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Author Topic: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?  (Read 12622 times)

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??!!

Tai Dai Cultist

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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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Colt Ward

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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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TigerShark

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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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Dayton3

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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.

Colt Ward

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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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Col Toda

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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 .

Dayton3

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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"?

Tai Dai Cultist

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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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Colt Ward

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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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Death by Lasers

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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.

Dayton3

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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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Tai Dai Cultist

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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.

Dayton3

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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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Tai Dai Cultist

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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.

Charistoph

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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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Charistoph

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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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