Space Mines

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:02 am

The classic mine needed contact, then proximity and now we could let it stalk it's target.
Which becomes a drone and a very different kettle of fish.
What you want is for a vessel to move into close range of the ten tonne platform
Which will be detected and the enemy will stop advancing, hence you want the attack to occur at long / very long range.

Code: Select all

What you want is for a vessel to move into close range of the ten tonne platform, in which event, it's now in the dogfight phase of combat, which means that it could salvo off a missile per launcher every six seconds.
Losing the smart trait....
Arguably, you can do the same for energy weapons, but that opens up the can of worms as to the energy weapons' actual energy consumption and/or energy production by the fusion reactors, because on batteries it's likely you'll run dry very quickly.
Once again missing the point behind a mine as opposed to drone or weapon platform.

The mine is a one shot weapon system so only needs enough power for thrust 0, Computer, Sensors and the weapon system.

Using a particle beam barbette allows the system to engage at very long range unmodified ( Weapon not sensors or fire control.) and is only affected by armor.
Jeraa
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Jeraa » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:06 am

In order to attack at a long range with a particle beam, you need a 100 ton or more platform. Weapons on small craft sized platforms (below 100 tons) have reduced ranges, remember. So any energy-weapon armed mine/defense sat has a very short range compared to starship weapons, or needs to be made rather larger (100 or more tons). Your mine/def sat needs a weapons range at least as long as a normal ship, or all they become is a target who can't shoot back.

Meanwhile, missiles/torpedoes don't have that problem, and can be made as small as 10 tons. They do have limited ammunition, however.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:45 am

Was busy using the vehicles book and forgot about the small craft rules. ( Which oddly enough doesn't have the firm point limitations for spacecraft weapons.)
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Space Mines

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:43 am

Jeraa wrote: Meanwhile, missiles/torpedoes don't have that problem, and can be made as small as 10 tons. They do have limited ammunition, however.
Quite, but small missile salvoes will be countered by EW (unless the target a lone Free Trader).

According to the rules we can only form squadrons of 10 - 20 craft, hence salvoes of 10 - 20 missiles. A warship will swat quite a lot of such salvoes.


If energy mines are stealthy enough and placed in orbit around a world or gas giant, the lack of range might not be such a problem. I'm thinking a planetoid hull with full stealth for the metal parts and battery power, so no tell-tale neutrino emissions from a fusion plant. We would still have to recharge the batteries sometimes, so a permanent mine-field would not be a secret.

With a decent reaction drive we could close in from Medium range to dogfight in a single round or from Long in two rounds, enough to catch ships making orbit.

In order for the mines to hide in plain sight among space debris, we would have to find someplace with enough debris to start with...
Jeraa
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Jeraa » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:11 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:43 am
Jeraa wrote: Meanwhile, missiles/torpedoes don't have that problem, and can be made as small as 10 tons. They do have limited ammunition, however.
Quite, but small missile salvoes will be countered by EW (unless the target a lone Free Trader).

According to the rules we can only form squadrons of 10 - 20 craft, hence salvoes of 10 - 20 missiles. A warship will swat quite a lot of such salvoes.
The squadron rules don't put a limit on number of ships in a squadron (though does have a not that the rules are intended for squadrons no larger than 12, nothing prevents having more). The more pressing problem is that all have to be within 10km of each other. Less a field and more like many dense clusters. Make them 35 tons with a missile barbette (longer range means we can do with fewer overall mines).
If energy mines are stealthy enough and placed in orbit around a world or gas giant, the lack of range might not be such a problem. I'm thinking a planetoid hull with full stealth for the metal parts and battery power, so no tell-tale neutrino emissions from a fusion plant. We would still have to recharge the batteries sometimes, so a permanent mine-field would not be a secret.
Anything that works to make the energy mine stealthy, works for missile mines as well.

Batteries do not work long-term. Even at the reduced half-basic power rate, a 10 ton mine/def sat requires 1 power per round (10 per hour). The TL 12 batteries only hold 60 power, so would be drained in an hour per ton of batteries. Might be able to fit solar panels (for long-term power) and batteries (for combat). Wouldn't last long, however.

The rules don't really support the idea of mine fields. Personally, I believe a number of larger (100 ton) platforms work better. Install a small particle beam bay (possibly with the Reduced Size advantage, if necessary), solar panels (for long term power), fusion plants (only needed for combat, so refueling wouldn't need to be done very often), and as much armor as possible. Stealth stuff if you want it. But those would hardly qualify as mines.
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Linwood » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:05 am

My personal experience w/ land-based mines suggests the strategic purpose of quick-laid mine fields (as opposed to more permanent mine fields) was less about destroying the enemy as it was putting obstacles in place that would either delay his advance or redirect it. So in some applications it's less about how well concealed or durable the mines are, or even how big they are, than it is about that the mines are present and need to be dealt with. Adding stealth creates uncertainty (did we spot them all) and extends the time required to clear the area.

I don't think I'd place just one type of mine for similar reasons. Mixing mines w/ different missile types - or even missile and energy attacks - complicates the problem for the enemy commander and can create more uncertainty. Picture a task force sailing in and engaged by particle-accelerator fire at Medium (or longer?) range, then battered again at Short by missile barrages.

So I'm leaning towards a mix of mine types. The larger platforms would be a good fit for standing defenses around strategic points like gas giants, but smaller limited duration mines (vehicle rules would be a good way to go here) would be used for temporary mine fields according to the tactical situation. Both would include a mix of missiles and energy weapons (maybe even ion weapons?); the missiles should include anti-radiation missiles and maybe one or two other types.
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:48 pm

I'm not sure exactly what people here are expecting from an orbital mine field. You most certainly are not defending an entire planet any more than land mines defended entire cities or naval minefields defended coastlines. Orbital mines/satellites are defending militarily important often fixed locations creating a first defense screen. Interdiction satellites perform a similar but broader mission. Mines are meant to impede or deflect a line of attack, they are a dangerous nuisance allowing other weapon systems to bring to bear. More than likely field will contain a mix of seeking weapons and energy weapons for different tasks and targets. They sit at a range for optimal strike with their weapon types while the longer ranged guns behind then are still effective.

Unless you feel very lucky you hold your missiles/torpedoes for Medium range where they impact immediately and they still retain their Smart trait. Mines remain hidden by various means (planetoid hull, EAG and stealth coating) so they can fire at their advantage. Just because a sensor operator finds one mine doesn't mean they know where they all are. You can't hit or avoid what you can't see. Only berserkers charge in. That's the other advantage, they slow an attack. Speed means nothing if you can't use it. Mine fields are meant to overwhelm countermeasures by the concept of salvoes. Very few ships have multiple sensor stations (HG pg. 39) and a sensor operator can only target one salvo per round.

Even at lower tech designs, mines/AWPs bring a lot of weapons to the table cheaply. They're dangerous with the element of surprise. Once detected they fight on and may draw fire away from the real targets but destroying them may not be easy. when they are destroyed they will still be extremely cost effective expendables.
Condottiere
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Condottiere » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:29 am

Tactically, minefields are to delay and/or funnel the enemy into killing zones.

You want a really cheap solution.

Then you have the ambush option, where you lay a minefield for a pursuing enemy.
locarno24
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Re: Space Mines

Postby locarno24 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:19 am

Condottiere wrote:
Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:29 am
Tactically, minefields are to delay and/or funnel the enemy into killing zones.

You want a really cheap solution.

Then you have the ambush option, where you lay a minefield for a pursuing enemy.
If you want an ambush weapon, you ideally want:
~ Passive Sensors
~ A non-radiating power source (chemical battery or similar, not fusion) - the problem is that I think solar panels made you easier to spot.
~ Missiles do give you a longer effective 'reach' with the same gunnery skill compared to an energy weapon (trying to fire a pulse laser at a target at long range)

I'm not sure exactly what people here are expecting from an orbital mine field. You most certainly are not defending an entire planet any more than land mines defended entire cities or naval minefields defended coastlines. Orbital mines/satellites are defending militarily important often fixed locations creating a first defense screen. Interdiction satellites perform a similar but broader mission. Mines are meant to impede or deflect a line of attack, they are a dangerous nuisance allowing other weapon systems to bring to bear. More than likely field will contain a mix of seeking weapons and energy weapons for different tasks and targets. They sit at a range for optimal strike with their weapon types while the longer ranged guns behind then are still effective.
Definitely not. A given 'zone' around a military dockyard or fuel depot, maybe, but not an entire orbit.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:20 pm

Mines typically are cheap compared to their deterrence and damage inflicting value are. One thing mines do also is channel an attacker to a certain place or direction if there is no intent to try and clear the field, or at least a path through it.

But they aren't without cost, especially mines that employ sophisticated sensors with IFF capabilities. Mines today are stupid, and they affect friend and foe alike. Civilian ships would be vulnerable to IFF mines since they would not have the codes. So deploying them raises risk to your own side.
Condottiere
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Condottiere » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:02 pm

In theory, we have to build in self destructs, and should only lay temporary ones.

In practice, who knows four millenia down the line.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:26 am

Due to the small craft weapons limitations the minimum displacement is 100t, on the plus side this gives us a small particle beam bay and enough space for fuel to last for roughly a year and the Bay can be used until destroyed.

So here's a first stab at a design.

Image
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:26 pm

That's a nice defense platform, but very expensive. Very few planets could afford to tie up that kind of money without a very specific threat. And with no point defense they would have to be protected from enemy missile fire and fighter raids. Maintenance is Cr120,000 annually, and that would not cover the cost of the crews needed to service them regularly.

This sort of thing is something players don't have to take into consideration. Just how much of your system's GSP would you devote to defense, would you invest in mobile of fixed defenses, etc. Budgets would be strained to keep up with the level of designs that players make. :)
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:56 pm

Its under 3 times the expense of a heavy fighter, carries a small particle bay that can hit up to very long range, uses a high grade fire control software to give the small bay a chance to hit craft under 100t.

Further, its designed to sit in place for up to 44 weeks.

The design isn't meant to survive a sustained engagement, its mainly to cause as much damage before being removed.
Very few planets could afford to tie up that kind of money without a very specific threat
Which is the point of a mine field, only used when specific conditions are met and if you afford to use them.
Linwood
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Linwood » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:22 am

There might a variant with armor that would be harder for an enemy to clear. That would force use of heavier weapons which in turn would likely tie up larger vessels. All depends on the threat.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:58 am

There might a variant with armor that would be harder for an enemy to clear. That would force use of heavier weapons which in turn would likely tie up larger vessels. All depends on the threat.
Which would be better served by a defense fleet as the displacement / cost will balloon and will drive cost towards parity with said fleet.
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:22 pm

baithammer wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:56 pm
Its under 3 times the expense of a heavy fighter, carries a small particle bay that can hit up to very long range, uses a high grade fire control software to give the small bay a chance to hit craft under 100t.

Further, its designed to sit in place for up to 44 weeks.

The design isn't meant to survive a sustained engagement, its mainly to cause as much damage before being removed.
Very few planets could afford to tie up that kind of money without a very specific threat
Which is the point of a mine field, only used when specific conditions are met and if you afford to use them.
A heavy fighter can be deployed. And what heavy fighters are you considering? Over 400MCr for a fighter is pretty outlandish. You could buy an 800t Mercenary cruiser for that price.
Reynard
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:07 pm

I doubt a system under threat of an imminent enemy will just lay a minefield. A base with SDBs would be more economical and useful. A minefield is a first line of defense. There will also be fighters, SDBs and small warships operating within and just outside the minefield then stations and warships will be positioned behind the field with gun reach beyond the field. They deny mobility to an invader.

And a minefield is never alone. As shown above, they are part of a system. The owner knows where every mine is compared to the crude mine tactics we see today. During downtime the mines send diagnostics to command for any maintenance so they're always tracked. Laser or meson communicators easily prevent an enemy from mapping a field.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:27 pm

A heavy fighter can be deployed. And what heavy fighters are you considering? Over 400MCr for a fighter is pretty outlandish. You could buy an 800t Mercenary cruiser for that price.
Lets break this down...

1.) A heavy fighter requires manning and low berths are far from safe to use in retinue situations, also doesn't have the capacity for a small bay weapon.

2.) 400 Mcr is far cheaper than the equivalent in fighter wings with better range and effect in a single platform.

3.) 800t Mercenary cruiser magnifies the crew situation, again doesn't carry a small bay weapon.

As for maintenance, the mines don't do much so would incur less wear and tear than a fighter squadron or fleet.

There are two specific cases for mines.

1.) Don't want to waste ships / man power on the objective while still needing a deterrent.
2.) You want to maximize the in system fleet effectiveness by forcing the enemy to engage at a point chosen by the defender.
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:57 am

baithammer wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:27 pm
A heavy fighter can be deployed. And what heavy fighters are you considering? Over 400MCr for a fighter is pretty outlandish. You could buy an 800t Mercenary cruiser for that price.
Lets break this down...

1.) A heavy fighter requires manning and low berths are far from safe to use in retinue situations, also doesn't have the capacity for a small bay weapon.

2.) 400 Mcr is far cheaper than the equivalent in fighter wings with better range and effect in a single platform.

3.) 800t Mercenary cruiser magnifies the crew situation, again doesn't carry a small bay weapon.

As for maintenance, the mines don't do much so would incur less wear and tear than a fighter squadron or fleet.

There are two specific cases for mines.

1.) Don't want to waste ships / man power on the objective while still needing a deterrent.
2.) You want to maximize the in system fleet effectiveness by forcing the enemy to engage at a point chosen by the defender.
Mines in space have some limited use. For the price of a MGT v1 50,000 Ghalak class cruiser you could have 94 of your weapon platforms.

Or you could deploy 1,284 advanced missiles as temporary mines (each one doing 5D damage - which like everything else they have to hit the target). We really don't have specific rules about the sensor profile of a missile lying doggo waiting for the enemy to come within range. They would be a temporary field, but most minefields are temporary. You could recover them easily enough if the enemy never showed up. Plus you could make them command-controlled, or have them working on IFF.

Mines, to be effective anywhere, have to be cheap enough to be literally thrown away because they are only effective in massive numbers. Your weapon sats are great to deploy when you have other defenses that can protect them (they are easy targets for fighters, which with a base -4DM to hit by these weapon sats, they'd be quickly rendered useless). But as mines... not so much.

As an example the US spent $40million dollars in 1917 to deploy 100,000 mines in the North Sea to stop U-boats. It was called the North Sea Mine Barrage. Not the biggest, or thickest minefield, but it happened. They think they sank 4-6 U-boats, but nobody knows (mines!). In today's dollars it would cost $750,000,000. I had to average cost of a U-boat, as there were a LOT built back then, but when you take inflation into account a German U-boat cost is about $20,000,000 today. It's hard to place a value on deterrence, but from a pure cost model it was a 1-7 ratio - which sucks unless you are the victor and can afford it.

So yeah, costs need to be in-line with mission.

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