Space Mines

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Linwood
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Space Mines

Postby Linwood » Sun Sep 17, 2017 3:36 pm

I'm toying with thoughts of creating a "space mine find" to defend a secure facility but it looks High Guard doesn't discuss this topic. I'm envisioning the "mines" as essentially very small space stations w/ a station keeping drive, power supply, basic sensors and the equivalent of a missile turret (or missiles mounted on firm points). Depending on the TL stealth systems might be used to increase survivability. These mines are unlikely to pose a significant threat to capital vessels but smaller warships and civilian craft would be at risk.

The purpose of such a mine field isn't really to destroy enemy ships in a major attack but damage and delay. Once your enemy knows a minefield is present it just takes time to degrade the field to uselessness. But it could buy time for defense forces to respond and it would likely make smaller raids harder.

I'm picturing two modes of operation. In local mode the "mines" would be limited to their own sensors and would only be able to target vessels at Close and Adjacent ranges. In command modes the mines would be coordinated thru control staions, allowing them to attack as batteries and allowing use of better sensor suites to attack targets at longer ranges.

Thoughts? Has anyone looked at doing something like this before?
AndrewW
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Re: Space Mines

Postby AndrewW » Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:49 pm

Well, we where going to put them in High Guard but ended up not doing so.
Cheesy_Nacho
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Cheesy_Nacho » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:26 pm

Maybe a good subject for a future Referees Briefing

:D
Reynard
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:03 pm

Isn't there or wasn't there an explosive drone in 1e or 2e that acted as a mine sitting with passive sensors looking for targets to come close then intercepting when in range?
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:27 am

At least in Mtg 2ed, you can use the vehicle rules to create a weapons platform with a spaceship class weapon and a drone brain.
Reynard
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:42 pm

...................................................................bweep, bweep. IFF identification sensor recognition pattern analysis. Object confirmed Ratzor class destroyer. Intercept course to station. Target.

Hey Ralph, Ben and Erma.

Yeah?

That's our sector. Sensors show it will be in our attack range in 6 minutes. Vector optimal. Power up.

Why do we have names? Why not just Mine One, Two, Three and Four?

I don't know. The creators like us maybe. Now power up and prepare to intercept and detonate ourselves on impact.

Let's roll!
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:58 pm

Linwood wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 3:36 pm
I'm toying with thoughts of creating a "space mine find" to defend a secure facility but it looks High Guard doesn't discuss this topic. I'm envisioning the "mines" as essentially very small space stations w/ a station keeping drive, power supply, basic sensors and the equivalent of a missile turret (or missiles mounted on firm points). Depending on the TL stealth systems might be used to increase survivability. These mines are unlikely to pose a significant threat to capital vessels but smaller warships and civilian craft would be at risk.

The purpose of such a mine field isn't really to destroy enemy ships in a major attack but damage and delay. Once your enemy knows a minefield is present it just takes time to degrade the field to uselessness. But it could buy time for defense forces to respond and it would likely make smaller raids harder.

I'm picturing two modes of operation. In local mode the "mines" would be limited to their own sensors and would only be able to target vessels at Close and Adjacent ranges. In command modes the mines would be coordinated thru control staions, allowing them to attack as batteries and allowing use of better sensor suites to attack targets at longer ranges.

Thoughts? Has anyone looked at doing something like this before?
The first question, about having satellites, has been covered in previous editions. They are called interdiction satellites and are deployed around planets that the Imperial Navy (and sometimes Scouts) wants to prohibit travllers from visiting. These aren't hiding, they are quite visible and automatically notify ships they will be fired upon if they enter range.

You could make them more stealthy, but unless a planet has a great deal of debris in orbit there is nothing to hide with the planet in the background. It's a little different when an object is in deep space vs. in close orbit. And you'd need them in closer orbit to properly cover the planet. You also have to think about ships using the planet itself for cover, which means you'd need to deploy multiples of them to really protect the entire sphere.

As far as 'mines' go, your best bet to keep them as hidden as possible, would be to deploy missiles with IFF active. They would be the absolutely smallest targets possible and would have the highest chance of escaping notice of passive sensors at a distance (active sensors are hard to avoid, but their range is more limited). The larger the object the more likely it will be detected at a distance. For smaller missiles an orbital debris field will be your friend because it would make localization of missiles that much harder.

Since the rules really don't go into detail on any of this you'd need to come up with your own logical method and define your own detection rules.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:12 pm

The use of energy weapons would actually be of more use as missiles have two common issues for this deployment, speed and can be countered by point defense / ew, can also use a battery to provide the one shot needed to power the weapon as the mines will not survive after firing anyways.
Condottiere
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Condottiere » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:15 pm

The thing about mines is that you really don't want them floating around, or on Earth, staying put, to minimize collateral damage.

Unless the party responsible really does't care.

Warships probably scan for energy spikes, which will likely clue them in if a weapon platform is suddenly charging it's energy weapon systems.

We have suicide drones that can act as self propelled extra large torpedoes.

The cheap variant is likely a ten tonne satellite that's activated by another one, and crammed to the hilt with missiles, guided by another platform, since you don't want to have the missiles, or torpedoes in a larger satellite, drift around unprotected.
Linwood
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Linwood » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:01 am

I think a set of interdiction satellites would be a good fit for what I have in mind. Thank you all!

Although baithammer now has me thinking about one-shot particle accelerator mine fields....
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:23 pm

Linwood wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:01 am
I think a set of interdiction satellites would be a good fit for what I have in mind. Thank you all!

Although baithammer now has me thinking about one-shot particle accelerator mine fields....
Bomb-pumped x-ray lasers would work, too. More powerful than onboard energy weapons cause, yanno, you have all the energy in a nuke to use in one shot.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:07 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:15 pm
The thing about mines is that you really don't want them floating around, or on Earth, staying put, to minimize collateral damage.

Unless the party responsible really does't care.
Mines are an area denial weapon and by there nature are set to a fixed or relative position.
Condottiere wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:15 pm
Warships probably scan for energy spikes, which will likely clue them in if a weapon platform is suddenly charging it's energy weapon systems.

We have suicide drones that can act as self propelled extra large torpedoes.
There is no charge phase for a battery dump, by the time a ship has seen the energy blip its already too late.

This is why missiles don't make for a good mine system as its vulnerable to EW directly, takes time to reach target and is vulnerable to point defense weapons.
Condottiere wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:15 pm
The cheap variant is likely a ten tonne satellite that's activated by another one, and crammed to the hilt with missiles, guided by another platform, since you don't want to have the missiles, or torpedoes in a larger satellite, drift around unprotected.
Missiles / Torpedoes require far too much space per system in order to be effective and these systems won't be around after the first strike as the enemy will use its energy weapons to eliminate the satellites.
Reynard
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:42 am

"This is why missiles don't make for a good mine system as its vulnerable to EW directly, takes time to reach target and is vulnerable to point defense weapons."

"The sensor operator must succeed at a Difficult (10+) Electronics (sensors) check (1 round, INT) in order to destroy or render inert incoming missiles within a single salvo."

Orbital mine fields are a thousand paper cuts. Each mine is a salvo. An effective minefield will have a LOT of mines, automated and/or command controlled. Unless the targeted ship has multiple sensor stations you get one attempt per round at different salvos using electronic warfare if detected. Same with point defense. That changes if the missiles launch at Medium or less range and impact immediately so no do-overs. If the ships (and fighters) are using their weapons to fight missiles and torpedoes they're not shooting at what's behind the field while the defenders are and defense fighters follow the screen's barrages.
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:34 am

baithammer wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:07 pm
Mines are an area denial weapon and by there nature are set to a fixed or relative position.
Classic mines, maybe, but you don't need to restrict yourself with 52nd century tech. It's easy enough to add a very small ion drive that provides station keeping and the ability to change orbits. For giggles you could make it solar powered so there is very little maintenance requirements. Minefields would typically only be deployed if hostilities were imminent or ongoing.
baithammer wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:07 pm
This is why missiles don't make for a good mine system as its vulnerable to EW directly, takes time to reach target and is vulnerable to point defense weapons.

Energy weapons, via targeting systems, are also vulnerable to EW. Anything targeting is vulnerable to EW.
baithammer wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:07 pm
Missiles / Torpedoes require far too much space per system in order to be effective and these systems won't be around after the first strike as the enemy will use its energy weapons to eliminate the satellites.
You have options with a missile sat. While the rules don't specifically allow or preclude, there's nothing to say that your missile sat wasn't simply a mobile bus, say 2Dton, with 1Dton set aside for missiles and 1 Dton set aside for C&C systems. You could add stealth to it to make it quite hard to spot. And they are easily scalable. The benefit is that they could engage incoming vessels are beyond effective energy range. And with the ability to salvo, they could swarm the defenses of specific ships. An invader may find their main ships intact but all their escorts (DD's and below, for example) are destroyed. Naval history and tactics will tell you losing all your smaller hulls is very painful because a larger ship can only be in one place at a time and a navy never has enough escorts and scouts to deploy across star systems.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am

Minefields would typically only be deployed if hostilities were imminent or ongoing.
Or at a strategic point that you don't have the resources to guard, even during peace times.
Energy weapons, via targeting systems, are also vulnerable to EW. Anything targeting is vulnerable to EW.
But still vulnerable to point defense while energy weapons besides laser don't have to contend with.
there's nothing to say that your missile sat wasn't simply a mobile bus, say 2Dton, with 1Dton set aside for missiles and 1 Dton set aside for C&C systems.
Bigger system and more expensive.
You could add stealth to it to make it quite hard to spot.
Which is countered by using a weapon system that is slower then light speed and has a very high thermal signature, not to mention stealth is rather expensive for an expendable system.
The benefit is that they could engage incoming vessels are beyond effective energy range.
Missiles top out at thrust 15 where a particle beam has no delay and hits out to very long range unmodified.
And with the ability to salvo,
Countered by the energy mines acting as a battery and not vulnerable to point defense.
Unless the targeted ship has multiple sensor stations you get one attempt per round at different salvos using electronic warfare if detected.
Broad Spectrum EW program and/or virtual crew with either expert system or Electronic Warfare program. Not to mention that missiles take time to reach the target which provides multiple turns to accumulate EW tests. After that Point Defense ...
Cheesy_Nacho
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Cheesy_Nacho » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:52 am

There was a good Star Trek Next Gen episode "Booby Trap" where the Enterprise responded to a distress call and were caught by a space mine type trap leftover from a long dead war.

The Ship begins to suffer a series of power losses that prevent the use of either impulse or warp drive, and are also bombarded by radiation that threatens to drain their shields and kill the crew.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booby_Tra ... eneration)

Cheers

Cheesy
phavoc
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Re: Space Mines

Postby phavoc » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:02 pm

baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
Or at a strategic point that you don't have the resources to guard, even during peace times.


In space there are very few, if any, choke points. It's 3D and everything is always in motion and subject to gravitational pull. Long term stability requires very specific gravitational conditions or station-keeping thrusters. Thrusters are possible, but long-term will required regular maintenance, which is a continual drain on scarce naval resources.
baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
But still vulnerable to point defense while energy weapons besides laser don't have to contend with.
Sure, but reflec affects lasers and not missiles. And meson screens affect meson beams and not missiles. And... Every weapon has something that counters it.
baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
Bigger system and more expensive.
A dreadnought vs. a battleship, an escort vs. a fighter... same logic applies.

baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
Which is countered by using a weapon system that is slower then light speed and has a very high thermal signature, not to mention stealth is rather expensive for an expendable system.
Stealth costs for a missile are quite minor compared to a vessel. Costs are related to size. Everything you put in space is expensive. A battery-powered energy satellite is also not cheap.
baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
Countered by the energy mines acting as a battery and not vulnerable to point defense.
All weapon systems have their pro's and con's. Using your logic no ship would ever mount missiles because energy weapons are superior. Except that's not the case. Energy weapons and missile systems are complimentary to one another. The ideal minefield would most likely include a mix of both missile and energy mines to cover the fulll range.
baithammer wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am
Broad Spectrum EW program and/or virtual crew with either expert system or Electronic Warfare program. Not to mention that missiles take time to reach the target which provides multiple turns to accumulate EW tests. After that Point Defense ...
EW can affect missile salvo size, that's without question. But that's the point of salvo firing - both PD and EW can be overwhelmed.
Reynard
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Reynard » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:46 pm

A lunch time stab at making a space mine or better described as an Autonomous Weapon Platform.

Orbital Defense Automated Mine. TL 11 MCR. 21.82
Hull: 100 tons, planetoid, EAG; 50HP
Armor: 2 (planetoid)
Maneuver: 0 (station keeping) - 2.5 power
Power: Solar panels 16.5 power - 10 basic ship power (1/2 power)
Batteries: TL 10 High Efficiency, 240 power, 14 rounds endurance
Computer/15
Software: Maneuver/0, Library, Virtual crew/0, Auto-repair/1 (Pilot, sensor operator and gunner)
Sensors: Military - 2 power
Weapons: Torpedo bay, small, budget - 2 power
Repair drones
Extension net
Booby-trapped airlock

The AWP needs no life support or gravity since there is no crew and it doesn't maneuver beyond station keeping so the basic power system accounts for the computer system and absolute minimal operations. Along with a planetoid hull, the EAG system make detecting and locking on to the AWP more difficult while the mine can passively search for targets at greater ranges using the Extension Net. The library contains an extensive data base of enemy ship and signal properties. Decision parameters for attack windows are integral but can be countermanded and modified by remote Command and Control from an authorized source such as a command ship, an orbital station or a ground facility that are part of the defense. Quite often the authority will direct tactical launches but if for any reason communications are disrupted, the mines will still take action.

When there is evidence of a conflict, the solar panel array fold into the AWP for protection and the vehicle runs on batteries. The torpedo bay carries 12 salvoes. Once depleted they 'hibernate' if passive sensors detect active enemy ships.
baithammer
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Re: Space Mines

Postby baithammer » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:45 am

phavoc wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:02 pm
In space there are very few, if any, choke points. It's 3D and everything is always in motion and subject to gravitational pull. Long term stability requires very specific gravitational conditions or station-keeping thrusters. Thrusters are possible, but long-term will required regular maintenance, which is a continual drain on scarce naval resources.
Nothing to do with choke points, its about static locations such as refuel points, stations and planets.

Sure, but reflec affects lasers and not missiles. And meson screens affect meson beams and not missiles. And... Every weapon has something that counters it.
Particle Beams have no counter except armour.
A dreadnought vs. a battleship, an escort vs. a fighter... same logic applies.
Not the same scope as we're talking about a munition rather than a platform, ie comparing to missiles / torpedoes not ships.
Stealth costs for a missile are quite minor compared to a vessel. Costs are related to size. Everything you put in space is expensive. A battery-powered energy satellite is also not cheap.
Talking about a mine not a satellite which only needs enough power to stay on station, power the sensors and a single shot.
All weapon systems have their pro's and con's. Using your logic no ship would ever mount missiles because energy weapons are superior. Except that's not the case. Energy weapons and missile systems are complimentary to one another. The ideal minefield would most likely include a mix of both missile and energy mines to cover the fulll range.
Missiles / Torpedoes are better employed on ships and weapon platforms that are larger scale and aren't disposable and with a mine you only want a single range as anything shorter will be useless as the enemy will know there is an obstacle after the longer range weapons fire.

Particle Beams and Tachyon weapons have no hard counter outside armor.
EW can affect missile salvo size, that's without question. But that's the point of salvo firing - both PD and EW can be overwhelmed.
Which requires more space per mine and is less effective then a particle beam that is only countered by armor.
Condottiere
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Re: Space Mines

Postby Condottiere » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:04 am

The classic mine needed contact, then proximity and now we could let it stalk it's target.

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.

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.

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