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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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  #1  
Old February 13th, 2008, 01:33 PM
Major B Major B is offline
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Default Nuclear Dampers in an Offensive role

I've been re-reading my Striker rules recently and picked out a tidbit in the description of nuclear dampers. In Striker, the systems are used in a point defense role against incoming nuclear weapons AND at higher tech levels they can be used to decay (rendering harmless) nuclear weapons carried on-board targeted vehicles.

I don't remember this offensive role for Nuclear Dampers ever mentioned in discussion of the ship-mounted versions. I am wondering if maybe this is a viable mission to design a smallish vessel around - targeting enemy missile bays and magazines to render their nuclear missiles harmless before they can be fired.

Of course, it is likely that the idea has already been discussed at length and the thread is hidden somewhere I have not yet found, but just in case -

Has anyone considered this before?

Does it appear to be a viable tactic?

I'd think targeting would be problematic but the potential payoff could be big since many fleets rely heavily on nuclear missiles. This might be a viable role for heavy fighters or a vraiant on a similar hull.

Using MT design tables, at TL14 an optimized damper pack takes 28 kl of volume but supplying the 750MW will require a big plant. At TL15 it is easier - 16kl volume and 500MW power required.

It appears the designing a craft for the role is possible but is the tactic viable? Does the damper have to pinpoint the exact location of the missile magazine or just 'zap' the entire hull? Is the payoff worthwhile? How catastrophic is the potential loss of the missile component of your fleet's offensive capability?
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  #2  
Old February 13th, 2008, 02:18 PM
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Hmmmm..... never noticed that before.

I see that in paragraph 40.C of Book 2 of Striker it says that "when engaged in target fire, there is no die roll to hit; all nuclear rounds on the target vehicle are automatically destroyed."

So you don't have to roll to hit, and you don't have to aim at anything except the vehicle. This is talking about ground vehicles and not ships, but the increased target volume of a ship is offset by the increased time scale of HG combat vs. Striker.

There is the difference in combat ranges, of course. Even the longest-range gound combat will be in hundreds of kilometers, while even short-range space combat in Traveller is measured in thousands if not tens of thousands of kilometers. This is a more serious problem for offensive use of dampers, but it's not impossible.

A more serious disadvantage is the range limitation. Even the best nuclear dampers only get a range of 1000 x the separation of the two projectors. If both projectors are on the same hull you need a really =big= ship to get any kind of range worth talking about in ship-to-ship combat. Since the projectors are normally mounted on separate vehicles in gound usage there shouldn't be any trouble (maybe) in mounting them on two separate small craft (plus the fire control system, of course). Then you could just separate the fighters by whatever distance you need to get the range you want. Of course, you get into command and control problems as you separate the projectors, not to mention speed-of-light communications lag.

HG warships with advanced NDs (TL15) are almost invulnerable to nuclear missiles anyway. Against a factor-9 damper (assuming all other things equal) only 1/6th of all nuclear missile salvos will penetrate, anyway.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 02:35 PM
Andrew Boulton Andrew Boulton is offline
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Another idea is using it to disable a ship's fusion reactor.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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I have never liked or understood the concept behind nuclear dampers. By FF&S rules they consume far more power, shorter range and more expensive than a law power laser to just burn out the incomming missile.
In an update to FF&S (iI don't remember which book) ND's was given a ROF, thus to improve the chance to hit it needed to fire at a higher rate, increasing the power consumtion even further.
If a ND could target more than one missile in a turn it may become more cost/power effective.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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I think the ranges differences in starship battles as opposed to vehicles in combat would have something to do with their not being used offensively from ships.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 03:54 PM
Major B Major B is offline
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I figured the scale was the reason too - it makes the system a ship defense weapon only... unless you mount it on a craft that is small and fast enough to get in close to their target.

And that line of thought made me post the thread to get some feedback on the idea.

Oz points out that range is a function of the distance between the two damper units, so maybe even if it was mounted on small craft it would have to be two linked with secure communications rather than one. Maybe even a third to carry the targeting unit.

But the harder question is would it be worthwhile? How critical are the nuclear missiles to ship combat and is it worth the trouble to take them out before they can be launched?
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Old February 13th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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Shielding/hull thickness on a starship is also going to be significantly higher than on a vehicle.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Major B View Post
But the harder question is would it be worthwhile? How critical are the nuclear missiles to ship combat and is it worth the trouble to take them out before they can be launched?
The answer to whether it's worth it is, of course, it depends.

At lower ND tech levels (12, 13) it might be worth it to use NDs offensively, because NDs aren't that good at stopping nuke missiles in flight. Since (presumably) one good hit with a ND could take out =all= a ships' nukes at once it might be worth the losses in small craft to get that hit.

At higher TLs NDs are so good at their point defense roll that enemies often don't use nuclear missiles anymore, except at targets with maxed-out armor where you need the nukes to do any damage at all with missiles.

All of this changes if you have bomb-pumped laser warheads for missiles IYTU, of course.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 05:03 PM
Icosahedron Icosahedron is offline
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My Cr2:
The range being dependent on separation of the projectors is certainly a factor, but a more important factor may be if shielding around nuclear rounds and reactors is active as well as passive - if they are contained within a damper box that shields them from the effects of external dampers.
If dampers become an effective offensive weapon, a defence will quickly be found. It's in the nature of warfare.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Major B View Post
But the harder question is would it be worthwhile? How critical are the nuclear missiles to ship combat and is it worth the trouble to take them out before they can be launched?
The problem is, they'll need to be kept very precisely separated, or else you're going to need very high-quality predictive software to adaptively adjust the calibration between the two field generator units with Planck length precision.

But it is doable in canon; it's the basis of Disintegrator tech at the above-15 TLs.

Also, you may recall that the Ancients had a lovely hand-held version that ran off an antimatter/pocket-universe battery and was aimed telepathically out to line-of-sight. No wonder those folks were destroyed in an internecine war; a toy like that would never go unused for long...
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