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Posted by: Jorgen_CAB
« on: February 04, 2017, 06:12:16 PM »

I have played several multi nation campaigns where I played several sides at the same time. In these scenarios fleets really need to be very dynamic and protect against all manner of possible threats.

It would be very dangerous to send out a large fighter strike force without a way to protect them, very risky thing indeed.

In most of these campaigns I ended up with basically three different types of fighter crafts. Interceptors, Fighter/Bombers and pure strike crafts.

The Interceptor would usually be a small fast fighter armed with some sort of beam weapon. The more successful were armed with reduced sized lasers. With both range and speed being the key for their success against other fighters.

The fighter bomber would be a larger fighter that could fire smaller missiles and usually had some AMM capability as well. There role would be to attack smaller enemy ships or to escort friendly strike crafts. They could engage anything from missiles to enemy fighters and FAC. They could also be equipped with longer ranged missiles and help out on a more offensive role as well. They would usually carry some Size 1 and 3 launchers.

Pure strike fighters were usually mid to large fighter crafts with the only missions to engage enemy capital ships with missiles, usually size 6 box launchers.

Since ALL fleet operations would operate under a large umbrella of screening recon and anti fighter escorts it were not as straight forward attacking enemy formations as it is against the AI.

If I play against the AI I just assume the AI actually can put up an effective screen so I use the same type of approach for RP reasons. If you don't RP as much then all you need is some good scouting crafts and pure strike crafts with as much offensive power as possible.
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 23, 2017, 06:31:15 PM »

For a tiny Gauss fighter to be able to intercept freighters all over a system, it would need fuel efficient engines, and therefore be rather slow.  Slow missiles aren't that much of a problem, because they do not need to withdraw after a strike, but tiny Gauss fighters could be tracked back to their carrier.  If a missile is fired at a convoy that turns out to have point defense, all you have lost is a missile.  If a Gauss fighter or Gauss fighter group discovers that a convoy has some armed ships or have a fast scout in their hangar, they risk the location of the carrier.

Different weapon systems have different downsides.  Certainly I am a big fan of capital ships having a hangar so they have the option of having an anti-commerce fighter wing, or scouts, or boarding pods, from both a tactical and an RP perspective.

Part of the inspiration was reading some old campaign stories about multi-faction Earth starts, and wondering how they would deal with having to escort all freighters because of long ranged active sensors pinging for large ships.  I think that even if the weapon system didn't kill that many freighters, the cost in fuel and maintenance for escorting them would be a major slowdown in expanding an economy.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: January 23, 2017, 11:11:12 AM »

Many approaches are possible.

My missile fighters do quite well against PD - whether a large number of tiny fighters launching a single missile or the fast fighter/slow missile combo, there will be far too many simultaneous salvos for generic PD to handle.

Missile pods are nice because a carrier can dump them where they're expected to be useful in the future, then leave - less exposure of a large vulnerable ship with high manpower requirements that limit practical deployment time; the carrier can also go somewhere else where it might be needed.

For pure commerce raiding against unescorted targets, tiny Gauss fighters could work... no logistics burden, and a 150t fighter design has a good chance of withdrawing undetected. Throwing missiles at freighters is expensive... probably self-defeating if they don't carry a juicy load.
Posted by: iceball3
« on: January 23, 2017, 05:51:16 AM »

Now I am curious about sensor resolutions.

1 for missiles, 5-10 for fighters, 40-60 for ships and perhaps capital ships specifically.

But freighters and other commercial ships are in excess of 30,000 tons, size 600.  And they and other commercial ships are usually fairly slow and unprotected.  So how about a commerce raiding class designed to interdict commerce from a billion miles away.  Have a carrier with 'pods' that are basically a huge box launcher and long range fire control.  Stage 1 is an efficient 2-5 MSP missile engine and a decent fuel tank, stage 2 is whatever would be efficient at killing a freighter, or at least requiring it to be escorted.

This wouldn't kill that many freighters, but it would force the other guy to disperse his fleet to an extent protecting their freighters, or avoiding huge swaths of space.  Or it could prod an enemy into sallying towards the big noisy and distant big honking sensor, even though it is obviously a trap.

This becomes a more strategic formation question.

It addresses the question of what do missiles ships do once point defense becomes very effective:

Their preferred prey are ships that do not mount point defense.
Barring CIWS that is. The targets do not even need active sensors for CIWS to work, even.
Luckily, Bomb-Pumped lasers go right through the things.
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 23, 2017, 04:39:28 AM »

Now I am curious about sensor resolutions.

1 for missiles, 5-10 for fighters, 40-60 for ships and perhaps capital ships specifically.

But freighters and other commercial ships are in excess of 30,000 tons, size 600.  And they and other commercial ships are usually fairly slow and unprotected.  So how about a commerce raiding class designed to interdict commerce from a billion miles away.  Have a carrier with 'pods' that are basically a huge box launcher and long range fire control.  Stage 1 is an efficient 2-5 MSP missile engine and a decent fuel tank, stage 2 is whatever would be efficient at killing a freighter, or at least requiring it to be escorted.

This wouldn't kill that many freighters, but it would force the other guy to disperse his fleet to an extent protecting their freighters, or avoiding huge swaths of space.  Or it could prod an enemy into sallying towards the big noisy and distant big honking sensor, even though it is obviously a trap.

This becomes a more strategic formation question.

It addresses the question of what do missiles ships do once point defense becomes very effective:

Their preferred prey are ships that do not mount point defense.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: January 22, 2017, 06:35:17 PM »

Yes, missiles with EM detection sensors can home in on EM signatures, and coarse-grained actives are noisy. Mostly relevant if the firing ship is destroyed, and could still be played around by an attentive player though.

I generally have fighters accompanied by sensor variants of the same size and performance , but I may also have larger and much more powerful sensor ships behind the lines.

Firepower can be made stealthy cheaply and expediently by splitting it over the smallest practical fighters.
While I typically use multiple sensor ships with one type of sensor each to reduce footprint, a large sensor can't be split up. Cloaking device and reduced-signature engines are expensive. If you care about EM signature you need to use an even larger sensor with finer resolution so the ship becomes even bigger and more expensive. All in all, I usually don't bother, and accept that my sensor ships will be quite visible. They're accompanied by a proper fleet of full-size ships AND/OR deployed far behind missile fighters that will hopefully deal with any threat without being detected themselves.

I sometimes build large, slow recon fighters or possibly FACs which can remain in space for many years. They are usually deployed in groups of 4 (R1, R50+, TH, EM), and don't really interact much with my proper military beyond checking whether a system needs my attention. The coarse Active is only turned on when needed.
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 22, 2017, 04:16:59 PM »

Can missiles home in on active emissions?  I have been thinking it might be a good idea to have some distance between the active sensor being used to direct missile fire and the fighters delivering the offensive package.  Missiles with EM sensors instead of thermal, do they work?  They would probably be more effective when used by a computer player against a player that has specialized sensor ships.

Also, while it may not be necessary from a mechanics perspective, having two or more active sensors that rotate which is active, so that if one is taken out by long ranged missile fire, another can come on and continue to direct fire.  Having separation makes it harder for the enemy to intercept the strike force, especially before it launches, and means that homing missiles that overkill the scout won't have nearby strike craft to hit.

Which brings up another question:  do you build your sensor fighters to match speeds with your strike craft, or do you have slower, longer endurance sensor fighters to keep them on station for longer, and to afford greater space for sensors?

I would want anti-missile and anti-fighter sensor fighters to keep pace with the strike force, as their sensors are going to be comparatively shorter ranged anyway.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: January 20, 2017, 04:19:51 PM »

Interesting idea, that hadn't occured to me yet.
Having used this style of fighter quite a bit, I have my doubts though.

These very fast fighters are expensive as about half of their weight goes into the most powerful engines I can build, fuel use is also high. I want to maximise the effect instead of skimping on ammunition, especially if there's a chance they'll come under fire.
They may also not be fast enough to use once-fast missiles... and if the missiles are so thoroughly obsolete that the speeds match up, they may lack the agility to hit anything I care about.

Purpose-built slow missiles aren't bad. Against most targets, expected damage doesn't suffer much: What you lose in accuracy you gain in warhead, especially on long-ranged size-1 missiles.
My experience:
For a slow missile with twice the usual warhead, you lose up to a quarter of expected damage against fast targets (assuming your slow missiles can still catch them), are slightly ahead against targets of "standard" speed (3000km/s if you have Ion tech), and obviously deal up to twice as much damage against slow targets.
The biggest strike against such would normally be the susceptibility to PD, but easy splitting into single-missile salvos turns this on its head
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 20, 2017, 02:02:04 PM »

I may have been looking at the fighter firing slow missiles the wrong way.  It doesn't make much sense to build slower missiles than you are capable of, not as much as it makes sense to build fighters that can use obsolete and obsolescent missiles in a useful manner.

So instead of scrapping old missiles for a fraction of their mats, deploy specialized fighters that can use them to launch cheap large volleys.  Makes sense for rear area system defense on a budget.

My dad told me stories of National Guard vs Air Force drills, where the National Guard pilots had a lot more experience, but much older aircraft.  And he told me that they got old fuzz-buster radar detectors, so they could at least tell when they were being painted, so they could jink and dodge at the right time, and apparently it gave them enough of an advantage that it made a difference in the results.  Might make for a nice story, where you have veteran pilots making do with obsolete equipment, with some tart comments about the bean counters.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: January 20, 2017, 08:11:02 AM »

Interesting fighter variants there.  I like the concept of the fighter that keeps up with the missiles idea... except that if the missiles are slow enough for a fighter to pace them, a similar speed point defense fighter could conceivably wipe out the whole wave, if it is far enough in advance of the wave from its target.  As a specialist solution to a hard target that has lots of point defense, especially point defense missiles, it would be a good way to swamp defenses.  Still, that could just be one load out option, and a fast fighter with anti-fighter missiles could be a good and economical counter to fighters with box launchers loaded with anti-ship weapons.

One other advantage of slow high-yield missiles: If you have equally fast beam combatants (possibly railgun/microwave fighters from my above categories), those could also fly in alongside the missiles, and you might even keep the spent missile fighters as decoys.
You'd probably fall back with your ships just before entering beam range, to pounce on the enemy the instant they take the missile alpha strike.
This would be more relevant for larger ASMs fired in a more conventional manner though - those would benefit greatly from having PD tagging along. 20-40 size-1 missiles in single salvos per fighter is difficult to defend against anyway... but they may tie up fire that would otherwise be directed against your ships/fighters, not sure about AI priorities (and I don't specifically play around AI tactical limitations, too easy).
Posted by: 83athom
« on: January 20, 2017, 07:42:24 AM »

I had been considering cloaked carrier for refueling.  Will carriers need refueling systems too, or will that be part of the standard hangar package?
Steve said that hangars will have them built in.
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 20, 2017, 05:07:11 AM »

I had been considering cloaked carrier for refueling.  Will carriers need refueling systems too, or will that be part of the standard hangar package?

Of course, unlike a fighter tanker, a cloaked carrier/tanker would likely be unable to outrun a fighter squadron that tracked the box launcher fighters back to their support.
Posted by: 83athom
« on: January 19, 2017, 09:34:30 PM »

The changes to how refueling works may make boosted engines on fighters less attractive, as you will no longer have the option of a low footprint refueling tanker.
Thinking about it, you could honestly make a 3000 or so ton ship with one or two of the 500 ton refueling system, 1000 tons of fuel, and a single commercial engine (1250 tons) with heavy thermal reduction. And if you really wanted to, you could add a small cloaking device (if you don't mind making it military). An economical tanker to use as a range increaser that the enemy shouldn't be able to spot so easily. Although saying that my current enemies do have a long range res 20 sensor that could spot them from a few million km, but they shouldn't be getting quite that close.
Posted by: Michael Sandy
« on: January 19, 2017, 07:20:20 PM »

Interesting fighter variants there.  I like the concept of the fighter that keeps up with the missiles idea... except that if the missiles are slow enough for a fighter to pace them, a similar speed point defense fighter could conceivably wipe out the whole wave, if it is far enough in advance of the wave from its target.  As a specialist solution to a hard target that has lots of point defense, especially point defense missiles, it would be a good way to swamp defenses.  Still, that could just be one load out option, and a fast fighter with anti-fighter missiles could be a good and economical counter to fighters with box launchers loaded with anti-ship weapons.

I think that a point defense fighter that can keep pace with enemy missiles would generally require a serious tech advantage, one you could not count on for all encounters, but for use against a particular foe would be very economical.

The changes to how refueling works may make boosted engines on fighters less attractive, as you will no longer have the option of a low footprint refueling tanker.

As a solution to long ranged box launchers, a very boosted 500 ton PD fighter could be interesting.  You would have to hold off on deploying it until the incoming missile wave was detected, cause to have enough speed to overtake missiles it won't have space for much fuel.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: January 19, 2017, 01:32:25 PM »

Oh, I usually have capability agains small craft... it's just typically on full-sized ships, combined with large fine-grained sensors. I usually don't have an elaborate doctrine for symmetrical fleets, my approach is more along the lines of "can gain a decisive advantage if everything works as planned, still has its uses if things don't".

I regard small footprint quite highly... unfortunately, there's not much that can be crammed into a small fighter. Some typical combatants (there may be command and tanker variants, scouts with passives etc):

Small fighters:
a) Single box launcher, as small as possible to sneak in undertected. May be slow or fast (usually slow).
b) Bottom-of-the-barrel tiny Gauss fighters. Soaking missiles, harassment without logistics overhead that may allow real combatants to get some work done. Tried it, didn't like it.

Large fighters:
a) Quick-fring size 1 missile launcher. Fast enough enough to keep up with (slow, high-yield) missiles -> salvo dispersion.
b) Large box launcher. Options like differently-sized submunitions of same speed for salvo dispersion, devastating point-blank torpedos, mines.
c) Unpowered box launcher pod, very long mission life because that can be had for cheap. Makes a carrier function like a missile cruiser with additional options.
d) Microwave (possibly also smallest Gauss for cleanup). Blind larger opponents faster than they can destroy fighters; support boarding attempts.
e) 10cm Railgun -> generic firepower, used offensively or defensively.
f) Slow, dedicated escort fighters with reduced-size Gauss turrets. Not too happy with it.
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