Author Topic: Newtonian Fighters  (Read 10187 times)

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Offline Rastaman

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2011, 05:56:51 PM »
Code in drop tanks.

Use fuel caches and tankers. Create little maintenance ships that can hold a single fighter to rearm in the field.

Can missiles stop and hover? While out of fire control range of the main ships? Can they decide when to hold fire, when and what to engage, when to run away, circle around? Can they move past targets at an angle and fire iron bombs (or iron nukes at railgun speeds)?
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 06:02:20 PM by Rastaman »
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2011, 06:18:05 PM »
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
I meant in real life.

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.
They generally just move them port to port or ship them as deck cargo, as far as I know.  I am certain that nobody has deployed them at sea, at least on any serious scale.

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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
This might be true in a lot of situations outside of pitched battle.  I just question if taking the trouble of carrying them around is worth it.  Maybe a few, but they certainly won't be the main striking force.


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!
This violates so many principles of military planning.  I will admit that 4x delta-V is probably not required.  However, you will want them to be able to make it home in a reasonable amount of time.  Taking 50 times as long coming back is almost by definition unreasonable.  As for mass drivers...Really?  And if you're using fighters in an enemy-held system?  You might not want to stick around for that long.

As for fighters vs. missiles, the examples throw around illustrate exactly what's going on.  For reasonably soft targets where losses are likely to be low, fighters are great.  For hard targets, missiles are far and away superior.

Code in drop tanks.
Seconded.

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Use fuel caches and tankers. Create little maintenance ships that can hold a single fighter to rearm in the field.

Can missiles stop and hover? While out of fire control range of the main ships? Can they decide when to hold fire, when and what to engage, when to run away, circle around? Can they move past targets at an angle and fire iron bombs (or iron nukes at railgun speeds)?
Um, this is newtonian.  That makes most of these somewhat impractical.  You have to match both position and velocity to use tankers and caches (which don't work terribly well on the offensive anyway).  And fighters can hover, sure, but that takes away most of their advantage.  We don't know what fire control will look like.  And missiles have no need of iron bombs.
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Offline blue emu

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2011, 06:23:29 PM »
... Taking 50 times as long coming back is almost by definition unreasonable...

... ummm... using 1/49th the fuel gets you home in 7x the time, not in 49x the time... doesn't it?

Power Law? Inverse square?
 

Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2011, 06:47:40 PM »
This violates so many principles of military planning.  I will admit that 4x delta-V is probably not required.  However, you will want them to be able to make it home in a reasonable amount of time.  Taking 50 times as long coming back is almost by definition unreasonable.  As for mass drivers...Really?  And if you're using fighters in an enemy-held system?  You might not want to stick around for that long.

The principle of military planning is what makes sense. All of the battles in Aurora I have had, or read about (that didn't take place among two factions that lived in the same system) have taken the form of a single encounter, or two at most, which have lasted a few minutes, and then months pass before another fight.

I don't really understand your issue with the Mass Drivers, it seems like a reasonable secondary purpose for an installation which magically captures every single high speed mineral packet which approaches it regardless of size.

In the case of an offensive campaign you could either reserve a higher proportion of the delta-V budget for the return trip, or do other sneaky things like have a second carrier that never goes in on a close approach to enemy forces. Launch your fighters forward on the intercept and then have them turn to the secondary, hidden carrier which isn't as concerned about being found by the enemy. There are no more jump points, the carrier can jump out wherever it wants once the fighters return.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2011, 06:54:36 PM »
... ummm... using 1/49th the fuel gets you home in 7x the time, not in 49x the time... doesn't it?

Power Law? Inverse square?
Assuming instant acceleration, no, it does take 49 times as long.  It will be slightly less, depending on how much of the original time was spent accelerating, but at best, you're looking at about 25 times.

The principle of military planning is what makes sense. All of the battles in Aurora I have had, or read about (that didn't take place among two factions that lived in the same system) have taken the form of a single encounter, or two at most, which have lasted a few minutes, and then months pass before another fight.
But that means that the fighters will be out of service for a couple of months.  I'm not sure that's a good tradeoff.

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I don't really understand your issue with the Mass Drivers, it seems like a reasonable secondary purpose for an installation which magically captures every single high speed mineral packet which approaches it regardless of size.
The fighter has to be headed at the mass driver for this to work.  I'm sorry, but I don't see that happening.  Plus, a pilot is a lot squishier then a mineral packet.

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In the case of an offensive campaign you could either reserve a higher proportion of the delta-V budget for the return trip, or do other sneaky things like have a second carrier that never goes in on a close approach to enemy forces. Launch your fighters forward on the intercept and then have them turn to the secondary, hidden carrier which isn't as concerned about being found by the enemy. There are no more jump points, the carrier can jump out wherever it wants once the fighters return.
That might work, but it's an incredible amount of extra stuff to do, and it could go wrong.  Not to mention that everything is moving all the time.  You can't just stop. 
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Offline scoopdjm

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2011, 07:12:03 PM »
@Byron

Why are we assuming that the figher wouldn't have the fuel capacity? (or am I being stupid again *derpface*)

Fighters are a complex weapons platform, if your empire is in a state of peace there is really no need to maintain fleets of them considering how fast they can be produced.

The mass driver idea is a bit shifty, but in theory you could slow down the fighter with a similar device (electro-magnets?)

I would agree that two carriers is not really a good idea. It's like having someone stand behind a person with a glove to catch the bullet so you can reuse it, without getting shot... and in space.

EDIT: like I said earlier chances are if you HAD fighters they would be used in conjunction with missiles (fired from designated cruisers)



« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 07:13:49 PM by scoopdjm »
 

Offline blue emu

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2011, 07:47:28 PM »
Assuming instant acceleration, no, it does take 49 times as long.

But "instant acceleration" isn't acceleration.

If we assume constant acceleration up to turnover, followed by constant decceleration to the target area, then the time required varies as the inverse square of the fuel consumption. AFAIK.
 

Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2011, 08:28:58 PM »
That might work, but it's an incredible amount of extra stuff to do, and it could go wrong.  Not to mention that everything is moving all the time.  You can't just stop.
Ok, you are starting to drive me a little crazy, can we please assume that our TN cultures are going to have the ability to solve basic calculus and plot basic rendezvous courses with each other? I mean sure, if every single pilot in the fleet has a stroke or instant-onset Alzheimer's, and all of the guidance computers simultaneously short out, then there will be problems. Lets just say that scenario won't happen.
The ISS is moving all the time and the US, the Europeans, the Japanese, and the Russians can all dock with it, the moon is landing all the time and we can still land on it. We get it. Things move all the time in space.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2011, 08:59:16 PM »
Ok, you are starting to drive me a little crazy, can we please assume that our TN cultures are going to have the ability to solve basic calculus and plot basic rendezvous courses with each other? I mean sure, if every single pilot in the fleet has a stroke or instant-onset Alzheimer's, and all of the guidance computers simultaneously short out, then there will be problems. Lets just say that scenario won't happen.
The ISS is moving all the time and the US, the Europeans, the Japanese, and the Russians can all dock with it, the moon is landing all the time and we can still land on it. We get it. Things move all the time in space.
I do understand that.  The problem is that you don't seem to.  For three reasons:
1. This is a game.  While I have been known to do that sort of thing for fun, I really don't want to do so very often.  If you do, be my guest.
2. "Have another carrier waiting": Given how the FTL mechanics work, setting up a rendezvous is a pain in the neck.  See the previous comment.
3. You're into Rube Goldbergism to justify fighters.  A military will work on the theory that they can't assume such things.  Someone might once use a second carrier, but they certainly won't build the fighters on that assumption.

As a general comment:
I'm somewhat OK with the idea of defensive fighters.  The use of fighters on the offense is an entirely different matter.

But "instant acceleration" isn't acceleration.

If we assume constant acceleration up to turnover, followed by constant decceleration to the target area, then the time required varies as the inverse square of the fuel consumption. AFAIK.
It's actually the square root of delta-V (which is related to fuel consumption only loosely).  However, if you have a fixed exhaust velocity drive, then you want to accelerate as quickly as possible.  If the full delta-V ship does constant-burn, and the returning ship does full burn, then you get 1/25th.  (Average velocity is 50% of max).  I think.  It's getting late, and calc is doing nasty things to my brain.

Why are we assuming that the figher wouldn't have the fuel capacity? (or am I being stupid again *derpface*)
Sorry, I lost context on that one.

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Fighters are a complex weapons platform, if your empire is in a state of peace there is really no need to maintain fleets of them considering how fast they can be produced.
This makes them well-suited for system defense.  However, the same can't be said of carriers, so offensive fighters must basically be built ahead of time.  Yes, you could wait, but it would make no sense.

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The mass driver idea is a bit shifty, but in theory you could slow down the fighter with a similar device (electro-magnets?)
Only with a really long mass drive, or a really slow fighter.  Assuming 100m/s^2, you'll cover 50,000 km going from 100 km/s to 0.  That's at the outer edges of human tolerances, mass driver length, and practical fighter speed (the low end, not the high).
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Offline Bremen

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2011, 10:04:27 PM »
Something people are overlooking is I expect fighters will be almost immune to kinetic weapons (higher acceleration + tiny targets) at anything beyond point blank range.  Also consider that the effective range of kinetic weapons depends on how big and slow the target is; it's not impossible that fighters could be skirmish units capable of poking at larger ships while staying at ranges where they're very difficult targets.  Which of course means the best counter for them would be your own fighters. . .

Second, the first two strategic implications I got of newtonian Aurora were, A) Acceleration is important and B) Fuel supply is important.  Normally these are contradictory (engine power vs efficiency tradeoff) but the one way around that is a high efficiency carrier ship for transport that launches parasites (fighters, or even parasite cruisers of some flavor) at (relatively) close range for combat purposes.

Without more numbers to play with we can't say for sure how things would turn out, but I could see a fighter paradigm working like this:

Bombers would be fairly large (for fighters) ships that are basically a large, very high speed railgun (or torpedo/guided projectile gun if those make it in) and fast engine with an anti-capital ship role; the idea would be to stick to long range and shoot at the big, easy targets.  Ideally they'd be able to attack from out of laser range, and incoming kinetic projectiles would have very low accuracy (but not be completely inaccurate; one thing I dislike about standard Aurora is how often combat involves one side shooting without the other being able to return fire).  Lets estimate; Assuming a bomber has 1/10th the cross section of the target its shooting at, and twice the acceleration, then a bomber's weapon would have 40x the accuracy of an equal weapon being shot back at it.  That's quite a force multiplier, even considering a capital ship would be much tougher and have more weapons.  The best counter for these would be fast escorts or:

Fighters would be smaller than bombers and probably mount small size laser weapons; they would be primarily anti-bomber, fighter, and missile craft.  The laser is unlikely to be very effective against large craft at anything beyond point blank range, and unlike standard Aurora point blank range will be suicide for a fighter.  On the other hand their high acceleration would enable them to chew small, but still slower, craft completely apart.  For anti-missile roles, remember that missiles are expected to have stand-off weapons in Newtonian Aurora; it would be hard for the target ship to destroy missiles before they get into firing range, but if you could deploy a fighter "screen" ahead of the force they could destroy said missiles before the activate, or force the enemy to waste missiles destroying your cheap fighters.
 

Offline sloanjh

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2011, 10:09:50 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.

What about LPD with LCAC embarked - does that count?  I'm not sure if it's been done, but one could put a Harpoon box launcher on an LCAC and....

Even if you don't think it counts for attack capabilities, it certainly counts from a landing craft point of view.

John

Disclaimer:  I have no clue what the comments were leading up to Steve's post :)
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2011, 10:41:26 PM »
What about LPD with LCAC embarked - does that count?  I'm not sure if it's been done, but one could put a Harpoon box launcher on an LCAC and....

Even if you don't think it counts for attack capabilities, it certainly counts from a landing craft point of view.

John

Disclaimer:  I have no clue what the comments were leading up to Steve's post :)
I'm not sure you can mount harpoons on an LCAC, and even if you could, they don't.  That's exactly my point.  We have the capability to carry vessels inside other vessels across the ocean.  And what do we use it for?  Everything but FACs.
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Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2011, 10:59:02 PM »
I'm not sure you can mount harpoons on an LCAC, and even if you could, they don't.  That's exactly my point.  We have the capability to carry vessels inside other vessels across the ocean.  And what do we use it for?  Everything but FACs.

I think that out modern navy which is completely and totally in every way focused on the enormous aircraft carriers which for the US navy battle strategy is based on may be a poor example for trying to argue how unimportant fighters are. :) We may not use that many FAC or Corvette sized vessels anymore, but I would argue that that is because they have been replaced by airplanes and helicopters.
 

Offline Yonder

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2011, 11:36:52 PM »
I mentioned I had more thoughts on fighters, here we go!

First of all I think that we all need to remember that there are a huge variety of types of battles that you can run into or try to foster, and as such there are a large variety of ships/fleets to design. Because of that any particular ship doesn't have to excel in every task, but it could still be a perfectly valid choice for other tasks.

Newtonian Aurora is going to have a larger spectrum of battles than Aurora, simply because the velocity spreads will affect each battle so much. At the low tech Steve has shown us you could have two fleets closing on each other at a combined speed of anything from 30 km/s to 30000 km/s. At the slower speeds lasers will rule the day, as they will have a longer range and do damage regardless of the velocity. Kinetic Missiles will also be effective, as they themselves will be able to accelerate to decent speeds at longer range. The faster you go the more slugs will start to be important. They'll never be as accurate as a laser, by eventually you'll get to the point where one hit will be crippling, if not fatal, and it will become worthwhile to put up huge amounts of flak for that purpose. Kinetic missiles will grow more important as well, as their damage also reaches collosal levels, with an improved chance to hit compared to slugs (with the downside of being able to be intercepted). Nuclear missiles will probably be similarly effective for a wide range of closing speeds.

And this is just a first run analysis, who knows what sort of arms races will start to pick up, maybe it turns out lasers stay effective at high closing speeds, because they end up being good at shooting down kinetic missiles, maybe at slower speeds you use nuclear missiles offensively, as nothing else gives the knockout punch you really want, but in a battle with shrapnel flying past at .1c they are used purely defensively in the hope of knocking out opposing kinetic missile salvos.

In the higher speed fights fighters will have an advantage because their small size will make it harder for them to be shot by the one hit required for a kill, while at the same time their kinetic weapons will be able to cripple an opponent orders of magnitude larger than them. In slower speed fights a fighter may actually have the delta-V to make several runs on the enemy, and the time to do it as they slowly close.

Also, each fleet you make may have to handle any of these combat situations, maybe you design a fleet purely to raid an enemy colony, blowing past at 20k km/s and not slowing down until the next system, but if you run into a defensive fleet that matches your speed to intercept you in the system before your objective at a tenth the speed you planned you could be in enormous trouble. I am guessing that flexibility and combined forces doctrine are going to be much more important in NA.

At this point in Aurora, a missile is just not able to give you the flexibility that a fighter can. That won't necessarily remain the case in NA, maybe in NA you'll be able to give a drone a waypoint, have him shoot off a few missiles, give it another waypoint, have it shoot off some more missiles, etc etc. I think many of us, however, are not anticipating that to be the case, let alone doing things like installing railguns on drones. However if we get to the point that Drones fly like a fighter, shoot like a fighter, and quack like a fighter, sure, we may not need Fighters.

I think part of the problem here though is that we are trying to plan battle fleets with one of the biggest pieces missing: sensors. With those mechanics up in the air it's really impossible to make an attempt to do the sort of analysis this topic entails. It seems clear that a lot of the lines exist between the beam and missile weapons now are being eliminated. Slugs and laser beams will be propagated, some missiles will purely be kinetic kill weapons, laser warheads are getting an overhaul, new shrapnel weapons will be introduced. I'm sure along with these changes huge sensor changes will come in. For example random hit chances are going away, which pretty much throws out the entire Beam Fire Control play book. There has been talk of locking on to targets with thermal readings, the increased combat range may require resolution tweaks, the list goes on.

Until we know how far out a capital ship will see a fighter and attack it, or how far out a fighter has to get before it can target enemies the main fleet can't, we won't know how much they will get you. Likewise, until we start to have a good idea of how hard it is to see and shoot down kinetic missiles we won't know if you'll have a choice to use anything but fighters. The battleship is obsolete in modern days because a fighter that costs a hundredth as much as a battleship can easily sink it. As we put more and more realistic physics into NA I'm a lot more worried about the battleship becoming obsolete than the fighter. People keep saying "why launch a fighter when you can launch a missile" the fighter is just as much a replacement to that Missile Cruiser as it is the missile it launches, because once the enemy's one-hit kill weapons arrive at your fleet, you're going to want them one-hit-killing smaller, cheaper warships.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Newtonian Fighters
« Reply #29 on: November 08, 2011, 12:21:06 AM »
I think that out modern navy which is completely and totally in every way focused on the enormous aircraft carriers which for the US navy battle strategy is based on may be a poor example for trying to argue how unimportant fighters are. :) We may not use that many FAC or Corvette sized vessels anymore, but I would argue that that is because they have been replaced by airplanes and helicopters.
That isn't the point.  To my knowledge, nobody has ever done this.  Several navies have at one time or another had LSDs or equivalent ships, but nobody has ever used them to transport light craft to battle.  Not now, not during the cold war, and not during world war 2.  Why not?  I'd speculate it simply isn't worth it.


Until we know how far out a capital ship will see a fighter and attack it, or how far out a fighter has to get before it can target enemies the main fleet can't, we won't know how much they will get you. Likewise, until we start to have a good idea of how hard it is to see and shoot down kinetic missiles we won't know if you'll have a choice to use anything but fighters. The battleship is obsolete in modern days because a fighter that costs a hundredth as much as a battleship can easily sink it. As we put more and more realistic physics into NA I'm a lot more worried about the battleship becoming obsolete than the fighter. People keep saying "why launch a fighter when you can launch a missile" the fighter is just as much a replacement to that Missile Cruiser as it is the missile it launches, because once the enemy's one-hit kill weapons arrive at your fleet, you're going to want them one-hit-killing smaller, cheaper warships.
This might, might make the fighter a good choice for system defense.  It will not help the fighter on the attack.  You still have to get your fighters there, and I'm now going to explain why carriers are a bad idea.

To put it simply, a fighter's logistical advantages are virtually nonexistent.  I'm going to take one of the more common scenarios, using a fighter as the first stage of a missile.  Let's assume that we wish to launch our missiles at 50% of exhaust velocity.  That gives us a starting mass ratio of about 1.65 (e^.5 if you wish to be pedantic).  That means that about 40% of starting mass is fuel to accelerate.  After we launch the projectile, we need 40% of what's left to decelerate to a stop, and then however much we want to get home.  I'll assume that missile throw weight is 30% of launch weight.  That leaves us with .3 launch weight to return.  .12 of that is spent coming to rest.  I'll lastly assume that we wish to return at 25% of exhaust velocity, which gives .072 fuel and .108 bringback.  So, for 100 tons launch to put 30 tons on target, we spent 59.2 tons of fuel.  Yes, a carrier might have a larger magazine, but that will be more then offset by the fuel requirements.  And don't forget we have to cram engines, tanks, structure, and maybe crew into the last 10.8 tons, which likely means low accelerations and thus long cycle times, reducing throw weight farther.  In comparison, for the 89.2 tons, if we chose to fire straight rockets, we would get 54.1 tons throw weight.  That's an 80% increase.  I know that a decent bit of that might be engines and tanks, but assuming we're firing kinetics, that doesn't matter.
Fighters might work from a planet, where you really only need it in an emergency and logistical capacities like this are feasible.  When you have to bring it all with you?  No way.

All this reminds me.  Steve, can we please have unmanned ships?
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