Author Topic: Newtonian Fighters  (Read 7442 times)

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Offline chrislocke2000

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Newtonian Fighters
« on: November 07, 2011, 07:11:16 AM »
Given how this was getting mixed up in the more general discussion thought I would take the suggestion and start a new thread.

From the existing topics I think there is a clear argument as to why Fighters will no longer be the highly effective weapon platforms that we see in Aurora today. However, I really enjoy playing with fighters so would like to see if we can come up with some suggestions as to how Steve could implement fighters such that they remain a viable tactical option.

Some thoughts from me are:

1) Fighters need to be substantially more fuel efficient than missiles at the same levels of performance. Ie they would need engines to be at least four times more efficient than a missile engine. This allows the journey to target and back without a substantially less effective use of carried fuel.

2) Situationally they could be good for bringing weapons to bear on off axis targets. Ie a lot cheaper, fuel wise to turn a 200 ton fighter round to intercept a hostile contact than shifting say 100,000 tons of ships. Of course a missile could do just this in any case.

3) Potentially all fighters start as UAVs from the very start with controllers staying based on the carrier. As a UAV this would allow substantially better acceleration and deceleration performance than a crewed ship. Again this could be matched by a MIRV unless the cost of building the weapon bus is prohibitive if you don't get it back?

4) Potentially use them as guided slug throwers with relatively low acceleration coil guns. From previous discussions I think there is an expectation of ships moving relatively slower than in to days Aurora and that head on attacks at very high velocities are likely to be pretty dangerous to both sides. It's also clear that the relative velocity gain of shells compared to ship speeds will be pretty low. UAVs could address this quite nicely:

- With high acceleration the UAV can generate a far better closing speed on the enemy compared to a ship and with a low comparative cost it can afford to take the risk. It can also get in position a lot more easily than ships to attack off axis threats.
- As majority of attack speed comes from engines instead of the coil guns these can be lower power and smaller than their ship counter parts, allowing a better rate of fire for a given slug size
- UAV carriers batteries only and recharges from the carrier. Carrier could also hold both generators and batteries so UAVs can be quickly recharged as well as refueled and rearmed.
- Set the cost of UAVs so that say five uses of them, plus say 10% loss rate, is cheaper than the equivalent 5 * MIRV. After that the UAV is substantially more cost effective. Also set relative price of coil guns so you would would not want to just mount them on a one shot platform.

This would then give you a weapon platform that would enable strikes against hostile ships with intelligent slugs that would hitting at a magnitude higher than those fired from fleet ships without risking the fleet ships themselves and in the long run being cheaper than MIRV equivalents.

5) My last thought is a subset of fighters that have an aero package and hence can operate in a planets atmosphere. The idea being that they can then make precision attacks on installations / military units / PDCs with far less collateral damage and without causing atmospheric dust etc. This would also allow precision attacks without having to get your ships into reasonably close orbit for use of lasers etc and hence exposing them to counter fire from the planet. Depending on what you do with ground combat I guess you could also give them an attack strength to support your troops on the ground.

Anyway that's my starter for ten!
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 10:08:42 AM »
There are only three kinds of practical fighters in my mind:
1. Improvised:  These are cobbled together if two space colonies decide to go at it, simply do to cost and time reasons.  It has an engine, a weapon, and a guy to run them.  They probably won't outlast the first war.
2. Lancers: This is the technical term for using your engine to put a projectile on track to intercept a target.  Only really practical when the dominant engine is too expensive for missile use and too good to pass up.  Will be unmanned.
3. Aerospace: Probably based on the surface, pops up, launches missiles, goes back down.  May or may not be manned.
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Offline scoopdjm

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2011, 01:20:45 PM »
As per my previous statement I still maintain fighters have a higher damage per Weight/cost ratio then missiles EDIT: thnx for making a new thread
 

Offline HaliRyan

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2011, 01:39:13 PM »
As per my previous statement I still maintain fighters have a higher damage per Weight/cost ratio then missiles EDIT: thnx for making a new thread

Don't take this the wrong way, but that's not even true with existing modern jet fighters. A missile has a much, MUCH higher damage per weight ratio, and a modern cruise missile like the Tomahawk costs a little under $1m while an F-22 runs in the neighborhood of $150m.

In space a fighter has to carry (as the OP said) a minimum of 4 times the fuel of a missile, is limited in its acceleration/maneuverability by human tolerances (which is a much more crippling penalty in vacuum than in atmosphere), and has a host of other problems associated with their use.

I'm not saying they shouldn't be included, just that they're most definitely a rule-of-cool item rather than a realistic one.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2011, 01:54:16 PM »
Fighters in Newtonian Aurora (as with normal Aurora) are just small spacecraft and the same rules will apply in both cases. There won't be any fighter-specific systems or rules. In terms of mass comparison, fighters in standard Aurora are around 200-300 tons compared to 'normal' warships that resemble modern naval warships in terms of size. Therefore a "fighter" is much more comparable to a real world fast attack craft. For example, a Russian Project 205 Tsunami (NATO designation: Osa) is a 200 ton missile boat with four P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 Styx) missiles.

With regard to Newtonian Aurora, I think fighters will actually be more dangerous than in standard Aurora and don't need any special help. Small, expendable and easily replaceable craft are always useful for attacking a well defended enemy fleet, especially now you can no longer fire your missiles and turn away. In addition to a loadout of missiles, they will be able to carry the equivalent of "iron bombs" and act as the delivery system, which means the number of reloads for a carrier will be much higher than at the moment. The smallest railgun is 25 tons (or 0.5 HS in standard Aurora), which means a fighter 'beam weapon' is now possible. As they are based on a mothership, they will be able to mount more powerful, less fuel efficient engines and dedicate more of their tonnage to those engines, allowing greater acceleration and therefore more options. As well as being hard to detect, they will also be hard to hit as target size is now a significant factor. Finally, their range will be far greater than in standard Aurora as they can be launched at extreme range and coast most of the way. Or launched at extreme range and accelerated up to high speed before launching missiles or kinetic weapons, both of which will have the initial momentum of the fighter. The fighters are more likely to be able to avoid defensive fire after launching as they are hard to detect, hard to hit and will likely have greater acceleration/turning capability than a full size warship.

They will obviously be susceptible to nukes but they were susceptible to missiles before and as a single nuke could potentially kill a capital ship in Newtonian Aurora, using one against a fighter will be more overkill than in standard Aurora. I would advise spreading out the squadron though :)

Carrier operations will be more involved, as the fighters will have the momentum of the carrier. A modern version of: "Officer of the deck - turn the Nimitz into the wind"

Steve
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2011, 02:48:17 PM »
5) My last thought is a subset of fighters that have an aero package and hence can operate in a planets atmosphere. The idea being that they can then make precision attacks on installations / military units / PDCs with far less collateral damage and without causing atmospheric dust etc. This would also allow precision attacks without having to get your ships into reasonably close orbit for use of lasers etc and hence exposing them to counter fire from the planet. Depending on what you do with ground combat I guess you could also give them an attack strength to support your troops on the ground.

I haven't even thought about atmospheres yet :) but this is an interesting idea. I wouldn't restrict it to small craft but allow a general rule for making a spacecraft atmosphere-capable. I imagine it would more commonly used for smaller craft such as fighters though.

Steve
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 03:16:29 PM »
As per my previous statement I still maintain fighters have a higher damage per Weight/cost ratio then missiles EDIT: thnx for making a new thread
This is not even physically possible unless you are working over multiple missions.  And for a given battle, you will probably get only one mission.  Why?  The fighters have to stop, turn around, and come back.  We're looking at at least four times as long for a given mission as a missile of the same delta-V.  Not to mention that you either have to stop before the target, or turn around and go past them a second time to get home.  Or spend a bunch of delta-V to go around.  You don't win in any of the above.

Fighters in Newtonian Aurora (as with normal Aurora) are just small spacecraft and the same rules will apply in both cases. There won't be any fighter-specific systems or rules. In terms of mass comparison, fighters in standard Aurora are around 200-300 tons compared to 'normal' warships that resemble modern naval warships in terms of size. Therefore a "fighter" is much more comparable to a real world fast attack craft. For example, a Russian Project 205 Tsunami (NATO designation: Osa) is a 200 ton missile boat with four P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 Styx) missiles.
I find this far more plausible then classical fighters.  Though I will point out that nobody has ever made an FAC (or PT boat) carrier.

Quote
With regard to Newtonian Aurora, I think fighters will actually be more dangerous than in standard Aurora and don't need any special help. Small, expendable and easily replaceable craft are always useful for attacking a well defended enemy fleet, especially now you can no longer fire your missiles and turn away. In addition to a loadout of missiles, they will be able to carry the equivalent of "iron bombs" and act as the delivery system, which means the number of reloads for a carrier will be much higher than at the moment. The smallest railgun is 25 tons (or 0.5 HS in standard Aurora), which means a fighter 'beam weapon' is now possible. As they are based on a mothership, they will be able to mount more powerful, less fuel efficient engines and dedicate more of their tonnage to those engines, allowing greater acceleration and therefore more options. As well as being hard to detect, they will also be hard to hit as target size is now a significant factor. Finally, their range will be far greater than in standard Aurora as they can be launched at extreme range and coast most of the way. Or launched at extreme range and accelerated up to high speed before launching missiles or kinetic weapons, both of which will have the initial momentum of the fighter. The fighters are more likely to be able to avoid defensive fire after launching as they are hard to detect, hard to hit and will likely have greater acceleration/turning capability than a full size warship.

They will obviously be susceptible to nukes but they were susceptible to missiles before and as a single nuke could potentially kill a capital ship in Newtonian Aurora, using one against a fighter will be more overkill than in standard Aurora. I would advise spreading out the squadron though :)

Carrier operations will be more involved, as the fighters will have the momentum of the carrier. A modern version of: "Officer of the deck - turn the Nimitz into the wind"

Steve
I'm not so sure.  Yes, they can extend range.  But how will missile fire control work?  A fighter can't carry the same fire control a battleship can, and thus, if it is range-limited as it is now, it probably can't launch from outside the target's envelope.  Particularly not if it's a lancer.  As for getting missiles up to speed, the only time you will want to do that is if you can't fit an equivalent engine inside the missile.  A fighter will not have a useful delta-V and acceleration, and a useful payload, and still be cheaper then another stage on the same missiles.  The only time it would be a good idea is if you're using it for pacification duty, facing inferior opponents.  They probably can't touch it if handled properly, so the cost savings are realized.
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Offline jseah

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 03:37:13 PM »
I find this far more plausible then classical fighters.  Though I will point out that nobody has ever made an FAC (or PT boat) carrier.
If you're talking about normal Aurora, I have.  A bunch of FACs were made as early defence force and relegated to back line duty later.  So I created a 6kton hangar space carrier to ship them around.  And reload their box launchers. 

Very useful those.  Blew up a minor spoiler incursion.  But then my FACs outweighed them 10 to 1 so... =P
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 03:41:20 PM »
I find this far more plausible then classical fighters.  Though I will point out that nobody has ever made an FAC (or PT boat) carrier.

There must be something along these lines or FAC built in one part of the world would never make it anywhere else and they plainly do. Whether that could be adapted to deploy them at sea is an interesting question.

Quote
I'm not so sure.  Yes, they can extend range.  But how will missile fire control work?  A fighter can't carry the same fire control a battleship can, and thus, if it is range-limited as it is now, it probably can't launch from outside the target's envelope.  Particularly not if it's a lancer.  As for getting missiles up to speed, the only time you will want to do that is if you can't fit an equivalent engine inside the missile.  A fighter will not have a useful delta-V and acceleration, and a useful payload, and still be cheaper then another stage on the same missiles.  The only time it would be a good idea is if you're using it for pacification duty, facing inferior opponents.  They probably can't touch it if handled properly, so the cost savings are realized.

I think we will have to agree to disagree until we see what turns out to be effective in the game. I suspect that the flexibility provided by fighters will make them more useful than ultra-long-range missiles in many situations.

Steve
 

Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2011, 03:59:49 PM »
I’d like to weigh in on the whole fighter debate.
1. People have been saying that fighters require four times the delta-V, that’s not actually true. They actually require around twice the delta-V of a missile:
a. Accelerate towards target (49% deltaV budget)
b. Stop after attack run (49% deltaV budget)
c. Accelerate towards home (1% deltaV budget)
d. Stop at home (1% deltaB budget).
There is no reason for a fighter to have to return home at combat speed. Unless you have to recall them more quickly due to needing them for another engagement they can take as long on the return trip as their maintenance supplies permit. They may not even need to slow down again once they get home, they could be chased down and recovered with tugs, or even recovered by the very Mass Drivers that catch tons of high speed mineral packets every day!

Don't take this the wrong way, but that's not even true with existing modern jet fighters. A missile has a much, MUCH higher damage per weight ratio, and a modern cruise missile like the Tomahawk costs a little under $1m while an F-22 runs in the neighborhood of $150m.

Those aren't fair comparisons, you are comparing a decades-old, well understood, mass produced land-attack missile with a the most expensive and advanced air superiority jet fighter ever developed, which never really left the development and testing production runs and into the actual, cheaper production of the finished model.

Lets compare the Tomahawk with an F-16 holding 6 Mavericks (another tactical missile designed to attack ground targets) and 4 GBU-10 Paveway II bombs. We will ignore the anti-air missiles and its gatling gun.

Tomahawk: The most modern one has a much more advanced guidance system and will cost around $1.5 million, but we will go with Wikipedia's 1999 price of $569k since the F-16 armaments we will be using harken back to that era. It delivers a 450 kg explosive, so we are looking at $1264 dollars per kg of explosive.

F-16: Costs $18.8 million in 1998 dollars (so we won't bother with currency conversions), the Mavericks each cost $110k and deliver a 136kg warhead ($809 per kg). But the Mavericks are still just missiles, they are smaller and cheaper than Tomahawks, but for the real bang for your buck you have to look at armaments which have had nearly all of their propulsive needs provided by the fighter. Like the Guided Bomb Unit 10, with a MK84 warhead. This only costs $25k, but delivers a 900kg warhead ($28 per kg).

After you pay that initial $18.8 million you really start saving money, in this example each F16 run costs $760k, and does the work of 9.8 Tomahawks ($5576k). At that rate the F16 pays for itself on the fourth trip. (And if it doesn't survive four trips... Oops! Should have used Tomahawks! Well, that's actually an overly simple statement, if your short-range fighter weapons are more effective at punching through their defenses, than the increased damage you do to the enemy could make up for the higher amount of money you paid to inflict that damage).

I have some other talking points, but not enough time to go over them right now.

Edit: Forgot to include my source for some of those munition costs:
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/usaf/docs/munition-cost-11-1.htm
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 04:25:07 PM by Yonder »
 

Offline UnLimiTeD

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2011, 04:32:16 PM »
I think the main point here is that if fighters survive and make the attack run, you can't get them back until after the battle.
They have precisely ONE attack run.

I really like the suggestions so far, though;
An Aerospace fighter than dives from it's mothership to a planets surface to give firesupport for a ground invasion when you do not just want a pointless planet, and unmanned fighter craft. Will those be possible?
Most people already use them like the bytes they are.^^
 

Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2011, 04:39:50 PM »
I think the main point here is that if fighters survive and make the attack run, you can't get them back until after the battle.
They have precisely ONE attack run.

Right, so the F16 isn't going to pay for itself with four attack runs in one battle, but strategically it will pay for itself (if it survives) in four battles.

Just from that  perspective it's similar to the current Missile/Beam conundrum in regular Aurora. Missiles are far and away superior for any particular battle, but once you start to consider the logistic requirements of an ongoing action it becomes more complicated.
 

Offline UnLimiTeD

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2011, 05:05:45 PM »
Additionally, you have to calculate the terrain:
In a defensive situation, it's sort of fine, but on the attack, zipping past an enemy to fly deeper in system is likely to result in certain death, just as it would if the home fleet needs to leave for summersale.
I expect the logistics to be a lot more complicated.
Which is kinda what I want ;D
Hell, I still want food as a resource X-D.
 

Offline HaliRyan

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2011, 05:11:26 PM »
I’d like to weigh in on the whole fighter debate.
1. People have been saying that fighters require four times the delta-V, that’s not actually true. They actually require around twice the delta-V of a missile:
a. Accelerate towards target (49% deltaV budget)
b. Stop after attack run (49% deltaV budget)
c. Accelerate towards home (1% deltaV budget)
d. Stop at home (1% deltaB budget).
There is no reason for a fighter to have to return home at combat speed. Unless you have to recall them more quickly due to needing them for another engagement they can take as long on the return trip as their maintenance supplies permit. They may not even need to slow down again once they get home, they could be chased down and recovered with tugs, or even recovered by the very Mass Drivers that catch tons of high speed mineral packets every day!


The problem with this is that you then have only one attack run per battle, so if you don't get them in 1 pass you're SOL. Having only 1 attack run also imposes a hefty penalty on your effective throw weight throughout a fight compared to a more conventional missile-based ship.

Those aren't fair comparisons, you are comparing a decades-old, well understood, mass produced land-attack missile with a the most expensive and advanced air superiority jet fighter ever developed, which never really left the development and testing production runs and into the actual, cheaper production of the finished model.

You're right, that was a bad choice of comparison. On the other hand the F-16 was pretty much the cheapest of its generation, wasn't it? In 1998 dollars (yay wikipedia!) the F-15 was close to $30m, an F-14 was almost $40m.

I'm also not sure a bomb's really useful for comparison in this situation, as without the expensive guidance and propulsion systems you need to get very close to hit an evasive target, and then you're going to start incurring (expensive!) losses. And while the ability to carry bombs gives the fighter idea some extra utility by being able to hit stationary targets like a shipyard or starbase, why not just use a railgun from long range for that?
 

Offline scoopdjm

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 05:43:38 PM »
I think people are taking fighters as everything or nothing, you wouldn't use just fighters in a carrier battle. Fighters are just the first strike weapon.
 

 

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