Author Topic: [Answered] Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)  (Read 12407 times)

SnowDragon

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[Answered] Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:14:05 am »
Morning chaps, here's a pointed question for you. A modern anti-aircraft missile locks, hits and destroys targets from beyond the horizon, as far as 22 kilometres away. In space there isn't any planet or gravity or wind/air resistance to worry about affect the weapon's maximum range (Effectively turning any weapon's maximum range to infinite, for all practical purposes, fuel withstanding, though any missile can be turned off to drift at velocity, then turned on to accelerate to the target. Eventually it'll hit something). So, the question I'm posing here, is how can any ship that would be destroyed in a single hit (Fighter, Interceptor, boarding craft, bomber etc etc) be expected to last five seconds out of the hangar.

Now, there are some extra complex issues to deal with here. First is the jammers that any ship would use to disguise it's position and the heat it generates overshadowing the small ship's signature making it difficult to lock onto, but away from a larger ship this fact goes away. Now, bear with me for a couple of lines here. Now, the order of any normal battle goes something along these lines, at least when dealing with 'standard' ship class roles.

Fighters shoot down bombers.
Interceptors shoot down fighters.
Bombers sink frigates/corvettes.
Corvettes shoot down bombers.
Frigates sink corvettes, shoot down bombers
Destroyers sink frigates/stealth ships
Light cruisers sink Destroyers, Frigates.
Heavy cruisers sink Light cruisers, destroyers and frigates.
Battleships sink CAs, CLs, destroyers, frigates.
Dreadnoughts sink everything.

Frigates and corvettes are for scouting the enemy locations so fleet firepower can be directed. Bombers are for sinking these, fighters are for shooting bombers down, interceptors are for shooting down the attacking fighters. Destroyers protect the frigates and the case goes on and on. No ship is capable of engaging anything bigger than itself one on one, with the possible exception of bombers. But in the battlespace of every ship being equipped with monstrous Close in weapon systems (Like the Russian demon that shoots fucking 20k rounds per minute), effectively unlimited range anti-aerospace missiles and dedicated ships built for their destruction, can we expect fighter aircraft, interceptors, bombers or boarding ships (HAH!) to actually survive any length of combat flight time (20sec).

And I believe the answer is no, at least while doing anything useful. Staying close to a larger ship might be okay, because they'll be somewhat hidden, but the second they leave that veil of cover they'll be skullfucked by millions of rounds and dozens of missiles. But having said that, for all their effective firepower and dedicated ship classes (Carrier, escort carrier etc) I don't believe fighters, interceptors or bombers to be worthwhile weight, especially not if they are manned craft as well, men are expensive to train. I believe that the manned fighter /bomber is a liability in the space warfare age, and the role would only be served if the mean missile/torpedo size begins to exceed the average family home in size and displacement, and even then, only as unmanned, remote controlled drone.

Discussion nitpicking below.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 03:48:44 pm by Aaron »

Thadius Faran

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 11:31:46 am »
First off large fleet engagements usually mean that the bigger ships are to preoccupied with other large ships to attempt to engage fighters. Either they are redirecting power or the other big ships knock out the fighter coverage of another ship. For example a destroyer takes out a frigates fighter defenses that way fightercraft and bombers can take it out while the destroyer focuses on bigger or more important targets.

Also Fighters will be going very very fast in between these large ships. Getting a lock on them will be painfully hard for any ship other than other fighters. So 1st you have their speed 2nd their size 3rd you have the possibility that they can jam. and 4th they will be in mass numbers meaning just picking one will be hard as they will be everywhere.
If your going to use military force you ought to use overwhelming military force. All war is immoral and if you let that bother you your not a good soldier.

blazingsentinal

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 11:50:16 am »
yes it will be hard to get a lock but with all the missiles etc. flying around it will be easy to accidentally run into something

SnowDragon

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 11:52:18 am »
Replied to: Thadius

Well, preoccupied means nothing in a large ship, that's why there's crew. The men at the CIWS post are not shooting their rapid fire peashooter at the big ship they can't hurt, they're firing at small shit, like missiles and fighters. being occupied with something else means very little. A destroyer isn't going to need help with a frigate, it's going to sink it, no questions asked. Fighters and bombers that try to rush it are just going to get (literally) nuked by the capital ship firepower being laid down upon it.

Speed also means very little as the CIWS gun mounts will be more than able to track, engage and destroy these targets no matter how they move. A single jammed weapon also means very little as there are multiple, if not thousands of positions on larger vessels  able to track and shoot at the target in flow. As far as numbers go, I'd refer to the monster CIWS gun the Russians own now. Right now we can lock and neutralize a ship doing dozens of high level dodging at massive speed and shoot it down. And for the cost of a horde of fighters, I could more than likely buy a single squadron (3-5) of IUN nova corvettes, which would eat the fighter/bomber/interceptor swarm for breakfast before getting the paint nicked.

Not to mention for every one of your fighters I have six anti-aerospace missiles on board that are a 1/10th of the cost, hundredfold more agile, accurate and quicker and destroy a fighter with a single hit and that's per vessel, more if it's dedicated AA and don't require a man to operate.

Look at it realistically, not a romanticized version. ^^

It's not a romantic setting, really. The fighter craft is dead weight. Same with it's bomber cousin.

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2014, 01:49:19 pm »
Actually, with the time that it takes to reach the target, dumb fire projectiles would not be accurate. It is easy to calculate the velocity of the target and shoot where he will be, but then the projectile requires several seconds to reach it's target. This gives plenty of time for the target to change his course.

Missiles can be shot down by point defense systems just as they close in near the target. And because the target in this hypothesis is a small craft it does not need a very large PDS.

And as a last resort Armor and Shielding can defend against any hit that manages to get through.

We are strongly against one hit kills, so you should expect that we will make sure we provide small craft with enough protection to help it survive most anything but direct hits from capital ship guns.
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Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2014, 02:01:55 pm »
I tend to agree with Snowdragon.

Assuming all ships can generate power equally efficiently (why I brought that topic up before, BTW), a ship 10x the mass of your fighter has 10x the power. It can engage 10 fighters just as well as the 1 fighter could engage 1 fighter. If you're using missiles instead of energy weapons, it could hold 10x more of them and have the same proportion of room available for other things inside. Theoretically, it can even have nearly-identical handling properties (speed, accel, endurance, maneuverability) as the fighter without sacrificing anything (cube/square stuff comes up eventually, but at that point you can always sacrifice extreme maneuverability and mount more guns/armor/shields instead).

The kicker, though, is that it has 10x the shielding/armor as the fighter, in a package likely not more than 3x the volume. It presents only a slightly larger signature for a much stronger vessel. Now blow that up to a ship 100x the mass of the fighter, or 1,000x; or the 7,500 ~8,300x or so that the displacement of a real aircraft carrier is to a fully-loaded combat aircraft (Gah, long tons).

Now, at some point, it begins to be moot what size your ships are - if your fighter weapons can one-shot that aircraft carrier (without shields and using only real stuff, they could today if we weren't so concerned with fallout), smaller ships make sense. But then, everyone will be in smaller ships, and large ships wouldn't be a thing. I suppose if you only provide so many weapon types in-game, and some of them are good for somethings and others for others (ala battleship craft, where triple-46'ers can one-hit fighters but rarely do), you could create a contrived situation where fighters make more sense (fixed smallish guns that are effective against all ships don't make much sense on large ships, where turning to engage multiple targets is annoying; and limiting turrets to ineffectiveness against fighters except for a few token PD weapons that aren't as long-range as the fighter guns).

Basically, if the game is free-design, pick a size you want to be most effective and design for that; that's what everyone will use.



And while figuring out that long tons are, in fact, different from regular tons; I learned that the real world has tried to deal with this size problem in an interesting fashion (besides being somewhat more restricted by physics): The Washington Naval Treaty. IRL, the treaty limited the size of each class and the number of each class any signing nation (all the ones that mattered, at the time) could build. In game, there could be an arbitrary NPC police force enforcing the 'treaty' such that, if you build a ship larger than the treaty-size (or your permitted treaty-size), they come after you.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 02:20:33 pm by Me2005 »
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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2014, 02:57:03 pm »
But with fighters it comes down to skill, right? Think about blowing up the Death star in an X-wing. Fighters should be able to take down larger ships. If they know what they are doing.

Besides, the AA turrets shouldn't be able to one-hit fighters, and the larger broadside/frontside weapons will be aimed at the carrier.
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Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 05:11:18 pm »
But with fighters it comes down to skill, right? Think about blowing up the Death star in an X-wing. Fighters should be able to take down larger ships. If they know what they are doing.

Besides, the AA turrets shouldn't be able to one-hit fighters, and the larger broadside/frontside weapons will be aimed at the carrier.

But now man that deathstar with another skilled player; rather than with plot. Good luck getting within one hundred thousand kilometers, let alone your fighter's firing range. If I were piloting the Death Star and you showed up in a fighter trying to take me on, I'd just point every gun I had at you while you were on approach.

Also, keep this in mind - a ship significantly large could easily also mount fighters. If fighters are, in fact, good enough to take down death stars solo, then the death stars will certainly mount fighters. And using the size difference shown in the movie, they'll mount tens of thousands of them. Now you have to take down my death star, dodging a sea of incoming fire (even in space, huge as it is; that thing should be able to fill the void with fire), all while fighting my ten thousand fighters that have the exact capabilities as the ship you're in.

No matter how skilled the pilot, that mission is suicide and he will die. The movie played it that way because the plot says that's the way it should go. I believe there was even dialog to the effect "Incoming fighters? Pah, we'll destroy their planet in a minute, they're nothing."

This is doubly-true in this situation in space, where you're not in an (airborne) fighter taking on a (seaborne) ship, going many times the ship's top speed. You're both in the same medium; it's more like a speed boat taking on an aircraft carrier. And aircraft carriers are pretty fast; depending on the speed boat you choose and whether the carrier is going full steam or not, it might be able outrun you, in addition to being immune to any non-suicidal weapon you can mount and able to one-shot you with just about any of it's weapons, including PD weapons and weapons meant for anti-personal use.
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SnowDragon

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2014, 06:54:46 pm »
Actually, with the time that it takes to reach the target, dumb fire projectiles would not be accurate. It is easy to calculate the velocity of the target and shoot where he will be, but then the projectile requires several seconds to reach it's target. This gives plenty of time for the target to change his course.

Missiles can be shot down by point defense systems just as they close in near the target. And because the target in this hypothesis is a small craft it does not need a very large PDS.

And as a last resort Armor and Shielding can defend against any hit that manages to get through.

We are strongly against one hit kills, so you should expect that we will make sure we provide small craft with enough protection to help it survive most anything but direct hits from capital ship guns.

I'd expect my capital scale CIWS to be able to swat incoming small craft with ease given the massed firepower, firing rate and huge tonnage dedicated to such roles, regardless of how much health they have. Their size doesn't allow for massive damage resistance.

But with fighters it comes down to skill, right? Think about blowing up the Death star in an X-wing. Fighters should be able to take down larger ships. If they know what they are doing.

Besides, the AA turrets shouldn't be able to one-hit fighters, and the larger broadside/frontside weapons will be aimed at the carrier.

Er, why? If this were the case, none of us would command anything bigger than a small two man bomber craft. The reason fighters and bombers get used today against naval vessels is water. They float in the sea. A hit below the waterline with a cruise missile will sink them instantly, it'll fill with water and go right to the bottom. You basically had instant kill weapons. In space that rule no longer applies. In order to kill a ship you have to take out it's ability to generate power (Or take out every single last one of it's guns for a mission kill). Using the Selfless Heart as an example, that dreadnought has over ten metres of solid armour plate just on the hull, not counting the internal reinforcements, the internal structure and external raised plates, and extra armour in and around the vital areas, not to mention you have to FIND them first in order to destroy them. A bomber simply can't do enough damage to be a threat, even if armed with a capital scale weapon, as the ships are designed to take a massive pounding from their opposite class. The best they'd be good for is taking out individual weapons, but that's a role much better suited for high velocity semi guided rockets. No amount of skill can offset the tonnage difference and the firepower difference, as well as the survivability difference.

I am not referring to one hit kill weapons, I am referring to ships being vaporized within a few seconds of launch. The fighter/bomber flies towards my destroyer. The destroyer's CIWS aims and shoots something along the lines of a thousand rounds or a dozen missiles, thus killing your fighter through many, many hits over a handful of seconds. Like stepping out into suppressing fire. Unless they're getting an arbitrary buff to keep them on the battlefield I don't see them being used at all. They are simply too vulnerable for not enough output to justify the launch weight, of them plus a carrier, which would be better served by a pair of light cruisers. And I believe a bomber's role would be better served by firing high explosives out of a cannon from a long range frigate, like a Frigate gun carrier which has the ability to operate in space alone at distance and can fire more than one shot before needing a reload, and doesn't have to get so close to the enemy target to risk getting nuked in the blast range of capital firepower being flung at the target.

I don't mean to be pointed, but from an RL look and from a game perspective, I only see a fighter/interceptor being used as a minidrone with a CIWS mounted to it, strapped to a battery, an engine, completely unarmored, which never leaves more than seven metres from it's mothership and is used to swat any missile or small craft that gets close. Anything else is wasting tonnage otherwise better spent.

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 07:22:15 am »
But with fighters it comes down to skill, right? Think about blowing up the Death star in an X-wing. Fighters should be able to take down larger ships. If they know what they are doing.

Besides, the AA turrets shouldn't be able to one-hit fighters, and the larger broadside/frontside weapons will be aimed at the carrier.

I call that a design flaw.
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SnowDragon

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 07:33:37 am »
But with fighters it comes down to skill, right? Think about blowing up the Death star in an X-wing. Fighters should be able to take down larger ships. If they know what they are doing.

Besides, the AA turrets shouldn't be able to one-hit fighters, and the larger broadside/frontside weapons will be aimed at the carrier.

I call that a design flaw.

I think I'm going to sig that. Too right!

Holy Thunder

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2014, 10:28:27 am »
It comes down to the most efficient use of space. As Me2005 pointed out, larger ships will have a more efficient generation of power, weapons, protection, per square meter.  Just because it's larger doesn't mean it's slower--if a ship 3x the size of a normal fighter has 5x the thrust/mass ratio, it's larger and more maneuverable.  The most effetive class of ship will be  just large enough to resist the strongest weapons and mount similar weapons of its own. If the strongest weapons are irresistable, then the most effective ship will be the one just large enough to mount those weapons, and resist the next step down. 

If the strongest weapons are nukes, and fighters can mount nukes, then the strongest ships will be carriers sending dozens of long-range nuke-armed fighters (and non-nuke escorts) and mounting tremendous point defense systems.  Otherwise, a large (well-designed) ship manned by many crew will always be superior to a single fighter. A large ship manned by one player should still be superior to a single fighter, because it is comprised of so many more resources. A Star Destroyer replica should not fall to a single X-wing replica, unless he did an incredibly poor job of designing it.

In-game, the key here is crew. For the forseeable future, all ships will be manned by a single pilot. Maneuverable ships with heavy forward weapons will have a chance, if perhaps not a full-on advantage.

 If/when turrets become effective as automated defenses, they will be key to defending the blind spots for larger ships. Until then, massive ships like Battlestars will be easily flanked by fighter-class ships. The struggle of large-small will then become a matter of:

1) Can the fighter dodge the initial (probably overwhelming) volley?
2) Can the fighter get into a blind spot while the larger ship is maneuvering?
3) How much damage can the fighter inflict before the larger ship brings weapons to bear again?
4) Can the fighter rinse and repeat as many times as required?

In the above equation, the larger ship will undoubtedly be mounting enough firepower to "one-hit" with many simultaneous hits. The fighter would have to be more maneuverable, and consistently both skilled and patient. It's not a matter of pulling off a single perfect run, but  five or ten or twenty consecutive perfect runs. One mistake hurts your ship enough to lose the whole fight.



In a scenario of two fighters or more against the large ship, the balance begins to tip. Why? Because even 3 or 4 fighters may total just less mass than the capital, but there are 3 or 4 thinking, human pilots pitted against one. Now the capital ship always has somebody on his flank, and his extra mass / weapons / energy are not helpful because he does not have the crew to utilize them. In that scenario, unless he has competent automated turrets, he succumbs. If fighters are successful in Blockade Runner, that's how they'll do it.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 10:46:27 am by Holy Thunder »
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Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 12:51:16 pm »
I don't mean to be pointed, but from an RL look and from a game perspective, I only see a fighter/interceptor being used as a minidrone with a CIWS mounted to it, strapped to a battery, an engine, completely unarmored, which never leaves more than seven metres from it's mothership and is used to swat any missile or small craft that gets close. Anything else is wasting tonnage otherwise better spent.

I did forget that the one plausible use I can come up with for a fighter-type craft is as a defensive screen against incoming smallish ships, torpedoes, and other physical threats. Maybe even to intercept incoming energy weapons fire, but as a sacrificial thing and then they'd be working more as a smart Whipple-shield.
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Thadius Faran

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2014, 05:40:32 am »

That role ought to be filled with drones. Using ppl or NPC ppl is a waste in that case.


A great example is Enders Game


[size=78%]in the last space battle scene fighters are drones but they are used as a shield to protect the planet dooming ship as it charges up. Consequently all the other capital ships are destroyed by namely enemy fighters. Why? Because their fighters were not engaged with the enemies fighters.[/size][/size]
Spoiler


If your going to use military force you ought to use overwhelming military force. All war is immoral and if you let that bother you your not a good soldier.

VengantMjolnir

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 02:17:58 pm »
This is just a quick reply, I'm at work and will reply in more depth later. Basically in a nut shell though what I'd like to say is that its about more than just size and power. Weapons will always have a max effective range and it won't be because of their ability to project out to a certain range( fuel, laser dissipation, etc ) but rather because of the difficulty in AIMING at something at that range. At 10 meters away you can be off by several degrees and still hit. At 100 meters it narrows down to less than a degree depending on the size of the target. At 100 km it is a fraction of a degree, and even less for small targets! At some point the precision with which you must aim a weapon to hit a fast moving target( especially something that can change its delta-v as quickly as a fighter should be able to, ) becomes really really small. Large weapons are going to have a lot of mass and coincidentally the amount of power and control to aim them will become much larger.

Along these same lines is the idea of follow/fire-and-forget missiles. These missiles will have to be nimble enough to chase down and hit a target that with a high delta-v capability. There is also the question of cost. If a missile with the advanced tracking and engine capabilities costs a large amount for what is a disposable object... who can afford them? Plus they can be jammed, hacked, decoyed, or even stopped with anti-missile chainguns or even just plain old chaf in some cases.

In short, fighters will always have a position. It may not be the front-line combat option we employ them in today, but then their role has evolved over the years anyway. Look at the sopwith camel, that thing was really only built to shoot down the other bi-plane balloon popping machines of its day. Then they added bombs to them when they realized they could carry them.