F-34 Black Lightning; EW-9 Phantom

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F-34 Black Lightning; EW-9 Phantom

Post by Addams »

Howdy, gang.

In addition to sock-puppeting Captain Suzuki, Starbase Vanguard's CO; and writing Chlamydia Addams, M.D.; I also write the Senior Aerospace Officer aboard USS Hermes, Major Beatrice "Butch" Cassidy. I didn't like the fleet database fighters, so I created my own for that game.

That seems insufferably arrogant, so let me explain a little bit. In the closing years of the previous century, I was enlisted in the United States Navy, and was one of the first women stationed aboard an American aircraft carrier. I earned my Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist designator. So I've spent time looking at fighter operations and thinking about how and why they work. Most of the fighters presented in the fleet database wouldn't.

Star Trek was designed to be a capital ship universe, capturing that golden age of the battleship from about 1880 to 1920. In that universe, fighters have no place. Larger, more massive engines mean higher speeds, more weapons and shielding, and so on. We see this in the fact that the cruisers have higher speeds than the runabouts or shuttles; in the fact that a runabout or shuttle stands no chance in the line of battle. But over and over, fans have decided that there must be fighters, just as there must be Marines.

If you'd like to see the long form of my explanations for the Black Lightning interceptors and their partners, the electronic warfare Phantoms, they're spelled out in these posts:



http://hermes.rpgs-r.us/index.php/sim/viewpost/84 (if you only read one of these posts, make it this one).


The short version is this:

fighters are best employed when:
  • They stand a reasonable chance of not being observed by enemy targeting sensors,
  • they can swarm in great enough numbers to overwhelm enemy targeting computers,
  • they move fast enough that enemy fire control can't keep up with them.
Incidentally, these points don't just apply to fighters. Riverine patrol craft and torpedo patrol boats use these same tactics. (see They Were Expendable, W. L. White, for some excellent tales of how that actually worked out in WWII).

The swarm concept is inherent in the idea of fighter squadrons. A modern American supercarrier has as many as 100 aircraft, but for Hermes, I've elected only to have one squadron of interceptors, and part of a squadron of EW craft, along with a couple of refueling craft. These numbers represent a compromise between the necessity of swarm operations, and the desirability of leaving the capital ship something to do.

Modern military aircraft, including drones, have stealth coatings. I've expanded on that with the Black Lightnings and Phantoms, creating a skin which reflects only a tiny amount of the light which shines on it, and has similar properties with regard to other sensor modalities. The Phantoms also use active Electronic Warfare capabilities to lower the profile of the fighter strike group as a whole.

Finally, we come to the question of speed. With starships routinely listed as having top speeds in excess of warp nine, and fighters as listed on the webpage limited to warp four (or even three!) it's obvious that aerospace battles are only going to occur at the pleasure of the aggressor starship, and will terminate when the aggressor starship chooses to terminate their attack. Yes, it's true that we have Paris' assertion that "faster than light, no left or right," as well as the obvious fact that beam weapons will not function at FTL speeds. However, we also have tactics such as the Picard maneuver (more on that later) which tell us that warp speed is in fact used in battle.

So what we need for effective fighter craft is a new propulsion technology. I've come up with a McGuffin which allows me to do that: Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). Basically, QGP is a state of matter held under incomprehensible temperature and pressure. Released from the "bottle" in which it's held, it "bubbles" into normal matter and antimatter, releasing energy; the matter and antimatter then mutually annihilate in a standard M/A reaction. This dual-stage reaction releases more energy than a standard M/A reactor assembly, allowing the shuttles to move very fast, indeed. (On Hermes, the "water buffaloes" have the machinery to generate QGP, and it's kept in very, very small quantities to avoid a catastrophic accident, which avoids the question of "why doesn't the starship use it?")

In addition to the QGP reactors, the shuttles are equipped with fast-stutter "skipper" warp engines. This technology rapidly establishes and collapses an Alcubierre warp bubble, causing the craft to skip through real space like a rock skipping across water. This is an application of the Piccard maneuver, as it creates difficulties for the targeting aggressor starship attempting to ascertain where the interceptor actually is at any given time.

The skipper engines also create certain difficulties in navigation for the interceptors, which is why the electronic warfare craft which accompany them have a dedicated astrogator. Data is shared between the four fighters and the EW bird of the flight, and the EW bird calculates and updates the interceptors on their current position, allowing them to calculate firing solutions for themselves.

And yes; I am a nerdy dork who has entirely too much time on her hands; why do you ask?

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Re: F-34 Black Lightning; EW-9 Phantom

Post by Trekgrl77 »

I like what you've written. I've also never really liked Theta Fleet's line of fighters--especially the Razor Class.
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Raymond Wulfe
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Re: F-34 Black Lightning; EW-9 Phantom

Post by Raymond Wulfe »

I am making a counter-point of sorts. Please forgive any language that might sound aggressive, it is not intended as such. I am not discounting the reasoning mentioned but pointing out the timing, up till 1920 it was entirely true planes had advanced to little more then artillery spotters and fighting each other. Bombing was just becoming a thing in its own right. In 1918 they were still pulling on ropes to release bombs or dropping them by hand LOL. Star Trek had Sacrifice of Angels, that was dated 2375? We are mostly playing in 2390ish.

Typical big ship mentality! Ending in 1920 was advantageous as in 1921 Billy Mitchell proved big ships were nothing more then big targets. 1944 and 1945 Yamato and her sister ship Mushai were both sunk at sea fully operational but without an aircraft screen. They were sunk by carrier launched planes. Now I agree with some of what you said, stealth technology is valuable, swarming is also a strong tactic. The big ships I agree would be faster at warp but the Impulse speeds are in the fighters favor where combat would occur. I am not a scientist but that whole size, mass, and turning radius thing works to the advantage of the smaller ships. Small craft can also determine the place of an engagement. By scattering flights a big ship can be forced to drop out of warp, that whole wormhole thing. I have been using that tactic for pirates to force freighters out of warp so they could be attacked for over 6 years. I also use the tactical jump for fighters which works well.

As to fighters not being able to handle a big ship that doesn't hold up, offensive firepower will always beat defensive measures. Defenses never enjoy an advantage for very long. So consider this, 12 Peregrines can launch 48 full-sized torpedoes in one shot. Even in the unlikely example they suffer 50% losses that is still 24 torpedoes. So at a risk of 24 beings and far less expense fighters would be a true nemesis. Personally I use Raptors as my prime fighter. It is fast enough to escort most shuttles and has enough firepower in a flight sized unit to handle anything up to a Hideki or Scout bird of Prey. So fighters used wisely could determine when the fight took place and using tactical warp move to attack from rear arcs where big ships are weakest. If their target ship would turn the fighter's carrier ship would have a huge advantage. So without a fighter screen your big ships would be toast.

My understanding of trek history was fighters were not used because like a sword they have but one purpose. They are weapons of war and the Federation is a peaceful exploration society. I think since the Dominion war that would have ended. Small, fast, maneuverable fighters would now be seen as standard operating craft for any ship to defend against other small attack ships and to perform extended scouting and shuttle escorts. They also provide an additional target and additional firepower for smaller ships like my Norway. I have used micro-torpedoes set on proximity to destroy incoming torpedoes for almost 6 years now.

The thing is this, if you are a big ship person you don't want bothered by fighters. You can come up with very good and verifiable reasons they are not important. I am a small boat guy, my justifications and reasons though, are also relevant. I have used fighters since I started Simming. I am not selling fighters on people, I am just making a call why and how they can work.

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