Author Topic: Enhanced Radiation Warheads for Naval Bombardment of Ground Forces  (Read 739 times)

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Offline gpt3 (OP)

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Currently the main reason to deploy enhanced radiation warheads is roleplay - they are only really useful if you want to make an NPR home world glow in the dark and watch its surviving population fall into Mad Max anarchy.

However, one of the original use cases for the development of the neutron bomb (the original enhanced radiation warhead) was as a tactical weapon in support of ground forces - the bomb would cause reduced physical collateral damage while still irradiating enemy combatants. From this 1981 article:

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The long years of engineering grew out of a notion originated by Samuel T. Cohen, a Defense Department consultant, in the mid-1950’s.  Around 1957, at the instigation of Edward Teller at the Lawrence Livermore weapons laboratory, work began that led to the development of a device which, according to Defense Secretary Caspar W.  Weinberger, ”enables infantry to fight closely behind it, as with conventional artillery.” Army experts interviewed at the Pentagon admit that the Secretary is exaggerating. But they do believe that the neutron bomb could be used in a way that would cause less collateral damage and radioactive contamination than standard fission weapons.  General Fulwyler says, ”The enhanced radiation weapons offer even greater possibilities for use than the weapons of the past.”

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The chief Congressional proponent of the neutron-bomb plan is Samuel S. Stratton, a Democratic Representative from upstate New York. ”The tactical nuclear weapons that we have at present,” he says, ”are 10 kilotons. You need 10 kilotons to destroy a tank. A neutron weapon is one kiloton, and you can explode it without touching the ground. As a result, there is no fallout whatsoever. All you have to do is be in a basement away from the immediate blast and you’re safe.” While Representative Stratton’s technical brief would appear to be at odds with Pentagon statements about how the bomb would be used and scientific analyses of its effects, his political logic has proved powerful in Congressional debates. ”The neutron weapon is essentially defensive, simply because it kills tank operators without destroying the German countryside you’re trying to defend,” he says. ”A weapon that is primarily limited to just killing soldiers and goes out of its way to preserve the invaded territory is offensively useless. The Russians are opposed to it because they cannot profit from it even if they could build it.”

I think that one way to improve the appeal of ER warheads could be specialize them into the planetary bombardment niche. One way to do this could be to make ground forces suffer damage from warheads' explosions and their radiation output. "All you have to do is be in a basement away from the immediate blast and you’re safe” could presumably be simulated by making GU fortification extra-effective against radiation attack.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 09:18:24 PM by gpt3 »
 

Offline nuclearslurpee

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I think probably a simple and sufficient change to give ERWs a useful niche is to have the radiation modifier be a multiplier rather than divisor for damage done by missiles to troops. I believe presently a ERW will deal reduced damage to ground troops compared to a normal missile, when it should probably deal increased damage instead. This would be a relatively simple change to make, I would assume, and doesn't require adding a new mechanic for radiation damage.

So basically, if you have ERW 5, instead of a ERW missile doing 20% damage to ground troops it does 500%, while keeping the 20% damage dealt to industry and other 'hard' targets. Actually, this might be rather extreme so maybe it is sufficient to say that ERW warheads deal the same damage as normal missile to ground forces, while keeping the reduction of industrial damage.

The one big caveat I see for this is that collateral damage is supposed to be reduced for ground combat in 1.14 by about 80%, so the need for ERWs may not be very pressing after this change. Playtesting would be needed to confirm whether or not there is a useful niche here.
 

Offline Droll

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The one big caveat I see for this is that collateral damage is supposed to be reduced for ground combat in 1.14 by about 80%, so the need for ERWs may not be very pressing after this change. Playtesting would be needed to confirm whether or not there is a useful niche here.

Hold on does that change also apply to orbital bombardment? The impression I got was that the reduction was for the ground combat itself only. So stuff like artillery, tanks etc.
 

Offline nuclearslurpee

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The one big caveat I see for this is that collateral damage is supposed to be reduced for ground combat in 1.14 by about 80%, so the need for ERWs may not be very pressing after this change. Playtesting would be needed to confirm whether or not there is a useful niche here.

Hold on does that change also apply to orbital bombardment? The impression I got was that the reduction was for the ground combat itself only. So stuff like artillery, tanks etc.

I don't think it does. My point is more that if Steve is trying to make ground assaults a more viable option, buffing the nuclear war crime button might be a bit at counter purposes.
 

Offline Garfunkel

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ERW could still have its niche because the planet would remain uninhabitable due to radiation. So, there would be a meaningful decision to make: use ERW to preserve as many installations as possible while reducing ground combat casualties but then have to wait few years before being able to settle the planet OR launch a major ground invasion to preserve the planet itself while suffering (possibly) large casualties OR glass it from space and forget about it.

Currently ERW's are completely pointless - I cannot think of any situation where I would want to use them. Even if the population size is too large to police, I'd rather ship in more PWL grunts and/or make forced labour units rather than use neutron bombs to wipe out the locals.
 

Offline kilo

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The goal of the current system was to disincentivize the use of nuclear weapons for profit, which kind of works. Standard warheads destroy everything on the planet, while making it kind of uninhabitable. ERWs kill the population by radiation, but does not kill the ground forces. You would still have to land with grunts to capture the stuff. This is completely in line with the intended goals. It makes the ERWs kind of pointless though, as they do not offer anything of value for the upfront investment.
Maybe orbital bombardment should be reconsidered and there could be weapons with higher and lower collateral damage to damage vs ground forces ratios.

PS: On the other hand ERWs could be removed and replaced by salted bombs. These weapons would create huge amounts of short lived radiation. Cobalt-60 is something that is sometimes discussed IRL.
 

Offline Droll

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The goal of the current system was to disincentivize the use of nuclear weapons for profit, which kind of works. Standard warheads destroy everything on the planet, while making it kind of uninhabitable. ERWs kill the population by radiation, but does not kill the ground forces. You would still have to land with grunts to capture the stuff. This is completely in line with the intended goals. It makes the ERWs kind of pointless though, as they do not offer anything of value for the upfront investment.
Maybe orbital bombardment should be reconsidered and there could be weapons with higher and lower collateral damage to damage vs ground forces ratios.

PS: On the other hand ERWs could be removed and replaced by salted bombs. These weapons would create huge amounts of short lived radiation. Cobalt-60 is something that is sometimes discussed IRL.

I think one of the weird aspects of orbital bombardment is that ground forces are automatically immune to radiation. There isn't a capability or something that you have to actively invest in to have them become immune to rads so radioactive warheads don't really do much than kill civilian population and render the planet useless for generations.

I like the different weapons idea like for example particle beams being very accurate at OBS whereas something like a railgun would cause lots of collateral but is obviously easier to mass bombard with.
 
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Offline Blogaugis

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I have a suggestion:
How about making Enhanced Radiation Warheads effective against a certain type of land unit? Like infantry for example.
Math could go like this: it is dependent on armor and fortification ratings. Considering that majority of infantry's entrenchment is 3 (without engineers, with them - 6), entrenchment basically is the key to reducing your losses. Other additions like power armor also help in reducing losses.

Let's say that ERW basically quadruples the damage against infantry. So, if say that we design a AMM style missile, with 1 warhead strength after clicking the "enhanced radiation" button, you have a 400% chance to kill an infantry trooper with racial armor strength of 1 and entrenchment of 1. I guess it would essentially guarantee that you kill 4 troops per shot.
How about armor strength of 1 and entrenchment of 3? (1/3) * 400 = 133.33%. 1 soldier down, with potentially another one..?
Let's see how early Trans-Newtonian Powered Armor fares, plus some engineers entrenching: ((1/1.5) * (1/6)) * 400 = 44.44%. So, potentially, 3 missiles per strike, to get rid of 1 well armored soldier...

It doesn't seem that feasible on the first glance, but here's a catch:
You deploy a detachment of ground forces - to lure the enemy out, making them go on counter offensive (thus, losing their entrenchment bonuses) - and THEN bomb them!
"You FELL into my trap!"

I suppose my initial formula could be tweaked a little, to increase the defender's casualties, making the bombs more worthwhile, but the key is here.
As for other ground forces, the damage should be pretty minimal, kind of what we currently have now. I guess it could go to 100% or even just 50% effectiveness against any other ground force unit class (while infantry is at 400%).
This way, we give an Enhanced Radiation Warhead a somewhat niche use in orbital bombardments, rather than a completely role-play, but in game terms, useless, thing.
 
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Offline serger

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It doesn't seem that feasible on the first glance, but here's a catch:
You deploy a detachment of ground forces - to lure the enemy out, making them go on counter offensive (thus, losing their entrenchment bonuses) - and THEN bomb them!
"You FELL into my trap!"

Currently they'll ignore your trap and kill your detachment from their fortifications, because it's now enough to have both sides in Front Line Defence to begin all-out frontal firestorm.
 

Offline Blogaugis

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Currently they'll ignore your trap and kill your detachment from their fortifications, because it's now enough to have both sides in Front Line Defence to begin all-out frontal firestorm.
Wait, really?
The battle actually happens even if both sides are on Front Line Defense?
I was under impression that at least 1 side has to be on a Front Line Attack in order for actual combat to begin, aside from artillery firing.

Well, regardless, I suppose that strategy to lure the enemy out is void, but the idea that Enhanced Radiation Warhead could be a dedicated Anti-Personnel weapon still stands.
 

Offline serger

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Re: Enhanced Radiation Warheads for Naval Bombardment of Ground Forces
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2021, 06:02:49 AM »
Wait, really?
The battle actually happens even if both sides are on Front Line Defense?
I was under impression that at least 1 side has to be on a Front Line Attack in order for actual combat to begin, aside from artillery firing.

Yep. Though you can set all your forces to Support or Rear Echelon and there will be no fire at all. Yet it's an exploit, obviously.
 
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