Author Topic: Submarines in space?  (Read 525 times)

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Offline Barkhorn

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Submarines in space?
« on: July 25, 2017, 03:44:50 PM »
Has anyone thought about actually trying to fight while remaining undetected?  I don't mean just getting your active sensor and EM tech high enough that you can see them first, I mean I want my ship to act like Cold War-era attack submarines.

What I'm thinking of is this:
Strong thermal and passive EM sensors.  These will allow me to shadow my targets while undetected to close within range.  My engines must have the best thermal reduction tech I can manage.  Cloaking is probably also necessary.  My plan is to fire 2-stage missiles from outside detection range.  The missiles will be aimed at waypoints along my target's course, and the bus will have a strong sensor so my calculations don't need to be extremely accurate.  The bus will be slow, for three reasons.  First, to improve the range at which I can fire.  Second, to reduce the missile's thermal signature.  Third, to ensure I have time to move before the missiles are spotted; I don't want to be on the same bearing as my missiles.  Because I'm firing at waypoints, I don't actually need a strong active sensor, and my fire control can be extremely weak as well.  I'd probably include at least some active sensor and traditional FC capability in case I'm detected, but I'll try to avoid using it.

Any flaws in this plan?
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2017, 05:16:13 PM »
I have considered a submarine equivalent in the game. In the background technobabble, the TN ships are partially in our dimension and partially in the fluid dimension, which is what makes them hard to detect and gives them naval-like movement. When destroyed, they fully emerge into our dimension, which is why wrecks are visible (just like every tiny rock in the system).

However, I have considered a ship modification that would allow ships to fully enter the fluid dimension. They would be much slower (about 25% speed - modified by tech), require special engines and special hull modification. Detection would only be possible using sensors designed for the fluid dimension (sonar) and the sub would also use sonar to detect normal TN ships. The sub could move back into our dimension to use radar or launch missiles but would then be detectable. Special fluid dimension missiles (torpedoes) would be possible, although much shorter-ranged and slower than normal missiles. However, due to the compression from detonation within the fluid dimension, torpedo warhead strengths would be much more powerful (perhaps 4x).

This is an idea I have been kicking around in my head for a while. I want to get C# Aurora up and running properly though before I do anything about it.
 

Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2017, 05:57:43 PM »
I suggest playing or watching a lets play of Cold Waters for ideas.  Cold Waters is a spiritual successor to Dangerous Waters, and is a Cold War era submarine simulator.

One feature of Cold Waters I really like is that it simulates the way varying water temperatures affect sonar.  There are different layers of water in the ocean, and each layer has its own temperature.  Sound waves are altered when they hit a layer boundary.  If they hit at a steep angle, they are refracted and turn.  If they hit at a shallow angle, they bounce off.  This creates a "Shadow Zone" a region in which a submarine can hide and be totally undetectable by sonar systems outside that zone.

I don't know how you could technobabble something like that in, but I feel that it would be a fantastic inclusion.  Without it, detection of submarine-like ships is no different than detection of surface ships.  It just boils down to who has the biggest and best sensors.  There's no tactics you can really use to sneak closer.  But in real life, with careful use of shadow zones, submarines can get practically arbitrarily close to unaware surface ships.
 

Offline MagusXIX

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 12:18:19 AM »
I use WW2 era style space-submarines in my games. I don't have any designs to post, but against player-controlled races that don't adequately protect their shipping and other civilian/commercial vessels, they work quite well. The two tricks lie primarily in missile design and in getting past jump-point pickets, the latter of which is very similar though not identical to how stealth vessels work in EVE Online.

You need engines that are both fast, efficient, and have the best thermal reduction you can get. When you're trying to be sneaky, you'll need to manually slow down to avoid thermal detection. Positioning (when to speed up, when to slow down, and which direction to move) and predicting enemy courses are critical skills to master. Your best cloaking device helps a lot too. These great engines and cloaking device can make the ship prohibitively expensive/time-consuming, so if your empire is still poor or slow on the industrial side it's a good idea to keep your designs relatively small.

The trick with missile designs is to make sure you pack enough punch to take down at minimum one or two really big commercial ships before reloading, considering that some may have a touch of CIWS. There's a few ways to do this, but I generally stick with designing very stealthy, small missile engines (just needs to be accurate vs commercial ships) and then pack a lot of MSP into the warhead. When I make these missiles, they can end up pretty large (size 12+) and I generally will use reduced size launchers since I do want reloads but am not too worried about reload time.

Commercial ships can fit CIWS, and a max-tech CIWS should be capable of shooting down at most 12 incoming missiles if every shot hits (6 shots for max gauss tech, x2 for CIWS) and your missiles are not armored. So your sub pack will need to be able to fire at absolute minimum 13 missiles per volley per expected max-tech CIWS on your target if you want to make 100% positive that at least 1 missile will slip past each CIWS. So guesstimate/espionage your enemy's CIWS capabilities before finalizing your missile/sub designs. It's also important to consider damage/missile, since ideally you will be destroying 1 commercial ship per volley. Colony ships, freighters and the like get monstrously big, so adjust designs according to expected enemy designs, as usual.

One thing I like doing with my missile design is putting really nice sensors on my missiles, firing them at waypoints ahead of a potential target, and letting the missiles home in on their own. This allows my space-subs to attack while revealing their position as little as possible.

You also need to create either a specialized sensor submarine of some kind to go with a sub pack, or give them each their own sensors, ofc.

Note: This type of sub usually is hard-countered by just about any type of battle task group, especially ones with over-engineered sensor ships, and should be restricted to aggressively attacking passive, softer targets like commercial ships or possibly planetary bombardment duties and the like if you make variants. I recommend scouting through jump points with a more specialized scout ship before sending a sub pack through.

Note2: You want them to be capable of going quite fast for your tech. I usually dedicate a little more hull-size to engines on subs than I do for my ships-of-the-line. The speed will get you out of dangerous places and into 'deep space' where you can hide from enemy sensors more easily. Avoid staying too close to heavily trafficked routes, but hover around the edges of them at the limits of your thermal sensors range. However, it's critical to remember to slow down if you spot your enemy before they spot you and you think you may be close to their sensor range.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:35:59 AM by MagusXIX »
 

Offline Arwyn

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 09:06:58 AM »
I have used ships similar to what Magus describes, but the other feature I use is Thermal homing missiles. Some of the absolute best hits I have done to NPRs have been via the thermal homing bushwhack. They are GREAT for a port attack. My ship(s) sneak into a system, spot the bad guys, and fire every thermal seeker they have at a waypoint and then scram.

A large salvo of the thermals can do a heck of a lot of damage, especially since they are generally not going to get detected by passives until they are quite close. If you can catch the fleet with no actives (or shields) up, it can be pretty impressive.

Needless to say, box launchers are the way to go. Shoot em all and run.

The big issues with this scenario are A) spotting, and B) speed/endurance.

Spotting stuff far enough away with passives requires BIG sensors, which limits space for other components. Thats the other reason for using thermals, you can fire at waypoints and the firecontrols can be pretty tiny, since resolution really isnt an issue, you just need to have something there, like minelayers.

Speed and endurance are the other key problem. Thermal missiles are pretty myopic, so that means pretty large sensors in the missile unless you have really good thermal tech. That cuts down on warhead and/or speed or both. One way to get around that is 2 stage missiles, but that makes the missiles big, so less payload. The other option is slower missiles with longer endurance.

I usually go for slower missiles with endurance. Since these are usually "ambush" type encounters against slow or non-moving targets, the missile speed is largely a non issue. Ditto for shooting up civilian cargo, they ships are big, and slow and huge commercial engines are pretty hot.

Using these ships in an open space battle can be done, but it can be quite challenging. Since your fire controls suck, and the missiles are slow, the only really successful way to use them is to fire down the bearing of the approaching ships, at a waypoint, that the enemy is going to cross. That means the missiles become "mini-mines" as the enemy literally runs over them as they chase you. Stern shots at a fleeing enemy are usually not worth wasting the missiles on.

Now for the math nerds among us, the real trick is to fire a salvo at a moving target and timing it to arrive in front of them. This is for shots at non 0 degree, or 180 degrees of bearing. Thats exactly the same kind of shooting the subs in WW2 did. :)
 
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Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 11:17:08 AM »
"Thats exactly the same kind of shooting the subs in WW2 did. "
Except the hardest shots for them were at 0 or 180 bearing on bow.  The easiest shots for WW2 subs were perpendicular.  This is because its much harder to get the range right through a periscope if they're steaming straight towards or away from you.  Further, unlike most other shots, a perfect 90 degree angle shot is a special case that does not require differential equations to plan; it's simple trig.
 

Offline Rich.h

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 11:39:59 AM »
I have a design in my current game that follows this idea, for most situations it is able to happily scout out entire systems without detection. The issue comes into play with offensive abilities as it becomes a huge juggling match, but was solved through the use of two stage missiles and waypoints. http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=8307.0 This shows the general idea I was having and some input others gave to help.
 

Offline Titanian

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2017, 03:20:05 PM »
What would be the use if these hypothetical submarines can be detected with a new type of sensor? In the end it would only mean I need just one additional type of sensor on my jump point pickets and in battlegroups. Maybe a better idea to allow raiding would be to increase scattering after jumps by a lot so that monitoring of jump points becomes more difficult. Maybe tie this increased scattering to selfjump only drives, or to increased jump blindness, so that traditional jump point assaults remain as they currently are.
 

Offline Lordubik

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2017, 08:54:25 PM »
@Steve Walmsley,

I kinda like the idea, but as other people said, that could boil down to "simply add another sensor".

In my opinion, a sonar-like sensor would need to be substantially different from others to be interesting.

I think something like this: instead of having continuos spotting mechanism like an active/passive sensor, a "sonar" could work with a pretty slow "ping" system, with each ping being produced let's say every ten minutes (just throwing random numbers here to get the idea).  This ping would have a pretty big range but would show any "submarine" for a short amount of time, let's say 30 seconds. 

At this point I see two options:
1 - if the sub is within let's say 10% of the ship active sensor range, it would be tracked and could need to get pretty far away to be able to conceal again.

2 - the sub can only be targeted during the ping itself.  This would make hunting a sub pretty hard, requiring especially use of short range weapons.

This is just some random idea i got while reading the topic, but I hope they can give you shine suggestion!
 

Offline MagusXIX

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2017, 05:51:51 AM »
What would be the use if these hypothetical submarines can be detected with a new type of sensor? In the end it would only mean I need just one additional type of sensor on my jump point pickets and in battlegroups. Maybe a better idea to allow raiding would be to increase scattering after jumps by a lot so that monitoring of jump points becomes more difficult. Maybe tie this increased scattering to selfjump only drives, or to increased jump blindness, so that traditional jump point assaults remain as they currently are.

This is what I've been thinking, too.
 

Offline Seolferwulf

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Re: Submarines in space?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2017, 02:53:29 PM »
Lets say you manage to stealthily hit an enemy with a missile, do they recognize you as being responsible for the attack even if they never found your ship?
Would it be possible to goad two NPRs peaceful with each other to go to war by attacking them, making them think the other one's responsible?
 

 

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