Author Topic: System monitoring craft  (Read 1291 times)

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
System monitoring craft
« on: 24 January 2024, 21:59:05 »
What's the cheapest possible way to monitor a stellar system for intruders? 

As per this thread, satellites and airships count as aerospace vessels and large craft are aerospace vessels larger than 200 tons with legal satellites and airships going up to 300 tons.  As such, a military satellite or airship that is 201 tons or more can perform system monitoring watching for jump signatures (to AU distances), drive plumes (to 10s of gigameters), radio comms (to 10 gigameters), enemy radar (to a gigameter), radar reflection (to 10s of megameters), IR jump signatures (to 10s of megameters), and optical sighting (to megameters) as per Strat Ops pages 117-119. 

The Skywatch satellite is a cheap transportable satellite capable of automated monitoring for vessels and relaying results to an in-system base station.
Code: [Select]
Skywatch satellite
201 ton satellite support vessel
1,628,952 C-bills
Structural Integrity: 1
Tech Level D

Chassis: 32.5 tons
Fusion Engine: 20.5 tons
Armor: 4 tons (88 armor points BAR 7)
Communications Equipment: 13 tons (+1 ton built in implies detection check base role 0)
Fuel: 130 tons  (71 burn-years)
Cargo: 1 ton
Just having one of these in-system isn't enough to reliably detect in-system jumps, but one at the Zenith, one at the Nadir, and a couple at about 2 AU monitoring the inner system provides semi-reliable discovery of nearby jumps at a price of <6M c-bills.  Since the satellites are fully automated and have the fuel to last for 100 years (!), they are easily deployed to even relatively poor systems.  Richer systems feature one satellite in an in orbit perpendicular to the orbital plane around every major body capable of generating an L1 jump point.

The Skywatch satellite is a good order of magnitude cheaper than a minimal automated space station capable of performing similar duties.

Is it possible to go even cheaper?  It turns out yes, using an Airship.
Code: [Select]
Skywatch airship
201 ton airship support vessel
601,313 C-bills
Structural Integrity: 4
Safe Thrust 1
Tech Level D

Chassis: 50.5 tons
Fusion Engine: 8.5 tons
Armor: 3 tons (66 armor points BAR 7)
Communications Equipment: 14 tons (detection check base roll 0)
Smart Robotic Control System: 10.5 tons
Cargo: 114.5 tons
The fully automated Skywatch Airship operates on worlds with an atmosphere.  The low-pressure atmosphere above it plausibly interferes with some detectors, particularly the shorter range ones.  Nevertheless, at 1/3 price, this is incredibly affordable. 

A good reference point here is the Skybus smallcraft at 6.7M C-bills, about the cheapest of any surface to orbit system.  For the cost of a Skybus, it's reasonable to deploy sensors capable of detecting jumps within Sol-like systems.

Improvements:
An active probe would make these systems perform better and plausibly be worth the price. 

I'm skeptical that a Naval Comm Scanner is worth the price in most circumstances since it doubles ranges and increase the price by more than a factor of 8---you might as well just deploy more satellites.

Tricky things:
Deploying a 201 ton satellite legally seems to require the use of a repair bay.  Plausibly you can shift one from cargo to a repair bay and then drop them out of the repair bay as discussed here.  Alternatively, it may be possible to deploy it in pieces from a smallcraft bay and assemble in space.

Deploying a 201 ton airship on a world is relatively easy---land a dropship, unload the airship, prep it, and launch.  What appears impossible is getting an airship into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant.  Fortunately, gas giants often have moons and some of those moons (like Titan) may have an adequate atmosphere.  This does make you wonder: if a skwatch airship is parked on an airless moon, can it function?

AlphaMirage

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3767
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #1 on: 24 January 2024, 22:09:14 »
I think you could just push a large satellite directly out a cargo door, no need for a repair bay.

I think the active probes bonus is worth it. If it is going to last super long you might as well get best value. That said I agree an NCSS is likely overkill and more appropriate for a giant (because why not) system defense station to better guide or detect capital missiles.

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #2 on: 24 January 2024, 22:47:12 »
I think you could just push a large satellite directly out a cargo door, no need for a repair bay.
This QA makes me think you cannot.

I think the active probes bonus is worth it.
Yeah, agreed.  I left it out here to stick with tech level D, but if available an active probe seems like a solid upgrade.

Daryk

  • Lieutenant General
  • *
  • Posts: 38237
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #3 on: 25 January 2024, 19:10:01 »
I'm pretty sure Large Craft ignore Active Probe bonuses...

Maingunnery

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7242
  • Pirates and C3 masters are on the hitlist
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #4 on: 25 January 2024, 19:26:01 »
What about a booby trap to discourage hackers/theft?
Herb: "Well, now I guess we'll HAVE to print it. Sounds almost like the apocalypse I've been working for...."

The Society:Fan XTRO & Field Manual
Nebula California: HyperTube Xtreme & Nebula Confederation

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #5 on: 25 January 2024, 21:43:10 »
I'm pretty sure Large Craft ignore Active Probe bonuses...
Where?  There are no caveats on SO page 118 which gives a -2 bonus with an active probe and large craft or not is quite in context for that page.

Large Craft do ignore small craft ECM, but that's not relevant here.
What about a booby trap to discourage hackers/theft?
A booby trap adds ~20% to the price of the satellite.  It could be done, but I'm not sure it's necessary?  If someone approaches the satellite it can monitor and transmit in detail what's going on.  If they get away with a theft/hack, replacing the satellite is a minor cost.

My expectation is that the real danger to the satellite is a drive by shooting, but it seems hard to justify any kind of weaponry.  Instead, having other satellites on a hidden standby seems reasonable.

Daryk

  • Lieutenant General
  • *
  • Posts: 38237
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #6 on: 26 January 2024, 04:25:17 »
Huh... seems you're correct.  I had the ECM language from page 99 in my head:
Quote
Mounting an ECM suite, as described above for a fighter, on a Large Craft has no effect.

It just seems odd that a 1.5 ton gadget can affect the sensor suite of a WarShip.

Giovanni Blasini

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7289
  • And I think it's gonna be a long, long time...
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #7 on: 26 January 2024, 05:38:05 »
Tech Manual page 204 says Active Probes on fighters and DropShips can only be used when interacting with ground units, and while TacOps says they can use them in aerospace combat in accordance with Stratos rules, even TacOps bans the them from JumpShips, WarShips and Space Stations.
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
-- Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #8 on: 26 January 2024, 07:47:10 »
It just seems odd that a 1.5 ton gadget can affect the sensor suite of a WarShip.
Yep.
Tech Manual page 204 says Active Probes on fighters and DropShips can only be used when interacting with ground units, and while TacOps says they can use them in aerospace combat in accordance with Stratos rules, even TacOps bans the them from JumpShips, WarShips and Space Stations.
Interestingly, none of these observations interfere with mounting/use on a satellite or airship. 

W.r.t. TacOps, they forbid mounting Watchdog CEWS and Bloodhound on JS/WS/SS, but is there something forbidding {Beagle,Light} Active Probe?  I did not see anything in Q&A.

Giovanni Blasini

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7289
  • And I think it's gonna be a long, long time...
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #9 on: 26 January 2024, 10:28:00 »
Yep.Interestingly, none of these observations interfere with mounting/use on a satellite or airship. 

W.r.t. TacOps, they forbid mounting Watchdog CEWS and Bloodhound on JS/WS/SS, but is there something forbidding {Beagle,Light} Active Probe?  I did not see anything in Q&A.

Look at the "Available To" sections in both TacOps and Tech Manual. Note what isn't included.
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
-- Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #10 on: 26 January 2024, 11:32:33 »
Look at the "Available To" sections in both TacOps and Tech Manual. Note what isn't included.
I looked again, but I'm not seeing something forbidding mounting {Beagle,Light} Active Probe on a JS/WS/SS.  Maybe worth asking?

Giovanni Blasini

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7289
  • And I think it's gonna be a long, long time...
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #11 on: 26 January 2024, 15:00:00 »
I looked again, but I'm not seeing something forbidding mounting {Beagle,Light} Active Probe on a JS/WS/SS.  Maybe worth asking?

CAT 35003 Tactical Operations ((c)2008) page 275, third paragraph, under the section labeled "Availability":
Quote from: Tactical Operations, pg 275:
Availability: Availability indicates what unit types may carry a given item (in broad terms) using two-letter codes shown in the Availability Codes Table below. Some items may be used by multiple unit types. For example, an Availability code listing of AF, CF, SC, DS indicates an item that may be carried only by aerospace fighters, conventional fighters, Small Craft and DropShips. However, even if an item is listed for a given unit type, specific units within that type may be unable to carry an item—for example, Docking Units (which may only be used by Naval-type Combat and Support Vehicles). Such exceptions are noted under the item’s Construction Rules.

Now, Tactical Operations page 278 lists the following unit types under Bloodhound Active Probe:

Quote from: Tactical Operations, page 278
Available To: BM, IM, CV, SV, AF, CF, SC, DS, MS

Under Watchdog Composite Electronic Warfare System (CEWS), we see:
Quote from: Tactical Operations, page 278
Available To: BM, IM, CV, SV, AF, CF, SC, DS, MS

Farther down near the bottom of page 278 in the Construction Rules section we see:

Quote from: Tactical Operations, page 278
Active Probe: the Bloodhound Active Probe and the Watchdog System may be mounted on any available unit type in accordance with the unit's standard construction rules.

That would, presumably mean the "Available To:" units listed above.  My assumption would be if the more advanced model doesn't work, the smaller one wouldn't either, but TacOps doesn't cover construction rules for Tech Manual gear.

Meanwhile, while Tech Manual may say it's unrestricted, Tech Manual cannot be used as a source for what can and cannot be mounted on Support Vehicles, WarShips, Mobile Structures, etc.  Otherwise, you'd run into a serious issue on, for example, page 210, where we see:

Quote from: Tech Manual, page 210
Only DropShips may mount capital missile launchers.

We know that's not the case, after all.  Also, the equipment charts don't even list any non-TM unit Type.

Also, I was hoping the Universal Technology Advancement Table in Interstellar Ops would be more forthcoming and list unit restrictions.  It doesn't.

With that said, I also went back to StratOps (3rd printing), and page 99 only details affects from active Probes carried by fighters, fighter squadrons and small craft.

You're right though that SO page 106 doesn't specify unit types. I'm also not sure how I feel about the end of the Crew paragraph on page 137, since I don't see WarShips mounting A-Pods, so, yeah, asking for a clarification may be worthwhile.
« Last Edit: 26 January 2024, 15:29:50 by Giovanni Blasini »
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
-- Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Daryk

  • Lieutenant General
  • *
  • Posts: 38237
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #12 on: 26 January 2024, 18:53:52 »
Definitely sounds like a Rules Forum question to me... :)

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #13 on: 26 January 2024, 21:21:40 »
I started trying to ask a question, but then realized I had answered it.

TM pages 342 and 343 does not list whether or not the Beagle Active Probe, Active Probe, or Light Active Probe are mountable on a Jumpship, Warship, or Space Station (as for all equipment in that book) while allowing for a Dropship.
TO page 405 has a table stating that the Watchdog CEWS and Bloodhound Active Probe cannot be mounted on Jumpship, Warship, or Space Station while allowing on a Dropship.
SO page 118 states that any unit mounting an active probe gets a -2 to detection checks in that section so mountability has significant rules implications.
SO page 153 states that any piece of equipment mountable on a dropship in TM is mountable on a Jumpship, Warship, or Space Station.

Taking these rules together, it appears Rules-as-Written legal to mount a {Beagle, Light} Active Probe but not a Watchdog or Bloodhound with a LNCSS on a Warship to get a substantial -4 bonus to detection checks.  The TO rules providing for disparate treatment of Watchdog and Bloodhound appear to just be strange.  Anyways, if someone still has a doubt, feel free to ask.

In studying this, I also came across SO errata stating that an unmanned unit has a detection check base of 7-(communication equipment tons)/2 rounded down.  I tweaked the designs to use 14 tons of communications equipment since a modest price increase dropping the base detection role of 0 is totally worth it.

Giovanni Blasini

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7289
  • And I think it's gonna be a long, long time...
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #14 on: 27 January 2024, 02:37:24 »
TM pages 342 and 343 does not list whether or not the Beagle Active Probe, Active Probe, or Light Active Probe are mountable on a Jumpship, Warship, or Space Station (as for all equipment in that book) while allowing for a Dropship.

Tech Manual also says only DropShips can mount capital missiles.  Nothing in Tech Manual can be used to confirm or deny the ability of units it doesn't cover to mount any specific equipment, because as far as Tech Manual is concerned, they don't exist.
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes / When the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
-- Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Daryk

  • Lieutenant General
  • *
  • Posts: 38237
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #15 on: 27 January 2024, 04:10:17 »
I posted a related question about the Watchdog: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,83726.0.html

I hadn't noticed Bloodhounds had a ban on Large Craft...

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #16 on: 27 January 2024, 05:54:23 »
...Nothing in Tech Manual can be used to confirm or deny the ability of units it doesn't cover to mount any specific equipment...
According to SO page 153:
Quote
Advanced aerospace units may install any item permitted on tournament-legal Dropships...
That removes any doubt that you can mount a Beagle Active Probe on a Warship for me.  If you still have a doubt, then please ask a question.

I hadn't noticed Bloodhounds had a ban on Large Craft...
Not Large Craft precisely---Dropships are explicitly allowed as apparently are support vehicles and manned satellites which are large craft.

truetanker

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 9999
  • Clan Hells Horses 666th Mech. Assualt Cluster
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #17 on: 02 March 2024, 03:24:20 »
@Lagrange

IF we can get this Item fixed, would this be able to be added to our WS3 OR should it be dropped?

As w/o any official ruling, it would seem to be confusing.

And we would need clarification to implement it.

TT
Khan, Clan Iron Dolphin
Azeroth Pocketverse
That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
If I'm attacking you, conventional wisom says to bring 3x your force.  I want extra insurance, so I'll bring 4 for every 1 of what you have :D ~ Tai Dai Cultist on 21 April 2016
Me: Would you rather fight my Epithymía Thanátou from the Whispers of Blake?
Nav_Alpha: That THING... that is horrid
~ Nav_Alpha on 10 October 2016

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1435
Re: System monitoring craft
« Reply #18 on: 02 March 2024, 07:46:29 »
IF we can get this Item fixed, would this be able to be added to our WS3 OR should it be dropped?
What's the confusion?

 

Register