Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
phavoc
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby phavoc » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:56 pm

baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
Asteroid belts are rather large but not very dense bodies, but when dealing with fighter sized craft there isn't much required to limit exposure

Further, this is only one tactic.
Unless the fighter is staying still, it could not hide behind anything.
baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
Which as a gravity well will attract debris and objects, not enough to hide a battleship but enough to potentially allow small craft to reduce enemy response time.
Earth has a gravity well. To date all we've managed to attract is a chunk of the planet in orbit. Now Saturn has a ring of debris, and Jupiter to an extent, but none of the other planets has any debris. While our solar system isn't necessarily representative of all other solar systems, it's all we have to go by at present. The safe assumption is that other planetary bodies elsewhere would function similarly. Thus no appreciable debris to hide behind.
baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
I was responding to the newtonian physics comment not the actual tactic in an attack pass. The point isn't to orbit the target but the idea a small craft has more positional change options to create more uncertainty for a turret to track.
Ah. In that case I agree that the smaller the craft and the higher energy to mass ratio it has, the more ability it has to maneuver. However one needs to be careful at that analogy because every bit of energy expended has to be offset and then new energy applied. So the more maneuvering a spacecraft does the more energy it takes. It's not the same as when you have a craft in an atmosphere dodging.
baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
Which gives no advantage to the target and would in a simulation make its turret targeting far more erratic.
More erratic? No more than any craft that maneuvers. All maneuvering makes targeting more erratic.
baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
Which are still abstracted in a turn based system, it generally gives a sense of completeness but rarely in practice generates a end result much different in totality from simpler systems. ( Also have different technological considerations as well.)
By default all combat game systems abstract space combat. I don't recall the name, but there had been a combat computer game simulation for spacecraft fighting using newtonian movements. It was decidedly very un-fun. It's always a challenge to balance playability and fun without getting too bogged down in specifics. Any system that can use pseudo-velocity or some other magical drive system allows for things like space dog fighting and such. Otherwise you have two fleets that pass in the night, shoot a little, then have to slow down, stop, and re-accelerate back towards one another. It's kind of like two knights jousting. When fighting around a gravity well you could at least use it, but at the speeds these types of ships travel it's still a moot point.

baithammer wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:15 am
The only firmpoint system with minimal changes seems to be missiles and torpedoes which don't have a range band but instead have a burn limit. ( With the exception that missiles and torpedoes lose the smart feature if launched from close or adjacent range.)

The missile / torpedo situation is where the light fighter has no current use as it has to give up any other means of defense or offense to have a weapon system usable in a combat environment, as it stands the answer in every case is a medium fighter of varying tonnage.
I would tend to see small craft mounting smaller missiles / rockets that have smaller drives since they don't need to travel as far. Ship missiles are rather tiny. Fighter craft energy weapons should trade range for output, recognizing their power plants are much smaller than a starship, so to keep the two in comparison it works. It means small craft do need to close to their targets to engage, but it still gives them a bite - and ships ignore them at their own peril.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Nerhesi » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:01 pm

Dogfighting was not a preference of mine - which is completely fine as I didn't have carte blanche to redesign the system mechanics. Some people will remember it was highly controversial (and obviously remains so).

Personally, I do agree with idea of abstracting "dog fighting" and many aspects of space combat in general. Like many sci-fi games, if you try to define things a little too explicitly, they tend to not hold up to a lot of scrutiny (something that isnt generally a problem with Fantasy RPGs)
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby baithammer » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am

Earth has a gravity well. To date all we've managed to attract is a chunk of the planet in orbit.
We have several asteroids and of course a lot of man made debris in orbit, some of which are big enough to provide cover.
Unless the fighter is staying still, it could not hide behind anything.
Or you know, find a large enough object to mask the fighters frame and use it on approach.
So the more maneuvering a spacecraft does the more energy it takes. It's not the same as when you have a craft in an atmosphere dodging.
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.

Atmospheric evasion requires far more energy and is extremely limited in the direction of the maneuvers. ( In fact in order to gain agility your bleeding speed to do so.)
Any system that can use pseudo-velocity or some other magical drive system allows for things like space dog fighting and such.
Which is a misunderstanding of what a dogfight is, conflating it with jousting and not taking into account m-drive mechanics which eliminates a lot of limitations of conventional space fighters.

A dog fight is the point where opponents are able to use maneuvers to limit exposure in a fight, hence why there are no missile dogfights.

At longer ranges turret traverse is so small in deviation that it provides almost complete advantage to the turret holder, at close range turret traverse deviation becomes much greater and allows for evasion of high g craft. ( Smaller turrets in general do much better than larger ones which is mostly reflected in the rules.)
Unless the fighter is staying still, it could not hide behind anything.
Assuming your humping the object, what I'm referring to is an object large enough to block at range the sensors of an engaged target, this allows for approach while minimizing the chance of detection.

Do to objectives generally being localized points which do accumulate debris there is a chance of using this tactic but just like any terrain based strategy only works in specific cases.
but there had been a combat computer game simulation for spacecraft fighting using newtonian movements. It was decidedly very un-fun.
Been a lot of these and most get the control schemes wrong in giving too much overwhelming inputs to the pilot, just like modern jets the controls have abstracted most of the fine points.

Some even have point of engagements in open space, which is rather silly.

But, these systems do a great job in demonstrating the need to understand the dynamics of a vacuum base environment, which is very different from atmospheric flight models.
Any system that can use pseudo-velocity or some other magical drive system allows for things like space dog fighting and such.
Nasa is studying a new drive system that appears to use direct electrical energy to generate thrust in a vacuum with no intended propellant ( Nasa is trying to see if propellant is coming from a number of sources, such as shedding of the containment walls.), totally high energy but low thrust design but its raising some interesting questions.
I would tend to see small craft mounting smaller missiles / rockets that have smaller drives since they don't need to travel as far.
Given they are the only long range weapon for small craft, have limits imposed by firmpoints as to the number of ready to use ammo and the size of the munitions don't have any advantages to going smaller. ( If you really want to pack smaller missiles, use the vehicle scale ones.)

I don't want to give the impression that dogfighting is some holy grenade to beat all other tactics or fighters are somehow knights of the battlefield, but they still have a number of ways in which they can be employed to effect.

One of the biggest uses would be gain air superiority against planetary objectives and can be far cheaper for in system patrols than larger craft. ( Considering you can add a full bridge, staterooms and a spare shift.)
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Welf » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:50 am

Missiles being of any use in space combat given how accurate weapons can be. They should be trivially shot and destroyed from extreme ranges.
I read this argument in this and other forums a few times. Also that the same logic would apply to fighters if they travel openly.

I am curious if it is really that easy to shoot down targets that small on extreme ranges? Especially when considering the small target and the firing ship are moving.
To hit your target you need:
1) Precise information on your own and your targets movement vector.
2) Precise information on your targets position and orientation.
3) Extremely precise weapons

I imagine there to be some error margin for those even in the Traveller universe. And when firing on extreme ranges even small errors result in you missing the target.

If one wants to hit a sphere with a diameter of 60 m at a range of 10.000 km, your weapon has to be in the correct firing arc of 0,000344° or you miss the thing. Targeting small missiles gets even harder. And this already expects you to know the exact position and exact movement vector of your target.
So isn't it quite an accomplishment to shoot those small targets down or am I missing something? Of course your targeting computer can clearly help a lot, but I am a bit surprised to read that it should be super easy.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Jeraa » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:31 pm

A missile being "too small and too fast" to target isn't an excuse.

A spacecraft scale weapon only has a -2 DM to attack ground scale targets - including humans. A human is much smaller than a missile, and a lot smaller than a torpedo.
A missile usually has Thrust 15 maximum (torpedoes Thrust 10). A spacecraft can have a maximum Thrust of 27 by the rules. (An 11g maneuver drive coupled with a 16g reaction drive as a booster, which is allowed.) Ships can be much faster and more evasive than missiles.

Not to mention lasers receive a bonus to hit things. A pulse laser has a +2 DM, and a beam laser has +4. Those should apply to point defense as well - point defense is basically nothing more than an attack on a missile.

So ships have only minor difficulty attacking something the size of a missile (-2 DM), have no problem attacking things moving much faster than a missile (maximum Thrust 27 compared to 15), and are highly accurate (beam lasers negate the range penalty out to Very Long range, or 50000 km). Since point defense doesn't take into account any of those modifiers, assume for a moment it has a net +0 DM. A single (+0 DM) pulse laser (+2 DM) could theoretically hit a missile (-2 DM) out to Medium range. Make that a triple turret (+2 DM) and you could increase the range to Long (25000km, -2 DM) and still net a +0 DM.

As to accuracy at range, an Accurate (+1 DM) pulse laser (+2 DM) still has a bonus to hit a Long range (25,000km; -2 DM), with a final DM of +1. A Long Range beam laser (+4 DM) also still has a bonus to hit a Long range (25,000km; -2 DM). So the turret must be capable of very fine movements. Note that is just the base - it doesn't count any fire control software or gunner skills. Just the pure accuracy of the weapon at that range.

Rather than saying it is impossible to shoot at missiles at range (as shown, it isn't), it should be allowed. Even if you do apply special penalties to it. That opens up the possibility of a new ship type dedicated to long-range anti-missile defense. It also gives a new use for those stupidly short range fighters - they can now try to intercept and shoot down missiles and torpedoes before they get close to their target (currently, you need special software to do point defense for a target, and are limited in the range you can do so).

Also as a note, fragmentation missiles can be used against other missiles. They make no reference to only being usable during point defense. Presumably, they can be used to take out missiles at range as opposed to waiting till the last moment.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby baithammer » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:06 pm

The reason laser based system are even able to engage missiles /torpedoes is at close / adjacent range the salvo loses the smart trait, fragmentation missiles on the other hand can engage further out due to the individual missiles having a blast cone for interception.
A spacecraft can have a maximum Thrust of 27 by the rules. (An 11g maneuver drive coupled with a 16g reaction drive as a booster, which is allowed.)
At tech level 5 the max m-drive thrust is 9 so 25 maximum and I have a feeling missiles / torpedoes are considered to be moving evasively until the smart trait is negated at close /adjacent range.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Jeraa » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:14 pm

baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:06 pm
The reason laser based system are even able to engage missiles /torpedoes is at close / adjacent range the salvo loses the smart trait, fragmentation missiles on the other hand can engage further out due to the individual missiles having a blast cone for interception.
A spacecraft can have a maximum Thrust of 27 by the rules. (An 11g maneuver drive coupled with a 16g reaction drive as a booster, which is allowed.)
At tech level 5 the max m-drive thrust is 9 so 25 maximum and I have a feeling missiles / torpedoes are considered to be moving evasively until the smart trait is negated at close /adjacent range.
Missiles only lose the Smart traied when fired as an Adjacent or Close target, not when they get that close to a target. Firing at a ship farther away, the missile will always have the Smart trait. Missiles don't lost the Smart trait just because they are withing Adjacent or Close range of the target unless that is where they were launched from.
Missiles used against targets within Adjacent or Close ranges lose any Smart trait they possess, as there is not enough time for them to obtain a solid lock and take advantage of their advanced guidance systems.
I didn't limit the acceleration to only TL 15 levels because not all games have a maximum TL of 15. Not all games are set in the Third Imperium setting. Though even in the Imperium, you have TLs above that in use. Either as a fully mature TL (not on a widespread level however), or prototypes. The TL 15 Imperium could potentially have TL 17 early prototypes. They would be very expensive (10x the normal cost) and have other drawbacks (2 Disadvantages), but they can exist.

And if a missile is moving evasively, it isn't using its full Thrust to travel, so takes longer to arrive, giving more time to be shot at (if allowed) or to render non-functional through electronic warfare.
Last edited by Jeraa on Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
phavoc
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby phavoc » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:17 pm

baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
We have several asteroids and of course a lot of man made debris in orbit, some of which are big enough to provide cover.
Perhaps I should clarify the statement. Earth has not captured any meaningful orbital companions. Yes, we do have the odd teeny space object in one of the Lagrangian point or in orbit. There's a tiny 2nd moon about 120m x 300 m orbiting 250,000km away. But it's not large enough or close enough to provide any sort of cover or concealment. To use cover on approach you need a significantly large object, but also close enough to be useful. The moon is large enough to provide both cover and concealment - but the distance it is from earth means you can't engage a target hiding being it anyways. Thus it's not germane to this specific discussion. It's not coming up behind a mountain range to attack the target immediately below.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Or you know, find a large enough object to mask the fighters frame and use it on approach.
Exactly. The object must be both close enough to the target and large enough to provide meaningful cover. If both of those conditions are not present then small craft like fighters cannot take advantage of this to conceal their approach or use it to avoid incoming fire. To be clear, concealment and cover are two different concepts. Concealment obscures you but provides no protection, cover can both obscure and provide additional protection.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
So long as you are ok with evading away from your target, this is correct. However if you are on a course towards your target you would evade in a spherical area around your course path, but you would need, at some point, to return to the original course path. If you evade continually to the 'right' of your course that works, but you are now also moving away from the target. This also doesn't work if you are trying to stay within range of your target, especially if you are talking about two ships. If you are orbiting your target to attack and staying within say 10,000m you will have to continually expend thrust points to not only move around the object, but maintaining the same distance. This assumes your target isn't trying to run away. It gets very complicated very fast.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
Atmospheric evasion requires far more energy and is extremely limited in the direction of the maneuvers. ( In fact in order to gain agility your bleeding speed to do so.) [/quote]

Yes, and no. It actually requires, for many aerospace maneuvers, very little energy to bleed off momentum or to make an evasive maneuver. This is because you are using the atmosphere in a positive manner. The amount of energy needed to deploy flaps, move a rudder or aerilon, is very tiny. The effect that you will get, however, is huge.

You are right in that when you do many maneuvers you are going to bleed energy and it requires more energy to be applied to get back to where you are going. But this is only applicable some times. If you are doing a maneuver that takes you from high to low then you give yourself a net ADD of energy. Which is why, especially in prop-drive era, it was always advantageous to be in the high position so you could dive on your opponent and use the energy to your advantage. In space you have this around a gravity well. You can use a strong gravity well to increase your momentum and sling yourself around a large enough object to get a speed advantage. But if you are deep in the gravity well and going out then you have to expend more energy than a ship that is not in the gravity well.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
Which is a misunderstanding of what a dogfight is, conflating it with jousting and not taking into account m-drive mechanics which eliminates a lot of limitations of conventional space fighters.

A dog fight is the point where opponents are able to use maneuvers to limit exposure in a fight, hence why there are no missile dogfights.

At longer ranges turret traverse is so small in deviation that it provides almost complete advantage to the turret holder, at close range turret traverse deviation becomes much greater and allows for evasion of high g craft. ( Smaller turrets in general do much better than larger ones which is mostly reflected in the rules.)[/quote]

How so? A dogfight in an atmosphere is much different than one in space. The example I gave was using newtonian physics. Star Wars, for example, had magical drives and snub fighters use 'etheric rudders and aerilons' to perform aerial acrobatics in space. Two fleets, in newtonian space, that are accelerating towards one another at 1G for an hour would have to apply reverse thrust of 1g for an hour to come to a relative stop. Assuming they interpenetrated with opposite course headings, they would still have to apply 1G for an hour to simply cancel their momentum and come to a relative stop. Until they applied the reverse thrust they would still not be able to stay in engagement range because they are still travelling along their original headings. Ergo I used a jousting analogy because that's how it would work. Applying thust to your base course just changes your angle. Only by applying reverse thrust can you slow or halt your original momentum.

Dogfights in space, with ships that have turrets, at least in Traveller universe, are meaningless. There are no firing arcs so all weapons can be brought to bear. There is no vulnerability from behind so there's no need to try and get behind a target. Aircraft weapons need to have targets in front of them. Right now I think the highest off-bore sight capability is around 60 degrees (i.e. the pilot using his helmet-mounted targetting display can engage an enemy aircraft 60 degrees off the current angle of his aircraft). That's a huge change over what it used to be, but in Traveller it's considered 360 degrees, so none of the concepts really translate. The game has structured it so that you have small craft swarming around each other trying to get an advantage. It's probably almost more like a Robotech type cartoon space dogfight than an aerial one. Where are the Veritech's in Traveller??? Or the Min-May's for that matter? :) She could just sing her opponents into doing nothing.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
Assuming your humping the object, what I'm referring to is an object large enough to block at range the sensors of an engaged target, this allows for approach while minimizing the chance of detection.

Do to objectives generally being localized points which do accumulate debris there is a chance of using this tactic but just like any terrain based strategy only works in specific cases.[/quote]

The moon provides some blockage in a cone-shape from earth-based sensors. But if we had space-based society we'd have sensor stations both above and below the elliptical plane that would negate any blind spot. Not to mention far-side moon-based sensors. Sensors are dirt cheap in the future. There's no reason to expect an enemy worth fighting over is going to be blinded by such a simple and cheap fix.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
But, these systems do a great job in demonstrating the need to understand the dynamics of a vacuum base environment, which is very different from atmospheric flight models.[/quote] They are very different. And really the simulators do present a great reason why it's totally un-fun to simulate newtonian space combat.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
Nasa is studying a new drive system that appears to use direct electrical energy to generate thrust in a vacuum with no intended propellant ( Nasa is trying to see if propellant is coming from a number of sources, such as shedding of the containment walls.), totally high energy but low thrust design but its raising some interesting questions.[/quote]

Are you talking about EM drive? It's still a bit controversial, though last I read it wasn't being dismissed outright any more. It's still a bit of a head scratcher. NASA has been working on other forms of propulsion like Ion drives, but they do require some propellant, but very, very little compared to reaction drives.


baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:14 am
Only if your having to counter crafts momentum, which isn't required for evasion.
I don't want to give the impression that dogfighting is some holy grenade to beat all other tactics or fighters are somehow knights of the battlefield, but they still have a number of ways in which they can be employed to effect.

One of the biggest uses would be gain air superiority against planetary objectives and can be far cheaper for in system patrols than larger craft. ( Considering you can add a full bridge, staterooms and a spare shift.)
[/quote]

I don't see it that way either. Traveller tech has never emphasized small craft as the main threat. Basically they should be a threat to any ship, and the best counter to them is small craft of your own.

I'm not sure about air superiority against a planetary foe. For one thing for them to do anything to the planet below they'd have to enter the atmosphere. Secondly they would be vulnerable to planetary based weapons, especially missiles. They would be handy to quickly engage any craft coming up from the surface though, especially if you were trying to impose a blockade.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Nerhesi » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:50 pm

Welf wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:50 am
Missiles being of any use in space combat given how accurate weapons can be. They should be trivially shot and destroyed from extreme ranges.
I read this argument in this and other forums a few times. Also that the same logic would apply to fighters if they travel openly.

I am curious if it is really that easy to shoot down targets that small on extreme ranges? Especially when considering the small target and the firing ship are moving.
To hit your target you need:
1) Precise information on your own and your targets movement vector.
2) Precise information on your targets position and orientation.
3) Extremely precise weapons

I imagine there to be some error margin for those even in the Traveller universe. And when firing on extreme ranges even small errors result in you missing the target.

If one wants to hit a sphere with a diameter of 60 m at a range of 10.000 km, your weapon has to be in the correct firing arc of 0,000344° or you miss the thing. Targeting small missiles gets even harder. And this already expects you to know the exact position and exact movement vector of your target.
So isn't it quite an accomplishment to shoot those small targets down or am I missing something? Of course your targeting computer can clearly help a lot, but I am a bit surprised to read that it should be super easy.
The issue comes down to how far you want to follow the logical consequence of this line of thinking. Lets take a look at the 3 models:

Model 1: Ultra realistic. You can't miss. To be able to accurately hit something, you will always accurately hit because of the travel time of sensor reading plus beam weapon speed. A craft can't displace far enough for it to be missed (Applies to everything from a missile to a capital ship).
Model 2: Skill matters. This is where most/nearly all RPGs come in. To make the game not utterly boring, a character's skill should matter. This is however where some games, make weird logical lapses, such as stating that you can't target missiles until they're super close... (doesn't make sense really).
Model 3: As above but missiles and anything is targetable - logically sound. I know star trek, gurps and I believe star wars does this.

Model 1 is not fun.
Model 2 is fun - but has people asking the question "Why can't I shoot X?"
Model 3 is fun - and a bit more logically sound.

The reason I said shooting missiles is trivial is because in traveller, shooting anything is near trivial - evasion makes it difficult (as it should so that skills continue to matter). We have to assume missile evasion is terrible, so missiles can be shot easily - regardless of distance. We can't say missiles evade well because then why not put that evasion software into ships too? :)
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby baithammer » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm

There's a tiny 2nd moon about 120m x 300 m orbiting 250,000km away. But it's not large enough or close enough to provide any sort of cover or concealment.
We're dealing with concealing the approach of objects roughly in the 10s of meters so 120x300m object is sufficient to allow several craft to approach depending on the distance between the object and the target craft.
Concealment obscures you but provides no protection, cover can both obscure and provide additional protection.
The difference of which is meaningless if the target is unaware of danger approaching.
So long as you are ok with evading away from your target, this is correct.
Or around, above or below your current heading.

You only need to move away from the target when you need to disengage or have finished a run at the target.
I'm not sure about air superiority against a planetary foe. For one thing for them to do anything to the planet below they'd have to enter the atmosphere. Secondly they would be vulnerable to planetary based weapons, especially missiles. They would be handy to quickly engage any craft coming up from the surface though, especially if you were trying to impose a blockade.
Even the slowest small craft is automatically at the top of the vehicle speed band.

Missiles and torpedoes can be used from space to attack planetary targets.

Further, if your committing spacecraft scale fighters to a ground offensive, your going to bring the numbers to make it count.
Are you talking about EM drive? It's still a bit controversial, though last I read it wasn't being dismissed outright any more.
Most of that was the original claimant refusing to show the mechanics or even the method of operation, however NASA managed to get him to relent and had several teams replicate the device. So, far it doesn't appear to be needing a separate propellant but more testing is needed to figure out how its operating.
A dogfight in an atmosphere is much different than one in space.
At a high level there isn't a difference between the two environments, as a dog fight is the point where maneuver is possible to impede targeting.

The amount of movement required to track a target grows the closer the target is to the turret, you reach a point where the turret can't track the change fast enough to be effective.

On the other hand, if the target is further away the less movement is required by the turret to maintain tracking.

Atmospheric dog fights have far more restrictions due to the medium / environment being operated in.

As to the high position, even in the current times a high perch on a target restricts the available options to break out. Diving away may give you more speed, but the same can be done from the top position and all other moves require a degree of energy bleed.
There's a tiny 2nd moon about 120m x 300 m orbiting 250,000km away.
When dealing with small craft scale, that is sufficient to allow an approach unobserved. Hopefully the targets fleet has pickets in the right spots.
We have to assume missile evasion is terrible, so missiles can be shot easily - regardless of distance. We can't say missiles evade well because then why not put that evasion software into ships too? :)
Missiles and torpedoes are rather evasive until they reach close/adjacent range which is where the smart trait is lost ( And only Pulse/Beam lasers and point defense systems are allowed a chance to engage.) with fragmentation missiles the only long range counter for missile salvos but can't be used against torpedoes.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Welf » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:30 pm

Jeraa wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:31 pm
A missile being "too small and too fast" to target isn't an excuse.
A spacecraft scale weapon only has a -2 DM to attack ground scale targets - including humans. A human is much smaller than a missile, and a lot smaller than a torpedo.
A missile usually has Thrust 15 maximum (torpedoes Thrust 10). A spacecraft can have a maximum Thrust of 27 by the rules. (An 11g maneuver drive coupled with a 16g reaction drive as a booster, which is allowed.) Ships can be much faster and more evasive than missiles.

Not to mention lasers receive a bonus to hit things. A pulse laser has a +2 DM, and a beam laser has +4. Those should apply to point defense as well - point defense is basically nothing more than an attack on a missile.

So ships have only minor difficulty attacking something the size of a missile (-2 DM), have no problem attacking things moving much faster than a missile (maximum Thrust 27 compared to 15), and are highly accurate (beam lasers negate the range penalty out to Very Long range, or 50000 km). Since point defense doesn't take into account any of those modifiers, assume for a moment it has a net +0 DM. A single (+0 DM) pulse laser (+2 DM) could theoretically hit a missile (-2 DM) out to Medium range. Make that a triple turret (+2 DM) and you could increase the range to Long (25000km, -2 DM) and still net a +0 DM.

As to accuracy at range, an Accurate (+1 DM) pulse laser (+2 DM) still has a bonus to hit a Long range (25,000km; -2 DM), with a final DM of +1. A Long Range beam laser (+4 DM) also still has a bonus to hit a Long range (25,000km; -2 DM). So the turret must be capable of very fine movements. Note that is just the base - it doesn't count any fire control software or gunner skills. Just the pure accuracy of the weapon at that range.

Rather than saying it is impossible to shoot at missiles at range (as shown, it isn't), it should be allowed. Even if you do apply special penalties to it. That opens up the possibility of a new ship type dedicated to long-range anti-missile defense. It also gives a new use for those stupidly short range fighters - they can now try to intercept and shoot down missiles and torpedoes before they get close to their target (currently, you need special software to do point defense for a target, and are limited in the range you can do so).

Also as a note, fragmentation missiles can be used against other missiles. They make no reference to only being usable during point defense. Presumably, they can be used to take out missiles at range as opposed to waiting till the last moment.
Excuse? That is exactly RAW. MgT2E core rules at p. 160 "Point defence" states that missiles can only be targeted when they are about to hit your ship because they are too fast and small to be targeted at bigger distances by your turrets.

And targeting ground targets with ship grade weapons is for personal combat, meaning: at short distances. There you have no problem targeting the missile as you have no problem in point defence. But you won't hit the human at a distance of 10.000 km.
Nerhesi wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:50 pm
The issue comes down to how far you want to follow the logical consequence of this line of thinking. Lets take a look at the 3 models:

Model 1: Ultra realistic. You can't miss. To be able to accurately hit something, you will always accurately hit because of the travel time of sensor reading plus beam weapon speed. A craft can't displace far enough for it to be missed (Applies to everything from a missile to a capital ship).
Model 2: Skill matters. This is where most/nearly all RPGs come in. To make the game not utterly boring, a character's skill should matter. This is however where some games, make weird logical lapses, such as stating that you can't target missiles until they're super close... (doesn't make sense really).
Model 3: As above but missiles and anything is targetable - logically sound. I know star trek, gurps and I believe star wars does this.

Model 1 is not fun.
Model 2 is fun - but has people asking the question "Why can't I shoot X?"
Model 3 is fun - and a bit more logically sound.

The reason I said shooting missiles is trivial is because in traveller, shooting anything is near trivial - evasion makes it difficult (as it should so that skills continue to matter). We have to assume missile evasion is terrible, so missiles can be shot easily - regardless of distance. We can't say missiles evade well because then why not put that evasion software into ships too? :)
Model 1 is not ultra realistic because you imply there are no errors in your sensory data. It also implies your weapons can target perfectly and there is no error at all when moving your turret. That is far from ultra realistic in my opinion. Your sensory data is gathered fast, your shots are fast. But at this distance your laser has to aim perfectly and your sensory data have to be near perfect too. I don't believe sensors in traveller are able to omit all the signal noise and errors that results in some degree of uncertainty. And your mechanical parts surely are really good at TL15, but perfect? I can't believe that.
But in space combat with its big distances even really small errors result in a miss. And smaller targets result in a narrower error margin allowed.

Its nice that your laser hits near instantly where it is aiming. But the question is if your sensory data really made you predict the correct exact location and if your weapon was also able to aim at exactly that spot. 0,0004°(that is not much) too far to the right shooting at the 60m diameter sphere at 10.000 km? Miss!
Last edited by Welf on Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Jeraa » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:58 pm

Welf wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:30 pm
Excuse? That is exactly RAW. MgT2E core rules at p. 160 "Point defence" states that missiles can only be targeted when they are about to hit your ship because they are too fast and small to be targeted at bigger distances by your turrets.

And targeting ground targets with ship grade weapons is for personal combat, meaning: at short distances. There you have no problem targeting the missile as you have no problem in point defence. But you won't hit the human at a distance of 10.000 km.
I know that is RAW. I am saying the RAW is wrong - there is no valid reason missiles are immune to being shot at until the last moment. The excuse they give (missiles being too small and too fast) is flat out, provably wrong. Targets smaller than a missile can be shot at with a -2 DM, and ships are capable of greater levels of Thrust than a missile, so can be faster and more evasive. There is no good reason for it other than "because I said so". And that is never good reason for a rule. That rule should not exist.

And absolutely nothing that says there is a limit on how far away you can shoot a Ground scale target. If it is within the range of your weapon system, you can shoot at it. So yes, you very well can, by RAW, shoot a human at 10000 km with a spacecraft scale weapon with only a -2 DM for targeting a Ground scale target. A pulse laser (+2 DM) would be at +0 as a a base (-2 groundscale + 2 pulse laser). Add in the skill of the typical naval gunner (+2 total for skill and attribute) and you only need to roll a 6 or better to hit. The average of 2D is 7. In other words not only is it possible, it is likely to hit. Especially once you add in fire control software, better gunners, or more accurate weapons.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Jeraa » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:20 pm

baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
Missiles and torpedoes are rather evasive until they reach close/adjacent range which is where the smart trait is lost ( And only Pulse/Beam lasers and point defense systems are allowed a chance to engage.) with fragmentation missiles the only long range counter for missile salvos but can't be used against torpedoes.
I'll say it again in case you missed it the first time. Missiles do not lose the Smart trait once they get within Adjacent or Close range of their target. They only lose the Smart trait if they are fired at a a target within that distance. A missile fired from farther away does not lose the Smart trait at any distance.

A missile is fired at a target withing Close range? The missile doesn't get the Smart trait.
A missile is fired at a target at Short range or beyond? The missile has the Smart trait and will still have it when it gets close to its target.

Actually think about it for a moment- a missile losing the Smart trait when next to its target would be absolutely stupid. The only thing the Smart trait does is give a bonus on the attack roll. If it loses that trait before it makes the attack roll, it would be worthless to have it in the first place because there would never be any chance at all to use it.
Last edited by Jeraa on Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:51 pm

Congratulations, Nerhesi!
Nerhesi wrote:
Welf wrote: I am curious if it is really that easy to shoot down targets that small on extreme ranges? Especially when considering the small target and the firing ship are moving.
To hit your target you need:
1) Precise information on your own and your targets movement vector.
2) Precise information on your targets position and orientation.
3) Extremely precise weapons
Model 1: Ultra realistic. You can't miss. To be able to accurately hit something, you will always accurately hit because of the travel time of sensor reading plus beam weapon speed.
Welf is correct. There is nothing realistic about sensor-systems or weapon mounts with infinity accuracy.

Every system has limited resolution. The sensor system is not accurate down the nearest nm. The weapon mount can't control the weapon down to the nearest pm. The weapon itself is not accurate in discharging the weapon to the nearest nm or ns. Time delays in the control loop is a severe problem in control systems. In short you do not always hit.

I would say it is rather magical that we can hit anything manoeuvring with direct fire at 100 000 km, we certainly couldn't do that today...
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Welf » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:16 am

Jeraa wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:58 pm
Welf wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:30 pm
Excuse? That is exactly RAW. MgT2E core rules at p. 160 "Point defence" states that missiles can only be targeted when they are about to hit your ship because they are too fast and small to be targeted at bigger distances by your turrets.

And targeting ground targets with ship grade weapons is for personal combat, meaning: at short distances. There you have no problem targeting the missile as you have no problem in point defence. But you won't hit the human at a distance of 10.000 km.
I know that is RAW. I am saying the RAW is wrong - there is no valid reason missiles are immune to being shot at until the last moment. The excuse they give (missiles being too small and too fast) is flat out, provably wrong. Targets smaller than a missile can be shot at with a -2 DM, and ships are capable of greater levels of Thrust than a missile, so can be faster and more evasive. There is no good reason for it other than "because I said so". And that is never good reason for a rule. That rule should not exist.

And absolutely nothing that says there is a limit on how far away you can shoot a Ground scale target. If it is within the range of your weapon system, you can shoot at it. So yes, you very well can, by RAW, shoot a human at 10000 km with a spacecraft scale weapon with only a -2 DM for targeting a Ground scale target. A pulse laser (+2 DM) would be at +0 as a a base (-2 groundscale + 2 pulse laser). Add in the skill of the typical naval gunner (+2 total for skill and attribute) and you only need to roll a 6 or better to hit. The average of 2D is 7. In other words not only is it possible, it is likely to hit. Especially once you add in fire control software, better gunners, or more accurate weapons.
Okay I see your point now as I looked up the rule. I had in mind that the -2DM is mentioned in personal combat and not in the space combat section. But it really is in the space combat section. By this I agree, if it is intended that you can hit a human at 10.000 km a missile should not be a problem (or the other way around: Can't hit a missile? Can't hit the human!). RAW seems to be inconsistent.

But the term "ground target" is also a bit imprecise as it counts for vehicles and humans alike.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby Jeraa » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:03 am

Welf wrote:But the term "ground target" is also a bit imprecise as it counts for vehicles and humans alike.
It is imprecise. And the way I am using it isn't quite right either. It actually has nothing to do with size. A wet navy battleship is larger than a space fighter, yet that space fighter has a -2 DM to hit it because the wet navy battleship is a Ground scale target despite being larger. And that wet navy battleship has a +2 DM to hit the space fighter, despite it being smaller. A space missile may very well be a spaceship-scale target, and so wouldn't have the -2 DM to be shot at. I was just assuming the worse case scenario and made it a Ground scale target to show that it really isn't hard to shoot at something with space weapons.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby phavoc » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:48 am

baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
We're dealing with concealing the approach of objects roughly in the 10s of meters so 120x300m object is sufficient to allow several craft to approach depending on the distance between the object and the target craft.
No, not at all. Go do some research on cross-sections vis-à-vis detection and targeting. An object of that size provides zero cover or concealment on a battlefield where both targets are potentially in motion - especially if one or more of the targets is travelling with any sort of velocity. The amount of protection such a tiny object provides is insignificant. Couple that with a 3-D environment and it becomes even less.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
The difference of which is meaningless if the target is unaware of danger approaching.
Stealthy attacks in space are a misnomer. At a distance you have a great deal of potential of hiding. But you can't hide when you close on an object. You might make it difficult to get a lock through ECM and other active/passive systems, but you wont' be able to hide the fact that something is there and approaching.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
Even the slowest small craft is automatically at the top of the vehicle speed band.

Missiles and torpedoes can be used from space to attack planetary targets.

Further, if your committing spacecraft scale fighters to a ground offensive, your going to bring the numbers to make it count.
This is where RAW makes a mistake. Spacecraft should never have the speed and maneuverability of aircraft. That flys in the face of aerodynamics. IF the spacecraft is designed to aircraft standards with full streamlining then it's possible to compare them. But it makes no economic sense to give that level of cost to a craft that spends the majority of it's life outside an atmosphere. You are better off to have two sets of craft, or simply accept that if you enter an atmosphere the defenders craft will have better air superiority than you and you offset that in other ways.

Yes, missiles and torpedoes are capable of attacking ground targets - just as ground-based missile and torpedo launchers are capable of engaging space targets.

I would disagree that the commitment of space fighters to a ground offensive has any bearing on bringing overwhelming numbers to make it count. A simple scan of history shows that to be an incorrect statement. Deploying air/spacecraft to attack a ground target has nothing to do with overwhelming firepower. Generally speaking the defender always has the advantage - shorter supply lines, fortified defenses, etc. Attackers have the advantage of knowing when and where the attack will take place and applying their forces at a specific point (or points). A defender has to determine if this is the main attack, a feint, or the beginning of a pincer movement and adjust their defenses accordingly. And attackers sometimes aren't attacking to take over. A raid, for example, is a quick assault designed to damage a specific target or just to show the enemy that you can reach out and damage them. In those instances there is no overwhelming firepower. At times you count on surprise or just prey that the defender won't be able to respond quickly enough before the attack is over and you have withdrawn.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
At a high level there isn't a difference between the two environments, as a dog fight is the point where maneuver is possible to impede targeting.
There's a huge difference. When you impede targeting of yourself, you are also impeding targeting other enemies. A dogfight is a dance, with the attacker trying to gain the advantage over the other while not giving your opponent a shot. Even space fighters doing wild maneuvers to avoid the defender's fire must expose themselves to counterfire when they are making an attack run on a specific targeted point. If they goal is to get close enough to launch missile, then you point is valid. Otherwise it is not. However in the game it's very abstract and reality is moved aside for gaming convenience..
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
The amount of movement required to track a target grows the closer the target is to the turret, you reach a point where the turret can't track the change fast enough to be effective.

On the other hand, if the target is further away the less movement is required by the turret to maintain tracking.
Not really. Even modern targeting can engage fast-moving targets close in. In reality all weapons have firing arcs that have to be accounted for. In Traveller there are none, ergo all offensive and defensive weapons can engage. There are also no blind spots in Traveller, so maneuvering is abstracted to give a simple die roll for defense.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
Atmospheric dog fights have far more restrictions due to the medium / environment being operated in.

As to the high position, even in the current times a high perch on a target restricts the available options to break out. Diving away may give you more speed, but the same can be done from the top position and all other moves require a degree of energy bleed.
Atmospheric dog fights have their advantages and disadvantages. in space you can't make your environment work for you to the extent you can in-atmo. Conversely you don't have to fight as hard against it either. In space there is generally little gravity effects and zero drag. Then again, nobody cares about space, they want planets that have atmospheres and gravity.
baithammer wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:03 pm
When dealing with small craft scale, that is sufficient to allow an approach unobserved. Hopefully the targets fleet has pickets in the right spots.
Nope. See above. You would need many, many, many such objects. Assuming you have a fleet or a planet a simple setting of satellites, sensor drones, manned fighters or picket ships above/below the plane of where you are would make it impossible to utilize any small object of this size to provide any sort of cover or concealment, especially on approach. If you were using it to observe the enemy then your chances of avoiding detection would be much higher.
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby phavoc » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:01 am

Jeraa wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:58 pm
Welf wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:30 pm
Excuse? That is exactly RAW. MgT2E core rules at p. 160 "Point defence" states that missiles can only be targeted when they are about to hit your ship because they are too fast and small to be targeted at bigger distances by your turrets.

And targeting ground targets with ship grade weapons is for personal combat, meaning: at short distances. There you have no problem targeting the missile as you have no problem in point defence. But you won't hit the human at a distance of 10.000 km.
I know that is RAW. I am saying the RAW is wrong - there is no valid reason missiles are immune to being shot at until the last moment. The excuse they give (missiles being too small and too fast) is flat out, provably wrong. Targets smaller than a missile can be shot at with a -2 DM, and ships are capable of greater levels of Thrust than a missile, so can be faster and more evasive. There is no good reason for it other than "because I said so". And that is never good reason for a rule. That rule should not exist.

And absolutely nothing that says there is a limit on how far away you can shoot a Ground scale target. If it is within the range of your weapon system, you can shoot at it. So yes, you very well can, by RAW, shoot a human at 10000 km with a spacecraft scale weapon with only a -2 DM for targeting a Ground scale target. A pulse laser (+2 DM) would be at +0 as a a base (-2 groundscale + 2 pulse laser). Add in the skill of the typical naval gunner (+2 total for skill and attribute) and you only need to roll a 6 or better to hit. The average of 2D is 7. In other words not only is it possible, it is likely to hit. Especially once you add in fire control software, better gunners, or more accurate weapons.
Hitting an object as small as a standard missile with an energy weapon at long range is difficult at best. Hitting it while the missile is maneuvering is near impossible unless you can cover all the projected areas with a barrage defense. The timing of your targeting is dependent upon the distance to target - and you can't escape the fact that what your sensors are telling you is the present location is already old by the time you get the data. And your outbound attack is going to be predicated upon accurate predicting where the missile is going to be. So it's not unreasonable to assume that engaging enemy missiles with defensive energy weapon fire is only going to take place when the missile enters it's terminal attack phase. Engaging them at a distance with a counter-missile is more likely since counter-missiles are going to be area of effect weapons. This is how anti-missile missile systems work today.

Ships having a greater thrust rating than missiles is silly. Missiles have no internal grav fields to take into account or to power. So long as they are structurally capable of it they should be able to make maneuvers far greater than any manned vessel. And since they have no need for anything other than a sensor and fuel for their motor they should have superior speed to any manned craft.

Ground scale targets should only be able to be engaged at distance if they are fixed - and that you can actually target them. Being able to target a human from 10,000 km way is beyond stupid. I don't care what any rule book says, that is just plain stupid and defies all kinds of logic and the most egregious of hand-wavium. Weapons have a maximum range, but they also have an effective range. One should never be used without the other being factored in. I know the rules say otherwise, but as Matthew always says in these instances, they are just guidelines. Guide yourself away from the insanity! :)
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby baithammer » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:13 am

An object of that size provides zero cover or concealment on a battlefield where both targets are potentially in motion - especially if one or more of the targets is travelling with any sort of velocity.
Which is compensated by the incoming craft maneuvering to maintain the cover and a 200m object can block los quiet well for a 20m craft and even for a distance behind the object.
Being able to target a human from 10,000 km way is beyond stupid.
You don't aim at the human, you aim for the area the human occupies and spacecraft weapons get a blast 10 trait against vehicle scale targets.
Ships having a greater thrust rating than missiles is silly.
I believe that is an artifact of mgt traveller only using m-drive for fighters so limiting ship speed to a top of thrust 9.
Ground scale targets should only be able to be engaged at distance if they are fixed - and that you can actually target them.
Spacecraft have targeting systems that can track objects nearly 300,000+ km away and some how they can't track a target under 10,000 km?
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Re: Revisiting Fighters in a Post High Guard Era

Postby phavoc » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:57 pm

baithammer wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:13 am
Which is compensated by the incoming craft maneuvering to maintain the cover and a 200m object can block los quiet well for a 20m craft and even for a distance behind the object.
That's the point. You cannot compensate for that. That object would provide a cone of concealment from a sensor. To make your proposition work you'd have to have very detailed specs on the capabilities of the enemies sensors. You'd also have to have very detailed specs on where the ship is that you are trying to sneak up on by using the cone - which I have to point out in order to do so you have to get in sensor range yourself, so that kind of puts a hole in the argument... Nevertheless it would take a lot of luck and skill to be able to enter that cone and remain in it the entire time. Your ship would know if active sensors were tracking you, but you have no ability to determine if passive sensors pick you up. Plus you would be just as blind to them as they are to you.

Finally, that cone of concealment works from a single target only. A second target just a few kilometers away can potentially remove the majority or even all of the potential for hiding from sensors. And pickets would make it impossible for this to work because they would be much further out and at different locations, thus they would remove any sensor blank zones.

The scenario you are describing would only work against a very, very stupid enemy, or in a space opera fiction book.
baithammer wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:13 am
You don't aim at the human, you aim for the area the human occupies and spacecraft weapons get a blast 10 trait against vehicle scale targets.
You are missing the point. How do you even SEE where a human may, or may not be from 10,000km away?
baithammer wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:13 am
Spacecraft have targeting systems that can track objects nearly 300,000+ km away and some how they can't track a target under 10,000 km?
People aren't spacecraft. Even the Keyhole satellites have their limits. A common spacecraft would not have the advantages of a Keyhole, which by the way is the size of Hubble, in that it's ONLY purpose is to take visual recordings of an object on the ground. And it has to know exactly where to look. The same is said for the spacecraft. Without know where to target it's impossible to engage something you can't see. Sure, if you wanted to continually fire at an area you might get lucky and hit something you actually want to hit, but odds are you won't.

Also, there's a HUGE difference between TRACKING a target 300,000km away and TARGETING one. You will know it's there, but that doesn't mean you can hit it. Anything that has the ability to maneuver is going to be a damn hard target to hit at this range. The travel time for your sensor data is over 1 second old already, and your outbound energy fire is also going to be firing at the location where the target was 1 second ago (i.e. a light second). Your firing is all going to be predictive targeting on the future location of the target. So you hope it has zigged to the place you expected. If it zagged you missed (unless it's so big the craft can't escape the prediction zone. If it's that big you better hope you are just as big...

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