Author Topic: Forward jump point defense  (Read 742 times)

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Offline Michael Sandy

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Forward jump point defense
« on: March 18, 2017, 11:54:28 PM »
So I have a theory that people are defending the wrong side of the jump points, and why.

I think there are a lot more advantages to a fleet that is preventing a fleet from approaching a jump point than in trying to prevent a fleet from transiting it.

Okay, the setup is that you have several sensor equipped ships and buoys on the enemy side of the jump point, and a bunch of jump couriers.  Expendable jump couriers, as I will get into later.

You have carriers or LAC tenders on the friendly side of the jump point, quite close to it, but completely safe from missile attack until the enemy actually gets control of the jump point.  Normally, fighters and LACs have to worry about closing through an enemy missile barrage to get close enough to fire.  But in forward jump point defense, they can let the enemy close to half the fighter missile range, send the carriers through, launch, and the attackers have nowhere to run.

Assuming the missiles launched by the fighters can find their target without the fighters having to remain in system.

A forward jump point defense should either bleed the attacker, or cause them to waste massive volleys of missiles where the defender simply withdraws through the jump point.  This buys the defender strategic time, as the attacker has to bring up more missiles.  If the defender is concerned about the attacker having missiles/mines launched on the jump point after they briefly withdraw, then send in sacrificial scouts to ensure those mines/missiles are wasted.

So why is it that most stories of jump point defense assume they are attacking the enemy after transit?  I think it is a holdover from Starfire expectations.  You simply could not transit away causing the enemy to waste lots of missiles in Starfire.  The time scale is also completely different.  In Aurora, you could transit in, transit out a couple of times, and the missiles would still be in flight.

Among the requirements of a true forward jump point defense is sensors that can provide 2 minute warning of incoming missiles.  Something that gives the option of allowing a warning to be sent, the point defense ships brought in, and their weapons coming on line to prevent the sensor ships from being taken out by long ranged conventionally launched missiles.

Because you can't really afford to have a significant portion of your fleet stationed forward, the maintenance costs would be awful.  You have a mobile fleet base just on the home side of the jump point, which is a bit of a strategic risk, of course, but far less than trying to stop a jump point transit at the jump point.
 

Offline Bremen

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 01:12:19 AM »
Assuming the missiles launched by the fighters can find their target without the fighters having to remain in system.

Unless missiles have internal sensors, the fire control that launched them has to maintain a lock on the target until they impact. So jumping the fighters out would result in the missiles losing lock and self destructing. Even if the missiles do have internal sensors, they'll just fly to the last known position of the enemy and then look for targets, so they'd probably need to have quite potent (and large) sensors.

The rest of your point is valid, but IMHO less so for fighters than for warship mounted missiles. Having your missile warships on the forward side of the jump point makes some sense, since as you point out they're virtually immune to enemy missiles; worst case is they have to jump back and lose any missiles currently in flight. Hell, even if they never launch any missiles, just keeping them there can make your opponent waste ammo before they retreat (especially if we're assuming a battle vs the AI, since I'm pretty sure it would just empty all its magazines).

OTOH, when you're defending the back side of the jump point you get to fire your missiles against blind ships (assuming you're willing to sacrifice range and mount a close in defense), which can be quite devastating as PD is really quite potent in Aurora.

Beam warships are, for obvious reasons, far more effective when on the back side of the jump point.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 01:40:00 AM »
I suppose I should distinguish between long term defensive operations and short term ones.

When the deployment is expected to be less than 1/3 of the deployment time of the ships in question, sure, deploy them all forward.  But otherwise maintenance issues are a big thing.

Basically, a forward defense allows a slower fleet with shorter ranged weapons to nonetheless choose the range of engagement.

So what if the attackers have 400 million km ranged missiles?  Either they fire a lot of them at once, in which case the scout force just ducks back across the jump point, or they fire in dribs and drabs and they just get shot down by point defense.

You could have fighters with 20+ size 1 box launchers, 20-30 million km range, normally they would have no chance of getting in range, but they could launch right in the energy beam point defense envelope.  Again, you couldn't normally get those slow point defense ships within 20 million km of the enemy fleet.

The tactical and strategic options for the defender in a forward defense are quite significant, and unlike the guard the door defense, they get to see the attacker coming.

I am sure that defenses made by a lower tech defender would be crackable, given time and research, but their odds of getting unopposed kills or simply coming out ahead on cost of a missile exchange are a lot higher with the option to withdraw.  And they still have the option of a jump point defense.  They could selectively target the incoming jump leaders, reducing the ability of the attacker to even transit.

Another defensive option:

Fighters with really long ranged missiles, sufficient that they expect to be untargetable at launch.  Normally the issue is that such fighters are not going to be able to get multiple strikes that way, or carry enough missiles to kill an equal cost fleet.  But they would be able to redock with their carriers after a trip of minutes, not hours, and reload to launch another large strike.  And the carriers for such a role could be virtual barges, with nothing but hangars, fuel and ammunition.

You could have fighters that are almost nothing but missile launcher +fire control, virtually no engine, and they could still expect multiple strikes.

Another defense option would be to deploy very fast beam fighters once the attackers are within about 1 minute missile flight from the jump point. Such fighters might be rather short ranged, and normally not be capable of running down a fleet, not without exposing their carriers.  If the attackers have 400 million km missile range, you couldn't have fighter barge carriers launch from a mere 400 million km and expect to be safe.

But launched with a jump point to withdraw behind?  A crap ton of small fast fighters that are less than 10 minutes fighter flight from their targets?
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 03:39:31 AM »
Probably one of the most important counters to a forward jump point defense would be stealthed ships to clear the sensor platforms.  If the defense has active sensors up, the ships jumping in can make use of its anti-missile warnings.  If their sensor platforms get cleared out, they have to probe so that missiles that are lurking just kill the sacrificial probes.  But that takes time.  And if the stealthed ships are already close, they can take a toll on the defenders' ships.

A forward jump point defense seems to be one of the very few ways a technologically inferior empire could inflict a decisive defeat on a technologically superior attacker.  Which I find to be quite intriguing from an RP perspective.  I could see two races at a stalemate, where they both control a jump point into a nexus, but can not dislodge the other race from its access to the nexus.
 

Offline El Pip

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 10:51:31 AM »
Unless missiles have internal sensors, the fire control that launched them has to maintain a lock on the target until they impact.
That isn't actually the case. All that is required is that the target is within active sensor range, a ship can launch and run off so the target is out of fire control range and the missile will still hit. The active sensor can that 'sees' the target can be on a completely different ship.

I've not checked it with ships jumping back through jump points, but I've checked it with fighters launching and then landing in a hangar and their missiles still hit.

This may be some sort of bug, and I can see why you may want to RP it that the launching ship has to maintain target lock, but that is how the game works at present.
 

Offline Haji

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2017, 11:39:16 AM »
So I have a theory that people are defending the wrong side of the jump points, and why.

You are both right and wrong. The situation you described would indeed bleed the attacker nicely for no danger to the defender, that is correct. The thing is: why would anyone fight under the circumstances?

Let's start with the attacker. If such a scenario would result in significant loses, I have to ask, why should I attack at all? Unless the attacking fleet is designed from the ground up on the assumption the enemy will not be able to threaten it with missiles, they obviously should have point defences. If those point defences cannot reasonably degrade the attack you described, the attacker shouldn't be attacking at all since he obviously doesn't have enough forces. If he can defend against such a strategy reasonably well, then the entire defending tactic simply fails.

Now let's go to the defender. Let's say you have enough forces to significantly harm the attacking fleet with such a tactic. Unless the force is designed in such a way it cannot take return fire, than my question is: why isn't the defender simply attacking? He has enough firepower to take on the opponent in deep space so that would imply he has superior forces, so the logical thing would be to attack.

And if the defender has only enough missiles to nibble at the opponent, than what's the point? The defender is also facing ammunition constrains (although he's closer to the resupply point) so why waste a lot of ammunition for so little return? Wouldn't it be better to allow the enemy to transit and hit him when his point defences are not operable because of transit effects? Even if the attacker was lucky and the jump engines dropped him one and a half million kilometres from the jump point (which require a lot of luck and quite high level of technology) he would be able to launch one, maybe two salvoes of anti-missiles, and that's not enough. Not only that but the attacker would be scattered, unable to mass their gauss cannons and lasers, allowing missiles to strike essentially unopposed. Seems to me like a much better option.

I should also point out that while forward jump point defence with ships is difficult due to maintenance issues, it is no impossible and I have used it numerous times, for well over a decade at one point.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 03:42:55 PM »
Good points, Haji.

Normally, a fleet that is slower, with shorter ranged weapons, can not force the enemy to enter deep enough into its range envelope that it can pick apart the enemy before it withdraws.  And said slower fleet would be unable to withdraw.

But with a forward jump point defense, say you have a defender with a lot of short ranged missiles compared to an attacker who can pick them apart in deep space with much longer ranged missiles.

If the defender can maintain sensors on the attacker, and have a small jump courier to communicate (or a jump gate), then the defender could emerge with the attackers deep within their missile range.

But you are right to ask about the strategic reasons for this deployment.

If you want to preserve access to a system, but do not wish to risk your slower fleet (or fleet which has slower components), then the defending side may not feel able to run down the enemy in deep space while simultaneously maintaining control of the jump point against a possibly genocidal enemy.

The idea is that if the attacker launches enough simultaneous missiles to get through the defender's point defense, the defenders simply jump out, then send a bait expendable ship through to eat any loitering missiles, then jump back in.  If the attack spaces out their attacks, so they do not waste huge missile waves on empty space, the defender uses slow and cheap point defense ships which normally could not keep up with the fleet to degrade the attacker's missile waves.

Basically, the defenders can use all out box launcher missile waves, and the attackers can't.

As for why the attacker would still attack under those circumstances, are you asking from an RP perspective or about the limitations of the AI?  Because genocidal bugs and robots might just attack because it is in their nature to attack.  They can't flee from a threat they can't detect, even if they could anticipate it.  Because that would involve a deeper level of understanding of their foes and it would also mean they could be BLUFFED from attacking by a deployment that resembles such a trap.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 03:45:24 PM »
I've not checked it with ships jumping back through jump points, but I've checked it with fighters launching and then landing in a hangar and their missiles still hit.

Ok, I had wondered about that.  So 'pod launchers' are possible, where the fighters are launched, fire their box launchers, and immediately land back on their carrier to reload.
 

Offline Detros

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2017, 03:49:41 PM »
why isn't the defender simply attacking?
What about defender having high level beam weapons but low level engines while attacker has high level engines?
Then attacking is currently bad idea because those ships can't get close enough to enemy. If defender is too scared to let the attacker jump through the JP because he can't catch him then sitting on the attacker's side of jump point and blasting anything that gets near may be the best idea.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 04:05:31 PM »
A forward jump point defense gives the defender options that are not available in a deep space fight, or a conventional jump point defense.

Missiles are not normally a good jump point defense weapon, because the attacker can just jump back to avoid a massive missile wave, if said missiles are launched from more than 30 seconds out, allowing the attackers to see them once their sensors stabilize.  But that forces the defenders to be quite close to the jump point, and therefore unable to get out of range.

From a strategic perspective, the attackers can't tell how many defenders are hidden on the other side of the jump point, but with a forward defense, the defenders know.  Again, this is not an advantage that is normally available, and an inferior tech defender needs every advantage they can get.

From an RP perspective, if the defender can blunt their attacker's first attack, cause them to waste enough missiles that they can't follow through to their objectives, that allows for a potential peace treaty before so many people have died that positions really harden.  It is the classic Netherlands small nation technique.  Be a tough enough pill so that the big nations know that they can't casually walk over you before you call in an ally.  It succeeded for centuries with some occasional failures.

If an empire is having difficulty with (spoilers), this might allow them to engage in a way that they will be able to salvage the wrecks relatively safely as well, in order to catch up on technology.  Indeed, baiting (spoilers) to a defended jump point might be a way of clearing systems of them relatively cheaply for a low tech power.  The downside is, of course, you reveal which jump points lead to your empire that way, sacrificing the time you might gain while the enemy probes other jump points for tactical advantage.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2017, 04:10:45 PM »
What about defender having high level beam weapons but low level engines while attacker has high level engines?

Actually, that sounds like the best case for a conventional jump point defense.  It is when the defender is missile based, but with inferior ranged missiles compared to the attacker that it yields the most advantage.  If the defender can do box launcher missile waves, but in a conventional defense they might waste their launch against an attacker who jumps in and immediately jumps out, a forward defense flips that in their favor.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2017, 04:22:17 PM »
I suppose it really is affected by the tech level.  Things like sensor ranges, the relative effectiveness of point defense, whether box launchers are available.  And whether the target is (spoilers) or another race.

Actually, Detros has a point.  If the defenders have enough point defense to withstand long ranged fire, even AMM fire, everything but point blank, within 5-second travel time fire, then a forward defense would force the attacker to close to effectively zero range to transit past them. Unlike a conventional defense, where the defenders would expect to be at some range from the attacker (depending on tech level), but certainly not 10,000 km where they could shred them in seconds.

The conventional jump point defense, a slow beam defense fleet might just not do enough defense before the attacker got out of range.  But a forward defense, as long as they can win the beam duel at any range, they have enough firepower to prevent a transit.
 
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Offline Titanian

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 11:28:37 AM »
The conventional jump point defense, a slow beam defense fleet might just not do enough defense before the attacker got out of range.  But a forward defense, as long as they can win the beam duel at any range, they have enough firepower to prevent a transit.
Why that? Who says the attackers actually wait until they have destroyed all defenders? If you do forward defence, the attacker might go straight for the jump point and transit through. They can even fire on the defenders while doing so.
If the defenders wait behind the jp, and the attackers jump through and instantly move away, the defenders have the exact same timeframe to shoot at them, but the attackers at least can't fire back for some time.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 11:39:16 AM by Titanian »
 

Offline Detros

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2017, 01:46:43 PM »
If the defenders wait behind the jp, and the attackers jump through and instantly move away, the defenders have the exact same timeframe to shoot at them, but the attackers at least can't fire back for some time.
You should get more opportunities to shoot when you sit around the point on the other side and enemy ships _need_ to go to you in order to jump than when you sit around the point on your side, they jump through via squadron transit, appear multiple 100k away and move away from the point in speed your ships can't match.
 

Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: Forward jump point defense
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2017, 04:27:29 PM »
For beam defense, the difference is how fast a ship can kill another at point blank, 10,000km range vs how fast it can do so at whatever the jump distance a squadron can get from the jump point, plus how far they can go in 5 seconds.

There is also an effect on design, as a ship designed anticipating that the enemy will have to cross within 10,000 to achieve its objective is a bit different from one expecting its first and possibly only fire will be at 100,000km.

I haven't done the math, but I suspect a beam ship can kill an equal sized ship in 5 seconds at 10,000 km, possibly more than one, but it might take as much as a minute at 100,000km.

A ship designed to pursue an enemy after transit in order to stay in range has a lot more space devoted to engines than a ship that only has to be able to transit in and out of a jump point with a squadron.
 

 

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