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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week Special Issue #002 (repost) - Overview, ‘Generic’ Fighters  (Read 5160 times)

Trace Coburn

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FIGHTER FORCE OVERVIEW: THE ‘GENERIC’ FIGHTERS

DEFINING THE “IDEAL FIGHTER FORCE”
  The aerospace battle is of paramount importance to any commander seeking to land on an enemy planet or destroy significant space-based assets.  This can be complicated by the many tactical roles that have to be fulfilled for such efforts to be successful, the exact circumstances extant on the field on the day, and the inevitable ‘friction of war’.  The tactical roles comprising a ‘total fighter force’, however, are fairly easy to identify, and the ‘ideal’ starfighter arm would include one or more designs to fulfill each one:

INTERCEPTOR:
  A light spaceframe moving at 10/15 or faster, intended to engage the enemy at the furthest possible distance from friendly assets that they may wish to target, causing early attrition and ideally holding the enemy at that maximum separation for as long as possible.
  Examples: SPR-H5 Sparrowhawk, SYD-Z4 Seydlitz
FAST DOGFIGHTER:
  A light or medium spaceframe, with performance between 7/11 and 9/14; intended as a ‘second shell interceptor’ to engage anything that gets past the interceptors, or to assist/support those interceptors once they engage.
  Examples: SL-25 Samurai, HCT-213B Hellcat II
DOGFIGHTER:
  A medium or heavy spaceframe, moving at 6/9 or faster, equipped for extended toe-to-toe engagements with fighters of comparable performance and warload; typically features a heavy energy armament and good heat-dissipation.
  Examples: LX-2 Lancer, TR-13 Trangressor
FIRE-SUPPORT:
  A medium or heavy spaceframe, moving at 6/9 or faster, equipped with Long-range weapons, intended to keep up with dogfighters en route to the battle and contribute meaningful amounts of firepower from stand-off distances.
  Examples: SL-17 Shilone, F-94 Stingray
ATTACK:
  Any medium or heavy spaceframe which mounts heavy firepower at the expense of performance and/or armour.  Often mounts large ballistic and/or missile systems, which usually deplete their ammunition very quickly in sustained action.
  Examples: LCF-R15 Lucifer, CHP-W5 Chippewa
  A subset of this category is the CLOSE-ATTACK fighter, which can be of any weight-class and performance-profile and is armed exclusively with short-range weaponry.  Because of their tendenct to rely on light weapons like medium lasers, most interceptors fall into the close-attack category, meaning that this category does not need to specifically addressed by other spaceframes.
  Examples: TR-10 Transit, HMR-HD Hammerhead


  Please note that in the post-3050 era, the advent of high-output XL fusion engines and advanced weaponry means some canon designs can fulfill several of these roles at once - for example, the 95-ton, 6/9-moving, twin-Gauss-packing EST-R3 Eisensturm can easily act as a dogfighter, attack spaceframe or fire-support platform, depending on tactical circumstances.  }:)


FORCE ASSESSMENT: GENERIC STARFIGHTERS

Each fighter will be summarised in the following format, so everybody knows which page we’re on.  ;)

MASS; MOVEMENT/SI/FUEL (engine type); ARMOUR PROFILE (TYPE); HEAT SINKS; ARMAMENT
  100, 5/8/10/6, 138/79/56, 20 SHS; N: LRM-20(12), W: LL, ML, A: 2xML

  Heat sinks are the total number of the type given; weapons are allocated N(ose), each W(ing), and A(ft); ammo will be the total tons of ammunition of that calibre.
  A type’s primary role appears beside its name; (brackets) indicate any secondary functions that it can bluff its way through.

SBR-27 Sabre - INTERCEPTOR (CLOSE ATTACK):
  25t, 11/17/11/5, 19/15/15, 10 SHS; N: ML, W: ML

  Given the revelations of TRO3075, the Sabre is arguably the most ‘generic’ of all the ‘generic’ fighters.  Dating back to the Alliance of Galedon in the first quarter of the twenty-fourth century, and produced in every Inner Sphere power (including several Periphery realms) in the time since its introduction, the Sabre, its parts, and techs trained to maintain/repair/operate the type are available almost anywhere modern ASFs have been seen.

CNT-1D Centurion - INTERCEPTOR (CLOSE ATTACK)
  30t, 10/15/10/5, 40/26/28, 10 SHS; N: ML, W:ML

  Introduced by the Federated Suns in 2430, the Centurion was House Davion’s primary and preferred interceptor until it was superseded by the Sparrowhawk late in the Cameron-era Star League, when its production was licenced to the Lyran-based Lockheed/CBM.  That said, Jalastar didn’t stop making them for the FedSuns until the year 3000(!), so you could find them on both ends of the Inner Sphere even before the FedCom alliance.

LTN-G15 Lightning - CLOSE ATTACK
  50t, 6/9/6/5, 76/36/33, 13 SHS; N: AC/20(2), ML; W: ML, A: ML

  Tengo Aerospace went deep into the red designing the Lightning for the CCAF, who instead gave Mujika an exclusive contract to produce the Transit (which was essentially a clone of the Tengo spaceframe).  An outraged Tengo leadership, left scrabbling for cash by selling the Lightning to smaller buyers like mercenary commands and Periphery nations, finally said “screw you right back!” and upped the ante by selling the blueprints to the Lyrans and Federated Suns, smirking “It was worth it!” at their CCAF firing-squads.  Built in the LC, CC, OA, and MoC, the Lightning is only really uncommon among the FWLM.
 
HCT-213 Hellcat I - ATTACK (DOGFIGHTER)
  60t, 6/9/6/5, 55/40/33, 20 SHS; N: LL, 2xML, W: LL, ML, A:ML

  Developed in the mid-2600s for commerce-protection and the mercenary/militia market, the Hellcat was built in the TH (though their factory was destroyed during the Coup), Lyran Commonwealth and FedSuns, and even when the Lyran and Davion factories were closed by Blaker assaults, the Outworlds Alliance put their own variant into production.

EGL-R6 Eagle - DOGFIGHTER
  75t, 6/9/9/5, 80/52/40, 25 SHS; N: LL, ML, W: LL, ML, A: ML

  Another product of the early twenty-fourth century, the Marik-designed Eagle was a mainstay of FWL militias for centuries, and the theft of the blueprints before ImStar Aerospace was flattened during the Succession Wars meant that the type remained in production in FedSuns (and later LyrCom) territory.

THB-D36 Thunderbird - ATTACK
  100t, 5/8/10/5, 80/52/40, 25 SHS; N: LL, ML, W:LRM-20(4), LL, ML, A: 2xML

  Lyran by origin and design ethos, and now produced by the FedSuns and Taurian Concordat(!), the T-bird was partially replaced by the Chippewa in LCAF service, a decision that defies explanation by anything other than the ‘Social General’ phenomenon and bribes in the nine-digit range.


IN TERMS OF THE ‘IDEAL’ FORCE

  ROLE                                     ADDRESSED IN
                                    3025 ERA               3050 ERA
Interceptor                           YES (2)                N/A
Fast Dogfighter                       NO                     N/A
Dogfighter                            YES (2)                N/A
Fire-Support                          NO                     N/A
Attack                                YES (2)                N/A
*Close-Attack                         YES (1)                N/A


Numbers refer to the number of designs specialising in this aspect of aerospace warfare, not those which can fake them well.


GENERIC FIGHTERS - FORCE POSITIVES:
  The first point that springs to mind about these fighters is the fact that they’re, well, generic.  Out-of-universe, they’re the models packaged with AT1/AT2/AT2R so that players can use them to learn the basics before graduating to more advanced models - the Lightning and Thunderbird teach ammo-management, the Hellcat needs careful heat-discipline, the lightfighters show that ‘speed is life!’, and so forth.  In-universe, they’re all elementary (read: IS1) technology, widely produced and available to every state within the Inner Sphere and Periphery states, to the point that they still appear on most of the FM:U RAT’s more than thirty years after foundtech started making its presence known.  If you want to incorporate these birds into any force you want to build, you can do so without being accused of munching out (too loudly), and they do address flaws in some national forces.  Defending a Lyran world and can’t get Stingrays to protect your Lucifers?  Toss in a couple of lances of Eagles and watch your opponent’s face fall.  ;D  Free Worlder who needs something with energy armaments to shepherd your Rievers out-and-back?  Fold a couple of Thunderbirds into the squadron, or escort them with more Eagles (heh! :D) or some Hellcats.  Taurian who needs something to hold off enemy interceptors while his Seydlitz come home for gas?  Sabres have the movement curve to get to the fight at the same time, two-thirds more combat endurance, and slightly better fields of fire - they’ll be great for the job.  (As a sidenote, if you want to pull a ‘false-flag’ raid on an enemy, these birds are the next best thing to untraceable - virtually everybody has/uses/sells them, so you can’t be backtracked like a squadron of Shivas can.)
  The second positive is that, within the weight brackets, they’re actually quite complementary.  Both lightfighters make fair interceptors; further, the Centurion is a decent light bomber (six tons of externals at 8/12!) and the Sabre can cover it quite well - or the CNT-1D’s can do the escorting while the Sabres do the bombing, delivering five tons of ordnance each while letting the whole strike-package get in and out at 10/15.  :o  Hellcats and Lightnings are a good package: the LTN-G15s rush in to mess things up with their Class-20 autocannons, while (depending on circumstances) the Hellcats cover them against enemy fighters, stand back and snipe at the target from Medium range, or rush in with them as part of the squadron.  Eagles are mislabelled as ‘heavy’ fighters and would do perfectly fine in the Hellcat role(s) just mentioned, but they also make first-rate bodyguards to the T-birds and their awesome firepower.


GENERIC FIGHTERS - FORCE NEGATIVES:
  Unfortunately, that cardinal trait cuts both ways: these fighters are genericUnfluffed and given no particular favour by any one faction - perhaps because the individual stat-sheets may actually represent several distinct national ‘takes’ on a common theme which actually differ in no significant respect - these ships have no real identity, and a force comprised solely or mainly of them has no real character in RP terms.  Proliferating so far for so long has robbed these designs of instant mental associations with any given faction, and thus much of their RP flavour.  A force including Corsairs likely has ties to the FedSuns/FedCom, and Shilones mean you are/were a Drac or friends with one or ‘acquired’ it from them, but a flight of Lightnings is... just a flight of Lightnings:-\  (However, in some circumstances this can actually be a positive - see above.)
  Secondly, with the exception of the Eagle’s flexibility there’s no real sense of integration across the weight classifications.  Lightnings don’t have much business being near a dogfight, so they don’t really work well with the lightfighters; Hellcats aren’t the best choice for ‘shooting in’ the smaller craft; Thunderbirds can provide fire-support once they lumber up to the edge of the actual fight, but are usually much better off sticking to their primary mission of hammering heavy assets or ground units.  Not many of these spaceframes work truly well together, and they’re certainly not the ‘total package’ the DCMS fighters offer, with fighters in weights and speed that can address almost any range of tactical eventualities (see the table above).  To do that, they really need a 6/9 fire-support platform - sadly, the Hellcat and Eagle don’t quite cut it, as they lack the requisite range-advantage - and a ‘fast’ dogfighter, preferably 7/11 or better.  Both can be done with IS1 technology (and with the 240SFE or 300SFE; having ‘common’ engines on several different spaceframes would make a lot of economic sense, especially for lower-end purchasers), but they weren’t - unfortunately.
  Thirdly, these birds are strictly IS1 technology, so they can’t be especially competitive in a post-3050 environment unless you’re playing one of the lower-tech (read: Periphery) factions and primarily facing other [low-tech] factions (including pirates).  For instance, double heat-sinks would make the HCT-213 far more dangerous (and flexible); wrapping a Lightning around a RAC/5 or HPPC would make for uneasy times for many DropShip commanders; and DHS and ERLLs on the Eagle would turn it into a borderline nightmare like the TR-13A.


CONCLUSIONS:
  The ‘generic’ starfighters, in and of themselves, do not represent an ‘integrated’ starfighter arm ready for all eventualities; even in the pre-foundtech days, they did not cover all of the tactical roles necessary to be considered a ‘complete’ force.  Indeed, this was probably the intent, as they were meant more as tools for one to learn the AeroTech system(s) than as actual in-universe combat systems.  However, if used in conjunction with non-generic designs which address those other roles, they can add a great deal to one’s order of battle and do much to complicate an opponent’s tactical circumstances.
  The gaps in the force-roster could also be addressed by simple modifications to the existing designs; several proposals for such appear in the Workshop thread.  Please note that these deliberately do not include any advanced technology; IS2 tech is typically confined to faction-specific designs for several in- and out-of-universe reasons, not least of which being that these are simple teaching tools and we need to crawl before we run.  ;)
« Last Edit: 07 February 2014, 00:26:15 by Trace Coburn »

Neufeld

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Good article, the classifications are very useful. How would you classify the Ostrogoth being an 7/11 heavy?

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Trace Coburn

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Good article, the classifications are very useful. How would you classify the Ostrogoth being an 7/11 heavy?
  'The fast dogfighter from hell'?  :D
  Slightly more seriously, 7/11 speed, 77/61/41 armour and 35t of Clan pods makes the thing a borderline nightmare.  It's the sort of ship Eisensturms need to treat with respect.   :o

nerd

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  'The fast dogfighter from hell'?  :D
  Slightly more seriously, 7/11 speed, 77/61/41 armour and 35t of Clan pods makes the thing a borderline nightmare.  It's the sort of ship Eisensturms everyone needs to treat with respect.   :o
Fixed for you. 8)
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