High Guard Update 2022 - News

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Mongoose
Since you mentioned Atomic Rockets go and read it again, and the links to other discussions...
I never mentioned Atomic Rockets.

Only people without an understanding of basic thermodynamics make this mistake, and they always think they have a work around.
My BSc in Physics with Space Science and my MSc in Spacecraft Technology says I do have at least a basic understanding of thermodynamics. Oh, and my career in the space industry.

You are simplifying the problem way too much. We aren't dealing with spherical cows in a vacuum. There absolutely are ways to reduce probability of detection. AKA Stealth.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
Not in space there are not.

And with the qualifications you have then explain how you hide the waste heat from a gigawatt fusion reactor...

in the real world we do not have such things, but in Traveller we do, since the heat generation is magic we need a magic way to deal with it.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Sigtrygg said:
Only people without an understanding of basic thermodynamics make this mistake, and they always think they have a work around.

RTG's use thermocouples to convert heat into power through the decay of radioactive materials like plutonium. Useful in deep-space missions and the odd remote Russian lighthouse.

These DO put off heat, and no real attempt is made to make them hard to see. However that doesn't mean improvements in tech won't be able to capture more (or even all) of the heat a ship generates and use it for power. Traveller, as a game, completely ignores the issue of heat and radiation of said heat from ships.

Stealth in space is still quite possible. It happens all the time (i.e. we get space-based objects only detected at the very last minute and they evaded all of our current monitoring systems, both radar, visual and thermal) because the objects aren't radiating energy or heat.

When radar was first invented they said it would be "impossible" for aircraft to hide - till they created tech to make that possible. Tin foil was used to defeat radar to start, now we have far more advanced materials and electronics to defeat radar detection. This gets back to whomever has the most power will eventually burn through the other guys defenses as far as detection and other things go. So at range the defender (usually) has the advantage - but I'm talking aircraft here using current concepts. In space, where both ships may have equivalent tech, it could be vastly different, or it could be essentially the same. We simply don't know since we don't have a future baseline to start from. So for the sake of discussion all we can do is use past history and scale the comparisons. Beyond that, as Clarke said, it's all magic to us (though I do think that while we may not be able to grasp the physics of creating artificial gravity, humans are pretty smart monkeys and given the tech we'd find a way to use it - just that we may not be able to build or repair it).
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
You can not hide the heat from a ship, objects in the solar system have had time to cool down, if they all had multi gigawatt fusion cores they would be easily detected.

Unless there is a magic heat sink there is no stealth in space.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Sigtrygg said:
Not in space there are not.

And with the qualifications you have then explain how you hide the waste heat from a gigawatt fusion reactor...

in the real world we do not have such things, but in Traveller we do, since the heat generation is magic we need a magic way to deal with it.

It is not about hiding all of the heat. It's about putting the heat in a direction away from where the sensors are. It's about misdirection. Making it look like you are 100 meters away from your actual location from the perspective of a sensor thousands of km away.

A modern stealth jet puts out as much heat as a regular one, but the heat is concealed due to design features. Order-of-magnitude tech advances in ECM/ECCM are not imaginable by us, but common by TL 10.
Much like gas turbine or nuclear powered ships early in the age of sail. They have few reference points to explain the tech.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Sigtrygg said:
You can not hide the heat from a ship, objects in the solar system have had time to cool down, if they all had multi gigawatt fusion cores they would be easily detected.

Unless there is a magic heat sink there is no stealth in space.

The point I was making is that we do have objects today that are stealthy - in space. The fact that they radiated away all their heat through normal means, or else a future ship recaptured and used/disposed their heat is a question we cannot answer.

Using today's tech we are not able to do that. Traveller ships are going to be using things we can only theorize today - room temperature superconductors, carbon nanotubes, etc. We don't know what they might invent 3k years from now. The game postulates advanced tech, but it's easily within the realm of today. We know fusion power exists, but we can't do it ourselves (yet). We understand computers, but Traveller ones are more powerful. Anti-gravity is something we can conceive, but as of yet we haven't figured out how to do it.

We know thermal stealth IS possible using todays tech - but it has it's limitations. Will those limitations be overcome in the future? Most likely, yes. That's not magic, it's just tech we haven't yet figured out. For thousands of years man told himself it was impossible to fly. And it was... till we invented the magic to make it a reality.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
Thermal stealth in space is not possible with today's technology, and the laws of thermodynamics are pretty clear. If you have a ship with a giga-to-tera watt reactor you have a lot of waste heat that has to be removed from the ship, radiating it in any direction will give away your position.

Directional radiation panels would allow you to point them away from an enemy (aside, the AHL class is the only reference to radiators I can find in CT ship canon so far) but the ships of Traveller do not have huge radiator arrays.

That leaves the only option of having a magic heat sink - my proposal is to handwave gravitc technology to fit the bill.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Arkathan said:
Sigtrygg said:
Not in space there are not.

And with the qualifications you have then explain how you hide the waste heat from a gigawatt fusion reactor...

in the real world we do not have such things, but in Traveller we do, since the heat generation is magic we need a magic way to deal with it.

It is not about hiding all of the heat. It's about putting the heat in a direction away from where the sensors are. It's about misdirection. Making it look like you are 100 meters away from your actual location from the perspective of a sensor thousands of km away.

A modern stealth jet puts out as much heat as a regular one, but the heat is concealed due to design features. Order-of-magnitude tech advances in ECM/ECCM are not imaginable by us, but common by TL 10.
Much like gas turbine or nuclear powered ships early in the age of sail. They have few reference points to explain the tech.
I agree with what you are saying, except for the heat issue. Sigtrygg has a point about thermal detection - if it's there, somewhere, passive sensors can detect a difference in local temperatures. And it's that difference in the background temp that tells a passive sensor that something could be there.

Well, if you just channel it in a different direction, it's still going to be there. What you want to do is convert it to power and then use the power for either your ship our beam it away using something like an x-ray laser that would not be detectable by anything except in the direction its being beamed.

Electronic stealth in the future is no different than what we do today - obfuscate, absorb, or reflect away from the emitting array. That's the same as getting nothing back - which is the equivalent of not detecting anything.

I think lots also don't quite understand the difference between active and passive sensors, and what they are capable of telling you. A passive thermal imager, at a distance, may only give you very vague info - like there is an object somewhere that is radiating X amounts of heat. What that might be remains a question. Thermal imagers can also be easily confused - and generating heat is a cheap thing for a decoy (though like all decoys, they, too, have limits). Detection and evasion are continual cat-and-mouse efforts.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
phavoc said:
Arkathan said:
Sigtrygg said:
Not in space there are not.

And with the qualifications you have then explain how you hide the waste heat from a gigawatt fusion reactor...

in the real world we do not have such things, but in Traveller we do, since the heat generation is magic we need a magic way to deal with it.

It is not about hiding all of the heat. It's about putting the heat in a direction away from where the sensors are. It's about misdirection. Making it look like you are 100 meters away from your actual location from the perspective of a sensor thousands of km away.

A modern stealth jet puts out as much heat as a regular one, but the heat is concealed due to design features. Order-of-magnitude tech advances in ECM/ECCM are not imaginable by us, but common by TL 10.
Much like gas turbine or nuclear powered ships early in the age of sail. They have few reference points to explain the tech.
I agree with what you are saying, except for the heat issue. Sigtrygg has a point about thermal detection - if it's there, somewhere, passive sensors can detect a difference in local temperatures. And it's that difference in the background temp that tells a passive sensor that something could be there.

Well, if you just channel it in a different direction, it's still going to be there. What you want to do is convert it to power and then use the power for either your ship our beam it away using something like an x-ray laser that would not be detectable by anything except in the direction its being beamed.

Electronic stealth in the future is no different than what we do today - obfuscate, absorb, or reflect away from the emitting array. That's the same as getting nothing back - which is the equivalent of not detecting anything.

I think lots also don't quite understand the difference between active and passive sensors, and what they are capable of telling you. A passive thermal imager, at a distance, may only give you very vague info - like there is an object somewhere that is radiating X amounts of heat. What that might be remains a question. Thermal imagers can also be easily confused - and generating heat is a cheap thing for a decoy (though like all decoys, they, too, have limits). Detection and evasion are continual cat-and-mouse efforts.
In the eighties, the US Navy was working (had people working) on systems to convert heat directly to electricity without using thermocouples, just like the fusion engines in BattleTech (the concept, not their results). They also had systems that used a speaker to power a refrigerator's chill cycle.
In the 1980's, today's computers were beyond comprehension. They thought a hyperspace fax machine was cool. Who would have thought everyone would have a device that can out-process a Cray in their pockets?
The internet? Cyberspace, where programs took on physical forms and locations to interact with techno-arcane users, instead of the much more useful and user friendly implementation.
On the other hand, we're still waiting on flying cars. Who knows what thousands of years of tech advancement will do when forty years ago couldn't see today?
Again, Mongoose is calling it stealth but having it cover all manner of countermeasures. The point of the exercise is to have their weapons miss your ship. Don't get caught up in semantics.
Maybe the revised sensor rules will "fix" some of it with something other than unobtainium and handwavium.
 
phavoc said:
And, as I wrote above, "And as we can see from the recent sinking of the Moskva missiles are NOT obsolete". That was in direct response to the paragraph you wrote under your Justification heading. You make an opinion statement there and I used the recent attack on the Moskva (and two other ships that were damaged/sunk due to missile fire - all of which had active and passive missile defenses).

Let's take a closer look at your examples. First, the Falklands war was fourty years ago. There have been a few advances in almost every applicable technology since then. Even ignoring the technological difference between then and now, the HMS Sheffield, which still didn't sink until four days after being hit (while being towed), was a destroyer. Not only that, but that particular type of destroyer was known to not handle well, had a radar system with a relatively low data rate, was not capable of designating moving targets, and DID NOT field CIWS when it was sunk (Phalanx systems were not equipped on type 42 destroyers until after the sinking of the Sheffield and the Coventry). The other ship sunk by Exocet was the Coventry, being the same type of ship as the Sheffield.

The Moskva is at least a semi-useable example, so let's take a closer look at that. The Moskva is a guided missile cruiser, so would have at least some armor. It would not be equivalent to that of a gun-based cruiser, but would be more than a destroyer or frigate. It also fields multiple Russian CIWSs. It would not really be considered a modern vessel. Despite recent "repairs" and "maintenance" we do not have any detailed information as to the actual state of the vessel. Current intelligence indicates that Russian military assets have not been particularly well maintained over the last three decades, but we have no definitive indicator either way. Regardless of the state of the ship, Russian (and Chinese for that matter) missile defense systems are nowhere near as capable as US systems.

The Neptune missile used to sink it, on the other hand, was only delivered to the Ukranian military (I believe the first to adopt it) last year. We do know that the Ukranians fired multiple missiles (at least two, though we do not actually know the total number), which eventually detonated the Moskva's ammunition stores. We have zero information about whether or not the CIWS was engaged, and whether or not it successfully engaged any missiles. We do know that Russian vessels in general tend to focus more on offensive capability than survivability, and this is certainly true of the Slava class (the Moskva previously being the Slava, the namesake of the class).

I will also point out that anti-ship missiles, which are fired against vessels that only move in two dimensions and that rarely exceed about 40 knots, are hardly a valid analogue for missiles used in space combat occuring in three dimensions at cosmic speeds.

phavoc said:
You also ignore how missile attacks would work against heavy anti-missile defenses - by overwhelming the defender in hopes of getting a hit.

Actually, I didn't. In fact, I specifically mentioned one of the mitigating scenarios for missile effectiveness being unmassed ships. Also, you are assuming that would be a valid strategy, which I will later show is not for economic reasons.

phavoc said:
I'm not sure if you comprehend how that works, but logically it's quite simple - if you can use expendable ammunition to destroy the enemies forces, you (usually) have a far better cost-to-loss ratio as well as not losing offensive platforms and personnel.

Speaking of not comprehending how things work, expendible does not equal cost effective.

Missile swarms have never been cost effective, which is why every military on earth uses bombing, field artillery, and precision munitions instead of missile swarms as an offensive system. It is probably worth clarifying that missiles, by definition, include a targetting / guidance system. The systems used by the Germans in WWII used rockets and the Russians still field a reasonable contingent of MLRS platforms (again, rockets), none of which use precision guided munitions capable of striking a vehicle in motion through anything other than dumb luck. If you want to count the V1s and V2s in WWII, which did include mechanical guidance systems, you might want to check into the RAFs success rate in downing those weapons. Bear in mind, radar was still in it's infancy, and lasers had not even been invented yet.

Precision systems certainly exist, but have never been used to attempt to overwhelm an anti-missile system and probably never will given the per-munition cost of missiles. As horrible as it sounds, military planners very much know the cost of a human life and the contributing capability of a human life in varying roles. In the vast majority of roles, it requires a very small number of missiles to exceed the "value" of a human life. That means it is very expensive to miss with missiles.

This is reinforced by the fact that swarm missile attacks were well researched and gamed by the both the US and Soviets throughout the cold war. The conclusion on both sides was that it would be massively inefficient in terms of cost. While it did factor into the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, sustainability was not really a concern when engaging in a strategy intended to wipe out most of humanity. I will come back to the point about the cost ineffectiveness of missiles again later on.

phavoc said:
This idea is also used for carrier-borne aircraft attacks and was put an end to the era of the big-gun battleship.

The first problem with that argument is that aircraft did not use missiles, or rockets, as a primary offensive systems against other carriers, or gun-based ships. They used torpedos and bombs. The second problem with that argument is that at the time of that transition I do not believe there had been a single instance of a ship even firing a missile at another ship, much less one being sunk in that manner.

Now, let's get into why that argument is completely irrelevant in any case. On Earth, ships are constrained by gravity and the atmosphere, with naval vessels also being constrained by the ocean. In space, none of these constraints exist. On Earth, direct fire engagement is inherently limited. Even if employing very high velocity kinetic weapons, there is till the issue of not being able to shoot through the Earth to hit a target beyond visual range. Attempting to match the velocity to Earth's gravity in order to provide a ballistic arc placing a ship in the kill zone of the projectile's path is both difficult and inherently limiting. Doing so would require the velocity of the projectile to be low enough to be sufficiently effected by gravity to essentially follow the curvature of the Earth, and that relatively early in the projectiles flight, thus limiting the maximum effective range.

Since I seem to need to drive the point home, the bulge of the Earth (due to the Earth being spheroid) limits the effective range for lasers as well. In addition, atmospheric dispersion is an equally limiting factor, especially in the high-humidity air right above the surface of the ocean.

Space does not have the limiting factors of atmosphere or operation within a planetary gravity well (at least not without choice). Given the removal of these limitations, what we can reasonably expect to see in space based ship-to-ship combat is a return to favoring direct-fire weapons systems and heavy armor (or shields). Part of the reason for this is that the conditions of space do not inherently limit the range of such weapons, they make direct fire much easier (the primary factor limiting accuracy today is actually wind / weather), and they do not limit the velocity of kinetic weapons (though relativity still does), or disperse laser beams.

I will return to lasers later on.

phavoc said:
We have yet to fight a modern war with missiles -

The US has been fighting modern wars with missiles for decades. I will accept that it's not a terribly valid comparison though, because the only other countries with equally capable anti-missile systems are US allies. I will point out that even though the US has primarily engaged enemies with no anti-missile systems, missiles are still used very sparingly.

phavoc said:
though all major combatants believe in it enough to heavily invest in both offensive and defensive technology. Clearly the military planners and establishment don't agree with your opinion since they've invested in missile defenses (your opinion that minimizes the battlefield usefulness of missiles) AND offensive stand-off missile technology (in direct contradiction to your opinion that defenses have and will render them effectively useless).

So your point is that military planners are investing heavily in missile defenses because they do not expect them to be effective? In the West, investment overwhelmingly favors missile defense systems. In Russia and China, investment currently favors hypersonic and stealth technologies. As it turns out, the US in particular has considerably more experience with both hypersonics and stealth than either the Rusians or the Chinese, and has still chosen to invest in missile defense over offensive missile technologies.

phavoc said:
I want to remind you that your obsolescence argument (i.e. new tech renders older concepts obsolescent) has been made many, many times in the past and pretty much every time the person making such a statement was proven wrong.

Last time I checked we do not still fight wars with swords and spears. Unlike in previous times, the majority of all gun shot wounds sustained by combatants in modern militaries today are survived. I guess almost none of the weapons systems extant prior to the modern era still being in use somehow proves me wrong?

phavoc said:
As to my last quote, you again don't apparently seem to comprehend the meaning. You take the meaning to only support your view. But it both does, and also does not. Military technology throughout human history has always been a war between offensive and defense. Defenders built walls to keep invaders out, attackers came up with scaling ladders, trebuchet's and tunnelers. Attackers came up with arrows, spears, rocks and later explosive rounds. Defenders came up with shields, walls, trenches and counter-battery fire. New weapon systems always eventually get countered, and at time rendered useless. Look at the TOW missile. When deployed it was a definite tank killer. Then the Soviets deployed reactive armor which severely blunted the effectiveness of the TOW, so the US developed the TOW2 to offset the reactive armor. You chose to only take one part of the meaning rather than what it meant in its entirety because it basically shreds your argument that in the future
missiles would be effectively rendered useless - you used the word "illogical".

I comprehend your meaning just fine, but I am using your own argument against you. If your argument is that the point both supports and contradicts my arguments, then you should demonstrate a stronger effect in contradiction than support. If you cannot, then the point is either moot, or in my favor.

You are using as an argument an evaluation of the viability of a single weapons system given a localized historical perspective, specifically, from the early cold war to now. If one looks at the larger history of arms and armor, advances in offensive weapons do not maintain the effectiveness of a given weapon long term. Weapon systems are replaced, which is why we do not use trebuchets and black powder cannon in modern militaries. You seem to be attempting to make the argument that because weapons systems in general advanced, a specific weapon system remained relevant. The much more probable likelihood is that ANY weapons system extant today would be replaced in a distant future setting.

If you want to make the argument that such systems would still exist in a highly abstracted form, similar to making an equivalence comparison between current air-to-air missiles and the primitive rockets of the ancient Chinese, then a suitable number of macguffins equivalent to the high-performance engines, target acquisition systems, sensor and signal processing in tracking systems, and warhead designs that differentiate modern missiles from primitive rockets would need to be invented. This still does not offset the following points, and that actually undermines your previous point about the cost-effectiveness of the weapons system in general.

phavoc said:
Everything shows us that offensive technology will overcome defensive changes and put missiles firmly back on top - till the next set of defenses starts the process all over again.

You seem to be trying to make the argument that the general cycle of advancement between defensive and offensive systems guarantees that missiles will remain a superior weapons platform into the far future. This cycle, which I agree exists, only guarantees that SOME offensive system will eventually overcome the defenses of the period in which it emerges.

phavoc said:
A laser isn't very useful if it can't hit it's target,

Indeed. Todays targetting technology is already quite impressive, and that in the non-optimal environment of Earth. Let's assume for a moment that the missile being fired has both stealth and a propulsion system that produces no infrared radiation. We will even go so far as to assume that stealth can absorb and / or deflect any portion of the EM spectrum except visible light (at which point it would be invisible). We would still have multiple options for being able to locate the object, even without active detection.

In the present day, stealth aircraft HAVE BEEN detected by looking for a "hole" in background emission. This is the result of the aircraft absorbing and deflecting stray emissions or what would essentially be the background noise floor of a given portion of spectrum. Practically any source of EM radiation can be used for this purpose, even the active targetting system of the ship firing the missile. Developed planets, stars, the actual background radiation of space, would all work for this technique.

Since PRIS is described in the setting, we could just as easily use background x-ray radiation to detect the missile in a manner similar to a current day x-ray. If the stealth also blocked x-ray radiation, we would still be able to look for the hole in the x-ray background of space.

Since we know that gravitational sensors exist in the setting, we would also be able to detect the gravitational signature of the missile based on its mass, as stealth does not make the mass disappear.

There is also the technique of analyzing EM spectrum interference exhibited by ALL objects. This technique is based on objects interacting with different frequencies of EM emision in different ways. A gross, but brief, oversimplified example of this technique is using minute changes in the propagation of the wifi signal in your house to be able to tell where a person is inside the house, if they are moving, etc. (yes, this is actually a thing).

I'll even give you the benefit of assuming that none of those mechanisms work. Given the power of lasers extant within the setting (more on this later), we could easily set a scan pattern and lool for either the optical or thermal "bloom" that would occur when the missile was encountered.

One could make the argument that the "scanning" technique might not have sufficient angular resolution to detect something as small as a missile (bearing in mind missiles vary GREATLY in size and mass), but the probability of detection increases as distance to the target vessel decreases. This is not a matter of opinion, but a function of what angular resolution is, and is how weapons systems actually target (including human portable ones). I will point out that the angular resolution of existant systems is somewhere on the order of a tennis ball at about 2500 miles (~ 4000 km). As good as that is, it does not compare to what we can already do in terms of detecting objects in space.

At this point, we have not even talked about active radar, which is still a thing. Given that most stealth materials do not absorb or disperse the entire EM spectrum, radar with adjustable frequency and beam forming (again, existent today) may still be able to detect the missiles. In fact, the more proper question is not whether or not it can be detected, but at what range it can be detected.

My assumption is that given what I have outlined above, and still not accounting for any purely deus ex machina solution, accurate detection and tracking is more likely than not.

Since you previously tried to use the argument of active ECM, I will go ahead and shut that down now. There is a reason that is not done today (the technology has been viable since at least the 80s). There are missiles specifically designed to target active transmitters. This is often referred to as "beam riding". There are also missiles capable of targetting intermittent and burst transmitters, and even long-loiter variants of those missiles. The moment a missile were to make a transmission the position and attitude of the device would become known quantities. It does not matter what the signal is. It does not matter that it is a jamming transmission. ANY transmission is a beacon for locating the transmitter, and that with strictly passive systems.

phavoc said:
or if it does and the target has ablative armor, the effectiveness of the laser is minimized. There ya go, a future (and current) way that lessens the effectiveness of laser defenses. Still think it's illogical? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, right or wrong.

Now we get to the interesting part of the argument.

We will start with ablative technology. Even though we do not know what ablative technologies might emerge in the far future, we can make some educated guesses about how effective it might be. Ablatives generally work by sublimation, with the shielding effect arising from gases produced and the lost material carrying off excess heat. The maximum effectiveness of ablative technolgies is governed by the maximum density of the materials in use and the transition temperatures of the materials. Ablatives are not a license for indefinite exposure to high temperatures, and are sacrificial by design. The game acknowledges this in the existance of the Ablat armor and the thermal shielding option applicable for spacecraft. I will come back to this point later.

You also attempted previously to make the argument that missiles would not need to impact the ship directly, or that nuclear armed missiles would be able to destroy or damage ships by mere proximity. You are attempting to argue that a technique used for anti-aircraft missiles is relevant in an anti-ship role. If we return to the examples you attempted to use previously, anti-ship missiles DO require direct impact.

Aside from the analogical refutation of this argument, a proximity based detonation of a conventional explosive is kind of irrelevant at cosmic speeds. Let's assume that you can somehow project some quantity of shrapnel at say, a very generous 3 km / s. For a ship travelling at a conservative 10 km / s and under constant acceleration, the relative velocity of the shrapnel falls off at the thrust rate of the target vessel, and that is under ideal conditions. Within a matter of seconds the density of the shrapnel would be low enough to be, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. We can go one step further and assume that the warhead detonates and the ship is struck by all of the shrapnel generated by the warhead (because space magic).

The fastest missile described in the system (that I am aware of) is thrust 15, and assuming a reasonable starting speed of say, 20 km /s, and a nice long run up of 50,000 km or so, and assuming full time full thrust, that missile would be doing somewhere around 128 km /s. That is really moving. If we look at that in terms of a fraction of the speed of light though, it's somewhere around 0.000426%. The term "relativistic velocity", when applied to projectiles, is generally considered to start around 1% of the speed of light. If we assume a rather generous detonation velocity of 10 km / s, the velocity in terms of the speed of light only comes up to 0.00046%. Given that these ships routinely sustain micrometeorite impacts, and that we can reasonably assume the velocities of kinetic weapons to start at a minimum of 1% the speed of light, we can reasonably assume that the shrapnel from that warhead would need to gain at least an order of magnitude in velocity to actually damage the ship, and that is not only being VERY generous, it is assuming the shrapnel has sufficient mass to start with.

Now for your nuclear warhead. You may be tempted to cite the AIR-2 Genie as justification for the effectiveness of such a system, and if you were talking about effectiveness within a planetary atmosphere, you would have a point. In space, however, there is no atmosphere (effectively). Without an atmosphere to superheat, there is relatively little material available to generate the massive area of effect that we tend to associate with nuclear detonations. Given that the only material available would be that of the missile itself, the density of the overpressure area decreasing according to the inverse square rule, nuclear armed missiles would be far less effective than one might imagine. You may be tempted to attempt to argue this point, so I will simply refer you to NASA (https://history.nasa.gov/conghand/nuclear.htm) if you would like to belabor the point:

Code:
If a nuclear weapon is exploded in a vacuum-i. e., in space-the complexion of weapon effects changes drastically:

First, in the absence of an atmosphere, blast disappears completely.

Second, thermal radiation, as usually defined, also disappears. There is no longer any air for the blast wave to heat and much higher frequency radiation is emitted from the weapon itself.

Regarding my point about missiles being "unable" to turn, admittedly, what I currently have posted is not a very good expression of the argument. To clarify, I will start by differentiating between turning while maintaing thrust and rotating about an axis while travelling without thrust. A missile, or anything else for that matter, cannot do both simultaneously. The argument of a missile being able to rotate is irrelevant given that the ineffectiveness of a non-impacting warhead has already been described, so I will focus on the original point.

The ability of any object in motion to turn is inherently limited by the kinetic energy stored in that object. That means that the faster something goes, the less ability it has to turn. This is the result of the law of conservation of momentum at work. So, those really fast thrust 15 missiles we mentioned previously may not be able to turn to match a much slower moving vessel. This is supported by actual experience with anti-aircraft missiles in the present day, where maneuvering to the inside of the relatively large turning radius of the missile effectively eliminates it as a threat. This is one reason why anti-aircraft missiles have a minimum distance below which they tend to not work very well (even assuming target acquisition and tracking both function as intended).

This limitation could be overcome through some sort of inertial damper. Whether intentional or not, this effect is accomplished for ships with the combination of grav plating (why the effectiveness of an m-drive does not change based on cargo) and grav drive. Given that the technologies are defined and that we have some rules for their use and examples of cost, we can reasonably extrapolate a missile system leveraging those technologies. We might start with the Grav Belt, coming in at Cr100k, and assuming a maximum paylod of say, 100 kg. We will assume a relatively lightweight missile at 100 kg (which would actually be a little more than something like an AIM-9 Sidwinder, but considerably less than a medium range air-to-air missile). These weight assumptions would actually be quite generous for something expected to damage or destroy an armored target, but I am feeling generous. The propulsion system in a grav belt still would not be capable of providing the acceleration we would need for our missile, which we could probably safely say would need to be 10x more powerful. If we assume 10x more powerful and a 2:1 performance to cost scaling factor, that would be ~3.3x, which would give a cost of about Cr330k per missile, and that is only for the propulsion system.

If we somehow managed to gets sensors, guidance, a computer, a warhead, and a fuselage put together for Cr70k, that would still put our costs at Cr400k EACH. That may sound exhorbitant, but bear in mind the cost for the aformentioned AIM-9 Sidewinder is actually very near $400k. Longer range missiles, including medium range air-to-air, can easily break the $1 Million mark.

We could of course ignore an intertial damper, but then any ship would have a decided advantage when it came to outmaneuvering a missile. We could also assume that missiles as described already include some form of inertial damper system, but if that is the case why is every other gravitic technology disproportionately expensive?

Speaking of expensive, this brings us back to the topic of the cost effectiveness of a missile swarm. As currently defined (Core Rulebook Update 2022, page 167) it costs Cr250k for 12 missiles (a single rack). Despite being bargain basement cheap, and miraculously effective, they will still never have the economic efficiency of either energy or kinetic weapons. For a pirate raider who is mostly bluffing, this might be fine. For a navy that has to deal with larger volumes of fire, a certain degree of loss due to even point defenses as currently defined, and the logistics of resupply, missiles are already a financial non-starter. In a protracted engagement, even as currently defined, a force avoiding missiles has a distinct fiscal advantage over one using missiles.

History has demonstrated definitively that largescale warfare is decided by economic factors, and as a result, missiles would eventually be phased out as the militaries that chose not to use them eventually overcame those that did. A more realistic depiction would have missiles costing ~ Cr140k each, further slanting the economic argument against missiles. As I mentioned previously, there is a reason that in the present day no army uses a missile swarm with conventional warheads.

All of that, and we just now get to the point where why even if every other issue I have raised proves to incorrect, it doesn't matter. In the setting as described, there are lasers capable of damaging spaceships at 10s of thousands of kilometers. They exist within the setting, so we have to accept that the setting supports the technologies that lend to their existence. There are also meson guns, plasma weapons, and kinetic weapons with varying degree of capability.

Limiting the present argument solely to lasers, the ability of any material or object to sustain exposure to a laser is directly related to the mass exposed and the thermal conductivity of the materials being lased. This is not a matter of conjecture, as this is literally how we measure the power of lasers in the present day. Further, these factors are well understood in current laser and plasma cutting operations. Regardless of thermal conductivity, a given energy density requires a minimum mass in order to disipate the thermal energy fast enough to avoid material state change.

Again, lasers that can damage / destroy ships. Unless you plan to have ship-sized missiles, the mass of any missile is irrelevant given the proportional size OF A SHIP. Ablative shielding (I said I would come back to this) on a missile would be irrelevant given the energy density of a laser THAT CAN DESTROY A SHIP. At best, it would buy a missile a few seconds of survivability. That might sound relevant, but it would still take a thrust 15 missile about 12 minutes (assuming launch at a speed of ~ 20 km / s) to cover 50,000 km.

All of that does not even begin to address battlefield sensor networks, targetting warning sytems, ECM, ECCM, or other mitigating technologies or techniques.

phavoc said:
History and technology, and even logic, disagree with you. I'm with them.

You do not speak for either logic or history. My projection of the ineffectiveness of missiles as a weapon system in a far future setting is due to the behavior of the overall system under consideration (meaning, the universe). My conclusions pertaining to the context of Traveller take into consideration emergent effects evident within the system, and emergent factors arising from the setting as currently described. You may agree or disagree, or side with whomsoever you chose, but do not presume to know what I do or do not understand.
 

ochd

Banded Mongoose
On the subject of missile combat, one of the current game mechanics puzzles me. Missile damage is a multiple of Effect, which means that if your attack roll (after modifications) is 8, you 'hit' but do no damage (Effect is 0). Seems out of kilter with the rest of combat, so would be nice to have it revised in an update.

Really looking forward to this coming out.

Dan.
 

heron61

Banded Mongoose
Sigtrygg said:
Except they are not pin pricks.

They are huge glowing balls of waste heat easily detectable - unless someone is going to finally describe an official gravitic heat sink...
Are they really? Sure, ships will be visible, but given that most of these ships don't use reaction drives they aren't shooting out vast plumes of heat. Are ordinary starship sensors going to be able to easily detect another ship that isn't firing weapons or otherwise making itself exceptionally visible from a million or more km away, or is this something that will require a skilled sensor operator (or good AI) to notice?
 

Condottiere

Cosmic Mongoose
1. You have to appreciate someone who makes the time and effort to write comprehensible lengthy texts.

2. Stealth may rely on the medium being navigated through.

3. In our case it's the air we breath.

4. In Star Wars, it's speculated that it's ether, allowing the noise effects and sudden rates of turn.

5. In Traveller, I'll assume it's vast stretches of empty space, mostly.

6. My MacGuffin would be a micro blackhole, that sucks in the excess heat and energy of the spaceship.

7. Which I think does power the Romulan warbirds.

8. But isn't connected to their cloaking device.

9. Considering that Klingons and the Federation use different power sources.

A. Warfare in general, especially attritional, tends to be a cost benefit analysis.

B. We're seeing that played out right now.

C. Also, logistics.

D. Let's say a fifty kilobux guided weapon can take out a five megabux modern tank.

E. That's a worthwhile exchange.

F. Let's say that on average it takes ten launches to effectively eliminate one modern tank.

G. Still well worthwhile.

H. Russian tanks are modernized, so that's the original cost, plus operations and maintenance, plus modernization.

I. And however much it costs to train, maintain, retain the crew.

J. Depending on the model and veterancy of said crew, maybe between one to four megabux of Russian investment, some of it sunk Soviet cost, brewing up there.

K. A rocket propelled grenade, which I can't recall the cost of, could take out a logistics truck or fuel tanker.

L. Arguably, an armoured personnel carrier.

M. Another aspect is that at this moment, personnel and armoured vehicles are a limited and rare resource.

N. Since recruiting efforts to get contracted soldiers aren't really delivering much, and any weapon system that requires semi conductors or western originated components can't be completed.

O. In those circumstances, exchange rates could be allowed to be close to equivalent.
 

NOLATrav

Banded Mongoose
Seems like There Is No Stealth In Space is actually a debatable question. But like Arkathan said, can’t get caught up in semantics.

I’ve been playing for a long time that Power output from a ship reactor provides positive DMs on a sliding scale… turn off everything and coast, you’re harder to detect. Light up the M- Drive and everybody can see you.

But it isn’t really about detection, is it? It’s about spoofing. So you try to remain undetected as long as you can, spoof as much as you can, then you have to commit. Or run.

Also seems like the proper strategy, once detected, is not try to direct waste heat away from your target but rather towards it. White out those sensors, make yourself look bigger than you are.

Here is one area where I like T5. Sensors have ranges, and negative DMs as it were, outside their range. It makes a lot of sense but we need a better implementation than Mongoose’s Little/Some/Fine detail results.
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
ochd said:
On the subject of missile combat, one of the current game mechanics puzzles me. Missile damage is a multiple of Effect, which means that if your attack roll (after modifications) is 8, you 'hit' but do no damage (Effect is 0). Seems out of kilter with the rest of combat, so would be nice to have it revised in an update.

Really looking forward to this coming out.

Dan.

Yeah, that bothered me until I wrapped my brain around it:

You get a DM+ salvo size.
So one missile is +1.
So for one missile, roll a 7, plus 1 for the salvo, makes 8, Effect 0, but it was still a single missile with a 7, so it missed.
Does that make sense or am I just muddying it further?
 

Surge

Mongoose
Geir said:
Yeah, that bothered me until I wrapped my brain around it:

You get a DM+ salvo size.
So one missile is +1.
So for one missile, roll a 7, plus 1 for the salvo, makes 8, Effect 0, but it was still a single missile with a 7, so it missed.
Does that make sense or am I just muddying it further?
I like this line of thinking.
 

Annatar Giftbringer

Cosmic Mongoose
Geir said:
ochd said:
On the subject of missile combat, one of the current game mechanics puzzles me. Missile damage is a multiple of Effect, which means that if your attack roll (after modifications) is 8, you 'hit' but do no damage (Effect is 0). Seems out of kilter with the rest of combat, so would be nice to have it revised in an update.

Really looking forward to this coming out.

Dan.

Yeah, that bothered me until I wrapped my brain around it:

You get a DM+ salvo size.
So one missile is +1.
So for one missile, roll a 7, plus 1 for the salvo, makes 8, Effect 0, but it was still a single missile with a 7, so it missed.
Does that make sense or am I just muddying it further?

That’s not really how I understand or play missiles…. I may be wrong, this is my take:
Each missile in a salvo grants DM+1 to hit. Thus a single missile will effectively hit on 7+ (or better, depending on relative TLs, but let’s ignore that for now). This means that a salvo of 100 missiles get DM+100 to hit.

The damage roll for missiles, however, ignores the hit effect. Effect is reset, and becomes equal to the number of surviving missiles in the salvo, and this effect is multiplied by individual missile damage. Since effect resets, it can never become 0 for 0 damage, since that would imply that 0 missiles hit the target. If a single missile survives point defense and everything, the damage multiplier is 1x, despite getting a hit effect of 0.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Annatar Giftbringer said:
Geir said:
ochd said:
On the subject of missile combat, one of the current game mechanics puzzles me. Missile damage is a multiple of Effect, which means that if your attack roll (after modifications) is 8, you 'hit' but do no damage (Effect is 0). Seems out of kilter with the rest of combat, so would be nice to have it revised in an update.

Really looking forward to this coming out.

Dan.

Yeah, that bothered me until I wrapped my brain around it:

You get a DM+ salvo size.
So one missile is +1.
So for one missile, roll a 7, plus 1 for the salvo, makes 8, Effect 0, but it was still a single missile with a 7, so it missed.
Does that make sense or am I just muddying it further?

That’s not really how I understand or play missiles…. I may be wrong, this is my take:
Each missile in a salvo grants DM+1 to hit. Thus a single missile will effectively hit on 7+ (or better, depending on relative TLs, but let’s ignore that for now). This means that a salvo of 100 missiles get DM+100 to hit.

The damage roll for missiles, however, ignores the hit effect. Effect is reset, and becomes equal to the number of surviving missiles in the salvo, and this effect is multiplied by individual missile damage. Since effect resets, it can never become 0 for 0 damage, since that would imply that 0 missiles hit the target. If a single missile survives point defense and everything, the damage multiplier is 1x, despite getting a hit effect of 0.

You need an 8 to hit. Geir illustrated that perfectly. And the rule takes the miss into account.
A near miss of a single missile is a miss. A near miss of a cluster lets some accidentally hit. Like a scattergun.
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
Annatar Giftbringer said:
Geir said:
ochd said:
On the subject of missile combat, one of the current game mechanics puzzles me. Missile damage is a multiple of Effect, which means that if your attack roll (after modifications) is 8, you 'hit' but do no damage (Effect is 0). Seems out of kilter with the rest of combat, so would be nice to have it revised in an update.

Really looking forward to this coming out.

Dan.

Yeah, that bothered me until I wrapped my brain around it:

You get a DM+ salvo size.
So one missile is +1.
So for one missile, roll a 7, plus 1 for the salvo, makes 8, Effect 0, but it was still a single missile with a 7, so it missed.
Does that make sense or am I just muddying it further?

That’s not really how I understand or play missiles…. I may be wrong, this is my take:
Each missile in a salvo grants DM+1 to hit. Thus a single missile will effectively hit on 7+ (or better, depending on relative TLs, but let’s ignore that for now). This means that a salvo of 100 missiles get DM+100 to hit.

The damage roll for missiles, however, ignores the hit effect. Effect is reset, and becomes equal to the number of surviving missiles in the salvo, and this effect is multiplied by individual missile damage. Since effect resets, it can never become 0 for 0 damage, since that would imply that 0 missiles hit the target. If a single missile survives point defense and everything, the damage multiplier is 1x, despite getting a hit effect of 0.
I think the only point of disagreement is whether that single missile hits on a 7+. I say no, like everything else, you actually need an 8+ : the +1 for one missile is there to make the math easier and to emulate a 7 missing, and then the rules work as written with Effect 0 being a close shave and not a single missile hit. (Except Smart seems to always get a +1 or more to hit (except at that really close/adjacent range where you would expect it to work) - but let's ignore that for now).

But... what this points out is that the rules could have been written more clearly to indicate intent and effect (with the latter both capitalised and not).
 
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