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Author Topic: Small craft auxiliary roles  (Read 5716 times)

Reaved

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Small craft auxiliary roles
« on: 06 July 2021, 16:35:31 »
Following the discussion around using Small Craft as tankers a number of other roles spring to mind:-

- Carrying Naval Comm Suite to provide sensor detail further away from the task force?
- SAR (is this a viable thing with space combat)?
- Do they have the thrust to allow interplanetary interception?
- A small group could provide fuel and sustenance (as well as bunks) for an ASF deployment on either a station-keeping mission or roving brief (if either would be useful)?

Are these roles useful / viable?
Any other ideas for roles?

« Last Edit: 06 July 2021, 16:38:19 by Reaved »

AlphaMirage

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #1 on: 06 July 2021, 17:19:48 »
I think SAR is one of the best military roles for a small craft, you don't go rescuing until the fight is done so they don't need heavy armor or ordnance. The second best would be as a low intensity 'border patrol' vessel carrying marines and some guns to investigate jumpships and merchant dropships for contraband, hostiles, etc...

Additionally there are a few other roles they serve well. All of which I have used in my fiction
Deployment of a special ops or hazardous recon team to austere environments for moderate duration operations
Carrying moderate sized tanks and up to mechanized infantry as part of a 'space to ground assault' operation. One of the Ares VII landing craft's stated purpose is to carry a Patton into combat. Particularly when you don't have a Triumph or Gazelle available
Resupply of a remote outpost in theater where there is minor fighter threat. Think Vietnam firebases supplied by helicopters
VIP or Picket Transport so you don't need to use a full dropship to move a small number of people or parcels

Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #2 on: 06 July 2021, 17:31:41 »
NCSSs are too heavy for Small Craft, but SAR is something they're absolutely suited for.  Other sensor systems will fit, but you really need a DropShip for an NCSS of either size.

CVB

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #3 on: 06 July 2021, 18:14:45 »
I seem to remember that SC have better inherent ECM and/or sensors and/or comms than ASF?
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Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #4 on: 06 July 2021, 18:21:57 »
Yes they do... just not as good as any NCSSs...

CVB

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #5 on: 06 July 2021, 18:29:47 »
Considering the price tag of the NCSSs, they damn well should beat the inherent systems ;D
"Wars result when one side either misjudges its chances or wishes to commit suicide; and not even Masada began as a suicide attempt. In general, both warring parties expect to win. In the event, they are wrong more than half the time."
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Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #6 on: 06 July 2021, 18:51:22 »
Don't forget to double (or worse) those NCSS price tags once you actually install them either...  ^-^

CVB

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #7 on: 06 July 2021, 19:28:38 »
Tell me about it. 2 billion on a Pueblo for a small NCSS. A large one would be 9 billion. But still a steal compared to the mobile HPG at 36 billion  :o.
"Wars result when one side either misjudges its chances or wishes to commit suicide; and not even Masada began as a suicide attempt. In general, both warring parties expect to win. In the event, they are wrong more than half the time."
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Reaved

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #8 on: 07 July 2021, 08:43:18 »
NCSSs are too heavy for Small Craft, but SAR is something they're absolutely suited for.  Other sensor systems will fit, but you really need a DropShip for an NCSS of either size.
I think it's possible if you build the Small Craft around it. It'd be painfully slow, poorly armoured and likely unarmed but fighting wouldn't be what it was there for.

ravensword

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #9 on: 07 July 2021, 10:31:56 »
I think it's possible if you build the Small Craft around it. It'd be painfully slow, poorly armoured and likely unarmed but fighting wouldn't be what it was there for.

I've done that design study.  The big killer is the crew requirement for the CSS:  thirty tons at steerage quarters.  It works for a JumpShip picket.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #10 on: 07 July 2021, 12:26:45 »
I think really such an expensive piece of equipment as an NCSS should be on a larger better equipped vessel working as part of a larger task force. Things like look down RADAR, multispectral cameras, communications equipment, and other such things fit the small craft niche better. This makes it more of an active satellite that you don't have to retrieve if the world you're invading happens to lack infrastructure. These sensors can also be faced outward making it a tidy little picket at transient jump points.

Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #11 on: 07 July 2021, 16:35:40 »
Given the design limitations, a Small NCSS would really only be installed on a Small Craft for cost savings compared to a DropShip.  I honestly suspect the Bug Eye had a jump core as a cost saving measure (as insane as that sounds)...  ::)

Colt Ward

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #12 on: 08 July 2021, 10:02:52 »
Small craft can easily fill a number of roles- think of them as cutters or ship's boats under current use.  Look at their advantages to see how they will be used.

Smallest Transit Drive- they use the same fuel efficient engines as warships and dropships, but in a smaller package

Smallest full life support suite-  same as above, this is what actually gives them a patrol range superiority over ASF

Crew quarters- Unlike fighters, small craft have a multi-person crew and have a requirement for their own space- part of which is how it gets life support

Cargo- so you can extend the voyage if need be, or transfer small loads between ships in a fleet- DS/JS/WS.

No strict piloting requirements-  Unlike ASF (or mechs) you do not have to be one of the special people to fly small craft


With that in mind, planetary customs should have a large fleet of small craft in most developed systems  to deal with smugglers and your 'normal' pirates.  Historically, most pirate ships were not heavily armed- they had to have enough firepower to threaten targets, but it was their boarding parties that really enforced their rule . . . which is why running into a navy ship was a Bad Day.  So patrolling orbital space, runs out to mining 'colonies' or minor settlements, patrols around fuel harvesting stations (which would have pirate points at gas giants), and jump zone patrols- especially if there is no station of any sort- would be covered by such craft as the Taurian's Tigress.

Dropships that want or needed coverage (IE, no or overworked customs patrol) from planet to jumpship used to be escorted by Aquarius and Lyonesse small craft . . . IIRC, the main difference between them and the Tigress was they had shorter legs though I am not sure the modern (Jihad introduced) versions suffer from the problem that existed with earlier pre-ASF versions.

Another common use is going to be 'fleet' small boats.  Designs such as the Landing Craft Mk VII and its clones would be used to transfer supplies & personnel between jumpships (who we have never heard of docking together afaik), warships, and even dropships.  But dropships can dock to either and each other- so why use small craft?  Simple risk avoidance . . . a dropship/jumpship/warships will take less damage from accidents during to docking with a small craft than the rest would trying to dock.  Even that small risk can be negated since most of those 3 types have small craft bays.  FREX, how many ships are at risk if you are using a DS to transfer a small amount of cargo between differen carriers at a jumpzone?  Dropship 1 that is discharging the cargo, Jumpship A that Dropship 1 was riding on, Dropship 2 that DS1 is docking with, Jumpship B that DS2 is attached to, and then Jumpship A again when DS1 re-docks to keep going on it's previous route.  Small Craft?  Launches from DS1's small craft bay . . . lands in DS2's small craft bay.  If it is a small amount of cargo, or personnel with their cargo, it is also more efficient to use the small craft b/c they will not have the fuel expenditure of a dropship nor take up the manhours diverted from a DS docking procedure for four ships as cited above.  Further, we have examples of 'fleets' of transport DS shuttling staff between dropships for meetings as part of the work up to impending action when they are traveling to the jump point.

Personnel transfer, either between system bodies or between a settlement and the jump point.  Think of the hostile environment mining colony trope in sci-fi (Outland, ST Final Frontier's Kitimer, Alien series, neoBSG, The Expanse, Babylon 5, etc) where there is somewhere that is cheaper (main reason) and more pleasant to live.  BT covers this in one of the MWDA novels, the main settlement is on Kimball which has a Terra-like environment but a lot of the economic activity is focused on a world in a further orbit that has a hostile environment but rich in expensive metals.  Besides the 'truckers' hauling bulk ingots from the planet back to factories on the main world or even to the jump point, you could also have mining crews rotating off the hostile planet back to the Terra-norm planet for health reasons.  This maybe a trope but it happens IRL for the same reason . . . you have mining/drilling crews that are in the boonies or undeveloped areas that spend weeks on site and then get shuttled to somewhere more civilized (aka brothels & bars) to relax before they take up their next rotation.

Prospecting . . . spheriod small craft would be best for asteriod/moon/planetary prospecting.  They have the same ability to have the extended trips as the customs patrol, cargo space for any specialized equipment, and spheriods will be able to land anywhere required easier than aerodyne.  How do the big mining conglomerates know where to setup operations?  Someone has to go out, poke at the rocks, analyze the results, and let them know where to go to make their money.
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Charistoph

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #13 on: 08 July 2021, 12:57:28 »
Isn't the Battle Taxi considered a Small Craft?
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Colt Ward

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #14 on: 08 July 2021, 13:56:15 »
Isn't the Battle Taxi considered a Small Craft?

Yes, a Spheriod Small Craft . . . marine boarding actions are one of the standard uses; I thought the OP was about outside of the normal use.
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Charistoph

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #15 on: 08 July 2021, 14:03:28 »
Yes, a Spheriod Small Craft . . . marine boarding actions are one of the standard uses; I thought the OP was about outside of the normal use.

Well, you gave a lot of the normal uses for small craft as well, especially for those Drop Ships that would have problems landing on a planet.  And some Small Craft get used like Battle Taxis because that's what they have for the operation.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #16 on: 08 July 2021, 14:47:18 »
Yeah, they are the non-tactical normal uses though 'shuttling' people does sort of cover boarding operations and it is also referenced by the customs patrol.

A interesting question is how many small craft should various levels of systems have as part of their local operations.

Independent Periphery world?  Those bums are lucky if they have a single small craft for emergencies and to service any satellites.

Terra?  Hundreds in both government service and out of government service . . . A squadron at each jump point running customs.  A squadron of patrollers around Jupiter with the shipyards, refueling station, colonies and pirate points.  Another squadron above Terra for more customs & inspection as well as ATC enforcers, maybe some over Mars & Venus (before that settlement got wiped) . . . and those are just government, it does not include the private shuttles (want to bet the Primus did not have one?), Belters, 'airline' like shuttle services doing Sub-Orb hops/Terra to LEO/Terra to Luna as well as longer flights to Jupiter or Mars, and a lot more uses.
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Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #17 on: 08 July 2021, 17:03:03 »
One nit pick in that otherwise great post, Colt: I think you meant the S-7A, not the Mark VII for the ship to ship duties.  Mark VIIs are for orbit-to-surface transfers.

Colt Ward

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #18 on: 08 July 2021, 18:40:29 »
One nit pick in that otherwise great post, Colt: I think you meant the S-7A, not the Mark VII for the ship to ship duties.  Mark VIIs are for orbit-to-surface transfers.

I include it as a clone, range is really the only difference when we start talking about people movers.  If I was stocking a small craft for landing infantry/BA, I would pick something with the most utility- so a blend of range, cargo, survivability, and speed.
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Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #19 on: 08 July 2021, 18:43:52 »
Most utility should include ability to land on planet, which the Mark VII does in spades... I see your point!  :thumbsup:

idea weenie

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #20 on: 13 July 2021, 14:42:37 »
Can you use Small Craft to serve as 'omni-pods' for a Dropship?

I.e. install a Small Craft bay or few onto a Dropship, then design Small Craft that can only perform 1/2 thrust into those Small Craft Bays.  Once the basic Small Craft design is done, use as much tonnage from the Small Craft as possible for mission-specific equipment.  These Small Craft won't need armor, as the Dropship would provide that.  They wouldn't need much fuel, as the Dropship handles transportation.  Similar for crew requirements, life-support tonnage, etc.

It would allow the Dropship to easily swap out 'Small Craft' based on mission requirements, as long as replacement 'Small Craft' are available.

The problem is that each Small Craft used in this manner would require its own separate Door, and that Door could not be shared with other items still on board (well, maybe it can be used for cargo loading/unloading, but not containerized)

(Yes, I am trying to use this to simulate the Aurora Dropship.  So you could have a command ship in orbit with lots of Small Craft bays, and multiple Aurora style Dropships that swap out the Small Craft in their bays depending on what you need them to do.)

CVB

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #21 on: 13 July 2021, 16:32:51 »
You mean the SCs perform their mission while staying inside their bays,  through the bay doors?
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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #22 on: 13 July 2021, 17:25:58 »
You mean the SCs perform their mission while staying inside their bays,  through the bay doors?

Exactly.  The Small Craft serve as the modular bay systems, at the penalty of needing lots of stuff each.  With a thrust of 1/2 these Small Craft cannot leave a planet's surface, so the only way to exchange them is either in space or on-planet.

Some potential uses:
Have five Dropships and need to deliver 20 Mechs to the surface?  Equip all five Dropships with 4 SC-Mech each, and send them down.  Another location needs medical support?  The command ship preps a SC-Medi (plus a SC-Cargo, and a pair of SC-Inf), one of the Aurora Dropships pops up, swaps out its four SC-Mech for the prepped SC, and heads down to a different location to provide medical service.

The Dropships won't be as efficient as dedicated designs, while the small Craaft setup will have its own cost, but the rapid 'refit' capability means your Dropships can do whatever job is needed if the SC-type is available.  So a Leopard that used its 900 tons of capacity and was set up to use SC bays as modular bays would be able to carry 4 Mechs plus 100 tons of cargo.  A regular Leopard would be able to carry 4 Mechs and 2 ASF, or remove an ASF bay and carry 150 tons of cargo instead.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #23 on: 13 July 2021, 17:43:00 »
Mechs getting down is never the problem. Getting back up could be hard.

Orbital Drops by Mechs falling out of a dropship are things that happen. Hard to do yes, risky certainly, but this is the military we are talking bout here. Also all mechs would have to travel as cargo. No Small Craft can fit a full Mech Bay which means they will take time to deploy. If you have time its far easier to use a dropship.

Mark VII Landing Craft can carry a tank or two light ones to the ground but again unloading them and readying them for battle will take time.

CVB

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #24 on: 13 July 2021, 18:03:26 »
I see. I first thought you wanted to use the SCs as Omni weapon pods firing through the open bay doors, or project ECM/do sensor scans etc. from inside the DS.
"Wars result when one side either misjudges its chances or wishes to commit suicide; and not even Masada began as a suicide attempt. In general, both warring parties expect to win. In the event, they are wrong more than half the time."
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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #25 on: 13 July 2021, 18:49:34 »
Mechs getting down is never the problem. Getting back up could be hard.

Orbital Drops by Mechs falling out of a dropship are things that happen. Hard to do yes, risky certainly, but this is the military we are talking bout here. Also all mechs would have to travel as cargo. No Small Craft can fit a full Mech Bay which means they will take time to deploy. If you have time its far easier to use a dropship.

Mark VII Landing Craft can carry a tank or two light ones to the ground but again unloading them and readying them for battle will take time.

Too true.  The base SC mass breakdown just for the minimums I listed would be:
Structural Integrity: 1.5 tons
Engine: 13 tons (T/OT of 1 / 2)
Fuel & Pumps: 1 ton (half a ton of fuel, plus Pump mass is rounded up to the nearest half ton)
Control Systems: 2 tons
Crew:
* 1 Officer: 10 tons
* 5 Minions: 35 tons
Total: 52.5 tons used, leaving 147.5 tons available

Now if I could get the Minions to use Steerage Quarters (5 tons/) instead of 2nd Class Quarters (7 tons/), that would give me an extra 10 tons to work with, letting me carry 157.5 tons of stuff.  Ideally I'd want to use the Infantry Bay capability to get the tonnage used per person down to ~200 kg per person instead of 5-10 tons per person.  It would need life support in larger amounts than that used by Quarters (Bays only get 20 man-days per ton vs Quarters getting 200 man-days per ton), but the short time-frame would make it possible.


I see. I first thought you wanted to use the SCs as Omni weapon pods firing through the open bay doors, or project ECM/do sensor scans etc. from inside the DS.

SC as dedicated weapon pods?  Now there's an idea!

SC-Dakka = 147.5 tons worth of RAC/5 with ammo and heat sinks
SC-Zappa = 147.5 tons worth of PPCs (ER or otherwise) and heat sinks
SC-Itano = 147.5 tons worth of missile launchers, ammo, and heat sinks.
(armor is likely added so you don't get an impressive fireworks show if someone hits the ammo storage)

For sensors/ECM, I'd figure that since the SC aren't linked to the Dropship as part of its design, then SC sensors/ECM would not be projected outside Dropship, unless the Dropship had the appropriate door open for the SC to use its sensors/ECM.

Daryk

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #26 on: 13 July 2021, 21:15:31 »
Why so many crew?  Minimum for a Small Craft is 3 (including the officer).  And there is nothing stopping you from using Steerage Quarters.  The last paragraph of text on page 189 of Tech Manual makes that clear.  Infantry Bay quarters were errata'd into oblivion a number of years ago now, unfortunately, but you could always use the Illegal quirk.

Also, if the SC is 200 tons with a 1/2 thrust, I think the SI should be 2 tons, not 1.5 (TM, page 187 refers).  Similarly, Controls should be 1.5 vice 2 tons (per page 189).

Elmoth

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #27 on: 14 July 2021, 00:53:43 »
So it is possible to deploy a combat ready mech from a (very slow) small craft. Good to know. 

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #28 on: 14 July 2021, 02:26:26 »
So it is possible to deploy a combat ready mech from a (very slow) small craft. Good to know. 

Yes, but you can't get them back using the same craft. There's a minimum thrust limit to actually climb out of the atmosphere, so it wouldn't be able to get into space.
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Elmoth

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Re: Small craft auxiliary roles
« Reply #29 on: 14 July 2021, 02:31:03 »
Really? LOL. Do that is a 200 ton drop cocoon. Wiyht he necesaary teust to climb back up, is it possible to depploy mechs with SC?