New Players > The Academy

AWACS style ships in support


Been new and something I never thought of but I’ve read enough Tom Clancy that I should have known - is it better to take an awacs support ship with a fleet instead of loading each warship with suites of sensors?

If that is the way - is it a 120 resolution, a 1 resolution em sensors, a passive one and a thermal one?

Yep, AWACs ships are good. You don't get any bonus from having multiple sensors of the same size, so its wasted tonnage unless you take casualties.

As with everything in Aurora, there are multiple ways to do them. The easiest way is to just make a ship with R100-ish (for capital ships), R20 (to catch FAC sized threats) and R1 (for missiles) active sensors. Just take one of your regular warship designs, strip out the weapons, and fill with sensors. That works particularly well for missile fleets, since you usually want to keep your range from the enemy.

There are more complicated options - I've played around with having lightly armoured long range sensors ships with big R100 and R20 sensors that hide away behind a beam fleet, and putting the R1 sensors on a different class of PD ships.

I usually prefer to distribute relatively small sensors so any individual ship is functional even alone. But if you're going to have big sensors, yes, you probably want them to be on specialty ships that you build fewer instances of.

The short answer to your question is: it depends.  ;D

Overall, you need to break down a couple of concepts: Detection and Targeting (Illumination).

Once you've done that, you need to identify usage. For instance, in your home system, DTS may handle most of the detection anyway, while in other systems, you don't want to rely too much on Active Sensors for detection but probably on Passive ones.

Finally, if your fleet is scouting, staying undetected is probably best suited, making the AWACS emissions an easy target to spot from distance. If you are actively looking for trouble instead, then the AWACS would help to ease your ships from sensors tonnage, and that tonnage can be redistributed to firepower or extra layers of armour.

In my opinion, having a dedicated ship for both Detection and Illumination is a good strategy when you don't have a clear strategy against an unknown enemy or are looking for a broader approach, as it allows you to tailor your strategy as you encounter new enemies with enough warning to react. One ship (AWACS) could help with detecting enemies from far away and even initiate active tracking. However, if, for instance, I use 5m km missiles, I typically include a 10m km Active Sensor (AS) as redundancy on the assault ship, along with the fire control system. This redundancy ensures that in the event of the loss of an AWACS, the fleet maintains its detection and combat capabilities.

Further down the road, once you have a broader understanding of your enemies, you can design relatively inexpensive sensors with the sole purpose of detecting and targeting specific ship classes from a safe range, avoiding their potential barrage. This could render the AWACS a luxury in terms of Build Points (BP) and Maintenance costs, and, from one perspective, a liability. You should consider using Fighter or FAC Scouts instead at that point.

I certainly agree with Froggiest about detection and illumination of enemy forces.

The most important part of any fight is to find and assess the enemy strength so you know how to attack or if you should attack in the first place and reveal your main forces.

Therefore you should rely on smaller scouting ships that never reveal your main fleet. Many smaller sensors spread out are much more efficient and will not endanger the main fleet assets until you want to engage them.

Small sensors are also way cheaper to develop and you can much easier develop specific active sensors to fit the size of enemy ships and replace the scouts.

A dedicated AWAC ship that I use are mainly using passive sensors and hangars for scout parasites.

Illumination assets should never be placed near the main force if you use the main force to fire long range missiles. In general I don't use main ships to fight at long range as that is not very strategically sound, main ships only use medium to short range missiles as a self defence measure not as the main attacking force. If you need to engage the main force in a distance to enemy main force where you enter their missile envelope you better be very sure you can win, that is using overwhelming force or numbers advantage. In general it is best if you can strike from the safety of distance and concentrate on massive strikes without the enemy even knowing where your main forces are. That way you can concentrate most of the fleet strength on offensive weapons, therefore scouting is of a very high priority.

Defence is important but defences does not win fights, they only really help when you need to withdraw if your offensive force is not strong enough to defeat the enemy. But scouting can in many ways replace defences as you can withdraw without ever being in danger of being attacked if you detect the enemy first and decide to avoid confrontation you don't need defences other than engines and fuel.

For me it is not uncommon that I have very defensive cruisers that act as remote AWAC ships just filled with defences, passive sensors and hangars. These ships roam space on their own perhaps even systems ahead of any main fleets. They are just dedicated scout platforms and have no real offensive capacity at all. Their role is simply to gather intel on the enemy and nothing else. The sooner you can detect and gain intel on enemy forces the easier it is for you to concentrate the right amount of force on the enemy force at a time and place of your choosing.


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