Author Topic: Anti-Fighter Defense  (Read 2394 times)

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Offline 3_14159

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Anti-Fighter Defense
« on: October 04, 2013, 11:27:15 AM »
During the preparations for both short-lived community games, I spent some time trying to develop an effective anti-fighter defence for me to use.
My prediction had been that several or most players would have relied mostly on fighters to deliver their offensive capabilities, and for that I wanted to be prepared - using as little resources as possible. Now, since I won't have to keep it secret to keep and advantage over others, I've decided to post it here.

It relies on several assumptions:
- Enemy's offensive punch (mostly) in fighters: Well, that's what I defend against.
- The only way to permanently deal with the enemy threat is to destroy the fighters: Missiles can be shipped more easily.
- A four-point [1] warhead is enough to mission-kill or kill a fighter completely: It should have only one layer of armour, which means one point of damage dealt against a mostly box launcher (0 damage absorption afair) and engine (boom) enemy.
- Enemy missiles won't have inbuilt sensors: Most players hardly bother; even with actives my fleet can disengage; and this means if I kill a fighter, his missiles disappear.
- Enemy missile ranges are more or less known: Not exactly, but, for example, 30-70mkm.
- Outrange the enemy sensor range: That's a tricky one. MFCs have three times the range, and contrary to them I need to see fighters consistently. This means my sensor needs to be fifteen times the size of their missile fire control, or ca. five times the size of their sensor (3x for MFC, plus four point something for going from res 100 to res 5). However, their own fire control and sensor size will be limited due to tonnage needed, probably to something like 10 to 25 tons for the MFC and 90 to 500t for a sensor (variant of fighter and specialized AWACs FAC, respectively). This means I require a sensor size of 375 plus tons.

For the example, I will use the following assumptions (tech shamelessly stolen from the Starmantle topic as I don't have my game with me right now):
Enemy fighters: 215tons, 12000km/s speed, six size-2 missiles. Missile speed 28800km/s, range 60mkm. ToHit against 10kkm/s is 80%, against the fighters themselves 2/3rd (66%). [Edit: warhead is size 4]
Enemy scout fighters: Same tonnage/speed, 142mkm res 120 sensor
Own main-ship sensors: The example's Aegis class would have a giant 324mkm res 1 sensor at 5000t. For my example and to demonstrate cost-effectiveness I'll scale it down to 1150t [23HS] and a range of ca 75 mkm and res 1. (Or 600t [12HS] and res 4, see above.)

Now, the tactic's effectiveness depends on a class of anti-fighter fast attack crafts for protection.
They in turn require several attributes: Fleet speed or faster, a fire control reaching at least as far as the fighters', as many missiles as possible, as small size as possible. The second is reachable as they - while they also have a smaller target to target - have more tonnage to use it. To reach the same range, they require a fire control five times as large, for 50 to 125 tons.
I am assuming a tonnage of 1000t, a fleet engine percentage of 25 and 100t of MFC needed. This means I probably have about twenty missiles available. (20 Size 2 box launchers for a total of 300t leaving 350 for armour, life support, fuel and so on). Their missiles are the same as the fighters' above, meaning an expected thirteen fighter kills for expending their complete load.

The formation this group fights in is a triangle: Each of the edges represents one or a group of FACs, while there's the main warships in the middle. The distance depends on the assumed enemy weapons range: You have to be away at least far enough away to kill the fighter before the missiles arrive. Since the worst ratio happens if they go in directly between two groups, you've got to base it on that. Use the law of cosines to calculate that or - if the missile speeds are the same, place the groups range * SQRT(3)/2 away. In this example, that's 60mkm*0.866 or a bit under 52mkms away. Let's assume for this that we place them at 30mkm.

ASCII-drawn, this looks something like that, with the whole fleet moving to the right:
       o
o  x          -->
       o

Let's calculate a fighter approach using one FAC per group and fighters with a bit more than double the FACs' tonnage, that is fifteen plus one scout fighter. They approach from directly in front of the group, with their sensors staying back and therefore sadly out of range. If we had killed their scout, that would've mission-killed the whole group at once - maybe a specially-built EM sensor plus bus missile could do that, but that's not for here.
Distance is to the main fleet.
Before: The gigantic sensors of the main fleet have been detected by EM. Fighters close in.
75mkm: The fighters are detected by the main sensor array.
45mkm: The fighters launch. They must remain in their MFC range for their missiles to be able to hit. The FAC closest to them at 24mkm distance (actually two, assuming only one) launches its missiles in 5s increments. After 100s, all missiles have been launched, while the fighters' missiles have closed in under three mkm, and are at ca 42mkm.
After less than fifteen minutes (their missiles still 17mkm out), the last of the FACs missiles has hit. Five missiles have been doubly assigned, but we can assume about ten fighters killed (estimated value for fifteen missiles, plus five means conservatively estimated). This reduces the fighters' strike by two thirds to forty size-2 missiles. Easier to deal with for PD than 120.
While the fighters run back to their carrier, the FAC is required to head to back to its rearm ship (1000t hangar space), to rearm and is back after an hour or so latest.

Result: Decreased initial strike by 66%; destroyed 66% of the enemy fighters. Missiles survivable.

Changing the angle doesn't change anything as this was the worst case for flight time. Increasing the fighter count (for example taking double) means about 13 of the now thirty killed, decreasing the initial strike by over forty percent.

The advantage of the system is clear: Expending less missiles to deal with the incoming ones - each size 2 missile expended has an estimated  5.28 incoming size-2 missiles killed, more than is possible with AMMs and conventional missile defence. This does not scale with the incoming munitions size - size ones (the dread of anti-missile defensive systems) would just mean the estimated value is 10.56.

What are the cost? In this example, it's three thousand tons FACs plus a 1150t or 600t sensor (the former also doing the double job of missile detection) and a rearmament ship of maybe three thousand tons. These are scalable; the only required thing to increase is the FAC count, with the rearmament ship being nice. Plus missiles, of course.

What about counters? There are two possible ones: Attacking them with fighters and attacking them with normal ships.
- Fighters: This requires a specially-built scout fighter to look for such traps. Taking the same as above, this means the fighters have 57mkm range to detect the FACs. Coming in from their best angle, this means a distance of 87mkms from the main fleet. However, the fighters still need to close to the range dictated by their FCs - under three mkms. A redesign of the fighters is possible, changing their FCs to res 20. In this case, they still have 34mkm range without tonnage changes, putting them to 64mkms. Since the FACs can engage them the moment they're seen by the main fleet's sensors at 75mkm, this means they're able to claim a hefty price. Tonnage changes for the fighters' FCs mean a technological arms race which the FACs can win as they have more tonnage to space - mounting only fourteen launchers for a 200t MFC for example.
- Ships: Here, we can use the higher speed of two fleets closing to another: With the FAC groups running away the enemy needs to have at least double the speed to force a closing were they detected at 60mkm only - and, well, if the anti-fighter sensor alone reaches out to 75mkm...

Is this achievable under other conditions? I sure hope so, and unless we've got very mismatched tech capabilities or missiles, this should remain applicable. Under other tech levels, too, just increase the ranges.
However, it also requires an investment not suited for smaller fleets, and if the main fleet cannot handle the reduced missile load, you're screwed anyway.

Other ideas, counters I've overlooked or commentaries for this very confused post?

[1] Of course it's four damage needed for one internal damage. Thanks, Brian.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 09:37:01 AM by 3_14159 »
 

Offline GenJeFT

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2013, 08:01:16 PM »
I would personally mount AFMs (Anti Fighter Missiles) to my ships. Longer range and a little bit larger then AMM (which I dont use at all) while being smaller and faster then ASM. It would be more cost effective since I am not building mission specific ships. Also the AFMs could double as crappy ASMs

But then I use size 20+ ASMs and VERY short range VERY fast 20+ ASMs I call torpedoes. I cant wait for the next version of the game.
 

Offline Brian

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2013, 04:37:18 AM »
One small change needed to get the result you want.  A 3 point warhead is not going to do any internals to a fighter.  Almost any fighter is going to have at least 3 columns of armor.  Even if there is only the 1 layer (a fairly good assumption) you are going to need a 4 point warhead to actually get that internal point of damage.  The break point on having either 2 or 3 columns of armor is a 200 ton fighter.  Most fighters unless armed with a single small gauss are going to be over that 200 ton mark.  Also by having that 1 extra point of damage per hit you allow the missile to be much more dangerous to any other larger ship or FAC that does not have more than 1 layer of armor.

Brian
 

Offline 3_14159

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2013, 09:35:36 AM »
I would personally mount AFMs (Anti Fighter Missiles) to my ships. Longer range and a little bit larger then AMM (which I dont use at all) while being smaller and faster then ASM. It would be more cost effective since I am not building mission specific ships. Also the AFMs could double as crappy ASMs

But then I use size 20+ ASMs and VERY short range VERY fast 20+ ASMs I call torpedoes. I cant wait for the next version of the game.

This is, of course, possible. But it requires your AFMs to have both a higher range and more speed than the incoming ASMs.
The torpedoes are very interesting for the next version. Sadly, there's no incentive for such weapons right now.

One small change needed to get the result you want.  A 3 point warhead is not going to do any internals to a fighter.  Almost any fighter is going to have at least 3 columns of armor.  Even if there is only the 1 layer (a fairly good assumption) you are going to need a 4 point warhead to actually get that internal point of damage.  The break point on having either 2 or 3 columns of armor is a 200 ton fighter.  Most fighters unless armed with a single small gauss are going to be over that 200 ton mark.  Also by having that 1 extra point of damage per hit you allow the missile to be much more dangerous to any other larger ship or FAC that does not have more than 1 layer of armor.

Brian
Dammit, you're right of course. That was a blackout on my part - you need one internal damage, so four warhead  is necessary. Too long since I played the game.
 

Offline GenJeFT

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2013, 05:34:18 PM »
This is, of course, possible. But it requires your AFMs to have both a higher range and more speed than the incoming ASMs.
The torpedoes are very interesting for the next version. Sadly, there's no incentive for such weapons right now.

Not hard to do, just use the ASM engines on a smaller missile. You dont need the same warhead power (once again more viable for me due to my already over-sized missiles). But then if your fighting players most of them seem to use fighters in order to get very large payloads as close as possible (far closer then a regular ship) in an attempt to sneak in under the radar. Since in that strategy they are going for a massive punch more then range it should not be a problem. That is based on what I have been reading of some strategies people use.

I dont see the point of arming fighters with standard range/power ASMs to fire at the same range as any other ship when you could take advantage of the much smaller fighter size to try and sneak closer. If your going to use standard ship mounted ASMs then why bother even making fighters?
 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2013, 05:13:30 PM »
Quote
I dont see the point of arming fighters with standard range/power ASMs to fire at the same range as any other ship when you could take advantage of the much smaller fighter size to try and sneak closer. If your going to use standard ship mounted ASMs then why bother even making fighters?
usually the longer range you are hitting from, the better,   for reasons exactly like this.

if your fighters are hitting at the same range as their starships there's no chance they can get the first strike in.
 

Offline alex_brunius

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 06:38:35 AM »
usually the longer range you are hitting from, the better,   for reasons exactly like this.

if your fighters are hitting at the same range as their starships there's no chance they can get the first strike in.
I think it comes down to an issue of balance.

If your fighters are 1/10:th of the size of your standard warships or even smaller you should be able to sneak in to around 25-50% distance and still have a lower chance of getting detected.

This matter most at medium tech levels where your missiles have just reached maximum power mod their fuel consumption is atrocious, and reducing their fuel by 50-75% can significantly improve performance.
 

Offline Rolepgeek

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2013, 12:55:32 PM »
Maybe it's just me, but when I use fighters, they're usually either beam fighters around 500 tons, with 3 to 4 layers of armor, or missile fighters with just a few box launchers, accompanied by a sensor fighter to let them have range.

Maybe that's just me though. I tend to like the giant carrier approach.
 

Offline Starmantle

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 04:24:56 PM »
First of all, I'm honored that my fighters are the targets of such a strategy :)

I've often wondered how I would deal with incoming fighters and I've thought about corvette pickets, but your triangular pattern is more elegant than I would have thought of.

I also very rarely think in terms of internal HTK, and I like your thinking on it - though a fighter design could counter by having two tiny fuel tanks, making it such that even a single engaging fighter can only be mission killed 1/3 of the time after taking a single point of internal damage.

I'm about to post a revised fighter wing design with limited sensor and anti-missile capabilities, though I'm not sure any of that would be a good counter to this strategy.

3_14159 - could you post some designs of ships that could implement your strategy?  I'm curious and have a hard time picturing it all.   
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 06:45:23 PM »
In my multinational games fighters and smaller recon/combat ships is always a great threat and there are many ways to deal with them. Revealing the location of your main battle group in such environments can be devastating. It usually come down to the side with the best and most scouting ability or ability to neutralize the enemy ability to scout.

My regular concept is a combination of anti-fighter/FAC frigates. My escort cruisers also always carry anti-fighter capability similar to my frigates. Carriers always carry some dedicated interceptors with a very small Gauss cannon and a few size 1-3 box launchers. Fighter-bombers can also be fitted with multi-warheads for anti-fighter duties.

The main carrier fleet is protected by escort cruisers.

The main fleet will be protected by an anti-fighter picket of a few frigates.

Outside of this umbrella there will be a multitude of smaller scout/recon crafts and dedicated frigate sensor ships, mainly with passive sensors.

The main anti-fighter/FAC sensors are usually a larger resolution 5 sensor that sweeps at about 50-150m km. With the frigates positioned as picket ships that means that fighters can't get closer than about 100-300m km from the main fleet without taking out the frigates first.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 04:57:28 AM by Jorgen_CAB »
 

Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2014, 10:58:57 PM »
One easy counter, if I understand this right, is putting sensors on the missiles.

Unless I'm mistaken, missiles with active sensors can guide themselves once launched, so the fighters can retreat immediately after launch, or at the very least don't cause the missiles to fail if they die.

Your opponent could also bring gauss-armed fighters to shoot down your missiles.
 

Offline Charlie Beeler

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Re: Anti-Fighter Defense
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2014, 08:58:16 AM »
Keep in mind that sensor equiped missiles are very myopic.

Also GC fighters either use reduced size systems or are much slower that the fighters they are intended to escort.  Both options perform quite poorly in my experience.
Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics - paraphrase attributed to Gen Omar Bradley
 

 

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