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Author Topic: Warmother heavy transport  (Read 914 times)

Lagrange

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Warmother heavy transport
« on: 27 November 2021, 21:58:12 »
What is a large capacity transport where:
(a) the cost of carried units are comparable to the transport?
(b) the cost of units capable of killing the transport are comparable to the cost of transport?

After fiddling with this optimization for awhile, the Warmother (below) popped out.   Any oversights here?

The heavy transport style of military dropship does not seem to exist in canon, but I'll argue it should.  The ability to travel by jumpship implies the ability to create jump circuits, which in turn implies the ability to project force by (perhaps) 360 light years/day through a hop on the circuit every 2 hours.  If that rapid deployment force can be made sufficiently powerful, it can strongly define a star nations defense ability.  Minor border incursions could be met with heavy force before they manage to secure a planet, and even a major multi-planet invasion becomes much more problematic to plan and staff when a powerful defensive force can be rapidly deployed at any one of those planets.

Projecting force via jump circuit creates a strong necessity to maximize the amount of force per jump collar because the cost of a jump collar is ~200M, implying that the cost of a jump circuit is ~200M/30 light years/collar.  Hence, a jump circuit 12 jumps long costs ~2.4B/collar.   In that context sticking a Union (2174.5 tons of transport) or even an Overlord (6350 tons of transport)  on the jump circuit seems like quite a waste in comparison to the Warmother, which can transport about 3x more at a fully loaded cost which amortizes the jump circuit collar.

The big drawback of a heavy transport is the 'all eggs in one basket' effect---losing the transport is catastrophic.  This is why question (b) was an important design criteria.  Having a transport which need not touch down on the planetary surface aids this substantially, since you don't need to worry about overrun by enemy ground units, artillery, or suicidal VTOLs.  This could be done with an ASF force, although options exist (see below) for something more comprehensive.

The next step notes that the most effective way to increase the cost of destruction is by increasing thrust, so only fast units can run down and attack the Warmother.  At a 7/11 speed, even medium ASF will struggle to reach the Warmother due to the risk of structural damage.  Instead, you really need something along the lines of the Piranha assault smallcraft which seem to dominate assault dropships / pocket warships in a cost vs. force tradeoff. 

At that point, whether or not the Warmother survives comes down to a question of armor and firepower.  Keeping the cost of the Warmother low is important here, so the primary source of firepower is provided by transported Aerospace fighters.  Optimizing this tradeoff, you end up at an intuitive optimum of heavy armor, and the unintuitive optimum of 49.9k tons.  Any larger implies the inefficiency of armor on large dropships becomes significantly more prominent, while at any smaller scale you fail to really leverage the transport possibilities of a jump collar.

Once we've established the desirability and feasibility of a heavy transport, it's important to ask: What should it transport to be effective?  There is a strong case for a pure ASF carrier since that would maximize the feasibility of paralyzing enemy transport in and out of a system.  This however is unsatisfactory as watching friendly ground forces be overrun is an unpleasant thought.  The ability for carried units to switch hit between space and ground ops like the Workhorse ASF and Marine Battle Armor suggests an alternative:  I've configured the transport bays for the IS Triad force which is about about a lance scale, implying the 20 transported triads are regimental in strength.   Formally, it's a regiment of ASF, a battalion of battle armor, and a regiment of light VTOLs

These are supported triads with an M^3 smallcraft making them capable of deploying independently for extended operations to multiple locations across a planet as the situation merits.  The Warmother has the necessary cargo to fully support each triad as detailed here, providing supplies to support multiple combats that are high speed, space, ground, or boarding operations.  Steerage quarters are provided for all techs and bay personnel enabling long endurance missions up to 150 days, and there is ample tech support for maintenance and repair.

What other missions can it easily satisfy?  Investing in steerage quarters for all passengers enables massed use in offensive deployments while reducing the misery of techs-in-infantry-bays.  Offensive deployments (somewhat ironically) naturally take longer, since they may not involve deployment by jump circuit.  This also creates quite a bit of spare capacity for extra passengers, should that be necessary.   The extra cargo capacity can of course be used in many different ways.  In essence, this is the opposite of the Overlord philosophy of shaving down to almost no cargo.  There is some cost here---if cargo capacity was used in the Overlord philosophy and we eliminated steerage quarters, we could transport somewhat more triads, but they would only be able to handle one of ground or space combat, not either and both as needed, and mission endurance would be reduced to one significant battle rather than the ability to potentially sustain over many.  Overall, the multi-use nature here seems like a plausibly better call, at least in a context where there's only one heavy transport design in use.

Code: [Select]
Warmother
Type: Military Spheriod
Mass: 49,900 tons
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard)
Introduced: 3145
Mass: 49,900
Battle Value: 8,687
Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-X-X-D
Cost: 1,371,020,000 C-bills

Fuel: 1,000 tons (10,000)  //680 tons is a reserve for the Triads.  320 is for the Warmother
Safe Thrust: 7
Maximum Thrust: 11
Heat Sinks: 392 (784)
Structural Integrity: 60

Armor
    Nose: 730
    Sides: 729/729
    Aft: 730

Cargo
    Bay 1:  Small Craft (20)        2 Doors 
    Bay 2:  Fighter (40)            5 Doors 
    Bay 3:  Cargo (4033.5 tons)     1 Door   //3320 is standard IS Triad supplies, 285 is standard Warmother supplies, 428.5 is general purpose.

Ammunition:
    4,752 rounds of Anti-Missile System [IS] ammunition (396 tons)

Escape Pods: 69
Life Boats: 69
Crew:  3 officers, 11 enlisted/non-rated, 1 gunner, 180 bay personnel, 780 passengers, 32 BA marines

Notes: Mounts 216 tons of heavy ferro-aluminum armor.

Weapons:                                       Capital Attack Values (Standard)
Arc (Heat)                                 Heat  SRV     MRV     LRV     ERV   Class     
Nose (17 Heat)
2 Anti-Missile System                       2    1(6)    0(0)    0(0)    0(0)  AMS       
    Anti-Missile System Ammo [IS] (792 shots)
1 ER PPC                                   15   1(10)   1(10)   1(10)    0(0)  PPC       
RS/LS Fwd (2 Heat)
2 Anti-Missile System                       2    1(6)    0(0)    0(0)    0(0)  AMS       
    Anti-Missile System Ammo [IS] (792 shots)
RS/LS Aft (17 Heat)
2 Anti-Missile System                       2    1(6)    0(0)    0(0)    0(0)  AMS       
    Anti-Missile System Ammo [IS] (792 shots)
1 ER PPC                                   15   1(10)   1(10)   1(10)    0(0)  PPC       
Aft (2 Heat)
2 Anti-Missile System                       2    1(6)    0(0)    0(0)    0(0)  AMS       
    Anti-Missile System Ammo [IS] (792 shots)
A fully loaded Warmother costs 2158M including all triads with their supplies as well as spare parts and consumables for 5 months.  Viewed another way, this is 108M/Triad.

Edit: Updated by reducing to 20 IS triads to provide more space for cargo supplies.  Also added full Lifeboat/Escape Pod capacity.
« Last Edit: 29 January 2022, 15:17:17 by Lagrange »

AlphaMirage

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #1 on: 27 November 2021, 23:55:05 »
I agree about the Jump Circuits (I wrote a whole treatise on it on why Warships would stop using LF batteries when PWS became common). I even love small craft supplying ground formations as we've talked about before.

However, I think the Warmother is too fast and doesn't carry enough cargo for its regiment. You'd still need a lightly armored transport that could be attacked in order to sustain the formation.

If you dropped it to even a 5/8 you can outpace most Warships, increase cargo volume, and you already have good fighter/dropship defense with your LAM and ASF. Although I think you need more defensive weapons since there is not guarantee that the enemy won't get through or that there won't be a lapse in protection while your raiders are active. The fighter almost always manage to get through when I play unless you drown them in missiles. Projecting force via ASF is a valid strategy and this would be awesome as a CAAN carrier.

I think your belief in the power of a single ASF carrier to blockade a planet is flawed as dropships, even relatively slow ones, can get so far ahead that you'd have to task the Warmother to chase them down and abandon its objectives. If you increase the cargo volume and ability to raid by adding a pair of Union CV or Xs converted to the Triad unit  while still being able to take anything short of a major capital.

Lagrange

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #2 on: 28 November 2021, 08:55:51 »
Thanks for this---several good comments.

However, I think the Warmother is too fast and doesn't carry enough cargo for its regiment. You'd still need a lightly armored transport that could be attacked in order to sustain the formation.
How much cargo do you think is enough?  And how long are you looking to sustain for?
If you dropped it to even a 5/8 you can outpace most Warships, increase cargo volume, and you already have good fighter/dropship defense with your LAM and ASF.
If you drop to 5/8, then you gain about 35% more transport.  On the other hand, the design can no longer run away from a 6/9 90 ton fighter which costs 1/3 the price of the Piranha with a similar weapons/armor mix, so a calculation of criteria (b) ends up a factor of >2 worse (ouch).  An alternative approach to accept a factor of 2 worse on optimization (b) is to simply increase size to 100K tons and increase transport by 80%.  Do you think (b) is the wrong criteria to aim for?  And if so, do you have an alternative in mind?
Although I think you need more defensive weapons since there is not guarantee that the enemy won't get through or that there won't be a lapse in protection while your raiders are active. The fighter almost always manage to get through when I play unless you drown them in missiles.
I'm assuming that the enemy force ignores anything used to intercept, accepts losses, and targets the transport.  To counter that, I was indeed considering a drown-in-missiles plan---the Workhorse has the internal bomb bay quirk, and a configuration with 6 air-to-air missiles internally, plus of course it can carry missiles externally.  The M^3 support craft can also, despite the name and normal role, use it's 50 tons of cargo as a bomb bay with 10 air-to-air missiles.  Anything surviving a missile storm is cleaned up with remaining ASF weaponry, hopefully before the heavy armor of the transport breaks down.
I think your belief in the power of a single ASF carrier to blockade a planet is flawed as dropships, even relatively slow ones, can get so far ahead that you'd have to task the Warmother to chase them down and abandon its objectives.
I was imagining a couple possibilities here.

There's also a 'Space Triad', where the M^3 support craft is replaced with a Piranha and while dropping the LAMs, with the force basing off of the Warmother so they do not need external support.  Having 2 of the 14 Triads be a 'Space Triad' is a reasonable default, and 2 of the Piranha can chase down and terminate a transport dropship fairly effectively.

Also, one of the values of paying for the M^3 support craft is that the Warmother _can_ abandon the ground force for a few hours to chase down a dropship without significantly impacting the ability of the ground force to engage in combat.  Once it gets near a dropship, the ASF can handle the fight, possibly inserting marines if capture is a goal.

Do these seem viable?
If you increase the cargo volume and ability to raid by adding a pair of Union CV or Xs converted to the Triad unit  while still being able to take anything short of a major capital.
Yeah, I was imagining the Warmother could dual-role as the primary invasion transport for a regimental scale formation.  Other smaller transports for supporting invasions on backwaters or raids does make sense.  In an offensive role, you really only need to worry about getting good use out of a single jump collar rather than the many of a jump circuit, so smaller scale makes sense.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #3 on: 28 November 2021, 09:51:26 »
For your Triad design it seems very intensive of external ordnance, internal Arrow IVs, omnipods, and fuel (the dropship has a generous amount which is nice though). You'd be using a lot of cargo volume in bombs and fuel each sortie particularly if you wanted to maintain persistence. I don't think the 250 tons allotted is enough particularly if you wanted to change configurations to adapt to changing battlefield conditions and engage in large scale bombing missions. Additionally since they are aerospace fighters intending to go in atmosphere against a better defended target (hence the regimental scale) you chance losing a few and the Warmother would have difficulty carrying spare frames even if you recover the pilots.

For the speed, a max thrust of 8 will still outlast the durability or fuel of most fighters, even dropping it to 6/9 will give you more cargo volume and you still will be safe of anything other than a 7/11 Interceptor carrying an Alamo that caught you by surprise, something that is probably very unlikely. Small craft interceptors and assault dropships would thus be your principal threat and they can go 7/11+. The use of some defensive weapons can dissuade the criminally under-armored FASA/CGL designed assault dropships and medium Interceptors from pursuit or destroy them. As such a couple of PPCs, UAC/20s, or Screen Launchers in a few arcs can handle the big stuff while your complement can take care of the little or slow stuff long before you have to worry.

Daryk

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #4 on: 28 November 2021, 12:02:52 »
For endurance, I would think 30 days would be the BARE minimum.  I don't think you could get a relief mission together in any less than that, assuming the resources are available.  90 days is better, of course.  That should be long enough for even the Lyrans to get a response pointed in the right direction...  ^-^

Lagrange

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #5 on: 28 November 2021, 13:19:11 »
For your Triad design it seems very intensive of external ordnance, internal Arrow IVs, omnipods, and fuel (the dropship has a generous amount which is nice though). You'd be using a lot of cargo volume in bombs and fuel each sortie particularly if you wanted to maintain persistence.
Working it out the details here seems like a good exercise.  Thinking in terms of 'per Workhorse ASF' seems plausibly easiest, since they are the primary consumer of tonnage, and there are 62.5 tons per ASF. We can budget:

  • 0 fuel---the main tank can be used to top up the ASF several times.
  • 0 for cargo pods, since we can store cargo in unused cargo pods matryoshka doll style.
  • 15 tons for an Arrow IV pod.
  • 10 tons for Arrow IV Ammo pods (=1000 points of damage).
  • 12 tons of air-to-air Arrows (i.e. 2 loads of the internal bomb bay).
  • 15 tons of HFA armor (=297 point of armor).
  • 2 tons for extra Gauss Ammo.
  • 3 tons of standard armor for the LAMs, for a total of 12 tons for the 2 LAMs.
  • 5 tons of supplies for people for a total of 20 tons giving 100 days of endurance for the triad in space.
  • .5 tons for a spare small laser.
This is enough cargo to switch between configurations F, A, B, M, and I (but not G, which requires two Arrow IV's/ASF).  We rely on the F configuration for most space combat.  It's enough EO for 1 maximum missile engagement or 2 strong missile engagements.  The spare armor might appear low, but it should be reasonable unless we are lucky enough to have an enemy that fails to concentrate fire effectively.  The cargo usage is pretty tight, but I think it works?  Do you see anything important missing?

In addition, there is about 200 extra tons associated with the space triads (since they don't have LAMs), 55.5 tons of general cargo, and 7 tons associated with M^3 tracks which provide some ancillary stores.  The biggest missing elements I see are a point of battle armor (8 tons/triad), some extra Gauss ammo, a few PPC capacitors for when they burn out, and maybe a few spare small lasers.  That looks feasible.

Additionally since they are aerospace fighters intending to go in atmosphere against a better defended target (hence the regimental scale) you chance losing a few and the Warmother would have difficulty carrying spare frames even if you recover the pilots.
Yeah, losses are gone---we definitely can't afford supply depot levels of support with this amount of cargo.
For the speed, a max thrust of 8 will still outlast the durability or fuel of most fighters, even dropping it to 6/9 will give you more cargo volume and you still will be safe of anything other than a 7/11 Interceptor carrying an Alamo that caught you by surprise, something that is probably very unlikely. Small craft interceptors and assault dropships would thus be your principal threat and they can go 7/11+.
I think we're at:
5/8 makes it easy to attack with a 6/9 90 ton ASFs.   
7/11 you are concerned is sacrificing to much cargo.

So, what about 6/9?  6/9 provides a speed adequate to generally evade heavy ASF (which are a real killer) with a bit of warning and which medium ASF will typically not be able to keep up with for long due to accumulating structural damage.  That leaves a 10/15 ASF with the Sparrowhawk and Avar being reasonable examples.  The Sparrowhawk is super cheap---you can get 11 for the price of a Piranha Smallcraft.  Squadrons of Sparrowhawks are pretty scary---they deliver about 3x more force per cost than the Piranha, so again it doesn't seem like we come out ahead.  If we want more tonnage at the cost of being easier to kill, it seems like you come out better with a larger dropship.

The use of some defensive weapons can dissuade the criminally under-armored FASA/CGL designed assault dropships and medium Interceptors from pursuit or destroy them. As such a couple of PPCs, UAC/20s, or Screen Launchers in a few arcs can handle the big stuff while your complement can take care of the little or slow stuff long before you have to worry.
Tonnage is obviously a concern, so Screen Launchers seem out.  Cost is a concern, so we can't have to many big weapons.   Maybe ERPPCs?  I could imagine sparing the cost for a few.  If you had 6 ERPPCs, how would you arrange them?

Daryk

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #6 on: 28 November 2021, 13:29:38 »
Screen Launchers depend entirely on how many nukes are thrown at you.  The more of those there are, the more economical Screen Launchers become.

Lagrange

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #7 on: 01 January 2022, 15:18:00 »
I updated the OP for the modified IS Triad---essentially it's more lance scale rather than half-company scale, it's shifted from using a LAM to using VTOLs, and there is now a more generous cushion of tech support.  Overall, I think this addresses all concerns pretty effectively?

Screen Launchers depend entirely on how many nukes are thrown at you.  The more of those there are, the more economical Screen Launchers become.
A pair of Warmothers has a pair of pairs of AMS in each arc enabling it to kill 392 individual Alamo's.  The pair also has a total of 42 M^3 support craft each of which can fire a pair of AMS's 12 times in a round destroying an additional 252 Alamo's.  Beyond that, the 84 Workhorse ASF can each target and _likely_ (but not surely) destroy an Alamo.   That's 728 Alamos.  It's not an overwhelming defense, but the cost of launching (say) 750 Alamos is plausibly something like 375 9/14 smallcraft with a 20 ton internal bomb bay, plus the cost of the Alamos.  At an estimated 20M each that's about 7.5B, more than the cost of 2 fully loaded Warmothers.

There are variations here---you could have flights of Alamos, but then you can make them miss more efficiently by giving each flight larger than 5 a +10 penalty to hit through damage (and destroying smaller flights).   You could use Santa Anas instead of Alamos, but then the cost of the munition alone is 15M, not worth it for the mild upgrade in armor and substantial upgrade in damage.  None of these variations seem likely to really change the fact that using nukes is inefficient against a prepared opponent.  (An unprepared opponent can of course lose very quickly if nukes are in play.)

Lagrange

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Re: Warmother heavy transport
« Reply #8 on: 23 January 2022, 21:33:20 »
Updated to reflect the exact details of cargo requirements for IS triads.  This required shifting down to 20 IS Triads, which seems to work well anyways with the new Warfather design.

 

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