In a pitched battle, should missile supply become an issue, lasers become more important. Also, any ship geared for long term anti-commerce operations will prefer the laser to the missile: no ammo worries. Lower tech fleets whose detection range is well within laser range might prefer more lasers over missiles.

Chemically-fueled missiles at extremely long range - beyond LBB2 detection range - have to spend long enough coasting that at beyond a couple light-seconds it might be a trivial matter for most ships to stay out of their range, and outrun them. Long distance missile salvos might force movement, however, and sufficiently-spread salvos might force a fleet to weather the attack or withdraw to a less advantageous position. (Missiles that have unlimited fuel are much more of a problem: they'll stand a good chance of hitting at any range)

System Defense Theory: Should have task forces of heavy carriers (the largest possible, 4-5ooo tons for Fester's fleet) situated in close orbit of the main world and/or the gas giant; the fighters can be employed to force the issue of engagement or withdrawal, and possibly reduce the invader somewhat. Should be supplemented by fast warships at least capable of keeping station with an unwilling fleet: Fast system defense boats, or possibly even riderships, stiffening a great number of fighters.
Raiding Theory: Should have the ability to jump in, and out again; should have sufficient cargo tonnage for extended operational supply; should be as fast as possible to be able to keep ahead of a defender's fighters and chasers in the outer system. Fighters are less useful here: the object is to remain independent while maintaining punch. Depending on tech, these will be ships between 400 and 2000 tons, of the highest possible speed, armed with a balance of missiles and lasers, with enough fuel for 2 jumps and reasonable cargo/magazine space. May be organized around a tender-fleet geared for deep-space, empty-hex operations.
Invasion Theory: If you're coming in to stay, and don't plan on retreat to the outer system but want to slug it out, you don't need to go fast. You should know what you're getting into already. You should already have raiders in the outer system. You'll already know the size of the defending force. No attack should ever be done with less than twice your opponent's force: so here's where we can see big carriers again: possibly big, slow carriers with an even spread of missiles and lasers, supplemented by sand should fleets close to laser range. Fighters to deploy, fire missiles, and then evade to the outer system once they've emptied their magazines. Another class of fast carrier might be employed specifically to retrieve and resupply these fighters in the outer system. There will need to be significant supply chain, troop carrier, and other support elements to any major invasion fleet.


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