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Author Topic: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?  (Read 12619 times)

Dayton3

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How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« on: 09 February 2017, 17:22:14 »
I ask this from both an "in game according to the rules" and in a remotely realistic scenario.

I know from studying the history of conventional armored warfare from World War Two to the present day that historically main battle tanks,   the spiritual precursors to 'mechs in many ways,  are most vulnerable not to comparable armored vehicles but to aerial attack.

In game,  given that you can't IIRC armor the head of a 'mech with more than 10 points of armor,  wouldn't 'mechs naturally be more vulnerable to air strikes than any other form of attack?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #1 on: 09 February 2017, 17:35:32 »
Airstrikes do not hit on the punch table, but use the normal hit location table. Head hits are no more likely than from attacks by ground units.

That being said, a player who is willing to delay an air attack by a turn or two can easily fly around the ground battlefield and come at it from the other side, thus finding himself presented with plenty of rear torso locations to shoot at. ^-^

Your results may vary, depending on the presence of enemy air cover, or ground units bunching up into defensive formations.
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Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #2 on: 09 February 2017, 17:48:13 »
The relationship between defense and offense in the BTU is not comparable to anything of the past two or three centuries.  Battletech armor needs to be hammered by sustained blows before it is likely to catastrophically fail.  The One-shot-one-kill paradigm that defines almost all modern warfare is not comparable to bringing down a mech.  Mechs succumb to accumulated damage more like medieval knights or a ship of the line in the age of sail.

Air power is inherently a poor platform for delivering such sustained offense (against a ground target) and so mechs are inherently far more resilient to airstrikes than real life armored vehicles.  Sufficiently different that there is no meaningful comparison, imo.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #3 on: 09 February 2017, 19:59:35 »
The relationship between defense and offense in the BTU is not comparable to anything of the past two or three centuries.  Battletech armor needs to be hammered by sustained blows before it is likely to catastrophically fail.  The One-shot-one-kill paradigm that defines almost all modern warfare is not comparable to bringing down a mech.  Mechs succumb to accumulated damage more like medieval knights or a ship of the line in the age of sail.

Air power is inherently a poor platform for delivering such sustained offense (against a ground target) and so mechs are inherently far more resilient to airstrikes than real life armored vehicles.  Sufficiently different that there is no meaningful comparison, imo.

What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #4 on: 09 February 2017, 20:39:41 »
VTOLs can harass mechs/tanks/vehicles but their light armor makes them very vulnerable to return fire.  ASFs can pose similar threats to mechs as other mechs.  ASFs also can carry more punch with both their built in weapons and ordinance.  But ASFs must fly at an altitude of 5 hexes or less and have more limited lanes of fire (along their path of travel).

Dropships are a big threat. 

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #5 on: 09 February 2017, 21:59:37 »
What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

There's what's possible, and what's probable.  What makes for a better, more compelling story: Mechbuster flies overhead and the AC20 shot plunks into a mech and just scrapes 20 points of armor off a location... or it gets a "rare" mech-killing result?

You can one-shot kill a Daishi with a single AC2 shot via TAC and 3 engine hits... but does that mean you'll expect it to plausibly happen, either as the player shooting or the player controlling the Daishi?  Even any given AC20 is more likely just have no result other than scraping 20 pips of armor than to even go internal, let alone score something catastrohpic. 

Bombs are like one-shot AC20s that don't even threaten a headcap.  Yeah, they hit hard, but barring fluke luck (or artistic license) you have to count on accumulating *sustained* hits on a mech to kill it.  Hoping for a headcap or TAC is poor strategy.

Airstrikes can certainly contribute to accumulating hits on the enemy mechs, but they're hard to do it all on their own.    Especially when aircraft have to pass "lawn dart checks" from return fire from those mechs.  Unlike a mech, fighter ARE somewhat easily one-shot-killed when performing CAS.
« Last Edit: 09 February 2017, 22:04:42 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #6 on: 09 February 2017, 22:10:01 »
It also depends on the size of the mech and the size of the fighter.  Eisensturm attacking a Panther?  Kiss your mech goodbye.  Corsair attacking an Awesome?  The mech-driver won't be too worried, unless it's coming in from behind him.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #7 on: 10 February 2017, 00:06:44 »
ASF become truly frightening though when grouped with artillery. Use arty to force opfor to scatter then send fighters to pick off the singles hopefully driving the opfor to group up again is great enough numbers for the artillery to find easy prey. A fighter like the Stuka could also be used to heard a medium weight force into a minefield. 4 LL is not something a Wolverine pilot wants to have to deal with when other ground units are firing at him as well.

A really good player though will try for the altitude 7 bombing run. It may be an automatic miss, but that isn't the point. You gamble the scatter pattern ;) Which as luck would have it is a straight line in front of you  >:D Get a whole squadron in on the fun with cluster and inferno bombs and your opponent had best worn the brown pants O0

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #8 on: 10 February 2017, 08:12:20 »
I always thought Dive Bombing was the way to go. Load up a couple of Slayers with a full bomb load and start putting 100+ points of damage on a single mech per fighter with a good few 'to whom it may concern' scatters to boot. Sure you can only do it once, but it can be a battle turning event.

All that said I am thinking from a campaign sense where BV is less of an issue compared to the ability to get assets actually onto the field of battle.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #9 on: 10 February 2017, 11:39:02 »
I always thought Dive Bombing was the way to go. Load up a couple of Slayers with a full bomb load and start putting 100+ points of damage on a single mech per fighter with a good few 'to whom it may concern' scatters to boot. Sure you can only do it once, but it can be a battle turning event.

All that said I am thinking from a campaign sense where BV is less of an issue compared to the ability to get assets actually onto the field of battle.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #10 on: 11 February 2017, 23:23:25 »
Weirdo, thought cluster bombs where like cluster artillery ammo- it hits on the 'above' table?

Airstrikes can be powerful but realize that like its been stated mechs are more resilient than modern armor to being struck from 'above' which is where the armor on tanks is weakest btw.  Your big shots are going to be Homing A4 rounds launched from some range simply because like ground launched its 20 points to a location.  Otherwise consider airstrikes like being hit by massed LRM batteries, because the damage will scatter.

Biggest thing is, no not strafe unless you want to make a nice crater.  Or you just get that type of target that is too much to pass up in exchange for the fighter.

Airstrikes will do two things for you, one strategic and one tactical . . . if you find a collection of enemy mechs where yours are not immediately available, you can drop those bombs to cause damage.  Are you going to take them all out?  No, but you are going to drop their combat capability.  So its a strategic benefit for you- either your units will face damaged enemy equipment, or they will have to go into a repair phase without ever coming into contact with your forces which gives you greater movement.

Tactically, as stated you can use a airstrike to disperse a cluster.  Just like artillery teaches the enemy commander not to bunch up, so does a airstrike though it has less time to exploit the enemy's dispersion.  As Challenger said, when they scatter you pick off the weak or separated . . . or drive your own force into them to split their line.
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Weirdo

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #11 on: 12 February 2017, 11:50:39 »
Weirdo, thought cluster bombs where like cluster artillery ammo- it hits on the 'above' table?

Nope, regular table. The advantage of cluster bombs over HE is their multi-hex blast area. Take a single light fighter to level-bomb a bunch of them all over a battlefield, and the guy who thought bringing a lot of BA or light/fast hovers was a good idea is now regretting life.
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Darth_Biagio

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #12 on: 12 February 2017, 16:15:03 »
My experience against strike attacks:
First pass: Aerospace Unit hits, rolls a 2 on the Hit Location Table and gets a Gyro critical;
Second pass: same... :-\

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #13 on: 18 February 2017, 11:08:41 »
My experience against strike attacks:
First pass: Aerospace Unit hits, rolls a 2 on the Hit Location Table and gets a Gyro critical;
Second pass: same... :-\
I think you're mistaking air strikes for Hellbie Dice...  Mechs are vulnerable to terrible luck, just like everything else.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #14 on: 18 February 2017, 22:27:26 »
My experience with air attacks was an opponent bringing a few ASFs to a game, then after the game started realizing just how many LB10-Xs we had on our side.

He then realized just how flakked he was. >:D
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #15 on: 18 February 2017, 23:06:04 »
What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

keep in mind the earlier novels were written with different rules for aerotech units.. in Aerotech 1 bombs for example were a little bit more powerful, both in terms of deployment and in terms of options for per-bomb firepower.
i don't know if the strafing rules were different then, but i wouldn't be surprised.

you can see signs of those older rules elsewhere too.. in the early Grey Death novels the aerospace engagements occur over immense ranges (AT1 used a different, much larger map scale) and in Natural Selection you have an aerospace fighter not only crossing immense distances but also using a moon for a gravity boost.. both things that they could do under AT1 rules but not under the later rules.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #16 on: 18 February 2017, 23:25:40 »
Yes, strafing rules were VERY different back then.  To the tune of everything in a 3-hex wide swath potentially taking damage from all your energy weapons.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #17 on: 19 February 2017, 14:44:55 »
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #18 on: 19 February 2017, 14:56:46 »
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?

Game balance probably...

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #19 on: 19 February 2017, 16:58:41 »
I'm sure it was game balance, but not having ever been privy to the thoughts of TPTB, I can't say for sure.  Strafing was truly horrifying back in the day.  Medium laser machines that had enough heat sinks to use them all were holy terrors (Slayers, I'm looking at you).

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #20 on: 20 February 2017, 01:47:02 »
A 120m wide swathe was a bit much for one plane's strafing  O0

But is there any particular reason machine guns can't be used for strafing (other than barely an fighters using them)? Wasn't the word invented for what planes did with those things?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #21 on: 20 February 2017, 02:01:33 »
Really both machine guns and autocannons should be perfectly acceptable for strafing, but someone made a decision a long time ago that it's something that only energy weapons can do.  It makes about as much sense as not being able to mount DHS on vehicles.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #22 on: 20 February 2017, 02:46:59 »
ACs I can see not strafing due to ammo concerns (I always envisioned them with burst limiters). But MGs have the ammo!

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #23 on: 20 February 2017, 06:39:16 »
Back in the day, it was a range restriction.  Weapons had to have more than 3 range (so Small Lasers were out too).

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #24 on: 20 February 2017, 10:47:11 »
Also, the old strafing rules used a different hit table with both head hits and criticals being more likely.  ASF's (And LAMs) equiped with a lot of energy weapons were extremely nasty against mechs.  The older novels used those rules and the results was air power being very powerful.  Used to be a mech was no match for an equivalent tonnage ASF.

The rules changed to nerf ASF's against ground targets to make the mech the king of the battlefield again :)

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #25 on: 20 February 2017, 14:11:41 »
I'm sure it was game balance, but not having ever been privy to the thoughts of TPTB, I can't say for sure.  Strafing was truly horrifying back in the day.  Medium laser machines that had enough heat sinks to use them all were holy terrors (Slayers, I'm looking at you).

Or the Stuka. Four large lasers for everyone!
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Skyth

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #26 on: 20 February 2017, 14:24:10 »
If memory serves, the old strafing rules broke everything into 5 point clusters (Might be wrong on that though)

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #27 on: 20 February 2017, 14:28:31 »
I believe it was, but the main point is those five point clusters could be applied to every 'mech on roughly 1/4 of a map sheet.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #28 on: 20 February 2017, 16:51:52 »
ACs I can see not strafing due to ammo concerns (I always envisioned them with burst limiters). But MGs have the ammo!
What about heat build up for energy weapons? Or ammo for chem lasers and plasma weapons?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #29 on: 20 February 2017, 17:19:41 »
I believe it was, but the main point is those five point clusters could be applied to every 'mech on roughly 1/4 of a map sheet.

That plus a more dangerous hit location chart.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #30 on: 21 February 2017, 09:51:49 »
I always thought the idea of mechs being no match for an aerospace fighter of the same tonnage made a lot of sense.

Because due to fuel concerns,   a fighter was never going to be able to stay in combat as long as a mech.   So it would be reasonable to carry less ammo and more actual weapons.

A fighter runs out of fuel it is basically gone.   

I've never understood the obsession with game balance anyway.   Isn't one of the basics of warfare in any era with any types of weapons to find IMBALANCES??!!

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #31 on: 21 February 2017, 11:19:08 »
Well, the goal of war isn't to ensure a fun experience is had by both parties like it is in a wargame.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #32 on: 21 February 2017, 11:26:10 »
Clearly the M1 Abrams needs to be nerfed, look what it did to the Republican Guard!
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #33 on: 21 February 2017, 13:44:30 »
The Russians hacked Kit!

Fun thing is advanced rules can allow you to play how you want and nothing stops you from making it unbalanced if you want.  I play BT for campaign as a war simulation so it goes unbalanced but I also try to give my guest opponents mission objectives for the scenario they can try to complete.  Table top?  Its more social and I will play around with weird combinations to test equipment and test myself.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #34 on: 21 February 2017, 18:06:52 »
The whining isn't limited to Aero, believe me.  :)) I've run across a whole population of people who, in lieu of leaning anything new and growing as players, prefer to restrict what everyone can bring to the table. Create a 'safe space' for their method of play and become the big fish in a tiny pond. Aero is a frequent target but I've heard similar nonsense re.: vehicles, infantry, BA, Protos, Clan tech, C3, Society, etc. It's exhausting.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #35 on: 23 February 2017, 17:04:54 »
I think you can have "game balance" more by being realistic about costs.

For example,  a run of the mill jet fighter bomber modern day costs at least ten times as much as an M-1 Abrams tank.

If an aerospace fighter costs several times the price of a battlemech then obviously their availability is going to be more restricted as is your willingness to risk losing them.

Yeah,  I went there.    I've always been in favor of more economics in science fiction and in real life.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #36 on: 23 February 2017, 23:09:33 »
Thing is . . . they will not cost more- both use much of the same parts and the mech will be designed with life support & sealing too.

In point of fact . . . most produced jet fighter of all time, MiG-21 with over 10k built, had a modernized version built in India running at a bit over 5 mil per fighter for producing 125 at the time, though it also had some other stuff as part of the contract.  Consider the Abrams was produced in roughly the same numbers but as part of a larger buy order (aka, drives down the cost) at 6.2 million during the same time period.

And a Fishbed loaded with bombs or maybe rockets would wreck a Abrams.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #37 on: 02 March 2017, 10:19:29 »
Depends on ERA and saturation .  Before  the Jihad my unit's Primary Heavy Weapon became the Arrow IV Launcher . After the Jihad ADA ammo becomes available and Aerospace fighters become expensive targets to kill .
Still since most times the fighter is over the battlefield 1 out of 3 turns or so they do Very well the 1st turn as the ground forces might be an easier target and by the 3 turn in which they come back the ground forces that they are supporting tend to be 3-6 units less so the opportunity to shoot at the fighter/s for effect is much more likely . The tools to kill Aerospace fighters have never been better and so long as the mechs are staggered enough strafing  and certain kinds of bombing runs effectiveness is minimized .

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #38 on: 03 March 2017, 18:09:50 »
Can you use aerospace fighters in BT much like tactical air power is used in battlefield situations today?   That is prevent enemy forces from concentrating (they disperse to avoid presenting a good target for air attack) allowing your ground forces (which can concentrate if you have air superiority) to destroy them in detail.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #39 on: 03 March 2017, 18:11:57 »
By the way,  in the modern era,  don't they call tactical aircraft picking off individual tanks with 500 lb. bombs (or similar weapons) as "tank plinking"?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #40 on: 03 March 2017, 18:14:29 »
By the way,  in the modern era,  don't they call tactical aircraft picking off individual tanks with 500 lb. bombs (or similar weapons) as "tank plinking"?

Tank plinking involves cannons :D

As for your prior question... if units stay 4 or 5 hexes (>8" in Alpha Strike) away from each other they can deny aero any juicy clusters of targets.  That may or may not (most cases, I'd say "may not") get you anything useful by encouraging them to spread out like that.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #41 on: 03 March 2017, 19:14:54 »
Can you use aerospace fighters in BT much like tactical air power is used in battlefield situations today?   That is prevent enemy forces from concentrating (they disperse to avoid presenting a good target for air attack) allowing your ground forces (which can concentrate if you have air superiority) to destroy them in detail.
Ground forces that come under air attack are actually advised to bunch up. Sure you might get multiple units hit by an occasional bombing run, but the concentration of AA fire is virtually guaranteed to obliterate the attacking fighters. And of course if you have enough stuff in a line, you might sucker the fighters into trying a strafing run instead of something that doesn't actively help the enemy, like striking or bombing. Air units that actually want to come home MUST be vultures, going after isolated units and avoid anything resembling a troop concentration.

Air and ground units still synergize very well, just in the opposite way you imagine. Air power makes ground forces bunch up, making them easy meat for artillery salvos, Swarm missiles, sudden battle armor showers, you name it. Artillery, etc makes ground forces spread out, leaving units on the fringes vulnerable to air attack. For your opponent, it's a lose-lose situation. >:D
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #42 on: 03 March 2017, 20:49:06 »
Lol . . . its also why if you DO decide to go after a blob . . . its better to use your CF, they do not cost much in the first place, should be making a single pass or two at most, and . . . give them the classic dilemma . . . shoot at the planes above or the mechs marching into my face.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #43 on: 10 April 2017, 11:15:20 »
  On top of the tactical advantages airpower has you also have some massive strategic advantages do to their immense speed.  For example aerospace units can bomb a mech formation, fly back to their airbase or orbiting dropships tens of thousands of kilometers away, pick up more bombs, and return to bomb again.  They also have an awareness advantage because being high in the sky (and with the proper equipment) they can scan huge swaths of the battlefield.  When you add to that their speed advantage they can also pick and choose their fights by ganging up on small clusters of mechs to limit the return fire. 

  To be honest they should probably cost more than they do in game.  A 12 ton F-16 ($22 million) costs over two times as much as a 65 tons Abrams tank ($9 million).  This cost difference gets much worse when you start looking at supersonic combat aircraft in the same weight ranges as Battletech aerospace fighters.  Heavier (and newer) supersonic aircraft like $150 million 29 ton F-35 and the $416 million 148 ton B-1 Lancer.   

  Fortunately this is a moot point as aerospace are already rare in the setting, an RCT only has 40 of them compared to its nearly 500 ground combat vehicles and most line regiments have 20 or sometimes fewer fighters.  If fighters were to become more common it would be a very dangerous universe for mechs.

  Also, with all the evil things you can do with aerospace don't mess with the Snow Ravens.  They have 50 Clan Aerospace per Cluster.  My god :o 
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #44 on: 13 April 2017, 00:25:42 »
  On top of the tactical advantages airpower has you also have some massive strategic advantages do to their immense speed.  For example aerospace units can bomb a mech formation, fly back to their airbase or orbiting dropships tens of thousands of kilometers away, pick up more bombs, and return to bomb again.  They also have an awareness advantage because being high in the sky (and with the proper equipment) they can scan huge swaths of the battlefield.  When you add to that their speed advantage they can also pick and choose their fights by ganging up on small clusters of mechs to limit the return fire. 

  To be honest they should probably cost more than they do in game.  A 12 ton F-16 ($22 million) costs over two times as much as a 65 tons Abrams tank ($9 million).  This cost difference gets much worse when you start looking at supersonic combat aircraft in the same weight ranges as Battletech aerospace fighters.  Heavier (and newer) supersonic aircraft like $150 million 29 ton F-35 and the $416 million 148 ton B-1 Lancer.   

  Fortunately this is a moot point as aerospace are already rare in the setting, an RCT only has 40 of them compared to its nearly 500 ground combat vehicles and most line regiments have 20 or sometimes fewer fighters.  If fighters were to become more common it would be a very dangerous universe for mechs.

  Also, with all the evil things you can do with aerospace don't mess with the Snow Ravens.  They have 50 Clan Aerospace per Cluster.  My god :o

As much as I love the ground units, ASF units seem to have been marginalized in BT.  Which is odd considered how much space travel is necessary in universe.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #45 on: 14 April 2017, 10:11:17 »
As much as I love the ground units, ASF units seem to have been marginalized in BT.  Which is odd considered how much space travel is necessary in universe.

Space travel is necessary, but space combat is too deadly to be commonplace and still leave mechs as the focus of the universe.

If your dropship is destroyed in space, that's it. Dead, gone. All the mechs aboard are toast. Space combat has to be downplayed or it takes over the universe.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #46 on: 15 April 2017, 07:59:44 »
Space travel is necessary, but space combat is too deadly to be commonplace and still leave mechs as the focus of the universe.

If your dropship is destroyed in space, that's it. Dead, gone. All the mechs aboard are toast. Space combat has to be downplayed or it takes over the universe.

When Battletech was being developed and in the early days wasn't there some kind of "directive" that went out that said "we don't fight in space"?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #47 on: 15 April 2017, 15:30:17 »
If so, this is the first time it's ever been mentioned on these forums.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #48 on: 15 April 2017, 15:53:09 »
When Battletech was being developed and in the early days wasn't there some kind of "directive" that went out that said "we don't fight in space"?

Less that and more "the focus is squarely going to be on BattleMechs".

It worked in the Succession Wars era: Mechs are rare, jumpships are rarer, and warships are extinct.  Space travel existed, both in-universe and meta, solely to facilitate ground battles ocurring across interstellar space.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #49 on: 18 April 2017, 08:39:30 »
Given what we know about technology in Battletech,   is space combat the least bit likely anyway?    Space is vast (even close to a planet) and the aerial units in BT have never been shown to have the near unlimited range or tremendous speed that would seem necessary to continually contesting access to orbital regions.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #50 on: 18 April 2017, 09:04:44 »
Decent odds. Space may be vast, but so are sensor ranges, so you know where the other guy is most of the time. Fighters can get pretty far on inertia. And if the target is farther than that, well, DropShips routinely cross entire star systems, traversing orbital space is a trivial matter.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #51 on: 18 April 2017, 09:16:21 »
Decent odds. Space may be vast, but so are sensor ranges, so you know where the other guy is most of the time. Fighters can get pretty far on inertia. And if the target is farther than that, well, DropShips routinely cross entire star systems, traversing orbital space is a trivial matter.

I revisited the sensor detection ranges with a fine tooth comb over in the "how do you pull off a raid" thread.  Sensor detection, according to the current rules in Strategic Operations, is pretty abysmal.  Sensors won't detect spacecraft more than say 1/3 the distance between Terra and Luna.  Interception for space battles is just about technologically impossible except at the beginning and terminus of transits.  If you don't catch dropships either at the planet or at their jump point, you basically can't catch them.  Except of course for the "one in a million" chance of transits happening to just randomly intersecting each other with such proximity that they can angle their vectors to make a very high speed pass on each other within weapons range.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #52 on: 20 April 2017, 11:49:12 »
I revisited the sensor detection ranges with a fine tooth comb over in the "how do you pull off a raid" thread.  Sensor detection, according to the current rules in Strategic Operations, is pretty abysmal.  Sensors won't detect spacecraft more than say 1/3 the distance between Terra and Luna.  Interception for space battles is just about technologically impossible except at the beginning and terminus of transits.  If you don't catch dropships either at the planet or at their jump point, you basically can't catch them.  Except of course for the "one in a million" chance of transits happening to just randomly intersecting each other with such proximity that they can angle their vectors to make a very high speed pass on each other within weapons range.

And that's where most interceptions actually happen in universe.  An invading force is pretty easy to track and tell where their end point is.  It's not hard to put yourself in a position to intercept at lunar range to the planet for someone coming in from either standard Jump Point.  High orbit interception is relatively easy compared to that.

Consider how difficult it is to change your vector when you are braking your speed, especially if you are trying to hit a relatively small window that you know your enemy will hit.

I honestly think that the reason aerospace forces don't fill up that much is because the best people to be piloting ASF, are usually good pilots for 'Mechs.  The combination of spatial awareness, ego, and reaction times are vital to a Mech pilot, but even more so with ASF.  But the 'Mech is more popular, so more people gravitate to piloting them than ASFs.

Think about it this way, if you have a really good sprinter, and he can catch a ball pretty decently, will he push to being an olympic sprinter or a professional football player?

So, too, ASF pilots are relatively rare when compared to 'Mech pilots.  And it actually takes more skill to pilot an ASF than a 'Mech.  You have to have a greater 3D awareness in AS combat than on the ground.  You have to be aware of power curves, courses, and fuel consumption that isn't as prevalent (if at all) in a 'Mech combat.

The final point is that, as has been learned throughout the 20th century, aero assets cannot control objectives to win wars.  At best, they can completely destroy the supportive assets that run a war machine and allow for that machine to travel.  They can cut down and reduce forces in transit, but that's about it.  To take and hold a facility requires ground forces.  If you want to scorch the earth of the Draconis March, to make sure they can't produce the materiel and manpower to fight you, it's possible, but you can expect the same thing to happen to you when your enemy gets a chance.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #53 on: 20 April 2017, 16:35:31 »
  The only problem with interception is that the invaders have so much velocity that they will have landed before the defenders can intercept.  The details are in the "How to Conduct a Raid" thread but, as long as they don't decelerate to the last minute, you have 45 minutes to intercept them.  Now your fighters will need 15 minutes to start up (warming the engines and pre-flight checklist) and lets add 5 minutes to that for the pilots to actually get into the aircraft giving you only 25 minutes to intercept.  Given canon suborbital flight times that means you are only going to be able to intercept if they are landing less than 4,000 kilometers away from your airbase.  Even those fighters flying CAP will only be able to intercept the attackers if they are landing less than 10,000 kilometers away. 

  As to whether an aero-force can win a war on their own I will say that, like mechs, they at least need infantry support to hold the ground but that is about it.  Airpower on its own can do far more than kill droppers it can wipe out your enemies entire armor/mech force in a few bombing runs if you have enough of them.  Simply put ton for ton aerospace forces are better at detecting mechs, better at intercepting them, and better at killing them than other mechs are.  To qoute Total Warfare "Only their extreme expense, high technology level and relative fragility keep aerospace fighters from unseating Battlemechs as the kings of the battlefield" (24).  If aerospace assets were more common (and I am glad they aren't) the only use for mechs and tanks would be for close infantry support.

« Last Edit: 20 April 2017, 16:54:56 by Death by Lasers »
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #54 on: 20 April 2017, 16:58:48 »
  The only problem with interception is that the invaders have so much velocity that they will have landed before the defenders can intercept.  The details are in the "How to Conduct a Raid" thread but, as long as they don't decelerate to the last minute, you have 45 minutes to intercept them.  Now your fighters will need 15 minutes to start up (warming the engines and pre-flight checklist) and lets add 5 minutes to that for the pilots to actually get into the aircraft giving you only 25 minutes to intercept.  Given canon suborbital flight times that means you are only going to be able to intercept if they are landing less than 4,000 kilometers away from your airbase.  Even those fighters flying CAP will only be able to intercept the attackers if they are landing less than 10,000 kilometers away. 

It depends on how you are doing the intercept.  If you are looking at a head on, yeah.  But if you are doing a low angle intercept from the side or the rear, it is possible.  Remember that the invaders have their own target they have to hit that they either have to accelerate to orbit and then decelerate again to try and drop where they want.  A lot really depends on how you are doing it and if you can present enough of a threat to justify the intercept.  Sometimes just forcing them to do the additional orbit is all that is needed to get certain resources in place or even get people to lift off.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #55 on: 20 April 2017, 18:29:08 »
  The details are in the Raiding thread but this model is for a "side intercept".  The attacker has the advantage in that all he has to do is decelerate because he is approaching the planet from space while the defender needs to accelerate and then decelerate in order to not overshoot his target.  It should be noted I am using the default suborbital hops data from Strat-Ops so tighter intercepts would be possible with faster fighters and heavier fuel usage.  Also, if you are content with just doing a high speed pass I imagine your intercept time would be cut significantly. 

  This model isn't for a suborbital hops from one part of planet to another as you are describing though.  Haven't thought through what the mechanics of that would be in that case but  the attacker would have the advantage in that the majority of enemies planes will be grounded and need 20 minutes to take off safely although fighters on CAP could respond immediately.  How close you can get without intercept depends heavily on where you started from in that case.

« Last Edit: 20 April 2017, 18:37:34 by Death by Lasers »
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #56 on: 20 April 2017, 21:18:50 »
And that's where most interceptions actually happen in universe.  An invading force is pretty easy to track and tell where their end point is.  It's not hard to put yourself in a position to intercept at lunar range to the planet for someone coming in from either standard Jump Point.  High orbit interception is relatively easy compared to that.

No, that's not what the rules say, which is what Tai Dai is saying. It's not easy to track an invading force. You can't even see them until they're inside the moon's orbit. It's easy to see that a jumpship has arrived in system, but you can tell where it arrived from and you can't see what it detached until they're almost on the planet.
I mean, it's not like once you having something in low Earth orbit you can stick a gassy astronaut on the outside after Chili Night and fart it anywhere in the solar system.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #57 on: 20 April 2017, 21:53:22 »
Don't most systems have sensor buoys at the zenith and nadir points to monitor incoming Jumpships (ones that aren't using pirate points, anyway)?
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #58 on: 20 April 2017, 22:01:13 »
How many attack runs could a typical ASF make before having to refuel?  Assume it's deployed 1. from orbit overhead  2. from a nearby-ish ground base.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #59 on: 20 April 2017, 22:05:02 »
Don't most systems have sensor buoys at the zenith and nadir points to monitor incoming Jumpships (ones that aren't using pirate points, anyway)?

An emergence wave is easy to detect. Even all the way down on the planet.

However, not every emergence wave means dropships are inbound.  I'd imagine a rather large percentage of emergence waves come from jumpships that happen to just be transiting that particular system on its way somewhere.

Actually picking up dropships requires those sensors to be in close proximity on an interplanetary scale.  Even if you put radar bouys on the standard jump points, it's easy for a jumpship to still jump in "at" zenith or nadir while still remaining out of range for the sensors to see dropships detaching.  Add in that jumpships can safely jump into the system at any point on (or beyond) the imaginary sphere surrounding the star rather than just at zenith or nadir.. odds are poor for remote sensors even picking up inbounds.  You could string a ring of radar stations along the planet's orbital plane along the proximity limit.. and all a hostile would have to do is jump in a degree off the eplictic and your massive investment still won't detect them.

Perhaps counter intuitively, radar bouys may actually be viable on occasion to monitor known pirate points within the proximity limit.  The nature of pirate points is such that the jumpship has to appear as close as possible to a very specific point afterall.  However many, or perhaps most, pirate points aren't permanently "open" and may even move around the system as planetary bodies move about.
« Last Edit: 20 April 2017, 22:15:02 by Tai Dai Cultist »

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #60 on: 21 April 2017, 00:44:22 »
  You can certainly place detectors at the Zenith or Nadir points but the invader might not use the Zenith or Nadir points but instead some arbitrary point just outside the proximity zone.  If its a raider I would imagine they would choose to jump 15 AU out to avoid possible detection.  If its an invader they will probably jump as close as possible either at the Zenith or Nadir points or at some arbitrary point outside the proximity zone and have their Emergence Wave detected.

  Once you detect the Emergence Wave the enemy will be completely invisible until they hit Drive Plume detection range.  A clever invader will make sure his exact arrival time is unpredictable and manage his speed so that he can cut his engines just before hitting Drive Plume detection range and reactivate them as soon as he hits Radar range for the final approach.

  From the defenders perspective they will detect an unscheduled emergence wave somewhere about 10 AU out.  Then a little more than week later they will detect the enemy Dropships less than 100k km out approaching rapidly and decelerating at full thrust.  They might be able to double their detection range if they have enough radar bouys (26 I think) with Dropship grade radars but this can get pretty expensive.

 

 
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #61 on: 21 April 2017, 09:36:45 »
...so while skimming over most of the details, all this is telling me that sending out long-range shuttles on patrols whenever you detect an emergence save is a good idea. Odds of them actually detecting an incoming force are far from 100%, but if they do catch a contact, the advance warning is invaluable.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #62 on: 23 April 2017, 14:12:19 »
  The details are in the Raiding thread but this model is for a "side intercept".  The attacker has the advantage in that all he has to do is decelerate because he is approaching the planet from space while the defender needs to accelerate and then decelerate in order to not overshoot his target.  It should be noted I am using the default suborbital hops data from Strat-Ops so tighter intercepts would be possible with faster fighters and heavier fuel usage.  Also, if you are content with just doing a high speed pass I imagine your intercept time would be cut significantly. 

I admit I'm not talking about the rules, but the perception that the stories the universe presents.  I'll go in to more detail later.

This model isn't for a suborbital hops from one part of planet to another as you are describing though.  Haven't thought through what the mechanics of that would be in that case but  the attacker would have the advantage in that the majority of enemies planes will be grounded and need 20 minutes to take off safely although fighters on CAP could respond immediately.  How close you can get without intercept depends heavily on where you started from in that case.

I was speaking more to intra-orbital, which is why I mentioned sub-lunar.

The whole trick was more in to causing someone to lose their targeted window for entering the atmosphere.  You burn a lot of fuel going through the atmosphere, so going by orbit saves those resources, especially if you are already in the middle of a breaking maneuver.

Now, if the attacker has allowed for themselves a wide window for dropping in to the atmosphere, they have to be approaching the planet at a rather slow rate which makes them easily intercepted by anyone on planet or on a lunar base.  So, that usually means the Attacker moves quickly in, burns harder on final approach, and makes for a much smaller window in order to reach your target.  If you slow down or alter your direction, it can often mean that you either have to burn more to travel in atmosphere or stop decelerating and accelerate and go for another orbit.  Sometimes it's faster and more efficient to run that option.

No, that's not what the rules say, which is what Tai Dai is saying. It's not easy to track an invading force. You can't even see them until they're inside the moon's orbit. It's easy to see that a jumpship has arrived in system, but you can tell where it arrived from and you can't see what it detached until they're almost on the planet.

Interesting.  The stories usually talk about being able to track those dropships as well as being able to have a reasonable profile as to mass and type.

Not to mention, any good telescope should be able to track the drive plumes if you have a rough idea where to find them.  Most of that latter part is just math that we could do in the 60s, much less with the computers in the 80s or today.

And that didn't seem to matter if it was from a traditional Jump Point or a Pirate Jump Point.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #63 on: 23 April 2017, 16:00:10 »
Not to mention, any good telescope should be able to track the drive plumes if you have a rough idea where to find them.  Most of that latter part is just math that we could do in the 60s, much less with the computers in the 80s or today.

And that didn't seem to matter if it was from a traditional Jump Point or a Pirate Jump Point.

Well, prior to turnover (halfway thru the transit) it's theoretically possible to optically pick up a dropship hull against the black of space.  But picking up dropship sized objects optically, out in interplanetary space involves not just seeing it once, but sequentially over time.  If someone accidentally happened to pick up a dropship, odds are it'll only be in one time lapse frame and quite likely dismissed as a simple glitch in the image.  Frankly, it's not a realistic circumstance for dropships to be picked up (in transit) prior to turnover.

Now *after* turnover, yes with the drives pointing at the destination, they're "easier" to pick up since that energy now doesn't have the dropship hull blocking the view. Still the rules for optical detection in SO don't account for detection on the scale of half of an entire transit (they're shorter range than radars).  The rules (in SO) just don't appear to support the kinds of "days out" detection ranges that we sometimes get in lore.  What, if anything, to make of that apparent disparity may itself be another nugget of contention.  Picking up a dropship post turnover but still days/weeks away from hitting the planet involves noticing that there are "new" star(s) out in the night sky.  SO just doesn't have rules for that, and saying how likely that is... is well talking lots of conjecture.  Since we're not talking about the sort of routine astronomy that goes on today on earth, but on a world of the Inner Sphere during the 31st century.  Who's to say how common observatories even are, let alone how integrated they are into military C2.  Who's even to say how far away drive plumes even can be picked up via simple optical magnification.  Drive plumes could easily be said to just not be "bright" enough in the visible spectrum to be picked up by means of raw optical magnification until military grade search radars are already getting returns from the hulls anyway...
« Last Edit: 23 April 2017, 16:30:03 by Tai Dai Cultist »

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #64 on: 24 April 2017, 00:58:47 »
  The detection ranges may be a conceit of the universe akin to the Battletech weapons ranges.  I think Cray said as much in a post.   Still, drive plume detection distance is nothing to laugh at as you can see them from 35 million kilometers away.  I don't know how that compares with our capabilities today given how much radiation a drive plume is pumping out to slow 10,000+ tons at 1G.  IIRC that will give the defenders a day or two of warning. 

  The whole not seen until radar range trick is something I came up with to avoid early detection but it costs you a couple of days time and involves 45 minutes of serious high G burning.  The human body can handle it, but it won't be fun.  I would imagine if an attacker doesn't want to waste time on stealth and would rather not strain their men and equipment with a high G burn normal breaking would be involved and the defenders would have a couple of days to prepare.  In that case though if the attacker is not bringing superior aerospace they just made a huge mistake (which can totally happen by the way, unless their intelligence is spot on they are going to have no idea what is on the planet until it hits them).
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 01:08:57 by Death by Lasers »
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Charistoph

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #65 on: 24 April 2017, 11:42:10 »
Well, prior to turnover (halfway thru the transit) it's theoretically possible to optically pick up a dropship hull against the black of space.  But picking up dropship sized objects optically, out in interplanetary space involves not just seeing it once, but sequentially over time.  If someone accidentally happened to pick up a dropship, odds are it'll only be in one time lapse frame and quite likely dismissed as a simple glitch in the image.  Frankly, it's not a realistic circumstance for dropships to be picked up (in transit) prior to turnover.

Masking the drive plume with your hull would only qualify if you were coming straight on to the observer.

Now *after* turnover, yes with the drives pointing at the destination, they're "easier" to pick up since that energy now doesn't have the dropship hull blocking the view. Still the rules for optical detection in SO don't account for detection on the scale of half of an entire transit (they're shorter range than radars).  The rules (in SO) just don't appear to support the kinds of "days out" detection ranges that we sometimes get in lore.  What, if anything, to make of that apparent disparity may itself be another nugget of contention.  Picking up a dropship post turnover but still days/weeks away from hitting the planet involves noticing that there are "new" star(s) out in the night sky.  SO just doesn't have rules for that, and saying how likely that is... is well talking lots of conjecture.  Since we're not talking about the sort of routine astronomy that goes on today on earth, but on a world of the Inner Sphere during the 31st century.  Who's to say how common observatories even are, let alone how integrated they are into military C2.  Who's even to say how far away drive plumes even can be picked up via simple optical magnification.  Drive plumes could easily be said to just not be "bright" enough in the visible spectrum to be picked up by means of raw optical magnification until military grade search radars are already getting returns from the hulls anyway...

You are making an assumption that the incoming jump ship was not considered hostile and not arriving as part of a scheduled visit.  You are also assuming that the planet is not taking care to track any of the incoming drop ships for emergency purposes.  They would probably be half-arsed tracking, but being tracked nonetheless.

Of course, that latter part is making assumptions, too.  Such as the world having a population and industry sufficient to have a spaceport that does track those things for both security and safety reasons.  If they have such an industry, they are a target.  If they don't have such an industry, why are they a target (outside of piracy)?

Though, there are a lot of dirt ball worlds out there, and many on the borders.  They may have been something once, but the First War saw to most of that, leaving them as either subsistent, or barely subsistent worlds only good for a food/water stop on to worlds that actually matter now.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #66 on: 24 April 2017, 12:06:38 »
Masking the drive plume with your hull would only qualify if you were coming straight on to the observer.

But that's how transits work.  Nose towards the destination for the first half of the transit, then flip over and point the thrusters towards the destination for the latter half of the voyage.

Quote
You are making an assumption that the incoming jump ship was not considered hostile and not arriving as part of a scheduled visit.
According to the detection rules in SO, Jumpship emergence waves can be fairly easily detected.  Proviso: so long as the jump was within 15 AU of the sensor.  Most proximity limits are a good bit shorter than that, so if you want to hide your emergence wave you have to jump in WAAAAAY outside the proximity limit and add all kinds of transit time.  Maybe it's a doable option for hostiles to add days/weeks to their transit if it helps make a surprise attack.  Maybe.

Besides.  Emergence waves are easy to detect, yes.  But not every emergence wave means dropships dropped off the JumpShip.  If you're raiding a world 6 jumps away, you left emergence waves (and no incoming raiding ships) in 4 systems that didn't have accompanying inbounds.  I'd wager that many detected emergence waves are no more significant than the dull rumble one hears when a heavy truck drives near one's house.  Doesn't mean it is coming to YOUR house; it's probably just passing thru the neighborhood.

Quote
You are also assuming that the planet is not taking care to track any of the incoming drop ships for emergency purposes.  They would probably be half-arsed tracking, but being tracked nonetheless...
But that's the whole point.  Tracking (basically) can't be done.  Not without a craft physically chasing the dropships. (SO says radars are only good out to a hundred thousand km or so. Earth to Moon, for reference, is ~400,000km. 4x as far as radars can see a dropship)

It's more like the Age of Sail, where you basically don't have forewarning of a ship pulling up to port.  None beyond what a guy up in a really tall lookout perch can give (the analogy for actually having a search radar scanning the skies for incoming dropships).  Arrival schedules were quite vague guesses rather than firm dates & times.  There's no way to keep railroad-esque (or airline-esque) schedules crossing an ocean under sail, and with all the things that can necessitate delays or detours in space travel... (oops! pirates.  Oops! got dragooned into supporting a military operation.  Oops! Had to replace a blown Helium seal.  Oops! Tore the jump sail, had to spend a week repairing it.  Etc)... I'm quite sure that in the BTU "regularly scheduled" dropship arrivals are certainly not expected on a firm day, much less a firm time of day.

Charistoph

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #67 on: 24 April 2017, 19:43:34 »
But that's how transits work.  Nose towards the destination for the first half of the transit, then flip over and point the thrusters towards the destination for the latter half of the voyage.

The destination of one spot on a planet.  It may be a narrow angle from the perspective of the drop ship, but it is rarely ever straight on with every possible observer.  In addition, in the standard transition time, a drop ship is heading to where the planet will be, not where it is.  That leaves a sufficient angle that masking a plume with your hull is almost impossible.

According to the detection rules in SO, Jumpship emergence waves can be fairly easily detected.  Proviso: so long as the jump was within 15 AU of the sensor.  Most proximity limits are a good bit shorter than that, so if you want to hide your emergence wave you have to jump in WAAAAAY outside the proximity limit and add all kinds of transit time.  Maybe it's a doable option for hostiles to add days/weeks to their transit if it helps make a surprise attack.  Maybe.

Besides.  Emergence waves are easy to detect, yes.  But not every emergence wave means dropships dropped off the JumpShip.  If you're raiding a world 6 jumps away, you left emergence waves (and no incoming raiding ships) in 4 systems that didn't have accompanying inbounds.  I'd wager that many detected emergence waves are no more significant than the dull rumble one hears when a heavy truck drives near one's house.  Doesn't mean it is coming to YOUR house; it's probably just passing thru the neighborhood.

Too much based on assumptions. 

Any system that would have traffic like that would also likely have recharging stations in place which would send off reports of invaders to the main planets.

Any system that is used to being a hyperspace bypass without a recharging station would be less likely to be the target of a House-sponsored raid.

But that's the whole point.  Tracking (basically) can't be done.  Not without a craft physically chasing the dropships. (SO says radars are only good out to a hundred thousand km or so. Earth to Moon, for reference, is ~400,000km. 4x as far as radars can see a dropship)

It's more like the Age of Sail, where you basically don't have forewarning of a ship pulling up to port.  None beyond what a guy up in a really tall lookout perch can give (the analogy for actually having a search radar scanning the skies for incoming dropships).  Arrival schedules were quite vague guesses rather than firm dates & times.  There's no way to keep railroad-esque (or airline-esque) schedules crossing an ocean under sail, and with all the things that can necessitate delays or detours in space travel... (oops! pirates.  Oops! got dragooned into supporting a military operation.  Oops! Had to replace a blown Helium seal.  Oops! Tore the jump sail, had to spend a week repairing it.  Etc)... I'm quite sure that in the BTU "regularly scheduled" dropship arrivals are certainly not expected on a firm day, much less a firm time of day.

And here we see a divergence of rules, and the story, as well as with reality.  All it takes is an initial departure time with a rough idea of a target, and it's "basic" math from there.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #68 on: 24 April 2017, 20:17:39 »
Let's do some math. 

Max detection range: 100,000km
1 Astronomical unit: 150 million km
Proximity Limit for Sol: 8.2 AU  (I'm assuming that's comparable to most BTU planets)
EDIT: Oops.  Terra is 10.2 AU.  Whatever.  the numbers are even worse for a bigger proximity limit than what I calculated :D

So a ground (or orbital; no difference at this scale) based sensor can detect the JumpShip's emergence wave fairly reliably (50%-60%ish odds, iirc from SO) in a Sol-like system.  Yet the rules don't allow for the dropships to be picked up until they're within the last 100,000km of their 1.23 billion km transit.  They're invisible to the planet for ~99.99992% of their transit.

I take your point that there might be sensors at points of view other than the planet.  But again, 100,000km detection range.  All you got to do is jump a fraction of an AU away from a recharge station and while they'll detect the emergence wave, the planet was probably going to do so anyway.  Plus, the recharge station won't see the dropships depart either.

Think about the sheer volume of interplanetary space.  A Sol-like system has a proximity limit of 8.2AU... that's a sphere of some 7.3 octillion cubic km. (that's 27 zeroes after the decimal). A military grade radar can cover a sphere of about 3.9 quadrillion cubic km.  That's a lot; 15 zeroes after the decimal.  But it's still a teeny tiny fraction of the entire volume of the space within the proximity limit.  If you wanted to guarantee that you can track dropship traffic in your system (that is, have complete radar coverage) you'll need.. 7.3x10^27/3.9x10^15 radar bouys floating around in interplanetary space.  (that's over 1.8 quadrillion sensor bouys, or put another way more than 1.8 trillion batches of 1 million detection satellites. 

Ain't nobody ever had that kind of infrastructure described in lore.
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 20:52:34 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #69 on: 24 April 2017, 21:02:17 »
But what about optical detection?

Raw image enhancement: SO says it caps out around 2,500km.  Way better off using radars than telescopes.

But what about drive plume detection?

First of all: given that people generally aren't killed by the transit drives it stands to reason that the energy expelled out the aft (or bottom, for aerodynes) doesn't pass through the hull itself.  Ergo, prior to turnover with the drives pointed away from the destination, there is logically about zero probability of detecting drive plume energy from that said destination.

Post turnover, lore and rules both state that all kinds of high energy radiation, to include vislight and xray, are being shot at the destination.  Turns out I missed rules for detecting that in the other thread, so here's my mea culpa:
SO does indeed cover that afterall.  (see page 119... honestly I'm not sure how I missed it.  It's literally right next to radar detection rules)

But the rules break it down into groups of 5 million KM.  Refresher: 1 AU = 150 million km.  Picking up dropships at turnover in a SOL like system is a hilarious TN35. Yes on 2d6.  By the time it's mathematically possible to detect a drive plume under the SO rules (TN12 and getting your boxcars) the DropShips are already within 35 million km.  (35 millionkm/18,000km per space hex = ~1944 spaces hexes out)

At 1g deceleration, they're hitting the planet in less than 45 minutes.

Even if some astronomer happens to be looking up in the night sky and sees some new lights that he realizes are hostile dropships, he better have a hotline to planetary Command & Control.  Even if he does, that's not a lot of time for defenders to prepare a welcome party. 

Again, that 45 minute forewarning is predicated on getting your nat 12 on a 2d6.  By the time an hour has passed and you're eligible for another check where you only need an 11+, they're already down.  (perhaps someone should alert Cray to recheck the rules.  Or my math.  I'd welcome either).


EDIT: See posts downthread for correct math.
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 22:09:23 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Death by Lasers

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #70 on: 24 April 2017, 21:06:07 »
  I don't think it diverts with the stories at all.  I can't think of a Battletech novel where someone tracked an invader from their jump point all the way to the planet.  I'm not saying it hasn't happened but I honestly don't recall it happening.  In a standard invasion you are A) Going to know when they jumped in system and B) when they are about day out (35 million kilometers at 1G) or slightly less if they pull a hard burn.

  As for detecting incoming Jumpships and predicting their trajectory I'm not sure how good detectors are at triangulating the incoming drive signature of an incoming Jumpship.  At the very least it is fluffed as being very hard to single out the emergence wave from background radiation.  For example to detect an incoming invader 10 AU out the target number is going to be 11 for an average skilled crew.  That means you will need at least 12 stations to pick up a lone Jumpship.  Considering how sensitive the equipment has to be I would also consider false positives to be a regular issue.

  A raider can jump 15+ AU out, it only adds a couple of days travel time for the dropship although the Jumpship will have to spend more than twice as long recharging at the jump point.  Not a big deal if they have to stick around to pick up the raiders anyway but in an invasion that's over a weeks time the where the Jumpship could have been ferrying more troops/supplies to the front.  In a raid they can also afford to do a last minute hard burn and therefore will only be detected 100km (ie. before they hit radar) or about 45 minutes out.

  For the canon narratives a certain level of stealth is absolutely necessary.  It's hard to imagine Birddog working if the Jags could detect and track them the instant they Jumped in system.

 
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 21:17:25 by Death by Lasers »
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #71 on: 24 April 2017, 21:07:27 »
Actually I see my math problem on the drive plume detection.  Space hexes are 18,000 meters, not 18,000 kilometers.  Recalculating!  Stand by
Actual space distance is ~1,944,444 space hexes.  That'll be significantly longer than 45 mins :D

Still, it's only mathemetically possible to detect (according to SO rules) at 35 million km, which is not only a fraction of an AU, it's a teeeeny fraction of an entire transit.  No way are you tracking dropships prior to their beginning "final approach", even by watching the drives.

That's a max detection (getting 12s) of about 24 hours out at 1g.  Hilariously, 23 hours and 59 minutes would cover 1,946,000 space hexes.  but we can round to a nice neat 24 hours. 1/36 = about a 3% chance of picking up the hostiles this early, however.

1 hour later, another check can be made.  At T minus 23 hours, the dropships are still >34 million km, so another nat 12 or 3% to detect.  Or, a cumulative ~5% percent chance to pick them up by this point.

22 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 11+, or ~8.33% chance to detect

21 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 10+, or 16.67%

20 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 10+, or 16.67%

19 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 9+, or 27.8%

18 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 9+, or 11.1%

17 hours from planetfall: TN to detect is now 8+, or ~41.67%

so on.

So, with roughly a 2/3rds probability to pick hostiles up 19 hours out at 1 g, that's probably about when they "usually" are detected.  Assuming there's anyone actually looking.  I'm not on board with that being a safe presumption.

BTW:  I've piqued my own curiosity with nonstandard times, such as 1.5g and 2g.  Since the lore does afterall support harder burns to catch defenders more off-guard.  I'll post what I find in a bit.

EDIT: Fixed math error with cumulative probability
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 21:56:23 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Death by Lasers

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #72 on: 24 April 2017, 21:40:10 »
  I just wanted to add for space travel calculations this is a very good resource.  Just a side note though it automatically assumes you want to arrive at your destination with a neutral velocity so if you want to calculate how fast you can get somewhere without slowing down (or in this case to calculate time traveled once you are already slowing down) just put in twice the distance and divide the time by 2.

http://nathangeffen.webfactional.com/spacetravel/spacetravel.php
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

J.R.R Tolikien, The Two Towers

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #73 on: 24 April 2017, 21:59:36 »
  I just wanted to add for space travel calculations this is a very good resource.  Just a side note though it automatically assumes you want to arrive at your destination with a neutral velocity so if you want to calculate how fast you can get somewhere without slowing down (or in this case to calculate time traveled once you are already slowing down) just put in twice the distance and divide the time by 2.

http://nathangeffen.webfactional.com/spacetravel/spacetravel.php

I've done all mine with the formulae given in SO on page 259.  However, that includes thrust/turnover/brake.  It doesn't do one way thrust/braking.  I muddled through figuring out a gaussian method of shortcutting extraordinarily tedious N! addition arrays.  My (admittedly ugly) sausage maker CAN however tell you how far you thrust in 24 hours, or how long it takes you to thrust a given distance.  Very handy for the terminal braking of approaching dropship....

I'm not sure how my math compares to yours, DbL.  Adding 2 thrust (1G) every space turn (60 seconds) for 24 hours works out to 24x60=1440. 1440(1441)=2,075,40 space hexes. or 37 million km and change.  Likewise: Starting with 1140 thrust at 2,075,400 hexes distance from planet and subtracting 2 thrust (1 G) every space minute brings you to a nice perfect zero at the planet.

Oh and spoiler alert: coming in faster (technically, braking harder) only helps by a few hours.  Assuming the skies are being monitored for incoming dropships, they're probably spotted on xray telescopes around 12 hours or so from planetfall. 
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 22:08:35 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Death by Lasers

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #74 on: 24 April 2017, 22:30:16 »
Oh and spoiler alert: coming in faster (technically, braking harder) only helps by a few hours.  Assuming the skies are being monitored for incoming dropships, they're probably spotted on xray telescopes around 12 hours or so from planetfall. 

  Not sure if this referring to my 45 minute detection run but that one works by timing your velocity such that you only start slowing down within 100k km/ radar range.  It adds a few more transit days because you need to coast in through drive plume detection range but allows you to be undetectable until you hit radar range.  It requires a high burn because if you did it at 1G the time to the planet from detection at 100k km is 90 minutes (ie enough time for the defenders to scramble and intercept).

  I started my calculations by hand you Strat-Ops or even working out by hexes but the formula on the website gives the same results, its just more convenient. 
« Last Edit: 24 April 2017, 22:40:05 by Death by Lasers »
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

J.R.R Tolikien, The Two Towers

 

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