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Orbital Bombardment Calculator
Glacialis
Specialized rounds would be necessary, similar to a SABOT round, to protect the penetrator from thermal damage during re-entry. And you're right, larger-calibre rounds would be more effective. If we're talking about a planet with no defensive systems, this is almost certainly going to be the case.

But against a planet with anti-munitions defenses...

Large-scale hyperspace defense fields, plus point-defense laser clusters. On a scale starships only wish they could mount and power! Large/slow-moving rounds would be easy prey for HDF. Large does mean laser PDS would have a hard time getting rid of it, so that leaves HDF. Which means the target systems -- quite good, mind you -- need time to lock on to them. Large and c-fractional is probably not something that's going to happen in the near future. However, smaller and faster can make up for the lost damage potential due to mass. This leaves less time for HDF and LDS to lock on, but LDS can take out the smaller round. Still, it makes most ships capable of orbital bombardment should it become necessary, even if it's going to take a very long time to succeed against a well-defended planet.

And that's not taking into account surface-to-orbit weapons...a planet has a lot more space and power for its weapon systems. Don't even think about it without a LOT of backup CIWS capability. Oh hey now...DEWs do funky things in atmosphere, but what if you don't care and you want to knock the bombardment ships out so they'll stop, y'know, bombarding you? STO DEWs...powered by multiple planet-based fusion reactors...

With all of this, there have to be reasons why you can't sit in high orbit and toss railgun rounds at whoever you want. I figure there's two reasons. One, as previously mentioned, is planetary defenses, both STO weaponry and CIWS. The second is accuracy -- even at very fast munition velocities, the atmosphere always plays a role. Maybe they have to be slowed down for atmospheric penetration? A possible third, is bombardment shielding. Perhaps not the electromagnetic shields everyone wants to work so badly, but a city- or facility-wide hyperspace defense field. Sure, they normally recharge quite slowly, but what if you have enough emitters and enough power to maintain a constant field? It would make communications difficult unless you had landlines to comms stations outside of the shield...but those can be severed.

And yes, railgun and missile bombardment outside the shield would probably have seismic effects if targeted correctly. These too can cause a few problems for the defenders, but nothing proper structural engineering can't prepare for. Though low-orbit DEWs can be a problem, as we've determined that DEWs are not stopped by HDFs. Perhaps an intense field such as the one I'm describing can lessen their effects, but if you've got ships in low orbit then you're already at a disadvantage. They can probably get off a good number of shots, which even at reduced power -- both due to HDF and the fact that they might want to focus the beam more for atmospheric penetration -- will do damage.

Edit: Addendum regarding communications and outgoing weaponry. It's probably possible to synchronize communications with the HDF field, at least outgoing. Once a comms link is established perhaps incoming too. The outgoing weaponry would probably need to be DEW or fast railguns, unless you want to risk a temporary decrease in HDF efficiency for missiles.
Edited by Glacialis on 11-11-2005 15:19
 
Slith
Which brings me to another point...

If large, and fast projectiles are needed to get through possible planetary defenses, what's stopping the attacker from just launching some fighters kamikaze style at the target?

The only obvious drawback I can think of would be finding pilots willing to undertake such a task.


The really desperate could also resort to something larger... say a Carrier, or Destroyer. Off the top of my head, i can't think of anything that would prevent those from hitting their target, aside from bad aim.
 
Glacialis
When I say "fast", I mean c-fractional, such as .3c or 5c -- 30% or 50% light speed.

Anything fighter-sized or larger would be taken out by planetary weapon systems. They can mount many more kinetic, DEW, missile and CIWS systems than any starship or space station.
 
TelQuessir
Very interesting and good viewpoint there Glacialis. You should pair up with Yasotay who did write some doctrine for planetary assault warfare.
 
BigFish
an arbiter filled with fuel and a long run-up could probobly reach an appreciable fraction of lightspeed. If the planet in question doesnt have very good defensive grids it would probobly make it through, the arbiter will probobly make a pretty big dent.

The main question would be weather the Diamid would be willing to sanction the loss of (expensive) ships of the line....
 
TelQuessir
Using old ships as sacrificial weapons has been done before more than once - ref. old WW2 destroyer employed as floating bomb to destroy a German controlled dock in a commando raid.

Also see suicide rider ships in David Weber's The Shiva Option.

As we'd be selling the oldest of the Arbiters and other obsolete ships for scrap (break them down in PDAs and recycle material for new LiirHra hulls), that would be a viable use of those otherwise unwanted hulls.
Edited by TelQuessir on 13-11-2005 05:16
 
mrWHO
If I remember corectly, England (Royal?) navy used suicide, full of TNT, burning ships to destroy Spain armada that was in port.
 
Glacialis
Thanks Tel. As for ditching Arbiters :cry: but they would make awesomely destructive bombs, wouldn't they? If you have a target, spaceborne or planetary, that absolutely must be destroyed -- here's where you stuff it full of antimatter, put it on AI and point it at the target.
 
MarieHawke
Hmm. Suicide-rider ships, completely automated to save lives. That would be perfect - fire off all the SRAMs and ram that damned Bug monitor! I mean uh. XD

We also could do an "Operation Cushion Shot" type of plan - attach Orion drives to an asteroid and lob them towards the planet. Pretty. XD
A starlight sharpshot magical girl!
 
Ryanman
What about nuclear weapons?

Given, any self-respecting defensive grid could take out a missle attempting to get in the atmosphere. but who says it has to? A heavily armored drone unit, with no defensive weapons, reletively expensive (1000 ru's or so) while attacking in groups( you could be able to build dummy's too) could detonate a high-yield weapon within low orbit., at least getting rid of A: defensive structures or B:the atmosphere(for conventional missle and railgin wapons fire)

The next step, of course, is to make a single-player mission in which you have to destroy a planetGrin
Look guys, i'm not an expert on space battles(sorry). But I do know about homeworld. Give the kid a break!
 
Glacialis
I'm going to sit this one out. Someone else want to...respond?
 
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