BattleTech - The Board Game of Armored Combat

BattleTech Game Systems => Aerospace Combat => Topic started by: Reaved on 29 June 2021, 12:00:36

Title: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Reaved on 29 June 2021, 12:00:36
Pretty much as the title says. In a medium in which the launching vessel can provide momentum and you don't need to expend fuel in order to travel long distances, along with little need for standing patrols and the fundamental unsuitability of ASF for long distance travel...is there a role for a fuel tanker in ASF operations?
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 29 June 2021, 12:06:13
Well, if you have at least one ASF squadron, it means you have the carrier dropship as well at least.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 29 June 2021, 12:23:50
Yeah, but if you are using it as a refueling/resupply that usually means it is in range.

What he is talking about is like a real tanker- as seen in WC Prophecy for a few missions, you would meet up with a shuttle that would refuel and change air- even re-arm IIRC.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Hellraiser on 29 June 2021, 13:02:19
I'm not sure what issue of Battletechnology mag it was, but, there was a design published there called the WildCat Aerospace Tanker or something like that.

It was a Shuttle with Liquid Tanks designed just for this purpose.

I always felt every Vengeance should have 1 as part of the 3 Shuttles it carries.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 June 2021, 13:02:40
I say yes particularly when you start to get into more than a squadron deployed.

Certainly a dropship can go pick up a few aerospace fighters that ran out of fuel but it can only be in one place which is nice if everyone is in the same line. However, they rarely will be so shuttles capable of Search, Rescue, and Refueling operations can be dispatched to reach them before the pilot runs out of air. I would keep rearming on the dropships as moving cargo in zero g using space suits is a very long and tedious ordeal.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 29 June 2021, 13:13:12
Well, the Wing Commander tanker had a robotic arm extending to replace empty missile hardpoints IIRC.  IF BT ammo is in 1t cassette casings as described in fiction then that is not too hard compared to something like the old WWII photos where you see guys walking up with ammo belts.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 June 2021, 15:13:16
By the rules it will take 20 minutes if the crew is using Zero-G Exoskeletons, otherwise 40 minutes, per ton of ammo or 5 minutes per external store. I would consider 20 minutes per ton to be long and tedious while combat is underway. It can pump 10 tons of fuel per minute with another at least 5 for docking and undocking assuming I read the tables correctly.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 29 June 2021, 15:25:00
By the rules it will take 20 minutes if the crew is using Zero-G Exoskeletons, otherwise 40 minutes, per ton of ammo or 5 minutes per external store. I would consider 20 minutes per ton to be long and tedious while combat is underway. It can pump 10 tons of fuel per minute with another at least 5 for docking and undocking assuming I read the tables correctly.

You do not really do re-arming while in combat?  The paradigm is different between Wing Commander fighters and BT's ASF . . . your external stores are more appropriate to match the description IIRC.

AFAIK we have no canon method of 'mid-space' refueling akin to the KC-135, rather you are talking about landing in a cubicle.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Daryk on 29 June 2021, 17:13:12
At the very least, some kind of docking roll would seem appropriate...
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Talen5000 on 29 June 2021, 17:29:55
Pretty much as the title says. In a medium in which the launching vessel can provide momentum and you don't need to expend fuel in order to travel long distances, along with little need for standing patrols and the fundamental unsuitability of ASF for long distance travel...is there a role for a fuel tanker in ASF operations?

Nope.

ASF don't have endurance. Well, they can coast forever, but they only have a limited amount of thrust and reaction mass available. It makes them unsuited for long range operations, best suited for short range fleet defence.

In other words, they don't really have any usefulness outside orbit whatsoever.

Adding a tanker really changes nothing. In situations where they need fuel, ASFs would be too busy to do so. If you have the time and resources to refuel, you may as well use a Carrier dropship and carry the fighters instead.

Given the limits of ASFs in BT, tankers aren't really an option.

However, by the same token, ASFs should be near non existent. They shouldn't have much of a role outside ground support and low orbit operations. Interception and engaging any larger craft could really only be achieved through incompetence or by forcing an engagement at a location the larger craft cannot leave.ASFs simply don't have the endurance to engage in naval combat against anything with greater thrust than a JumpShip.

So, if you want an ASF tanker, noone is going to stop you.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Jellico on 29 June 2021, 17:48:46
It is do-able, but...

Who has the small craft attached to a WarShip/DropShip?

Who is going to waste one on a tanker when they have other roles?

A squadron of fighters might need 20 tons of fuel to refuel. How many small craft have that much spare cargo?
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: CVB on 29 June 2021, 20:10:50
I'm not sure what issue of Battletechnology mag it was, but, there was a design published there called the WildCat Aerospace Tanker or something like that.

It was a Shuttle with Liquid Tanks designed just for this purpose.

I always felt every Vengeance should have 1 as part of the 3 Shuttles it carries.

Issue #10
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 June 2021, 20:35:52
It is do-able, but...

Who has the small craft attached to a WarShip/DropShip?

Who is going to waste one on a tanker when they have other roles?

A squadron of fighters might need 20 tons of fuel to refuel. How many small craft have that much spare cargo?

The S-7 has a 31 ton cargo capacity. That gives you a liquid storage of 28 I believe. It is space only but then again we are only talking about space operations.

Small craft are regularly part of a support dropship complement (Danais 2, Mammoth 4). Most jumpships and warships have a pair that otherwise would be used like a greyhound plane is on an aircraft carrier. Since you have dropships with cargo and for expeditions what would you need a small craft for if not to help out aerospace fighters?
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Kerfuffin(925) on 29 June 2021, 21:38:39
The S-7 has a 31 ton cargo capacity. That gives you a liquid storage of 28 I believe. It is space only but then again we are only talking about space operations.

Small craft are regularly part of a support dropship complement (Danais 2, Mammoth 4). Most jumpships and warships have a pair that otherwise would be used like a greyhound plane is on an aircraft carrier. Since you have dropships with cargo and for expeditions what would you need a small craft for if not to help out aerospace fighters?

Why would you use it that way tho? It’s an awful idea. If you are using it in combat that’s asking for it to die. If you are using it while under no pressure, why are you using it at all? It’s too specialized while offering no real use outside of its role.

Go pure cargo for moving around food stuffs from you cargo dropper to your jump ship or as a shuttle for commanders and such.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 June 2021, 22:25:20
As mentioned above it is impossible to actively refuel using a small craft in combat conditions. Possibly in a very long battle an Aerospace force could establish a resupply point but it would be best done with an assault carrier. Small craft refuelers are S&R birds sent out to refuel drifting aerospace fighters that ran out of gas before the battle was done and couldn't get back to their carrier. The carrier can only be in one place at a time and has to adjust velocity and vector to recover each stranded fighter.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 29 June 2021, 22:27:47
It is not in combat . . . it is to mimic B-2s taking off from Missouri, flying around the world to bomb some place, and then flying home.

Yeah, you are likely to go ballistic for part of the trip, and yes you are probably more worried about the life support . . . but a long range strike like that while my carriers are sitting back a AU or more from the target zone?  Ok . . . I would probably have come in at a pirate point on the plain and use planetary bodies to provide some slingshot . . .
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: glitterboy2098 on 30 June 2021, 02:06:38
I could see such things being used in space during prolonged battles, especially for those fighters with limited fuel tankage, but mainly to free up the warship or assualt dropship which launched them to engage in combat itself.

and then only if there isn't any craft with fighter bays that is uninvolved in the battle, so odds are there isn't much need.

that said, i could see such craft developed to support atmospheric operations, where ASF's burn through fuel much faster. a smallcraft tanker would be easier and quicker to deploy for ASF support in such an environment than something like a Stork (https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Stork), especially in an initial invasion or a major raid, where the attacking force might not have access to a proper airfield from which to launch support vehicles.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 30 June 2021, 02:07:08
Well, isn't it possible to refuel by return to the dropship? Need for refuel means they are likely to be return to their mothership and sometimes the pilots are already exhausted and need to rest. Unlike conventional fighters ASFs have more fuel as well.

For conventional fighters, I agree that they needs tankers for longer range of operation. But for ASFs? A small spacecraft that is able to escape the gravity of a planet by itself? I don't think that they desperately needs for the backup small craft tanker to run. If they needs something then all they needs is the refueling drogues on the fighters to share the fuel between them.

Also if you had some ASFs then you must be have the dropship to carry them, so you can simply return to your dropship to got refuel and rearm.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Jellico on 30 June 2021, 05:18:55
Since you have dropships with cargo and for expeditions what would you need a small craft for if not to help out aerospace fighters?

Are you familiar with ship's boats? Just because a DropShip can dock with another ship or go atmospheric doesn't mean that they should. Eg I don't want to be boarding on a picket mission with my DropShip.

TRO3057 ships are a bit gamey in the way they forgot about day to day operations instead focusing on tabletop combat.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Alan Grant on 30 June 2021, 06:04:48
Strategic Operations page 35 lays out how to use dropships to refuel ASFs in space in mid flight.

Any dropship with a fighter or small craft bay can do it, no special equipment required. Apparently they come equipped with refueling drogues by default.

That to me is the guiding star on this question. Most people are going to use what they have already for this purpose, that doesn't require a specialized platform. Dropships have the fuel and endurance to conduct lengthy searches and enough fuel to refuel many ASFs, making them the best solution for this most of the time.

I'm sure there's an exception somewhere. Somebody who just doesn't have a dropship available but has lots of ground based ASFs that they are launching into orbit to intercept raiders, this party needs a refueler to rescue that one pilot who burned through all their fuel and is now stuck in a decaying orbit and will burn up his precious fighter and die in atmo in 30 hours, that kind of situation. Add drogue to any craft built using support craft rules and your done. I'm genuinely surprised we don't have one for precisely this scenario and this kind of niche. I figure they do exist but it's such a niche design or piece of customized hardware that it hasn't made it into a book yet.

All that being said, I do think the space space search and rescue and refueling niche has been neglected in general. If Battletech was redone today, from scratch, we'd probably see a couple of the more standard non-combat small craft designs get a little specialized hardware that lets them pull double duty as a cargo hauler, passenger vessel, or a search and rescue/refueler, just by adding a Drogue and maybe some fluff about their standard onboard medical equipment, or a robot arm normally used to handle moving cargo that can also serve double duty in the search and rescue role and sometimes does. A couple specialized items that allows the small craft to be a viable fit for the search and rescue/refueler role in an emergency. But it is mostly still just a common cargo/passenger shuttle.

It's easy to imagine, were something like that common in any solar system, after a battle is over, each of the warring sides offers a general bounty on any rescue fighter, pilot, escape pod or life boat that is safely recovered and returned to them. This sends the privately owned shuttles already in the solar system scurrying out to try and grab a payday.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 30 June 2021, 07:10:58
But why they are bothered to use the small craft tanker, for they are able to dock with the dropship and you are expected to have the dropship to carry the ASFs? It's just an additional spent, that is not required nor it is needed. Why you need to not use your dropship and needs an another tanker?

The only situation that I can imagine is when you need to keep some aircraft all the times, but... will the pilots stay all the times? The machins are machines, but the pilot is with flesh and bone.

---

edit: I didn't check the recent posts when I post it, for some issue.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Kovax on 30 June 2021, 09:32:11
I can certainly see the need for a small craft to provide resupply and refuel capabilities to a ground-based ASF squadron, and which can occasionally meet up with the invasion fleet to ferry additional supplies and fuel from that fleet to a forward base.  Basically, the dropships can't be everywhere, particularly if you've landed them, so conducting ASF operations on another part of the planet would necessitate some kind of mobile supply base, but it doesn't require a dropship.

A couple of light cargo-hauling small craft would also make sense for providing resupply and/or reinforcements (via light vehicle bay or squad accommodations) to secondary bases of operations where moving stuff via Flatbed Truck doesn't work.  Battletech has long ignored the logistical side of warfare, except when it's needed as a plot point.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Jellico on 30 June 2021, 12:59:54
What sort of travel times are we looking at here?

An ASF can get anywhere on a planet pretty quickly.

Loitering in space doesn't burn fuel.

You need a scenario where an ASF has to be more than an interceptor. The classic 20thC launch then top up before a long trip doesn't really apply.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 30 June 2021, 13:07:04
What sort of travel times are we looking at here?

An ASF can get anywhere on a planet pretty quickly.

Loitering in space doesn't burn fuel.

You need a scenario where an ASF has to be more than an interceptor. The classic 20thC launch then top up before a long trip doesn't really apply.

That's exactly why I think that the tanker small craft is no in use for ASF. If the ASFs are really need for the refuel, it means that it must be the time to return to the mothership anyways for they already spent too much time and the pilots are must rest.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 30 June 2021, 13:13:06
I gave one?

Unlike DS it would not be constant boost, and I did suggest that the need would be for life support recharges really rather than fuel.  The main point is to keep the carriers safely out of range while a Alpha Strike (original use of term?) goes in to wipe whatever is in orbit of a target world- or IF you did send fuel, get down in atmo and hunt any other fighters or their airbase- by surprise after arriving at a pirate point.

But we are talking a day or more transit.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Hellraiser on 30 June 2021, 13:20:40
So, I guess I might have a mission/role where a tanker "could" work.

The traditional role of the Lioness? Small Craft, I think that is the name, the 2 that escort Droppers from JS to Planet.

They mention that in many cases planets use Heavy Fighters for this instead of the dedicated Small Craft.

Now heavy fighters don't have the fuel to keep thrusting at 1G like a Dropper does.

Actually, I'm not sure that they even have the Life Support to pull it off.

But my thought is this.

In a scenario where you have Fighters at a Jump Point Space Station & also on the Planet, you might launch fighters w/ a Small Craft Tanker like the Wild Cat I mentioned above. 

They would refuel them as the Fighters run out of fuel.

The issue is the week long times so my thought is this, you end up with 2 sets at the start & end point both.

A "Planet Based" formation escorts maybe 1/4-1/3 of the way & another group out of the Space Station goes out & picks them up a day or 2 out of the Space station.

This would, in theory, provide coverage from the most common locations where other ships might be based to raid shipping.

I mean, if its a week from Jump Point to Planet,  the "4-day" mark at Turn-Over for the Dropship is going to be well outside the horizonal plane of most orbits I would think.  So anyone raiding you at that point really would have to be just sitting in the middle of space powered down waiting for someone to pass by, maybe, if lucky.

Doesn't seem like a location that would have pirates to me.

Anyway this "hand off" type set up of escort out & escort in is going to be for areas that have fighters & tankers but not the dedicated "escort shuttles" like the Lyoness?




Another option is as someone mentioned, using the tanker in a SAR role to go out & refuel fighters/dropships that went "bingo" in the middle of a battle & drifted out of the combat area & need some juice to get back home.




Finally, maybe in a Strike mission type scenario where you absolutely don't want to have the Dropper anywhere near the combat  (Like a Vengeance),  you sent out a couple wings on a Strike assignment & the Tanker is there to refuel anyone that runs out trying to get back to the dropship.
Coasting in space is "free" but changing direction & any fuel needed for close maneuvering to dock would still be useful if you ran out I'd think.
And better to try to doc 2 fighter sized craft than a Dropship. 
Also, trying to recover a full wing of fighters that are all bingo fuel & coasting is going to be a LOT of maneuvering for a single dropship.

Its not common, but, I can see where the existence of a tanker would be helpful.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 30 June 2021, 13:23:59
Well, is the range of operation of ASF really that short enough to even consider refuel on midpoint? I didn't check the exact data but I thought that usually the pilots are exhausted before you want a refuel unless you had spent so much. So simply launch then return to the carrier after the attack seems enough for them.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 30 June 2021, 13:45:09
again . . . FUEL is not really the problem unless you want to get their faster . . .

LIFE SUPPORT is the range limiter (like less than 24h) on ASF and what makes them different than SC & DS.  While it may SUCK being in a cockpit for 30 hours (oh and it would unless you had the right quirks) it is not life threatening provided you have fresh air.

The Lyonesse and Aquarius were for before ASF Hellraiser.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 30 June 2021, 14:00:06
Perhaps the life support lasts longer, for it is not entirely impossible to add the air refresher for one person consider the function of the life boat/escape pod. But anyway, I don't think that the pilots are really a good shape enough to keep on the mission if they had more than 16 hours confined in the cockpit. It would be possible for the craft with three or more person and at least the small quarter to rest, but not for the fighters that the only place for the pilot is the cockpit.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Maingunnery on 30 June 2021, 14:04:51
It is do-able, but...

Who has the small craft attached to a WarShip/DropShip?

Who is going to waste one on a tanker when they have other roles?

A squadron of fighters might need 20 tons of fuel to refuel. How many small craft have that much spare cargo?
Refitting a long-range shuttle with refueling equipment is likely the best compromise.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 30 June 2021, 15:07:49
Perhaps the life support lasts longer, for it is not entirely impossible to add the air refresher for one person consider the function of the life boat/escape pod. But anyway, I don't think that the pilots are really a good shape enough to keep on the mission if they had more than 16 hours confined in the cockpit. It would be possible for the craft with three or more person and at least the small quarter to rest, but not for the fighters that the only place for the pilot is the cockpit.

B-2 flew subsonic out of Whitehead in Missouri . . . flew around the world and blew up places in Iraq and flew back to base w/o setting down.  Quick search tells me, just as a flight time reference, a jetliner takes over 16h from DFW to Doha in Qatar . . . and that is best course with open permissions very likely at a faster speed of travel.

I want to say in the late 60s or early 70s they had a B-52 fly around the world using mid-air refueling to demonstrate the concept.  Now that, like the C-130 & successors, is not a appropriate comparison since they have room to get up and actually have a latrine (or sorts) so it is closer to the Small Craft as you mentioned.

For space travel, life support endurance and not fuel is the primary navigation concern.  Even using BTU's fantastic engines, a ASF could leave Earth and reach Pluto with no problems . . . except the pilot will not survive the journey because their life support will run out since the effective course to take due to limited fuel leaves the ASF drifting through space for a long time before turn over.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Daryk on 30 June 2021, 17:52:52
The "refuel in combat" aspects of the discussion remind me of the first rule of combat life-saving (aka "first aid"): SHOOT BACK!
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Kovax on 01 July 2021, 10:24:47
Midpoint refueling would have to be done using a craft that originated at the same end of the trip as the fighters.  You could send a refueling ship out with the fighters, and refuel while coasting at tens of thousands of km/hour.  Normally, it is far more practical to use a dropship for this, because the fighters could dock and the pilots could rest.  However, if the early detection of an approaching dropship would be a problem, a small craft escort could allow the attacking group to get a lot closer than a dropship before the planetary garrison was alerted, although pilot fatigue would become a serious issue.  The fighters could launch a surprise attack on satellites and orbital assets, hours or days before the arrival of the invasion group, and before defending ASFs could be scrambled to intercept.  Thanks to the refueling small craft, the fighters would arrive with nearly full tanks, and be able to burn out of orbit and well away before the defenders arrived.

Getting a small craft, fighter, or dropship to come from the other side, stop somewhere past its own midpoint, and then burn hard to reach sufficient speed in the opposite direction to match the approaching fighters, would be extremely inefficient, if it's even remotely practical.  Chasing down damaged-and-drifting or out-of-fuel ASFs would probably be worth such an expenditure.

Where I see the tanker as most practical is for operating a group of ground-based ASFs at some distance from the dropships, either because the dropships have landed elsewhere or because they've had to flee back to the jump point.  Basically, it would become the center of a makeshift airfield, able to take off and move operations elsewhere if threatened by opposing ground forces.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: glitterboy2098 on 01 July 2021, 16:38:33
Well, isn't it possible to refuel by return to the dropship?
what if you don't have a dropship handy though? like it is busy somewhere else in the immediate system and you can't reach it on the Delta-V in your remaining fuel?
or it is in the middle of combat it can't disengage from?
or is in atmosphere and you can't land back on it?

lots of common scenarios where having a tanker smallcraft would be useful.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Hellraiser on 01 July 2021, 20:14:25
Where I see the tanker as most practical is for operating a group of ground-based ASFs at some distance from the dropships, either because the dropships have landed elsewhere or because they've had to flee back to the jump point.  Basically, it would become the center of a makeshift airfield, able to take off and move operations elsewhere if threatened by opposing ground forces.

That is where I was sort of coming from with my Escort idea.

If 6 Fighters & 1 Tanker/Small Craft take off from a planet (Or space station) then the Tanker can refuel them part way to destination as well as after the strike.

Burn 80% Fuel getting to max velocity - Coast - Refuel while coasting.

Slow down burn, strike mission, several passes, etc etc,  head out bound towards the Tanker that "stopped" early out of combat range.

Burn all but 5% getting on a heading back out,  then coast.   Tanker meets up & refuels.   Then burn up 40% getting back to travel speeds towards planet.

Flip again, slow down, & land on planet.

With the escort idea I had there is no "strike mission" but it still lets the fighters escort further & refuel before heading back.

Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: PuppyLikesLaserPointers on 01 July 2021, 23:28:31
So, I finally checked SO.

On atmosphere operations, typical ASFs(with 5 tons of fuel - 400 fuel points) can fly only up to a hour in the low atmosphere - it needs to keep using at least 1 thrust point to at least maintain the safe thrust, and 1 thrust point uses 1 fuel points. A non-space turn is 10 seconds, so it may burn all of them in 66 minutes, barring the fuel for the takeoff, or gliding.

But this is Aerospace fighter, NOT conventional. It seems that it can reach to the space hex within 5 minutes, and a space turn is 1 minute. While travel 1,000 kilometer in the ground row(the lower atmosphere) requires 32.9 minutes, on atmosphere row 1 it only costs 23.5 minute. And it takes only 10 minutes on suborbital and orbital flights. Orbital flights also dramatically reduce the fuel consumption as well.

So, usually consider in-air refuel seems moot. If you really need for a refuel due to the ongoing fight, consider the armor in battletech universe you need to dock, rearm and change the armors as well as refuel in order to ready to combat. And it is unlikely that you didn't have enough fuel to return either.

In space? Your pilot is got exhausted FAR faster than your fuel tank.

Perhaps there is some place for the emergency rescue vessle, but no, no tactical refuelling craft.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: cray on 02 July 2021, 08:08:39
That's exactly why I think that the tanker small craft is no in use for ASF. If the ASFs are really need for the refuel, it means that it must be the time to return to the mothership anyways for they already spent too much time and the pilots are must rest.

A counterpoint:

Some DropShips operate large quantities of fighters, and there are carrier WarShips that operate very large quantities of fighters. Such DropShips and WarShips are bloody expensive.

If you have one carrier but a bunch of fighters then having everyone constantly return to the carrier is impractical, particularly if the fighters aren't going to the same destination.

However, those carriers usually also have smallcraft bays. That is a situation for smallcraft tankers. They can get out and support a couple of squadrons. They've got the strategic fuel efficiency to loiter or intercept squadrons.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Alan Grant on 02 July 2021, 09:06:44
On this topic I differently feel like there has become three branches of argument.

Branch 1. The people talking about all the things you can use dropships or jumpships or warships for to fill this need. If there's a need for small craft refuelers it becomes a bit more debatable based on the circumstances (e.g. the availability of small craft bays, found on some carriers but not all).

Branch 2. The people talking about the potential usefulness of small craft refuelers for situations when dropships/jumpships/warships just aren't available. For example a ground-based ASF unit with zero dropships/jumpship/warship support.

Branch 3. The people saying ASFs have plenty of fuel, flight endurance (the need to give that pilot out of the cockpit and give them a rest) is the bigger problem.

I think all three branches have valid points, I don't see these as mutually exclusive concepts. 1 and 3 go hand-in-hand, the idea that the carrier is the preferred solution to keep ASFs flying. While 2 is more keyed to a particular sub-set of circumstances and concerns where dropships/jumpships/warships just aren't available and a small craft refueler becomes a potentially useful alternative for some situations.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 02 July 2021, 09:33:22
Branch 3. The people saying ASFs have plenty of fuel, flight endurance (the need to give that pilot out of the cockpit and give them a rest) is the bigger problem.

They have plenty of fuel . . . as long as you do not care when you arrive.  They do not have a transit drive so they are not as efficient going long distances which means you will coast for a long time when you go long distances.  Bluntly, PLLP's insistence on the pilot getting exhausted is head scratching because it has already been demonstrated that current pilots are in the cockpit for 30+ hours on a single mission and unlike Earth-bound pilots are sitting strapped in for zero-g.  So . . . autopilot on the coast in, snooze . . . autopilot on the coast out . . . snooze.

I think #1 & #2 can also be combined . . . just like WWII (which is the AT meta mixed with Age of Sail gunnery), there is a reason carriers launched their strikes and then avoided contact or being found.  Just because your Carrier can get into tactical range of a target does not mean it should- your carriers survive longer if they are not being shot at by enemy ships.

Cray's point also extends further under the current paradigm.  Just look at the recent Hour of the Wolf . . . they had missile/ASF platforms at each jump point.  While their fighters took losses once those platforms were wrecked, they did not have enough berths for the remaining fighters IIRC b/c the platforms had such large compliments.  If I was going to be involved in a prolonged naval battle where it might possibly be fought in waves (or firing passes), I would definitely go after the carriers for the simple reason I am going to degrade the enemy fleet's performance if they are having to hot berth the fighters.  Forcing them to drastically alter course or engage in a long burn will either cause the fighters that cannot berth to be left behind or arrive at the engagement low on fuel.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Hellraiser on 02 July 2021, 09:51:48
Branch 1. The people talking about all the things you can use dropships or jumpships or warships for to fill this need. If there's a need for small craft refuelers it becomes a bit more debatable based on the circumstances (e.g. the availability of small craft bays, found on some carriers but not all).

Branch 3. The people saying ASFs have plenty of fuel, flight endurance (the need to give that pilot out of the cockpit and give them a rest) is the bigger problem.

In the case of #1,  interesting point,  something like the Leo-CV doesn't have those Small Craft bays, but then again, the Leo-CV is a solid choice for acting as your own resupply ship as its only small amount of Fighters all going on a single mission.  Ditto the fighters attached to Mech Carriers since they are there to protect the Droppers.

Something like a Titan even is still in the same boat as the Leo-CV only at a Larger scale, it screams 1 full wing of attack craft.

Meanwhile the Vengeance or a York (or other large contingent of ASF equipped Warship) is packing multiple units that likely WILL be conducting different missions as Cray mentioned above.
In that case, Refueling craft would be useful.


I think the case of #3 and deep space & the "they can coast" argument is that people are missing the differences in time between 1G thrust the whole way & "coasting".

As Puppy pointed out you are have empty tanks after an hour of thrust.
If something is 6 hours away under 1G of thrust,  how long does the trip come if you only thrust for 15 minutes due to the need to conserve fuel for maneuvering during the battle & then getting back home?

How long is it just to go from Terra to the Moon at 1G thrust?   (I don't know but for some reason I have 90 minutes in my head)

I'd be curious to know just how far you can go in a fighter before life support runs out for things like pirate point patrol.

IIRC there is a Pirate point on the "Dark side" of the Moon, I forget the L# for that point, but, what I'm wondering is, can a squadron of ASF launched from Earth head out, patrol around to the other side of the moon & then get back home again, before either Lifesupport &/or Fuel runs out? 
And can it be done in the time of a single "work shift" with under 6 hours "flight" time?
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Charistoph on 02 July 2021, 14:56:14
Then there are comparisons as to why we have in-flight tankers in the modern wet navy.

Wet-navy carriers are restricted in the territories they operate in due to lack of "personal" firepower given up to support numerous squadrons on board (CVN-65 Enterprise carried about 124 aircraft all told).  In addition, a lot of those craft just don't have the legs to cross the Pacific NE to SW.  Then there are the AWACS systems they tend to keep up in hostile times, who need constant refreshing.  Then there is the general efficiency of our turbine engines who gobble up a LOT of fuel weight for little movement (relatively speaking).

Meanwhile, the void carriers of Battletech are usually rather well armed and armored.  Meaning that they can actually be in the midst of combat.  Nor do they need to have sensors helping them keep an eye over the horizon.  ASF also have a huge range when compared our jet planes, though no where near as much as your average Dropship or Warship

So, I would put BTech small craft tanks on a lower scale of need when compared to our current wet navy needs.  Not a bad idea, but as for a regular appearance for the average carrier, not so much.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Daryk on 02 July 2021, 15:04:39
I think cray has it right with regard to size of the carriers.  Small carriers (which are the vast majority) have no need for a small craft tanker, but large ones might.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Talen5000 on 03 July 2021, 18:46:54
A counterpoint:

Some DropShips operate large quantities of fighters, and there are carrier WarShips that operate very large quantities of fighters. Such DropShips and WarShips are bloody expensive.

If you have one carrier but a bunch of fighters then having everyone constantly return to the carrier is impractical, particularly if the fighters aren't going to the same destination.

However, those carriers usually also have smallcraft bays. That is a situation for smallcraft tankers. They can get out and support a couple of squadrons. They've got the strategic fuel efficiency to loiter or intercept squadrons.

I would still suggest any "interception" would be problematic given long range strikes using ASFs aren't really viable. ASFs are too limited by both fuel and life support and the fuel you don't use up while drifting to a target is still going to get used up in battle. You also still need to devote a ship to act as a carrier regardless of whether launching and recovery is an i convenience.

ASFs as Starfighters don't really make much sense in the BT universe. If you wanted a long range strike option, then you're essentially looking at a  2-3 crew DropShip built as a fighter but massing up to 1500 Tons, depending on role and capability.

Long range strike ops really needs DropShip support. Even if refuelling were an option, most small craft don't have overly large cargo capacities and any small craft given over to a tanker role is one less available for more routine operations. Large numbers of fighters awaiting recovery might be impractical but once they match course and velocity with the carrier, they are safe. They can wait their turn to land...life support is the limit, not fuel.

There uses for tanker craft within BT, but refuelling ASFs aren't one of them.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Charistoph on 03 July 2021, 21:50:05
I would still suggest any "interception" would be problematic given long range strikes using ASFs aren't really viable. ASFs are too limited by both fuel and life support and the fuel you don't use up while drifting to a target is still going to get used up in battle. You also still need to devote a ship to act as a carrier regardless of whether launching and recovery is an i convenience.

ASFs as Starfighters don't really make much sense in the BT universe. If you wanted a long range strike option, then you're essentially looking at a  2-3 crew DropShip built as a fighter but massing up to 1500 Tons, depending on role and capability.

Long range strike ops really needs DropShip support. Even if refuelling were an option, most small craft don't have overly large cargo capacities and any small craft given over to a tanker role is one less available for more routine operations. Large numbers of fighters awaiting recovery might be impractical but once they match course and velocity with the carrier, they are safe. They can wait their turn to land...life support is the limit, not fuel.

There uses for tanker craft within BT, but refuelling ASFs aren't one of them.

Long range is a relative thing.  Long range for a 20th century fighter is quite doable with BT ASF.  They can also comfortably be capable of an intralunar strike, which is quite long range for us here in the 21st century at present.

If by long range you mean conducting a strike from a standard jump point, or even many different "pirate points", then you would be correct.  Having a carrier dropship deliver them to a closer strike point would be the word of the day.

That doesn't make ASF inviable as starfighers, though.  Their ability to outmaneuver any dropship and hit in concentrated points that much larger vessels have no prayer of hitting effectively.  On the aerospace scene, ASF are closer to Battle Armor with dropships and warships being the Combat Vehicles and Mechs of the void.  With the exception that these little guys can usually outrun and outmaneuver the big boys instead of being able to hide behind anything.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Daryk on 04 July 2021, 04:55:14
Ships like the Achilles and Avenger (and Pentagon in an earlier era) are what you need for long range strike, really.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: cray on 04 July 2021, 08:58:47
I would still suggest any "interception" would be problematic given long range strikes using ASFs aren't really viable.

Define "long range strikes." You can readily use a standard aerospace fighter with no drop tanks to operate around a planet and its moons. 5 tons is enough to launch from a planet (like Terra) and reach moons (like Luna) or the L1 jump point. It is likewise adequate to operate from a carrier to cover such a volume, which is on the scale of tens of thousands of hexes. Some coasting would be required, but it's feasible.

Bringing along a smallcraft tanker would enable such fighters to add some fuel prior to or following combat but doesn't require duplicating an entire, giant carrier. Tankers enable that one big carrier to effectively be in multiple places at once.

Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Daryk on 04 July 2021, 09:07:16
For that kind of tanking, I think an ASF version would work.  it would be a bit cheaper than a Small Craft.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Talen5000 on 04 July 2021, 21:18:39
Long range is a relative thing.  Long range for a 20th century fighter is quite doable with BT ASF.

Yes, but I'm thinking relatively. An ASF can easily burn several tons of fuel in a space battle even sticking close to its mothership in a fleet defence role and that is one of the limiting factors. An ASF can drift for days...life support allowing...but it's going to burn the fuel in battle no matter where the battle takes place.

As for long range strike...given the context, I would suggest a similar mission profile to modern carrier operations. As in several times "gun range" where the carrier itself remains safe and out of range, and even detection.

But if you are expecting a battle at one end of a transit, you need fuel to get there, you need fuel for the battle and you need fuel to get back and you need a reserve. The standard five tons of fuel doesn't last long.

Such strikes are impractical against most military targets where a long range approach is likely to be spotted and unnecessary against civilian targets. A suicide strike wouldn't need refuelling tankers and most ASFs don't have the life support to allow a week long drift.

And external fuel tanks would be more useful and cheaper.

Quote
That doesn't make ASF inviable as starfighers, though.  Their ability to outmaneuver any dropship

That's a problem right there. Nine times out of ten, any DropShip should be able to easily evade any ASF. That ASFs are able to do so in function is a courtesy and should really only occur if the DropShip is already damaged or in a MUST DEFEND status preventing it from using its superior mobility.

Because thrust the issue, nor even acceleration. Its endurance...DropShips usually have fuel to burn, ASFs don't. Same with WarShips. They can burn long enough that they can outrun and outmaneuvre the fastest ASF.

So, long range ASF only strikes aren't practical.

ASFs CANNOT outrun a War/DropShip, or escape it. A typical 5/8 ASF has enough fuel for less than 8 minutes of full thrust after which he's a dutchman.

The best use for ASFs is orbital superiority and ground support missions. Fleet defence is a distant third given the limitations, and long range strikes independent of heavy support assets such as DropShips aren't really viable.




Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Talen5000 on 04 July 2021, 21:21:20
Bringing along a smallcraft tanker would enable such fighters to add some fuel prior to or following combat but doesn't require duplicating an entire, giant carrier. Tankers enable that one big carrier to effectively be in multiple places at once.

External fuel tanks largely do the same job without requiring a small craft bay.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Charistoph on 05 July 2021, 16:47:29
Yes, but I'm thinking relatively. An ASF can easily burn several tons of fuel in a space battle even sticking close to its mothership in a fleet defence role and that is one of the limiting factors. An ASF can drift for days...life support allowing...but it's going to burn the fuel in battle no matter where the battle takes place.

As for long range strike...given the context, I would suggest a similar mission profile to modern carrier operations. As in several times "gun range" where the carrier itself remains safe and out of range, and even detection.

But if you are expecting a battle at one end of a transit, you need fuel to get there, you need fuel for the battle and you need fuel to get back and you need a reserve. The standard five tons of fuel doesn't last long.

Such strikes are impractical against most military targets where a long range approach is likely to be spotted and unnecessary against civilian targets. A suicide strike wouldn't need refuelling tankers and most ASFs don't have the life support to allow a week long drift.

And external fuel tanks would be more useful and cheaper.

You never explained how much "relatively" you're talking about, though.  I gave several different examples of what could be termed as "long range" that wouldn't work for ASF, but some that could, but you did not.  I noticed you cut that out of your quote of what I said, too.

Most ASF are capable of conducting a strike against something else on the other side of the planet, or even out in lunar orbits.  In fact, ASF bases are often placed on lunar stations to be in place to pounce incoming dropships, even though they may not be in the best position to do so.

Interplanetary travel, though, is not the point of ASF, nor was it ever intended to be.  It is to provide manueverable weapon platforms that can out-maneuver the ships and platforms of the larger ships.

And while external fuel tanks are better at extending range independent of support craft, support craft work even better for that process as they can be carrying a full load of fuel.  And if creatively managed, the use of both can extend that range even further.

That's a problem right there. Nine times out of ten, any DropShip should be able to easily evade any ASF. That ASFs are able to do so in function is a courtesy and should really only occur if the DropShip is already damaged or in a MUST DEFEND status preventing it from using its superior mobility.

Because thrust the issue, nor even acceleration. Its endurance...DropShips usually have fuel to burn, ASFs don't. Same with WarShips. They can burn long enough that they can outrun and outmaneuvre the fastest ASF.

So, long range ASF only strikes aren't practical.

ASFs CANNOT outrun a War/DropShip, or escape it. A typical 5/8 ASF has enough fuel for less than 8 minutes of full thrust after which he's a dutchman.

The best use for ASFs is orbital superiority and ground support missions. Fleet defence is a distant third given the limitations, and long range strikes independent of heavy support assets such as DropShips aren't really viable.

Yet they can outmanuever them up close and personal on the tactical stage.  Where most Warships and Dropships are reaching their maximum thrust, ASF are still capable of using their Safe Thrust.  True, if said Dropship or Warship is heading to another planet, it will leave the ASF behind, eventually (and will burn a much larger portion of fuel to do so).  But until it reaches that point it is will within the point of the far more maneuverable ASF's sword.

Also keep in mind that the ASF's strengths are at points were those Dropships and Warships either are trying to reach (i.e. planet) or had no choice in being (Jump Points) where their velocities MUST be slow and cannot out-run these small ships without leaving the theater all together.  In the meanwhile, those ASF could get a lucky shot on ammo, fuel stores, or even the bridge, reducing or eliminating the ship as a threat.

For a long-range pursuit (i.e. from planet to a jump point outside the planet's system), a carrier would be required as support craft wouldn't have the stores to help the ASF keep up.  And that carrier would need to be faster than those trying to escape to give the ASF a chance.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Colt Ward on 06 July 2021, 11:53:07
External fuel tanks largely do the same job without requiring a small craft bay.

External tanks for a long range strike are fine- but the reason a Small Craft works better is it has the more efficient drive AND the crew set up for longer flights (aka, loiter time for mission)- it comes back around that fuel is not the most severe problem but LIFE SUPPORT.

In Atmo a flying craft needs fuel to keep airborne . . . in space, once you have established velocity you just need the fuel to slow down or re-direct.  It is life support that determines if your crew is still functioning by the time your established velocity gets you to your destination.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: RifleMech on 07 July 2021, 04:33:37
For those concerned about life support, there are External Consumables Pods which adds another 96 hours to the crafts endurance. (TM page 185). More crew members would cut that time down. Fighters can carry 1 external consumables pod for every 25 tons of fighter weight. So a 100 ton fighter with 4 external consumables pods would extend it's operational time to 480 hours? I think that would cover a good many types of missions.

Long range patrol, SAR, long range ferry missions are all good for tankers. Especially, with a large number of fighters involved. The bigger the tanker the better but even if it's just using large fighters as tankers would be better than running out of fuel.

Reading this thread had me thinking of the Cylons ambushing the colonial fleet in the original BSG. They launched fighters with some dropship tankers to hit the fleet while the Base Stars hit the planet. So I can totally see long range strike, or defense missions carried out this way. Send the fighters out and have them attack from a different direction from the rest of the force.

I can also see maximizing invasion forces. Take ground forces up and transfer them to the jumpship. Then load fighters. Jump. Launch fighters and then transfer the ground units back into the dropship. Launch the invasion with more fighters and ground units you'd normally be able to take. If heavy AS resistance is expected, carry more fighters than ground forces. More cubicles like those on the Confederate would make this easier but it could be done without. Launch fighters, transfer more from cargo and launch them while the first out just wait. That way, the number of forces brought to the planet are more than would be expected for the number of dropships and jumpship fighter bays. So there's a numerical advantage as well as surprised and confusion. The defenders are going to be wondering where they all came from and where the other jumpships and dropships are and keep forces in reserve for when they pop up. Which of course makes things more difficult for the defenders fighting.

Another use for Tankers would be to help LAMs. They don't have the fuel ASF do. They also can't use drop tanks unless they have bomb bays. Having a tanker to refuel them would be a big help to any mission using LAMs.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Wolf72 on 08 July 2021, 19:19:28
somewhere I thought that different types of CF/ASF/SV fighters used different types of fuel?  Maybe it was just Support vehicle tech levels using different types of 'jet' fuel.  Any clarification?

LAMs: if they remain in fighter mode can they use drop tanks until used up?  I like the idea of a LAM unit having a tanker or two available for refueling given how anemic their fuel tanks usually are.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: RifleMech on 09 July 2021, 10:38:21
somewhere I thought that different types of CF/ASF/SV fighters used different types of fuel?  Maybe it was just Support vehicle tech levels using different types of 'jet' fuel.  Any clarification?

LAMs: if they remain in fighter mode can they use drop tanks until used up?  I like the idea of a LAM unit having a tanker or two available for refueling given how anemic their fuel tanks usually are.

Not that I know of. The only difference is how much fuel they have per ton.

They can if they have bomb bays. If not, it's whatever internal fuel tanks they have. Usually, just the 1 ton of fuel. If they don't have to spend a lot of time in Fighter mode, it's enough. For missions with more time spent in Fighter mode I can see a tanker going with them or meeting them.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: CVB on 09 July 2021, 10:57:51
There is at least one canon example of a LAM with a bomb bay, the Wasp LAM Mk I WSP-100 (TRO:3085).
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Wolf72 on 09 July 2021, 14:12:18
Fuel: I may be conflating ASF/CF with SV ... i.e. a Tech B ICE propeller driven aircraft can not use a Tech C ICE prop driven's fuel.  Or I could totally have justified/made that up in my head.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: RifleMech on 10 July 2021, 00:15:02
There is at least one canon example of a LAM with a bomb bay, the Wasp LAM Mk I WSP-100 (TRO:3085).

Which is why I think a tanker could be of help to them on some missions.



Fuel: I may be conflating ASF/CF with SV ... i.e. a Tech B ICE propeller driven aircraft can not use a Tech C ICE prop driven's fuel.  Or I could totally have justified/made that up in my head.

I don't remember any rule like that. I know certain fuels weight more so you get less mileage. Using a more advanced fuel? I'm too tired to see it but I don't remember any rule that says no. It'd just mean that that unit gets increased mileage.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: idea weenie on 13 July 2021, 14:57:31
For those concerned about life support, there are External Consumables Pods which adds another 96 hours to the crafts endurance. (TM page 185). More crew members would cut that time down. Fighters can carry 1 external consumables pod for every 25 tons of fighter weight. So a 100 ton fighter with 4 external consumables pods would extend it's operational time to 480 hours? I think that would cover a good many types of missions.

480 hours = 20 days, in the cockpit of an ASF

I think I just found a new punishment method
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: RifleMech on 13 July 2021, 16:43:00
480 hours = 20 days, in the cockpit of an ASF

I think I just found a new punishment method

Buzz the tower, go on a really long flight?
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: DevianID on 17 July 2021, 05:50:07
So to buck the trend a little bit... Small craft are ideal tankers for a very important reason no one mentioned--docking collar cost.  A fleet of small craft can supply a jumpship/warship, or ferry from jump point to planets, without costing an arm and a leg.  Operational disadvantages of small craft pale in comparison to the cost difference.  So if you are setting up picket forces of asf, a jumpship can carry 1 large dropship, and that one dropship can launch dozens of fighters and carry a detachment of small craft to go to planets, go to figher combat air patrol waypoints, go back to the jumpship, ECT.  This allows you to save your very limited number of dropship slots for mission critical roles.

Put another way--a small craft does a meh job as tanker.  A dropship does a better job as tanker.  A warship is the best possible tanker.  You have 0 warships.  You have 0 free dropships.  So you use lots of small craft tankers.

As for asf, in interstellar conflict outside of picket duties and very important planetary insertion air cover, asf are great for closing engagements as you can launch them and break away with the carrier.  In deep space, closing engagements are the only real engagements presuming you are not ambushed the second you jump in or the second you reach a planet.  Small craft Tankers would let you recover those fighter you flung away from your dropship burning retrograde.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Cannonshop on 17 July 2021, 10:24:26
Pretty much as the title says. In a medium in which the launching vessel can provide momentum and you don't need to expend fuel in order to travel long distances, along with little need for standing patrols and the fundamental unsuitability of ASF for long distance travel...is there a role for a fuel tanker in ASF operations?
'
In-system guerilla warfare, though you're going to want to have more than fuel on your tanker, and it ends up being more of a 'support tender' than anything else, but if your irregular forces are running fighters out of, say, the asteroids, against forces on a Planet in the inner system? you're going to want 'range extenders' for maneuver fuel, oxygen, and waste processing exchange, and you'll want them to be low-observable.  (Small radar return, absorbent black paint, baffled or light-shielded engines so that your plume is minimized on at least the frontal aspect).

concievably your 'tanker' is more about carrying air and water to keep your pilot alive, and less about hauling actual fuel.
Title: Re: Is there a role for small craft Tankers in ASF operations?
Post by: Elmoth on 17 July 2021, 15:09:22
Actually, when you have fusion engines, you fuel *is* water that generates oxygen for the pilot and hydrogen for the engine.

So your tanker is great for fueling ASF and for firefighting if you are using it planetside.